Sarasota-Manatee New Home Starts at Post-Recession Highs

New Home Starts SarasotaThe third quarter of 2017 proved to be a gem for housing starts in the Sarasota-Manatee market.

“Despite Hurricane Irma, quarterly starts were the best we have seen post-recession,” Metrostudy reported Tuesday.

The company, which provides market information to the housing and related industries nationwide, said the two-county market is building at about 120 percent of the 20-year moving average. And the growth is next expected to stop next year.

“Irma may push some closings into 2018, but she did not materially impact our forecast for increasing housing starts in 2018 for Sarasota,” said Tony Polito, regional director of Metrostudy’s Sarasota-Bradenton market.

The research, data and analytics company’s third-quarter survey of the Sarasota-Bradenton housing market found that 1,514 single-family units were started in the quarter, an increase of 3.4 percent compared with last year’s third quarter. The new figures also are 4.1 percent more starts than in this year’s second quarter.

Single-family closings in the quarter were 1,327 units, which was 2.2 percent higher than third quarter of 2016. Irma likely affected closings, which fell by 211 from the second quarter, according to the study.

The survey also found the problem of workforce housing is getting worse. “Affordability is getting squeezed in the lower price points as new home starts under $250,000 are down 20 percent year over year.”

For the 12 months ending Sept. 30, starts of new under $250,000 totaled 1,211, down 20 percent from the third quarter of 2016. Annual new-home starts over $250,000 increased 6.9 percent, the survey found.

“Hurricane Irma impacted jobs and the local economy in September,” Polito said, “but this is expected to be a short-term impact, although with a 3.3 percent local unemployment rate, new job creation is highly dependent upon new population growth.

This quarter, 1,763 lots were delivered to the Sarasota-Bradenton market compared with 1,251 in last year’s third quarter. Vacant developed lot inventory stands at 36,977 lots, an increase of 0.2 percent compared to 36,904 last year.

“Based upon the annual start rate, this level of lot inventory represents an 80.1-month supply, an increase of 0.5 months compared to last year,” Polito said.

During the recent third quarter, Manatee County recorded 747 housing starts, up 19.5 percent over the second quarter and up 19.5 percent compared with 2016′s third quarter. Sarasota County logged 600 housing starts this past quarter, up 24.5 percent versus this year’s second quarter and up 7.1 percent compared to last year’s third quarter.

Herald Tribune November 7, 2017