2014 begins with Sarasota County market heating up
New listings in Sarasota County were up substantially in January
2014, sending the total inventory to a 32-month high level, up 10.6 percent
from December 2013 and yet another sign of a market in a strong recovery
In a recovering market, new listings and the overall inventory
generally rise as sellers raise their estimation of a property's value, but the
increase normally occurs only after the market has turned up. Inventory levels
are now 30 percent above the recent low in July 2013, only six months ago.
In addition, the Sarasota County market continues to witness
strong price appreciation, comparing January 2014 to the previous January
numbers. The median sale price for single family homes was up 21.3 percent and
for condos was up 17.1 percent. While prices are markedly higher than last year
at this time, prices have actually ranged in a narrow band for the last five
months for condos, and for the past 11 months for single family homes. The
steady nature of the median sales price is another indicator of a healthy
market, without wild fluctuations or unsustainable price appreciation that was
experienced in 2004-2006.
Pending sales rose significantly in January from the previous
several months, but were lower than last January's figures. Because of the
typical length of time it takes to bring a sale to the closing table,
economists consider pending sales to be a good indicator of potential future
January 2014 closed sales were up 10 percent over last January,
but down from December, a typical trend historically. During the past few
years, closed sales have increased significantly in February through June.
Local Realtors® are hoping that trend continues and are gearing up for a robust
spring buying season. For the full year 2013, Sarasota County had the second
highest number of sales ever tracked in the MLS system at 11,184, so the good
start in 2014 may be a harbinger for yet another strong year.
"The Sarasota County real estate market saw near record sales
last spring, so anything approaching that level would be welcome news,"
said Sarasota Association of Realtors® President Peter Crowley. "The
fundamentals of the market would certainly indicate a solid spring ahead. The
state tourism level just hit a record high. We have had a mild winter while the
northern states have experienced heavy snowstorms, and that tends to drive the
level of visitors up. Once people see what Sarasota has to offer, many tend to
want to relocate. And that's where our members can certainly help."
Sales of distressed properties represented 24.9 percent of overall
sales in January 2014, up slightly from December 2013, but much lower than the
50 percent level experienced in 2011. The current inventory includes about 12.1
percent distressed properties, down from the 12.5 percent in December. A
healthy real estate market is important to not only Realtors®, but to the local
economy in general, with many adjunct businesses relying on home sales to spur
"Our real estate market is a bright spot in an economy that
has turned the corner," Crowley noted. "The strength of the market
helps produce many jobs, in the real estate field and also in many other
businesses that supply goods and services to the home industry. It's really
great news for everyone when home sales are up. The unemployment rate drops,
salaries tend to rise, and families prosper."