Housing sales hit 5-year high as sellers list more lower-end residences
By Marilyn Bowden
Housing sales activity so far this year is the best it's been since 2005, says Ron Shuffield, president of Esslinger Wooten Maxwell Realtors — but new listings coming to market are increasing the inventory, particularly in lower price ranges.
The number of new single-family homes and condos listed during July through September is up 26% over the number of properties listed during the same months in 2009, he says.
Across Miami-Dade and Broward counties, he said, sales in the first nine months of 2010 have averaged 16% higher than in the same period of 2009, and 84% higher than in the first nine months of 2008.
"In Miami-Dade, our overall supply of single-family homes is 11 months, and of condos is 14 months," Mr. Shuffield said. A six- to nine-month supply is generally accepted as a balanced market. "The challenge lies in the fact that inventories are increasing, and will probably continue to rise into 2011."
According to "Facts & Trends," Esslinger Wooten Maxwell's monthly summary of resale activity compiled from the Southeast Florida Regional Multiple Listings Service, in September 1,145 single-family homes priced below $100,000 were on the market across Miami-Dade, up 52% from 753 in April. The condo inventory priced less than $100,000 rose 16%, from 3,859 to 4,468, during the period.
"This is partly due to the number of foreclosures coming into the market," Mr. Shuffield said. "While foreclosure inventories have been increasing for the past six months, new listings in October ran about half of what they had been running for the three months of the previous quarter. We assume that's because lenders are now pausing to review their foreclosure files before allowing these properties, which they already own, to be placed on the market."
At the end of September, he said, the total inventory of single-family home REO listings — the initialism stands for "real estate owned," and refers to homes repossessed by lenders — was 970; as of the first week in November, the total was 763. In the same period, REO condo inventory fell from 1,468 to 1,131.
"The decreases are not because of sales," Mr. Shuffield said, "but because the banks are not listing them."
And REO properties continue to represent a significant share of market activity. "Facts & Trends" shows that while 12% of listings are REO homes, they account for 39% of sales. REO condos are 9% of the inventory, but make up 44% of sales.
Another 22% of single-family home sales and 25% of condo closings are short sales.
"So 61% of all single-family home sales and 69% of all condo sales are foreclosures and short sales," Mr. Shuffield said — and that is affecting pricing.
At the end of September, he said, the median price of a single-family home in Miami-Dade was $175,000, down from almost $400,000 at the market's peak in spring 2007. The median condo price at the end of September was $97,000, down from $275,000 at the peak of the condo market in February 2008.