The Real Deal Miami

A tale of two Miamis: distressed market share falls, non-distressed sector shows strength

By Alexander Britell | October 13, 2011 12:04AM

Cynergi in Wynwood

Miami’s residential surge continued in the third quarter, with the median sales price in the residential market rising 10 percent, according to a third-quarter report by Douglas Elliman Florida released today.

That number may be a bit misleading, however, as Miami continued to be severed into two markets — a normalizing non-distressed market and a still-struggling, albeit shrinking, distressed segment.

In a positive sign, the distressed market share fell to 53.3 percent from 62.9 percent of all sales, though lenders remained reluctant to release foreclosure inventory following last year’s robo-signing scandal, a trend that has lasted for most of the year but could be seeing a shift.

“What we’ve seen over the last year is a steady decline in market share for distressed sales, and at the same time, volume’s up,” Douglas Elliman Florida CEO Vanessa Grout said. “Now we have sales up sharply, but pricing overall is moving sideways — and that’s the expected outcome when you have steady increases in non-distressed pricing, coupled with fluctuating and voluminous outpouring of distressed sales.”

In the first quarter, the distressed market share was closer to 70 percent — meaning the third quarter showed a serious reduction.

“We’re seeing that those ratios have fallen to 53 percent, so it’s looking good, and it’s been a steady decline,” she said.

While the distressed remains a sizable portion of the market, it somewhat obscures a dramatically improving non-distressed market, she said.

Miami home sales activity is at its third-highest level in more than five years, with inventory falling 6.4 percent from the previous quarter. Miami’s second-quarter saw the highest sales volume in five years, according to a previous Elliman report. Listing inventory stood at 15,239 units in the third quarter, according to the report, which was released in conjunction with Miller Samuel.

The median sales price for condominiums was $140,000, a 12 percent jump from $125,000 the previous year, and the number of condo sales rose by 3.6 percent to 3,089.

On the single-family home side, the median sales price increased to $200,000, a slight jump from the same period in 2010. The median sales price for a single-family home in the luxury market, which represents the top 10 percent of all sales, was $1.37 million, a 24.5 percent uptick.

The dramatically falling residential inventory, at least on the non-distressed side, has led to questions about just what kind of impact it will have on the whole residential market’s recovery.

“[It’s] actually a good sign,” Grout said. “It means we will be seeing new development, and I think you have people coming to terms with reality. Everyone’s getting organized, and figuring out how they can get out of their troubled properties and move on.”