Sarasota Realtors Robert and Valerie Orr
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March Sarasota Home Sales Stay Robust

This year is off to a bright start in the real estate market, already beginning to set records across both Sarasota and Manatee counties. Residential sales have been quite robust throughout the first couple of months, and now, with March figures available, the trend continues. The number of closed residential transactions total 2001 for both counties, with Sarasota improving its sales record from 837 to 1,201, or, an increase of 43.5 percent. While in Manatee, the number of closings totaled 800, up from February's 593, or, an increase of 34.9 percent. In both counties, sales were also up from a year before.

“These are fantastic sales numbers, and certainly welcome news and evidence that the market remains on a good roll. The Sarasota County total was very near the all-time one month sales figure of 1,228 that we saw in April 2004, and we are now well ahead of the record pace of sales experienced in 2014. Manatee County has not seen sales exceed the 800 level in many years, so we could also see near record sales there.” said Stafford Starcher, President of the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee.

Single family properties in Sarasota accounted for 789 sales, while condos sales totaled 412. In Manatee, single family residence sales came-in with 553 transactions, while there were 247 condo sales. Another statistic shows how active and strong the market is--for the first quarter of 2015, growth increased by nearly 6 percent in Sarasota County, and, Manatee experienced a whopping increase of 9 percent. Also in the first quarter of the year, 2,781 transactions closed in Sarasota County, an increase from last year's first quarter of 2,604. In Manatee County during the same time periods, 1,952 closed transactions occurred, up from 1,737 in 2014.

Median Home Prices Increase Dramatically across Sarasota and Manatee Counties in March

The median sales price posted impressive improvements, as well in both counties in the month of March. In Sarasota County, the median single family home price rose to $207,500, an increase of 9.5 percent. The median price for condo units increased to $180,745, an improvement of 5.8 percent from last March. In Manatee County, the median price for a single family property came-in at $265,000, a dramatic increase of 17.3 percent from last March. The median condo price rose to $157,000, up an eye-popping 21.2 percent from March 2014.

Pending Sales and Inventory Levels Show Mixed Results

There were 1,126 pending sales in Sarasota County in March of this year, while pending inventory came-in at a total of 1,686. Pending sales in Manatee County stood at 781, while pending inventory total 1,082 properties. However, the number of pending sales for both counties are slightly less than March 2014.

March's supply of inventory for both Manatee and Sarasota counties stood between 4.5 percent and 4.7 percent for both single family homes and condos. These percentages are well below the six month level which demonstrates near parity between buyers and sellers. At the present time, it's more of a seller's market, which in-part is based on the increase in median home prices. March's total active inventory in Sarasota County came-in at 4,418, while in Manatee County, the figure stood at 3,156. The inventory in Sarasota represents a drop of 8 percent from last March, while Manatee County recorded very little change. When inventories are low, listing prices typically rise, according to the law of supply and demand.

Distressed Properties Fall and are Less than a Fifth of the Market

In March, distressed property sales, which consist of foreclosures and short sales, fell to 17.4 percent in Sarasota County, while in Manatee County, distressed properties only accounted for 14.9 percent of the market. This was the first month of many that distressed properties dropped below 20 percent of market share in both counties.

"We all look forward to the day we are seeing distressed sales back at the traditional three percent level or lower. The fact we are seeing such major improvement is a good sign that we are returning to a healthier market,” Starcher said.