JUST IN: Not-so-hot summer for PBC home sales as prices dip in July

Updated Aug 24, 2017

After a scorching June, Palm Beach County’s housing market cooled a bit in July.

The median price of a house sold in July was $336,000, the Realtors of the Palm Beaches and Greater Fort Lauderdale said Thursday. That was up 6 percent from July 2016 but down a bit from June 2017’s mark of $345,000.

Realtors sold 1,509 homes in July, down slightly from July 2016. But housing statistics continued to send mixed signals. The houses that did sell moved briskly, needing a median of just 37 days to go under contract. That was down from 43 days a year ago.

Meanwhile, sellers of entry-level houses command strong interest in their properties. The typical home priced at $200,000 to $250,000 found a buyer in just 23 days.

“Those still are flying off the shelf, but not everything is,” said Jackie Ellis, owner of Keller Williams Realty offices in Boynton Beach and Boca Raton.

Homes priced at more than $1 million needed 113 days to sell.

The July slowdown — which came despite low mortgage rates and a strong job market in Palm Beach County — was a bit of a head-scratcher. Typically June and July are the busiest months of the year for house sales, as families try to get settled in before school starts.

“Usually this is our big summer season,” Ellis said.

Sales have been hampered by a number of trends, including a shift away from homeownership and a tendency for people to stay in their homes longer. Fewer people moving means fewer homes on the market.

The condo market simmered down, too. The median price of condos and townhouses sold in July was $170,000, up 1.6 percent from July 2016. But the number of sales was down 1.6 percent, to 1,075. And the typical condo needed 55 days to find a buyer, up from 48 days a year earlier.

Overall, sellers continue to call the shot. There’s just a 4.8-month supply of houses for sale in Palm Beach County. An inventory of less than six months is considered a seller’s market.

But Realtors see a slight uptick in choices for buyers. The inventory of active listings rose 7,086, up 1.9 percent from a year ago.

“The recent statistics indicate signs of a more balanced market, which includes a slight increase in inventory. This is something we have not seen in a while.” said Jeffrey Levine, first vice president of the Realtors of the Palm Beaches and Greater Fort Lauderdale.

As Palm Beach County continues its uneven recovery from the Great Recession, home prices still remain well below record levels. During the housing bubble, the county’s median resale price peaked at $421,500 in November 2005 (a sum, that if adjusted for inflation, equates to $522,152 in today’s dollars). Within a few years, the median price had crashed to less than $200,000.

Palm Beach County’s housing market has yet to return to pre-bubble patterns. For instance, construction of entry-level homes has ground to a near-halt during the past decade.