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Still a seller’s market: Palm Beach County house prices edge up

Palm Beach County’s housing market continued to favor sellers in December, a month when home prices ticked up and inventory remained tight.

The median price of single-family houses sold by Realtors last month was $341,500. That was up 8 percent from a year ago but down from the June 2017 peak of $345,000, the Florida Realtors said Wednesday.

The number of sales was 1,387, down 2 percent from a year ago.

Realtors counted just a 4.8-month supply of houses for sale. Anything short of a six-month supply is considered a seller’s market.

“For sellers, that’s good news,” said Florida Realtors President Christine Hansen, a broker in Fort Lauderdale. “However, rising prices and tight inventory are putting pressure on first-time homebuyers and those who may be looking for their next move-up home.”

Meanwhile, Palm Beach County’s market activity has been shifting to higher-priced homes. The number of sales of houses priced at less than $250,000 plunged by double digits from December 2016 to December 2017 — and the number of sales of houses priced at $400,000 or more jumped by double digits.

“We are seeing a remarkable increase in the sale of homes from $300,000 to over $1 million,” said Jeffrey Levine, a West Palm Beach broker and president elect of the Realtors of the Palm Beaches and Greater Fort Lauderdale.

The change could simply reflect the reality that home prices are rising. With foreclosures and other less-than-desirable properties mostly gone from the market, Palm Beach County no longer has many entry-level houses to sell.

Sales of houses in the $400,000 to $600,000 range jumped 19 percent over the past year. And sales volumes for mansions priced at more than $1 million soared 16 percent.

Price increases were muted in Palm Beach County’s townhouse and condo market. The median price was $166,000 last month, up just 1.5 percent from December 2016.

And the supply of condos rose slightly to 5.8 months. Meanwhile, high-priced condos can languish on the market for months. The typical condo priced at $600,000 to $1 million needed 177 days to go to contract.

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