Members of the Sarasota Association of Realtors® reported an increase of 14 percent in October 2007 sales compared to September 2007, when only 234 single family home sales and 104 condominium sales were reported. October sales of 264 homes and 120 condos indicate a market beginning to heat up after the normally slower September, and ahead of the usual return of tourists and seasonal residents in the early winter months.
In addition, the market continues to mirror 2006 sales figures. Combined sales of homes and condominiums in the Sarasota real estate market slid by a modest 3 percent in October 2007, compared to October 2006, and prices also dropped slightly for the same period. The statistics continue to indicate that the local market is fairing much better than the overall state of Florida, and has weathered the real estate downturn well.
Year to date, sales in the Sarasota market are off only 6 percent from the same period in 2006. The total sales dollar volume is also close to the 2006 figure - bolstered by a big jump in the median selling price of condominiums. The median sale price for condos has increased from $310,000 in 2006 up to $345,000 in 2007 through the first 10 months of the year. Single family home prices dropped by 11 percent during the same time period.
In total, 5,250 closings were reported through the end of October 2007, compared to 5,590 closings through October 2006. The total volume of sales for the first 10 months of 2006 was $2.56 billion, compared to $2.77 billion in 2006. These numbers represent a major increase from only six years ago. In 2001, the year-to-date sales volume through the end of October was only $2.05 billion - indicating a 35.1 percent increase in terms of overall real estate market dollars.
"As we have stated throughout this year, the numbers reflect that we are returning to normalcy, and the drop in prices coupled with the quality inventory represents a tremendous opportunity for buyers in our market" said Joe Hembree, 2007 SAR President. "While some areas of the state and nation have seen dramatic sales drops, we have been consistently performing better than most other regions in the state. Sarasota's resiliency and strong fundamentals in our market should propel us into 2008."
The Sarasota-Bradenton Metropolitan Service Area (MSA), which includes all of Sarasota and Manatee counties, also saw improving numbers in October 2007 relative to the entire state.
Condominium sales in the MSA were up 10 percent in October 2007 compared to October 2006, and prices were level, down less than 1 percent. This compares to the overall state drop of 20 percent, and a drop in prices of 8 percent. Sarasota figures were also up 11 percent month to month.
Residential sales dropped by 17 percent in the MSA, with prices sliding 5 percent. The Sarasota residential sales were down only 8 percent for the month, but this also compares favorably to the overall state, which saw a 29 percent drop in sales and an 8 percent price slide.
Many other factors are beginning to forecast a better 2008 for Florida.
Economist Hank Fishkind, president, Fishkind and Associates in Orlando, recently noted Florida's job market is fundamentally strong. "Outside of the construction industry, Florida is generating a significant number of new jobs, particularly in leisure and hospitality, healthcare, trade and education," said Fishkind in an FAR interview.
With a growing consumer market, an expanding talent pool, a supportive government and a strong asset base, Florida offers an attractive environment for business growth. The state had 12 cities named to Economy.com's Business Vitality Index - more than double the number of leading cities in any other state.
In addition, Forbes magazine named 11 Florida metro areas "best places for business and careers," based on criteria such as cost of doing business, job growth and educational attainment.
With such a vibrant job market, the stage is set for additional movement to the state, and many will likely relocate to the Sarasota area. Relocation brings home buyers, and buyers will see a market offering a wide assortment of quality, well-priced homes, experts agree.