Jacksonville home sales take a hit in July

26 08 2010

Single-family home sales in Jacksonville dropped 23 percent in July but the decline was not as bad as the statewide drop.

Nationally and statewide, the drop in sales was worse than Jacksonville’s decline. Nationally it fell 27 percent from 5.26 million sales in June to 3.83 million units in July, according to the National Association of Realtors. In Florida, it fell to 13,589 in July, about 25 percent down from 18,038 in June of this year, according to the Florida Association of Realtors.

The Jacksonville metropolitan area’s sales of 1,500 in June — fueled in part by closings from sales from the federal first-time home buyers’ credit — fell to 1,159 in July. That was the lowest monthly sales total since February’s 843. July’s home sales volume mark represented a decrease from 1,226 sold in July 2009, and the median price has fallen 9 percent from $156,800 in July 2009 to $143,400 last month.

The trend was the same in condominium sales, which sank from 234 in June to 200 in July. Compared to last year, condo sales rose 44 percent from 139 in July 2009, but condo values sank 39 percent from $119,500 in July 2009 to $73,100 in July 2010.

The state’s median existing-home sales value sank year-to-year, too — it was $138,000 in July and $147,600 in July 2009, down 7 percent.

Sean Snaith, director for the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Competitiveness, said the dual downward-pointing indicators suggest that the expiration of an $8,000 first-time home buyers credit has produced a double-dip in the market.

“As we move past this second dip, which is evident in the July data, the continued recovery of the state’s housing market will be contingent upon the improvement of the fundamental underpinnings of the housing sector,” he said. That will be reliant on job growth and employment, he noted.

Florida Realtors President Wendell Davis, a broker with Watson Realty Corp., said the Gulf oil spill and uncertainty on how it will impact Florida real estate affected the state’s market in July.

Nationally, sales of previously occupied homes in the United States fell 27 percent in July, the weakest showing in 15 years, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday. It was the largest monthly drop in the four decades that records have been kept.

Potential buyers are hesitating because they think home prices still have further to fall. Potential sellers — those with the stomach to put their homes on the market at all, anyway — are reluctant to lower their prices.

“It really is a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said Aaron Zapata, a real estate agent in Brea, Calif. “If all buyers perceive that home prices are coming down, then they will stop making offers — and home prices will come down.”

While the standoff plays out, home sales are plummeting.

Sharp declines were recorded in each of the four regions the group tracks. Yet the pain is being felt unevenly from state to state and city to city. Some markets are rebounding even as others languish.

Sellers in sluggish markets like Las Vegas and Chicago can expect to wait an average of more than five months to sell their homes, according to real estate brokerage ZipRealty Inc. It’s even worse in Palm Beach, where it takes nearly six months, longest in the nation.

In healthier markets such as San Francisco and Denver, the average wait is only about two months. Sellers in Washington appear to have the nation’s best major market; they are waiting only about a month and a half.

Beyond geography, the sales numbers vary depending on the price of the home.

The biggest drops in sales are among homes in the low and middle price ranges. For example, 47 percent fewer homes in the Midwest priced between $100,000 and $250,000 sold in July, compared with July last year. By contrast, sales of million-dollar-plus homes in that region actually rose slightly year over year.

This spring, government tax credits helped drive sales, especially among first-time buyers of less expensive homes. But those tax credits have expired now, and many people rushed to lock in sales before they did.

Since then, the number of homes lingering on the market has swelled to nearly 4 million in July. At the current pace of sales, it would take about a year and two weeks to sell all those homes and get them off the market. A healthy level is six months.

Source: The Associated Press and Florida Times Union



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