Despite the pandemic keeping people home, median sale prices for single-family homes rose in April.

According to Florida Realtors, the median sales price, or midpoint value, rose in both Sarasota and Charlotte counties last month compared to April 2019:

• Charlotte County (4.2% increase): $242,500 in April 2020; $232,700 in April 2019

• Sarasota County (8% increase): $313,250 in April 2020; $290,000 in April 2019

The average price also rose in Sarasota County by 4.3% from $417,774 in April 2019 to $435,531 last month. Charlotte saw a slight dip in average price from $279,367 in April 2019 to $278,136.

The big drop is in inventory and number of homes sold.

New single-family home listings

• Charlotte County (21.1% decrease): 388 in April 2020; 492 in April 2019

• Sarasota County (34% decrease): 550 in April 2020; 833 in April 2019

Closed sales

• Charlotte County (24.7% decrease): 381 in April 2020; 506 in April 2019

• Sarasota County (20.3% decrease): 632 in April 2020; 793 in April 2019

Inventory, or active listings

• Charlotte County (16.7% decrease): 1,596 in April 2020; 1,916 in April 2019

• Sarasota County (23.6% decrease): 2,532 in April 2020; 3,313 in April 2019

This low inventory has led to a kind of frenzy to buy, with deals closing in record time, and sellers receiving multiple offers, said Bill Dryburgh, president of the Board of Realtors for Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte, North Port and DeSoto County.

“If you hesitate, you lose it, and it’s gone,” he said.

“I am calling this a seller’s market,” wrote Realtor Robert Goldman of Venice in The Rob Report on May 21. “The supply of homes for sale is declining more dramatically than home-buyer demand.”

With the competition for homes, everything is moving quickly.

Median Time to contract April 2019 vs. April 2020

• Charlotte County: down 54.2% to 27 days

• Sarasota County: down 40% to 33 days.

• Englewood: down 16.7% to 50 days.

Dryburgh blames the media for the dearth of properties on the market during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The press really caused a lot of this,” he said. “They made things out so bad in the beginning ... We see people (sellers) who are just afraid. They don’t want to put strangers in the home.”

Realtors and sellers are taking advantage of the virtual tour option in their listing, where potential buyers can watch a video that takes you through the house.

Where are all the buyers coming from?

Dryburgh thinks they may be coming from coronavirus-stricken urban areas in New York and New Jersey, although he does not yet have data on that.

“A lot of people in those areas were going to try to move away,” he said.

Dryburgh said he sees more what he called quality buyers coming to Charlotte County, looking at houses in the $300,000 to $350,000 range instead of the county’s typical $200,000-$250,000.

This possibility shows up in the numbers. While the number of sales declined year over year, the decline for properties from $300,000 to $400,000 was only 8.8% in Charlotte County. That compares to a 32% drop for houses in the $200,000 to $250,000 range. Sarasota County saw the same situation.

Now that the pandemic appears to be here to stay for a while, sellers may start listing their homes, Dryburgh said.

“The trend is moving back to normal,” he said. “Right now is a great time to sell your home.”

Record low interest rates are another likely cause of the home-buying frenzy. The percent of sales that were cash in April 2020 as opposed to a loan is down 24% from April 2019 in Charlotte County, and down 14.6% in Sarasota County.

Goldman sees housing as the bright spot in the economy.

“I see no evidence that the COVID-19 crisis is adversely affecting homes sales,” he wrote.

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