Property sales increase in Florida as low prices entice buyers back to the real estate market

Sales increasing in hard-hit US property market

Buyers appear to be returning to some of the harder hit property markets in Florida as sales increase, the latest figures show.

The Sunshine State has had one of the highest foreclosure rates in the US and seen prices tumble but according to the Florida Association families are leading a potential recovery.

Its figures show that single family property sales volume climbed 44% in the fourth quarter of 2009 compared with the same period in 2008.

It’s the sixth straight quarter of year-to-year increases in homes sales volume within the state, realtors said. In comparison, home sales across the nation increased 13% in the same period according to figures from the National Association of Realtors.

Condominium sales volumes were also up, rising an astonishing 93% in the fourth quarter of 2009 compared with the same quarter in 2008. It is the fifth consecutive quarter of year-over-year growth for condo sales.

But the association stressed that the increase in sales volumes comes from a very low base. In the last 12 months Florida regularly posted some of the worst numbers in the country during the nation’s housing crash.

And while sales volume increase there is still a lot of uncertainty about what is happening in the market and in particular the effects of tightened credit, foreclosures and unemployment on the statewide housing market.

Florida had the fourth highest foreclosure rate in the country during January one in 187 home received a foreclosure filing during the month, while the total number of homes receiving a foreclosure filing jumped 15% from one year earlier.

Nonetheless, private investors are starting to come back in some markets, according to Timothy Becker, director of the University of Florida’s Bergstrom Center. He said that investor expectations on returns are falling to more realistic levels, closing the spread between their bids and asking prices.

‘These developments bode well for the transaction market when quality properties start coming to the marketplace,’ Becker asserted.

And prices are not yet matching the increase in sales. The statewide median sales price dropped 13% to $140,000 in the fourth quarter of 2009 from $160,600 in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Compared the rest of the country, Florida prices fell below the national average of $172,900, a 4.1% drop from the end of 2008, according to NAR.

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