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.
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.