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ORLANDO-Home sales are starting to pick up in metro Orlando, according to members of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association, and commercial real estate may slowly be recovering as well.

Members of the ORRA sold 43.1% more homes in June 2009 than in June 2009, with year-to-date sales up 43.8% over the previous year. First-time homebuyers taking advantage of the $8,000 federal tax credit are at least one reason, said ORRA President Les Simmonds of Longwood, Fla.-based L.G. Simmonds Real Estate Corp.

“This uptick has much to do with the $8,000 tax credit, but we expect it will also become a positive for the commercial market as well,” Simmonds told GlobeSt.com. “The REO has been a problem for the residential market, and has been dragging down the median price. But having said that, I feel strongly it will help in the long term.”

In addition, the median prices of homes marketwide have declined nearly 40% year-over-year. The inventory level’s 8.37-month supply is the lowest since July 2006. Year-to-date Lake County sales rose 25.1% above 2008, while Orange County boasted a 65.6% increase. Osceola County’s 2009 sales are 110.66 higher than 2008, and Seminole Count reported a 10.2% year-to-date increase.

The increase in housing activity could help boost retail, which is slowly bouncing back. Simmonds noted that vacant commercial spaces are being picked up.

“We are getting more and more activity coming into the marketplace,” said Linda Carrick-Warfield, director of retail sales and leasing for Colliers Arnold, Orlando. “It is happening, but not as fast as in the past.”

Best Buy recently took over a vacant Circuit City store near the upscale Mall at Millenia, showing that there is interest, she said. Financing, however, remains tight for retailers, and flooring stores are closing.

“Things are balancing out,” Carrick-Warfield said.

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