Saw this article last week and thought I’d pass it along. Florida has been hit hard by the economic and housing crises, and Sarasota hasn’t been exempt, but it isn’t all gloom and doom. Laurel Park residents know they live in a special place, and apparently the word is getting out.
by Duane Marsteller
Tax credits? What tax credits?
The Bradenton-Sarasota housing market showed no ill effects from the expiration of federal homebuyer tax credits, with sales of previously occupied homes hitting their highest point since the building boom, according to figures released Thursday.
A total of 1,068 existing single-family homes changed hands in June, the most since August 2005, the Florida Realtors trade association said. It also was the fourth consecutive month of 1,000-plus sales, something that also hasn’t happened in five years.
“That’s just absolutely phenomenal,” said Cindy Greco, the Manatee Association of Realtors’ president and an agent with Wagner Realty.
June’s figure was 3.8 percent higher than May’s 1,029 sales, Florida Realtors said. The June tally was even better than a year ago, when 789 homes changed owners.
Local prices also were up, but not by as much. The median sales price — the point where half sold for more and half for less — was $170,400 last month, up from $166,400 in May and $162,700 in June 2009, according to the trade group.
The data reflects closings, which usually occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are signed.
Thus, the June figures captured some buyers receiving federal tax credits of up to $8,000 that boosted home sales this year. Buyers had until April 30 to have signed sales contracts and initially had to close their purchases by June 30, but now have until Sept. 30 thanks to a last-minute extension by Congress.
While the credit helped spur sales locally, Greco said low prices and historically low mortgage interest rates were bigger factors behind the June sales lift. Home prices have fallen as foreclosures, short sales and distressed properties continue to dominate the market.
“This is our new normal,” Greco said. “Good sales, good prices that people can afford.”