Home sales declining, but not here

Castles in the Sand

As reported at the end of July, U.S. growth exceeded 4 percent, the fastest since 2014. Nevertheless, even this great economic news isn’t helping the national housing market from pulling itself out of a slump.

According to the National Association of Realtors, in June, the sale of existing homes declined by 2.2 percent. Realtors and other professionals are speculating that after years of low inventory, despite reports that inventory is finally starting to increase and prices are rising, buyers are exhausted. This combined with higher interest rates which jumped in June to 4.57 percent is eroding buyer confidence, resulting in many buyers taking a “wait and see” position.

Well, here in Manatee County, buyer confidence, prices and turnover seem not to be affected by the national picture. June sales statistics reported by the Realtor Association of Sarasota & Manatee are encouraging, especially since we are getting into the slow sales season. That said, June closings do reflect earlier months’ sales so don’t be surprised to see a slight downturn in coming months.

The total number of single family homes sold in June was 637, up 4.8 percent from last year. The median sale price was $300,000, up 0.8 percent, and the average sale price was $365,637, dead even with last June. Properties are selling at 96.2 percent of original list price and it’s taking a median time to sell of 90 days.

As far as the condo market sales, the numbers are even better. There were 278 sales, up 20.9 percent from June of last year. The median sales price was $191,500, up 4.9 percent and the average sale price was $232,691, up 1.9 percent. Condos are selling at 93.8 percent of the original listing price and the median time to sell was 111 days.

Unlike the national numbers, Manatee County is not showing an increase in available properties for sale. For single family homes there were 2,133 properties available for sale minus 1.1 percent from last June. And for condos there were 895 properties available for sale minus 2.8 percent from last June. This still leaves us with only an approximate four-month supply of available properties in both categories, an unhealthy number.

As a side note, there was an interesting report, again by the National Board of Realtors, that foreign purchases of U.S. homes had their biggest drop ever. Purchases by international buyers totaled $121 billion for the fiscal year ended in March, down from $153 billion the previous fiscal year.

Most of the international buyers are concentrated in the very upscale areas of the country like Manhattan, Seattle, San Francisco, Miami and Orange County, Cal., so luxury property buyers in these areas will be happy.

There are many Chinese buyers for these properties who are pulling back because of restrictions from the Chinese government allowing only $50,000 to be taken out of the country. In addition, banks in China are required to report what the money is being used for and buying real estate is not one of the approved reasons. Also, Canadian buyers, many of whom purchase second home in Florida, are pulling back in recent years, primarily because of the strength of the U.S. dollar.

Even though our market seems to keep rolling along, generally a declining real estate market or even one that goes sideways is not good for the economy in general. Housing contributes about 15 to 18 percent of gross domestic product to the economy and a fickle real estate market impacts home improvement spending, construction and mortgage lending among other areas.

All real estate is local and for the moment, we’re in the perfect location.