Sarasota Property Market in the Pink of Health, Says Economist


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, January 29, 2019 – The real estate market of Sarasota and Manatee still looks on track towards rosy days in 2019, recent industry readings indicate.

Dr. Hank Fishkind, a noted Florida economist, said the Sarasota‒Manatee region will continue to attract new residents. This local influx, Fishkind added, shall be more than many other regions in the state which experienced a slowdown in population growth overall recently.

Resilient Economy

The economist, principal of the consultancy firm Fishkind & Associates, told a recent meeting of the Bradenton Area Economic Development Council (EDC) that the economy of the two-county area “is more resilient.” Fishkind likewise observed that the overall U.S. economy is still holding “a good amount of momentum,” citing the country’s sustained job growth of over 200,000 positions monthly.

A 2018 report shows that the Sarasota‒Manatee region shares much of these gains. The area exhibited one the highest positive growth in employment in the country between August 2013 and August 2018, as per a review by 24/7 Wall Street. This financial media company based in Delaware noted that the Sarasota‒Manatee area registered an increase of 15.9 percent or 48,037 new jobs during the five-year period.

Breaking it down, professional services led the growth with 12,400 jobs added, followed by leisure and hospitality service with 9,500 and 8,500 jobs, respectively. The region’s unemployment rate as of August 2018 declined to 3.6 percent from 7 percent. In August 2013.

Magnetic Quality of Life

At the Bradenton EDC forum, Fishkind also projected that communities in the region, like Lakewood Ranch, will continue to attract new residents because of the superb quality of life that they provide. Indeed, an industry survey around mid-2018 identified Lakewood Ranch among the top 10 fastest growing communities in the U.S. The potential for real estate sales growth in the future multiplies with the unprecedented construction boom in downtown Sarasota and the forthcoming redevelopment of the city-owned 42 acres on Sarasota’s bayfront.

Already, the impact of ongoing local building projects is being manifested in robust turnover of Manatee and Sarasota homes for sale. According to recent estimates from the Florida Realtors, the combined Sarasota‒Manatee residential property market’s growth continues to outpace most of the state’s other region. The trade group reported that 2018 third quarter sales in our local market rose 5.1 percent for single family homes and 12.8 percent for condos and townhouses.

Affordability Hurdle

The fly-in-the ointment though in the Manatee‒Sarasota real estate market is the affordability issue. The cost of housing in the area remains a constraint for average-income households (median annual earnings of $56,817) to buy a home. In Sarasota, the median home price of $290,000 is slightly above the U.S. median sales price of $272,300.

A little relief though looms as a possibility in 2019. The inventory of homes on the market which has been tightening in recent years has already eased up a bit. As more sales listings come in and inventory grows further, downward pressure comes overall on home prices. In the Sarasota‒Manatee real estate market, this looks like the trend, with single family home prices at end-2018 down by nearly 7 percent, while prices for condos and townhouses slid 34 percent compared with the 2017 level.