Miami condo, home sales on pace to hit record highs
By Patricia Hoyos
Largely stimulated by international buyers, the Miami-Dade housing market continues on the right path to end the year with record numbers of home and condo sales, selling more units than during the market's peak.
According to data from the Miami Realtors Association, sales of existing single-family homes rose 46% in September compared to September 2010. Sales of existing condos also increased 58% compared to last year. Statewide, sales rose about 10% for single-family homes and condos.
Michael Pappas, president and CEO of The Keyes Co., said, "Keyes will close more units in 2011 than in 2005, which was our boom market."
On average, there were around 1,500 sales per month in 2005 and about 2,015 per month so far this year, said Ralph De Martino, Miami Realtors residential president and president of Ocean International Realty.
"Hopefully, the average will hold up," he said.
Real estate experts attribute the increase in sales in great part to international buyers who are drawn to Miami's attractively-priced inventory.
"Compared pricing-wise to first-class cities in the world, we are a bargain," Mr. Pappas said.
One in every three international transactions takes place in Florida, Mr. De Martino said, and about a third of those take place in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale market.
The percentage of cash transactions has also risen to 63%, with nearly 90% of international buyers in Florida buying properties for all cash, according to the Miami Realtors Association.
There hasn't been so much cash coming into Miami since the 1980s, Mr. Pappas said.
This year the county's inventory has fallen and now sits at around a six-month supply for homes and seven months for condos, said Ron Shuffield, president of Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell Realtors.
A healthy residential market should have six to nine months of housing supply, experts say.
Still, distressed sales continue to make up the majority of sales, but that figure is dropping. Distressed sales are about two-thirds of the market, Mr. Pappas said.
"We are continuing to grind through the distressed market, and we've seen a positive traction in that," he said. "But we still have great ways to go."
Experts agree that although the overall picture of the housing market shows an upwards trend, the turnaround has been neighborhood specific, with areas such as the Brickell and South Beach market benefitting more than others.
"The rebound has been very specific," Mr. Shuffield said, "but overall, there's been a lot of sales this last two years."
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