Condo sales up but slower

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Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 5:11 pm | Updated: 9:22 pm, Thu Sep 19, 2013.

SARASOTA COUNTY - Condos are selling at a much higher rate and for more money than just one year ago. However, it's much slower than the rest of the real estate market.

Realtors say there are a number of reasons; the biggest is getting financing to buy one.

Financing, fees, and aging facilities are the biggest obstacles to becoming a condo owner. It's getting better, but many say it's a significant challenge.

A condo along the beach in Venice can run you as much as million dollars. In other areas of town you can find something for under $60,000.

Realtor Deb Bean-Guinto has seen the ups during the boom and the downs during the bust in the condo market. "The condo market was hit the hardest.”

Sales are increasing, but not as fast as single family homes; the more traditional dwellings are going up more than 10% in the past year, but condos are only around 4%.

One reason is trying getting a bank to help you out. "If you pay cash, that is fine. Anyone who wants to finance is going to find on less expensive condos that it's going to be very hard if even they can finance."

Many condo developments still have units underwater or going through short sales and foreclosure proceedings. That drives down comps. Compounding the issue are monthly fees for things like maintenance in places where it's been harder to collect. It can add hundreds of dollars a month, especially in older units. "They have to make up that money somewhere. Usually they increase the HOA fees to the remaining occupancy to make up that deficit."

Don't forget about restrictions that often determine when you can sell after buying and who you can sell to can scare away buyers looking for a short term home -- especially investors. "It may be that you can only lease after a year or even after five years that you have lived in it. Maybe you have to rent it out for six months instead of two weeks at a time."

Overall, the good news is they are going up. They're just not all equal. "Things are getting better in some areas. Some of the older areas and some of the older units are more difficult. Newer ones are fine. They are up to date on hurricane and up to date on sewer and water lines. They are much easier."

Inventory is also going down. At this time last year there were about 1,300 condos for sale. Now, it's around 1,000.

The median price for a condo on the Suncoast is just under $200,000. That too is up about 3% this year.

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