MANATEE — Tax credits? What tax credits?
The Bradenton-Sarasota housing market showed no ill effects from the expiration of federal homebuyer tax credits, with sales of previously occupied homes hitting their highest point since the building boom, according to figures released Thursday.
A total of 1,068 existing single-family homes changed hands in June, the most since August 2005, the Florida Realtors trade association said. It also was the fourth consecutive month of 1,000-plus sales, something that also hasn’t happened in five years.
“That’s just absolutely phenomenal,” said Cindy Greco, the Manatee Association of Realtors’ president and an agent with Wagner Realty.
June’s figure was 3.8 percent higher than May’s 1,029 sales, Florida Realtors said. The June tally was even better than a year ago, when 789 homes changed owners.
Local prices also were up, but not by as much. The median sales price — the point where half sold for more and half for less — was $170,400 last month, up from $166,400 in May and $162,700 in June 2009, according to the trade group.
The data reflects closings, which usually occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are signed.
Thus, the June figures captured some buyers receiving federal tax credits of up to $8,000 that boosted home sales this year. Buyers had until April 30 to have signed sales contracts and initially had to close their purchases by June 30, but now have until Sept. 30 thanks to a last-minute extension by Congress.
While the credit helped spur sales locally, Greco said low prices and historically low mortgage interest rates were bigger factors behind the June sales lift. Home prices have fallen as foreclosures, short sales and distressed properties continue to dominate the market.
“This is our new normal,” Greco said. “Good sales, good prices that people can afford.”
Market analysts agreed, saying that combination is drawing investors, second-home buyers and international buyers in numbers not seen since the 2004-06 housing boom.
But they cautioned the local and Florida markets’ recoveries still face headwinds, including high unemployment, rising foreclosures, tightened lending standards and a high percentage of investor-owned properties.
“When the market gets better, we’re going to see a lot of this same inventory thrown back out on the market,” said Lewis Goodkin, a Miami-based real estate analyst and consultant. “That obviously is going to curtail new home sales and depress price appreciation.”
In Florida, June home resales were up 7.7 percent from May and 15 percent higher than June 2009’s figure. The median price was $143,000 in June, $140,400 in May and $147,700 in June 2009.
Florida’s showing outpaced U.S. home sales, which fell 5.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.37 million units in June from 5.66 million in May, the National Association of Realtors said. But it was 9.8 percent higher than the 4.89 million-unit pace in June 2009.
Since the tax credits expired in April, the number of people buying homes has fallen sharply despite lower prices and the lowest mortgage rates in decades. The situation has been worsened by high unemployment, tight lending standards and rising foreclosures.
“The economy and the housing market are going to remain stagnant for a long time,” said Sam Khater, senior economist at real estate data provider CoreLogic. “There’s nothing that’s going to propel sales anytime soon. It’s all about jobs and income growth.”
As sales have slowed, the supply of unsold homes on the market has risen 2.5 percent to nearly 4 million. That’s a nearly nine-month supply at the current sales pace, the highest level since August. It compares with a healthy level of about six months.
Sales are likely to keep falling for three to four months, said Lawrence Yun, the national Realtors’ chief economist. That would likely boost the supply of unsold homes to more than 10 months for the first time since the spring of 2009. And it could push down home prices.
“It’s still a fragile situation in the housing market,” Yun said.
Private forecasters have grown increasingly pessimistic about home prices. In May, 40 percent of those surveyed expected prices would fall this year. That figure now stands at 60 percent.
But even as the outlook for the housing industry remains bleak, the June sales figures weren’t as poor as analysts had expected. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters had expected U.S. annual sales of 5.18 million. And the median sale price was $183,700, up 1 percent from a year earlier.
Material from The Associated Press was used in this story.
Duane Marsteller, transportation/growth and development reporter, can be reached at 745-7080, ext. 2630.