Tough times still ahead: A fifth of Tampa Bay's mortgage payments overdue or in foreclosure
Wake up and good morning. Now that we're deep into the recession and slowly crawling out of the other side, it's become a cliche in newspaper newsrooms that business reporters bear a striking resemblance to the Grim Reaper. If they show up in a meeting, it's means another part of the economy just landed in intensive care.
No wonder my party invitations are down.
We may write about many topics but there's one that strikes at the core of how we are doing in the Tampa Bay area. Housing. New numbers out Thursday from the statewide Florida Realtors show 2,782 Tampa Bay homes sold in March, up 21 percent from March of 2009. The median sales price of $131,400 was down 3 percent from a year ago but up nearly 3 percent from February's $128,100. Here's is the Realtors' press release.
Increased activity on the condo front was even more dramatic. Statewide, 7,148 condos sold in March, a 63 percent jump from a year ago. In the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater market, 991 condo units changed hands, a 92 percent jump from last year. Sales prices for the units here were down 13 percent from a year ago. Here's more in this St. Petersburg Times story.
Here's some added perspective from this morning's Wall Street Journal. Housing tax credits are giving a short term boost to housing sales. But the Journal's latest quarterly survey of housing-market conditions in 28 major metro areas found that inventories of homes for sale, as well as the number of distressed borrowers, remain very high in many metro areas. That portends more downward pressure on prices from bank foreclosures.
The Journal survey found that Miami, Orlando, Tampa Bay, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Atlanta have some of the highest concentrations of distressed borrowers at risk of losing their homes. Here's the complete Wall Street Journal story.
Let's look closer at the Journal's first-quarter analysis of 28 metro markets:
Q: What metro area had the greatest decline in housing inventory versus a year ago?
A: Detroit, down 32.9 percent. Tampa Bay ranked 6th, down 19 percent.
Q: What metro area had the greatest supply, in months, of housing for sale?
A: Charlotte, at 17.4 months. Tampa Bay ranked 10th with a 9.7 month supply.
Q: What metro area had the greatest percentage decline in median home price at March 31 versus a year ago?
A: Detroit, down 18.8 percent. Tampa Bay ranked 5th, down 12.1 percent (four of 28 markets did not have numbers available for this comparison).
Q: What metro area had the highest average unemployment rate in the quarter?
A: Detroit, at 15.3 percent. Tampa Bay ranked 2nd, at 13.4 percent.
Q: What metro area had the highest percent of loan payments overdue (percentage of mortgage payments 30 days or more overdue or in foreclosure as of March 31)?
A: Miami-Fort Lauderdale at 27.6 percent. Tampa Bay ranked 4th at 20.5 percent behind No. 2 Las Vegas and No. 3 Orlando.
Here's is the Journal's 28-metro analysis in full.-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist