Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Local Real Estate Sales Rise

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Local Real Estate Sales Rise

Article excerpt

MORE THAN $1 BILLION: 3 counties' sales up 20% over 2011 in two months

Real estate sales regionally surged to more than $1 billion during the first two months of 2012, a gain of one-fifth over last year.

Sales totaled $1.05 billion for the year's initial two months in Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties, a 20 percent jump compared with $874 million during the same period of 2011, county records show.

"I think it kind of comes back to the same story, the resumption of the flow of retirees and what kind of retirees are attracted to Southwest Florida," said University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith.

That resumption is critical, because the region lost tens of billions of dollars in real estate wealth during the downturn.

This new round of retirees "is bringing back wealth that was lost," Snaith said.

The sales figures are based on a state 0.7 percent documentary stamp tax on deeds, data for which was released Wednesday. "Doc stamps," as they are commonly known, are collected on total prices of newly sold and conveyed property throughout Florida.

The jump in sales represents yet another indication that Southwest Florida's real estate recovery has caught up to, or even surpassed, the state's. Until now, many parts of the state have experienced a better economic resurgence than Southwest Florida, where traditionally high unemployment and home foreclosures have hampered growth.

Statewide, $17.4 billion worth of property changed hands in January and February, a 7 percent increase.

The state's top metropolitan areas saw much bigger jumps in sales during the first two months of the year than Southwest Florida, however.

Total real estate sales in Miami-Dade County topped $3 billion, a 27 percent increase, while sales in Hillsborough County eclipsed $1 billion, for a 30 percent increase.

The taxes came as a pleasant surprise for the cash-strapped state government, which took in $9 million more in February and $10 million more in January than forecast by state economists.

In the last 12 months, real estate sales in Sarasota County were $3. …

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