Realtors Report Post-Irma Recovery

Real Estate

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY NOV 27, 2017

Strong sales in the Sarasota and Manatee real estate markets during the month of October eased concerns about a slump amid Hurricane Irma. Statistics released by the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee for October show a 2.7 increase in single-family home sales in the region over 2016, though condominium and townhouse unit sales decreased by 10.4 percent. “It’s likely that some, if not most, of October’s sales are from September’s delayed sales,” acknowledges Xena Vallon, president of the local Realtor association. “But, this month’s increase in pending sales indicates that we’re back in business.”

That’s consistent with what individual agents report as well. Angeles Bradford, an agent with RE/MAX Alliance Group, says that while activity was low around the time Hurricane Irma hit Florida—and of course extremely low the days of the storm—it’s since gotten much better in the market. “We are working a little harder,” she says, “but the market is going to be great.”

Michael Moulton, a Realtor with Michael Saunders and Company specializing in luxury sales, says the impact of the storm was a “momentary blip. “September is the slowest time of the year anyway,” he notes. Moulton had clients who had planned trips to look at homes and units in the market, but those few trips simply got rescheduled. If the type of market disruption occurred in a peak sales time like February, the impact would be more significant, but it’s been relatively easy for the market to recover from the storm.

As for a decline in condo sales, he says that relates to a different issue in the market altogether. “There is not much of an inventory of higher end condos,” he says. “A lot of the new projects are all sold. The only segment of product where supply is low is high-end condominium.”

The new October numbers come after a hard September. Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys and again on Marco Island on Sept. 10, then cut a course up the state, significantly impacting large portions of South Florida. At one point,t he entire state was under threat of the storm, and large portions of Sarasota and Manatee suffered through power outages, in some cases for weeks. The Realtor chapter reported that combined sales for the area declined a whopping 16.8 percent, and the number of pending sales was down 29.8 percent in Sarasota County and 26.2 percent in Manatee. Of course, pending sales tend to impact the following month’s closed sales, so the fact October still proved a stronger month than October 2016 shows demand in the region remains high.

“Compared to Irma’s impact in September, we saw a combined 75 percent increase in new listings from last month to this month,” Vallone says. “Sellers are playing catch-up and listing their properties for the upcoming season.” 

Graphic by Jacob Ogles. Data courtesy Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee.

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