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Property sales remain high in March 2015

The year 2015 was already churning along at a record-setting pace, but March 2015 sales in both Sarasota and Manatee counties reached even greater levels. The number of closed property transactions increased in Sarasota County in March 2015 by 14.3 percent from last March (to 1,201 from 1,050) and 43.5 percent over last month, when 837 closings were reported. Manatee County saw a 20.1 percent increase from last March (to 800 from 666), and was up 34.9 percent from February, which had 593 closings. In March 2015, closed sales in Sarasota County totaled 789 single family homes and 412 condos, while in Manatee County, sales were at 553 single family homes and 247 condos. For the first quarter of 2015, the pace of sales is up almost 6 percent in Sarasota County, and up almost 9 percent in Manatee County. In the first quarter of 2015, 2,781 sales were reported in Sarasota County, while 2014 saw 2,604 first quarter closings. The first quarter 2015 figures was 1,952 in Manatee County, while in 2014 it was 1,737. “These are fantastic sales numbers, and certainly welcome news and evidence that the market remains on a good roll,” said Association President Stafford Starcher. “The Sarasota County total was very near the all-time one month sales figure of 1,228 that we saw in April 2004, and we are now well ahead of the record pace of sales experienced in 2014. Manatee County has not seen sales exceed the 800 level in many years, so we could also see near record sales there.” The median sale price in Sarasota County stood at $207,500 for single family homes, up 9.5 percent over last March, and $180,745 for condos, up 5.8 percent over last March. In Manatee County, single family homes were selling for $265,000, up 17.3 percent over last March, and condos were at $157,000, up 21.2 percent over last March. Future sales, which can be projected from the pending sales figure, still look bright in both counties. Sarasota County saw 1,126 new pending sales reported in March 2015, and the pending inventory reached 1,686 total. In Manatee County, new pending sales were at 781 and the pending inventory stood at 1,082. New pending sales were down slightly in both counties from last March. The month’s supply of inventory was between 4.5 and 4.7 months for both counties and for both property categories – well below the 6 month level that defines a market in equilibrium between buyers or sellers. At present, sellers remain in command, based upon that market statistic, which is also reflected in the rising median sale prices. The total active inventory in March 2015 was 4,418 in Sarasota County and 3,156 in Manatee County. Sarasota’s inventory reflected an 8 percent drop from March 2014, while Manatee County saw almost no change. Lower inventories can also serve to boost asking prices, based on the law of supply and demand. “Last year, we continued to see strong monthly sales figures through the early summer months, and really didn’t have an appreciable slowdown until November,” said Starcher. “We’re all hoping for a similar pattern in 2015, and so far the national, state and local economies appear to be supporting this ongoing trend.” Distressed sales, short sales and foreclosures, dropped substantially in March 2015, and now represent only 17.4 percent of the Sarasota County sales and 14.9 percent of the Manatee County sales. In March 2014, about 20 percent of closed sales in Sarasota County and 25 percent in Manatee County were distressed properties. This was an appreciable percentage drop, and the first time in many months the figure has dropped below 20 percent for either county. The remaining inventory of distressed properties for sale fell to only 7.9 percent in Sarasota County and only 7.7 percent in Manatee County – a major drop from recent months when the figure has hovered around 20 percent. “We all look forward to the day we are seeing distressed sales back at the traditional threepercent level or lower,” said Starcher. “The fact we are seeing such major improvement is a good sign that we are returning to a healthier market.”

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