Existing Home Sales Surge

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Lee County’s existing home sales shot up in August, as the price of a home dropped more than $100,000.
The 685 homes sold with the help of a Realtor was up 32 percent from August 2007 when 520 homes were sold. It’s the largest year-over-year percentage gain in the state, according to the Florida Association of Realtors.
Only the Tampa-St-Petersburg-Clearwater area, Jacksonville and Orlando sold more homes in August.
However, the median price dropped 41 percent, from $250,800 to $146,900. It was $154,900 a month earlier. The numbers were also down from July’s 768 reported sales.
Collier numbers weren’t available but Charlotte saw a drop in both sales and prices in August: sales dropped 21 percent from 223 to 176, while the median price dropped 26 percent to $138,100 from $186,500 a year ago.
“Despite economic uncertainty and the start of the school year, which impacts August home sales, a number of Florida’s metro areas continue to report an upswing in housing activity,’’ said Chuck Bonfiglio, association president. “Florida Realtors are noticing signs that investors think the market has reached bottom in many areas, and they are preparing to jump in while prices remain below value. Industry analysts hope that the federal government’s financial rescue plan will boost the housing market and help restore confidence.’’
A total of 10,847 existing homes sold statewide last month while 11,282 homes sold in August 2007, a decrease of 4 percent in the year-to-year comparison, according to FAR. Florida’s median sales price for existing homes last month was $186,900; a year ago, it was $234,100, a 20 percent decrease. It’s still up from five years ago, when the statewide median sales price for single-family homes was $163,600.
The latest housing outlook from the National Association of Realtors predicts that existing home sales nationwide will improve in the coming months, though the speed and timing of a recovery depends on local market conditions.
“Sales have picked up significantly in several Florida and California markets,’’ said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the national association. “Home prices generally follow sales trends after a few months of lag time. Still, inventory remains high in many parts of the country and will require time to fully absorb. We expect more balanced conditions in 2009 and will eventually return to normal long-term appreciation patterns."Condo sales also showed improvement in Lee, despite a statewide drop. The numbers of sales increased from 128 to 168 , while the median price dropped to $193,800 from $252,900. The numbers are down from July when there were 174 condo sales and the median price was $210,400.
Businessman Dave Eichen 43, of Howell, Mich., said he got a good deal on a condominium at the Bella Mar condominium on San Carlos Boulevard in south Fort Myers.
Eichen recently purchased the Dairy Queen in Fort Myers Beach and plans on splitting his time between Howell and here.
“We decided we’d be spending a time here so it makes sense with prices being so good.”
He paid $116,000 for the three-bedroom, two-bath condo — less than half what it would have gone for three years ago.
Nationally, sales of existing homes fell in August, but the number of unsold homes on the market also dropped sharply from the previous month’s record high.
The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that sales fell 2.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.91 million units, from an upwardly revised pace of 5.02 million in July. Sales had been expected to fall by 1.6 percent, according to economists surveyed by Thomson/IFR.
There were 4.3 million unsold homes on the market, a 7 percent drop from the record set in July. It was the steepest drop in inventory since December 2006. At the current sales pace, it would take 10.4 months to sell all the properties.
Until the inventory level is reduced to more normal levels, analysts say, the housing slump is likely to persist. Inventories are being driven higher by a massive wave of mortgage foreclosures.
“We hope the downward trend in inventories continues,” Yun said. “Home prices will not stabilize as long as inventories remain high.”
Median prices — the point at which half of the homes sold for less and half for more — fell 9.5 percent from a year ago to $203,100, the largest price decline on records dating to 1999. Sales were 10.7 percent below last year’s levels.
The national decline in home values coupled with shaky lending standards during the real estate boom are the driving forces behind rising mortgage defaults and foreclosures. They have spurred a credit crisis that has shaken Wall Street to its core and caused the Bush administration to propose a $700 billion financial industry bailout.Yun said the trade group is sending a letter to Congress in support of the rescue plan. While buyers are pouncing on lower prices — especially in places like California, Florida and Nevada — sales are sluggish in formerly stable markets like the Pacific Northwest and Charlotte, N.C., he added. Courtesy of Fort Myers News Press

Lee County Foreclosures Drop Sharply in Lee County

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The number of foreclosure actions filed in Lee County dropped sharply in August, according to statistics released by the Southwest Florida Real Estate Association.

There were 2,156 foreclosures filed compared to a record 2,467 in July, a fall of 13 percent. There’s been a long runup in the number of foreclosures over the past two years as the bottom has fallen out of home prices in the county.In August 2007 there were 1,045 filed, and in August 2006 — when foreclosures were just starting to rise — there were only 146 .Home prices have fallen sharply, with the median price of an existing single-family home sold with the help of a Realtor reaching $154,900 in July, down 52 percent from the all-time record high of $322,300 set in December 2005. Courtesy of Fort Myers News Press.