Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

December a High Point for Big-Bucks Home Sales

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

December a High Point for Big-Bucks Home Sales

Article excerpt

SARASOTA LUXURY: In all, 47 properties go for upward of $1 million

SARASOTA

December was a monster month for Sarasota County luxury sales, with a total of 47 homes and condominiums selling for more than $1 million apiece. That was more sales than in any other month in 2012 - - including April and May, when luxury buying usually reaches its high point.

"We're getting back to the good old days," said Linda Dickinson, an agent with regional brokerage Michael Saunders & Co. who personally sold more than $40 million in high-end properties during 2012.

"The big change I see is the confidence level of buyers. The election is over. People have grown comfortable with the European fiasco and they have been watching this market."

Buyers are seeing inventory being absorbed, Dickinson said, and they see new construction occurring.

"They see a really healthy, balanced market," she said.

All told, December luxury sales totaled $85 million and the average price was $1.8 million. May, with 44 sales totaling $80.4 million, was the only month to come close. Election year politics and the fear of higher capital-gains taxes prompted many sellers to rush for a December closing, high-end agents said.

"I had one house that was going to close in January, but the seller asked if we could get it done by Dec. 31," said Deborah Beacham, another Michael Saunders & Co. agent who personally logged nearly $30 million in sales during 2012. "There was a little scare there. But it has run its course."

"Last year was such an incredible year and 2013 will continue the momentum," Beacham predicted. "There's a lot of pent-up demand. We passed the bottom and we're creeping up ever so slowly."

Emerging trends

Lynne Koy, an agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate in Sarasota, sees three trends in the high-end market: a lot of Canadians, a fading appetite for mega-mansions and a return to speculative building.

"Last year, roughly one third of my sales came from people out of the country -- mainly Canadians," said Koy, who closed nearly $35 million in high-end sales in 2012. …

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