Top turnaround towns in Florida
By the middle of March, those New Year's resolutions to turn our lives around are receding faster and faster into the rearview mirror. But there is a turnaround that's happening right under our noses, and you didn't have to put on your running shoes to get the benefit.
On Feb. 17, Realtor.com released a list of the top 10 turnaround towns in the United States for the fourth quarter of 2011. The list was compiled based on market rankings on year-over-year median price appreciation, reduction in year-over-year median age of inventory and inventory reduction levels based on Realtor.com's data base. It also considered unemployment rates on a year-over-year basis.
Its findings confirmed that the 10 towns listed all suffered from high foreclosure rates and are now rebounding. Better news still is that eight of the 10 towns are in Florida and the fifth ranking was the Sarasota-Bradenton real estate market.
Following are the top 10 towns in order of their ranking:
1. Miami, Fla.
2. Phoenix, Ariz.
3. Orlando, Fla.
4. Fort Myers-Cape Coral, Fla.
5. Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla.
6. Boise City, Idaho
7. Naples, Fla.
8. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
9. Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla.
10. Punta Gorda, Fla.
Sarasota-Bradenton had some very impressive growth rates: The median list price appreciation was up 10.78 percent and the median list price was up 2 percent. The median age of the inventory was down 26.5 percent and the inventory was down 31.01 percent. Finally the increase in sales was up 17 percent. If this trend continues it will be pushing Sarasota-Bradenton closer to a seller's market than it's been in over five years.
The Manatee Association of Realtors reported that January sales were down from December, which is not unusual since January is traditionally the slowest month for closings. However, the pending homes sales are up considerably to their highest level during the past 12 months. During January, 543 properties were put under contact which is 53 percent more than in December. Also, median prices in Manatee County are up 6 percent from a year ago to $165,000.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal on Feb. 28, nationally the sales of previously owned homes was also up 4.3 percent, the highest in nearly two years and the third increase in the past four months. Also the inventory of unsold homes is down to a healthier level, and although mortgage rates are starting to trend up slightly, they are still below 4 percent, historically a very low number.
Mortgage rates adjusting upward may actually be a good thing for the real estate market. It could give that added push to buyers who have been hovering in the marketplace, but not making a commitment. All of this is pointing to a good year for our area and the country in general and what will hopefully be the beginning of an ongoing and significant turnaround.
As turnarounds go, this one sounds pretty awesome, but counting your equity before an offer would be like giving up the treadmill because you lost five pounds. Keep it positive, and keep on moving.