Not enough homes for sale continues to influence Florida’s housing market, as March’s tight inventory constrained sales and put upward pressure on median prices, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $250,800, up 8.2 percent from the previous year, while the statewide median price for townhouse-condo properties was $183,000, up 7 percent over the year-ago figure.
“As the ongoing supply of for-sale homes continues to tighten, it can create a cycle of frustration for homebuyers, especially those trying to become a first-time homeowner,” said 2018 Florida Realtors President Christine Hansen, broker-owner with Century 21 Hansen Realty in Fort Lauderdale. “If move-up buyers can’t find a home in their desired price range, then they aren’t likely to leave their current home, which in turn makes entry-level properties even more scarce. Buyer demand is high, but the shortfall of inventory – particularly around $250,000 and under – is impacting affordability in many areas.
“Having a Realtor on your side, who knows your local area, can make all the difference when it comes to dealing with today’s complex market conditions.”
March was the 75th consecutive month that the statewide median sales prices for both single-family homes and townhouse-condo properties rose year-over-year, according to data from Florida Realtors Research Department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.
According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in February 2018 was $243,400, up 5.9 percent from the previous year; the national median existing condo price was $227,300. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in February was $522,440; in Massachusetts, it was $350,000; in Maryland, it was $268,197; and in New York, it was $260,000.
Sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 25,020 last month, down 3.5 percent compared to March 2017, while statewide closed sales in Florida’s townhouse-condo market totaled 10,997 last month, down 1.8 percent compared to a year ago. Closed sales data reflected fewer short sales and foreclosures last month: Short sales for single-family homes dropped 49.3 percent and foreclosures fell 53 percent year-to-year; short sales for townhouse-condo properties declined 51.7 percent and foreclosures fell 41.4 percent year-to-year. Closed sales may occur from 30- to 90-plus days after sales contracts are written.
“Single-family home sales were down 3.5 percent year-over-year in March, the largest such drop in over a year – excluding, of course, last September when Irma briefly shut down the housing market,” said Florida Realtors® Chief Economist Dr. Brad O’Connor. “We shouldn’t ignore, however, that March of 2017 was an unusually strong month for closed sales, so from the start, the odds were already stacked against any substantial year-over-year sales growth taking place this March.
“Still, year-to-date, single-family home sales are down a little under 1 percent, so it will be important to watch the April numbers very closely when they come out next month. At that point, we’ll have a better idea if March was just a blip, or perhaps whether it was the beginning of a very gradual slowdown in sales growth that appears to become more inevitable the longer our statewide housing shortage persists.”
March’s for-sale inventory tightened even more with a 3.8-months’ supply for single-family homes and a 5.9-months’ supply for townhouse-condo properties, according to Florida Realtors.
According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.44 percent in March 2018, up from the 4.20 percent averaged during the same month a year earlier.