How to succeed in the new seller’s housing market.

Some of my clients from other parts of the country and from across the Atlantic, where the housing markets haven’t recovered yet from the recession, come to Florida expecting to go bargain hunting.

But they are in for a rude awakening. They find a house they like, want to put down an offer and find themselves fifth or sixth in line among multiple offers. As buyers, they discover out quickly that in Sarasota, they’re no longer in the power position. The reason? Not enough homes for the demand.

As Sarasota goes, so goes the nation!

Sarasota may have been the first market in the United States to tank when the housing bubble burst, leading the plunge into real estate chaos and economic recession. But it has also recovered earlier, along with other parts of the country, notably Alaska, Washington State, Arizona and other cities in Florida – Miami, Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale, which have become hot markets again.

In June, the number of homes listed for sale nationwide dropped 24% compared with the previous year. Inventory in Sarasota has been low here for months now. Good properties, priced right, get snapped up in days with multiple offers from five to fifteen buyers not at all unusual. Prices are inching up, too, and there are even occasional bidding wars. Add it all up, and it spells “seller’s market.”

The good news is that people continue to want to buy. According to the National Association of Realtors, the number of contracts signed in May was 13% higher than a year ago with every region in the country reporting increases in sales.

But with rising demand and lack of suitable inventory, buyers are no longer in the driver’s seat.

What does that mean for buyers in the Sarasota area?  

If you’re looking for a particular spot, it’s not as easy to find property, especially in the most popular neighborhoods. That’s definitely true for good houses priced under $250,000.

Until new construction catches up with demand, shopping for a home will be more like a hunt than the walk in the park it has been.

What should buyers do in the new seller’s market?

Pre-qualification vs. pre-approval. Don’t bother with the first, which is only an estimate on how much you can borrow. With sellers concerned about deals falling through, they want more certainty. Get pre-approved for a loan based on your credit, income and assets, and you’ll be in a better position to bargain.

Get with a veteran realtor who knows the market. In a competitive market, it’s crucial to have a pro on your side who’s experienced, knows the local scene inside and out, and is experienced in multiple-offer deals. That way you can be sure that a home is reasonably priced and advise you on what to offer.

Make a good, clean, straightforward offer. If you want to wait to sell your current home first, for example, you’re not likely to come out ahead in a bidding war.

Remember, if you get into the game, there are still very good buys to be had. With interest rates at historic lows, and prices considerably lower than during frenzy years, this is still a great time to get excellent value for your money. Just don’t expect bargain basement sales, and be prepared to move fast in the face of the competition.


Sarasota is hot, hot, hot!

Sarasota sunshine is heating up and so is the local real estate market. Property sales have topped 800 for the third consecutive month, demonstrating a market that has recovered to levels not seen since the 2003-2005.

Interest rates hit record lows in May, and house prices still remain relatively low.  This has brought high sales rate and low inventory – a rare combination, which is why Sarasota is attracting buyers from across the nation, and the world.

The median sale price for both single family homes and condos remained near the highest levels of the year in May. The median sales price for single family homes was $185,000 – a 34% increase from the lows of 14 months ago. Last month’s figure was $175,000. The median sales price for condos was $180,750, a drop from April’s figure of $191,750 but a 40% increase from the low point.

The total number of distressed properties, foreclosure and short sales on the market remains around 31%, the lowest level in 3 years.  This is likely a contributing factor to the housing demand and increase in prices.

The May figures are 4.3 months of inventory for single family homes and 5.2 months’ inventory for condos. Months of inventory represents the time it would take to deplete the current inventory at the current rate of sales. Six months of inventory is classed as the market equilibrium, therefore we are now considered a seller’s market.

“I’ve been in our Association for over 15 years and inventories at this level are rare,” said SAR President Laura Benson. “The market is tightening, and when available properties are at such low levels, the result is normally greater competition for available properties. This scenario tends to escalate prices, so if you’re in the market for a home, now is the time to act.”

Jane Ebury


Prices keep climbing – Florida is heating up

Word is getting out that Florida’s bust is switching to boom, with the charge being led by the $1 million single family house market.

Across the state in Miami-Dade, a $52million house is reportedly under contract and a penthouse condo just sold for a record $25million.

On this side of Florida, our price point is not as impressive but we have continued signs of rising sales.  In February and March of this year, sales of $1million-plus houses in Sarasota county were 48% higher than last year.

For more information on luxury homes in Sarasota call Bev Murray or Jane Ebury 941-365-1837 at Murray Realty


Spring Has Definitely Sprung – strong sales for April 2012

The latest report published by the Sarasota Association of Realtors shows that real estate sales in Sarasota county are continuing their upward ascent.

Here are the highlights for April 2012:

  • 886 total sales transactions,  the highest figure since August 2005
  • Inventory is at a 10 year low: 4.7 months for single family homes and 5.1 months for condos
  • Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) are at a 3 year low of 31%
  • Average single family home prices are 21.4% higher than they were a year ago
  • Average condo home prices are almost 30% higher than last year
  • 1,068 pending sales which is a strong indication of future activity

So what does this mean for you as a home buyer, seller or investor?

Selling a home:

With inventory at its lowest level in years and less distressed sales to negatively impact your market value, now is a phenomenal time to put your house or condo on the market.  If it is priced right and marketed well, it is unlikely to hang around for long.

Buying a home:

Mortgage rates are at their lowest since the 1950s .  You’ll need to have all your ducks in a row when you find the house that you want, as homes are being snapped up quickly at the moment and prices are creeping up. Make sure you ask Murray Realty to help you work smart and negotiate effectively.


Buying to rent is a very attractive option in the current market. There is strong demand for long term rental properties as many tenants are still struggling with credit issues and are unable to get a mortgage.

Bev Murray

Amendment 4: What Every Voter Should Know

What are the facts?

On November 2nd, you will be asked to vote yes or no on a plan to alter Florida’s Constitution called Amendment 4. Special interest lawyers, adult entertainment interests and population control groups have designed, funded and proposed this amendment to our Constitution. Take a moment to learn more about who’s backing Amendment 4 and why.

What is the issue?

Amendment 4 will prolong the recession and put recovery out of reach for thousands of working Floridians. As a result, leading business, labor, and civic groups oppose Amendment 4

What will the measure do?

This proposed change to Florida’s Constitution would require a taxpayer-funded referendum for every single change to a local government comprehensive plan. Simply stated, Amendment 4 would force Floridians, not the representatives they elect, to decide hundreds of minor, technical comprehensive plan changes each year on issues like drainage, traffic circulation, and intergovernmental coordination.

What does that mean for you?

Here is what Amendment 4 means for you: (1) a Florida with drastically fewer jobs, (2) a significantly weaker economy, and (3) unbearably higher taxes to feed the Amendment 4 “litigation” bureaucracy.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce asked leading economists to study the impact of Amendment 4. The study indicates that Amendment 4 would likely put more than 267,000 Floridians out of work, shrink Florida’s economic output by more than $34 billion annually, and take nearly $12 billion out of the pockets of working families.

With Florida’s jobless rate reaching well into double digits, our state’s top business and labor groups have put politics aside to oppose Amendment 4. Mark Wilson, president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce wrote: “If you like the recession, you’ll love Amendment 4.” Frank Ortis, executive board member with Florida’s AFL-CIO noted that “Amendment 4 will devastate Florida’s economy by costing hundreds of thousands of jobs and driving the unemployment rate even higher.”

According to the Orlando Sentinel, “The cost to local governments of [Amendment 4] would soar into the millions.” Those costs would be shouldered by Florida’s taxpayers who could expect to see not only more government waste, but also nonstop lawsuits as special interests wage war in court over the technical wording of endless ballot summaries. Referencing a failed experiment in Amendment 4-style rule in the small Florida town of St. Pete Beach, the St. Petersburg Times wrote that Amendment 4 leads to “short-term thinking” and “invites lawsuits…”

What is the conclusion?

Florida’s jobless rate is high—but it could get much, much worse with the passage of Amendment 4. At a time when many families and small businesses are struggling to make ends meet, that’s the last thing we need. Please take the time to learn more about Amendment 4 by visiting

Real Estate Investment

If you are thinking about purchasing a home, don’t let negative or sensationalized headlines be your sole persuader.  Even journalists who write many of the stories behind the headlines are rebelling against the idea that real estate is on its way out as the foundation of many Americans’ wealth.  We’ve certainly had our ups and downs over the years, but that’s expected in every investment’s cycle.  We are getting much closer to a sustained up cycle.  Read as much as you can from the sources you trust.  That way you’re most likely to make the right decision for you, and with confidence.   Above all, don’t let trash talk rob you of one of the most opportune moments in real estate history.

August property sales up; prices remain stable

The Sarasota real estate market rebounded in August 2010 after an expected slower July, following the expiration of the federal $8,000 homebuyer incentive. Sales were up 8 percent over July 2010, and up 14.3 percent over August 2009.
Property sales in August 2010 stood at 567 total sales. This compared to 525 sales in July 2010 and 496 sales in August 2009.
There were 408 single family home sales in August, with the median price at $154,500, almost identical to last month’s figure of $155,000. The median price was also $155,000 in August 2009, and has been steady throughout the last 12 months ($161,000), fluctuating between a high of $170,000 and a low of $150,000.
Condos saw 159 sales in August, with the median price rising by 22 percent to $155,000 from last month’s figure of $127,000.  For the last 12 months combined, the median sale price for condos was $169,900. Distressed condo sales have dragged the overall median price down substantially, with normal arm’s length sales garnering three-times as much as bank-owned properties, and twice as much as short sales on average.
Pending sales also rose in August to 816, from last month’s figure of 653, for a 25 percent increase. The rise bodes well for the closings in the early fall months.
“It was very encouraging to see that the market recovered nicely after a drop in sales from June to July,” said 2010 SAR President Erick Shumway. “After experiencing a five-year high in sales for the second quarter, everyone knew the loss of the homebuyer tax credit would have a negative impact. But we saw a big jump in sales for August, and prices held steady, so this market still has legs and the recovery appears to be a healthy one.”
The level of sales of distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) dropped in August 2010 to 47 percent from last month’s figure of 48.7 percent of the overall market. Distressed market sales were at a high in late 2009, and have hovered in the range between 44 and 48 percent since that time.
The property inventory level remained fairly consistent, remaining just over the 6,000 level in August 2010, which remains one of the lowest monthly levels since late summer of 2005.
The months of inventory for single family homes in August 2010 dropped to 9.5 months from 10.4 months in July. The figure was 10.3 months in August 2009. This figure represents the number of months it would take to sell all available homes at the current pace. For condos, the figure dropped to 13.5 months from 14.4 months in July 2010. It was substantially lower than the August 2009 figure of 20.5 months. Once the market reaches the 6 month level it is considered to be in equilibrium between a buyers and sellers market.
Sarasota Association of REALTORS®