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Miami-Today News - 4/29/04

Miami-Dade home prices jump 17% since March 2003

By Marilyn Bowden

While home prices in South Florida continue to climb, sales growth last month fell far behind that in the rest of the state, according to the Florida Association of Realtors.

Local brokers, however, say the market here is still hot.

The association's monthly tally of sales in key metropolitan areas shows sales of existing homes last month in the Greater Miami and Fort Lauderdale areas rose 3% from March 2003. Only Gainesville, at 1%, had a lower showing.

Median home prices jumped 17% in Miami and 19% in Fort Lauderdale.

Maurice J. Veissi of Veissi Associates, a past president of the state organization, said there's no cause for alarm.

"There are 17 million people in the state, and almost a third live in South Florida," he said. "So the numbers are going to rise more slowly here."

The lower sales figures coupled with rising prices could be a result of dwindling inventory, said Mr. Veissi, an incoming regional vice president for the National Association of Realtors. It could also be a statistical blip, he said.

"Anything within a reasonable price range is still scooting off the shelves," he said. "We would need to see lower figures for three or four months to begin to figure out if this is a true slowdown."

Appreciation can be accounted for by low inventory, said Keyes Co. President Michael Pappas. "The inventory of single-family homes is down 20% from last year," he said, "and it's not being replaced."