Home prices and sales rose in February from a year ago as the hot streak for South Florida’s housing market continues.
Broward County’s median price for existing homes last month was $227,000, a 23 percent increase from a year earlier, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors said Thursday. There were 969 sales, up 7 percent from February 2012.
In Palm Beach County, the median was $235,000, 27 percent higher than a year ago, according to the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches. Sales hit 1,012, up 10 percent.
The market for existing condominiums also is strong in both counties. Palm Beach County's median condo price is closing in on $100,000, rising 28 percent in February.
For sellers, at least, the region’s housing climate has improved dramatically in the past year. Still, some analysts worry that prices may be rising too fast, forcing buyers to overextend themselves and potentially creating another housing bubble.
Investor demand and a dwindling supply of homes have helped create bidding wars that drive up prices. The selling time for Broward homes dropped to 38 days in February from 51 a year ago. In Palm Beach County, days on market fell to 87 days from 101.
Judy Trudel, an agent for Balistreri Realty in Broward and Palm Beach counties, said she tells prospective buyers to tour homes as soon as they possibly can -- and they should plan to bring their checkbooks and blank sales contracts. In some cases, the buyers fill out the paperwork on the hoods of their cars to beat the competition.
"If you can't get the houses as soon as they come on the market, you're done for," Trudel said.
Some industry observers say the Realtor numbers are skewed as more large investment firms buy foreclosed homes in bulk and turn them into rentals.
Many of those transactions aren’t factored into the Realtor data because the homes were bought directly from lenders and never listed for sale to the general public. The Realtor figures also do not include homes sold by owners without an agent.
As the market continues to recover, some sellers are convinced their homes are worth more than they are, real estate agents say.
Stephen B. McWilliam, of Florida State Realty Group in Fort Lauderdale, said he had a client who made a market rate offer on a Coral Springs home, but the owner wanted $40,000 more.
"There are some irrational sellers out there right now," McWilliam said.
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