MANATEE -- The volume of existing single-family home sales continued to hover near or exceed a five-year peak in May as the housing market in Manatee and Sarasota counties continues to accelerate.
Following two consecutive months that saw median house prices jump about 17 percent year-over-year, the May market brought more of the same as inventories shrank. According to Multiple Listing Service data, Sarasota County homes are selling for the highest prices seen since before the start of 2011, while more home sales closed in Manatee County than any time during the past decade.
The median selling price for a Sarasota County home during the month was $230,000, up more than 20 percent from the same time last year. Manatee prices remained near peak prices seen in March, up more than 14 percent from the previous year to $257,111.
Despite the fact that buyers had to shell out an additional $35,000 to $39,000 to keep up with those medians, overall sales were up or steady. The 605 single-family home sales in Manatee County during the month is a five-year high. In Sarasota County, 783 homes sold, a handful fewer than in March and April.
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Area real estate agents said the sales activity, plus a backlog of pending sales, have brought inventory levels to the lowest point in recent memory. About 4,500 homes in the two-county area are on the market. And more than 1,900 homes are under contract pending sale. Many of those sales are taking longer to close as financing periods
stretch beyond the previously typical 30-day period to 45 and 60 days.
Stafford Starcher, president of the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee, said he thinks more homes will come up for sale. Sellers who have been under water on the mortgages for the past few years are now seeing their home values reaching a point at which they can sell.
"They're finding now is the time they can come back and put their homes on the market," Starcher said.
Condo and townhome sales and pricing, which have been far more variable since 2011, continued a slow, steady climb. Sarasota County saw the biggest surge, as higher-priced condo units pushed the median selling price up 20 percent over the previous year. Manatee prices were up slightly. Combined sales for the units in both counties hit 621 units as inventories dropped to a four-month supply.
On balance, the local market was well ahead of state averages. Florida saw its median single-family home price jump 11 percent for the month to $200,000. Sales were up almost 8 percent, while inventories settled near five months.
Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027 or on Twitter @MattAtBradenton.