MANATEE Pending sales in Sarasota and Manatee opened the year on a surge, an indication the area is poised for a robust spring season.
While overall sales were down in both counties, January is typically the slowest month of the year for non-seasonally adjusted closings, as the holidays redirect the attention of potential buyers and stall the loan process.
Shrinking inventory also has helped restore prices across Southwest Florida.
Manatee Realtors sold 257 existing single-family homes in January, a 28 percent drop from December and a modest 3 percent slide from the same time last year, according to the association.
The number of properties under contract, however, climbed to their highest point over their last 12 months to reach 543. That includes a 53 percent spike from December.
Median prices in Manatee also rebounded to reach $165,000, a 6 percent jump from a year ago, records show.
In Sarasota, the housing market closely followed that same trend.
The countys 365 existing single-family homes sold last month fell drastically from the 471 reported in December. Januarys total also represents a 5 percent dip from January 2011.
But like Manatee, pending sales increased 38 percent during the month, a sign activity will gain strength through spring generally the busiest time of the year for out-of-state buyers.
Median prices in Sarasota also rose 17 percent over the year to reach $162,000 in January, according to Association of Realtors.
For the first time in January, the state association stopped tracking local market trends, which will leave inconsistencies compared to previous housing market reports.
Josh Salman, Herald business writer, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Twitter:@JoshSalman