Inventory remains tight here and across the country

The Sarasota and Manatee residential market ended 2017 with increases in both closed sales and median prices compared with 2016. Inventory remains tight and properties spent more time on the market last year.

Statewide, the housing market closed out 2017 with more sales, higher median sale prices and fewer sales of distressed properties compared with the year before, according to the latest housing data released Tuesday by the Florida Realtors organization and local Realtor boards/associations.

Credit Florida's robust economy and steady influx of new residents.

“Florida’s economy is growing, the jobs outlook remains strong and more people are moving to the Sunshine State," Florida Realtors President Christine Hansen said.

Sarasota County’s condo sales reached a record with 3,840 closed sales, a 6.6 percent increase from last year. With all the new luxury condos in downtown Sarasota, it’s a bit surprising that the median sales price rose by only 7.1 percent to $225,000.

In single-family homes, Sarasota’s closed sales edged up 1.1 percent, to 7,912, while the median price jumped 7.6 percent, to $269,000.

Oddly enough, the number of Manatee single-family home sales last year hit the same mark as in 2016 — 6,057. The median sale price jumped to $295,000, a 7.7 percent increase.

After a record-setting 2016, sales in Manatee's townhouse-condo market dropped by 4.8 percent, to 2,482. The median sale price rose by 5.9 percent, to $180,000.

Combined closed sales for single-family homes and condos in Sarasota and Manatee totaled 20,291, a 1 percent increase from 2016.

"The Sarasota and Manatee markets had another strong year and early indications expect this trend to carry in 2018,” Greg Owens, president of the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee, said in a news release. "The data spoke volumes about how our market has recovered and continues upward."

The trends in inventory

Combined inventory for the two-county area decreased by 2.5 percent from 2016. For single-family homes, Manatee's inventory increased by 1.2 percent, while Sarasota's dropped by 8.4 percent. Sarasota's condo inventory increased by 3.3 percent and Manatee decreased by 2.1 percent.

“Inventories remain tight in both areas,” Owens said. “We are also in an upward trend in pricing, with low supply and a continuous demand.”

Given the current market conditions, the two-county area remains a seller’s market, the local Realtors grou said. Inventory, stated as an estimate of the number of months it would take to deplete the current supply, rose in Manatee but fell in Sarasota. Manatee condos are at a 4.5 month’s supply, while single-family homes are at a 4.2 month’s supply. Sarasota condos are at a 5.3 month’s supply, while single family homes decreased to a 4.1 month’s supply.

At the end of 2017 and also for the fourth quarter last year, inventory for single-family homes stood at a 3.6 months’ supply, while inventory for townhouse-condo properties was at a 5.6-months’ supply, according to Florida Realtors.

“This past year, the still-tight inventory of homes for sale in Florida couldn’t meet growing buyer demand,” Hansen said. “If supply could have kept pace, home sales likely would have been even stronger in 2017 — and, of course, the state also felt the impact of Hurricane Irma.”

The state, nation and affordability

Statewide closed sales of existing single-family homes totaled 271,868 in 2017, up 1.2 percent compared with the 2016 figure. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in 2017 was $237,500, up 8 percent from the previous year. Looking at Florida’s year-to-year comparison for sales of townhouse-condos, a total of 111,088 units sold statewide in 2017, up 2.9 percent from 2016.

Nationally, an upswing in existing-home sales in the final three months of 2017 pulled down housing inventory to an all-time low and kept home-price growth at its recent robust pace, according to the latest quarterly report by the National Association of Realtors.

“The housing shortage impacting Florida and the rest of the nation continues to be contained to the lower price tiers,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. Brad O’Connor, “whereas the opposite issue — an overabundance of listings — is having the opposite impact on many local luxury markets.”

Lawrence Yun, the national Realtors group’s chief economist, said 2017 capped another year in which home prices in most markets rose at a steady clip amid improving sales and worsening inventory conditions. “Remarkably, home prices have risen a cumulative 48 percent since 2011, yet during this same time frame incomes are up only 15 percent.”

Added Yun, “These consistent, multi-year price gains have certainly been great news for homeowners, and especially for those who were at one time in a negative equity situation; however, the shortage of new homes being built over the past decade is really burdening local markets and making home-buying less affordable.”