Sun Sentinel Broward Edition

Buyers heat up housing market

- By Paul Owers Staff writer

Homebuyers continued their spring stampede in May.

Broward County had its most prolific month for home sales in 11 years with 1,527 existing single-family closings, up 14 percent from a year ago, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors said Monday.

The median price of $290,000 was 4 percent higher than in May 2014.

In Palm Beach County, 1,739 homes traded hands, a 6 percent increase from a year earlier, according to the Realtors Associatio­n of the Palm Beaches. There were only four fewer sales in May than April, which was the county’s best month since June 2004.

Palm Beach County’s median price was $295,400, up 5 percent from last year.

The sales surge in May follows robust activity in March and April. Spring is the busiest time of the year for the housing market as families rush to find a place and move in before school starts in August.

Helping to fuel the buying binge are still-low interest rates, easier access to financing and confidence in

the economy.

“People are saying, ‘We’ve got our job, the market is good, let’s get something while we can,’” said Lewis Goodkin, a veteran South Florida housing analyst.

The market’s biggest problem, real estate agents say, is inventory, or lack thereof. The rash of recent

sales is depleting the already-meager supply of available homes.

Homes in good condition priced at $500,000 and below are hard to find. And buyers using Federal Housing Administra­tion loans can’t consider some fixer-

“People are saying, ‘We’ve got our job, the market is good, let’s get something while we can.’”

Lewis Goodkin, housing analyst

uppers because FHA won’t sign off on homes in need of major repairs.

A market balanced equally between buyers and sellers has a six-month supply of available homes. In both

Broward and Palm Beach counties, the supply is fewer than five months.

Carol Balistreri, sales manager for Balistreri Realty in Lighthouse Point, recently sold her own home in Delray Beach and bought another in Lighthouse

Point, submitting an offer before she even toured the property. Some say that’s a risky move in real estate, but she was afraid she’d lose the house in a competitiv­e mar-ket.

Balistreri said the lack of inventory has agents at her firm knocking on doors across the two counties and asking homeowners if they’re interested in selling.

“Some people just don’t know how good the market is,” she said.

While sales of singlefami­ly homes are on the rise, demand for existing condos sputtered in May, Realtor board data show.

Broward condo sales fell 9 percent from a year ago, while Palm Beach County saw an 8 percent slide. Still, median condo prices increased.

Broward’s median was $135,000, 9 percent higher than May 2014. Palm Beach County’s median price was $152,000, an 8 percent increase.

“A lot of people think, ‘I’ll wait and buy (a condo) after the season because prices are cheaper,’ but it’s not true,” said Amanda Wilson, an agent for EWM Realty Internatio­nal in South Florida.

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