Home sales in Brevard County got off to a good start in 2014. Make that a great start.
The FloridaRealtors on Friday said existing single-family home sales in Brevard jumped 23.5 percent in January compared to the same time the previous year — to 573 from 464.
Maybe more telling in the FloridaRealtors report was the median sales price, the point at which half the homes sell for less, half for more. That figure rose 17.6 percent to $123,450 from $105,000 a year earlier.
The rosy real estate numbers for the Space Coast ran counter to a more paltry report from the National Association of Realtors, also released on Friday. That organization said U.S. existing-home sales fell in January to the lowest level in 18 months
Total existing-home sales, which include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, dropped 5.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million in January from 4.87 million in December. Sales also were 5.1 percent below the 4.87 million-unit pace in January 2013.
The weather was seen as a primary cause for the nationwide sales drop, though other factors, like higher home prices and low inventories, played a role.
“Disruptive and prolonged winter weather patterns across the country are impacting a wide range of economic activity, and housing is no exception,” Lawrence Yun, the National Association of Realtor’s chief economist, said in a statement.
“Some housing activity will be delayed until spring,” he said. “At the same time, we can’t ignore the ongoing headwinds of tight credit, limited inventory, higher prices and higher mortgage interest rates. These issues will hinder home sales activity until the positive factors of job growth and new supply from higher housing starts begin to make an impact.”
The Space Coast and other parts of Florida haven’t had to contend with snow, ice storms and polar vortexes, but the market seems to be shaking off some of the non-weather related forces that have impacted other areas of the country.
“This is definitely a destination area for people to move to,” said Bill Thomas, an agent with the Cocoa-based Trafford Realty Co. and a former director of the Space Coast Realtors. “Things are cheaper than other areas of the country. From the northerners, I hear nothing but ‘things are so expensive.’ Then they move here, and things are half the price and they can turn the heat off during the winter.”
Thomas and others involved in local real estate see modest growth throughout the year.
“Hopefully interest rates don’t get up into the 5 percent range because that would slow things down,” Thomas said.
Also on the upswing in Brevard were condo and town home sales. In that category, sales rose more than 24 percent over the year to 175 closed sales in January. The median sales price jumped slightly to $98,500, a 5.6 percent increase from last year’s $93,250.