MIAMI  —  Sales of homes in the Miami area,  including existing single-family homes and condominiums, rose 71 percent in the first quarter of 2011, from 3,450 to 5,910, and 26 percent from the previous quarter, according to the MIAMI Association of REALTORS and the Southeast Florida Multiple Listing Service.

The Miami Metropolitan Statistical Area survey showed sales increased 11 consecutive quarters since the third quarter of 2008.

At the same time, the median sales price for single-family homes dropped 20 percent to $153,600 in the first quarter. For condominiums, there was also a drop, by 31 percent, to $94,200.  Statewide, median sales prices dropped six percent to $123,600 for single-family homes and 16 percent to $80,700 for condominiums.

The survey report said short sales and foreclosures continued to have an adverse impact on median and average sales prices for single-family homes and condominiums, especially in some areas of Miami-Dade County.

According to the report, sales of existing single-family homes rose 47 percent in the first quarter, compared to the same period a year earlier. Sales of existing condominiums shot up 91 percent for the same period.

Statewide sales of single-family homes increased 13 percent and for condominiums 29 percent, the survey report said.

“First quarter figures indicate sales this year should surpass levels in 2005, which was the height of the real estate boom,” said Jack H. Levine, chairman of the board of the MIAMI Association of REALTORS.  “The Miami real estate market has generated much excitement and positivism in this strong first quarter, as international and domestic buyers continue to be attracted to our global city and the lifestyle and benefits it offers.”

With regard to the continuing decline in prices, almost 50 percent of closed sales in the first quarter were of bank-owned homes, said MIAMI Association of REALTORS Residential President Ralph E. De Martino.  “These bank-owned properties are selling almost as quickly as they come on the market,” he said. “Currently, there is only a 20- and 30-day supply of bank-owned condominiums and single-family homes, respectively, in Miami-Dade County.  These rapid rates of absorption reflect the demand that exists for local properties.”

The total housing inventory in the country has decreased 26 percent from a year ago and 22 percent from the previous quarter.