Palm Beach County Real Estate Moving In The Right Direction! -Stefan
Updated: 7:52 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012 | Posted: 6:00 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012
Palm Beach County Home Sales Up In August as Inventory Shrinks
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
WEST PALM BEACH —
Two blocks off the Georgia Avenue industrial corridor in West Palm Beach, the little sand-colored house for sale on Franklin Road is nothing special — cracked up driveway, mildewed roof, Flamingo pink tile in the bathroom.
And about 20 prospective buyers with offers in for the house listed at $59,900.
Despite its detractions, the bank-owned property is among a dwindling supply of houses for sale in Palm Beach County that helped drive median prices up 12 percent in August from last year to $215,000. The volume of single-family home sales was up 8 percent from 2011 and equal to July’s sales, according to a report released Wednesday by the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches.
“It seems the inventory is being released in cycles of some sort, and I think it’s stabilized the market and pushed values up ever so slightly,” said Kathy Gross, president and broker of Nautica Realty in Boynton Beach. “Supply and demand is definitely affecting values.
Housing inventory shrunk to less than five months in Palm Beach County in August. Between a five- and six-month supply is typically considered a balanced market.
A series of hefty liens on the Franklin Street home is delaying its purchase, said Jean Marseille a broker with Legacy Realty & Development in West Palm Beach. Still, multiple bids on homes has become more the norm as of late, especially in lower price ranges.
“The market has recently been on an upswing,” Marseille said.
It’s similar statewide and nationally.
In Florida last month, single-family home sales increased 11 percent from August last year, while the median price grew 6 percent to $139,000.
Nationwide, August’s median prices were up on a year over year basis for the sixth straight month. The last time that happened was during the housing boom from December 2005 to May 2006, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Total closed home sales nationwide rose 7.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.82 million in August from July and were 9.3 percent higher than the same time last year. The median sales price nationwide was $187,400, up 9.5 percent from a year ago.
Wells Fargo analysts said the increase was more than expected, and noted that 32 percent of homes sold nationwide in August were on the market for less than a month.
“Everything that should be going up is going up, and everything that should be going down is going down,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist John Tuccillo. “After the six years of turmoil that we had, it’s good to see the trends strongly moving in the right direction.”
Getting financing, however, is still a problem for some homebuyers, said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. Despite continuing low interest rates, high lending standards are a roadblock.
According to national mortgage backer Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.6 percent in August from a record low of 3.55 percent in July. The rate was 4.27 percent in August 2011.
But Gross said there are many non-investors using cash to buy homes for themselves. Nationwide, all-cash sales accounted for 27 percent of all transactions. First-time homebuyers accounted for 31 percent of purchasers in August, down from 34 percent in July, the National Association of Realtors said.
Yun specifically mentioned Florida in Wednesday’s report as an area with an inventory shortage.
Florida had 99,677 homes for sale last month, down 32 percent from August 2011. Palm Beach County had 6,788 homes for sale last month, a 43 percent decrease from last year.
“Even though we know the inventory exists, it’s just not on the market,” said Marseille, referring to the so-called shadow inventory of foreclosed homes.
Florida had a backlog of about 377,700 foreclosure cases in the court system as of June.
The two-bedroom, two-bathroom home on Franklin Road was in that distressed property pipeline until March when the bank bought it back at a foreclosure auction for $51,600 — a third of what it sold for in 2004.