SARASOTA, Florida—(May 15, 2009)—“To see these positive trends solidify is an encouraging sign,” said Michael Saunders—founder and CEO of Michael Saunders & Company—referring to the latest TRENDGRAPHIX report on residential real estate sales for Southwest Florida, which shows a strong April following a stronger March; both of which were substantially higher than a respectable February. TRENDGRAPHIX gathers current and historical data from the region’s MLS to produce detailed monthly reports based on actual closed and pending sales.
“We’re by no means out of the woods,” Saunders cautioned. “Buyers are cherry-picking their way through best-priced properties in every price range; but especially those under $350,000. We’re starting to see improved sales in the $350,000 and $1.5 million range; but sales in the $1.5 million and up range remain something of a challenge for all but the most aggressively priced properties. Those that are priced aggressively are selling faster, as evidenced by recent record-breaking sales on Longboat Key, Bird Key, at the Ritz-Carlton and in The Oaks, where properties were sold for $7.125 million, $4.75 million, $3.3 million and $3.175 million respectively. The common threads uniting these properties are aggressive pricing and the seller’s willingness to negotiate down the stretch.”
“While overall unit sales in April were marginally below the month before, the decline came on the heels of a surprisingly robust March,” Saunders continued. “Needless-to-say we’re very encouraged at having three consecutive months of strong unit sales, a rapidly declining inventory and very strong pending sales to carry us into what is expected to be a busier-than-average summer. Above all, it’s very gratifying to see our agents busy again, selling homes and writing new contracts at a pace we’ve not experienced in quite sometime.”
Pending sales for the combined tri-county region of Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties increased by double digits—18.38%—for the month of April 2009. The combination of sharply reduced home prices, low mortgage rates and tax advantages for first time home buyers—defined as anyone who has not owned a home in the past three years—have boosted buyer confidence and created unprecedented buying opportunities for home buyers that act now.
Inventories of available homes have continued their steady erosion across all three counties; and are now at their lowest levels in 40 months. Sarasota County presently has 11.6 months of available inventory based on April’s rate of closed sales; a drop of 6.45% from March 2009 and 36.61% from April 2008. Manatee County remained flat from March to April, with 14.3 months of available inventory based on closed sales; a 16.37% drop from April 2008. Charlotte County has 12.7 months of available inventory based on closed sales; representing a 4.51% drop from March 2009 and a 43.80% drop from April 2008. Six to seven months of available inventory is considered a balanced and healthy market.
Charlotte County further distinguished itself in April, with a year-over-year increase in closed sales of 38.91% and a remarkable 99.28% year-over-year increase in pending sales.
TRENDGRAPHIX’s latest report shows that sales decreased 2.40% during the month of April for the combined tri-county region of Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties; but were 1.31% higher than a year ago.
At the same time, pending sales increased by 18.38% from March to April 2009. April 2009’s inventory of 18,435 homes for sale in the tri-county region was 31.40% lower than the previous April.
COUNTY HIGHS AND LOWS
Sarasota County sales decreased 0.05% from March to April 2009. (737 unit sales in March vs. 734 in April) Inventory decreased 7.18% during this same time period. Pending sales, a likely indicator of sales to close within the next 30 to 60 days, increased by 18.44%.
83.10% of the homes sold for under $300,000; 9.40% of the homes sold for between $300,000 and $500,000; and 7.49% of the homes sold for over $500,000.
Manatee County sales decreased 5.68% from March to April 2009 (422 unit sales in March vs.398 in April). Inventory decreased 5.39% during this same time period. Pending sales increased by 19.53%.
83.16% of the homes sold for under $300,000; 11.30% of the homes sold for between $300,000 and $500,000; and 5.52% of the homes sold for over $500,000.
Charlotte Countysales decreased 2.63% from March to April 2009 (341 unit sales in March vs. 332 in April). Inventory decreased 6.55% during this same time period. Pending sales increased by 16.91%.
90.96% of the homes sold for under $300,000; 6.92% of the homes sold for between $300,000 and $500,000; and 2.10% of the homes sold for over $500,000.