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Home sales rise as prices drop

A small but positive sign appeared in new Tampa Bay housing market data unveiled Thursday.

Sales of existing single-family homes in the Tampa Bay area actually rose 1 percent in May compared with the same period last year, according to figures released by the Florida Association of Realtors. About 30 more homes were sold last month than in May 2007 (2,270 versus 2,241).

But then there's this: The median sales price of homes sold last month in the bay area dropped 16 percent year to date, from $209,300 in May 2007 to $176,100 last month. That's a decline of $33,200.

The numbers weren't much better statewide. In the year-to-year comparison, 12,175 existing homes sold in Florida last month, whereas 12,882 homes sold in May 2007. That's a decrease of 5 percent.

Florida's median sales price for existing homes last month was $203,300. A year ago, it was $239,000, for a 15 percent decrease.

But the market could be showing signs of a turnaround. Statewide, 12,175 existing single-family homes sold in May, up 8.7 percent over the previous month, when 11,200 homes changed hands. Existing condo sales statewide rose 3 percent, with 4,018 units sold in May compared with 3,900 condos in April.

What's more, the median price for both existing single-family homes and existing condos increased slightly statewide during the April to May period. The existing-home median price in May was $203,300, up 2.2 percent from April's median price of $198,900. The median price of an existing condo last month was $181,800, up 1.5 percent from April's figure of $179,200.

"Bargain hunters have entered the market en masse, especially in areas that have experienced double-digit price declines,'' said NAR economist Lawrence Yun. "But it's unclear if they are investors or owner-occupants."

Tom Zucco can be reached at zucco@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8247.

Home sales rise as prices drop 06/26/08 [Last modified: Friday, June 27, 2008 7:01pm]

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