Sarasota Home Sales Climb

Sarasota, featuring pristine beaches and a strong arts community, may lead the state out of its real estate slowdown.

The Sarasota Association of Realtors recently reported that October sales were 36 percent higher than October 2008, making Sarasota one of the top growth cities on Florida's west coast.

Total sales in October were 574, which included 419 single-family homes and 155 condos. That compared to 364 residential sales a year ago.

Economists and the Florida Association of Realtors are optimistic Sarasota could continue this momentum as snowbirds -- seasonal residents and visitors -- shop real estate values and as home prices slowly start to rebound. Inventories of new and resale homes are falling.

The $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers is helping the market, Realtors say. On Nov. 6, the government extended the tax credit and changed it to include "move up" homebuyers.

Another indicator making Realtors hopeful: Pending sales. Pending sales are transactions where an offer has been accepted, but the sale hasn't yet closed. They were more than 800 per month, for eight out of 10 months this year, compared to pending sales of 400 to 500 a month for most of the past two years.

Despite the sales increase, home prices in some neighborhoods are still down compared to a year ago and need to rebound, Realtors say.

Writer: Dave Szymanski

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