May 17, 2012 (Shirley Allen)

Home sales in the Miami area followed seasonal trends and increased substantially from February to March but still couldn’t match last year’s tally, while year-over-year home prices improved for the third consecutive month, according to the latest housing data released by DataQuick.

A total of 9,541 new and resale homes and condos closed escrow in the Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward counties area in March. Sales were 24.0 percent higher than the 7,693 homes sold in February but were still 6.9 percent lower than the 10,245 homes sold in March of 2011.

Home sales in the region typically increase 30.9 percent between February and March and were 16.5 percent lower than Miami’s average March sales rate of 11,429.

New home sales in Miami were 5.2 percent higher than a year ago but were still 72.3 percent below average while sales of existing homes were 3.8 percent below their historical average.

Cash buyers accounted for 67.6 percent of the purchases in March, which was down from a record 68.7 percent in February and 68.2 percent a year ago. Some cash buyers use alternative financing arrangements but at the time of purchase there was no indication of a purchase loan recorded.

The price that cash buyers paid for the homes they purchased in March fell to $100,000 from $105,000 in February but was up from $86,000 in March of last year.

Absentee buyers, usually investors and vacation home buyers, accounted for 41.8 percent of all homes sold in March paying a median average price of $95,000, down from $102,000 in February but up from $81,500 in March of 2011. Just over seven percent of the absentee buyers had a mailing address outside of Florida or from a foreign country.

The overall median price paid for new and resale homes and condos in March was $134,950, which was down slightly from $135,000 in February but was up from $120,000 in March of last year.

The median home price is 53.5 percent below the peak median price of $290,000 in June 2007. It was the third consecutive month that year-over-year prices have increased after falling for the previous 52 consecutive months.

Miami’s multi-million dollar luxury market was unchanged from last year, but sales of houses and condos for $2 million or more were 34.5 percent higher than in February.

Tags: existing home sales, Miami, distressed properties, resale homes, condos, cash buyers, investors, median price