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January Posts Slight Seasonal Sales Dip As Home Prices Rise

The 2015 real estate sales year recorded all-time highs in both Sarasota County and Manatee County. Median home prices continued to rise in January 2016, though the month experienced its usual seasonal activity dip. However in Sarasota County, January 2016 bested the same month of 2015, posting an increase in sales of 1.2 percent with single family homes, for a total of 520. Conversely, condo sales were down 5.2 percent by comparison, posting 217 transactions. Manatee County experienced a drop in January single family home sales, with 5.4 percent fewer closed transactions. Interestingly, condo sales in Manatee rose this year from January 2015, up 2.6 percent, recording 156 sales.

“Our slice of paradise is catching its breath a bit after our very busy fourth quarter and while sales are slowing down slightly, we are confident that our real estate community will continue to see steady, sustainable growth in the first quarter of 2016,” said Linda Formella, Realtors Association of Sarasota and Manatee.

Sarasota and Manatee County Median Home Prices Still Healthy

In both Manatee County and Sarasota County, median home prices remained strong and even rose in a year-over year comparison from 2015 to 2016. In Sarasota County, single family properties rose in median price 21.3 percent, climbing to $230,500; while in Manatee County, the median single family home price increased by 10 percent, rising to $274,900. Median condo prices also increased in both Sarasota and Manatee counties, reaching $218,000, up 17.8 percent, and, rising 6.3 percent in Manatee, coming-in at $169,950.

Available Inventory and Pending Sales

The real estate market in both Sarasota and Manatee counties has been a bit tough for buyers, favoring sellers, especially over the last year. However, January 2016 showed some slight mixed improvement for homebuyers. In Sarasota County, there were 1.5 percent fewer single family homes available compared to last January. Manatee County experienced a different dynamic, with 2.4 percent more single family homes available. Condo unit availability in both Sarasota and Manatee counties climbed compared to January 2015, up 6.1 percent in Sarasota and a 9.6 percent rise in Manatee.

One of the most encouraging factors in both counties is the number of new construction homes, which continue to offer buyers more choice. These developments produce positive economic growth, bringing more businesses and jobs to the area. In addition, interest rates remain low and mortgage options are plentiful; combined with more winter visitors than in previous years, it's a great mix for the real estate market.

In Sarasota, available single family home inventory posted at 4.2 month supply, while in Manatee, there was a 4.4 month supply. For condos, there was a 4.8 month supply in Sarasota and a 5 month supply in Manatee. All of these figures still remain below what's considered market equilibrium of 6 months. Moreover, pending sales in both single family homes and condos in each county were lower in January, an indication that it will be difficult to retain the same robust sales pace recorded last year with fewer homes available.

Top Home Sales in January

Top five luxury homes closed in January, two of which were on Siesta Key, one in Oyster Bay Estates, one in Harbor Acres, and one in Downtown Sarasota:

    • 1204 Hillview Dr 5 bedrooms, 5 full baths, 2 half-bath $7,050,000

    • 4242 Higel Ave 5 bedrooms, 4 full baths $4,200,000

    • 1439 South Lake Shore 4 bedrooms, 5 full baths, 1 half-bath $3,538,000

    • 35 Watergate Dr 3 bedrooms, 3 full baths $3,400,000

    • 1229 Point Crisp Rd 5 bedrooms, 4 full baths $3,250,000

Distressed Properties Continue to Drop

Distressed homes, which constitute foreclosures and short sales, continue to represent fewer transactions and a smaller percentage of available inventory in both counties, a sure sign of a more healthy market. In fact, distressed single family property sales represented a total of just 11.8 percent for both counties in January. That's a big change from January 2015, when distressed single family homes made-up 25.8 percent of all sales across both counties. Distressed condos represented only 7.8 percent of all sales, compared to 12.3 percent in January 2015. This is quite an impressive improvement as distressed property sales were 48 percent of all transactions just a few years ago.

“We are seeing signs of a stable, growing market. New construction means new sales opportunities and mortgage interest rates continue to remain low. We also have more Florida winter visitors than ever before. It’s a fabulous time to sell,” Formella said.