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Fla.’s Housing Market: Strong Gains in Dec. Despite Pandemic

By Marla Martin

Florida Realtors Dec. data: More closed sales (single-family sales up 21%, condo-townhouse sales up 27.7%), more new pending sales, higher median prices and more new listings year-over-year. Chief Economist O’Connor: Higher pending sales “strongly signal” higher closed sales into 2021.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Despite the ongoing pandemic and a still struggling jobs outlook, Florida’s housing market in December showed more closed sales, more new pending sales, higher median prices and more new listings compared to a year ago, according to Florida Realtors® latest housing data. Single-family existing home sales rose 21% compared to a year ago.

“The strength and resilience of Florida’s housing market in 2020 has been remarkable – even with the challenges caused by the ongoing global pandemic and the resulting economic turmoil, the market in December ended on a high note,” says 2021 Florida Realtors President Cheryl Lambert, broker-owner with Only Way Realty Citrus in Inverness. “Mortgage rates remain historically low and there’s great interest from buyers throughout the state. However, a continued shortage of for-sale inventory is having an impact on prices and attainable, affordable housing.”

In December, closed sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 30,478, up 21% year-over-year, while existing condo-townhouse sales totaled 12,752, up 27.7% over December 2019. Closed sales may occur from 30- to 90-plus days after sales contracts are written.

The statewide median sales prices for both single-family homes and condo-townhouse properties rose year-over-year in December for 108 consecutive months. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes was $309,000, up 14.4% from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors Research Department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Last month’s statewide median price for condo-townhouse units was $230,000, up 13.7% over the year-ago figure. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. Brad O’Connor noted that December’s closed sales for existing single-family homes was the second highest total for any month in 2020.

“Last winter we were on pace to have one of the best years on record in residential real estate,” he said. “The pandemic dashed those dreams in March, of course, but the housing market has since come roaring back – right now a lot of the right factors are in place for us to get off to another really strong start in 2021. New pending sales of single-family homes were up 30.7% year-over-year in December, while new pending condo and townhouse sales were up 42.6%, which strongly signals that we’re going to see this surge in closed sales continue into at least the first couple of months of this year.”

O’Connor added, “For all of 2020, we ended up with almost 6% more closed single-family home sales across the state than in 2019. But our current rate of sales is better exemplified by what took place during the second half of 2020, with single-family home sales marking an 18% year-over-year increase. And December’s strong finish for condo and townhouse sales put its annual total for 2020 ahead of its 2019 total by 2.5%.”

The state’s luxury market led the way throughout the second half of 2020, O’Connor noted, and coupled with the overall increase in home value appreciation across the board during that time, it resulted in a dollar volume of sales in 2020 that was far greater than in 2019.

“The dollar volume of closed single-family home sales rose by 22.5% in 2020 to nearly $125 billion,” he said. “Closed sales in the condo and townhouse category, meanwhile, ended the year with an annual total dollar volume in excess of $36 billion, for an increase of just under 14%.”

New listings statewide increased year-over-year in both property type categories in December, up 10% for single-family existing homes and 11.4% for condo and townhouse units.

On the supply side of the market, inventory (active listings) remained restricted, particularly in the single-family existing home category, which was at a very limited 1.8-months’ supply in December. Condo-townhouse inventory was at a 4.2-months’ supply.

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.68% in December 2020, significantly lower than the 3.72% averaged during the same month a year earlier.

To see the full statewide housing activity reports, go to Florida Realtors Tools and Research section. Realtors also have access to local market data (password protected) through Florida Realtors’ SunStats resource.

© 2021 Florida Realtors®

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