Keeping it Real: December

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It’s time for the (almost) year-end wrap-up

By Natalie Gutwein

The last few years in real estate (and in the world in general) have been quite the ride. When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, people were panicking over more than just toilet paper. At first, there were a few alarmed sellers and, as a result, some buyers were able to get great deals. Those sellers were taking any offer they could get thinking the world was ending and they needed to cash out before that happened.
However, that didn’t last long. By the end of 2020, it was obvious Florida was going to handle the pandemic much differently than the rest of the world. Our state was totally open, has no state income tax, and the weather is near perfect. That, coupled with so many people being able to work from home, changed our market forever. Suddenly, our inventory shrunk to less than a month’s worth of available houses and condos and the number of properties sold on Siesta Key went from 498 in 2019 to 856 in 2021!
So, after the dust has finally settled with the pandemic, where are we now and what does my crystal ball say for 2024?
The most obvious effect has been in the value of our properties on Siesta Key. The average sales price has continued to climb year after year. It went from $793,627 in 2018 to $983,919 in 2020 and, as of the time of this writing (Nov. 10) to $1,354,365.
Also, two luxury homes above $8 million are under contract and scheduled to close before the end of the year, which will bring up the average.
Our inventory is still low as well. Prior to the pandemic, the average number of listings on Siesta Key was 353 in 2018 and 393 in 2019. That average dropped slightly in 2020 and plummeted in 2021 to 123 and again in 2022 to 129.
But we are on the uptick here as well. We are currently averaging 224 listings for 2023 and we still have a month and a half left for the average to increase. Traditionally, we have a significant number of new listings in November and December in anticipation of “season,” so I expect that average to go up slightly by the end of the year.
But, for those of you who follow the real estate market here on the Key closely, you are probably scratching your head right now trying to figure out how this could possibly be true. You are seeing price decreases daily on both single-family homes and condos, yet I’m telling you the average is still going up?
I will start with this: the numbers don’t lie. The average sales price HAS increased this year despite what the media is telling you. What you’re seeing, as price decreases, are homes that were significantly over-priced to begin with and are now being adjusted to current market levels.
In my 20 years of real estate, I’ve never seen price adjustments like we did this year. One house started at $8.9 million and closed after 284 days on the market for $5.6 million! That’s only 62% of the original list price!
Another one started at $7.9 million, was on the market for 168 days, and finally closed at $5.35 million. That’s only 68% of original price.
Agents and sellers were literally just pulling numbers out of the air.
Just know, however, that the average closing price to original price on Siesta Key is 94.3%. Homes and condos that are priced right are still going under contract quickly. Of the 25 most expensive properties sold on the island so far this year ($12.25 million was the highest), 13 went under contract in less than 30 days and 11 of those sold for list price or higher.
So, what does my crystal ball say? I believe 2024 is going to see a more stable market in many ways than we saw in 2023. We’re still trying to figure out what the baseline is going to be, and I’ll be watching with bated breath to see at what price the ultra-luxury homes will sell.
I think our inventory is going to increase and so will the number of homes sold. Interest rates are still higher than we’d like, but the majority of our closings are cash so that doesn’t affect us like it does the rest of the country. This is an election year, and that can slow the real estate market, but we’ll have to wait and see how that works out. Either way, I’m looking forward to 2024.
Stay sunny, Siesta.

(Natalie Gutwein is a licensed Realtor with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty’s Judie Berger Team and a member of the board of directors of the Siesta Key Association.)

Natalie Gutwein
Author: Natalie Gutwein

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