First quarter sales on the island were down a little from last year but not by much with 40 properties sold compared to 44 in the first quarter of 2008. As I mentioned last month, 210 to 250 properties sold in ayear, is the normal volume for the island and we’re tracking to that number. The higher sales onthshistorically are April through July so by July we will have a good handle on how the year is going. There arenot enough sales yet to have accurate numbers on average and median sales prices. The first quarter numbers show single family average and median sale prices down and condo and multifamily average and median sales prices leveling off but again there are not enough sales yet to make any conclusions. At the end of 2008 average and median sale prices for single family homes was up a little over 2007. If you look at the 12 month average and median sales price for single family homes for Jan ($721K & $562K), Feb ($711K & $555K) and Mar ($711K & $560K) you can see that single family home sales are flat. In addition the 12 month average and median sales prices for condos for Jan ($424K & $329K), Feb ($431K & $335K) and Mar ($420K & $315) show a leveling off of prices. By July of this year there will be enough sales data to have a pretty good idea where we stack up this year versus last year.

Another measure of the health of the market are properties pending, or under contract. There are currently 39 properties under contract (SF-20, Con-14, Dup-4 & Lot-1) and 6 of them are mine. With the average per month being 18, based on last years sales, that’s a pretty healthy number and a good sign for closings in the coming months.

Inventory has been stuck in the low 600’s over the last couple months. This month it’s at 638 (SF-305, Con-234, Dup-52 & Lot-47) after dropping in January to 561. As I have said before, inventory under 500 would be the norm for our market and when supply and demand would be in balance.

The number of short sales, foreclosure or bank owned properties on the island are pretty small (28-4% of listed property) compared to the mainland (Bradenton has 696- 23% of listed property). Once they are out of the market then you will have property selling at the normal “arms length transactions” and prices will stabilize. Because there are so few out on the island prices are stabilizing faster then on the mainland.

Interest rates are at an all time low with banks quoting 30 year fixed mortgages at 4.75% and they may go lower for a short period of time. As the economy starts rebounding economists are predicting that rates will go up quickly. The difference on a 30 year fixed mortgage at 4.75% versus 6% on a $400,000 loan is 400 per month or almost $150,000 over the life of the loan. You could pay $50,000 more and still save $100,000 by buying now. If you’re ready to buy….now is the time.

Check out Frank & Al’s Great Buy’s on the last page of this newsletter. The Gulf front condo at La Casa Costiera, that was on last months great buy’s, went under contract (someone took our advice). Also the single family, one house from the beach, had a price reduction to $579,900 so this month it’s a Great Great Great Buy. Again, Palm Isle Village is the best deal on the island for a 2 nd home condo especially for you Florida residents who can get out to the island every week end. Own one of these units for as little as $200 per month….call me for the details.

Rental occupancy is up this year on the island which is contrary to most other parts of Florida. The island has gotten a lot of good press this year starting with the USA today article which was reprinted in the NY Times, Southern Living, The Hartford Courant and several Gannett newspapers. The uniqueness and simplicity of Anna Maria Island has brought quite a few new people to the island to vacation and experience the laid back island feel. I’ve shown property to quite a few first time visitors looking for a second home.