Fresh on the heels of a 2.9% jump in the National Association of Realtors existing homes sales data for February, the Florida Association of Realtors Friday afternoon reported a 23% drop in sales of existing single-family homes compared with last February but a 14.9% increase from January 2007.

Statewide, sales of existing single-family homes totaled 10,779 compared with 14,080 sold a year earlier. The sales number for January was 9,382.

The median sales price of existing single-family homes across Florida fell 3% in February to $235,500 compared to a year earlier. The February number represented a 1.8% decline from January, 2007. SEE ENTIRE RELEASE HERE

Sales were actually up in some areas, including Sarasota-Bradenton, which posted a 5% increase in houses sold and a 9% increase in condominiums sold. Home prices, however, were down 9% to a median of $294,500, but condo prices were up 40% to $357,500. Also up was Panama City, with single family sales up 21% at prices 9% below February 2006 at $226,300 and condo sales up 182% at prices 8% below last year ($340,900/.

But in most of the state's markets, sales were down sharply.



The Realtor group cited a quarterly report done by the University of Florida that contends the downturn in the state may be nearing its bottom. The report, based on a poll of real estate people across the state, said that prices now keeping pace with inflation.

"If you're thinking of buying a house, there's probably not much to be gained by holding out at this point," said Wayne Archer, director of UF's Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies, in the Realtor's sales report. "It doesn't look like prices are going to fall anymore. We see that as a benchmark. When prices maintain the same level as inflation, then we're probably in some kind of equilibrium. It indicates the market is stabilizing."