November 2010 saw resurgence in the Sarasota real estate market, with more sales and higher median sale prices indicating a healthy seasonal boost. There were 534 total sales reported last month, compared to 487 in October 2010 and 553 in November 2009. The median sale price for single family homes rose to $160,100, from last month’s figure of $147,500, and for condos the price stood at $159,000 – slightly higher than the October 2010 figure of $158,525. The stability in the median sale prices shows signs of improvement.
Overall sales rose by 9.7 percent in November 2010 compared to last month, but about 7 percent lower than last November, when the $8,000 homebuyer tax credit buoyed sales as the initial period was due to expire. Looking at the most recent five months, there has been a fairly steady trend in sales and prices, a sign of recovery.
Pending sales were also strong in November 2010, and at 764 were very near the total in November 2009 (793), when the market was strengthened by the homebuyer tax credit initiative. With no tax credit currently in effect, the high pending sales figure is evidence of a stronger market. This statistic is a strong indicator for the next two or three months of sales, as pending sales reflect current buyer activity.
The property sales breakdown in November 2010 was 369 single family home sales and 165 condos. Condo sales saw the biggest resurgence, growing 21.3 percent from October 2010.
“There certainly appears to be a solid foundation for consistent, stable sales and prices as we enter the new year,” said 2010 SAR President Erick Shumway. “While the foreclosure situation remains a potential barrier to quicker price appreciation, the local market seems to be absorbing that factor and adjusting to the new reality.”
The median sale price for single family homes over the past 12 months was $163,000, and for condos was $165,000. Last year at this time, looking back over the previous 12 months, the median sale price for single family was $160,000, and for condos was $198,500.
Inventory rose slightly in November 2010 to 6,207 from 6,069 in October 2010. But due to the higher sales volume, the months of inventory for single family homes dropped to 10.9 months in November 2010 from 11.1 months in October 2010. The figure was 9.4 months in November 2009. Months of inventory represents the number of months it would take to sell all available homes at the current pace. For condos, the figure fell to 13.3 months in November 2010 from 15.9 months in October 2010. It was at 14.6 months in November 2009. Once the market reaches the 6 month level it is considered to be in equilibrium between a buyers and sellers market.
There was good news on the distressed property sales front, as short sales and foreclosure sales fell to 46 percent of the overall sales. Much lower sales prices for distressed sales continue to be the primary reason for the overall median price at a level lower than would be expected, with normal arm’s length sales garnering three-times as much as bank-owned properties, and twice as much as short sales on average.
“The level of distressed sales dropped in November to 46 percent, from 50 percent in October and 54 percent in September,” noted Shumway. “There are still two distinct markets in the Sarasota area – one consisting of distressed sales, and the other normal, arm’s length sales. But it’s encouraging to see that downward trend, and once the distressed sales get back to a normal, historical percentage, we should see a return to traditional appreciation levels.”
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