MANATEE -- After a long dry haul during the Great Recession, Realtors across the region finally had something to beam about when the Florida Realtors reported Monday that Manatee-Sarasota recorded an annual 14.4 percent spike in single-family home sales in 2012, and a corresponding 15.4 percent jump in condo and townhouse unit sales.
Both metrics were among the state's strongest.
Even better, prices are up. A total of 11,700 single-family homes sold at a median price of $168,000, a 12 percent improvement from 2011.
Condo prices rose by 8.4 percent to a median of $136,000, while condo unit sales hit 5,481.
Stephen Lingley, vice president of Florida Realtors district 13, which includes the Manatee and Sarasota Metro Statistical Area, said that "the two sections of Manatee County which were quite strong were Northern Longboat Key and Lakewood Ranch."
Lingley, a Premier Sotheby's International Realty broker-associate, noted that "inventories were at a four-year low," which contributed to the price rise.
"Property that is priced right is seeing offers within 30 days," he said. "Fifty percent of the properties which close each month have been listed less than 30 days."
The other half are evenly split between "distressed sales and unique multi-million dollar properties." The lower "distressed" end consists of "short-sales, bank owned property and fund owned property."
The upper end contains owners who have finally and properly "identified their price."
Builders will likely be cheered to hear that an "estimated 10 percent of sales were from newly-constructed homes," said Lingley, who termed it "a much better new-homes performance" than in
Leslie Wells, past-president of the Manatee Association of Realtors, and president of Leslie Wells Realty, said that she works "the market north of the river and our agents are finding that we are getting more calls to list properties for sale. The feeling is that sellers are taking advantage of the fact that inventory is low, causing properties to sell faster and at a higher price.
"Buyers are beginning to see that properties are selling quickly and that many are selling for over the asking price," Wells said.
"Throughout 2012, we've seen increasingly strong signs that the state's housing market is in solid recovery," said 2013 Florida Realtors President Dean Asher, in a statement. "These positive fundamentals in the housing sector continue to attract potential homeowners and investors; however, they're facing a limited inventory of available for-sale homes in many areas.
"Florida's economy is growing, more jobs are being created and mortgage interest rates probably will stay favorably low for some time - which will help drive the housing market forward in 2013," Asher said.
The association's news release also reported that "statewide closed sales of existing single-family homes totaled 204,414 in 2012, up 8.5 percent compared to the year-ago figure," adding further evidence to the realization that the Manatee-Sarasota MSA was among the best performing in the state.