Bucking a national trend, Florida home sales continued percolating in June, rising almost 15 percent compared with a year ago and up nearly 8 percent in just one month.
With foreclosures continuing to clog the market, a broader recovery of housing prices remains elusive. Yet local Realtors point to the June housing report as more evidence the market is improving.
Vernon Taylor, president of the Greater Tampa Association of Realtors, cites a few Hillsborough County statistics to bolster that argument: the inventory of available homes has fallen from 17,000 to 13,000 over the year; the average length of time a house stays on the market has dropped by seven days, and the average sales price has ticked up slightly.
"We're not out of it yet," said Taylor, broker-owner of VET Realty in Lutz. "But my little analysis of this is that instead of a little penlight at the end of the tunnel, we're now seeing something closer to a flashlight head."
The median sale price for a Florida home was $143,400 in June, according to data released Thursday by Florida Realtors. That's up 2 percent from the prior month — the fourth consecutive monthly rise — but it's still down about 3 percent from the year-ago median sale price of $147,700.
The Tampa Bay area held up better than much of the state. The median sale price slipped less than 1 percent compared to a year ago, dropping from $139,400 to $138,400. A total of 3,226 homes changed hands in the region, up 13 percent from June 2009.
For condominium sellers, the numbers were more glum: Although the number of condo sales surged 33 percent statewide and 36 percent in the bay area compared with a year ago, median prices fell dramatically, dipping below $100,000. The median condo sale price statewide was $95,000, down 16 percent, and in the bay area it was $99,100, down 13 percent.
Nationally, the housing market showed renewed weakness as sales of existing homes fell 5.1 percent in June compared with May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.37 million units, the National Association of Realtors reported. Sales year over year were up 9.8 percent.
One factor cited for the month-to-month drop was the expiration of tax credits geared toward first-time home buyers.
In Florida, a huge backlog of foreclosures and short sales working through the system continue to pump up the total number of transactions. And many in the industry are wary of another pending wave of foreclosures as more adjustable rate mortgages reset to higher rates.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist with the National Association of Realtors, said sales nationally are expected to keep falling for the next three to four months, which could drive prices lower.
The median existing single-family home price nationally was $184,200 in June, up 1.3 percent from a year ago. The median sales price for all types of housing was $183,700, up 1 percent from last year.
Longer term, Yun said, a full-fledged housing recovery is contingent on one thing: more jobs.
"If jobs come back as expected," he said, "the pace of home sales should pick up later this year and reach a sustainable level of activity given very favorable affordability conditions."
Jeff Harrington can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8242.