Realtors and hopeful homebuyers know Palm Beach County properties are moving fast, but new data underscores the swiftness of September’s sales.
About 20 percent of homes were under contract in two weeks or less last month, according to a report released this week by the Seattle-based real estate firm Redfin.
That’s the highest percent of homes selling at that rate since at least 2010 — where Redfin’s data stops — and nearly double what it was in September 2012.
“Homes that are priced well are selling right away,” said Jeff Kiely, owner of Kiely Real Estate in West Palm Beach. “I think it’s just increased demand at a time when inventory is remaining static or dwindling.”
Palm Beach County had a five months’ supply of homes for sale in September, down 33 percent from last year, but slightly higher than August. A six month supply is considered a balanced market.
In South Florida, which includes Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties, two-week sales were at 22 percent in September, triple the 7 percent seen during the same time last year. About 14 percent of homes in the tri-county area were under contract within one week of being listed last month.
But as hot as South Florida sales were, the region ranked 20th on a Redfin list of fastest selling markets nationwide, outdone by areas in California, Texas and such major cities as Washington, D.C. and Boston.
With 48 percent of homes under contract within two weeks, San Jose, Calif., ranked first on the list, followed by San Francisco at 42 percent and Ventura, Calif., at 35 percent.
Redfin analysts said September’s pace is likely tied to a drop in mortgage interest rates after the Federal Reserve said it will continue to bolster the economy as long as inflation remains low.
On Thursday, interest rates hit a four-month low with a 30-year fixed mortgage averaging 4.13 percent, down from 4.28 percent the previous week. The 30-year rate during the same period last year was 3.41 percent.
Quickie sales may slow this month, said Redfin economist Ellen Haberle, who doesn’t think the sustained lower mortgage rates will be enough to counteract shaky consumer confidence.
“Market speed probably will fall again in October because of buyer uncertainty related to the government shutdown and debt ceiling debate,” she said.
But South Florida has seen a steady increase in shorter sales times since December 2012 while other markets have bounced around. The 23-market measure hit its fastest pace in April with 33 percent of homes under contract in two weeks.
Redfin’s report corroborates Monday’s release of sales numbers by the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches. Its September measure showed that single-family homes had closed deals on them after sitting on the market a median of 44 days — a five year low.
Sales pace countywide is also based on sales price. Homes less than $50,000 were on the market for a median of 29 days last month. Homes priced from $200,000 to $249,999 were snapped up in a median of 38 days.
Homes that cost $1 million or more sat for a median of 159 days.
Realtor Barry Gutknecht, of the Mirsky Realty Group of Palm Beach, had a cash sale close in the CityPlace South Tower condominium in four days recently. In another sale, a client from California flew in on a Friday and had a contract on a house by Tuesday.
“You have to be decisive in today’s market,” Gutknecht said. “Sometimes buyers misinterpret our intentions when we say that, but it’s really in their best interest.”