Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Fewer Sales Are of Homes in Distress

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Fewer Sales Are of Homes in Distress

Article excerpt

Sales of distressed homes continued slowing in Southwest Florida last month, but they remain well ahead of the national average.

In the Sarasota-Manatee region, 18 percent of single-family home and condominium sales came as a result of short sales, foreclosure auctions or lender-owned inventories, data provider RealtyTrac reported Tuesday.

That was down from 20.7 percent in September and from 22.4 percent one year earlier.

And while the region was above the U.S. rate of 13.8 percent, distressed sales here fell below the statewide average of 25 percent for the month.

That is significant because Southwest Florida has been considered an epicenter of the state's residential real estate downturn.

The dwindling supply of distressed homes also is helping drive up sales prices, RealtyTrac noted.

In Sarasota-Manatee, the median price of a distressed home was $123,800 in September, the most recent month measured. That was an 18 percent jump over the year.

Sales of all homes, by comparison, rose 13 percent to a median $169,000.

"The demand is strong for a lessening distressed inventory and pushing prices to their highest level since 2008," said Mike Pappas, president of the Keyes Co., a Florida real estate seller.

"Additionally, due to the long delay in our judicial foreclosure system we are now seeing a higher quality of distressed inventory being liquidated, although overall home prices have begun to gradually level off over the past few months as the market normalizes," he added.

The U.S. median home price -- half of all sales were higher, half lower -- was $193,000 in September, the highest level in six years.

"This U.S. recovery is largely being driven by investors, and as the lower-priced, often distressed inventory most appealing to investors dries up in a given market, investor activity will slow down in that market and move to other markets with more ideal inventory available," said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

"More than 32 percent of all single-family homes and condos purchased so far in 2014 are non-owner occupied, compared to 68 percent that are owner-occupied. …

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