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Slide in Tampa Bay home prices has moderated

Tampa Bay's great home price slide has slowed down significantly over the past year, a boast several other Florida metro areas wish they could make.

The median sales prices for single-family homes in the bay area slipped 1 percent in the bay area from a year ago to $133,900, according to first-quarter data released Tuesday by the National Association of Realtors.

That places it at 124th among 174 metro areas ranked best to worst in home price changes, and roughly on par with the national average change.

In contrast, Orlando emerged as the country's hardest-hit metro over the year, with a 15 percent slide in home prices this quarter to a median of $131,600. Second worst: Ocala, with a 14.5 percent drop.

Elsewhere in the state, Daytona Beach prices for the quarter were down 10 percent and Miami-Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville were both down 6 percent.

Just three years ago, the median home price in Orlando was a heady $261,300, far outpacing the Tampa Bay area's median price at the time of $214,900. Based on the latest numbers, Orlando has now fallen below the bay area market.

Overall, 60 of the metro areas in the country saw home prices rise over the past year. Almost 20 percent of the markets posted double-digit price gains.

The median sales price in Florida was $133,800, down 5 percent from the year-ago quarter. Nationally, the median home sales price was $166,100, down less than a percent from a year ago.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist with the National Association of Realtors, said a flattening of home prices "is something we've been seeing in all of the home price measures lately."

Meanwhile, a separate Realtors' report underscored a bounceback in the volume of sales, skewed in part by the surge in foreclosures. Distressed homes accounted for 36 percent of first-quarter sales.

Single-family home sales in Florida rose 24 percent in the quarter, with 38,846 homes changing hands.

Sales of condos statewide rose 67 percent compared to a year earlier.

Timothy Becker, director of the University of Florida's Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies, was encouraged by the news.

"Results indicate that the real estate market in Florida has hit bottom and is in the process of stabilizing across most property types," Becker said in a statement.

Yun credited the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit with drawing down excess industry, particularly in markets like Florida that are overflowing with foreclosures.

Florida's total of single-family home and condo sales combined grew 35 percent from the first quarter of 2009, the third-best performance behind Idaho and Hawaii.

Slide in Tampa Bay home prices has moderated 05/11/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 11:11pm]
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