US – Fort Myers, Miami, Phoenix house prices surge past other markets

The San Francisco-based real estate information provider, Trulia, found that annual asking prices for homes in Miami and Phoenix rose 16.1% and 15.8%, respectively, in the three-month moving average from February to April.  In third is Fort Myers, Fla., with a 14.1% increase in home prices — the only other market to see double-digit growth.

Nationally, only 44 out of the 100 largest metros witness year-over-year increases. Asking prices across the nation remain flat, bumping up only 0.2% year-over-year..

According to the Miami Association of Realtors, the median sales price of condominiums in Miami-Dade County surged 46% to $141,700 in March from $97,055 a year earlier. Miami home prices posted strong gains for the fourth straight month in March, with the median sales price of single-family homes rising 13% to $180,000 over the year-ago period.

“The fact that Miami home prices have significantly increased for four consecutive months indicates prices have bottomed and have caught up with sales levels,” said Martha Pomares, 2012 MAR chairman of the board.

And since the middle of 2011, the Phoenix real estate market is quickly heating up from investors who make up 45% of buyers in the area. The trend is making it difficult for first-time buyers to outbid cash-paying investors, creating bidding wars that raise home prices.

Phoenix was one of the hardest-hit housing markets during the bust, with home values declining 57% from 2006 through mid-2011, according to John Burns Real Estate Consulting. Since then, housing conditions markedly improved along with rising prices.

“Aside from a stumble in December, asking prices have been stable or rising for the last eight months,” said Trulia Chief Economist Jed Kolko.

“But foreclosures threaten prices, especially in judicial-foreclosure states like Florida, New Jersey, Illinois and New York, where many more distressed sales are still to come,” Kolko added.

Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU, expects a declining trend in Arizona foreclosures, which started in January with big drops for Phoenix’s Maricopa county, where foreclosures were nearly cut in half.

“Many people think there’s a glut of homes the banks are hiding somewhere, and that may be the case in other markets, but not here in the Phoenix area,” Orr said. “We’ve gone through so many foreclosures that the system has been working itself out for about five years. Everything is cyclical in housing. The market doesn’t go down forever, and it doesn’t stay up forever.”

Of the 20 largest metros in the nation, Phoenix had the second highest annual reduction in foreclosure activity in February, falling 43%. But foreclosure activity in 10 of those metros increased, with Miami ranking second at 53%.

“Not surprisingly, many of the biggest annual increases in February were in states with the more bureaucratic judicial foreclosure process, which resulted in a larger backlog of foreclosures built up over the last 18 months in those states,” said Brandon Moore, chief executive of RealtyTrac.

Source: Housing Wire

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