Palm Beach County home sellers are feeling emboldened to ask for more money when putting their properties on the market as inventories remain low and competition simmers.
The median asking price in Palm Beach County for a three-month period ending in February was $209,000, a 12.5 percent increase compared to the same time in 2012, according to a report released this week by housing research firm Trulia.
The increase in asking price — a gauge of future sales price trends — ranks Palm Beach County 18th in the top 20 areas nationwide for listing gains. The measure includes single-family homes, townhomes and condominiums.
Nationwide, areas hardest hit by the real estate crash are seeing the largest list price hikes. In the top three are Phoenix, with a 25.9 percent gain, Las Vegas at 20.7 percent and Oakland, Calif., which saw asking prices increase 19 percent.
Realtors said price gains are pushing home sellers into action.
“People are reading the papers and hearing the news that prices are going up and they’re starting to get over their malaise about selling their homes,” said Realtor Barry Gutknecht, of the Mirsky Realty Group of Palm Beach. “And along those lines, they’re also asking for a price better than they would have six months ago.”
At the same time, some sellers are underestimating what people may be willing to pay. On Wednesday, one of Gutknecht’s clients said he’d be willing to sell his home if he could get $350,000 for it. Gutknecht thinks it could bring $30,000 more than that.
“People waiting for value at a really cheap price are totally missing it,” he said.
The median sales price in January for a single-family home in Palm Beach County was up 21 percent from the previous year to $218,000. The increases were more dramatic depending on the Zip code, and have some people worrying about mini-housing bubbles erupting in specific regions. In Palm Beach Gardens, for example, sale prices soared 49 percent in January from the previous year to a median of $254,000. In the 33428 Zip code west of Boca Raton, sale prices were up 48 percent to $160,000.
Trulia estimates Palm Beach County asking prices were at their lowest post-boom level in August 2011.
Nationwide, asking prices were up 7 percent in February, a trend mirrored in 90 of the 100 large metro areas measured by Trulia.
Trulia Chief Economist Jed Kolko said higher prices will lead to more inventory on the market in the long term. But short term, Kolko warns of the “inventory spiral” — less inventory leads to rising prices, which leads to less inventory as buyers rush to get the remaining deals.
Palm Beach County’s inventory of single-family homes for sale stood at a 5.9 months’ supply in January, down 47 percent from the previous year.
“As prices keep rising, more homeowners will decide it’s worthwhile to sell, especially those who get back above water, which adds to inventory,” Kolko said. “Also, builders take rising prices as a cue to rev up construction activity, which also adds to inventory.”
While prices are gaining, Gutknecht said he still gets calls from out-of-state buyers thinking they can get a home in Florida on the cheap. Mostly, however, they’re not interested in the lower-priced listings because the homes may be in poor condition. The competition for bank-owned foreclosures is so intense there can be multiple offers on a home in the first few hours, Gutknecht said.
Median asking prices and percent gain from last year
Palm Beach County, $209,000, up 12.5 percent
Broward County, $191,600, up 9.9 percent
Miami-Dade County, $289,000, up 14 percent
Source: Trulia, including single-family homes, townhomes and condominiums