MDA DataQuick: Miami Region December Home Sales

by 11 Feb 2010


Miami metro area home sales remained at a three-year high in December as sales of existing condos, whose prices have fallen most sharply from peak levels in 2006, continued to claim a higher-than-average share of transactions. The median price paid for all new and resale houses and condos combined didn’t budge from November and declined from a year earlier by the lowest amount – 22.5 percent – since late 2008, a real estate information service reported.
In December, 8,259 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in the metro area encompassing Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward counties . That was up 19.1 percent from November and up 41.3 percent from 5,846 in December 2008, according to MDA DataQuick of San Diego, Calif. The firm tracks real estate trends nationally via public property records.
Total escrow closings were the highest for a December since 2006, but they were still the third-lowest for that month since 1997, when DataQuick’s complete Miami-area stats begin.
December’s increase in total sales from November was normal for the season, though the 19.1 gain was below the average November-to-December increase of 29.6 percent since 1997.
December marked the tenth consecutive month in which the region’s overall sales rose on a year-over-year basis. Existing (not new) single-family detached house and condo sales have risen year-over-year for 13 consecutive months, while new-home sales in December fell below the year-ago level for the 42 nd time in the last 43 months.
The December 2009 new-home tally rose nearly 31 percent above the November level but was still the lowest for the month of December since at least 1997. New-home sales, which have suffered as builders struggle to compete with low-cost foreclosures, made up 8.6 percent of total December sales. That compares with the new-home market’s monthly average of 20.3 percent of total sales over the past decade.
The 3,611 sales of existing condos in December marked a gain of 18 percent from November and 61.5 percent from a year earlier, to the highest level for a December since 2004, when condo resales totaled 4,407. Condo resales made up 43.7 percent of total Miami-area home sales in December, compared with 38.2 percent a year earlier and a monthly average of 31.5 percent over the past decade.
Propelled by strong condo sales, December sales of all homes priced $50,000 to $150,000 shot up 98.5 percent from December 2008. The $50,000 - $150,000 sales represented 47.5 percent of total home sales in December, up from 33.9 percent in December 2008 and 15.2 percent in December 2007.
Sales also picked up in December at the opposite end of the price spectrum: The number of homes sold for $1 million or more rose to 243 in December, up 51 percent from 161 in November and up 28.6 percent from 189 in December 2008. The figures are based on an analysis of public property records, where there was a purchase price or purchase loan amount of $1 million or more. During all of 2009, sales of $1 million-plus homes totaled 2,061, down 32.3 percent from a 2008 total of 3,044. The peak month for $1 million-plus home sales was in June 2005, when 583 sold, and the peak year was 2005, when 5,452 homes sold for $1 million or more.
The median price paid for all new and resale houses and condos sold in December was $155,000, the same as in November but down 22.5 percent from $200,000 in December 2008. It was the smallest year-over-year decline for the overall median sale price since the median fell 22.2 percent, to $210,000, in November 2008.
December’s median was 46.6 percent below the peak $290,000 median in June 2007.  The Miami area’s median price has fallen on a year-over-year basis for 27 consecutive months.
The median price paid for resale condos in December held steady at $105,000 – the same as in November but down 23.7 percent from a year ago and down 54.8 percent from the peak $219,000 resale condo median in July 2006. The resale condo median hit a cycle low of $99,000 in September 2009.
The median paid for resale single-family detached houses rose slightly in December to $188,000, up 1.7 percent from 184,800 in November but down 14.5 percent from a year ago and down 44.1 percent from a June 2007 peak of $340,000.
Another price gauge analysts watch, the median paid per square foot for resale single-family detached houses, held steady in December at $109, the same as in November but down 11.4 percent from $123 in December 2008. It was the lowest year-over-year decline for any month since November 2007. The December 2009 median paid per square foot stood 48.3 percent below the region’s $211 peak in summer 2006. The measure has fallen year-over-year for 39 straight months.
A popular form of financing used by first-time home buyers – government-insured FHA loans – accounted for 42.5 percent of all home purchase loans in December, down from 48.5 percent in November but up from 35 percent a year ago and 5.4 percent two years ago.
Absentee buyers purchased 29.3 percent of all homes sold in the Miami area in December, up from 28.8 percent in November and 26.6 percent a year ago, according to public property records. Absentee buyers are often investors, but could include second-home buyers and others who indicated at the time of sale that their property tax bill would be sent to a different address.
About 2.8 percent of the homes sold in December had been “flipped” within a three-week to six-month period, meaning they had been bought on the open market and then re-sold within that window. That’s down slightly from a flipping rate of 3.1 percent of all sales in November but up from 1.7 percent in December 2008, based on public records. Flipping rates were higher before the housing market correction: In December 2005 the Miami-area flipping rate was 4.5 percent, while it was 5.0 percent in December 2004.
Buyers who appear to have used cash to purchase their homes accounted for 54.0 percent of all December sales, and those buyers paid a median $120,000 for their homes. Specifically, these were transactions where there was no indication of a purchase loan recorded in the public record at the time of sale. Some of these “cash” buyers could have used alternative financing arrangements outside of a typical purchase mortgage, and in some cases these buyers might be taking out mortgages after their purchases. All-cash deals are popular in markets where prices have dropped sharply and sellers favor the relative speed and certainty of cash transactions. 
The use of adjustable-rate mortgages (“ARMs”) to buy homes was steady in December at 5.7 percent of all purchase loans, the same as in November but up from a decade low of 4.4 percent in May 2009. However, December’s purchase ARM level was down from 6.9 percent a year earlier. Miami’s monthly average for ARM use over the past decade is 49.7 percent of purchase loans. In December, the median ARM purchase loan amount was $280,000.
(chart below)
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach, FL  MSA
Number of sales
Resale houses
Resale condos
New homes
All homes
Median price
Resale houses
Resale condos
New homes
All homes
Source: MDA DataQuick,



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