Business

Median home prices in Manatee, Sarasota well above national average

mgarbett@bradenton.com

Both Manatee County and Sarasota County saw significant jumps in pending sales of existing single-family homes in January.
Both Manatee County and Sarasota County saw significant jumps in pending sales of existing single-family homes in January.

Rising mortgage rates and a still-low-but slowly-increasing inventory of homes in the Bradenton-Sarasota area did little to slow the region’s recent sales momentum.

Although sales of existing single-family homes in both counties saw slight drops from January 2016, pending sales saw significant month-over-month and year-over-year growth.

According to data released Wednesday by the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee, there were 828 closed sales on single-family homes in the two-county area last month. Manatee County had 354, a 7.3 percent year-over-year drop, while Sarasota had 474, an 8.8 percent decline.

Inventory in the area increased by 17.9 percent from a year ago, giving the region and more-balanced market and paving the way for an increase in pending sales. Manatee County had 515 pending sales, a 6.6 increase from January 2016, while Sarasota had 731, an 8.1 percent jump.

“The increased inventory is easing the supply-and-demand pressure and giving buyers more choices,” said Xena Vallone, the president of the Real Estate Association of Sarasota and Manatee. “The increase in pending sales is a good indication of future closed sales.”

$279,000The median sales price for an existing single-family home in Manatee County in January.

The median price in both counties climbed – up 1.3 percent in Manatee to $279,000 and 8.5 percent in Sarasota to $250,000 in Sarasota. Both were well above January’s nationwide median price of $228,900.

With few homes available to purchase below $200,000, largely because of the decline of distressed properties available as Florida continues to rebound from the housing crisis that began more than a decade ago, Vallone said median prices should continue to rise.

January proved to be a robust month for the condominium-townhome market, with Manatee County (167 closed sales) seeing a 7.1 percent year-over-year increase, with Sarasota County (248) enjoying a 14.8 percent surge. Median sales prices also jumped — up 3 percent in Manatee to $175,000 and 10 percent in Sarasota to $239,900.

The increased inventory is easing the supply-and-demand pressure and giving buyers more choices. The increase in pending sales is a good indication of future closed sales.

Xena Vallone, the president of the Real Estate Association of Sarasota and Manatee

“A balanced market is driven by supply and demand and favors neither the seller nor the buyer,” Vallone said. “If the market is strong and balanced, buyers have more choices and sellers have a larger pool of buyers.”

Meanwhile, the Bradenton-Sarasota region enjoyed the second-biggest drop in homeownership vacancy in the nation in 2016, dipping from 3.3 percent to 1.2, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The homeowner vacancy rate is the proportion of inventory that is vacant and for sale.

According to Census figures, homeownership dropped slightly across Florida in 2016, going from 64.8 percent in 2015 to 64.3 percent in 2016. Sarasota had the highest homeownership rate in the state at 73 percent, while Miami had the lowest at 58 percent.

$250,000The median sales price for an existing single-family home in Sarasota County in January.

NATIONAL NUMBERS CONTINUE TO CLIMB

Across the nation, buyers are snapping up homes – a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.69 million last month, according to the National Association of Realtors, the highest level since February 2007. The typical house for sale remains on the market for just 50 days, compared with 64 days a year ago.

Moreover, in reaching $228,900, a 7.1 percent increase from a year earlier, the median price of homes across the nation rose for the 59th straight month.

Even though mortgage rates have climbed since the November presidential election, steady job gains, modest pay raises and rising consumer confidence are spurring healthy home buying even as borrowing costs have risen. The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 4.15 percent last week, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac, much higher than last year’s average rate of 3.65 percent.

With the upcoming spring buying season likely to lead to a supply crunch as well as higher mortgage rates, economists say it’s unlikely sales will continue to rise at their recent pace.

“Much of the country saw robust sales activity last month as strong hiring and improved consumer confidence at the end of last year appear to have sparked considerable interest in buying a home,” National Association of Realtors chief economist Lawrence Yun said.

“Market challenges remain, but the housing market is off to a prosperous start as homebuyers staved off inventory levels that are far from adequate and deteriorating affordability conditions,” Yun said.

With the upcoming spring buying season likely to lead to a supply crunch as well as higher mortgage rates, economists say it’s unlikely sales will continue to rise at their recent pace.

“The level of inventories could be a much bigger challenge moving into ... the spring and summer,” Morgan Stanley economist Ted Wieseman said.

Information from Herald wires was used in this report.

Mike Garbett: 941-745-7011; @MGarbett52

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