Roger Pettingell remembers the days when clients would tell them their price range and he would block off an entire week to show them Longboat Key properties in that price bracket.
Now, they don’t need to reserve a week to narrow down their options.
“I can show them what’s available in an afternoon in any given price range,” said Pettingell, broker associate with Longboat Key Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, who now often approaches homeowners to see if they’d be interested in selling. “In any given price range, there’s just not much to be seen.”
According to Realtor.com, as of Monday afternoon, the island had 210 condo and single-family home sales during the past six months and currently has 357 condo and single-family home listings.
Economists generally consider a sixmonth inventory as the equilibrium. Above that means it’s a buyer’s market; below that, it’s a seller’s market.
But, because sales typically spike during peak season months in late fall, winter and spring, many Realtors believe that listings will be in short supply this season.
“It’s very, very slim,” said Lynne Koy, of Longboat Key Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate. “Almost every listing I have is selling within 60 days if it’s priced appropriately. There are still plenty of buyers who are hungry.”
“It’s very low,” said Hannerle Moore, of Michael Saunders & Co.’s Longboat Key South office. “It has been for about a year. We’re just not seeing a lot of properties going on the market.”
Many homeowners who bought at the peak of the market are holding off on listing their homes, which typically lost 35% to 40% of their value during the recession and have only regained 15% to 20% of their worth as the economy has improved.
According to Moore, inventory last season was slimmest at the lower end and at the most expensive range.
The recent Urban Land Institute report echoed this observation, noting that sales are strongest for north-end properties listed for less than $500,000 and Gulf-front properties priced at more than $3 million.
What the Key is experiencing is part of a nationwide phenomenon.
Homeowners who had to sell their homes have done so, and the number of foreclosures and short sales has dropped.
The Sarasota Association of Realtors (SAR) reported a slight drop in the amount of single-family inventory, with 4.4 months’ worth of inventory in September for Sarasota County, compared with 4.8 months’ worth in September 2012.
For condos, the drop was steeper, falling from 5.5 months’ worth in September 2012 to four months’ worth in September.
Many Realtors believe the reduction is a good thing.
“Maybe my glass is half full, but there are still many choices out there,” said Michael Moulton, of Michael Saunders & Co.’s Longboat Key South office. “If anything, it creates more urgency with the buyer.”
Moulton believes the shortage of inventory is helping to spur new construction.
On Longboat Key, construction of the 13-home Triton Bend development is underway around the 2900 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive, and Michael Saunders & Co. is accepting reservations for the planned 11-unit Infinity condominium at 4765 Gulf of Mexico Drive. Developer Jay Tallman also has plans to build a 16-unit luxury condo at the historic Villa Am Meer property at 2231 Gulf of Mexico Drive.
Pettingell said the Key only saw a large inventory in an unhealthy market.
“We got used to this big inventory, and the market got better, and we started seeing investors and people who had been sidelined for years come in,” he said. “Now, we’re back into where it always was.”
Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected]