South Florida’s re-energized housing market took another step back in November.
The Broward County median price for existing single-family homes sold last month was $267,000, down 1 percent from November 2013, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors said Monday. It was the second time in three months that Broward failed to see a median price increase.
Meanwhile, normally robust sales also dropped, falling 6 percent to 1,008 from 1,073. Not since December 2010 have both the median price and sales declined in Broward.
In Palm Beach County, the November median price was $265,012, off less than 1 percent from a year ago, according to the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches. It was the third time in the past four months that the median dipped when compared with the same period the year before.
Although prices were down, Palm Beach County home sales increased 9 percent, to 1,104 from 1,009.
Housing isn’t as overheated as it was last year, but analysts say the slower pace isn’t something to fear.
Ken Johnson, a real estate economist at Florida Atlantic University, said the leveling off of prices is partly the result of a more informed consumer unwilling to get caught up in another housing frenzy.
“It’s a sign that we’re shrewder about our housing purchases,” Johnson said. “People are buying because their incomes support it. All in all, that’s great for the housing market.”
In recent months, what had been a seller’s market from late 2012 to early 2014 has balanced out, with fewer bidding wars giving buyers more say-so in negotiations.
“I see the sellers still standing firm, but prices and appraisals aren’t justifying it,” said Jon Klein, an agent for Real Living 1st Choice Realty in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
One of Klein’s clients, Adam Dalva, bought his five-bedroom Parkland home for $680,000 in 2007 and listed it for $725,000. But with the market not as hot as before, Dalva, 42, figured it was better to reduce his asking price so he could sell it in time to close on another home in the area.
He accepted a contract for $675,000 and expects to complete the deal in early February.
“I think I could have gotten my price if I had held on for another 60 to 90 days, but I wasn’t going to hem and haw. It wasn’t worth the aggravation,” Dalva said.
Although buyers are gaining more leverage as prices soften, there’s still plenty of demand for attractive homes in good neighborhoods, agents say.
Marc Weiser said he was out-bid recently on two Boca Raton houses – even though he offered more than the list prices.
“It seems like it’s not quite a buyers’ market, at least not in the areas we were looking in,” said Weiser, 47, who ended up finding another place in northwest Boca.
Listings keep climbing in both counties as sellers grow more confident in the market. But agents say buyers’ choices are still scant, particularly in the $150,000 to $300,000 range.
“On the ground, trying to find houses that people like, that are well-priced in good condition, is difficult,” said Douglas Rill, a longtime broker in Palm Beach and Broward counties. “It’s still hard to find quality inventory.”
Despite lackluster reports from the Realtor groups, an analysis last week from real estate website Zillow.com showed the total value of all homes in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties is expected to end 2014 at $717 billion, a 9 percent increase from last year.
The total value of all homes across the country is expected to be $27.5 trillion, a 6.7 percent jump from 2013.
Meanwhile, Zillow’s home value index for South Florida in November was $208,000, a 13.6 percent increase, the highest in the nation.
Unlike local Realtor board figures, the Zillow index includes the values of all homes – not just those sold in a given month.
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