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February Sales Mixed But Home Prices Continue To Rise

Total home sales across Sarasota and Manatee counties have fluctuated since the beginning of the year, following record highs throughout 2015. Thus far in 2016, home sales in all categories are mixed, recording ups and downs, however, the overall market is healthy as home prices continue to rise.

In the month of February, Sarasota County recorded a sales drop of 6.4 percent for all home types, including a 13.2 percent fall in single family homes, offset by a rise in condo unit sales of 9.6 percent. Manatee County experienced much the same, with sales in all types falling by 2.4 percent and a dip of 10.7 percent in single family properties. Condo sales in Manatee were stronger, rising by 19.5 percent. The increase in condo sales could be the result of lower purchase prices and fewer single family home listings.

“With record sales last year and extremely low inventory, it only makes sense that we would slow down a bit. However, we are seeing an increase in inventory, as owners appear to be entering the market to take advantage of the price recovery we have experienced,” said Linda Formella, the President of the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee.

Closed Sales and Median Home Prices

February's closed sales were likely the result of contract agreements written in December. The month of February is typically slower for real estate sales because it follows the holidays. Other factors include the increase in the target funds rate in December by the Federal Reserve, the first such hike since June 2006. Canadian buyers were less prominent so far this year because unfavorable exchange rate with the United States dollar. Currently, one Canadian dollar is worth .75 cents on the exchange, following a steady decline over the past four years; in 2012, the two currencies were at parity.

Median home sale prices fluctuated across both counties in February. In Sarasota County, the median single family home price rose to $252,250, up 28.7 percent, but in Manatee the median single family home price fell slightly to $255,000, down by 0.7 percent. Sarasota County condo sale prices did not experience a change a the year-over-year comparison, staying steady at $190,000. In Manatee County, though, the median condo sales price rose to $165,000, an increase of 9.3 percent in a year-over-year comparison.

Inventory Levels Rise across Sarasota and Manatee and Market Equilibrium

The inventory of available properties increased in both Sarasota and Manatee counties, recording a rise of 3.7 percent in single family properties in Sarasota compared to last February. In Manatee, available single family residences increased by 7.1 percent over last February. Both counties also experienced a rise in condo inventory, with Sarasota up by 17 percent and Manatee up by 18.2 percent.

Inventory in the two counties range between 4.6 to 5.4 months, not all that dissimilar from last year, when the range was 4.6 to 5.1 months last year. These represent the number of months it would take to sell all available properties at the current pace. Though it is close to a balanced market, which is 6 months, sellers still have a favorable position. Buyers have slowed their rate of purchases, which could be a mixed result of climbing interest rates and rising home prices -- even though inventory is more robust.

Top Home Sales in February

Top five luxury homes closed in February, three of which were on Longboat Key, one on Siesta Key, and one in Downtown Sarasota:

  • 3475 Gulf of Mexico Dr 5 bedrooms, 5 full baths, 1 half bath $7,000,000

  • 3331 Gulf of Mexico Dr 5 bedrooms, 5 full baths, 1 half bath $6,200,000

  • 6100 Midnight Pass Rd 5 bedrooms, 5 full baths, $4,700,000

  • 6477 Gulfside Rd 6 bedrooms, 5 full baths, 1 half bath, $4,300,000

  • 188 Golden Gate Pt #402, 3 bedrooms, 3 full baths, $3,959,900

Distressed Property Sales Drop

Distressed properties,which are comprised of foreclosures and short sales, continue to represent a smaller and smaller percentage of all available property listings. During February, distressed property sales made-up just 11.9 percent of all closed transaction across both counties. Last February, distressed property sales constituted 23.94 percent of all closed transactions. Just a few years ago, distressed property sales accounted for nearly half, 48 percent, off all closed transactions.

“The fluctuations we see in today’s market are normal, healthy even. We are experiencing smart and sustainable growth. I am encouraged by the hard work of our Realtor members and the positive attitudes I witness every day. There is no doubt: our future is bright,” Formella explained.