(Refiles to add dropped words in headline)
* Miami 1st qtr single-family home sales rise 72 percent
* Foreign buyers, "rock-bottom prices" drive sales
* City cited as a strong "comeback" market
MIAMI, May 12 Miami posted big gains in home
sales in the first quarter of the year in a tentative sign of
recovery in a city hard hit by the recession and the U.S.
housing crisis, a local realtors' group said on Tuesday.
The Realtor Association of Greater Miami and the Beaches
(RAMB) said single-family home sales jumped 72 percent in the
first quarter over the same period a year earlier, making it
the hottest single-family home market in any major metropolitan
area in the state.
Sales of existing condominiums soared 51 percent at a time
when statewide sales of existing condos rose just 19 percent.
"Miami has been one of the strongest comeback markets in
the state of Florida," RAMB chairman Rick Burch said in a
statement, citing "rock-bottom prices" and buyers from Europe,
Brazil and Venezuela among factors behind the upswing.
The median sales price for single-family homes in the Miami
area was $203,700 in the first quarter, down 38 percent from
the year-ago period, according to RAMB.
It said the median condo sales price was $149,000, a 47
percent drop from a year ago.
Though Burch said there were statistics "that definitely
point to a market recovery" in Miami, RAMB spokeswoman Lynda
Fernandez cautioned that it may be too soon to talk about a
"bottoming" in the housing market.
"It's hard to determine because there's still a lot of
foreclosures and short sales out there that are affecting the
median sales price," said Fernandez.
"I've always heard it said that you don't know when the
market has turned," she added.
Fernandez said about 38 percent of the single-family and
existing condo units sold in the first quarter were believed to
involve properties in foreclosure or distress sales.
(Reporting by Tom Brown; Editing by James Dalgleish)