Manatee home sales drop but recovery still underway, economist says

MANATEE — The housing market cooled off some in September, but the sales pace and price appreciation continues to outperform a year ago.

Realtors in Manatee County sold 196 existing single-family homes last month, a 24 percent slide from August and 2 percent gain from the same time last year.

In Sarasota, the county reported an even 500 single-family home sales, down similarly from the 587 in August but up 16 percent from the 430 in September 2011.

Median sales prices in both counties grew over the year, reaching $167,250 in Manatee and $169,950 in Sarasota.

Average supply of existing homes in both counties also remains at about 4.5 months worth — a mark that would traditionally signal a seller’s market.

Across the country, September existing-home sales declined modestly, but inventory continued to tighten and the national median home price recorded its seventh back-to-back monthly increase from a year earlier, according to figures released today the National Association of Realtors.

U.S. existing-home sales fell 1.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.75 million units in September. Those numbers remain 11 percent above the pace of September 2011.

“Despite occasional month-to-month setbacks, we’re experiencing a genuine recovery,” Lawrence Yun , NAR chief economist, said in a statement. “More people are attempting to buy homes than are able to qualify for mortgages, and recent price increases are not deterring buyer interest. Rather, inventory shortages are limiting sales, notably in parts of the West.”

The national median home price for all housing types was $183,900 in September, up 11.3 percent from a year ago. The last time there were seven consecutive monthly year-over-year increases was from November 2005 to May 2006.

Average commitment rates for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage also tumbled to a record low 3.47 percent in September, according to Freddie Mac.

Josh Salman, Herald business writer, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @JoshSalman