Florida Home Sales and Prices Slide in November
Around the State
Existing home sales fell 15 percent in November compared to a year ago, and prices dipped along with them, according to a report released Wednesday by the Florida Association of Realtors.
The median sales price for a home was $132,700 last month, down 5 percent from November 2009.
The voluntary moratorium on foreclosure filings imposed by mortgage companies in recent months delayed closings on some properties and impacted sales activity, the FAR report states. Companies like JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America halted foreclosure proceedings in several states, including Florida, in October when it was discovered that faulty or fraudulent paperwork was being used to push foreclosures through the system more quickly.
Nationwide, distressed homes made up 33 percent of sales in November, according to a report by the National Association of Realtors. Foreclosed properties made up two-thirds of distressed sales.
“The housing market is experiencing an uneven recovery. Still, sales activity is clearly off the bottom and is attempting to settle into normal, sustainable levels,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.
The new foreclosure controversy, dubbed “robo-signing” for the practice of some law firms of assigning staff members to sign off on foreclosure documents without reviewing them, has emboldened defense lawyers to challenge more foreclosure cases, adding to the backlog of cases in Florida’s courts. As they continue to come onto the market and make up a large portion of overall sales, foreclosures will continue to depress home sale prices.
Condo sales in Florida were up 11 percent from the previous year, but sold at much cheaper prices than in November 2009. The median sales price for an existing condo last month was $88,200, a 16 percent drop from the same time last year.
Realtors note that relatively cheap home prices and favorable interest rates mean it’s a good time to buy, but tight credit continues to dampen the market.
According to Freddie Mac, the federally supported mortgage lender, the average national rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 4.30 percent in November, down from 4.88 percent last year, and up slightly from October’s record low of 4.23 percent.
“In the short term, mortgage interest rates should hover just above recent record lows, while home prices have generally stabilized following declines from 2007 to 2009. Although mortgage interest rates have ticked up in recent weeks, overall conditions remain extremely favorable for buyers who can obtain credit,” Yun said.
Obtaining credit, however, is easier said than done. Fully 31 percent of November sales nationwide were all-cash sales, reflecting a reluctance on behalf of banks to lend.
Reach Gray Rohrer at email@example.com or at (850) 727-0859.