Real Estate Report

The Local Condo Market Currently Favors Buyers

But single-family home prices are holding steady.

By Kim Doleatto April 23, 2024

The median sale price of a Sarasota County home is $515,000; in Manatee County, it's $498,805, according to the latest report.

Image: Kim Doleatto

It’s no fluke: the uptick in more real estate inventory,and median days to contract is holding. But prices that might ordinarily drop in response are barely ticking down—especially in the case of single-family homes, according to March and 2024 first-quarter data by the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee.

Compared to last March, the median price of single-family homes in Sarasota County is only down by 2.5 percent, from $528,013 to $515,000. Meanwhile, single-family home median prices in Manatee County, now $498,805, show an increase of 1.4 percent compared to last March, the median price was $491,988.

Among condos and townhomes in Sarasota County, the median price has dipped by almost 9 percent, from $423,245 last March to $385,775 a year later. In Manatee, the median price dropped by almost 3 percent and is now $342,988, compared to $353,000 in March 2023.

In good news for buyers, inventory is up across all home types and in both counties, giving them lots more options to choose from. The month’s supply of inventory (MSI) is now at 5.3 months in Sarasota County, up from 3.1, last March, representing an increase of 71 percent and reaching the same level as March 2019. In Manatee, the MSI is 4.1 months compared to 3 months last March, an increase of 37 percent. 

The benchmark for a balanced market—favoring neither buyer nor seller—is 5.5 months of inventory, according to Florida Realtors. It's a milestone condos and townhomes have now superseded, tipping that segment of real estate into a buyer's market. In fact, the MSI for condos and townhomes in Sarasota skyrocketed by 106.1 percent compared to March last year and is now at 6.8 months of inventory. In Manatee County, te MSI s up by 73 percent, to 6.4 months of inventory.

The first quarter of 2024 showed even more significant leaps, highlighting that inventory grew 64.6 percent for single-family homes and 91 percent for townhomes and condos across both counties since the first quarter of 2023.

“It’s a more favorable market for buyers now," says local realtor Kristina Bregu of Corcoran Dwellings. "Sellers need more staging, and marketing and are seeing much longer times to closing."

“I’m seeing more price decreases to attract offers, and I’m also seeing more homes going to contract but getting bumped back to the market when something doesn’t work out," she continues. "I feel like sellers are now realizing there are no more bidding wars and they have to be more strategic.” 

The data tells a similar story. March’s median time to contract in Sarasota County was 40 days for single-family homes, a year-over-year increase of 60 percent. In Manatee County, median time to contract increased by 11 percent, to 51 days.

“During the Covid years, contingencies were waived," Bregu says. "Now everyone is increasing the inspection period and taking more time to review things. Appraisals are taking longer, too."

Condos, in particular, are seeing more than double the median time to contract compared to last year. The time to contract in Sarasota County is now at 51 days, up from 18 days in March 2023—an increase of 183.3 percent. In Manatee County, time to contract increased by 134.8 percent, to 54 days for townhomes and condos, compared to 23 days in March 2023.

“With all the options, buyers are more picky now," Bregu explains. "They want credits and negotiation. Having inspections done before listing helps, so there’s time to hire a professional and fix things beforehand to save on money and time. The chances of [a home] going back on the market are now higher while time is wasted fixing things during the closing period. If the work requires a permit or a crew, it can significantly delay your sale."

Our region isn't a flash in the pan. The condo market is behaving similarly across the state, with prices starting to drop and more people trying to sell, according to a recent report by Redfin. Natural disasters, increases in home insurance prices along with homeowner association (HOA) fees are being blamed. The price of insuring a Florida home shot up by 40 percent in 2023 alone, Redfin reported. Predictions about harsher hurricane seasons due to climate change are also looming.

Some condo associations have also increased assessments—or monthly fees—to build up reserve funds or complete repairs ahead of the new legislation following the fatal collapse of the Champlain Towers in Surfside. If a building contains at least three habitable stories, a “milestone inspection” is now required once the building reaches 30 years old. Another milestone inspection is then required every 10 years after that. 

The associations will be responsible for the costs arising from the milestone inspections, and structural integrity reserve studies must be completed at least every 10 years after the condominium’s creation, with the initial study completed by Dec. 31 of this year. After that deadline, an association may no longer vote to waive or underfund its reserves, and unit owners won't be able to opt out. 

In fact, in some cases, it’s more challenging to secure a condo mortgage than a single-family home mortgage because lenders require borrowers to have enough money to cover often-growing HOA dues—and also take into consideration the financial health of the condo building before writing a loan. 

It would seem, however, that well-located, newly built condos are still in high demand, with several projects in the pipeline in downtown Sarasota alone. And sales remain healthy, if not quite as high as last year: March showed 1,453 closed sales for single-family homes across Sarasota and Manatee, an 8.2 percent decrease from the same time last year. Closed sales for condos decreased by less than 1 percent, to 686 sales.

Bregu says sellers will have more luck if they price their property right at the beginning. "You’ll get momentum to start with," she says. "You have to be realistic now. If homes that cost less than yours aren't moving, you probably have to drop the price."

"Sellers aren't in a hurry to do that," she says. "But the sooner they understand it, the faster their home will sell."

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