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January 2015 Near Parity With January 2014

The January 2015 Sarasota-Manatee real estate market looked much the same as it did the same time last year. In January 2014, sales fell from December 2013, while new inventory increased substantially and pending sales rose considerably. That constitutes the same dynamic from December 2014 to January of this year, demonstrating that buyers prefer to wait until after the holidays and homeowners were reluctant to list their properties, waiting to see if they would realize more recoverable value.

In Sarasota County, a total of 743 closed sales transactions occurred in January, comprised of 514 single family properties and 229 condo units. Manatee County recorded a bit less in closed sales transactions, with a total of 559, of them 409 being single family homes, along with 152 condos. However similar the real estate market might look through the closed transaction figures, it remains quite mixed in the median price statistics.

Median Prices Mixed from December to January Across Sarasota and Manatee Counties

In January, Sarasota County saw a drop in single family home values from December's figure of $195,500 to January's figure of $190,000, about 3 percent less. Conversely, Manatee County recorded a rise in median home prices, with December's number of $235,00 rising to $250,000 in January, an increase of 6.4 percent. That figure represents the highest median price since June 2014 in Manatee County, when the figure hit $245,000.

“In real estate, there are trends, peaks and valleys, and over the years we’ve seen a dip in closed sales in January. In recent years, we’ve also seen a resurgence in February and through the spring and early summer. Judging from the pending sales levels in both counties, I wouldn’t be surprised if 2015 continues in this same pattern,” Association President Stafford Starcher remarked.

Condo median prices in Sarasota County rose from December to January, increasing from $177,500 to $185,000. In contrast, the Manatee County median price fell from December to January from $168,00 to $159,950. The December figure marks the highest median condo price in Manatee for all of 2014.

Pending Sales and Inventory Levels Show Remarkable Strength

A strong indicator of an active sales year came from pending sales and inventory levels. In both categories, Sarasota and Manatee County performed quite well. In December of last year, pending sales in Sarasota stood at 691, but increased to 995 in January. Nearly in-sync, pending sales in Manatee rose from 503 in December to 677 in January.
The National Association of Realtors said sales of existing homes tumbled 4.9 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.82 million. That brings sales down to their lowest level since April 2014. Relatively low mortgage rates and steady job growth have yet to spur more activity from buyers and sellers, raising the possibility of either a spring sales rush or a second straight year of numbness in the real estate market. --Herald-Tribune

Inventory levels increased in a similar fashion, rising in Sarasota County to 4,385 and in Manatee County, up to 3,106. These figures represent the highest levels in six months, something not seen since June 2014. The number of homes listed for sale in December in Sarasota came-in at just 691 properties, while in Manatee, the number of homes listed for sale stood at only 503. Both figures represent a drop from the previous November 2014 figures. The numbers were thought to be an indicator of a steady drop, but the opposite occurred.

Distressed Properties Rise Slightly but Remain a Small Portion of the Market

Of all sales across both Sarasota and Manatee counties in January, 21.8 percent were distressed properties, either short sales or foreclosures. That figure is an increase from December when distressed property sales accounted for 20 percent of all transactions. It's also slightly higher than November 2014, when distressed home sales stood at 21.2 percent. However, in perspective to the overall real estate market in both counties, these numbers are less than half than 2008, when distress property sales represented 50 percent of all closed transactions.