Despite a September dip in home sales across Southwest Florida from August — a lull experts say is typical this time of year — year-over-year figures show the real estate market continues to strengthen as inventory levels drop, sales improve and prices steadily edge upward, according to local housing reports released Friday.
The Realtor associations of Charlotte and Sarasota counties each reported year-over-year, closed-sale increases in September in both the single-family and condo markets. Homes prices too showed steady — albeit modest — increases from last year, and inventory levels are at historically low levels, the associations noted.
“There’s a lot of good news out there,” Laura Benson, president of the Sarasota Association of Realtors, said in a prepared statement. “The real estate industry has returned to a much healthier place than we were four or five years ago. For the agents who experienced the down times, this has become a great period of rebound for the market.”
In both the single-family and condo categories, Sarasota saw sales jump, with single-family sales totaling 500 in September, compared with 430 a year ago, or an increase of 16.28 percent. Condo sales rose by 5.7 percent from 140 in 2011, to 148 in 2012, according to the SAR.
Charlotte County and North Port reported similar year-over-year gains, with 234 closed single-family homes sales in September, compared with 220 a year ago. In the condo category, 60 closed transactions were reported last month, compared with 42 last year. That’s an increase of 6.4 and 42.86 percent, respectively.
Month-over-month sales dipped slightly from August to September across Southwest Florida in both home categories, a pattern typical of the early autumn season, but not enough to cause concern, real estate experts said.
However inventory levels are the lowest they’ve been in years — 4.1 months’ supply for single-family homes in Charlotte and 4.4 months in Sarasota. And those numbers, which represent the time it would take to deplete the current inventory levels at the current sales rate, have contributed to a slight upward push in home prices — a product of supply and demand. And as more banks are willing to negotiate with homeowners on distressed properties, there is less of a downward push on prices, experts said.
In Charlotte, the median sales price for a single-family home in September was $118,000. That’s an increase of 21.6 percent over last year. A big drop in price, however, was reported in the condo market, with the median price in September at $65,000, compared with $70,000 a year ago, according to the Realtor association.
The median price means half the homes sold for more, half for less.
In Sarasota, the median sales price for a single-family home was $169,950, and $175,400 for a condo. In 2011, the median sales prices were $165,000 and $140,000, respectively.
“The (gap in the closed sale price) compared to the (listing price) is gradually reducing,” said Lyn Bevis of RE/MAX Harbor Realty in Punta Gorda. “Buyers, if it’s a good price and the home is marketable and getting showings, have to act because if they don’t, someone else is going to buy.”