Florida Housing Market: Home Pricing, Inventory Improved in Q4 2014

The Florida real estate market was among the hardest-hit by the Great Recession and the related U.S. housing market crash of the late 2000s, but things have been improving in the so-called “Sunshine State” over the past several years. And for the final calendar quarter of 2014, things kept getting better in Florida, as industry group Florida Realtors indicated in a new report.

A report by The Florida Realtors shows that median prices and inventory had gone up in the December 2014 quarter, with closed sales of single-family properties rising by 14.9 percent year-over-year to 62,080 units. Median home prices for single-family existing homes went up, though at a relatively reasonable 5.9 percent year-over-year to $180,000 in the December 2014 frame. Florida’s median price for townhouses and condominiums in quarter four 2014 was $143,000, a 7.9 percent improvement over quarter four 2013’s data.

Florida Housing Market

Inventory, or active listings, for single-family homes had gone up 1.2 percent over the same timeframe, while townhouse and condominium inventory was flat, ticking up by just 0.1 percent from Q4 2013 to Q4 2014. Single-family home inventory was at 5.2 months, while townhouse and condo inventory was at 5.9 months in the fourth quarter of 2014.

“The positive fundamentals of Florida’s housing sector continued in the fourth quarter of 2014,” read a statement from 2015 Florida Realtors President Andrew Barbar. “Our population continues to increase with about 800 people a day moving to the Sunshine State, while Florida’s growing economy is creating new jobs and putting residents back to work.” Barbar works as a broker at Boca Raton-based Keller Williams Realty Services.

Florida Realtors chief economist Dr. John Tuccillo, on the other hand, took a more macro-based approach in assessing the state of Florida’s housing market, preferring to look at the bigger picture and a wider range of variables. “The fourth quarter numbers encapsulate the state of Florida’s housing market for all of 2014,” he commented in his own separate statement. “Sales are up for both single-family homes and condos, as are prices.

The condo market is a bit weaker than the single-family market, in part owing to weaker demand by investors. Inventories in both areas are in what is generally considered a balanced market range. Distressed sales are falling, particularly short sales, as rising prices eliminate many homes as short sale candidates.”

The improvements in the state of Florida are redolent of broader improvements in the U.S. housing market. Price appreciation, which had been so high in previous months and quarters, remains the trend, but year-over-year price gains are now far more moderated, much to the benefit of lower-income and first-time home buyers. Mortgage rates have also hit their lowest levels in over a year and a half, and according to Freddie Mac’s most recent surveys, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages generally trend in the 3.60 percent to 3.70 percent range. For the fourth quarter of 2014, the average interest rate for 30-year FRMs was 3.97 percent, a big 33 basis point drop from the December 2013 quarter’s average of 4.30 percent.

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