Manatee, Sarasota home sales, prices continue white-hot growth

MANATEE -- Sales of existing homes in Sarasota County hit an all-time high in April as it joins Manatee County in setting the pace in the white-hot Florida real estate market.

Even with the end of Florida's peak snowbird season in late March and early April, the 1,224 sales in Sarasota County last month eclipsed by a single sale the volume mark previously set in April 2004, according to the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee.

April also posted some of the highest median-selling prices for homes and condominiums.

Statewide, 25,206 single family homes sold for the highest monthly total since 2011, according to Multiple Listing Service statistics released Friday.

Sarasota County homebuyers snapped up 791 homes as market activity grew 4.2 percent from the previous year.

In Manatee County, the 539 home sales were down slightly from March, but up nearly 8 percent from the same month the year before.

Sellers also garnered more money for homes.

The median price paid for a Manatee County home in April was $256,500, up almost 17 percent from one year ago.

Sarasota County saw its highest median price since 2011 at $221,900.

The statewide median price for the month was $195,000, up 11.4 percent from the same time last year.

Condo and townhouse markets followed a similar pattern with prices and sales gener

ally up from March.

Sales for Manatee condos hit 274 units in April, up almost 12 percent from one year earlier. They remained a deal compared with Sarasota County, where the median unit price was almost $50,000 higher in a market with almost twice as many condo sales.

Demand pressure meant the number of homes available for sale continued to drop.

Stafford Starcher, president of the Realtors Association of Sarasota and Manatee, said his organization doesn't see a housing crunch coming yet thanks to robust new housing construction.

"Even though our inventories are down, our builders are doing a good job to supply inventory," he said.

Starcher said he was surprised to see sales peak so early in the year, but still believes there is room for sales growth in 2015, albeit at a slightly slower pace. He said he doesn't expect a pricing and selling frenzy as proceeded the housing market crash a few years ago. "We're not bubbling," he said.

One of the biggest changes in the market came in cash sales, which were down about 10 percent for condos in both counties and for single family homes in Sarasota County, according to the MLS. They fell about 2 percent in Manatee County year over year.

Starcher said he and other real estate agents are seeing more financing for home purchases though growth there is slowed by continued lender reluctance to extend mortgages.

Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027, or on Twitter @MattAtBradenton.