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Home sales slow, prices soar

The frenzied pace of existing home sales in Florida eased in July, while the statewide median sales price rose 33 percent to $252,300, according to the Florida Association of Realtors in its monthly survey.

In Tampa Bay, the existing home sales were flat for the first time in months, with 4,742 sales in July compared with 4,011 to July of last year. At the same time, the median price for homes soared 30 percent to $217,400.

"The slowing of unit sales will lessen one pressure point lying behind the abnormally high rates of change in median sales prices," said David Scott, executive director of the Dr. Phillips Institute for the Study of American Business Activity and professor of finance at the University of Central Florida, in a release. "Expect the ascent in median prices to begin a gentle leveling off. Several factors lie behind this: (1) Inflation rates as recently reported have increased substantially; (2) rising gasoline prices are negatively pressuring household units on the spending side of economic activity; (3) Federal Reserve policymakers continue to increase short-term interest rates; and (4) wages are rising at rates less than the various rates of inflation, which will reduce the number of borrowers easily qualifying for conventional mortgages."

A total of 21,669 existing single-family homes changed hands in Florida last month, declining 8 percent compared to 23,646 homes sold in July 2004.

Nationally, the median sales price for existing single-family homes was $218,600 in June, up 14.5 percent from a year ago. In California, the statewide median resales price was $542,720 in June; in Maryland, it was $300,956; in New York, it was $270,000; and in Illinois, it was $215,405.

Interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.70 percent in July, significantly lower than the 6.06 percent rate averaged for the same month last year. FAR's sales figures reflect closings, which typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

The Florida Association of Realtors provides programs, services, continuing education, research and legislative representation to its more than 130,000 members in 68 boards and associations.

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