Sales Down But Market Strong

Real Estate

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY AUG 25, 2014

While the number of homes sold in the Sarasota market was down in July, the price of homes is up and Realtors are confident the market remains in stellar shape. “We remain statistically in a seller’s market, with low inventory and prices on the rise,” said Peter Crowley, president of the Sarasota Association of Realtors. “All the numbers point to a very healthy 2014 for Sarasota County real estate.”

SAR statistics show 928 closed transactions—643 single-family homes and 285 condominium units—in the market for the month of July. That's down 11 percent from the 1,048 homes sold in June and the 969 homes sold in July 2013. But the median price of single-family homes ($201,000) and condos ($205,000) was up substantially. That last time both property categories with a median price north of $200,000 was in August 2008.

Charryl Youman, a Venice Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway, said a lower inventory explains both why sales are down and prices are up. "We've been selling well all year and having an extremely busy summer," she said. "If there was more inventory the numbers would still be high." At the end of July, the market had a home inventory of 4.4 months and a condo inventory of 3.8 months. Anything short of a 6-month inventory is considered a seller's market.

Crowley noted that sales for the first seven months of 2014 combined show more homes have been sold than during the first seven months of 2013, a year that closed with a record number of sales.

Rob Davis, a Realtor with Keller Williams' Sarasota office, noted that sales volume, meaning the the total sales in July measured in dollars instead of units, remained ahead of last year. "We see in units a decrease of 4.95 percent, but the volume increased by 3.24 percent," David said. "We check both numbers; one is not more important that the other. But when you see a decrease in sales and an increase in volume, that means the market is still steadily going up."

Youman noted in some areas, including Venice, the unit sales are still on the rise. And regardless, the statistics show that anybody who wants to put their home on the market would be wise to do so. She said most of the units she has listed recently have ended up with multiple offers and closing prices higher than what homes were listed at originally. "Mostly they have been gone within the first few days," she said. "I can't promise that will happen for everybody, but if you have a decent house, and if the listing price is under $300,000, you could get multiple offerings very quickly."

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