Florida Condo Sales, Prices Edge Up in Fourth Quarter

Florida Realtors reports that existing condo sales in the state were up 4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, compared with the same period a year earlier.

Orlando, Fla.—Florida Realtors, formerly the Florida Association of Realtors, reports that existing condo sales in the state were up 4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, compared with the same period a year earlier. Total sales for the most recent quarter were 18,558 units statewide, while the fourth quarter of 2010 saw 17,922 units trade hands. The 4Q11 total was down from last year’s top quarter—the second quarter—when about 25,000 units sold in Florida, but the last quarter of 2011 was still well ahead of the worst quarters of the recession, such as the first quarter of 2009, when only about 10,000 units traded in Florida.

Condo prices rose statewide as well during the quarter, according to the organization. The median sales price for a Florida condo during the fourth quarter of 2011 was $88,800, which reflects a 5 percent increase over the same quarter in 2010, when the median was $84,400.

The upward trend for condo sales and prices comes within a larger improving trend for all for-sale residential property in Florida, a state hard-hit by the popping of the housing bubble and subsequent recession. Improvement, however, is still a relative matter, since in December, RealtyTrac reported more than 24,500 instances of foreclosure activity in the Sunshine State, a term it uses to include default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions.  All together, some 1 in every 360 residential units in Florida is in foreclosure.

Still, a number of well-known factors are boosting sales, according to Florida Realtors. Prices have more-or-less stabilized at relatively low levels, and mortgage rates continued to hover around historical lows. According to Freddie Mac, the national commitment rate for a 30-year conventional fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.01 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011; a year earlier, it averaged 4.41 percent.

Some places in Florida did better than others in a year-over-year comparison. Miami, for instance, saw a dramatic spike in both sales and prices, with 2,763 units sold in 4Q10, compared with 3,466 units during the same quarter a year later. The median price rose from $103,900 to $124,100 year-over-year in the fourth quarter. Much of the growth in the case of that market is attributable to an influx of overseas buyers.