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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real Estate Florida.)

ORLANDO-Statewide sales of residential condominium units rose 21% in April following a 6% increase in March, reports the locally based Florida Association of Realtors. Yet while more units are selling this spring, prices plummeted 40% over the past year to a state median of $106,600.

A total of 4,660 condos were sold throughout the Sunshine State in April, up from 3,862 in the same month last year. Year to date, 14,802 units have been sold, 19% more than 12,416 through the first four months of 2008, at which time the median price was $178,900.

Eleven metropolitan areas in Florida showed gains in condo sales, with Orlando nearly tripling in unit volume to 395 last month from 136 in April 2008. However, those units sold at deep discounts, with the median price shrinking by more than half to just $52,700 over the past year.

The state’s priciest units were available in April in Fort Walton Beach and Pensacola, both in the Panhandle, at a median of $250,000. But while Pensacola’s price remained stable over the past year, Fort Walton Beach’s fell back 23%, according to Realtors figures.

Among the state’s largest markets, Miami showed a 70% gain in unit sales with 542 last month, while its median price was cut in half over the year to $133,500. Fort Lauderdale posted a 39% gain with 827 units sold, though the median price was halved to $79,900.

Tampa-St. Petersburg posted a 15% gain over the year with 582 units sold, though its median price fell out of six-figure range, down 35% to $99,200. West Palm Beach-Boca Raton had an 11% gain with 735 units sold, while its median price fell 37% to $98,200.

It may take a few more months for the housing market to gain momentum, though there are signs it is stabilizing, according to the National Association of Realtors. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, expects to see positive impact this summer from record-low mortgage interest rates and federal stimulus provisions.

“The share of lower priced home sales has trended up, indicating a return of many first-time buyers,” Yun stated in a release. “Buyer traffic has been rising, and real estate offices are getting phone inquiries about the tax credit.”

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