Today Show: Sarasota #1 Place to Buy a Home

Add this as the latest in the bewildering flurry of confusing and contradictory information about the Sarasota real estate market. According to Today Show Real Estate Expert Barbara Corcoran, Sarasota is the number one place in the country to buy a home.

“Sarasota, Florida is probably what is a symbol of the worst real estate market in the country.”

– Barbara Corcoran

The reason she cites is all about market timing. According to Ms. Corcoran, prices fell one-third in 2008 and are rising rapidly — up 12% this year.

Now I’m not sure where Ms. Corcoran is getting her data, but perhaps she has failed to factor in the pending foreclosures in Sarasota County, which some speculate to number above 7,000! Of those, more than 5000 have yet to even hit the markets. And the other big unknown: what will the impact of the Option ARM resets be when they really begin to escalate in 2010 and 2011?

As I’ve said before, I have friends in the real estate business (and related industries) around here who constantly feed me information about what’s going on. And I must say, the numbers are so loaded with spin by the time they make their way into the public eye that it’s impossible to interpret them accurately.

Ultimately, like any investment, if you’re thinking about purchasing real estate in Sarasota, you need to do your own research and be prepared for the risks you face.

Also Barbara Corcoran’s list: (#2) San Francisco, CA, (#3) Lansing, MI, (#4) Marietta, GA, (#5) Grand Rapids, MI, (#6) St. Petersburg, FL, (#7) Naperville, IL, (#8) Trenton, NJ, (#9) St. Louis, MO, (#10) Saginaw, MI.

Is this encouraging for Sarasota real estate owners? You be the judge.

Sarasota Real Estate Outlook

The Sarasota real estate market continues to be something I’m paying close attention to.  Why?  Very simply: our local economy is inextricably tied to what this market is doing.  When the housing market started to tank locally, it was the first domino in a long line.  As inventory levels (representing the number of single family homes and condominiums listed as “for sale”) have climbed, construction and other business sectors related to housing have all dived.

So, a couple of recent tidbits from Perry Corneau represent good news.  First, inventory levels are at their lowest in two and a half years.  This is great news, and I can anecdotally attest that I’m seeing fewer for sale signs.  What’s unclear to me is exactly what this represents…

  • Is sales volume actually up?
  • Are more banks in possession of properties now? If so, it seems to me that they’ve not been good at marketing the properties they own.  And when foreclosure occurs (as opposed to short sales), these properties wouldn’t appear in the MLS anyway.
  • Have sellers given up on moving properties as prices have declined?

Another piece of good news: prices are still higher than they were 5 years ago.  In 2003, the market was still on a major upswing, but of course the highest prices were 2-3 years later.

Based upon numerous conversations with those keeping their eye on the market, here are my predictions: prices will continue to drop and volume will begin to surge.  For how long?  I’m not sure, but it seems to me that the “bottom” of this market hasn’t quite yet been reached — at least in terms of pricing.  There are a few investors who are starting to dip their toes into the water, but the buying frenzy that I expect isn’t here yet.

The best thing that can happen for this market is for transaction volume to increase.  This will help prices bottom out sooner rather than later.

And… in the interest of full disclosure… I currently do not have any property on the market.  😉

Sarasota Real Estate Market: Rebounding or Not?

Ever the optimists, Real Estate brokers always manage to locate a silver lining… no matter how far and how hard they have to look.  And, with a number of friends and business associates connected to the real estate business, I certainly am personally hopeful that their optimism has its roots firmly cemented in reality.

But alas, this is not always the case.

Take, for example, the blog published by Michael Saunders & Company.  Here’s a great example of a company reaching as deeply as it can for data — any data — to support the notion that somehow the market is on its way back to normal.  Is their data pulled from the number of transactions in the MLS, you ask?  Perhaps it’s based upon some newfound trend in the tax rolls?


In fact, it’s taken from their Google Analytics account.  Yes, that’s right folks.  Now we’re basing the real estate outlook for Sarasota on the performance of Michael Saunders’ website according to the ever-so-reliable folks at Google.

Now… don’t get me wrong.  I’m a big fan of Google.  Chances are you’re here thanks to one of the many Google searches that we rank well on.  But… as we know, their analytics package — feature-rich though it may be — is fraught with inaccuracies.  And… even if it were 100% accurate, the Michael Saunders blog post smacks of a self-congratulatory webmaster more than it does market realities in the real estate business.  After all, our traffic is way the heck up, too!  Doesn’t say anything about the consulting business, though…

But… I digress.  (By the way, business is better than ever!  Not a touch of whining here!)

What Michael and gang aren’t really interested in pointing out is the simple fact that, by every measure, the housing crisis is only deepening.  Even if transactions are up, prices are down.  And this is based on real data from none other than Standard & Poor. Granted, the data are not local to Florida.  But then, we the unwashed don’t have ready access to the data for our market.  This is part of the classic information asymmetry associated with buying and selling real estate.  Your broker knows more than you do.  Perhaps someone with readily-analyzed data would be willing to step forward and comment.

In the meantime, I’m going back to my web analytics to look for more optimism…