If you were to only focus on the National news on the strength of the real estate market, you would likely have some trepidation about where 2014 is heading. However, as all real estate market experts will attest, the housing market is a microcosmic reflection of local influences and dynamisms. An example of this was reflected in the sales volume reported by the Census Bureau for all the U.S. last month falling almost 8% in comparison to previous year and also slipping against prior month. In the Sarasota Real Estate Market we experienced a more than 30% increase in sales over February and a strong and steady volume essentially equal to prior year, which was extremely robust.
Sarasota showed healthy results in median price growth, as well. An increase of 4.4% over March 2013 compares solidly to trends seen Statewide and Nationwide. In the last three years, median price has grown 26% in the Sarasota region, number of days from listing to sale has fallen by 32%, inventory has diminished by 26%, and the differential between list price and sale price has narrowed by 15% to a current impressive average sale of 96% of list price.
The Sarasota County market median sales prices in our region for properties has stabilized during the past 12 months. The median sale price for single family homes in March was $189,742 and the condo price was $170,900. The median price for the 12-month period ending in March was $188,000 for single family homes and for condos it was $166,529. These prices are up 20% for single family homes from the previous 12-month period and up 9.2% for condos.
Some of the most important indicators of a market’s strength are not only sales and median prices, but also pending sales and inventory. Pending contracts in the Sarasota Real Estate Market continue to reflect increases over prior year. In March, Sarasota’s pending contracts exceeded February by more than 30% and March 2013 over 11.1%. On top of February’s 6% increase over prior year, it is clear evidence that we are in the midst of a formidable season. Using the National stage as a comparison where pended contracts increased just 3.4% over last month and actually fell more than 9% below last March, I believe further supports the principles of micro climates in the real estate industry. Knowing the pace of contracts pending is important because it is a key indicator of business levels expected over the next couple of months.
Additional inventory being available in our marketplace has driven some of our growth. New homes under construction and condominium projects breaking ground all around the region are driving excitement, and the global marketing of those projects has the eyes of prospective buyers squarely on Sarasota. Moderately growing demand and increased prices will serve us well, as a more balanced market is generating measured improvements rather than dangerous peaks and valleys. Across the country markets are slowly improving, home owners are again becoming comfortable with home equity, and with the nation’s GDP growing, our out-of-state prospective buyers are entering our market with a level of confidence that should result in continued market growth, even as our peak selling season wanes and we enter our more moderate late spring period.
The market balance gauge of months of inventory has not been this low since 1998. Based on March sales, the Sarasota Real Estate Market is sitting with just 4-months of supply, well below the 6-months believed by analysts to be the point of equilibrium. Inventory in the under $500,000 segment of the market is currently just 3.1 months, in the $500,000 – $1 Million group inventory was 6.6 months, and in the luxury classification of over $1 Million the inventory is now showing 14.3 months of supply. All of these inventories are down from the February levels based on a very good month of closings.
Distressed properties (bank owned or short sales) are still an important statistic to monitor, and sales of those properties in March represented just under 25% of the closed sales, significantly lower than the 50% level experienced in 2011. Short sales only accounted for 51 transactions. It appears as though the bulk of the distressed sales going forward will be properties now owned by lenders, as the recent market price appreciation has helped many owners desiring to sell rebuild equity in their homes to bring them out of a short sale position, or they have been able to refinance their existing mortgage to an affordable situation.
Sarasota Real Estate remains extremely attractive to the International buyer, also. The summer selling period often attracts global purchasers to our area, bringing the advantage of their typically shorter timespan to make a buying decision and more all cash transactions allowing for swifter closing periods. Being an associate of Michael Saunders & Co. provides one of the largest distribution networks to qualified real estate professionals and consumers around the world through our various affiliations, including Christies International, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, Mayfair International Realty and Luxury Portfolio.
If you have been pondering over when is the right time to list your property, there has not been a stable cycle like we are experiencing now in many years. In the last year more than 11,500 properties sold…that’s over 31 sales per day! With sales volume continuing to climb, inventory growing and demand for our region hot, I believe that now is an extraordinary time to get into the game. I would be happy to review your potential listing and offer an analysis of the market conditions along with your individual needs, to help you determine with confidence what your best outcome can be if you choose to sell.
On the other hand, if you are a buyer, I ask…why wait? Prices are expected to continue to climb, albeit not at the same dramatic pace seen over the last couple of years but they’re going up nevertheless. List to sale price ratios have narrowed considerably, proving that sellers are “right-pricing” their properties. And as noted before, the Sarasota Real Estate market is on the global covet list of eligible buyers, which will create more competition for traditional buyers who may want financing or tend to make a buying decision more slowly. Let me know what your needs and vision are and we can work together to find your ideal property before someone else acquires it!
The following statistical data is provided through the Sarasota Association of Realtors for properties throughout Sarasota County. The table summarizes what happened in each price segment. The Sold, Pending Sale and Listed columns are sales and new listings for the month of the report, and the Pending Total and Listed Total are the current totals of each. YTD (Year to Date).
SARASOTA COUNTY MARKET REVIEW MARCH 2014