A total of 759 property sales were closed in the Sarasota real estate market in April 2011, continuing a strong spring surge that reached the 800 level in March. The recent sales rush has taken the market to the highest levels since the fall of 2005 when sales started to decline. Prices also maintained their highest levels of the year in April 2011 for both single family homes and condos, and the available property inventory dropped to 5,258, a big drop from last month’s level of 5,501, and less than a third of the available properties on the market during the 2004-2006 real estate boom.
“We are glad to see the continuing strength of the market in 2011,” said SAR President Michael Bruno. “It’s especially encouraging to note that condominium median price hit $185,500 for April, despite about a third of the sales as distressed properties. The normal arm’s length median sales price hit $272,000 for condos, which means buyers definitely see added value in these non-distressed properties.”
The April statistics even compare favorably to April 2010, when the $8,000 federal homebuyer tax credit initiative fueled last year’s surge. The tax credit drove up spring sales last year, but this year’s numbers are strong simply on the basis of the market’s wealth of quality homes and condos. Buyers are finding tremendous values at all price ranges and are making offers.
Single family home sales stood at 533 for April 2011, roughly the same as last April (529). Condo sales were at 226, also about the same as last April (228). Median sales prices for single family homes was at $155,430, slightly lower than last month ($159,250) and last year ($165,000) at this time. For condominiums, the median sale price hit $185,500 in April, up from $173,000 last month, but about 4 percent lower than last year’s April figure of $193,175.
Distressed property sales represented only 36 percent of the overall market, down from 43 percent in March and 47 percent February. The downward trend is encouraging, said Bruno, and will hopefully continue into the summer and fall.
Pending sales dropped to 959 after climbing to 1,208 in March. April was the first month this year that pendings fell below the 1,000 level, likely reflecting the annual trek north by our winter residents. Pending sales are properties going under contract during the month, and the statistic is a strong indicator for the next two or three months of sales, as pending sales reflect current buyer activity.
Last April, pending sales stood at 1,160, but that figure was pushed upward by the approaching April 2010 deadline for the homebuyer tax credits. This year’s upward trend is being fueled by buyers of all sorts – investors, second-home buyers, and those who realize that today’s lower home prices coupled with low interest rates present buyers with an opportunity not seen in years.
The drop to the lowest inventory level in six years (5,258) could mean additional upward pressure on sales prices moving forward. Last year at this time, 6,160 properties were available, and the drop in inventory coupled with the continued strong level of sales has meant a drop in the months of inventory to 6.2 months for single family homes and 8.6 months for condos.
The 6 month level is traditionally a point which represents the beginning of a seller’s market, when buyers begin to compete for available properties and drive up prices. Only 27 months ago, in January 2009, there were 25.3 months of inventory for single family homes and 38.4 months of condo inventory.
“The market continues to trend in the right direction, and there has been very little fluctuation in the strong numbers,” explained Bruno. “Even without the federal tax credit, Sarasota is emerging as a market leader. It’s very encouraging to hear from our brokers and agents that they are experiencing strong foot traffic at open houses, and closings are moving forward.”
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