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'SLOW BUT STEADY' Rising property values come as home sales are steadily climbing and retirees are once again moving to the region. On May 20, the Sarasota Association of Realtors released statistics showing that April 2014 saw the second highest number of home sales in the county's history. A total of 1,195 transactions occurred during that month. "That figure was topped only by the 1,223 sales reported a decade ago, in April 2004, just preceding the real estate boom that saw rapid price escalation," said a press release from the Sarasota Association of Realtors (SAR). In April 2014, 759 single-family home sales closed, and 436 condo sales were completed. Those totals were higher than March's figures, (698 and 352, respectively) and last April's totals (703 and 429, respectively). In addition to the ongoing spring surge, dis- tressed property sales have remained far below the levels the county experienced four years ago, indications of a market returning to historic norms, according to the SAR press release. In April 2014, 16.6 percent of trans- actions were short sales or foreclosure sales, compared to 22 percent in April 2013. The biggest contributor to the drop in distressed properties changing hands was a significant decrease in short sales, with only 45 regis- tered this April compared to 107 last April. "I don't think it's a secret that our market bot- tomed around 2010," Coldwell Banker realtor Catherine Seress told the News Leader. "Since then, there has been across greater Sarasota a slow but steady increase in property sale prices of about 5 to 6 percent every year." Seress, who tracks the movement of home sales in the Sarasota area, says she is seeing fewer investors and more traditional buy- ers, such as retirees, including some people choosing to head south after this "horrendous winter." One important statistic, however, has been largely static, according to the SAR data. The overall inventory of properties, considered one of the best indications of housing mar- ket health, has not changed much over the past year. (See the accompanying graphics.) Overall, housing inventory actually increased nearly 13 percent from April 2013 to this April. The number of condo units on the market declined to a 4.7-month supply in April 2014, compared to a 5-month supply in April 2013. The inventory of single-family homes, how- ever, was up slightly, at the 5.3-month mark, compared to a 4.6-month supply in April 2013. Experts consider a six-month supply a healthy one. Although inventory has remained mostly flat, a good indication of a real estate recovery is that individual properties are staying on the market for less time, Seress pointed out. Residential properties are selling after an average of 75 days, compared to 89 days on the market last April, according to the SAR data. Condos, meanwhile, are staying on the market an average of 94 days compared to 101 last April. % Sarasota News Leader June 6, 2014 Page 38

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