ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 25, 2006-The median price for existing single-family homes in Florida continued to rise in December, reaching $247,000 — an increase of 27 percent compared to the statewide median price of $194,000 in December 2004, according to the Florida Association of Realtors® (FAR).

In December 2000, the statewide median sales price was $116,200, which is an increase of 112.5 percent over the five-year period, according to FAR records. The median is the midpoint, which is a typical market price where half of the homes sold for more and half for less.

The national median sales price for existing single-family homes was $213,500 in November, which was 13.5 percent higher than November 2004, according to the National Association of Realtors®. In California, the statewide median price in November was $548,400; in Maryland, it was $302,822; in New York, it was $280,000; and in North Carolina, the average resale price was $215,160.

Statewide, a total of 17,505 homes sold last month compared to 20,592 homes sold in December 2004, for a drop in the sales pace of 15 percent during the holiday period. Realtors across the state reported that inventory levels appear to be on the rise following months of tight supply in many markets.

The rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.27 percent last month, up from the average rate of 5.75 percent in December 2004. FAR’s sales figures reflect closings, which typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

Among Florida’s larger cities, the Jacksonville metropolitan statistical area (MSA) reported gains in both sales and median price in December compared to the same month a year ago. A total of 1,356 homes changed hands last month compared to 1,261 homes sold last year for an 8 percent increase. The market’s median sales price rose 20 percent to $190,400; a year ago, it was $158,900.

Kay Seitzinger, president of the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors and assistant manager with Watson Realty Corp. in Ponte Vedra, said a strong local economy fuels housing activity in the area. "Businesses are continuing to relocate to the Jacksonville area," she says. "The growth is phenomenal. The military and service sector are our strongest two industries, but we’re gaining a lot of diverse small businesses. Job opportunities are here and land availability allows for continued growth and development."

The Fort Myers-Cape Coral MSA was another larger market reporting strong sales in December, with a total of 1,084 homes sold for a 24 percent increase. The area’s median price rose 46 percent to $322,300; a year ago it was $221,200. According to Brett Ellis of the Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group, 2005 capped a great year. "Historically, the best on record. We did see some slowdown heading into the 4th quarter of 2005 which will carry over to 2006. Inventory levels have risen dramatically, and sales are down compared to similar periods over the last several years. We think the market is taking a bit of a breather as many have been priced out of the market. Investor activity has slowed dramatically and many are canceling contracts when they find out they can’t resell for a profit. It all depends when and what price you got in. We’ve been saying for well over two years ultimately the end user will drive this market, and we’re at that point now. Going forward, absorption of existing inventory will be determined mostly by the end user, and not the investors. We’re back to normal supply and demand."

As for the state’s smaller markets, the Ocala MSA reported a 4 percent increase in the number of homes sold in December, with a total of 559 homes sold compared to 540 homes sold during the same time last year. The market’s median sales price rose 44 percent to $162,700; a year ago, it was $113,300.

Wilbur Van Wyck, president of the Ocala/Marion County Association of Realtors and broker-owner of Coldwell Banker Riverland Realty in Dunnellon, says that the area’s scenic beauty and leisurely lifestyle attract buyers.

"The secret is out about Ocala and that it’s a great place to live," he says. "This is a beautiful area that offers less traffic congestion, a friendly community and still laid-back lifestyle, creating a strong demand for homes here."

A chart showing statistics for Florida and its 20 MSAs is available by clicking here. The chart compares the volume of existing, single-family home sales and median sales prices in 2005 compared to 2004, based on Realtor transactions.

Courtesy of the Florida Association of Realtors, the University of Florida Real Estate Research Center   and The Ellis Team.

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