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August 2015 Median Home Prices Climb As Inventory Levels Drop

Sarasota and Manatee counties continue to see median home prices rise steadily, especially when compared to the same time last year. A strong seller's market continues to manifest in both Florida's west coast counties as inventory levels nearly consistently fall. Even with new construction communities deep into development, placing more residences on the market, inventory remains thin and homeowners are enjoying a substantial advantage when entering the sales market.

Median Home Prices Climb across Sarasota and Manatee Again

The median single family home price reached $237,000 in August, an impressive increase of 21.1 percent from August 2014, when the price stood at $195,750. Manatee County also posted a robust gain from last August, with its median single family home price reaching $265,000 from $223,000, a gain of 18.8 percent. What's more, condo prices also recorded substantial increases in median prices in both counties. In Sarasota County, the median condo price hit $220,000, up from $177,000 last year, or, 24.3 percent. In Manatee County, the median condo price reached $155,000, up from $122,000 a gain of 27 percent.

Inventory Levels Continue to Drop

Combined single family and condo inventories fell to just 3,303 in Sarasota and decreased to 2,534 in Manatee. These figures represent a respective drop of 11.8 percent and 7 percent, when inventory levels stood at 3,745 and 2,724 last August. This represents an imbalance in market equilibrium between buyers and sellers, which last occurred in 2013. Two years ago, there were 5,500 available properties on the market in Sarasota and 5,000 in Manatee. For the past 30 months, inventory levels have dropped, posting a 40 percent decrease from recent norms.

“The lack of available inventory compared to the equilibrium levels, and particularly to our inventory peaks in 2006 when we were seeing over 15,000 properties on the market in both counties, is remarkable. Yet, despite the low inventories, we are continuing to see historically high sales numbers. Also, the lower days on market figures means fewer properties are languishing on the market. A property in good condition and priced right is generally selling very quickly,” explained Association President Stafford Starcher.

Median Days on the Market

Another good statistic for home sellers is the drop of median days on the market. In August, homes remained listed between 39 and 57 days, a sharp decline from August 2014, when the median D.O.M. ranged between 55 and 70. In addition to these figures, the 6 months worth of inventory which represents market equilibrium fell to 3.2 to 3.6 months for both condos and single family properties across both counties.

Closed Sales and Pending Transactions

Closed sales combined a mix of ups and downs for both Sarasota and Manatee counties. In August a total of 1,709 transactions closed, an increase from the 1,649 closings recorded in August of last year. However, closed sales were down from July of this year, when a total of 1,974 transactions completed. In Sarasota, there were 1,048 sales, a decrease from 1,174 in July, though an increased did occur from last August, when there were 975 closings. Pending sales across both counties fell by 5 percent from August 2014, with all categories recording slightly less pending transactions.

Even with these mixed figures, sales through the year of 2015 have been the strongest yet on record. If the trends continue through the remaining months, this will reach the highest level of sales in the history of the region. Because the Federal Reserve has not moved to change the key rate, sales are likely to remain robust through the rest of the year.

"Our agents obviously hope to see an increase in the available inventory as prospective sellers realize the opportunity and get into this market. If we see a turnaround soon in the inventory levels, combined with the traditional return of our winter visitors who often decide to move here permanently, I think we’ll have a healthy real estate market in the foreseeable future," Starcher predicted.