Total property sales in Sarasota County in 2013 were the second highest ever recorded, according to statistics compiled in the My Florida MLS system.
The 11,184 transactions represented 7,453 single family homes and 3,731 condominiums. Only the year 2004 was higher, during the “bubble” years of 2003-2005. In 2004, sales hit a record 11,482, just 298 more than the past year. The breakdown then was 7,780 single family homes and 3,702 condos
The big difference between the two years was the median sales price. In 2004, single family homes sold for a median of $234,000 and condos for $210,000. In 2013, single family homes were a much more affordable $184,900, while condos were $164,900.
The collapse of the national housing market brought sales in Sarasota County to a low point of 6,163 in 2007, when only 4,163 single family homes and 2,000 condos changed hands. Since that year, sales have risen by 81 percent in the Sarasota County market.
The start of the “boom” years actually started in the year 2000, when the market began to see higher and higher price appreciation accompanied by a frenzied sales pace. The historic collapse that followed led to the “Great Recession” of the years 2007-2008, and the overall economy appears to have finally reached a sustainable, steady pattern of growth, with unemployment dipping below 7 percent last month.
Sarasota County’s economy has also appeared to return to steady footing, with the unemployment rate dropping to 6.1 percent from a high of over 10 percent in 2009.
The highest median sale price for single family homes during the recent roller coaster market was $287,850 in 2005, while condos hit their highest level of $301,225 in 2006. The low median sales price for both categories was in 2010-2011, when single family homes plummeted to $132,000 and condos bottomed out at $138,000.
The recent price recovery has helped many residents get back “above water,” and may create an incentive to sell in the coming years, further buoying the once depressed market. Judging from the recent high market activity, and the wave of enthusiasm sweeping over the local real estate industry, Sarasota County has recovered from the traumatic times of 2006-2011.
The current market has returned to the more normal price appreciation levels seen in the 1990s, with steady, sustainable price gains. While no one has a crystal ball, hopefully the lessons of the recent past will prevent another unrealistic period of price over-escalation.