Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Real Estate Pulse:
Existing Home Sales Continue to Rise

The lack of homes on the market, price jumps and bidding wars does not stop buyers from closing on the homes of their dreams.

In April 2016, the number of homes sold shot up 4.9%, year over year to 471,000 purchases across the United States of America, according to the National Association of Realtors. Sales were up 11.9% in April from March, likely because of the season change.  Spring and summer are the most active time of year for home sales. The reports only looked at existing homes, not new construction and there were no seasonal adjustments taken into consideration for seasonal fluctuations. Just clean cut data.

Looking at Florida's townhouse-condo market, statewide closed sales totaled 10,738 last month, down 5.3 percent compared to April 2015.  However, the closed sales data reflected fewer short sales and cash-only sales in April: Short sales for townhouse-condo properties declined 43.2% while short sales for single-family homes dropped 35.9%. Closed sales may occur from 30 to 90-plus days after sales contracts are written.  Net sum of these numbers reflect far more owner occupied buyer/seller transactions.  

“The strong momentum from the start of the year has definitely continued,” says Jonathan Smoke, realtor.com’s chief economist.
He was encouraged by the rise in the share of first-time home buyers, to 32% of the market. That’s a small bump from 30% for both the previous month and a year ago, according to the report. Although, still somewhat below what is considered a healthy share of 40%, Smoke says.

“Where we have the most shortage of homes for sale is with the affordably priced homes,” he says.

Despite the challenges, home flew off the market shelves. They were typically on the market for only 39 days in April, compared to 47 in March. That is about the same time on the market as this time 2015.
The median price of an existing home was $232,500 in April, a 6.3% increase from 2015, according to the report. Single-family homes went for a bit more at a median of $233,700, while condos sold for a bit less at $233,300.

The positive growth we're seeing in sales for homes priced above the $150,000 mark is being offset by a continuing decline of homes for sale in the most affordable price ranges," said Florida Realtors® Chief Economist Brad O'Connor. "This trend is due in part to the ongoing decline in listings and sales of distressed properties.  In April, distressed sales accounted for less than 12% of all closed Multiple Listing Service (MLS) sales in Florida – the lowest such percentage we've recorded since the initial stages of the downturn last decade."

Inventory was at a 4.5-months' supply in April for single-family homes and at a 6.3-months' supply for townhouse-condo properties, according to Florida Realtors. According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.61 percent in April 2016, down from the 3.67 percent average recorded during the same month a year earlier.

An increase in new listings, rising median prices and fewer days to a contract make for a growing and sustainable Real Estate Market that should only continue to rise. 

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