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Southwest Florida Real Estate News

As Realtors® one of the most important tasks we have is to stay aware of news events which may affect our local real estate markets. We do this not only because it is important for us to be able to provide quality service to our clients, but also to keep ourselves informed of the type of things which may impact all of us here in Southwest Florida.

Therefore, we are providing the following information to help keep you aware of the local, state and national real estate news which may affect either buyers or sellers of Southwest Florida real estate. And, since these type of news events are constantly changing, we update this information on a regular basis. So, check back often to keep yourself abreast of the latest news about Southwest Florida real estate.

A Few of Our Thoughts on the Local SW Florida Real Estate Market Conditions

Thus, as we move on from here, buyers can still look forward to a decent "window of opportunity"  for purchasing property in SW Florida. Just don't wait too long or you're likely be looking at havng to pay in the range of 15% or more in the not too distant future (by 2015). That equates to a $30,000 increase on a $200,000 purchase price over today's market.

Florida Existing Home Sales and Prices

Florida's housing market reported more closed sales, higher median prices and an increase in new listings in December, according to the latest housing data released by the Florida Realtors Association. December's sales marks 37 months of consecutive gains in the statewide median sales prices, year-over-year, for both single-family homes and condominiums.

Statewide, sales of existing single-family homes totaled 22,214 last month, up 15.8% over December, 2013. The statewide existing home median price was $185,000, up 6.9% from a year ago. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less. The rising prices, along with the renewed strength of the state’s housing market, are encouraging more homeowners to list their properties for sale. Statewide, active listings for single-family homes increased 2.9%. Properties also are taking less time to sell, another trend that is sparking sellers' interest. In December, the median days on market was 54 days for single-family homes.

For all of 2014, statewide closed sales of existing single-family homes totaled 244,543, up 8.1% year-over-year. New listings rose 7.4% and the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes was $178,000, up 5.3%.

Existing condominium sales in December totaled 9,466 statewide, up 11.3% from a year ago levels. The statewide median sales price for condos was $149,000. That was up 8.4% from a year ago. Active condo listings were up 3.4% and median days on market were at 55 days.

For all of 2014, statewide closed sales of existing condominiums totaled 108,354, down 1.2% year-over-year. New listings rose 2.2% and the statewide median sales price for condominiums was $140,000, up 9.8%.

The months supply of inventory at the end of December stood at 5.2 months for single-family homes and at 5.9 months for the condos. Realtors® around the state are reporting ongoing increased business activity as many buyers continue to scramble to buy their piece of paradise. Most are doing so because they have come to the realization that the current prices are still just too good to pass up and they need to take advantage of the discounted sales prices before things change again. With inventories declining in many areas, really good buying opportunities in the most desirable communities are getting much tougher to find.

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National Existing Home Sales

The National Association of Realtors said the annualized pace of existing home sales rose in December by 2.4% to 5.04 million and were 3.5% above the 4.83 million level of a year ago. For all of 2014, there were 4.93 million sales, a 3.1% decline from 2013's 5.09 million. The national median existing-home price was $208,500, the highest since 2007 ($219,000) and a 5.8% increase from 2013's median price of $197,100.

NAR's chief economist said sales picked up in December to close a 2014 that got off to a sluggish start but showed encouraging signs of activity the second half of the year. "Home sales improved over the summer once inventory increased, prices moderated and economic growth accelerated,”  he said. "Sales were measurably better in the second half – up 8% compared to the first six months of the year." NAR's practitioner survey showed first-time buyers purchased 29% of the homes in December and distressed home sales only accounted for 11% of the transactions (8% were foreclosures and 3% were short sales). The distressed home sales were up 2% from last month but are down 14% from last year.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $209,500, up 6% from a year ago. This marks the 34th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains. Inventories of homes on the market fell 11.1% last month to 1.85 million and represented 4.4 months worth of supply.

Around the country, sales were down in two of the four national regions. The Northeast was down by 2.9% and the Midwest by 3.5%. Sales rose in the West by 9.8% and the South by 3.8%. The median price in the South was $184,100, up 6.6% from a year ago.

Single-family home sales were up by 3.5% to 4.47 million and were up 4% from a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $210,200, up 6.3% from December, 2013.

Existing condominium and co-op sales fell 5% in December to a rate of 570,000 units and were unchanged from December, 2013. The median existing condo price was $204,000, up 3.2% from a year ago.

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National New Housing Starts & Building Permits

The Commerce Department reported the annualized pace of housing starts rose by 4.4% in December to 1,089,000 units and were 5.3% higher than a year ago. Starts for single-family homes rose 7.2% to an annual rate of 728,000 units. Multi-family units fell 4.2% to a 339,000 unit annual pace. The data release, a monthly report from the Census Bureau, also revealed that building permits fell by 1.9% to a rate of 1,032,000 but were up by 1% from a year ago.

Privately-owned housing completions in December were up 6.3% at a annual rate of 927,000 and were 19.6% above the December 2013 rate of 775,000. Single-family housing completions were at a rate of 667,000; that was 9.5% above the November rate of 609,000. Multi-family units were up 2% to a 254,000 unit annual completion rate.

An estimated 883,000 housing units were completed in 2014. That was 15.5% above the 2013 total of 764,400 units.

The inventory of total houses under construction was up 2.3% to 835,000 units, while the total number of permits authorized but not yet started were up at 114,200 units. By region, housing starts rose in three of the four national areas. The South was up by 5.8%, the Northwest by 12.5%, and the West by 8.8%. The Midwest was down by 13.3%.

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National New Home Sales

December's new home sales report showed sales were up 11.6% to an annual rate of 481,000 and were also 8.8% above the December 2013 numbers. The median sales price of new houses sold in December was $298,100; the average sales price was $377,800. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of December was 219,000. This represented a supply of 5.5 months at the current sales rate.

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National Pending Home Sales

December's seasonally adjusted index of pending home sales fell by 3.7% but were still 6.1% above last year's number. NAR's chief economist said, fewer homes available for sale and a slight acceleration in prices likely led to December’s decline in contract signings...“total inventory fell in December for the first time in 16 months, resulting in fewer choices for buyers and a modest uptick in price growth in markets throughout the country."  “Additionally, with interest rates at lows not seen since early 2013, the strength in existing-sales in upcoming months will largely depend on the willingness of current homeowners to realize their equity gains from the past couple years and trade up.”

On a regional basis, the pending home sales index was down in all 4 of the national regions. Sales fell by 7.5% in the Northeast, by 2.6% in the South, by 4.6% in the West and by 2.8% in the Midwest. It is important to keep in mind that the pending sales information is somewhat dated and its significance is diluted by the fact that it is just an indicator of upcoming actual sales.

Florida Real Estate Articles

Florida Legislative Update

Short Sales and Florida Doc Stamp Taxes

In a stunning reversal, The Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) issued a new ruling stating that doc stamp taxes owed on a short sale should be based on the sale price paid by the purchaser and "not on the sales price plus any amount forgiven by the home seller's lender."  The ruling is effective immediately.

Questions about the Florida Real Estate Tax Amendment Changes?

The Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) is the best source for up-to-date information, including documents and forms related to portability, the additional homestead exemption and the tangible personal property tax exemption. For more information, visit the DOR Website.

U.S. Legislative Update

To view more Florida real estate and mortgage related information, please visit our
Southwest Florida Real Estate Blog and Gulf Coast Associates Real Estate Blog


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