Home Market Boom Seen on Millenials’ Buying


The Southwest Florida region looks headed toward a housing market growth in 2015 approximating that of the pre-recession residential real estate boom but at more stable and sustainable conditions.

For all of 2014, sales of existing homes in Sarasota County already hit an all-time high of 11,550 closed deals, eclipsing the previous record of 11,482 set in 2004. Sales in Manatee County in 2014, on the other hand, tallied 7,976 closed transactions, just 28 short of the 2013 annual peak of 7,976.

Tailwinds from millennials’ shift

Home Market Boom Seen on Millenials’ Buying

Several developments have been observed recently which could further drive home sales higher in market hotspots like Manatee and Sarasota. One is the sustained increase in rental costs which is nudging millennials, those born from the early 1980s to early 2000s, towards homeownership.

According to data presented by online real estate resource Zillow in the June 2015 Miami conference of the National Real Estate Editors, rents have been rising in Sarasota-Bradenton by 5.7%. Separately, an estimate from the analytics firm RealtyTrac showed a 3% increase on average rental rates for three-bedroom residences in the 285 counties it analyzed in 2014.

Significantly, millennials are now a growing segment of the housing market, accounting for 32% of the U.S. home buyers in 2014, a jump from its 28% share in 2012, according to the National Association of Realtors (NRA). This professional group also noted that millennials now constitute the largest demographics of home buyers, having overtaken Generation X as the major market segment.

More first-time home buyers

Student debt, lack of down-payment financing, and delayed household formation, the oft-cited debacles for millennials’ home buying, are now being hurdled, albeit slowly, as the U.S. economy continues to improve, some analysts say. The U.S. economic improvement, which brings along better job prospects, manifested its positive impact on housing this February 2015.

The NRA noted that during this month, first-time buyers accounted for 29% of existing-home sales, up from January’s 28% and the first uptick since November 2014. What the market is seeing is real demand and not similar to the spurts experienced in the subprime home mortgage lending that largely contributed to the Great Recession, the analysts emphasize.

Further growth from first-time home buyers appears looming on the horizon. In the Zillow Housing Confidence Index released in March 2015, the renters who expect to buy rose to 5.2 million from 4.2 million a year ago. Industry observers expect the spikes to be sharper in market areas where job growth is strong, a forecast which bodes well for the North Port-Manatee-Sarasota region.

One leading Florida economist, Sean Snaith, reported in 2015 May that the unemployment rate in the three counties slipped to 5.3% in March from 6.1% a year earlier, a rate even slightly better than the 5.7% statewide. Snaith likewise noted that Sarasota counted among the top metros in the state in terms of job growth in 2014.

Propitiously, many homebuilders have been jockeying for position to supply Sarasota homes for sale suited to first-time home buyers. These include D.R. Horton and Maronda Homes which have opened new communities with affordably priced homes in Manatee and North Port, two likely epicenters in a new Florida housing boom.