More Stable Sarasota Real Estate Market Seen on New Foreclosure Measures


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, May, 6, 2013 – Further stability in the home market in Florida is expected should State Governor Rick Scott sign a bill laying the groundwork for a speedier disposition of foreclosure cases. The Florida legislature approved the measure recently with a 26-13 vote in the Senate and an 87-26 vote in the House. The office of the governor is now reviewing the measure, and earlier indications are that Governor Scott will sign it.

The proposed legislation, among other provisions, reduces to one year from five years the length of time for banks to recover from ex-homeowners the mortgage balance on their foreclosed homes. It also provides systems requiring homeowners to speedily respond to foreclosure filings and concerned non-mortgage holders, such as homeowners’ associations, to push foreclosure cases.

Foreclosures remain high in the Sunshine State

Notably, Florida led in U.S. foreclosure filings in recent months with an estimated 352,890 cases filed statewide. In the judicial circuit for Sarasota, Manatee, and DeSoto alone, the estimate of filings was placed at 15,581. Proponents of the legislation, which also gained the support of realtor groups, have expressed disappointment over these high foreclosure levels, saying that such aberrations stymie the further improvement in Florida’s home market.

Since last year, the state’s real estate industry has been manifesting strong signs of recovery as seen in increased new home construction, declining inventory, and rising prices. Industry observers noted that the shadow inventory created by the high foreclosure filings can dampen price gains as foreclosed properties coming into the market are generally priced lower. What can conceivably happen, they said, is that prospective home sellers will be discouraged from placing their properties on the market due to the downward push on prices.

Robust growth for Sarasota homes for sale

Nevertheless, realtors in Sarasota have yet to feel whatever adverse effect the shadow inventory from foreclosed properties may have this year. The Sarasota Association of Realtors (SAR) reported that this March, there were only 398 properties in the MLS listed as foreclosures or short sales, a level 29% lower than February’s. This level represented 10.9% of the total available Sarasota homes for sale in March 2013, down from its 11.3% share in February and its 17% slice in January 2012.

In terms of sales, distressed properties accounted for some 30% of total sales for this March, up marginally from the 27.5% registered in February, but dramatically lower than the 51% clip recorded in the 2010 fourth quarter.

Median sale prices up

Sales Chart

Meanwhile, significant gains in median home prices were also achieved in March. The median sales price for single family homes for the month hit $210,000, the highest mark since August 2008. The median condo sale price likewise was substantially better at $182,000 for March 2013 compared to $127,000 in July 2010.

Overall, SAR members generated sales of 628 single family homes and 259 condo units for March 2013. In February, Sarasota realtors sold 504 single family homes and 229 condominium units, for an aggregate March increase of 21% on a month-to-month basis and a 6.1% advance year-over-year.