MANATEE -- Real estate experts predict that more existing homes will sell in Manatee and Sarasota counties in 2015 than during any other year in history.
On a pace that the president of the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee calls "historic," Sarasota County is expected to exceed an all-time high of 11,550 home sales by year-end. In Manatee County, sales need only average 360 per month in November and December to break an 8,004-sales record set in 2013. Nearly twice that number sold in October.
By the end of October, the
pace of sales had dropped only modestly during the autumn selling season, which is historically viewed as being "slow." At the same time, median prices are near a five-year peak and homes are typically staying on the market a little over a month before selling.
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October's existing home sales in Sarasota and Manatee counties totaled 1,588, down about 1 percent from September.
Compared with a year ago, median prices for detached homes, condominiums and townhomes all rose.
Buying a single family home in Manatee County was generally the most expensive option, with sales registering a median price of $259,000, according to Multiple Listing Service statistics.
The median price for a single family home in Sarasota County was $230,000 in October.
The numbers indicate that the market is strong, according to the Realtor Association.
But with the number of homes for sale at or near a half-decade low, some buyers are jumping in while properties are still available where they want them at the prices they want to pay.
Matthew DiAndreth, a Pittsburgh physician, and his wife, Carmela, purchased a lot in The Concession in East Manatee for $326,000 in July.
A part-time Florida resident for more than a decade, DiAndreth said he wanted to buy into that specific gated golf community. Lots and homes in The Concession have sold quickly this year, so the couple pulled the trigger while they still had a choice of locations in the 236-lot subdivision.
"Our reason for buying now as opposed to a year from now: We don't think there's going to be much on the market for what we're looking for size- and price-wise," DiAndreth said.
The couple is feeling less pressure on the selling side of the market.
DiAndreth said he put the couple's current home in Venice up for sale a month ago at a price somewhat higher than similar homes in the market.
They've already had a number of showings, but are in no hurry to sell as their new home in The Concession won't be finished for another nine months.
Short supplies of homes are expected to push pricing for at least the remainder of 2015.
Housing inventory has been well below the six-month level of supply that defines equilibrium between buyers or sellers.
In October, the supply was between 3.5 and 3.9 months across the single family and condo markets in the two counties.
Some housing categories have seen year-over-year price jumps similar to those during the run-up to the 2008 housing market collapse.
During October, the biggest increase by housing category came in Manatee County condo sales, which saw median prices rise by 29.7 percent year over year. The median price of a single family home was up 17.9 percent year over year in Sarasota County and 12.7 percent in Manatee County.
Those sorts of increases might not continue. Stafford Starcher, president of the Realtor Association, said he expects the market to slow through 2016 and 2017.
He believes inventories will expand in the coming months as more sellers bring their properties to market. The Federal Reserve is also expected to raise interest rates in December, an action that would likely increase the cost of a 30-year mortgage.
"Word on the street is people are just waiting to put their homes on the market," Starcher said. "I don't see us maintaining these types of price increases at all."
Home prices will continue to rise, he said, particularly in Manatee County if a set of proposed impact fees is approved. Those fees could total as much as $22,167 on a new home purchase.
Higher prices might also slow the market.
"It may take some people out of the market for new homes," Starcher said.
Cast against the statewide picture, Manatee and Sarasota counties are comparatively expensive and showing above-average demand. MLS figures for Florida pegged the median selling price of an existing single family home in October at $198,995. That was up 12.4 percent from the same time in 2014. Statewide inventory was at 4.4 percent.
Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027 or on Twitter @MattAtBradenton.