One constant in the Bradenton-area real estate market during 2018 was that the sales price of existing single-family homes continued to rise, putting more money into sellers’ pockets, while making them more unaffordable to many aspiring buyers.
In 2018, the median sales price — the midpoint of all houses sold — was $300,475 in Manatee County, up 1.9 percent from the $295,000 sales price in 2017, according to the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee.
In Sarasota County, the single-family home median price increased by 5 percent to $282,500.
The average selling price was even greater, increasing 3.7 percent in Manatee County to $381,063, up from $367,564 in 2017.
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In Sarasota County, the average sales price was $386,567, up from $369,506 in 2017.
Helping to drive prices higher in 2018 was a prevailing sellers’ market due to tight inventory.
The supply of inventory, or the estimate of the number of months it will take to deplete the current inventory, increased year-over-year in Sarasota, but decreased in Manatee.
In Manatee County, condos were at a four-month supply, while single-family homes were at a 4.1-month supply. Sarasota condos were at a 5.5-month supply, while single-family homes were at a 4.8-month supply, according to the Realtor Association.
The heavy demand for housing helped create a banner year for the real estate business sector, with more sales and higher prices.
In Manatee County, there were 6,485 closed sales in 2018, up 7 percent from 2017 when there were 6,058. Dollar volume hit $2.5 billion, up from $2.2 billion in 2017, an 11 percent increase. The median time to contract was 49 days, and the median time to sale was 94 days.
More buyers paid with cash in 2018 — 1,790, compared to 1,711 in 2017.
“A record-breaking year may be tough to follow,” Amy Worth, 2019 president of the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee, said in a press release. “With rising prices and an increase in inventory, the market could become more balanced in 2019.”
Manatee and Sarasota counties reported a combined total of 21,344 closed sales in 2018, a 6.7 percent increase from 2017.
Condo market sales increased year-over-year, with both counties reporting the highest recorded number of sales over the last 10 years. Sarasota condos increased by 8.1 percent from 2017 to 4,150 closed sales. Manatee condo sales increased by 11.1 percent to 2,757 sales.
“Even with the national trends of low inventory and rising prices, our year-end report illustrates how strong the Sarasota and Manatee markets were in 2018,” Worth said.
The issue of housing affordability has prompted the Manatee Chamber of Commerce to establish the Attainable Housing Task Force. The average annual salary for line employees in Manatee County is $43,776.83, meaning they should be able to afford a $145,900 house.
Nearly one in five Manatee County households pays more than half of its gross income for housing. The rule of thumb is that no more than one-third should be budgeted to housing, the Herald has previously reported.
“Wages haven’t been keeping up with the cost of housing. That’s a real issue for the work force population,” Geri Campos Lopez, director of redevelopment and economic opportunity for Manatee County government, said in December. “It’s a very complex problem.”