The Moulton Sarasota Real Estate Report – December 2018

So, What About the Sales Decline in December?

It has been well reported since the data from Sarasota Real Estate transaction sources released their month-end results that indeed the number of contracts signed in December declined 26%, with the largest percentage of decrease in the condominium sector.  In addition, price increases were less than prior months this year in single-family sales, and in condominium sales, again a considerable drop of 12%.  Pending sales in the condo segment also fell nearly 36.9%

While all the above statistics sound a bit startling, we need to look back to last year’s events to determine what may have been in play at that time. December 2018 had one of the highest closing months that I recall…in very large part to the completion and closings at The Vue, in downtown Sarasota. There were 47 condominiums sold over $1 million last December (40 0f them at The Vue,) and this year, just six sold in the Sarasota market.

We cannot underestimate the effects of slowed traffic from tourists – often our source of buyers – during the months of August, September and October, when those signing contracts in December would normally have been in our market. As we all remember, Red Tide was tormenting not just the hotel occupancies in the region, but also, as a result, number of available buyers who seemed to put off their search in favor of waiting until the effects subsided. Our hope is that those same buyers will return to the game and, now that inventories have also grown, we will see a healthy spring season ahead.

One other event that would have affected the middle and lower prices tiers was the rising interest rate in October and November. Again, many of those interested buyers who would likely have closed on homes in December put their search on hold. Now that rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages have fallen back to 4.64% and the Fed has indicated a strategy for 2019 that may only involve two moderate increases, hopefully those interested buyers will also return to their searches.

I have mentioned the amazing numbers of millennials coming into the housing market before. This population is now in their late-30’s many with established careers and stable incomes, and are ready to put down roots and build home equity. The largest population since the baby-boomers will help to stabilize the mid-market tiers in the next few years.

The demand for new homes remains high and our area builders are responding to it as best they are able in the tight employment conditions. A recent report from Metrostudy for the Sarasota-Bradenton market indicated that new home starts year-over-year grew by 9.8%, and in the 4th quarter of 2018, closings were up 23.4% over previous year. With news of the start of several new communities and additional condominium projects throughout the Sarasota Real Estate Market, I am confident that this fresh product will help to fill the strong demand.

In addition, with the softening of sales, our existing-homes and condo inventories have been allowed to grow to levels that narrow the gap between number of buyers and sellers, giving those seeking a new property more to choose from, and those selling less chance of returning to double-digit price growth as we had seen for much of 2018.

Since early December, I have been incredibly busy responding to both sellers looking to list their properties, and to buyers who are eager to get something under contract. This has been one of my busiest two-month stretches that I remember in a while. The effect of the new tax laws on northeasterners and some mid-western states and continued tax pain in California, has created a flow of buyers, especially at the higher end of the market, that has grown exponentially. After speaking to my colleagues and hearing similar accounts of client interest, it gives me confidence that the softening that we felt in December is not likely to continue in our peak selling months ahead.

And now for my statistical report on December Sarasota Real Estate Market activity:


  • Total Sarasota Real Estate Market dollar volume of $288.2 million in December decreased by $113.1 million from December a year ago though the 2018 sales volume increased approximately $220 million from 2017.
    • Broken down, single-family sales were $213.5 million and condominium sales were $74.7 million.
  • The number of properties sold in December was 767 which was 199 less than a year ago. The sales total included 527 houses and 240 condos.
    • Florida’s single-family sales decreased 9.9% and condo sales were down 11.4% compared to prior year.
    • U.S. single-family sales declined 10.1% and condo sales fell 11.5%.
  • The 2018 monthly average for sold properties in Sarasota County is 1,001 whereas the 2017 monthly average was 978, a nice average monthly increase of 2.4%.
  • Of the closed sales in Sarasota last month 37 were for over $1,000,000, 31 were houses and 6 were condominiums. Sarasota averaged 29 house sales a month for over $1 million and 17 condo sales over $1 million.
  • Listings that went pending the past month were 673 and decreased by 222 transactions from the same month last year.
    • Florida’s single-family pending sales also fell with 9% fewer single-family homes and 11.4% fewer condo contracts written compared to last year.
    • U.S. pending sales have fallen the last 11 months, in December down 9.8% compared to prior year.
  • For the year Sarasota averaged 1,031 pending sales per month vs. 1,043 in 2017.


  • In December, Sarasota’s single-family homes were sold at a median price of $285,000. The 2018 monthly median price for houses sold was $281,662 vs. $267,043 in 2017.
    • In December, Florida median price for single-family homes was $255,000 a 4.2% increase over last year.
    • The national median price for existing homes grew by 2.9% to $255,200.
  • The condominium median sale price was $220,000 in December vs. $250,000 a year ago. The 2018 monthly median average was $230,989 vs. $225,585 in 2017.
    • Median price for a Florida condo last month was $185,000, a 2.8% increase over December 2017.
    • U.S. median condo price was up 2.3% in December to $240,600.
  • The monthly average sale price for houses sold in 2018 was $384,110 vs. in 2017 it was $370,708.
  • Condominiums sold for an average price in December of $311,284 vs. in 2017 it was $480,239.
  • The condominium monthly average sale price sold in 2018 was $355,047 vs. in 2017 it was $362,378.


  • Currently there is available inventory of 5,041 properties for sale in Sarasota County, there were 4,401 at the end of 2017, 4,595 at the end of 2016 and 3,598 at the end of 2015. This is the first time since March 2017 with listing inventory over 5,000 properties. With the rising inventory it will give buyers more choices and help keep list prices from rising too quickly. The most reasonable list prices to the comparables are always the first to sell.
  • Of the available inventory for sale, 634 properties are listed for over $1 million or only 12%. 462 of the active listings over $1,000,000 are houses and 172 are condominiums.
  • Sarasota County had 1,008 new listed properties in December. The local market averaged 1,245 new listings per month in 2017, and 1,289 in 2018. Of the new listings the past month, 73 properties were listed over $1,000,000, a small percentage of the overall available inventory for sale.
  • Current inventory results in 4.8 months of single-family homes for sale and 5.5 month’s supply of condominiums, both under the 6-month level considered a balanced market.Florida currently has 4.0 months of single-family inventory and 5.7 month’s supply of condominiums. Inventory of properties selling for over $1 million have increased about 8% over last year.
    • U.S. inventory of all housing types is sitting at 3.7 months of supply.

In today’s somewhat confusing and often volatile economic environment it is easy to become a bit anxious. Having served clients in The Sarasota Real Estate Market for more than 36 years and carefully watching and examining business conditions, I have developed essential insight to aid both buyers and sellers in achieving their objectives in today’s shifting real estate market.  The value of a highly experienced, locally as well as globally connected agent/broker, and a skilled negotiator and advocate cannot be understated.  I look forward to working with you, your family and friends in achieving your goals in acquiring or selling your property.

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