Canuck investors help resurrect Florida market

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released its quarterly report this week, with overall prices declining 0.4% nationally year-over-year for single-family homes and gains of 3.4% year-over-year for condos. But in Florida especially, a resurgence of international buyers could be linked to double-digit gains.

The largest gain for single-family homes was in Cape Coral-Fort Meyers in Florida, up 28.1% from last year.

Canadians have favored Florida as an investment hotspot recently, and the gains in price reflect a growing sales activity in that state. Single-family home prices were also up 16.9% in Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, and up 16.1% in Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater. In fact, the majority of municipal areas in Florida saw double-digit price gains for single-family homes, while few other parts of the country met that standard.

Similarly, condos in Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach saw prices jump 11.1% in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same period last year.

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun noted the gains were limited to only a few locations, however. Along with Florida, a few other municipalities previously hard hit by declining local economies saw major price gains, such as Erie, Pennsylvania and Grand Rapids, Michigan, which were up in single family home prices 16.6% and 19% respectively.

“Home prices are more volatile than normal because of sudden upswings in buyer activity in some localities, and also are affected by the prevalence of distressed sales,” he said. “Given the steadily dwindling supply of inventory and notably higher listing prices that are being negotiated today, prices are expected to show further improvements in the near future.”

Some of the largest price drops were in the northeast of the country, including a 22% decline in price in Kingston, New York, and an 18% decline in Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut.

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