SW Florida Events, Activities and Information

There are always things going on in and around SW Florida.  Check back here often for the latest news!

Aug. 28, 2020

Summertime Treat for Local Car Enthusiasts

Golf Lakes - a great collection of Classic Cars

Earlier this year we had the pleasure of attending the Classic Car Parade and Show at Golf Lakes in Bradenton.  We met some of the nicest folks we had ever encountered at a car show.  And the food was terrific!  But the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic totally disrupted our plans to publish the many photos we captured at this wonderful event.  Our vendors' operations were adversely affected by the subsequent shutdown so we were never able to get them printed. 

With the majority of car shows being cancelled due to the pandemic, we thought we would share these photos to brighten your day and to take your mind off the heat!  To view the pictures, simply click this link.  

We do hope you enjoy the photos.  And please be sure to share this link with your fellow Classic Car enthusiasts!

Posted in Events
Aug. 25, 2020

July 2020 Real Estate Trends

Real Estate Markets in Manatee and Sarasota Counties in Full Recovery Mode during July

Sales of all property types in both Manatee and Sarasota Counties rose significantly last month.  Prices increased modestly while Discounting decreasing slightly.  Sales velocity generally picked up in both counties during this period.  But most significantly, Inventory levels have fallen to drastically new low levels during this same period.

Single Family Home Sales Post Healthy Gains

Sales of Single Family Homes in Manatee County grew by 26.7% over July of 2019 posting sales of 774 units.  Sarasota County was not far behind with a handsome increase of 21.9% with 978 units being sold.  Pricing grew as well with the Median Sale Price of Single Family homes reported as $358,963, a 10.5% increase over last year.  Sarasota County saw price gains as well with the Median Sale Price coming in at $327,250, an increase of 12.8% over the same period last year.

Discounting moderated in both counties with the Median Percentage of Original List Price Received increasing by a mere .9% in Manatee County to 96.8% and only .8% in Sarasota County where prices paid were 96.3% of Original List Price.

Sales Velocity increased dramatically in both counties during July.  The Median Time to Contract in Manatee County was just 37 days, down from 53 days last July representing a decrease of 30.2%.  Similar results were seen in Sarasota County with properties remaining on the market on 41 days, down from 58 days in July of 2019, a decrease of 29.3%.

But it is inventory that continues to hold sway over the markets.  The number of Active Listings dropped precipitously in Manatee (30.2% decrease) and Sarasota (34.0% decrease) Counties.  But the decrease in inventory can only be fully appreciated by translating these results into Months Supply of Inventory.  Doing so reveals that the number of Single Family Homes currently listed represents only a 2.3 month supply in Manatee County and a 2.4 month supply in Sarasota county.  This means that the supply of existing Single Family Homes in both counties is nearing a Sold Out position.

You can review the full reports by clicking on the appropriate graphics.

Sales of Condos and Townhouses Post Strong Results

Surprisingly, Sales of Condo/Townhouse properties in Sarasota County outstripped the pace of Single Family Homes during July.  Sarasota County recorded 398 units sold during the period, an increase of 30.5% over last July.  Manatee County saw far less activity with only 276 units sold, but this still accounted for a healthy 16.5% increase over July of 2019.

Prices increased modestly during July as the Median Sale Price for these property types was $220,000 in Manatee County, an increase of 15.2% over last year.  The Median Sale Price in Sarasota County was $240,000 and represented an increase of 7.1% over last year.  Discounting also moderated here with the Median Percentage of Original List Price Received rising by.7% and .6% in Manatee and Sarasota Counties respectively.

But Sales Velocity was a mixed picture for these property types during July.  The Median Time to Contract rose in Manatee County to 64 days, up from 57 days last year, a 12.3% increase.  But the pace was faster in Sarasota County with the Median Time to Contract decrease by 6.3% over July of 2019 to 74 days.

Decreases in available inventory was also prevalent for the Condo/Townhouse properties during July.  Active Listings fell by 4.0% in Manatee County to just 799 properties while Sarasota County reported a drop of 11.5% of these property types.  While not as dramatic as Single Family Homes, the Months Supply of Inventory dropped to new lows with Sarasota County posting only a 4 month supply (a decrease of 18.4%) and Manatee County reporting a mere 3.6 months supply.

Remember, you may view the full reports by clicking on the appropriate graphic.

Sell High, Buy Higher

Two factors continue to dominate the market.  Inventory is reaching low levels not seen in our area  for sometime.  And 30-year fixed rate mortgages are now hovering around 3.0%. With home prices increasing, current homeowners can enjoy higher prices for their current home, but new home purchases can be made at lower rates of financing putting larger and more upgraded properties within reach.

We would be happy to discuss how these current market conditions can affect your your real estate plans.  So give us a call today at (941) 799-1234.

July 22, 2020

June 2020 Real Estate Trends

Manatee County Real Estate Market Recovers in June

Sarasota County reports sales weakness but inventory turns extremely tight in both counties

Sales of Single Family Homes in Manatee County last month rebounded with an increase of 7.2% over June of last year.  668 units were sold during the month in contrast to 768 units in Sarasota County, reflecting a decrease of 6.5% over the same period last year.  But the Median Sale Price of Single Family Homes in Sarasota County rose to $305,000 an increase of 5.2%.  Home prices increased in Manatee County as well during the period with the Median Sale Price of Single Family Homes rising to $325,000, a modest increase of 3.2% over last year.

Price discounting was also higher in Sarasota County in June with the Median Percentage of Original Price Received reported at 95.7% of list, an increase of 1.1% over June of 2019.  Discounting was far less prevalent in Manatee County however, as the prices paid were 96.6% of list, a slim increase of .6% over June of last year.  But Sales Velocity exhibited a rather peculiar dynamic.  The Median Time to Contract in Manatee County had a dramatic increase over 2019 to 56 days.  And one would think with a sales decrease, Sarasota County would have a similar increase.  But in this case, this key statistic fell to 58 days in June, a decrease of 9.4% over June of 2019.

Inventory tightened dramatically in Sarasota County in June.  This was due to a 1.8% decrease in New Listings which saw the Inventory of Active Listings plummet to only 1,859 listings, a decrease of 33.7% over the same period last year.  New Listings actually increased by 11% in Manatee County, but the total of Active Listings still dropped by a significant 28.6%.  When translating these results into Months Supply of Inventory a pretty grim picture emerges.  As you recall, the market is considered to be at equilibrium with a 5 Months Supply of Inventory.  But Manatee County Inventory can sustain only 2.6 months of sales (a decrease of 27.8% over 2019) while Sarasota County had a 2.7 Months Supply of Inventory, a dramatic decrease of 35.7% over the same period last year.  This indicates that the markets for Single Family Homes in these two counties are approaching a "Sold Out" condition.

You may view the full reports by clicking on the appropriate graphic.

Similar Results seen in the Condo/Townhouse Market

Manatee CondosSales of Condo and Townhouse properties during June mirrored the results seen for Single Family Homes.  Sales of these properties increased in Manatee County to 250 units, a meager increase of 2.5% over last year.  However, sales of these property types fell in Sarasota County during the period to 334 units, a decrease of 2.9%.  But the good news for Condo/Townhouse owners is that the Median Sale Price increased in both counties during June.  The Median Sale Price of a Condo/Townhouse is Manatee County was $214,230 an increase of 7.7%.  Sarasota County recorded $249,990 in this statistic representing an increase of 6.8% over 2019.  

The Velocity of Sales of these property types exhibited similar results to those of Single Family Homes.  The Median Time to Contract in Sarasota County fell to 74 days, a decrease of 6.3% over June of last year.  But the Velocity became rather sluggish in Manatee increasing by 15.5% to 67 days.  Discounting was negligible in both counties decreasing by .3% and .1% in Manatee and Sarasota County respectively.

Sarasota CondosIt is on the supply side that the results for Condo/Townhouse properties diverted from the dynamics at play with Single Family Homes.  New Listings exploded in Sarasota County to 454 listings an increase of 51.8% over June 2019.  The increase in New listings in Manatee County were not as dramatic but remained a healthy 19.3% over the same period last year to a total of 260 listings.  Yet despite these increases in New Listings, the Inventory of Active Listings still fell with decreases of 9.4% and 14.2% recorded in Manatee and Sarasota Counties respectively.  And while not as dire as the results for Single Family Homes, the Months Supply of Inventory did fall to 3.8 months supply in Manatee County and 4.3 months supply in Sarasota County.

Remember, you review the complete reports by clicking on the appropriate graphic.

We are moving into markets characterized by inventory constraints

The market for Single Family Homes is problematic due to the widespread lack of inventory.  Prices are showing only moderate increases but that may change if the current trend of declining inventory persists.  This does not mean that all properties will sell.  Buyers are still being driven by value.  And armed with historically low interest rates, Buyers will select the most attractive properties even if they need to pay more.  So Buyers should be prepared to compete in multiple offer situations at least in the short term.  And sellers should do what they must in order to project the best value for their listing.  Both Buyers and Sellers are well advised to track market dynamics down to the neighborhood level and be prepared to move quickly in response to market demands. 

So if you are in the market and are looking for assistance, give us a ring today at (941) 840-2265.  We would be glad to help.

June 24, 2020

May 2020 Real Estate Trends

Sales Are Down But Inventory Continues to Dwindle

Sales of all property types declined across both Manatee and Sarasota Counties during May.  But the decrease in the Inventory level of existing Single Family Homes in Manatee and Sarasota Counties and Condo/Townhouse properties in Sarasota County conspired to keep prices firm.

No Surprises for Single Family Homes

As expected, May was another down month for sales of Single Family Homes in Manatee and Sarasota Counties.  Only 445 properties closed during May representing a 38.7% decline over May 2019 when 726 properties closed.  Sarasota County reported even worse results with 562 properties closing against a total of 959 properties closing a year ago.  This represents a whopping 41.4% decrease over the same period last year.

Curiously however, Sales Velocity actually decreased.  On average, Single Family Homes in Manatee County went under contract within 39 days of being listed, that's a 22% decrease over May 2019.  Sarasota County saw even more dramatic results with properties being updated to pending status within 32 days after listing, a drop of 42.9% over the same period last year.  

Pricing during this period remained relatively stable with the Median Sale Price of Single Family Homes inching up 1.6% to $325,000.  Sarasota County experienced a slight decrease in price during this time with the Median Sale Price dropping by 2.4% to $297,995.  Discounting edged up slightly by 1.0% and 1.6% in Manatee and Sarasota Counties respectively.

But the big news continues to be on the supply side.  The current health crisis has generally discouraged sellers from listing their properties at the same rate as last year.  New Listings for Single Family Homes in Manatee County dropped by 11.7% in May while Sarasota experienced a decrease of 6.6%.  The Inventory of Actively Listed properties dropped by a dramatic 20.8% in Manatee County and Sarasota County saw their inventory of Single Family Homes for sale drop by 25.1%.  This had a corresponding effect on Months Supply of Inventory.  This measure fell by 21.1% to a mere 3.0 month supply in Manatee County and a 28.9% decline to 3.2 months supply in Sarasota County.  

You may view the full reports by clicking on the appropriate graphic.

Seasonality Continues to Affect Condo/Townhouse Sales

Sales of Condo/Townhouse properties precipitously declined in both Manatee and Sarasota Counties due in large measure to a combination of Seasonality and the current pandemic.  Only 150 Townhouse and Condos were sold in Manatee County during May, representing a catastrophic 49.2% decrease over May of 2019. Things weren't much better in Sarasota County where Closed Sales decreased by 47.0% over last year to a total of only 242 units.

Yet prices remained relatively firm in the face of these declines.  The Median Sale Price of these property types actually inched up 1.6% to $241,750 in Sarasota County, but increased by a healthy 9.5% in Manatee County to $229,950.

Sales Velocity was another bright spot in the overall picture of the market in May.  The Median Time to Contract fell over Last year's results by 35.9% and 33.8% in Manatee and Sarasota Counties respectively during May.  

The supply side was a bit of a mixed bag however.  In Manatee County, the number of New Listings increased over the levels seen in 2019 by 7.8%, increasing the number of Condo/Townhouse properties by a slight .6% increase.  But this did increase the Number Months Supply of Inventory in Manatee County by 4.8% to level off at a 4.4 months supply.

The opposite dynamic was seen in Sarasota County where the number of New Listing during May fell by 15% over May of 2019.  This drop had a corresponding decrease in the Months Supply of Inventory to only a 4.5 months supply, a decrease of 21.1% over the same period last year.

Here again you can view the entire reports by clicking on the appropriate graphic.

What Does This All Mean? 

Despite the gloom and doom messaging in the media, properties are continuing to sell during this period.  With few exceptions, Sales Velocity and Inventory are decreasing at a moderate rate, not the sort of results you would expect during a period of crisis.  The reasons for this are many.  Housing, like food, is a basic human need and will continue to be sought after despite periods of uncertainty.  Interest rates are decreasing rapidly with some annual rates for 30 year fixed mortgages dipping below 3.0% recently. 

So if you are in the market, or only thinking about it, give us a ring today at (941) 840-2265.  We would be happy to navigate these times to help you achieve your real estate goals.

Stay safe.  And have a happy and healthy 4th of July! 

May 29, 2020

April 2020 Real Estate Trends

Despite The COVID-19 Pandemic, Manatee and Sarasota County Home Prices Remain Surprisingly Firm

April is the first month where the full impact of the current COVID-19 health crisis was felt on the housing marketing in Manatee and Sarasota Counties and indeed across the nation.

Sales of Single Family Homes Were Down While Median Sale Prices Increased

As expected, due to the country-wide lockdown, sales of Single Family Homes were down 21.2% in Manatee County and 20.3% in Sarasota County compared to April of last year.  Sales were stronger in Sarasota County with 632 units sold with only 499 units sold during the month in Manatee County.  The corresponding Dollar Volume of Sales was also higher in Sarasota County coming in at $275.3 million versus $202.9 million recorded in Manatee County.  But the good news for sellers is that the Median Sale Price of these homes actually increased by a healthy 7.9% in Manatee County and 8.0% in Sarasota County.  The Median Sale Price of Single Family Homes sold during April in Sarasota County was $313,250 up from $290,000 during the same period last year.  Manatee County saw a Median Sale Price of $340,000 versus $315,000 during April 2019.  Also rather surprisingly, Sales Velocity actually increased during this time.  The Median Time to Contract was 26 days in Manatee County, down a whopping 45.8% over April 2019.  The increased velocity was also evident in Sarasota County, but to a lesser degree, with properties going under contract in 33 days, a decrease of 40% over last year.  Discounting also dropped during April with the Median Percentage of Original Price Received increased by 1.3% in Manatee County while this measure increased by 2.2% in Sarasota County.

On the supply side, the number of Active Listings fell dramatically in April with decreases of 15.6% and 23.6% reported respectively in Manatee and Sarasota Counties.  This had a significant impact on the Months Supply of Inventory.  Despite sales being down, fewer new listings appeared during April which in turn drove down the number of Months Supply of Inventory.  These decreases were incredible, with Manatee Inventory level dropping to only a 3.3 Month Supply (a decrease of 17.5% over April 2019) and 3.5 Month Supply in Sarasota County, a 30% decrease over last year! 

A you can view the full report by clicking on the appropriate graphic.

Sales of Condo and Townhouse Properties Fell in Tandem with Single Family Homes Sales

Decreases in Sales of Townhouses and Condos were also seen throughout Manatee and Sarasota Counties during April.  Closed Sales for this property type fell by 30.9% over April 2019 in Manatee County, while during the same period these sales fell by 29.3% in Sarasota County.  But whereas the Median Sale Price increased by 7.9% in Manatee County, prices were virtually flat in Sarasota County recording a 0.4% decrease during April.  Sales velocity increased across both Manatee and Sarasota Counties but with the latter enjoying a much faster rate.  The Median Time to Contract fell by 4.7% to 41 Days in Manatee County, but this same statistic declined to only 38 days in Sarasota County, a dramatic decrease of 34.5%.

Supply was similarly affected during April for these property types.  The number of New Listings fell by a dramatic 44.1% in Manatee County.  New Listings also decreased in Sarasota County with only 282 new Condo/Townhouse properties being listed during April, a decrease of 33.8%.  This scarcity of New Listings drove down the number of Active Listings by 4.7% and 19.0% in Manatee and Sarasota County respectively.  The result was a decrease in Months Supply of Inventory of 6.4% in Manatee County (4.4 Months Supply) and an eye-popping 25.8% in Sarasota County, which now stands at 4.6 Months Supply.

Remember, you can view the entire reports for each county by clicking on the appropriate graphic.

Remember: There Are Two Sides To The Equation

When considering a decision to buy and/or sell real estate, both Demand and Supply need to be considered.  These two variables are inversely proportional, meaning that they tend to move in opposite directions.  When Supply goes down, demand rises.  While sales were notably down during April, as you can see from the data, there was also a decrease in the number of New Listings with a corresponding decrease in overall Supply.  So we submit that the strength of the market in Manatee and Sarasota Counties is concealed by this temporary decrease in demand.  Price discounting is decreasing and Sales Velocity is increasing despite price increases due in part to a lack of inventory (i.e., Supply).  And with the rate of 30-year fixed mortgages reaching 3.19% this week, we actually believe this is a terrific time to buy or sell!

We would be delighted to discuss your real estate plans and assist you in navigating these unprecedented times.  So give us a call today at (941) 840-2265. 

 

May 6, 2020

COVID-19 Impact on Real Estate

Home Prices Remain Surprisingly Stable During This Time of Crisis

We have been actively reporting on the monthly real estate markets in Manatee and Sarasota Counties for some time now.  But the COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on markets across the state and indeed across the country.  So this month, we thought it appropriate to share the following video by Dr. Brad O'Connor, Chief Economist for the Florida Association of Realtors (FAR).  In it, Dr. O'Connor provides insights into the results for February and March and suggests that forecasts for the market during the coming months remains murky.

We remind you that our team remains committed to assisting buyers and sellers during this challenging period.  Should you wish to discuss specifically how the current environment may impact your real estate plans, don't hesitate to give us a call at (941) 840-2265.  We are here to help.

Feb. 21, 2020

January 2020 Real Estate Trends

Explosive Growth In Sales Across Both Counties

Sales of existing Single Family Homes and Condo/Townhouse Properties saw dramatic growth in both Manatee and Sarasota County during the first month of 2020.  But the sales of Condos and Townhouses more than doubled those of Single Family Homes in both counties during this time period.  Prices continued to climb across both counties and property types.

A Virtual Tie Between Manatee and Sarasota Counties in the Sales of Single Family Homes

Closed Sales of Single Family Homes in Manatee County during January saw 410 units closed.  That's a 22.4% increase over January of 2019.  Sarasota County saw similar growth with 565 units closed for an increase of 22.8% over the same period last year.  But the Median Sale Price of Single Family Homes in Manatee County - $329,500 an increase of 6.6% - doubled that statistic in Sarasota County where the Median Sale Price was recorded as $296,000, an increase of 3.3% over January 2019.

Despite the increase in prices, sales velocity was markedly up.  The Median Time to Contract in Manatee was just 41 days, a drop of 19.6% over last January.  But sales velocity accelerated even more in Sarasota County during the month as  Median Time to Contract fell to 34 days, a drop of 24.4%.

On the supply side, New Listings fell in both counties.  Manatee County experienced a decrease of 3.7% while Sarasota County reported a drop of 13.7% - a result of the rapid acceleration in sales velocity for Single Family Homes during January.

But the effect of strong demand is most evident in the Inventory of Active Listings.  During January, the number of Active Listings fell by 16.3% to 1,973 listings in Manatee County.  The results in Sarasota County were even more dramatic with Active Listings recorded as 2,704 units, a drop of 23.8%.  Translating these results into Months Supply of Inventory, we find that Manatee County reports only a 3.4 months supply of existing Single Family Homes for Sale a whopping 22.7% decrease over last year.  And in Sarasota County the the Months Supply Inventory fell by 33.3% to a 3.6 months supply.  These results put the markets for Single Family Homes in both Manatee and Sarasota Counties as strong sellers markets.

You can view the full reports by clicking on the accompanying graphics.

Sales Of Condo/Townhouse Properties Grew By Close to 50%

The big story in January surrounds the sale of Condos and Townhouses.  Manatee County saw an increase of  47.7% in sales of these property types during the month.  But these results pale in comparison to the 57.8% increase over January 2019 seen in Sarasota County during January of 2020.  

Prices increased moderately during January for Condo/Townhouse Properties in Manatee County.  The Median Sale Price was reported as $210,000, up 7.7% over last year.  But the increase in prices in Sarasota County doubled that.  Sarasota County saw the Median Sale Price jump by15.4% over January 2019 to $277,000.  Sales velocity increased in both counties with the Median Time to Contract dropping to 50 days (a decrease of 12.3%) in Manatee County and 44 days ( a decease of 13.7%) in Sarasota County.

Inventory also continued to decrease in both counties during January.  The number of Active Listings in Manatee County fell slightly by 2.8% to 1,052 listings during January.  The decrease was more dramatic in Sarasota County with only 1,674 Condo and Townhouse Property listings, decrease of 18.9%.  But Sarasota County had a higher number of Months Supply of Inventory (4.9 months) than Manatee County (4.7%) during this period.  But Sarasota County saw a greater decrease in Months Supply of Inventory (19.7%) than in Manatee County (flat at 0.0%). 

Once again, you may review the full report by clicking on the appropriate graphic.

Three Important Words for the current Real Estate market - Supply, Supply, Supply

With the number of Active Listings falling across the board, there is a real possibility of buyers having a hard time finding a home.  Inventory constraints drive prices higher (remember the rules of Supply and Demand).   And in a market with increasing demand and shorter sales cycles, buyers would do well to aggressively search for properties now.  The good news is that the website you are viewing contains powerful tools to aid buyers in their search.  Best of all they are entirely free of charge!  So have a look and if your are interested in viewing any properties, give us a ring at (941) 840-2265.  We would be glad to help. 

Feb. 9, 2020

Bill Mergens Memorial Car and Truck Show - Spring 2020

Registration Now Open for the Spring 2020 Bill Mergens Memorial Car and Truck Show at Gamble Plantation.

Mark your calendars!

The Bill Mergens Memorial Car and Truck Show returns to Gamble Plantation on Sunday, March 22, 2020 at Gamble Plantation Historic State Park.  The event is open to all years, makes and models of cars, trucks and motorcycles.  Last Fall's event attracted over 350 enthusiasts from across the state and our Spring event promises to be bigger and better than ever!

Food will be provided by TK Grill and others while Music will be in the capable hands of the team from Lance's Cruizin' To The Hop.  The park opens for entrants at 8:00am and the registration desk opens at 9:00am.  The gates will be open to the general public starting at 10:00am.

Proceeds from this year's event will again go to the Gamble Plantation Preservation Alliance and S.O.L.V.E. Maternity Homes.

Two Ways to Register

Participants can register their vehicles in two ways:

  1. Online Registration - the show has been published on EventBrite where tickets may be purchased by clicking this link.  Each vehicle entered must be registered and paid for separately and a ticket must be produced for each.  The cost of online registration is $15 and is open until March 18.
  2. Mail-In Registration - you can also mail-in registration before March 18, 2020.  To download and print the registration form, simply click on the following graphic:Remember, registering before March 18 costs $15 per vehicle.  After March 18, registration must be purchased at the gate for $20 per vehicle.  As we anticipate a terrific turnout, we urge you to register as soon as possible.

Once again, all registrants will be provided with a picture of each vehicle taken in front of the iconic mansion.  Each photo will be professionally printed and mailed in a special commemorative folder courtesy of your friends at SW Florida Homes Group.

So get those registrations as soon as possible. We look forward to seeing you and your ride at the 'Plantation on March 22.

Posted in Events
Feb. 4, 2020

Florida Statewide Real Estate Trends

Results Underscore Strong Markets Across the State

We have recently reported the December 2019 results for Sales and Inventory of Single Family and Condo/Townhouse properties in Manatee and Sarasota Counties.  This week we thought you might enjoy hearing what Dr. Brad O'Connor of the Florida Association of Realtors (FAR) has to say about the real estate market across this state:

This underscores the strength of our local markets and should provide a stimulus for those looking to participate in the real estate market during 2020.

Jan. 24, 2020

Florida's Economy Is Growing

Expect Fla.’s Economy to Grow, Continue Strong in 2020

ORLANDO, Fla. – The U.S. economy continues to grow – and Florida’s economy is doing even better, outpacing the nation’s growth, according to economic experts who spoke to a crowd of more than 400 Realtors® at the 2020 Florida Real Estate Trends summit on Thursday during Florida Realtors Mid-Winter Business Meetings.

“We’re in the 11th year of the U.S. economic recovery – the longest economic recovery in U.S. history – and there are no indications that’s going to end any time soon,” said Dr. Sean Snaith, director of the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Forecasting. “The national unemployment rate is 3.5%. The labor market is strong by virtually any measure: The number of available jobs exceeds the number of people seeking them and jobs growth is strong.”

Florida’s economy is doing “even better than the national economy as a whole and it has been since 2012,” he said. “Our unemployment rate is down to 3.3%. Florida’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) continues to grow faster than the U.S.’s GDP, and our job growth rate is almost twice the national rate. Florida’s population growth is solid – the birth rates are better than the death rates, so we’re making new residents faster than we’re losing them.”

While the factors that fueled fears of a possible recession in 2020 have mostly faded, Snaith pointed out one area to keep an eye on: the U.S. debt, which now exceeds $23 trillion. Despite the high deficit, however, the U.S. continues to get the highest possible ratings on American bonds. He said that while he’s concerned with the amount of the debt, it’s the government’s ability to service that debt that really matters.

Snaith cited the economic crisis in Greece (which began in 2008) as an example, noting the cause was the country’s inability to service its sovereign debt owed to the European Union (EU). To avoid default on the debt, the EU loaned Greece enough money to continue its payments; now the repayments for that bailout will take decades.

He added that another factor that may be weighing on the economy and slowing expansion is the rapid growth of regulations. “Some regulations make sense,” Snaith explained, “but you have to weigh the benefit of the regulations against the cost. I think revisiting Dodd-Frank and other regulations make sense. To me, that is the secret sauce of economic growth.”

Providing an update on Florida’s residential real estate market, Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. Brad O’Connor agreed, and he anticipates a robust outlook for the state’s housing market. He noted that in-migration to Florida from other states remains strong, with the five top origin states being New York, Georgia, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, respectively. In fact, that in-migration to the Sunshine State helped to drive increased home sales in 2018, picking up the pace from a 9% drop in home purchases in the state by international buyers.

“It was exciting to see the almost 6% growth (5.9%) in closed single-family sales in 2019 from 2018,” O’Connor said. “Florida topped over $100 billion (total of “$101.9 billion) in volume in home sales last year, up 8.3% from 2018; for condo-townhouses, we reached $31.6 billion in volume, up 1.8% over the 2018 figure.”

Unfortunately, he added, new listings for single-family homes and condo-townhouse units remained tight in 2019, with single-family homes down 11.4% and condo-townhouse properties down 9.7% compared to 2018.

“My final point: The median sales price still continues to rise, but looking at what the monthly mortgage payment is, that’s still a lot lower due to current historically low mortgage rates,” O’Connor said. “And that continues to drive sales and makes it a good time to buy.

“Overall, I think we can expect to see a similar amount of price appreciation over the coming year, at about 4%, and I think we’ll see a similar amount of growth in closed sales for 2020 at about 4%.”

The event concluded with experts addressing supply-side dynamics for new construction and development. Moderated by Jennifer Quinn, economist and director of economic development for Florida Realtors, the panel included Kristine Smale, senior vice president, Meyers Research; Matt Orosz, president and owner, Hanover Family Builders; and Brad Fess, founder of NuDesign Builders.

According to Smale, the three main factors constraining the supply side of new house are: higher construction costs, which moderated slightly in 2019 but are expected to rise again in 2020; a shortage of labor – 2019 had the largest amount of construction job postings since the Great Recession; and a lack of available, affordable land supply.

“Far and away, for us, it’s land – land availability and all the intricacies involved with that,” Orosz said. “From our perspective, especially in Central Florida, what is holding back growth and the market is local land supply, impact fees and land costs.”

As a remodeler, Fess said they face a slightly different problem, and that’s finding in-fill lots in very developed areas or homes to remodel for clients who want a smaller “jewel-box” home that still has all the amenities and custom, high-end finishes.

The title sponsor for the 2020 Florida Real Estate Trends was the Realtors of Broward, Palm Beaches and St. Lucie; co-sponsors included the Orlando Regional Realtor Association; the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee; the Royal Palm Coast Realtor Association; the Realtors Association of Citrus County Inc.; and the Naples Area Board of Realtors®.

© 2020 Florida Realtors®