Real Estate Reaches Tipping Point

The real estate market just tipped.

Zillow reported that in the second quarter of 2012 home values posted their first year-over-year gain since 2007, rising 0.2 percent from the same period last year. It’s the fourth monthly gain in a row, according to figures from the property-data company.

The story looks even better in Sarasota. In June 2012 the Sarasota real estate market achieved the highest level of quarterly sales in seven years, notching up 2,604 of them from April through June. At 864, June sales were 18.7 percent higher than June 2011, the Sarasota Association of Realtors reported. That’s unusual for Southwest Florida, where the seasonal influx of buyers tends to drop shortly after the Easter holiday.

“Buyers have finally figured out the bottom has passed,” said Laura Benson, president of SAR and an associate at Michael Saunders & Co. “They were sitting on the fence. That fence was so crowded I’m surprised it wasn’t sagging.”

Year-over-year, prices are rising. The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $189,400 in June, up 7.9 percent from a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors. In Sarasota the median sales price for single family homes dropped slightly to $178,500 in June but remained above the 12-month running median price of $167,000, SAR reported.

Benson said buyers finally realize that Sarasota’s real estate market has reached the tipping point. “Their offers were getting rejected. Those who believed that prices were still falling made ridiculous offers and they missed out on an opportunity. They had to find out the hard way.”

While the recovery hasn’t lifted all areas of the country, Zillow’s ready to declare victory. “The United States has hit a bottom in housing values and a majority of metros that the Zillow Real Estate Market Reports cover have also experienced their bottom.”

Benson agrees, adding that Sarasota has an advantage over those other markets. “We are a destination. People come here to spend the rest of their lives. We’re the place people hope and dream to retire in.”

Jeff Widmer