Anna Maria Island real estate agents say there are still a few bargains remaining from the winter-spring tourist season.
But they are not likely to last because summer buyers are usually more serious than winter buyers, the agents said.
Jesse Brisson, of Gulf-Bay Realty, 5309 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, reports weekly for The Islander on real estate sales, and he said the small inventory of island homes for sale creates a high demand and often bidding wars among those with cash.
“There’s definitely a few bargains out there, but they will sell quickly. In my opinion, the first week a bargain is on the market is the most critical time. If you see something you like at the right price, you’d better move quick or it will be gone,” he said.
And buyers shouldn’t expect prices to fall by August or September, Brisson added.
He noted that for the first five months of 2012, 166 single-family residences were sold at an average price of $465,000. For the same five months in 2013, 124 homes sold, but the average price was $561,000, a 20.6 percent gain.
While Brisson doesn’t expect prices to continue upward at that pace, he advises the serious buyer not to wait.
“There’s a lack of inventory. Anything that’s a bargain doesn’t last long,” Brisson said.
He has some condominiums in the low $200,000 range, but he anticipates these will be sold within a few weeks, at the most. The days of the condo for under $100,000 are long gone, he said.
The international buyers arrive in the fall and they too are serious about island property and have done their homework, Brisson added.
“From what I’m hearing, it’s going to be a good summer for tourism and that usually means a lot of serious buyers. I wouldn’t wait on the sidelines to buy,” he said.
Liz Codola at Island Real Estate, 6101 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, agreed bargains are out there, but they are “hard to find because they sell quickly.”
She said she had some units recently that were priced under $200,000, but those sold within a few days. She still has some available properties that are priced a bit higher, but there will be a lot of interest, once the summer season peaks at the Fourth of July holiday.
Even those looking for an investment property should come prepared to buy, Codola said.
“My best advice to anyone looking this summer is don’t wait,” she said.
Creighton Faust at RE/MAX, 5316 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, said the summer buyers “seem to have a high confidence level in the island market and they are not depending on prices to drop.”
“The summer buyer is looking for location and a good investment. When one comes on the market, it doesn’t last very long,” he said.
And the summer tourist season should be a good one.
“People have discovered Anna Maria Island. They come here for the old Florida atmosphere, the peace and quiet, the good restaurants and beaches, and all the things we offer,” Faust said.
Many visitors become buyers, but the serious buyers aren’t sitting on the sidelines, he said.
“Island real estate prices have bottomed out and, if buyers know their price range in advance, they can find that bargain,” Faust said.
While the agents all seem to believe it will be a busy summer season, Nicole Skaggs, of Big Fish Real Estate, 5351 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, cautioned that the low inventory might hurt real estate sales.
“People may be serious, and come with cash, but the inventory is so low they might not see anything available they wanted. It’s unlike other years, when the inventory was well above 400 or 500,” she said.
But Skaggs does have a few bargains, including some condo units in the low-to mid-$100,000 range.
“And canalfront homes are in big demand. I’ve got one priced under $500,000, and I doubt that’s going to be around long,” Skaggs said.
“It should be a good real estate season as long as the inventory holds steady or increases. We have to have what people want, and the buyers have to be ready to buy,” she concluded.