Home prices rise while sales dip
While area closed home sales saw an overall decrease in May, record-low inventory levels are pushing prices upward — a sign the market continues on a steady road to recovery, housing experts said.
According to local home sale figures released this week, Charlotte and Sarasota counties both saw drops in closed sales for the month of May in both the single-family and condo categories. At the same time, median prices went up in May from the previous month.
The Punta Gorda-Port Charlotte-North Port Association of Realtors reported 295 closed sales in the single-family market, compared with 352 in April. In the condo category, the association reported 86 closed transactions in May, versus 80 in April. Those numbers are tallied using the new statewide system of reporting that the Florida Realtors recently implemented, and that the local boards now are using.
In Sarasota County, the sales breakdown amounted to 591 single-family and 263 condo sales transactions in May, compared with 589 and 297 in April, respectively.
Housing experts say the slowdown is normal for this time of year, when seasonal buyers head back north for the summer months.
Still, the lull in sales hasn’t dampened experts’ spirits, as prices steadily rise and inventory levels drop to the lowest they’ve been in years. Months of inventory represents the time it would take to deplete the current inventory at the current sales rate. Experts say inventory levels typically are around seven to eight months in a healthy market.
The median price of a single-family home in the Charlotte County-North Port area rose in May by 12.6 percent, to $111,500, according to the Realtor association, while the median price of condos rose by a whopping 30.9 percent, to $111,250. The median price is the level at which half of the homes sold for more, and half for less.
Inventory levels dropped from just over a five-month supply in April, to four and a half months in May for single-family homes; and from an eighth-month supply in April, to nearly seven and a half months in May for condos.
Similarly, the median price for a single-family home in Sarasota County rose to its highest level since July 2009, to $185,000 in May, compared with $175,000 in April, according to the Sarasota Association of Realtors. In the condo market, however, the median sale price dropped from $191,750 in April to $180,750 in May. Inventory levels dropped from more than a four-and-a-half-month supply in April, to just over four months in May for single-family homes; and held pretty steady at just over a five-month supply in April and May for condos.
“Inventories at this level are rare,” said SAR president Laura Benson. “The market is tightening, and when available properties are at such low levels, the result is normally a greater competition for available properties.”
Overall, Southwest Florida’s results mirror what’s happening on the state and national levels, where housing sales also took a turn downward turn.
According to the National Association of Realtors, total sales of previously owned homes fell across the country by 1.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.55 million in May. National inventory levels hover at just over six and a half months.
“The slight pullback in monthly home sales is more likely due to supply constraints rather than softening demand,” NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement. “The normal seasonal upturn in inventory did not occur this spring.”
Florida’s home sales saw similar trends in prices and inventory levels. Median sale prices for single-family homes rose from $144,000 in April to $147,00 in May; and from $109,000 in April to $112,000 in May for condos. Inventory levels for both home types stands at five and a half months.