The median sales price for a home in the Sarasota-Manatee area -- now at $198,000 -- is 13.8 percent higher than last year, according to data from the Florida Association of Realtors, a sign the housing recovery continues in Florida as inventory remains tight and buyers snap up homes despite increasing mortgage interest rates.
June home sales in Manatee and Sarasota counties also rose nearly 14 percent compared with the same month a year ago. The year-over-year increase in the median price is slightly lower than the state's, which stood at 15.1 percent, and was moderate compared with some areas such as Naples, where median prices rose 28.8 percent.
Prices rose 25 percent in Flagler County, 22 percent in the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford area and nearly 21 percent in Port St. Lucie and Miami-Ft. Lauderdale.
"It's encouraging to see median prices continuing to recover in areas across the state," said 2013 Florida Realtors President Dean Asher, broker-owner with Don Asher & Associates Inc. in Orlando. "Strong buyer demand, along with the tight supply of for-sale homes, is putting upward pressure on prices. June marks the 18th consecutive month that we've seen the statewide single-family home median sales price increase year-over-year."
While other areas had much more aggressive growth, the markets in Manatee and Sarasota seem moderate by comparison. Closed sales were up 13.8 percent compared with June 2012 to 1,198.
James Adkins, who owns residential and commercial real estate firm Adkins Florida Group in Bradenton, said the Manatee-Sarasota market is exactly where it needs to be and shouldn't be com
pared with a place such as Naples.
According to the National Association of Realtors, the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in June was up 13.2 percent from the previous year to $214,700, putting this region on par with national trends.
The median price for a house in Florida is at $175,000 up 15.1 percent compared with June 2012.
"I think we're always in some sort of real estate boom-and-bust cycle," Adkins said. "It just depends on how long the cycle is. Some cycles have lasted two decades. It would be normal for people to be wary of aggressive price increases now. People are looking at it with a skeptical eye, which is natural and healthy. But you can't ignore that we came from such an ultra-low benchmark."
He acknowledged factors driving the housing market include low prices, low interest rates and cash investors looking for cheap properties they can quickly turn into rentals.
At the same time, he said, "people are realizing that the world is not going to end. They will make the choice that best fits their own economic agenda."
He said tight inventory is forcing buyers to compete with one another again, a big change from just two years ago when few people were buying.
"People understand 'I have to live somewhere,'" he said. "Mortgage rates have gone up more than a point in the last month. People are more antsy now. They are willing to get their rate locked in now, thinking 'If I wait rates could go up again and that takes me out of the neighborhood I want to live in.'"
That's particularly important to families who tend to move in the summer, Adkins said.
"Families are looking to move as they are out of school and we see that combined with rising interest and the competition from investors," Adkins said. "It's all three things that are driving the market. In a healthy market you'll see that."
Sellers are benefitting from those factors and in June were generally getting their asking price.
"On average, sellers received about 94 percent of their asking price in June," Asher said. "Interested home sellers are paying attention to this positive trend. Statewide, new listings for single-family homes increased 10.8 percent in June, while new townhome-condo listings rose 4.7 percent."
The median price for townhouses and condos rose 12.6 percent in Manatee and Sarasota counties in June to $152,000. The market for townhouses and condos has not rebounded as strongly as the market for single family homes, according to the June report, which showed year-over-year sales down in some markets. In four of Florida's metropolitan areas, including Pensacola, Panama City and Lakeland, townhouse prices have even dropped.
The inventory for single-family homes stood at a five-month supply in June; inventory for townhouse-condos was at a 5.2-month supply, according to Florida Realtors.
"The rest of the country is finally catching on to the fact that Florida's real estate market is growing significantly," said John Tuccillo, Florida Realtors chief economist. "For the past two years, we've been up month-over-month in closed sales. The significant part of this month's numbers is the growth in new listings, suggesting that the inventory crunch will ease in the second half of this year."
Toni Whitt, business editor, can be reached at 941-745-7087. Follow her on Twitter @toniTwhitt.