April 2012 sales in Sarasota hit a new seven year high!

There seems to be no stopping the Sarasota real estate market! April 2012 saw yet another seven-year high for monthly sales, hitting 886 total closed transactions. The figure topped last month’s 831 sales by 6.6 percent. It was the highest number of sales since August 2005, and when there were 908 total sales.

The breakdown was 589 single family home sales and 297 condo sales. Last April, the totals were 546 homes and 226 condos for a total of 759 overall sales, so the jump was about 17 percent year-to-year.
In addition, pending sales (which represent properties that went under contract during the month) remained very high at 1,068, the third straight month that topped 1,000, and a major indicator of the future direction of the market. Last year’s spring surge didn’t slow down until July, and the numbers seem to indicate there remains strength in the current market dynamics.

“We’ve had an incredible string of positive numbers in the Sarasota real estate market, and we hope for a consistently strong market going forward,” said SAR President Laura Benson. “I’m hopeful that this will be the case, because we seem to be leading the nation into the real estate market recovery. The national economy continues to improve, employment numbers are better, and we’re in the perfect marketplace in Sarasota.”

In addition to the amazingly high level of sales, the median sale price for both categories remained at the highest levels of the year in April. The median sale price for condos was $191,750, almost identical to the March figure of $192,000, a level not seen since May 2011. Single family was at $175,000, just above last month’s figure of $174,900, and a level not reached since June 2011. Single family home prices remain at a level 21.4 percent higher than the low of the market reached 13 months ago, while condo prices are almost 30 percent higher than the low point.

The reason for the price resurgence is likely tied to the lower number of distressed property sales. The total number of distressed sales, foreclosures and short sales, fell to only 31 percent, down slightly from last month’s 32 percent figure – a new three-year low.
Currently, only 621 properties for sale in the MLS are short sales or foreclosures, down from last month’s figure of 701 properties. This represents about 14 percent of available properties, down from last month’s 15 percent figure. In February 2012, the number was 740 (16 percent of the market), and in January 2012 it was 812 (17 percent of the market). If this percentage continues to trend lower, we could begin to see median sales price increases going forward.

The available inventory of homes on the market dropped to a new decade low of 4,283, even lower than the previous low of 4,408 seen in August 2011. The combination of high sales and low inventory has also dropped the months of inventory to near decade lows. The market now reflects a figure of 4.7 months of inventory for single family homes and 5.1 months inventory for condos. Months of inventory represents the time it would take to deplete the current inventory at the current sales rate. Lower inventory and higher sales normally result in greater competition for available properties, which tends to push prices up.

“The decline in the available inventory has been remarkable, and competition for homes and condos generally creates upward price pressure,” said Benson. “Buyers and potential buyers should understand that the current market scenario is clear – if you wait, you will miss out. We’re at a decade low for inventory, the mortgage interest rates are at the lowest level since the 1950s, and Sarasota remains the nation’s perfect place to relocate.” Benson continued, “Every number indicates that we are seeing the virtual opposite of a perfect storm in local real estate. I would call this the perfect opportunity – a market in strong recovery, prices still very low compared to the price surge of 2003-2005, and interest rates at record lows. And SAR Realtor® members are certainly ready to help buyers and sellers achieve their dreams.”

by Helena Nordstrom, sales associate Premier Sotheby’s International Realty (Source: Sarasota Association of Realtors)

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