The National Association of Realtors predicted that home sales will be high earlier this month. NAR's chief economist, David Lerah, told RisMedia.com:
"With mortgage interest rates bottoming-out in March, we've had a big rush of home buyers this year."
"Home sales should hold close to record territory for a couple months, then ease in the second half of the year but remain at historically strong levels."
This is in spite of rising rates. The 30-year fixed is predicted to be at 6.6 percent by the fourth quarter, according to Lerah, who says higher rates will likely hurt lower income buyers, but not higher income buyers, who will benefit from a rising stock market.
While the number of homes sold nationwide did fail to break current records, the South managed to exceed expectations, with Florida being the strongest market, according to RisMedia.com.
Regionally, the South experienced the highest increase in existing-home sales with rate of 2.99 million units in the first quarter, up 9.5 percent from the first quarter in 2003. After Alabama, the strongest increase in the region was in Florida, where the resale pace was 20.0 percent higher than a year earlier. Tennessee sales activity rose 18.5 percent; seven other Southern states saw double-digit annual increases.
The St. Petersburg Times posted a short report today on the recently released home sales numbers, including the latest Florida market update, including the Tampa-Clearwater-St. Petersburg market.
HOME SALES CLIMBING: Single family home sales continued their steady climb in value statewide through the first quarter of the year, up 13 percent according to the Florida Association of Realtors. In their latest quarterly report, the real estate sales organization noted that more than 50,000 homes changed hands in the state during the first three months of the year, an increase of 21 percent in resale activity. The median sales price of a home in Florida was $146,900 in the first quarter of last year, but is now up to $166,100. In 1999, the figure was 101,900. That's a 63 percent jump in five years. Florida markets reporting a boost in resale activity for the quarter compared to first quarter 2003 include Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, where 8,060 homes changed hands for a 30 percent increase. In the same period last year, the area rose 8 percent, to $149,300.