By every yardstick we use to reliably gauge economic activity, 2012 will go down as the year in which Southwest Florida began to recover in earnest from the deepest recession ever. Among other closely-watched indicators, unemployment has lessened, consumer confidence is up, retail sales are bustling; and Southwest Florida’s vital tourist sector is flirting with record levels of growth. Though additional improvement is greatly needed, each new day seems to bring more statistical confirmation that we are indeed headed in that direction.
Nowhere is the strength of our local recovery more evident than in the market for existing homes. Monthly sales throughout 2012 have so significantly outperformed 2011 that our market is presently experiencing its lowest level of available homes in more than seven years. With just 4.8-months of available inventory—based on the current rate of closed sales—our market has trended below the ideal level of inventory (6 months) for most of the past year. Responding to this persistent lack of inventory, new home builders have likewise enjoyed one of their best years since the onset of the housing downturn.
Through the end of November, dollar volume sales of existing homes throughout the Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte Counties market have risen by 16.9%, compared with the same period last year. Unit volume is up too, by 11.4%. Meanwhile, the combined dollar volume achieved by the agents of Michael Saunders & Company is up 28.6%–on year-over-year unit sales that rose by 21.7%. In other words, our agents have once again outperformed the market, an accomplishment for which we simply could not be prouder.
As necessary as statistics are in letting us know where we are, where we’ve been and what still needs to be done to achieve full recovery, we remain keenly aware that statistics represent real people with real aspirations.
Each time we refer to an increase in “unit sales” with respect to Southwest Florida’s recovering housing market we are actually referencing a real person or family who has just achieved what was probably a long-deferred housing goal. Whether this involved buying a home for the first time—or upsizing, downsizing, retiring or purchasing a vacation property—these are real people achieving real goals. Each time a “For Sale” sign disappears, only to be replaced by a beehive of workers renovating, painting and re-landscaping the property, we witness the trickle-down effects of home buying on real people. Jobs are created within our community to remodel, fix, outfit and furnish each newly-purchased home.
We love that our business necessarily involves putting people and homes together; and that many of our agents routinely spend their free time involved in charitable activities throughout the community. The importance of home, hearth and community is never more apparent than during the holiday season. Who doesn’t love watching homes in our Gulf Coast neighborhoods come to vivid life beneath miles of twinkling lights and garland? Inside many of these homes, Christmas trees are aglow. Inside others, menorahs are lit up. In virtually all of them, kitchens are working overtime to prepare for festive holiday gatherings.
Therefore it gives us no greater pleasure than to wish each of you the happiest of holidays, a healthy and prosperous New Year; and the joys of being with family and friends in the happiest of all places—home.