March 2, 2012The 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 percent from the prior month and down 3.3 percent from a year earlier, according to San Diego-based DataQuick. The firm tracks real estate trends nationally via public property records.
It's normal for sales to drop between December and January. On average, sales between those two months have fallen 19.1 percent since 1997, when DataQuick's complete Miami-area statistics begin.
January's total sales were 19.0 percent lower than the average January sales tally of 9,187 since 1997. However, if newly built homes are excluded from the sales mix, then the number of houses and condos that closed escrow in January was just 3.3 percent below the historical average for that month. Although the Miami region's new-home sales rose 7.4 percent in January compared with a year earlier, they were still the second-lowest on record for that month. New-home sales have risen year-over-year for the past three months.
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 percent from a year earlier (the decline was 8.1 percent for sub-$200,000 sales), compared with a 4.2 percent annual gain for sales between $200,000 and $600,000 and a 24.1 percent 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 percent increase from a year earlier. In all of 2011, $2 million-plus home sales rose 13.5 percent 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 percent from December but up 6.1 percent 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 percent 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 percent from December but up 1.3 percent 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 percent 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.
Another key price gauge analysts watch, the median price paid per square foot for resale single-family detached houses, dipped slightly in January to $85. That was down 1.4 percent from $86 in both December 2011 and January 2011. January's year-over-year decline was the smallest since the median paid per square foot went negative year-over-year in July 2010. The January figure stood 55.9 percent below the peak of $211 reached in May 2006 and was just slightly higher than the post-peak trough of $84, which it reached last February and October.
For resale condos, Miami region buyers paid a median $82 a square foot in January, down from $84 in December but up 8.2 percent from a year earlier. January's year-over-year gain was the fourth in a row, and the largest. The January median was 60.9 percent lower than the all-time peak of $199 paid per square foot for resale condos in June 2007, but it was also 10.3 percent higher than the post-peak trough of $75 last March.
At the county level in January, the median paid per square foot for resale single-family detached houses rose to $76 in Broward County, up 2.3 percent from December and up 2.0 percent from a year earlier. The figure dipped slightly to $93 in Miami-Dade County, down 1.4 percent from December but up 2.0 percent from a year earlier. For both Broward and Miami-Dade counties it was the first year-over-year increase since last September. Palm Beach County's median paid per square foot fell to $91 in January, down 5.2 percent from December and down 6.8 percent from a year earlier.
For resale condos, Broward County saw it's median price paid per square foot dip month-to-month to $70 in January, compared with $74 in December. But the figure rose 6.6 percent from a year earlier, marking the eighth consecutive month in which Broward's median paid per square foot for resale condos has risen year-over-year. Miami-Dade saw it's resale condo price per square foot dip to $120 in January compared with December's $122, but on a year-over-year basis it was up 23.3 percent, marking the seventh consecutive month to post a year-over-year gain. Palm Beach County saw it's median paid per square foot for condos drop to $65 in January, down 2.3 percent from December and down 4.6 percent from a year earlier.
Driving much of the demand for condos and other lower-cost homes are absentee buyers, who purchased a record 39.9 percent of all homes sold in the Miami area in January. That was up from 38.0 percent in December and 37.4 percent a year earlier. The former high was 39.4 percent 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. (Absentee statistics go back to January 2000).
Absentee buyers paid a median $94,899 for all new and resale houses and condos that they purchased in January, down slightly from $96,000 in December but up 11.6 percent from $85,000 in January 2011.
January buyers who had a foreign mailing addresses in the public record represented 5.6 percent of total Miami-area home sales for the month, and accounted for more than 9 percent of all sales of existing (not new) condos. Of all homes bought with a foreign mailing address, 79 percent were existing condos. (Note: Not all foreign buyers use a foreign mailing address, hence cannot be tracked with public records.)
Nearly 70 percent of the Miami-area's January buyers with a foreign mailing address were from Canada, while the rest were split among more than 30 other nations, including Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil, France, Columbia and the United Kingdom.
Many absentee buyers are also cash buyers, who purchased 64.4 percent of the Miami-area homes sold in January. That was down slightly from 65.4 percent the prior month and down from 65.4 percent a year earlier. The peak for cash purchases was 68.6 percent in March 2011. Cash deals are where there was no indication of a purchase loan recorded at the time of sale
January's cash buyers paid a median $95,000, down from $98,000 in December but up from $85,000 a year earlier.
Meanwhile, use of a form of low-down-payment financing that's popular with first-time homebuyers - government-insured FHA loans - rose slightly in January, to 37.9 percent of all home purchase loans. That was up from an FHA share of 37.0 percent of purchase loans the prior month but down from 42.6 percent a year earlier and 46.0 percent two years ago.
See full Miami Home Sale Chart as DQNews.com.