Sarasota-Manatee Foreclosure Rates On the Rise

foreclosure ratesForeclosure rate rises 23% in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

More Southwest Florida homeowners are struggling to pay their mortgages.

The number of residential properties with a foreclosure filing rose 23% as of mid-year in the Sarasota-Manatee region, according to a new report from real estate researcher ATTOM Data Solutions.

While foreclosures nationwide were down during the first half of 2019, the local increase was not that unusual. Foreclosure starts were higher in four out of 10 metros across the country. A total of 1,277 residential properties, or one in every 327 homes in the Sarasota-Manatee area, were in some stage of distress. That represents 0.31% of the housing units in the region.

But those filings – default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions – are nearly 90% off their peak levels reached in 2008-2010 during the depths of the housing crash.

Florida posted the nation’s fourth-highest foreclosure rate at 0.39%, with the year-over-year increase the second highest in the U.S. The national foreclosure rate was 0.22%.

“Our mid-year 2019 foreclosure activity helps to show an overall view on how foreclosure activity is trending downward,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer at ATTOM. “Of course, you still have pockets across the nation where foreclosure activity is seeing some flare-ups. Foreclosure starts is a good indication of markets to watch. For instance, in looking at the largest markets across the nation with the greatest annual increase in foreclosure starts, four out of the five markets were in Florida.”

Charlotte County reported 379 filings, or one in every 271 housing units. That was 19% higher than the year before.

Last year foreclosure activity in Sarasota-Manatee receded to its lowest level since 2006, and has now held for several years at what analysts consider a normal volume of troubled homeowners. Filings have tumbled from the days when the region posted one of the top foreclosure rates in the nation.

Florida reported the third-longest average foreclosure timelines, from filing to completion, at 1,073 days. The national average was 716 days.

Fifth Third boosts pay

Fifth Third Bancorp is bumping the minimum wage it pays to employees to $18 per hour.

An estimated 4,900 workers will get the $3 hourly raise starting Oct. 28. Fifth Third, the sixth-largest bank in the Sarasota-Manatee metro area, said the increase recognizes the contributions of employees in driving the success of the bank and its customers.

“A competitive compensation and benefits package is essential to our ability to attract and retain the industry’s best and brightest,” said chairman/president/CEO Greg D. Carmichael.

The raise will bring those workers about $500 more per month on a pre-tax basis. It will cost the bank about $15 million a year.

The Cincinnati-based bank raised its minimum wage from $12 to $15 in January 2018, which it says contributed to a 16% annual reduction in employee turnover last year among workers most affected by that wage. The higher wage primarily impacts employees in retail branches and operations support functions such as customer contact centers. It will not be paid to employees who work on a commissioned basis, whose earnings typically run above $18 per hour.

Herald-Tribune August 2019

Sarasota Home Prices Near Pre-Recession Peaks

Sarasota Home PricesAfter wild swings before and after the economic downturn, home prices are inching closer to their pre-recession peaks in the Sarasota-Manatee County region.

Single-family homes and condominiums sold for a median $260,000 in the two-county area during the second quarter of 2019, a 4% increase over the year, according to a new report from real estate researcher ATTOM Data Solutions.

That price is just 3% off the pre-recession median high of $267,500 set in late 2005, just before the housing bubble burst. The Sarasota-Manatee area is one of 31 metro areas among the 108 largest in the U.S. where home prices still fall short of their pre-bust pinnacles.

That’s no surprise, given how deeply local home prices plunged during the downturn. The median price hit bottom at $127,000 in early 2011, a 53% dive from the peak, ATTOM’s report shows.

After the recession, local prices rebounded to double-digit annual gains, but those have slowed in recent years.

“In the general housing market, all indices have been pointing to modest appreciation in accordance with historical norms of 3% to 5%, but not the accelerated rates we have experienced since 2012,” said Robert Goldman, an agent with Michael Saunders & Co. in Venice. “If sellers failed to recognize this shift, then a tug of war of sorts would arise, wherein it would take longer, on average, to sell a home, the spread between final sold price and original list price would widen, and inventory would increase with the potential for stagnant pricing. There appears to be a growing body of evidence for this.”

Asking and selling prices are in a state of flux here, he said. Single-family homes are selling at 89% of original list price and condos at 90%, less than the customary 92% to 93%. Residential sales that used to take 60 to 75 days to close now need 90 days.

“All in all, barring unforeseen events, we should settle into a neutral market, with modest and sustainable appreciation, provided sellers have realistic expectations, in alignment with where the market is, rather than where one wishes it to be,” Goldman said.

Sarasota-Manatee homeowners are holding on to their properties longer, an average of 8.25 years before selling. That compares with two to three years during the frenzied buying-and-selling before the housing crash.

Those homeowners who sold in the second quarter realize an average price gain of $63,198, or 32.1% from their original purchase price. That was 5% higher over the year.

Nationwide, home and condo sales rose nearly 11% over the quarter and 6.4% annually to a median $266,000 — a new price peak. Homeownership also hit a new high at an average 8.09 years.

“As warmer weather brings a rush of house hunters to the market, the latest spike in median home prices marked the largest quarterly increase since the second quarter of 2015 and the third-biggest increase since the market started climbing out of the Great Recession in 2012,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer at ATTOM.

In Sarasota-Manatee, cash buyers are still major players. They accounted for nearly 43% of all home and condo sales during the April-June period, the eighth-highest ratio among the U.S. metros studied. Nationwide, cash sales were down to a 25% share.

Sarasota Herald Tribune July 18, 2019

Luxury Homes Sales Strong in Sarasota


In luxury residential real estate, the first half of 2019 demonstrated the strength of the top-tier market. One of the things that Southwest Florida can usually bank on is people with deep pockets, usually stuffed with cash, buying multi-million-dollar homes.


The evidence:

• “It’s been a great year so far,” said Roger Pettingell, associated with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate and a waterfront real estate specialist based on Longboat Key. “With over $60 million in pending sales, we are on track to break the $100 million mark. … We are ahead of last year at this time. June has been particularly good for the upper end. We have been working with multiple buyers and have received three offers over $3 million in June. We put one of our $4 million-plus listings under contract in June.” Pettingell and his team reached a record $106 million last year, his first in triple million digits.

• “The luxury market has led the charge for our business,” said Joel Schemmel, associated with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty and based in downtown Sarasota. “Our sales overall have been great in the last six months. We closed $57 million in all of 2018. So far in 2019, we have closed over $45 million and have another $5 plus million pending. The showing activity in the last several months has also been solid in the luxury and ultra-luxury market. Therefore, I expect the sales to continue.”

• “Ultra luxury is selling. I track this market,” said Georgina Clamage, the manager of Michael Saunders & Co.’s Longboat Key office. “Our area is becoming more attractive to the affluent.”

Past headlines indicate the enduring allure of luxury living: In 2006, unlike the rest of the area’s real estate market, $10 million-plus listings remain a bright spot. Seven years later, in 2013, a $10 million home sales on Siesta Key were part of a luxury resurgence as the region continued to exit the effects of the Great Recession.

Quantifying luxury

A basement price point of $5 million defines the ultra-luxury market. Mere luxury starts at $3 million, though some quarters drop that figure to a pedestrian $1 million. During the first six months of this year, 41 homes sold above the $3 million threshold. Last year, that number was 56. While the number of luxury sales is down year over year, average prices are 5% higher and time on the market shorter, Clamage said.

In the Sarasota-Manatee-Charlotte region, ultra-luxury homes on the islands are an especially hot commodity.

Siesta and Casey keys are particularly popular, Clamage said, with seven sales on Siesta and five on Casey, both figures up from 2018′s first two quarters. Longboat Key, with a whole lot more pricey properties, claimed nine sales, down two from 2018.

Many buyers are coming from high-tax states — including California and New York — that got worse after federal tax laws clamped down on deductions for state and local taxes, including property tax writeoffs. “The tax impact is definitely helping us,” Clamage said.

June’s top sale

Deborah Beacham, a Realtor with Michael Saunders & Co., scored a double victory in the $6.725 million transaction for the island residence at 2016 Casey Key Road on Blackburn Bay. She was both the listing and selling agent for the 7,508-square-foot home.

That monetary figure easily surpassed the second-place sale, $4.6 million for 7224 Point of Rocks Road on Siesta Key’s Gulf side. Judie Berger of Premier Sotheby’s listed the home, and Lisa Warren of Own SRQ LLC brought the buyer.

Beacham is having a good year, placing fourth, too, with the sale of her $3.35 million listing also on Casey Key Road.

All told, June saw 13 homes sell for $2 million or higher, with four of those surpassing $3 million. Single-family homes almost pitched a shutout, but one condo got on the list.

Cash paid off eight of those transactions. “That’s typical in that price range,” Clamage said.

2019′s winner (so far)

Debra Pitell-Hauge and Barbara May, come on down. The listing and buyer’s agents respectively, both with Michael Saunders, didn’t have to haggle over the price in their January transaction. The buyer paid full fare, $9.85 million for the residence at 1233 Hillview Drive, on Sarasota Bay, in the Harbor Acres neighborhood.

That represents the highest sale in Sarasota County since 2014.

Second place, in a tie, went to Pettingell as listing agent for a Longboat Key beachfront estate in Regent Court. The $7.5 million sale in April came with a distinction — as the highest Longboat Key sale recorded through the Multiple Listing Service in eight years.

Ian Addy and Gail Wittig of Michael Saunders brought the buyer for the sale of the off-market beachfront estate, portending a possible trend in transactions where a property does not enter the open market.

Schemmel also recorded a $7.5 million sale — for the residence at 8218 Sanderling Road on Siesta Key. That transaction, though, came with its own distinction — extra dollar signs since Schemmel earned both buyer and seller commissions.

As far as real estate companies, Saunders stands head and shoulders above the competition in representing either buyers or sellers. So far this year, the regional brokerage handled 40% of the market. Of the 82 sides in the 41 transactions (either buyer or seller), Saunders brought 33 home.

Four of those sales took home 100% of the asking price. The majority of buyers pitched counter offers that landed in the 80s and 90s. One of the two outliers only fetched 58%, plunging from $10.9 million to $6.235 million. A property is only worth what someone will pay for it.

Billionaire buyers

This puts luxury real estate in a perspective of extravagance gone wild.

The most expensive sale of an American home occurred in January for an unfinished 79th-floor penthouse on Billionaires’ Row in Manhattan. Imagine paying $238 million for a residence you’re unlikely to use as anything more than a palatial hotel room instead of a primary residence.

American hedge fund multi-billionaire Kenneth C. Griffin — founder and CEO of the Chicago-based global investment firm Citadel and one of the richest men in the world — padded his pad holdings with this purchase. Griffin already owns a $60 million penthouse in Miami, and a $122 million mansion in London, among other trophy homes. That Miami deal set a record for a Miami-Dade residential sale. His January 2019 purchase of the top four floors of a Gold Coast condo tower for $58.5 million eclipsed the previous high mark in Chicago. And the London acquisition broke the city’s old record.

During recent years, Griffin has spent more than $750 million on homes in Chicago, New York, Miami, Palm Beach and London. He owns $230 million in Palm Beach property alone, various media outlets have reported. The New York Times described the 50-year-old’s latest acquisition as setting a “new standard for conspicuous consumption.”

That $238 million would pay the price for almost every single affordable house on the market in North Port, equaling the 1,133 homes in that Florida city priced at or below $216,388. Redfin’s analysis calls homes priced at that mark affordable, employing various data points.

While the luxury market is robust in the city, the Wall Street Journal described New York City’s top-tier condo market as “reeling,” with few indications of a rebound this year. Prices for condos $5 million and up plunged 28 percent in 2018.

Overall, though, New York City reigns as home to the most billionaires in the world — 85 — and that point is driving the city’s luxury housing prices higher, according to a report from the research arm of Savills, a global real estate services provider. Billionaires have helped propel ultra-prime property prices up 15% over the past five years.

Fun fact: In the global billionaire population, New York is followed by Hong Kong (79), Moscow (71), Beijing (61) and London (55).

Sales across Southern California are slumping, too, accompanied by price cuts. “After seven years of jaw-dropping growth, L.A.’s real estate market — including its luxury sector — has officially slowed,” the Hollywood Reporter stated in March.

Developer Bruce Makowsky built what looks like a five-star resort atop a Bel Air hill, but it’s a spec home that he dubbed Billionaire. It was listed in January 2017 as the most expensive in the country, with the asking price setting a record at $250 million. Today, the empty residence — which the Los Angeles Times described as “an extravagant mega-mansion doubling as a monument to opulence” — now lists for $150 million.

Who doesn’t need 21 bathrooms, five bars, three kitchens, a 40-seat movie theater and a four-lane Louis Vuitton bowling alley? And an auto gallery jammed with a $30-million fleet of glamorous cars and motorcycles — including a custom Rolls-Royce. Should it sell for $150 million, it would become the most expensive home ever sold in Los Angeles County.

The current record holder, a chateau in Holmby Hills built by film and television producer Aaron Spelling, sold for $120 million in an all-cash deal, according to reports. The transaction closed last month. Another fun fact: The interior covers about an acre. That eclipsed the previous record. An oceanfront property in Malibu’s Carbon Beach sold last year for $110 million.

Closer to home

The emperor of home sales in the Sarasota-Manatee-Charlotte region? Nowhere near those deals. The home at 1067 Westway Drive in the Lido Shores neighborhood on the northwest side of Lido Key went for $13 million in a March 2006 all-cash transaction.

That comes from MLS records dating back to 1900.

Of the top 24 listings, all sold for $7.5 million and above, and cash completed 15 transactions. Nothing earlier than November 2004 made the sold list, though a home built in 1938 did.

It’s only up from here

“Today, $1 million won’t get you a luxury home in most major markets,” Javier Vivas, director of economic research for, stated in one of the Luxury Home Index reports from last year.

In another report last Tuesday, UCLA real estate professor Paul Habibi told the Los Angeles Times that the $120 million sale is a good sign for developers seeking massive sums for their estates because of the precedent it sets. “If $120 million is the new benchmark, that makes it more plausible to sell a home for $75 million or $100 million,” he said. Must be just California, or wherever billionaires want to hang out.

Up and up we go. That kind of astronomical money puts the luxury market here in a somewhat sensible perspective and less outlandish.

Herald-Tribune July 9, 2019

Regional Home Prices Lag State and Nation

Prices LagIn a reverse of headlines – Regional Home Prices Lag. Home prices continue to rise in Southwest Florida, but not as fast as in the state or nationally.

Single-family home prices in the Sarasota-Manatee region grew 3.4 percent over the year in January, trailing the average increases of 5.1 percent throughout Florida and 4.4 percent in the U.S., real estate database CoreLogic reported Tuesday.

Sarasota-Manatee ranked 252nd for price gains out of the 403 metro areas analyzed in the report.

Home prices in the region remain 14.1 percent off their pre-recession peaks, CoreLogic said, the nation’s 43rd lowest peak-to-current difference.

“The spike in mortgage interest rates last fall chilled buyer activity and led to a slowdown in home sales and price growth,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic. “Fixed-rate mortgage rates have dropped 0.6 percentage points since November 2018 and today are lower than they were a year ago. With interest rates at this level, we expect a solid home-buying season this spring.”

An earlier report from the Florida Realtors trade association found the median price of a resale home in Sarasota-Manatee increased 3.3 percent over the year, to $299,000, in the first month of 2019.

Local home prices gained 0.75 percent from December to January, topping the 0.1 percent U.S. increase.

Nationwide, home prices grew at the weakest pace since August 2012. They are forecast to rise 3.4 percent over the next 12 months.

“The slowing growth in home prices was inevitable in many respects as buyers pull back in the face of higher borrowing and ownership costs,” said Frank Martell, president/CEO of CoreLogic. “As we head into 2019, we can expect continued strong employment growth and rising incomes which could support a re-acceleration in home-price appreciation later this year.”

States with the highest year-over-year home appreciation were:

Idaho, 11.2 percent

Nevada, 10.2 percent

Utah, 8.9 percent

Two states posted annual price declines:

Louisiana, down 0.8 percent, and North Dakota, off 0.7 percent.

Herald-Tribune March 5, 2019

Florida – Housing Outlook for 2019

Florida Housing 2019Florida housing outlook tops big-picture on the national scene

In its U.S. economic and housing market outlook for 2019, CoreLogic economists forecast growth in home prices to drop by one percentage point as higher interest rates impact the mortgage market, homeowners have an incentive to retain their current low-rate mortgages and new listings.

But Florida’s housing market is projected to do very well next year, market researcher and analyst Gord Collins wrote in his “Florida Housing Forecast 2019.” He reported that the Tampa/Sarasota housing market is “hot.”

Homes at two of the country’s top-selling master-planned communities prove that. Both Lakewood Ranch (No. 2) and West Villages (No. 5) surpassed 2017′s record sales marks weeks ago.

“The good news is that our inventories and pricing are staying in check, unlike other markets who are grappling with low inventories and mounting price pressures,” said Laura Cole, vice president of marketing for Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch.

West Villages President Paul Erhardt also expects demand to endure: “In parallel to Florida’s strong housing market, we continue to see increased traffic, buyer interest and sales across all of our communities within West Villages Florida,” he said.

In his latest residential real estate report, issued this week, Robert Goldman, a Michael Saunders & Co. Realtor and an attorney, stated that “Sarasota County has been on a tear” and “an unprecedented six-year run.”

Based on an analysis for Multiple Listing Service statistics for home sales in the county, the local and national economies, and his history in the market, Goldman forecast a continued stable and balanced housing market for the first three quarters of 2019 with inventory slowly growing and prices increasing in the 4 to 5 percent range.

“We are facing looming headwinds, but they will likely not surface until the end of 2019/2020,” he wrote.

In his prognostication, Collins also noted: “The housing market in Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Panama City, Sarasota, Naples, Fort Lauderdale, and even Boca Raton are compelling real estate investment value propositions for snowbirds and other buyers in North America.

“Interest in buying Florida properties is persistent, and given the strength of the Florida economy and tax situation in the Sunshine State, and an aging population, we should see strong prices for many years.”

In its “Pre-Mover Housing Index,” ATTOM Data Solutions, curator of a national multi-sourced property database, indicated the Tampa Bay area ranked sixth in loan applications from those ready to relocate.

In Florida, November marked 83 consecutive months — more than six and a half years — that statewide median sales prices for both single-family homes and condo-townhouse properties rose year-over-year.

“As we close out the year,” said Erica Plemmons, economist and director of housing statistics for Florida Realtors, “how has 2018 compared to 2017? Median sale price has continued its climb every month in 2018 versus the same month in 2017.”

In the Sarasota-Manatee market, the median home price ticked up 3.8 percent to $290,000 in the third quarter of this year.

Nationally, annual home price growth slid a bit in October to 5.48 from 5.52 percent in September, the seventh consecutive month of declines, according to S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices. The incremental decline began after March’s figure reached 6.53 percent.

In Wednesday’s new report, Ralph B. McLaughlin, deputy chief economist and executive of research and insights for CoreLogic, said, “It’s important to look at the bigger picture. Slowing price appreciation is still appreciation, and the current rate is more than double that of inflation.

“This continued growth, coupled with rising inventory and falling mortgage rates, suggests the bottom isn’t falling out of the housing market. Instead, the housing market is taking on a healthy diet that will allow it to be in better shape for the home buying season come spring.”

Impact of interest rates

CoreLogic’s December 2018 MarketPulse report, issued last week, stated that 30-year fixed mortgage rates will rise to an average of about 5.25 percent by next December, the highest in a decade.

“The larger monthly payments that come with higher mortgage rates will likely soften buyer demand, leading to less pressure on home prices,” wrote Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic, a global property information and analytics company.

Aaron Terrazas, director of economic research for Zillow, predicts a higher mortgage rate coming next year — 5.8 percent — “territory not seen since the dark days of 2008 when rates were racing downward in response to the housing crisis.”

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.87 percent in November, up from the 3.92 percent average during the same month a year earlier. For the week ending Dec. 27, the rate averaged 4.55 percent. During the same week in 2017, it was 3.99 percent, the lender reported Thursday.

For mortgage lending, higher rates mean even less refinancing in 2019. “We expect the refinance share of originations to decline to about 25 percent, the lowest in 25 years,” Nothaft said.

The growth in home equity and decisions by homeowners to remain in place should increase remodeling expenditures and the origination of home equity loans for home improvement purposes, CoreLogic predicted.

In her CoreLogic Equity Report included in the MarketPulse newsletter, economist Molly Boesel found that the amount of equity in mortgaged real estate increased by about $775 billion in the third quarter of 2018, a jump of 9.4 percent compared to the previous third quarter. The 2018 third-quarter gain dropped from the nearly $1 trillion in the year’s second quarter, which “reflects slowing price growth,” she wrote.

“The nationwide negative equity share for Q3 2018 was 4.1 percent of all homes with a mortgage, more than 20 percentage points lower than the peak negative equity share — 26 percent — recorded in Q4 2009,” Boesel found.

“Over the past 12 months, 81,000 borrowers moved into positive equity.”

Florida came in second to Nevada in the largest year-over-year decreases in negative equity share, at 2.1 percent. That compared with Nevada’s 4.3 percentage point drop.

In the Silver State, 72.7 percent of mortgages were underwater in the first quarter of 2010. That figure now stands at 4.7 percent, Boesel reported.

“The number of homes in a negative equity position have remained around 2.2 million for two consecutive quarters this year,” said Frank Martell, CoreLogic’s president and CEO. “Without equity, those homeowners are unable to sell their homes and are more likely to transition from delinquency to foreclosure if they face financial distress.”

The average year-over-year equity gain in Florida per borrower stands at $10,000.

The CoreLogic Home Price Index for this past October shows most Florida single-family home markets are overvalued, including Sarasota-Manatee, and that standing is forecast to remain in place five years from now.

While the major indicators in the national housing market have trended down over the past few months, pointing to a softening, “there is little reason for panic,” McLaughlin said.

“Current housing supply is still low: new and existing housing supply remain well below long-term historical averages. Future housing demand should continue to be robust: households under the age of 35, which account for the largest pool of potential home buyers, are starting to show signs they’re buying homes,” he said.

“Both factors should help long-term investors in the housing market remain confident.”

Sarasota Herald-Tribune December 27, 2018

Sarasota-Manatee Home Prices Rise Slower than Florida and U.S.

Home-price gains in Sarasota and Manatee County lagged behind the state and nation in October.

Single-family home prices rose 4.15 percent over the year in the Sarasota-Manatee area, less than the 5.4 percent average posted throughout Florida and the U.S., real estate database CoreLogic reported Tuesday.

Sarasota-Manatee ranked 248th for annual price change among the 403 U.S. metro areas analyzed.

Home prices here remain 14.0 percent off their pre-recession highs, CoreLogic said, the nation’s 47th smallest peak-to-current difference.

“Rising prices and interest rates have reduced home buyer activity and led to a gradual slowing in appreciation,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic. “October’s mortgage rates were the highest in seven and a half years, eroding buyer affordability. Despite higher interest rates, many renters view a home purchase as a way to build wealth through home-equity growth, especially in areas where rents are rising quickly.”

Local home prices increased 0.57 percent from September to October, slightly ahead of the 0.4 percent Florida rate and 0.50 percent nationwide rate.

The median resale price of single-family homes in Sarasota-Manatee is $283,000, according to the Florida Realtors trade group.

CoreLogic forecasts that home prices will grow by 7.2 percent in Florida and 4.8 percent nationwide in the next 12 months. They are expected to increase by 0.4 percent in Florida but decrease by 0.7 percent from October to November.

A related survey about home ownership found that buyers value safety and having something to call their own.

“Home ownership remains an important part of the American dream,” said Frank Martell, president/CEO of CoreLogic. “Our research found that being a homeowner makes consumers feel safe in their homes. Renters really want something to call their own. However, until affordability comes back into balance, renters will have a hard time purchasing a home.”


Sarasota Herald-Tribune Dec. 4, 2018

Sarasota Ranked No. 2 on Florida List of Places to Buy

places to buyIn a market seemingly awash in million-dollar sales, a national consulting company lists Sarasota-Bradenton the second metro area in Florida in terms of best places to buy a home versus renting.

Smart Asset, a financial technology company, ranks Sarasota 24th nationally on a list of break-even points for renting vs. buying. Cape Coral-Fort Myers came out on top in Florida.

Smart Asset looked at an average rent of about $1,500 for the area and an average mortgage payment on a typical home (4.5% interest, 20% down) of about $1,110 and determined it would take about two years, three months for renting to become more costly than buying.

Gary, Indiana was the nation’s top market, with break-even point at 1 year, four months. Washington, Nevada and California were the only states in whole deemed better for renters than buyers by the study.

Sarasota is in the midst of an upswing in sales and price appreciation, according to Michael Molton, a certified resident specialist broker-associate with Michael Saunders & Company, who writes a monthly report on the local market.

According to his most recent report:

  • The 2018 monthly year to date average for sold properties is 1,040 whereas the 2017 monthly average was 978 for the year and in 2016 the monthly average was 952.
  • The number of properties sold in April including both single family and condominiums in the Sarasota area was 1,200, which was 20 less than March and 26 more than a year ago.
  • In April, Sarasota’s single-family homes were sold at a median price of $285,000 vs. $272,500 a year ago, a 5% increase.
  • Condominium median sale price was $235,000 in April vs. $215,000 in April 2017.
  • Overall properties sold for 95% of the list price, a consistent ratio on a regular basis. The 2017 average for all properties sold was 95.6% of list price at the time of contract vs. the original list price.

Sarasota Observer June 13, 2018

April Home Sales Rise Despite Inventory Challenges

April Home SalesIn April 2018, Sarasota and Manatee housing inventory levels dropped again, with pressure from rising median sales prices. Overall, April showed an increase in sales across the two counties, as well as an increase in new listings.

April reported 2,014 total sales which is a 3.3 percent increase from last year. Sarasota condo sales increased by 17.8 percent and Manatee condo sales increased by 2.5 percent. As for single family homes, Manatee sales increased by 5.8 percent, while Sarasota decreased by 5.3 percent.

Overall, inventory is down compared to this time last year. For single-family homes, the number of properties listed decreased by 10.3 percent. As for condos, inventory decreased by 8.9 percent in the two-county area.

“Sarasota and Manatee counties are following the national trend of lower inventory and higher prices,” said Greg Owens, 2018 President of the REALTOR® Association of Sarasota and Manatee. “This home shortage is a main factor in limiting sales growth.”

Dr. Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), commented on this trend in his recent 2018 midyear forecast presentation at the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo. Yun indicated that a stronger economy, wage growth and improving job market is expected to raise sales and prices. However, low inventory and the challenging affordability for the next generation of home buyers may temper growth. Overall, he predicts a moderate and multiyear increase in home sales ahead.

Median sales prices continue to rise in Sarasota and Manatee. Manatee single-family home prices increased by 5.4 percent to $311,000 and Sarasota increased by 4.6 percent to $285,000. Condo median prices in Sarasota increased by 9.3 percent to $235,000 and Manatee increased by 23.1 percent to $209,950.

“These trends should encourage homeowners who were thinking of putting their property on the market to do so,” added Owens. “The traditional snowbird season has ended in our area, but property sales have not. Contact your local REALTOR® to find the best move for you and your family.”

A seller’s market remains, indicated by the decreased month’s supply of inventory. Manatee condos represent a 4.5-month supply and Sarasota condos are at a 4.6 month-supply. Manatee single-family homes are at a 3.9-month supply and Sarasota single-family homes are at a 4.1- month supply.

The median time to contract for Sarasota single-family homes is down by 11.1 percent to 40 days, while Manatee increased by 2.2 percent to 47 days from April 2017. For Sarasota condos, the time to contract is down by 6.5 percent to 43 days, while Manatee condos are down by 24 percent is to 38 days on the market. With tighter inventory, properties are spending less time on the market.

Pending Sales
Overall pending sales, or the number of properties that went under contract in April, decreased from last month. This is an indication that sales are tapering off the traditional snowbird season. Compared to 2017, the condo market experienced more pending sales with a 22.1 percent increase in Manatee and a 1.7 percent increase in Sarasota. Single-family homes, however, experienced a drop in pending sales. Sarasota single-family homes decreased by 13.1 percent and Manatee by 16.1 percent.

The REALTOR® Association of Sarasota and Manatee, May 24, 2018

Florida Real Estate Market Healthy but Challenged

Florida Real EstateFlorida Home Prices Up, Inventory Down and Interest Rates are Iffy.

The Florida real estate industry is healthy, though several thorny challenges confront residential sales, one of the nation’s leading economists told a gathering of about 80 agents and brokers Wednesday morning.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist and senior vice president of the National Association of Realtors, covered the proverbial waterfront during his presentation at the 12th annual Global Conference, a production of the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee and the Global Business Council held at RASM’s Sarasota headquarters.

The daylong conference focused on the international real estate market, though Yun incorporated many domestic points in his presentation, “Economic and Real Estate Market Outlook.”

Foreign Buyers and Florida

On the tax reform law, “We’ll have to wait and see whether this impacts home buying in the future or not,” Yun said. But he echoed a sentiment expressed by many: The Florida market will be a “big beneficiary of net migration” from Americans fleeing such high-tax states as New York and New Jersey as the tax law chews into their income-tax deductions. “We’re already seeing that.”

Last year, foreign buyers bought $23.8 billion in Florida real estate, more than double the figure from a decade ago. Seventy-three percent of those 2017 purchases were all-cash, Yun said, because wealthy international buyers don’t need mortgages. The foreign property purchases account for 11 percent of the value but only 6 percent of the sales volume, indicating those purchases were primarily high-end homes.

The top international buyers of U.S. real estate last year came, in order, from China, Canada, Mexico, India and the United Kingdom.

Although most of the Chinese purchases were in California, “the Florida market certainly has a larger share of foreign investors,” Yun said. “We have greater contact with people of other nationalities.”

The state, he said, is also “raising the confidence of foreign buyers” with safe property investments that are bound to appreciate.

National Economic Picture

During the first quarter of 2018, a rising number of households expressed more confidence in the economy and their financial position, but only 68 percent of consumers felt now is a good time to buy a house, the lowest percentage in two years. That’s according to NAR’s first-quarter Housing Opportunities and Market Experience survey.

Income, debt and anxiety are stopping some from buying.

“They need to believe things will turn out well after buying,” Yun said. The “very, very competitive” nature of the current residential market — with inventory down 13 percent, prices up 9 percent and mortgage rates expected to rise again — is being met with caution. “They’re feeling rushed to buy.”

From 2011 to 2017, income grew by 15 percent but housing prices surged by 48 percent, Yun said. “This is a big concern for renters,” he said, and an obstacle to converting to home ownership.

Consumers should not wait for mortgage rates, at 4.5 percent now, to fall, not with the Federal Reserve forecast to raise its benchmark interest rate two more times this year and three in 2019.

“Two years from now, mortgage rates could be 6 percent,” Yun said. “Don’t take the current rates for granted.”

While national existing home sales rose last year to their highest level in 11 years, the pending home sales index has stalled and inventory continues to fall, he said. “Builders have been under-producing,” Yun said, and the annual increases in construction since the subprime disaster have been “very minimal.”

Sarasota Herald-Tribune, May 9, 2018

Sarasota Real Estate Market Report – March 2018

Sarasota Real EstateLast month, the Sarasota-Manatee residential real estate market showed an increase in the number of closed sales and pending sales, a continuation in the rise of median prices and a drop in inventory levels.

Home buyers preferred condos and townhouses over single-family homes, a likely sign that snowbird season has been good for one sector of the residential market.

March condo sales rose 9.9 percent in Sarasota to 454 and 9.7 percent in Manatee to 284 year over year. As for single-family homes, Manatee sales fell 0.2 percent to 580, while Sarasota dropped 2.3 percent to 766.

Closed Sales
In the two-county metropolitan statistical area, closed sales for single-family homes and condos reached 5,015 properties so far this year, a 2.3 percent increase from this time last year. Comparing this past month to March 2017, statistics show a 1.4 percent drop in single-family home sales but a jump in condo sales of 9.8 percent.

“With the close of ‘season’ fast upon us, we are once again showing an increase in combined sales in both counties,” said Greg Owens, president of the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee.

“Pending sales showed a combined 14.9 percent increase from February 2018 to March 2018,” he said. “This increase indicates a strong finish going into summer.”

Median Prices
Year over year, single-family median prices in Sarasota rose by 9.3 percent to $287,053 while Manatee dropped by 1.7 percent to $285,000. The median sales price for Manatee condos jumped by 15.1 percent to $201,500 and Sarasota condos increased by 4.3 percent to $240,000.

Combined, pending sales for single-family homes and condos increased by 4.9 percent from March 2017.

The decline in new listings is another good indication of the selling season ending, the association said. The number of properties put on the market during March 2018 fell by 7.6 percent from 2017 in the two-county area. Combined inventory in the two-county area dropped by 14 percent from March 2017. Compared with last year, the supply of single-family homes decreased 15.4 percent, while that of condos fell 11.4 percent.

In single-family homes, Charlotte County showed a 2 percent increase in closed sales, to 411, a 10.2 percent jump in the median sales price and a 0.4 percent rise in pending sales. In townhouses and condos, closed sales jumped by 14.8 percent, the median sales price increased 10.8 percent to $176,250 and new pending sales rose 2.2 percent, to 139.

Florida’s Market

Across the state, March’s tight inventory constrained sales and pushed median prices higher, according to the latest housing data released by the Florida Realtors trade association. Closed sales fell by 3.5 percent, while median prices rose by 8.2 percent year over year.

The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $250,800, up 8.2 percent from the previous year, while the statewide median price for townhouse-condo properties was $183,000, up 7 percent over the year-ago figure.

“As the ongoing supply of for-sale homes continues to tighten, it can create a cycle of frustration for home buyers, especially those trying to become a first-time homeowner,” said 2018 Florida Realtors President Christine Hansen, broker-owner with Century 21 Hansen Realty in Fort Lauderdale. “If move-up buyers can’t find a home in their desired price range, then they aren’t likely to leave their current home, which in turn makes entry-level properties even more scarce.

“Buyer demand is high, but the shortfall of inventory — particularly around $250,000 and under — is impacting affordability in many areas.”

March was the 75th consecutive month that the statewide median sales prices for both single-family homes and townhouse-condo properties rose year-over-year.

National Numbers

Across the country, existing-home sales increased for the second consecutive month in March, but lagging inventory levels and affordability constraints kept sales activity below year ago levels, according to the National Association of Realtors. Despite the increase, March sales were still 1.2 percent below a year ago.

“The unwelcome news is that while the healthy economy is generating sustained interest in buying a home this spring, sales are lagging year ago levels because supply is woefully low and home prices keep climbing above what some would-be buyers can afford,” Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said in a press release.

The median existing-home price for all housing types in March was $250,400, up 5.8 percent from March 2017 ($236,600). March’s price increase marks the 73rd straight month of year-over-year gains.

Housing affordability is down from a year ago and fewer households can afford the active inventory of homes currently for sale on the market based on their income. That is according to joint research from the National Association of Realtors and, an online real estate destination.

Using data on mortgages, state and metro area income and listings on, the Realtors Affordability Distribution Curve and Score is designed to examine affordability conditions at different income levels for all active inventory on the market. A score of one or higher generally suggests a market where homes for sale are more affordable to households in proportion to their income distribution.

According to March data, 35 metro areas had better affordability compared to a year earlier, led by Austin-Round Rock, Texas, (from 0.55 to 0.66), Syracuse, New York, (1.04 to 1.1) North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, (0.60 to 0.66) and Palm Bay-Melbourne, (0.71 to 0.77).

Sarasota Herald-Tribune April 23, 2018