The lead-in to the summer Sarasota Real Estate selling season is bringing exceptionally strong indications that the traditionally softer season may be anything but. The statistics for May regional real estate sales are maintaining a steady forward momentum for 2012.
Our Sarasota Association of Realtors recent data reflected closed transactions at a remarkable 802 units, which is the second most active month since 2005. Overall sale prices also revealed a continuing recovery with average prices making the greatest leap in single-family properties – almost 7% higher than last year. While condo prices remained somewhat static last month, they remain 40% higher than the lowest point during the market downturn.
This is the third consecutive month with closed sales in excess of 800 transactions, showing that our market is back to sales levels last seen during the 2005-2005 real estate boom. The median sales price for single family homes is $185,000, the highest level since July 2009, up $10,000 from last month. For condos the median sales price was $180,750. Both of these figures are higher than the 12 month median price average of $165,000 for single family homes and $160,000 for condos. The median prices are approximately 35% higher than the low point of 14 months ago. One of the items helping the rise in the median price is the low inventory of properties priced under $500,000 and the lesser number of distressed sales which currently are approximately 30% of the transactions.
The hot topic is inventory. As has been reported in my blogs and virtually every news and data source, the large number of properties that have changed hands, the fact that some homeowners who do want to sell are still hesitating thinking there might be a surge in prices on the horizon, banks moving through distressed inventory more swiftly, and interest rates remaining low – there just isn’t enough new building or new listings to meet the current demand from buyers. The available listings have decreased 8% since April and 24% since 2011 year end. Pending sales volume stayed on its advancing course with 166 more pending sales this past month compared to May 2011, a remarkable 26% increase.
A real estate market is considered balanced and neither an advantage to sellers or buyers when supplies are at 6 months. With our area sitting at 4 months of inventory based on May closings, this would normally lead to pressure being placed on prices, which is especially expected to happen in lower price points and specific most desirable neighborhoods. It was reported that the last time inventory was this low was in 2004.
Based on the May closed sales, there are now just 3 months of inventory for properties listed under $500,000. In the segment between $500,000 and $1,000,000, there is a 7-month inventory and over $1,000,000 the available inventory is a 15-month supply. In higher priced categories, a market equilibrium is measured at a considerably higher months-of-inventory level, with experts suggesting anywhere between 12 to 18 months as being the norm.
For those fence-sitters, all analysts and market experts are suggesting only limited price increases through the rest of 2012 so, if there ever was a time to take advantage of abundant buyers and limited properties in great condition and in the most desirable locations…it is now.
The following statistical data is provided through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) of the Sarasota Association of Realtors by agents within our local board. These statistics do not take into account transactions of agents within Sarasota County associated with other boards. The table summarizes what happened in each price segment. The Sold (Closed), 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).