Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Home Sale Numbers Spike by 16 Percent; TWO-YEAR HIGH Sales in Jacksonville Are Best since June 2007. INCENTIVES Mortgage Rates Have Declined; $8,000 Credit Help Boost Sales

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Home Sale Numbers Spike by 16 Percent; TWO-YEAR HIGH Sales in Jacksonville Are Best since June 2007. INCENTIVES Mortgage Rates Have Declined; $8,000 Credit Help Boost Sales

Article excerpt

Byline: KEVIN TURNER

Jacksonville metro area single family home sales for June jumped 16 percent higher than those of June 2008 and posted a two-year record in a month when state and national housing sales also rose.

Realtors sold 1,180 Jacksonville area homes last month, up from 1,013 in June 2008 and 18 percent from 1,002 over May, the Florida Association of Realtors reported. It was the highest single-month figure for the metro area since June 2007.

There's more good news - there were 1,622 signed purchase agreements in June, 42 percent more than June 2008, said Melanie Green, communications director for the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors.

"We think that makes it look like the $8,000 tax credit for the first-time buyers and continued low mortgage rates are spurring buyers to get in on the action," she said.

Pending sales are an important indicator for the near future, because sales closings come some time afterward - meaning increases could continue, Green said.

But many of those sales are short sales or foreclosure sales - keeping the metropolitan area's median sale price below $200,000. That figure for June was $162,100, 18 percent less than the $197,000 for June 2008, according to FAR. The median price has wavered between $146,000 and $173,000 since September 2008.

Diane Neuman, a broker at Stalvey-Matthews Realty, said she thinks those lower-priced sales are fueling the sales increase.

"There are so many foreclosures and short sales, there's great deals," she said. The prices are wonderful. You can get a home for less than someone paid for it five years ago."

Neuman noted that the sales bump could have to do with normal summer relocation trends, but noted her office has seen a marked increase in traffic in recent weeks.

Green said the $8,000 first-time homeowner tax credit from President Barack Obama administration's stimulus plan is helping fuel the sales increase, too. …

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