As home sale prices rise, a lack of homes makes it tough on buyers

In this March 28, 2018, photo a sold sign is shown outside a single-family home on the market in Denver. On Thursday, the National Association of Realtors reported a drop in April sales of existing homes, while home prices rose. 
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
In this March 28, 2018, photo a sold sign is shown outside a single-family home on the market in Denver. On Thursday, the National Association of Realtors reported a drop in April sales of existing homes, while home prices rose. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
Published May 24
Updated May 24

Home sale prices continued to rise both nationally and statewide in April as a prolonged dearth of available homes on the market is making it tough on buyers.

A total of 24,804 single-family homes changed hands across Florida last month, up 4.1 percent from a year ago, the Florida Association of Realtors reported Thursday. Meanwhile, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes was $253,895, up 8.1 percent from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors in partnership with local Realtor boards and associations.

The statewide median price for townhouse-condo properties in April was $190,000, up 10.5 percent over the year-ago figure.

"Not enough for-sale inventory, especially in the range for first-time homebuyers, is an ongoing challenge for many local housing markets," said 2018 Florida Realtors president Christine Hansen, a broker-owner with Century 21 Hansen Realty in Fort Lauderdale. "Pent-up demand continues to put upward pressure on prices."

As a result, sellers continued to get more of their original asking price at the closing table, the association said. Sellers of existing single-family homes last month received 96.6 percent of their original listing price.

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Nationally, existing home sales fell 2.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.46 million in April from 5.60 million in March, according to the National Association of Realtors. With last month’s decline, sales are now 1.4 percent below a year ago and have fallen year-over-year for two straight months.

Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors chief economist, echoed a similar concern about staggeringly low inventory levels this spring. "The root cause of the underperforming sales activity in much of the country so far this year continues to be the utter lack of available listings on the market to meet the strong demand for buying a home," he said in a release. "Realtors say the healthy economy and job market are keeping buyers in the market for now even as they face rising mortgage rates. However, inventory shortages are even worse than in recent years, and home prices keep climbing above what many home shoppers are able to afford."

The median existing-home price was $257,900 in April, up 5.3 percent from a year ago.

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There was a dose of positive news for Florida buyers, however. New listings for single-family homes in April rose 9.8 percent year-over-year, while new townhouse-condo listings increased 8.3 percent.

If that trend continues, Hansen said, it could help ease the inventory shortage.

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