September Sales Stay Strong
September is traditionally known as a time that property sales slow down, and while there was a drop off in transactions, other statistics clearly demonstrate that the real estate market in both Sarasota and Manatee counties are quite healthy. From the six month period running between the first of March through the end of August, sales hit record levels. The beginning of autumn looks much the same this year as it did in 2015, with one notable exception -- the median price for single family properties in Sarasota and Manatee counties recorded a sharp increase in value. This phenomenon is largely attributable to the fact that the availability of single family residences dwindled, accounting for a smaller percentage of all properties listed on the MLS.
In September 2015, a total of 1,608 real estate transactions occurred, with 927 closings in Sarasota County and another 681 settlements in Manatee County. For the first time since February, real property closings came-in at less than 1,000 transactions. It's noteworthy this has never occurred in Sarasota. In both counties, regional sales totaled 1,709 in August 2015, a 5.9 percent decrease, but sales climbed 1.9 percent over last September when sales stood at 1,578. Should the trend continue, we could see another spike in sales in the final October 2015 tally.
“While the real estate market has taken a slight breather in September, which is traditionally a slower sales month, the overall numbers are still very strong. We continue to note the lack of available inventory, but we did have a small bump upwards from August. Last year and the previous year we saw the inventory rise through the winter months and peak in February. If that trend continues, local agents should expect a very busy season once again,” Association President Stafford Starcher said.
Median Home Prices continue to Climb in both Sarasota and Manatee Counties
In Manatee County, the median home price for single family properties climbed steeply from $217,000 to $265,950, an amazing increase of 22.6 percent. Sarasota County single family home prices also rose, but a little less dramatically. Last year, the median price for single family residences in Sarasota was $189,000, but in September of this year, rose to $223,500, representing an increase of 18.3 percent.
Condo median prices unexpectedly fell this year from last year, down by 1.3 percent from $195,000 to $192,500. Conversely, condo median prices in Manatee rose by 3.6 percent, from $152,000 to $157,500. This fluctuation is typical because condo unit prices are more difficult to predict than single family homes.
Pending Sales and Market Equilibrium
Median days on the market ranged from 35 to 54 days in September, which is less than the 46 to 66 days on the market recorded last year. At the same time, inventory levels remain somewhat sparse, ranging from 3.2 months to 3.6 months, which is well below the six month level that defines market equilibrium between buyers and sellers. New pending sales remained about the same, a little down for single family homes but practically no change for condos. Pending sales are those which are under contract, but not yet closed transactions.
“We continue to see sales numbers at or near record levels, and the price rise in the single family market obviously has not scared away buyers. The affordability of local properties remains at a much better level now than during the boom years of 2004-2006, as interest rates remain very favorable for buyers,” Starcher explained.
Overall, the real estate market in both counties continues to stay strong and could still produce a record year. In fact, over the last four years, sales and settlements have increased in the month of October as winter residents and visitors begin to return to the two county region. Last year's trend might repeat, when inventory levels begin to rise through the winter months, reaching their highest levels in the month of February.