Southwest Florida Home Sales Rise, Bucking Trend

Despite the departure of the region’s winter visitors — and with that the arrival of the traditional slowdown in the housing market — homes sales in Southwest Florida still rose during April and prices held their ground.

The region bucked a nationwide decline in sales, and the fact that transactions rose last month from a year ago is notable. The federal homebuyers tax credit was still in effect during April 2010, and many buyers were rushing to beat the deadline.

In the Sarasota-Bradenton market, sales rose 2 percent last month, with 1,033 homes changing hands compared with 1,001 a year ago. In Charlotte County-North Port, sales rose 11 percent, 321 deals compared with 290 a year ago.

“There’s a lot of activity in the market,” said Joseph Ciarla, the broker-owner of North Port’s Anytime Realty. “Now if only more banks would start lending, we would see an even bigger spike in sales. Half of the offers we’re getting are from cash buyers.”

With inventories of unsold homes dropping because of the ongoing foreclosure processing mess, prices have remained stable.

The median sales price rose 12 percent to $100,300 in the Charlotte County-North Port market and nearly 1 percent in the Sarasota-Bradenton market, to $154,600.

The same trends in sales and prices held statewide. Twelve of Florida’s major metro areas reported higher sales last month and the median price of $131,700 was about 6 percent lower.

But the threat of foreclosed homes that have yet to be processed continues to hang over the market.

 

By Michael Braga

Sarasota Herald-Tribune

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