I am definitely, positively optimistic about all the recent reports regarding healthier banks, higher consumer confidence indexes and brighter economic forecasts. For this reason I remain optimistic about a strengthening of the housing market, particularly sales. However, I still remain cautious about encouraging sellers to believe that prices have stabilized and that volume is certainly on the rise. In fact, my review of MLS sales data on unit sales and average pricing continues to show a slower 2009 than 2008, with both Manatee County and the Island remaining sluggish compared to last year.

Half as many Island properties sold in the month of April, 2009 than did for the month of April 2008. For all of Manatee County, the figure is not quite as alarming, but it shows that 2008 April sales across the County outpaced 2009 April sales by 15%. More important perhaps than the drop of sales is the drop in price: Manatee County pricing dropped 36% on average comparing April sales last year to this year. Although pricing held up better on the Island where the average sales price is currently 54% higher than the average for the County, Island prices are currently 39% lower on average for closed sales in April this year versus last.

This is not meant to be alarming; it is simply a call for sellers to understand that fewer sales mean fewer buyers, and that if they are serious about selling, they’ll need to be flexible in pricing and in negotiating. Be optimistic, but be cautious!

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