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condo/home sales

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Investors, homeowners look to condos

The market for condominiums, whether as second or primary homes or as investments, is hot.

Last year was a record for existing condos, with 898,000 sold.

"There are 20,000 condo units under construction or planned in Miami-Dade County," said David Dabby, a Coral Gables-based real estate consultant. "This is more than there has ever been in the last 50 years."

Among the continuing trends in that area: The conversion hotels to condos.

The migration of many empty nesters to the urban core is also boosting the condo market.

"They are making this staccato break from their suburban existence and redefining themselves as urban people," said Blair Williams, vice president of development for The Mandel Group, Milwaukee, which is developing three condo projects.

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S. Fla. home sales, prices continue rise

Low mortgage interest rates and out-of-staters making their dreams of a short-shirtsleeve winter come true spurred strong Florida home sales in February, the Florida Association of Realtors said.

Statewide, home sales increased 18 percent - to 16,127 homes from 13,642 homes - an increase no South Florida metropolitan area approached by even half. The increase in Fort Lauderdale was 4 percent, to 982 from 940 homes. The increase in Miami was 5 percent, to 854 from 812. The increase in West Palm Beach-Boca Raton was 7 percent, to 1,074 from 1,006.

However, when it came to median sales price, every South Florida locale tracked beat the state increase. Also, with the most recent figures, the median sales price for a home in Fort Lauderdale has edged $100 ahead of the median sales price in Miami.

Statewide, the median sales price increased 13 percent, to $162,300 from $143,400. In Fort Lauderdale the increase was 15 percent, to $242,100 from $210,800. In Miami, the 24 increase pushed median prices to $242,000 from $195,100. The West Palm Beach-Boca Raton increase of 16 percent moved median prices to $261,000 from $225,000.

FAR said mortgage interest rates that remained near record lows in February prompted buyers in markets across the state to become homeowners.

Last month, the group said, interest rates for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.64 percent, compared with 5.84 percent in February 2003.

FAR's sales figures reflect closings, which typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written

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It seems the state is starting to grow faster than predicted. Its also interesting to see condo living begin to get so popular in Florida after years of nothing much but new suburban tract home developments.

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