Miami Region September Home Sales

by 01 Nov 2011
Miami-area home sales held at a five-year high in September, rising 15 percent from a year earlier as price reductions and super-low mortgage rates helped stoke year-over-year sales gains across the price spectrum. The median sale price fell short of the year-ago level for the 48th consecutive month but the magnitude of the decline – 1.5 percent – was the smallest yet, a real estate information service reported.   In September, 8,546 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in the metro area encompassing Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward counties. That was down 11.3 percent from the prior month but up 15.1 percent from a year earlier – to the highest level for a September since 2006, when 11,892 homes sold, according to San Diego-based DataQuick. The firm tracks real estate trends nationally via public property records.   A drop in sales between August and September is normal for the season, partly because many families try to close escrow and move before school starts in late summer. On average, sales have fallen 9.5 percent between August and September since 1997, when DataQuick’s complete Miami-area statistics begin.   September’s total sales fell 19.5 percent below the average September sales tally of 10,621 since 1997. However, if newly built homes are excluded from the sales mix, then the number of homes that closed escrow in September was just 9.0 percent below average for a September. Although the Miami region’s new-home sales rose 25.0 percent in September from a year earlier, they were still the second-lowest on record for that month.    The number of new and resale houses and condos that sold in September for less than $100,000 rose 17.1 percent from a year earlier, compared with a 14.7 percent gain for sub-$200,000 sales; a 17.0 percent annual increase for $200,000 to $600,000 sales; and a 16.1 annual gain for transactions above $800,000. Sales over $950,000 rose 18.2 percent compared with September 2010.   In the Miami region’s multi-million-dollar luxury market, the number of new or resale houses and condos that sold for $2 million or more in September fell 10.9 percent from August but rose 1.8 percent from a year earlier. During the first nine months of this year, 638 homes sold for $2 million or more, up 16.0 percent from the same period last year and the highest for that nine-month period since 780 homes sold for $2 million or more in 2008. The figures are based on public property records, where either a price or loan amount was available.    In the overall market, the median price paid for all new and resale houses and condos sold in the Miami region in September was $130,000, down 1.5 percent from both August and a year earlier. It was the lowest level for the median since April this year, when it was $125,000.   The September median stood 55.2 percent below the peak $290,000 median in June 2007.    Another key price gauge analysts watch, the median price paid per square foot for existing single-family detached houses, rose to $97 in September, up from $96 in August but down 3.0 percent from $100 a year earlier. The September figure stood 54.0 percent below the peak of $211 reached in May 2006.    At the county level in September, the median paid per square foot for resale houses rose to $99 in Broward County, up from $96 in August but down 2.0 percent from a year earlier. The figure increased to $97 in Miami-Dade County, up 3.4 percent from August and up 3.6 percent from a year earlier. Palm Beach County’s median paid per square foot fell to $94 in September, down 4.3 percent from August and down 12.3 percent from a year earlier.   In September, absentee buyers purchased a near-record 38.1 percent of all homes sold in the Miami area, the same as in August but up from 35.4 percent a year earlier. The all-time high was 39.4 percent this March. Absentee buyers paid a median $90,000 in September, the same as in August but up from $87,500 a year earlier. Absentee buyers are investors, second-home buyers and others who indicate at the time of sale that their property tax bill will be sent to a different address. (Absentee statistics go back to January 2000).   Many absentee buyers are also cash buyers, who purchased 62.0 percent of all Miami-area homes sold in September. That was down slightly from 62.4 percent the prior month and up from 61.2 percent a year earlier. The peak for cash purchases was 68.6 percent this March. Specifically, these were transactions where there was no indication of a purchase loan recorded at the time of sale. Some of these “cash” buyers could have used alternative financing arrangements outside of a typical, recorded purchase mortgage, and in some cases they might take out mortgages after their purchases.   On the lending front, use of adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) fell slightly in September, when 9.8 percent of all home purchase loans were ARMs. That was down from 10.3 percent in August and 11.5 percent in July, which was the highest ARM rate since August 2008. A year ago ARMs made up 6.1 percent of home purchase loans. The low point for ARM use in the current real estate cycle was 4.4 percent in May 2009. Though the ARM rate has generally trended higher over the past year it remains far below the Miami area's decade-long monthly ARM average of 30 percent of all purchase loans.   The use of a form of low-down-payment financing that’s popular with first-time homebuyers – government-insured FHA loans – rose very slightly in September to 39.6 percent of all home purchase loans. That was up from 39.2 percent in August but down from 43.2 percent a year earlier and 43.9 percent two years earlier.   (chart below)  
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach, FL  MSA    
         
Number of sales

Sep-10

Aug-11

Sep-11

%Chng

Resale houses

3,365

4,550

3,936

17.0%

Resale condos

3,678

4,591

4,130

12.3%

New homes

384

497

480

25.0%

All homes

7,427

9,638

8,546

15.1%

         
Median price

Sep-10

Aug-11

Sep-11

%Chng

Resale houses

$175,000

$165,000

$165,000

-5.7%

Resale condos

$87,000

$90,000

$85,000

-2.3%

New homes

$303,000

$295,000

$311,950

3.0%

All homes

$132,000

$132,000

$130,000

-1.5%

         
Source: DataQuick, DQNews.com      

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