Miami-area home sales rose above a year earlier for the 11th consecutive month in March amid sizeable gains in mid- to high-end activity and a record level of sales to investors and other absentee buyers. The median price paid for a home rose 14.1 percent from a year ago, marking the 15th month in a row with a year-over-year increase, a real estate information service reported.
In March, 10,215 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in the metro area encompassing Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward counties. March sales rose 18.8 percent from the prior month and rose 7.1 percent from a year earlier, according to San Diego-based DataQuick. The firm tracks real estate trends nationally via public property records.
A sharp sales gain between February and March is normal for the season, with the change between those two months averaging 26.7 percent since 1997, when DataQuick’s complete Miami-area statistics begin.
This March's total sales fell 8.4 percent short of the average number of sales in March since 1997. While resale houses and newly built homes (houses and condos combined) fell short of the average March sales level by 12.5 percent and 76.4 percent, respectively, resales of condos rose 32.8 percent above the March average.
During the first quarter of this year (January through March), a total of 28,294 homes sold in the Miami region, up 14.2 percent from first-quarter 2012. First-quarter 2012 condo sales rose 9.2 percent year-over-year, while first-quarter single-family house resales rose 19.5 percent and sales of all newly built homes increased 18.9 percent.
When viewed by price segment, the Miami area's March sales dropped 11.2 percent year-over-year for homes priced below $100,000, and dipped 3.3 percent for homes below $200,000. The number of homes sold in the typical move-up range between $200,000 and $600,000 jumped 24.9 percent year-over-year in March, while the number of homes that sold above $800,000 rose 27.0 percent from the same month last year.
In the Miami region’s multi-million-dollar luxury market, 124 homes sold for $2 million or more in March, up 63.2 percent from one year earlier. In the first three months of this year, 278 homes sold for $2 million or more, up 48.7 percent from the same period last year. The figures are based on public property records, where either a price or loan amount was available.
In the overall Miami market, the median price paid for all new and resale houses and condos sold in March was $154,000. That was up 0.7 percent from the month before and up 14.1 percent from a year earlier. The median has risen year-over-year for 15 consecutive months, and those gains have been double-digit for the past eight months.
This March's median was 28.3 percent higher than the current housing cycle’s post-peak trough of $120,000 in January and February of 2011, but it was still 46.9 percent lower than the Miami area’s peak $290,000 median in June 2007.
The region’s resale condo median rose 14.0 percent year-over-year in March, marking the 18th consecutive month in which that price measure has posted an annual gain. The median price paid for resale single-family detached houses rose 24.2 percent in March compared with a year earlier, marking the 14th consecutive month with a year-over-year gain.
The median price paid per square foot for resale single-family detached houses rose to $114 in March, up 17.5 percent from a year earlier. The figure has risen year-over-year for 19 consecutive months. March's level was 40.7 percent below the May/June 2006 peak of $192 per square foot.
The region’s median price paid per square foot for resale condos was $95 in March, up 12.7 percent from a year earlier. It was the 18th consecutive month with a year-over-year gain. March’s median paid per square foot for resale condos was 55.2 percent below the April 2006 peak of $211.
Other Miami region March highlights:
►Absentee buyers purchased a record 43.6 percent of all homes sold in the Miami area in March, up from 43.4 percent the month before and up from 41.8 percent a year earlier. Absentee buyers paid a median $115,000 for all new and resale houses and condos that they purchased, up 21.1 percent from a year earlier. Absentee buyers are investors, vacation-home buyers and others who indicate at the time of sale that the property tax bill will be sent to a different address.
►In March, 315 buyers purchased two or more homes, up from 294 in March 2012. This March's multi-home buyers purchased 979 properties, or 9.6 of all homes sold in the region. That was 16.4 percent more properties than multi-home buyers purchased in March last year, when they acquired 8.8 percent of all homes sold that month.
►Buyers who had a foreign mailing addresses in the public record accounted for 5.3 percent of all Miami-area homes bought in March, and 9.1 percent of the region’s condo resales. About 54.4 percent of the identified foreign buyers bought in Broward County, while about 31.8 percent bought in Palm Beach County and 13.8 percent in Miami-Dade. (Note: Not all foreign buyers use a foreign mailing address, hence cannot be tracked with public records.)
►Cash buyers purchased 66.6 percent of the Miami-area homes sold in March. That was up from 65.5 percent the month before and down from 67.5 percent a year earlier. The peak was 68.7 percent in February 2012. March’s cash buyers paid a median $118,000, up 18.0 percent from a year earlier. Cash deals are where there was no indication in the public record of a purchase loan recorded at the time of sale.
►Use of a form of low-down-payment financing popular with first-time homebuyers – government-insured FHA loans – accounted for 29.5 percent of all home purchase loans in March, down from 30.2 percent in February and 35.2 percent a year earlier. In recent months the FHA share of the purchase loan market has dropped to the lowest level since fall 2008. The decline reflects tighter FHA qualifying standards implemented in recent years as well as the difficulties first-time buyers have competing with investors.