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June blockbuster month for island real estate sales

STORY BY STEVEN M. THOMAS, (Week of July 11, 2013)

For the second year in a row, June was a blockbuster month for real estate sales on the barrier island with 71 closings – same as last year – worth $42.4 million.

That doesn't include sales in John’s Island, which does not report transactions to the Multiple Listing Service.

“This was the best June we have had in a decade,” says Buzz MacWilliam, owner of Alex MacWilliam, Inc.

“Last June’s sales figures were off the chart,” says Marsha Sherry, broker at The Moorings Realty Sales Company. “But this June has been even busier, with traffic up 44 percent compared to a year ago.”

"I had a very strong June,” says Grier McFarland of Dale Sorensen Real Estate.

“We are up 40 percent year over year in the first half,” says Steve Schlitt, co-owner of Coldwell Banker Paradise Ed Schlitt Realtors. “June was up 25 or 30 percent compared to last June.”

Sales spanned the island from Windsor in the north to The Moorings in the south, with closings in 35 communities. Approximately 15 percent of sales were in the Moorings, which was the hottest spot for June closings.

Nine sales were $1 million or more, including one sale that exceeded $2 million.

“Historically, some months are slower than others and I have always believed June and September tend to be two of our slower months,” said MacWilliam.

“And I really expected this June to be slow because of the huge-sell off of inventory between December and May. But the opposite has turned out to be true.

“Our dollar volume far surpassed any other June, even in the heyday of the market back in 2005 and 2006.”

The most expensive home sold on the island in June was 4-bedroom, 5-bath, 3,600-square-foot house on the river about a quarter of a mile north of the city marina on Indian River Drive.

Built in 2011, it was listed for $2,595,000 on Jan. 30; it closed June 11 for $2,070,000.

The least expensive property that changed hands on the island in June was a 1-bedroom, 1-bath, 1,000-square-foot condominium built in 1972 in the Vista Del Mar complex in Indian River Shores. Listed for $120,000 on April 2, it sold on June 27 for $115,000.

Thirty-nine homes sold for less than $500,000, while 32 sold for more than that. The average selling price was $597,000.

Brokers say shrinking inventory, rising prices, increasing interest rates and general economic recovery drove the torrid pace of June transactions, pushing the busy winter sales season into summer.

“Strong sales have been prompted in part by national media talking about inventory going down and prices going up,“ says Sally Daley of Sally Daley and Company Real Estate. “Locally all you get is bidding wars when you try to buy a home.”

“I think buyers are now feeling that sense of urgency,” says Sherry. “They have remained in the area or come back to town to make their deal and lock in an interest rate.”

The island’s strong sales in June continued the success of what has been a record-breaking year for many agencies.

“It is like every month is a record month,” says MacWilliam. “We closed almost as much in the first half of 2013 as we did in all of 2012, and 2012 was a banner year for us.

“I don’t think it is just us getting lucky; it is overall activity in the market place."

“I have been telling everyone this is my busiest year since I have been in business,” says MacWilliam agent Stacey Clawson.

Island real estate professionals expect sales to remain unusually brisk going forward, despite the handicap of low inventory.

“Judging by pending sales and properties under contract, activity should stay strong,” says Daley.

“There are buyers out there ready to buy, even though inventory is slim,” says MacWilliam. “Our hard job now is finding sellers who want to sell.”