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Orlando median home prices soar

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Following is a story from today's Sentinel. Metro Orlando's median home price went up from $204,500 to $218,000 in just one month! Condo prices downtown must surely reflect this in the months to come as well.

Hot Prices For Homes Soar Again

'It's insane': Orlando area's median house hits $218,000

By Jack Snyder

Sentinel Staff Writer

A month after hitting the $204,500 mark for the first time, the area's median home price soared an additional $13,500 in April. The new record is $218,000, according to the Orlando Regional Realtor Association.

"It's insane," said Gary Balanoff, broker-owner of Re/Max Select in Oviedo. "Where does it end? I don't know."

The 21-year industry veteran said he has never seen such price escalation.

Bidding wars have been common for the past two years, with many properties selling for more than the original asking price.

"I have agents showing homes in Lakeland for a lower price," said Barry Carnes, owner of A.A. Carnes Century 21 in Longwood. "If someone is looking for a $150,000 house, we ask: How far do you want to drive?"

However, there was a sign that change could be coming, with April sales throughout the region falling nearly 5 percent compared with April 2004. That was accompanied by a 5 percent increase in the inventory of available homes.

Lydia Pisano, president of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association, which collects the market data, said soaring prices may be cooling the action.

Economists have been predicting rising mortgage rates and a slower housing market for months, but long-term mortgage rates have hovered at less than 6 percent for much of this year.

As for the inventory increase, Pisano attributed it to the traditional surge in sellers in the spring and summer. That's when owners typically look to relocate to avoid disrupting their children's school year.

Barbara Vance, president of the Vance Realty Group, said she is dealing with more investors than ever before -- with many buyers quickly becoming sellers.

One investor she worked with turned a $100,000 profit on just two deals in the last year.

Most brokers contacted Wednesday were quick to dismiss the notion that the massive price escalations will slow -- based only on one month's worth of data.

"I don't see that," said Carnes, the Longwood broker. "We're still selling them as fast as they come in. Show me more listings, I'll take them."

If there is a slowdown, Brenda Rogers of the Lake County Association of Realtors wouldn't mind: "I kind of wish we would. We've been so busy."

The Orlando Regional Realtor Association reported that April sales in the four-county metro area -- Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Lake counties -- fell 4.6 percent from the same month a year ago. The biggest decline was in Lake, where sales were off 11.4 percent. Sales in Orange dropped 2.2 percent; in Seminole, they fell 6.6 percent; and in Osceola, they dropped 1.6 percent.

Sales for the first four months of the year are still running ahead of last year's record place, but by less than 1 percent.

Pisano, the Orlando Realtor association president, said if rising prices do slow the market, it would help those struggling to buy a home.

"This is a discouraging time for the first-time buyer," she said.

Balanoff, the Oviedo broker, said his brokerage recently had a dilapidated house that was offered for sale at about $65,000, an unheard-of price in the current market.

"It needed a ton of work, believe me, but that didn't make any difference," he said.

There was a stampede, with 32 offers made in one day. The house sold for $85,000, much more than the original asking price.

"You don't see much of anything in that range anymore," Balanoff said.


Sherri Owens and Ramsey Campbell of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report. Jack Snyder can be reached at [email protected] or 407-420-5094.

Area Home Prices: Up, Up And Away

Orlando median home prices have risen more than 33 percent in the past year:

April 2005 $218,000

March 2005 $204,500

Feb. 2005 $196,000

Jan. 2005 $193,000

Dec. 2004 $187,900

Nov. 2004 $182,300

Oct. 2004 $182,000

Sept. 2004 $179,000

Aug. 2004 $182,000

July 2004 $180,000

June 2004 $175,000

May 2004 $169,000

April 2004 $163,000

Source: Orlando Regional Realtor Association

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Real estate speculators..... the skunks moved from Wall street to to Real estate. The Robber Barons always win..... and they are the same ones who destroy our environment with endless subdivision in the Suburbs. One day the robber barons will have Orlando stretched from Lakeland to Daytona.... I sware to God you can count on it.

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