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Local home sales rise, condo sales keep falling

MANATEE — Local existing home sales rose in March, but the condominium market remains soft, according to data released today.

Realtors sold 765 existing single-family homes in the Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice market last month, an 8-percent increase from the 709 sold in March 2008, the Florida Association of Realtors said.

However, the median sales price — the point at which half of homes sold for more, half for less — continued dropping. It was $150,000 last month, down 37 percent from $239,300 in March 2008.

Statewide home sales rose by 30 percent, driven by bargain-hunters snapping up more heavily discounted homes in the Fort Myers-Cape Coral and Miami markets. The statewide median sales price stood at $141,300 last month, a 30-percent drop from $201,700 a year ago.

The local condominium market’s struggles continued: Sales dropped by 28 percent and prices by 32 percent, FAR reported.

Still, Florida did better than the nation. National existing home sales fell by 7.1 percent from March 2008 to March 2009, and by 3 percent from February, the National Association of Realtors said.. March sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 4.57 million units, below the 4.7 million that analysts had been expecting.

The national median sales price was $175,200 last month, down 12.4 percent from a year ago. But it rose from February’s $168,200, a 4.2 percent increase that was larger than the average 1.8-percent rise between the two months.