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October Market Continues Strong Streak As Median Prices Rise

Though sales this October are slightly lower than last September and October, median home prices increased substantially in a year-over-year comparison. Closed residential real estate transaction this October in Sarasota County totaled 880, while there were 708 sales in Manatee County for the same month. The combined figure of 1,588 represented a decrease of 1 percent from September, when sales reached a combined 1,608 for both Sarasota and Manatee counties.

“This market has been on a historic roll in 2015, and we typically experience some degree of leveling off in overall sales as we enter the traditionally slower early fall months. However, the higher median sales prices, particularly compared to last October, indicate that our market remains popular and buyers have not been deterred by the price level rise we’ve witnessed,” explained Stafford Starcher, president of the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee.

Median Home Prices Increase in October 2015

Single family properties in Sarasota experienced a median price increase of nearly 3 percent, however, Manatee recorded a decrease of 2.6 percent in median single family home prices. The results for condo units in the two counties was opposite, with Sarasota seeing a decrease of 5 percent from September to October and Manatee experiencing an increase of of 8 percent in median condo prices from September to October.

Compared to October 2014, though, all categories rose in median prices, with the largest rise in Manatee condo units reaching a whopping 29.7 percent in a year-over-year comparison. In Sarasota County, the median price of condos rose by a more modest 5.7 percent. Single family residences in Sarasota rose by 17.9 percent, while Manatee recorded a rise of 12.1 percent.

Inventory, Market Equilibrium, and Pending Sales

In both Sarasota and Manatee counties, inventory of available homes for sale rose, with Sarasota having some 3,533 properties, or, a 6 percent increase from September and Manatee's available properties increasing to 2,682, or, 4 percent above September. However, inventory is still decidedly lower this year compared to October 2014, when there were 3,791 available properties in Sarasota County and 2,832 in Manatee County. Inventory levels are even less robust than in 2013, when Sarasota had 5,500 available homes for sale and Manatee had nearly as many, 5,000 available properties for sale.

For the past two-and-a-half years, inventory levels have steadily dropped in both counties. However, this dynamic is normal for the region, when buyers come to the market early on in the year and inventory levels generally peak in the first quarter of the year, with February marking the high point. Should this trend continue into 2016, the real estate market is likely to be very active once again in the first part of the new year. Market equilibrium between buyers and sellers continues to be below the six month balance, with inventory levels only forecast between 3.5 and 3.9 months. Median days on the market ranged between 36 and 55 in October, about the same timeline as September of this year, but below last October median days on the market which was between 47 to 55.

Pending sales, or those which have not yet closed, in October, fell from September and were slightly lower than October 2014. This might signal that the market in November and December will cool off. However, by year-end the two county real estate market is likely to be record setting as the first 10 months have broken previous records. Since the beginning of the year, there have been a record-setting sales of 630 over the same period last year in Sarasota County and in Manatee County, sales are 660 above last year. With such figures, it's entirely possible the year will end as one like none other for the two county region, “We are certainly living in historic times, based on the overall sales to this point in the year,” Starcher said.