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Orlando home prices soaring

Spurred by rising demand, Orlando’s housing-market recovery took a big step forward last month as resale prices rose at their fa

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Spurred by rising demand, Orlando’s housing-market recovery took a big step forward last month as resale prices rose at their fastest annual pace in more than seven years, according to an industry report released Thursday.The median price of homes sold locally in July jumped to $157,000 last month, up 4.5 percent from the month before and nearly 25 percent higher than in July 2012, the Orlando Regional Realtors Association said.It was the biggest year-over-year percentage increase in the area’s midpoint price since “the tail end of the red-hot market” in January 2006, when that month’s median, $241,000, was up 24.9 percent from a year earlier, the Realtors group noted in its latest monthly report.Last month, nearly 2,840 existing-home sales were recorded in the Orlando Realtors’ core market, an increase of 15.3 percent from a year earlier.”Between rising prices and rising interest rates, many buyers are taking the opportunity to ‘get while the getting is good,’ ” said Steve Merchant, owner of Global Realty International in Orlando and chairman of the local Realtors group.The median home price in the Realtors’ core market (mainly Orange and Seminole counties) peaked in July 2007 at $264,436 before falling to a post-recession low of $94,900 in January 2011. But it has been rising ever since.In addition to an increase in buyers closing deals in the market last month, the rise in prices was also fueled by a still-thin inventory of available homes and a continuing decline in the number of “short sales” and foreclosure-related deals, experts said.The local Realtors’ report revealed that there were fewer foreclosure and short sales in the market but an increase in conventional home sales last month — a trend that began last November. The number of short sales in July was down 30 percent from a year earlier, while foreclosure sales were down 15 percent and ordinary sales were up 56 percent, the group reported.”July was without a doubt my very biggest month this year — not only in the number of sales but also the price points,” said Linda Streetman, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty in Orlando. “And I don’t see it slowing down. It’s been pretty refreshing to see that, especially when you think back to what’s happened over the last five years.”While all the attention has been good for Orlando-area homeowners seeking to sell, some buyers are finding the resurgent market to be a bit intense and challenging.David Simon, for example, said he and his wife shopped around for seven months before they were able to land a contract for another home.”Let me tell you, it’s been kind of brutal,” said Simon, managing partner of Capital Strategies Group, an Orlando investment bank. “There’s a ton of activity out there, a wide price range, and often multiple offers. More than a few times, we’d find a house we liked on the market — and we’d find ourselves in a line of people waiting to see it.”The local market is also seeing an uptick in the sale of high-end homes, those worth $1 millon or more — often a bellwether of an improving economy, said Joe Nunziata, chairman of Orlando-based FBC Mortgage.”That’s a great sign people are starting to feel more comfortable about the economy,” he said. “There are also more homeowners buying out there, and fewer investors. You see a lot of investors pull out of the market when interest rates go up.”The average 30-year home-mortgage interest rate in July was 4.51 percent, compared with 4.25 percent in June and 3.78 percent in July 2012, the Realtors’ report said. The upward pressure on interest rates has apparently prompted more wait-and-see homebuyers to enter the market while they can still lock in historically low loan rates, experts said.Eventually, however, those buyers will “clear out” of the market, and then the region’s housing recovery will require actual economic growth if it is to continue, said Geoffrey Turnbull, a real estate professor at the University of Central Florida.”Ultimately, a strong housing market is driven by increases in real family income and employment,” Turnbull said. “If you’re going to pay on a house for 15 years or more, you have to feel confident you’re going to have a job. But there’s still a lot of uncertainty about that in this current economy.”rburnett@tribune.com or 407-420-5256You can pretty much see it all coming now after going through the real estate collapse. Once home valuations get to the point that you know your house isn’t worth whats listed, then its time to leave refinancing strategies or buying property alone.  And if there are numerous offers knocking down your door to buy your property then you had better hold on to it.Thats a small portion of what got us into trouble and not the most significant by a long shot.Legislation (Todd – Frank) forcing banks to take sub prime mortgages was one, rampant greed using CDO (Collateralized Debt Obligations) and other such contrivances by financial houses was another…A housing market built on artificially low manipulated interest rates are what got us into trouble in the mid 2000’s.Are we going to repeat that stupidity less than a decade later?Read interviews with Central Florida’s movers and shakersDon’t miss your flight! Check average airport wait times first.Find places to bring your laptop and settle down for some Web surfing.Save some cash on our Deals and Bargains page.Today’s national news in pictures
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