Housing prices continue upward trend in Manatee-Sarasota

twhitt@bradenton.comSeptember 20, 2013 

Realtors across the state are hoping that the latest housing numbers will prompt those sellers who have been on the fence to enter the market.

Tight inventory and low, but rising interest rates, continue to keep the real estate market hot, leading to increased prices and more sales.

In the Manatee-Sarasota market, median single-family home sales prices increased to $210,000 in August while year-over-year sales increased by 7 percent. In the condominium market median sales prices are $145,000, up 7.4

percent over the same time last year, according the data released Thursday.

Linda Formella, a broker-associate with Keller Williams Realty of Manatee, said the area still has a low inventory of houses for sale, which is helping to move prices higher.

"If the coming season is typical, we'll see a greater influx of buyers," Fromella said.

Formella said that while some in the industry are "concerned about prices have been going up too quick and this growth period has been an echo back to when prices were running up," she believes that supply and demand will even out this season and stabilize the growth.

"I'm hoping this is a real sustained growth period," she said. "I think sellers are getting the message that it might be a better time to start selling. I'm starting to see some listings hit the market. Ultimately that's a good thing, it will help buyers have some choices and it will also help to put prices at a more normal level."

Statewide closed sales of existing single-family homes totaled 20,933 in August, up 12.5 percent compared to a year ago, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

This is the 20th straight month of gains.

Meanwhile, pending sales -- contracts that are signed but not yet completed or closed -- for existing single-family homes last month rose 17.2 percent over the previous August. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $175,000, up 18.6 percent from the previous year.

"Both sales and prices demonstrate that Florida's housing market is growing and continuing to gain strength," said 2013 Florida Realtors President Dean Asher, of Don Asher & Associates Inc. in Orlando. "The growth in jobs and other positive signs are putting buyers at ease with how the economy is progressing. At the same time, prices are encouraging sellers to get off the fence and helping to ease inventory pressures.

Looking at Florida's year-to-year comparison for sales of townhouse-condos, a total of 9,491 units sold statewide last month, up 6.3 percent from August 2012. Meanwhile, pending sales for townhouse-condos last month increased 11.6 percent compared to the year-ago figure. The statewide median price for townhouse-condo properties was $130,000, up 25.2 percent over the previous year.

In Manatee-Sarasota, the median price for townhouse-condos was $145,000, up 7.4 percent over August 2012 and there were 507 closed sales in August, up 17.9 percent from the same month last year.

Formella said she expects to see snowbirds and those preparing for retirement taking a close look at the local condominium market.

"We've always had buyers like that and will continue to see them," she said.

Statewide, the inventory for single-family homes stood at a 5.1-months' supply in August; inventory for townhouse-condos was at a 5.2-months' supply, according to Florida Realtors.

"The most striking feature of this month's data relates to new listings and inventory," said Florida Realtors Chief Economist John Tuccillo. "Each month in 2013 has seen a rise year-over-year in new listings for both single family homes and townhouses and condos, with the exception of March for condo/townhomes. Balancing out the growth in closed sales, the increase in new listings has contributed to steady inventory. Single-family-home inventory is now at 5.1 months for August 2013, after holding steady at a 5-months supply in May through July. Condo/townhome inventory remains at a 5.2 months supply for the third month in a row.

"Combined with a relative decline in cash sales, this suggests that the pressure on inventories that has plagued the Florida market may be easing."

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