Southwest Florida Real Estate – Happier New Year

T’was the week before Christmas and the headlines were jolly.  In a single day last week, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune was a major chronicler of glad tidings for our market.  Just as it prepares for its busiest season of the year, Southwest Florida’s real estate market posted sharp gains in both the number of homes sold during November and the median price they fetched, the paper announced from its front page.

“Census sees a new influx into Florida,” proclaimed a second headline on the front page. “Florida is growing again,” the accompanying article said.   During the fifteen months between April 2010 and July 2011, 119,000 people moved to Florida from other U.S. states; a number surpassed only by Texas.

Not to be outdone, the front page of the newspaper’s business section announced that the U.S. economy will enter 2012 “on a roll,” with its job market in recovery, manufacturing and retail spending up, gas prices down, and the stock market posting impressive year-end gains.

If all this inter-related economic news is any indication, the housing market in Southwest Florida is poised for its happiest New Year in quite some time.  Here’s why:

Prices are stabilizing:

-Median prices tend to be stabilizing after fluctuating up and down for several months consecutively.  In 2011, Sarasota County’s median price hit a monthly high of $140,000, a low of $121,000 and a monthly average of $133,666.  November’s median price of $135,000 is 3.8% ahead of this time last year, and 11.6% higher than October.

-Manatee County’s median price hit a monthly high of $164,000, a low of $133,000 and a monthly average of $145,500.  November’s median price of $140,000 is 2.9% ahead of this time last year; and 2.1% higher than October.

-Charlotte County’s median price hit a monthly high of $100,000, a low of $80,000 and a monthly average of $92,300.  November’s median price of $99,000 is 5.7% below this time last year, but 16.5% ahead of October.

Inventories have declined sharply:

-Based on November sales, the number of homes for sale in Sarasota County is 25% lower than this time last year and 62% lower than when inventory peaked in 2007, during the downturn.

-Manatee County’s inventory is 26% below last year and 71% below the peak of the downturn.

-Charlotte County’s inventory is 22% below last year and 50% below the peak of the downturn.

Unit sales have been strong and steady throughout 2011:

-Unit sales in Sarasota County averaged an 8.6% year-over-year gain during each successive month of 2011.

-In Manatee County, they averaged a 10.3% year-over-year gain during each month of 2011.

-Unit sales in Charlotte County averaged a 10.5% year-over-year gain during each month of 2011.

Pending unit sales have also been strong and steady throughout 2011:

-During each month of 2011, pending unit sales in Sarasota County averaged an 8.2% year-over-year unit gain.

-In Manatee County, they averaged a 9.9% year-over-year gain each month.

-Pending unit sales in Charlotte County averaged a 9.8% year-over-year gain during each month of 2011.

The hyper-inflated prices of the housing bubble are long gone, replaced by drastically reduced prices not seen since well before the housing bubble.  Still, people don’t buy homes at any price if they aren’t feeling supremely confident in their financial circumstances.  With Southwest Florida’s economy improving—and unemployment lessening with each passing month—more and more homes are being sold, an indication that consumer confidence is on the upswing. In fact, consumer confidence among Floridians rose three points to 69 in December, its highest level in nine months.  Nationally, the level rose almost 10 points to 64.5 in December, up from 55.2 in November. Analysts had expected 59. All of which has the makings for a much happier New Year in 2012.

So from everyone at Michael Saunders & Company, we wish you and yours a New Year filled with good health, peace, and prosperity. 

 

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