MANATEE -- Even as the pool of homes for sale in Manatee and Sarasota counties drained to its lowest level in years in July, the prices paid for those homes didn't go entirely through the roof.
Continued brisk summer sales in the two counties pushed record and near-record volumes, depleting a supply that has been on the wane since March. In Manatee County, 1,843 active listings remained on the market at the end of July, the lowest level since October 2013, according to Multiple Listing Service statistics. Sarasota County hit a five-year low with 2,327 homes remaining for sale going into August.
But the relative scarcity of homes on the market didn't seem to inflate prices. Having grown to more than $265,000 between the start of 2011 and last March, the median price of a single-family home in Manatee County has fallen in recent months to $250,000. Sarasota County prices have declined as well, to $219,500, though by less and only between June and July.
Stafford Starcher, president of the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee, said recent turmoil in the stock market has made some potential sellers skittish. He said he does expect more homes to come onto the market in the coming months as homeowners leverage potential continued price jumps against mortgages that are no longer under water.
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"They're waiting for the snowbirds to come back," he said. "They feel it may drive their price and multiple offers."
For house shoppers, the
inventory numbers translate into about 3 1/2 months of saleable properties between the two counties at the current rate of sales. Homes have been selling quickly, pushing monthly volumes into record territory in June and July. Compared to July 2014, existing homes are sold in nearly half the time this July, spending between 45 and 49 days on the market on average.
Still, some real estate agents are seeing summer sales activity as flat compared to the spring months. Holly Pascarella, a Realtor with Keller Williams Luxury Homes International in Lakewood Ranch, said buyers are not indiscriminately snapping up every home on the market. Many sellers, she said, have priced their homes too high, even accounting for regular price gains.
"Prices have come up dramatically in the past few years and buyers are aware of that," Pascarella said. "Homes that are realistically price are selling."
The return of seasonal residents could boost pricing and selling volumes again, although Pascarella said the relative weakness of the Euro and Canadian dollar could put a damper on the big foreign buyer market.
Cast against the state market, Manatee and Sarasota counties showed their relative affluence in July. The median selling price in Florida was $199,000, up a modest 8.1 percent from the same time last year.
Boosting prices, in part, were 31 sales of homes of more than a $1 million dollars in the two-county area. However, the bulk of homes sold were priced between $100,000 and $250,000.
In the condo market, both prices and sales volumes were down as inventories dwindled to under four months. Buyers plunked down cash in about half the 192 July condo sales in Manatee County and two-thirds of the 338 transactions in Sarasota County. The median price of a condo range from $190,000 in Sarasota County to $152,000 in Manatee.
Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027 or on Twitter @MattAtBradenton.