Florida's housing market is showing signs of stabilizing even without government incentives propping it up.
Sales of existing homes in Florida last month continued percolating at the same level as April and up about 18 percent from a year ago, Florida Realtors reported Tuesday. Prices were flat compared to April and down 2 percent compared to May last year.
A total of 16,745 single-family homes sold statewide last month compared to 16,781 in April and up from 14,172 homes in May of 2009. The median home price was $140,400, up a slight $300 from a month earlier, marking the third consecutive monthly increase.
A year ago, the median sales price was $143,800.
In the Tampa Bay area, 2,921 existing homes changed hands. That's up 20 percent from a year ago and down 1 percent from April. The median sales price was $135,600, down 1 percent from a year ago but up 2 percent from April.
According to the Realtors, most of the state's metro areas have reported increased sales for 23 consecutive months.
Numbers have been skewed both in pricing and volume, however, because a large number of foreclosures and short sales are working through the system.
Traditionally, May is a stronger month for home sales as homeowners move into the peak summer selling season. Still, a minimal drop was better than expected after the phase-out of a home buyer tax credit program that helped pump up springtime sales.
Under the program, homes had to be under contract by the end of April and close by the end of June to qualify for tax credits. So real estate watchers expect sales data over the next couple months to give a clearer picture of the strength of the housing market on its own.
Florida has been lagging much of the country in awaiting improved housing prices. The National Association of Realtors reported Friday that the median home sales price in May was up 2.7 percent from a year ago with just under a third of homes sold during the month being distressed properties.
"The housing market has to get back on its own feet," said the Realtors chief economist Lawrence Yun, "and now appears to be in a good position to return to sustainable levels even without government stimulus, provided the economy continues to add jobs."
Existing home sales nationally dipped 2.2 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.66 million units, down from the upwardly revised rate of 5.79 million in April.
Sales year-over-year rose 19.2 percent.