An Upswing In Confidence

Even though all real estate is local, the press tends to toss it all into one big bucket using oversimplified headlines that reflect the national overview. Yet people don’t buy real estate nationally; they buy it one property at a time, one market at a time. To get the real picture of what’s truly happening in your market of interest, you have to drill down and examine the statistics that apply there.

Happily, sales in Sarasota-Bradenton continue to be buoyed by sellers who have heeded the call to adjust their prices downward; leading an ever-increasing number of both American and European buyers to end the waiting game and act on properties of exceptional value. We are definitely encouraged by this response and can be very proud that we’ve taken exactly the steps that were called for in every Florida market, but took them first. Some Florida communities have yet to follow suit and their reluctance to do so is reflected in unusually anemic sales. Sarasota-Manatee, on the other hand, continues to post unit sales that outperform nearly every other statewide market large and small.

While year-over-year sales of existing single family homes netted an overall statewide decline of 25 percent in February, Sarasota-Bradenton was down only ten percent in a month that saw Jacksonville’s sales decline by 40 percent; Miami’s by 41 percent, Orlando’s by 31 percent, Tampa-St. Petersburg’s by 29 percent and Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach’s by 28 percent each.

According to the latest recap—issued just this past week by the Florida Association of Realtors—Sarasota-Manatee once again outsold such mega-markets as Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, building on a solid trend that held throughout every month of 2007 and continues thus far into 2008. In fact, with 608 homes changing hands in February, Sarasota-Manatee sold more existing single-family homes than both Miami (244 sold) and Ft. Lauderdale (360 sold) put together. As well, we outsold West Palm Beach-Boca Raton by 34 percent and sold only marginally fewer homes than Jacksonville (687 sold), a market twice our size.

Further, if you isolate sales in Sarasota alone, the numbers are even more impressive. As reported by the Sarasota Association of Realtors, the month of February 2008 showed a major leap in overall property sales, according to statistics culled from the Sarasota MLS. In February, there were 423 property sales compared to only 329 in January—a one-month increase of 28 percent.

There were 294 single family homes sold in February, along with 129 condominiums. While sales were strong, the median sale price for homes and condominiums continued to fluctuate. Single-family homes actually saw a rise in the median sale price, from $265,000 in January to $285,000 in February—a seven percent increase. Condominiums, on the other hand, recorded a 24 percent decline in the median price, from $303,500 to $230,500.

Perhaps the brightest spot of all can be seen in the strength of February’s pending sales, which jumped to 654; the highest level in almost a year. Indeed, these sales have been edging steadily upwards since December of 2007, when there were only 374. Pending sales are a significant harbinger of closed sales activity to come within the next thirty to sixty days.

Inventory levels were also lower in February 2008, with 10,035 single family homes on the market compared to 10,391 last February—a reduction of 356. The inventory of condominiums dropped by 372 year-over-year; from 5,960 in February 2007 to 5,588 a year later. Not earth-shattering by any standard, but every drop in inventory is a step in the right direction.

Clearly these results indicate that confidence among buyers in our market is on a definite upswing. No one has the ability to time the market to the exact day, but anyone has the ability to make a prudent buying decision once they detect an exceptional value.

  • User Gravatar Sergei Sokolov
    March 28th, 2008

    As an associate with your company for 2 years, one thing stood out when I joined. You were the only real estate company I saw that had a set of values. In a changed market as we have today, it is a pedestal among the competition. Each individual selected to join our firm have to adhere to the following parameters:

    Being honest and ethical at all times.
    Consistently being fair with all.
    Being courteous and respectful with everyone.
    Respect confidentiality.
    Seeking ways to enhance the lives of others, both organizationally and individually.

    Being totally committed and consistently enthusiastic about what we do.
    Continually improving performance through education and learning experiences.
    Uniform policies applied in ways which consistently promote outstanding performance.
    Focusing on anticipating and consistently providing exceptional services considered extraordinary by all parties.
    Being a friendly, open, supportive and responsive work environment that energized all and promotes pride, loyalty and team spirit in our company.
    Providing an atmosphere which encourages creativity, innovation, growth and opportunity.

    Mutual Profitability
    Continually focusing on results and performance to make sound business decisions and achieve our goals.
    Developing strategies which enable us to succeed and grow, both individually and as an organization.
    Taking actions to continually control costs without compromising performance.
    Providing working conditions, benefits, recognition, rewards and compensation that are consistent with our company’s profitability and growth.
    Promoting accountability and responsibility.
    Seeking out and capitalizing upon new opportunities.

    Consistently communicating expectations and information in clear, timely, positive and respectful ways with all – including responding back to others.
    Consistently demonstrate the spirit of company-wide teamwork.
    Understanding and being understood, accepting others and recognizing differences.
    Through a consistent quality image in our advertising and company communications/newsletter, educating internally and the public about our company’s expertise, successes and real estate trends in ways that benefit all.
    Making optimum use of new technologies that improve our communications, decision-making and business practices.

    I am proud of a company that upholds a bedrock principle of integrity which the above values represent.

  • User Gravatar Shane Wilson
    April 1st, 2008

    I believe that things are started to recover as well. I am in Georgia and I am an investor that buys, fixes and resells houses. The first quarter of this year we were able to get 3 houses under contract while the last quarter of last year we were sitting and holding all of our inventory with no sales.

    My only fear is the mortgage insurers are struggling to develop new guidelines and they will no longer back 100% conventional loans. They will only go to 97% with a minimum score of 620. FHA is still there it just is a pain to deal with. I just hope the lenders tightening their rules won’t hurt the recovery.

    Anyways, you have a very professional blog. Take a look at mine sometime at http://www.georgiabuyer.com

    Thank You,

    Shane Wilson

  • User Gravatar José R. B.
    April 2nd, 2008

    This is why MS&C is a leader and this is perceived clearly in Florida and also here in Europe.
    Congratulations to you all.

  • User Gravatar Kathleen Butterworth-Ropele
    May 6th, 2008

    With regard to the upswing in home sales in the Sarasota/Bradenton area, which is largely due to area realtors encouraging sellers to drop prices, thereby creating a ‘correction’ in the market.
    It certainly looks as though this area has come into the forefront lately, with regard to an increase in property sales. It is encouraging that more homes are selling here, than in most other places in Florida. With that in mind, prospective buyers will perhaps gravitate to our area, more readily, than to other areas. By doing so, they will help to purchase our overly stocked inventory of homes. However, I believe a “Stand” has now been made, and realtors must realise that all ‘sellers’ are not created alike. Some have purchased during the boom,(I’m not just referring to speculators) and may have very large mortgages to pay off. Realtors’ commissions remain at their original percentages, and therefore do not adjust down, at the same rates as their sellers’ often huge decreases in price adjustment. We are seeing a healthy increase in sales, but it is time that a new ‘stand’ be made, directed at ‘bargain hunters’ who remain on the side lines still waiting for the market to “bottom out” Let us not keep encouraging even deeper decreases in prices. These will not only strip the owners of, perhaps their biggest life investment, but also decrease neighborhood values. It is understood that realtors need to make a living, and have had to do without paychecks for a considerable time, but this should not be at the cost of some sellers losing their life investment, and/or after the continuous price decreases, realtor costs etc. unable, after paying real estate costs etc, to purchase another home. We are seeing an upswing in sales here, more people are choosing this area. Let’s say ‘enough is enough’ and sweat it out.

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