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2014 A Stellar Sales Year As Sarasota County Hits New Record

It's official, 2014 now stands as the best real estate sales year in Sarasota County, with Manatee just missing it's high water mark. The year of 2014 came to an end with red-hot activity, recording a whopping 11,550 closed transactions, 68 more than the previous record of 11,482 set in 2004. Manatee also impressed, nearly missing its record high of 2013, with 7,976 closed transactions, only 28 less than its high of 8,004.

“Sarasota and Manatee counties have never seen this level of combined sales activity, which actually surpassed the 2004-2005 boom years of a decade ago. The credit goes to our members, who routinely provide excellent service to the buyers and sellers in our area," proclaimed Association President, Stafford Starcher.

December finished the year strong, with 929 closed transactions in Sarasota County, comprised of 659 single family residences and 270 condos. Manatee County likewise recorded many closed transactions, with a total of 766, combining 553 single family homes with 213 condo units. Part of the dynamic is due to prices, which have risen over the last few years, but to healthy levels, and not the unsustainable levels of 2004 through 2006.

Median Prices Rise Slightly in December Across Sarasota County, Manatee Remains Stable

In Sarasota County, single family median home prices rose to $195,500, surpassing November's median price of $193,000. Manatee County recorded a median price of $235,000, remaining the same from November through December, but still below the high of $245,000 in June. Condo median prices also rose in Sarasota County from November to December, improving from $175,000 to $177,5000.
With economic conditions generally expected to continue improving in 2015, most industry experts predict the housing market recovery will last into the busy spring selling season and beyond, furthering a similar bump in real estate values this year in almost every sector of the market. --Herald-Tribune

Manatee County condo median prices had the biggest gain, increasing an astounding 16 percent from $145,000 in November to $168,000 in December. That amounts to the highest level of median condo pricing in Manatee County for the entire year of 2014.

Pending Sales and Inventory Levels Experience a Small Drop

Another indicator of the strong year is inventory levels, which were lower in both Sarasota and Manatee counties. In December, there were 691 properties listed for sale in Sarasota County, below the November figure of 725 properties. Manatee had a total of 503 properties listed for sale in December, which falls below the number of available properties in the past few months. These combined numbers could foretell of a slower sales month in January 2015.

Distressed Properties Still Falling from Previous Highs

One of the best indicators of the overall real estate market in both Sarasota and Manatee counties is not only the rise of the median sales price, meaning home values continue to recover, but also the fewer number of distressed properties. In the last month of 2014, December's distressed properties fell to just 20 percent of all homes listed for sale, down from the November percentage of 21.2. This is an impressive figure as during the 2008 housing crisis, nearly 50 percent of all properties available for sale were classified as distressed.

With the combined dynamic of median prices rising steadily, less distressed properties for sale, and fewer resale homes listed on the market, 2015 might start the year with more momentum in the law of supply and demand. Another bit of good news is that Sarasota and Manatee counties are becoming more and more attractive to out-of-state buyers and those nearing retirement. With prices in other parts of the state, particularly on the southeast coast remaining high, southwest Florida gives buyers more opportunity for less money.