Miami Home Sales Dip in January

LA JOLLA, Calif. ( DQNews) -- The number of homes sold in the Miami area in January dipped below the year-ago level as sub-$200,000 transactions fell, tugging down the region's overall sales tally despite annual gains for mid- to high-end deals.

The median sale price rose on a year-over-year basis for the first time in 52 months -- just one of several indications of widening price stability, a real estate information service reported.

In January, 7,443 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in the metro area encompassing Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward counties. That was down 17.1% from the prior month and down 3.3% from a year earlier, according to San Diego-based DataQuick. The firm tracks real estate trends nationally via public property records.

When sliced up by price segment, January sales saw year-over-year gains in the middle and top of the market and declines at the bottom. Sales below $100,000 fell 11.6% from a year earlier (the decline was 8.1 % for sub-$200,000 sales), compared with a 4.2% annual gain for sales between $200,000 and $600,000 and a 24.1% annual increase for deals over $800,000.

In the Miami region's multi-million-dollar luxury market, the 56 homes that sold for $2 million or more in January represented a 14.3% increase from a year earlier. In all of 2011, $2 million-plus home sales rose 13.5% compared with 2010. The figures are based on public property records, where either a price or loan amount was available.

In the overall market, the median price paid for all new and resale houses and condos sold in the Miami region in January was $130,000, down 3.7% from December but up 6.1% from a year earlier. January's year-over-year increase was the first since September 2007. The median stopped falling on a year-over-year basis in December 2011, when it was exactly the same as a year earlier.

The January median stood 55.2 % below the peak $290,000 median in June 2007.

The median price paid for resale houses in the three-county area was $162,000 in January, down 1.8 % from December but up 1.3 % from a year earlier, marking the first year-over-year gain since May 2010. January's $90,000 resale condo median sale price was the same as the month before (and each month back to last October) and was 12.5 % higher than a year earlier. The resale condo median has risen on a year-over-year basis for four consecutive months, with January's gain being the largest.

Driving much of the demand for condos and other lower-cost homes are absentee buyers, who purchased a record 39.9% of all homes sold in the Miami area in January. That was up from 38% in December and 37.4% a year earlier. The former high was 39.4% in March 2011. Absentee buyers are investors, second-home buyers and others who indicate at the time of sale that their property tax bill will be sent to a different address.
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