One common theme among today's home buyers is the need to find a "deal". Almost every buyer mentions it when talking about their needs and wants. We Realtors joke about it as we hear it all of the time. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. If I was buying a home I would be asking for the same thing.
I just ran a search in the Mid Florida MLS for all of the sales in Sarasota county for the last 6 months. There were 3,836 sales of which 1,725 of them were distressed (short sale or bank owned). That accounts for 45% of the market which has been pretty consistent.
Out of 1,725 distressed sales (foreclosures and short sale)
1,535 or 89% of them closed for less than $250,000
1,649 or 96% of them closed for less than $400,000
1,675 or 97% of them closed for less than $500,000
1,717 or 99.5% of them closed for less than $1,000,000
In a nutshell if you are looking for a property above $250,000 then you knock a HUGE number of distressed sales. If you are looking in the luxury market or for a Sarasota beach home then you really need to forget about limiting yourself to bank owned or short sales.
Here is the good news for buyers - all of the properties that are not Sarasota foreclosures or short sales are still affected by those properties. If a seller wants to unload their house they need to be competitive with the distressed properties or they won't sell. Buyers need to realize that there are good values in the non short sale and foreclosure properties.
Overall the Sarasota real estate is a buyers market. HOWEVER, inventories are dropping while sales are rising - see December 2010 home sales surge in Sarasota. There isn't as much out there as many are led to believe. Here are some real life examples:
Let's say you want to buy a beachfront condo on Lido Key with 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, at least 1,000 square feet and under $400,000. You might think there are a bunch of those for sale. Nope. There are only 4 condos currently for sale that match those requirements. 4 CONDOS. That does not sound like a buyers market.
8 condos for sale - Longboat Key, beachfront, 2+ bedrooms, 2+ bathrooms, 1,000+ square feet, under $400,000
7 condos for sale - Siesta Key, beachfront, 2+ bedrooms, 2+ bathrooms, 1,000+ square feet, under $400,000
7 condos for sale - Downtown Sarasota, 2+ bedrooms, 2+ bathrooms, 1,000 square feet, under $300,000
16 homes for sale - Sarasota county, 3+ bedrooms, 2+ bathrooms, 2,800 square foot, $300,000 - $400,000
12 homes for sale - Lakewood Ranch area, 3+ bedrooms, 2+ bathrooms, 2,600 square feet, under $400,000
11 homes for sale - Siesta Key, 3+ bedrooms, 2+ bathrooms, 2,500 square feet, under $700,000
6 homes for sale - Longboat Key, 3+ bedrooms, 2+ bathrooms, 2,500 square feet, under $700,000
I could go on and on.
Think about it - Let's say you had $700,000 to spend and wanted a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 2,500 square foot home on Longboat Key. You would only have 6 homes to choose from.
That does not sound much like a buyers market to me