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Ft Lauderdale Real Estate News 08/30/13

fort lauderdale home prices rise for 18th consecutive month and demand remains strong

South Florida home prices rose in June for an 18th consecutive month, though large gains are starting to soften, a national report said Tuesday.

Prices in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties jumped 14.8 percent from a year ago, data from the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index show. All 20 metro areas nationwide tracked by the index posted annual price increases.

But month-to-month price growth has slowed here and across the country. In South Florida, the index inched up 2.6 percent from April to May, but only 2.1 percent from May to June. Twelve other metro areas also saw smaller monthly increases.

While homes are still affordable, higher mortgage rates appear to be curtailing some of the recent price spikes, David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee, said in a statement.

"With interest rates rising to almost 4.6 percent, home buyers may be discouraged and sharp increases may be dampened," he said.

The Case-Shiller report underscores what most industry followers have been predicting for months. They say fast-rising prices are unsustainable.

"I would have been floored if we had kept growing at the same rate," said Ken H. Johnson, a professor at Florida International University's Hollo School of Real Estate. "I don't think this is a bad sign. I still think housing is fundamentally priced in our three counties."

Stan Humphries, chief economist for the Zillow.com real estate website, said demand will continue to remain strong.

"It's just not going to be as much of a market skewed toward sellers as it is now," Humphries said.

Case-Shiller tracks prices of the same house over time. Some analysts say that's a better measure of the market than median prices of homes sold in a given month. But the index does not include prices for condominiums and trailers.

Last week, the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches said Palm Beach County's July median price for existing homes was $249,000, up 15 percent from a year ago. But the median has declined for three straight months since hitting $265,000 in April, the board said.

Broward County's July median was $275,000, a 28 percent increase from a year ago, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors said.

Las Vegas had the highest annual price gain in June at 24.9 percent, according to Case-Shiller. San Francisco was second at 24.5 percent.

South Florida prices have risen 21.97 percent since the region's index hit an all-time low in April 2011. Even so, prices in the three counties are still down 40.5 percent from the December 2006 peak.

2013 Sun-Sentinel

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