Last week was somewhat light in economic reports related directly to housing with all first-quarter national and local real estate results due out this week. However, there was one forecast that came out ahead of the realtor reports that was of interest to me that I wanted to share. Clear Capital, an expert in real estate data analysis, prepared a study that is attached at the end of this posting. In it a number of important trends and assessments are highlighted that are being seen on a national basis, according to their research through March 2012, which they believe will directly and indirectly affect buying and spending habits.
National economic data released recently that has an effect on real estate included some downward movement in interest rates especially in the 15-year FRM where all-time lows were recorded, major mortgage lenders reporting increased numbers of originations, consumer credit is improving, slightly higher unemployment numbers nationally, a slight dip in consumer confidence, a surge in gas prices, positive inflation movement, and more jobs coming into the marketplace. The news was a see-saw of economic indicators offering positive and some not so positive news. Locally, the reports of an enormously successful peak tourist season in the hospitality and retail industries in Sarasota and the surrounding region, some extraordinary real estate transactions, considerable new housing product entering the market, and bank strategies to move foreclosure properties off their books more quickly are all good signs the Sarasota area real estate market is maintaining forward momentum.
In first-quarter Sarasota regional activity, as reported in TrendGraphix via data provided by MLS, the area saw a more than 20% drop in inventory compared to the same period last year, making the number of properties currently listed for sale the lowest it has been since 2005. To find equal sales in the first-quarter in Sarasota and Manatee Counties of 4,052 properties, you need to reach all the way back to 2005 during the height of our area’s real estate market. Pending sales, meaning properties under contract but not closed, experienced a 14% increase over last year’s first quarter, the highest ever recorded. One of the local real estate statistics I like to follow is the number of days a property is on the market. This year we are running 10% shorter time between listing and sale in the region. These are all exceptionally positive variances pointing to what we know has been a strong winter/spring season and indicating a sustained recovery.
As we move from our traditional spring season and into the shoulder/summer months when our regional visitors are often from foreign countries, the drop in our dollar’s value against some of the top feeder market currencies, though generally economically concerning, for us it is a great opportunity to continue to enjoy an active local real estate market. In the past it has been reported that approximately 1/3 of our international visitors will purchase a second home here. The global media has been our friend by reporting the Sarasota real estate market as having some of the best values in the country. With our low prices and compressed inventories, and demand being created by the positive news our region has been getting, it seems that the next buying season will allow for more measurable improvement in Sarasota real estate sales activity.
The Clear Capital Report is attached here. The forecasting models they use are comprehensive and each of their measurements related to the southern region point to strong improvements in a number of important economic categories that should positively affect our area’s real estate recovery.