Real Estate

Miami heat hits housing

The only thing hotter than the beach in Miami this summer is its tempestuous housing market. While summer is historically the slow season for Miami, this summer saw record sales of single-family homes.

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The city had 1,390 sales in June, an 8.6 percent jump from a year ago and a new one-month high, beating the mark set in June 2005 during the height of the last housing boom, according to the Miami Association of Realtors.

Condominium sales also rose, but at a slower pace, up just 4.5 percent from a year ago. While the supply of condos for sale is still relatively low, it did jump 9 percent from a year ago, and there is concern that thousands of new units, either planned or already under construction, will temper the market in the year ahead.

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For now, however, prices continue to surge on higher demand. The median sale price for single-family homes rose 14.9 percent from a year ago to $280,000 in June, and the median sale price for condominiums increased 7.9 percent $205,000 from a year ago.

"An improving jobs market, historic low mortgages rates, and Miami's reputation as a world-class global city continue to attract domestic and international homebuyers who want to live, work, and play in one of America's most dynamic areas," said Christopher Zoller, residential president of the Miami Association of Realtors.

The outlook is not as bright for the luxury market on Miami Beach. With a median price of $2.3 million, down 5 percent from a year ago, sales are weaker by 10 percent, according to Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel and author of the market report for Douglas Elliman.

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The stall on the high end is the result of fewer international investors in the market. Miami has been a safe-haven for money from all over the globe, but the strength of the dollar against foreign currencies is cutting into that. Buyers from Russia, China and Europe may be reconsidering Miami.

"Some of them certainly put their decisions on hold when it comes to investments. When it comes to end-users, people who want to live in the homes, that's a healthy part of the market," said Sladja Stantic, a real estate agent with One Sotheby's International Realty in Miami.

Luxury condos, however, are sitting on the market longer, which could portend weaker sales in the fall. The single-family luxury market, with a median price around $7 million, is faring slightly better. Sales and prices are down slightly, but the homes are selling faster than condos.