Make us your home page

Buyers snap up homes, bumping up Tampa Bay prices

Hundreds more homes sold across Tampa Bay last month than the year before, as tight supplies sent prices rising and helped the market build in strength.

Nearly 2,900 homes sold in October, a 35 percent jump over the same month last year, Multiple Listing Service data shows. Median sales prices rose 9 percent to $133,000.

Sellers in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando closed deals quicker, more often and at rebounding prices, giving traction to hopes of a housing recovery.

And it's not all low-priced foreclosures or "short" sales, sold for less than the homeowner owes, that are leading to new deals. Only about four out of 10 sales this year have been for "distressed" homes. Growing values allow previously underwater homeowners to come out ahead on conventional sales.

Realtors and economists say the market's slow thaw comes thanks to a tight supply. Investors are fighting for bottom-of-the-bucket foreclosures as soon as they hit the market, agents said, and conventional buyers are launching bidding wars for homes in favored neighborhoods.

"People think the train's left the station, and they better get on the train while interest rates are low," said Keller Williams real estate agent Scott Samuels. "If they don't, they'll miss the train, and they'll pay top dollar."

In Hillsborough County, inventory sagged in September to 7,000 listings, 5,000 fewer than a year before, Greater Tampa Association of Realtors data shows.

At that rate, those listings would sell out in less than four months. In contrast, during the housing crash, local inventory surpassed a 20-month supply, meaning it would take that long to sell the homes if no others came on the market.

Tampa Bay's progress is part of a nationwide surge as values climb and supplies dwindle after the market's six-year slump. American home prices rose 5 percent in September, the biggest yearly increase since 2006, real estate data firm CoreLogic said this week.

Across the state, Florida Realtors data shows, year-over-year sales prices have climbed every month this year.

October's housing gains have extended Tampa Bay's 2012 swell. In the first 10 months, Hillsborough and Pinellas each sold 9 percent more homes compared with the same time last year, according to MLS. Pasco sold 11 percent more, and Hernando 17 percent.

Condo, townhome and villa sales also inched up this year by 2 percent, with prices about $9,000 higher, MLS data shows.

One of Tampa Bay's biggest bright spots was conventional listings, with 27 percent more sales this year, higher prices and less time on the market.

Many fewer foreclosed homes sold this year as banks slowed their listings of repossessed homes, possibly due to court delays or to eke out higher prices.

Agents said banks are more often avoiding foreclosure and instead approving short sales, which turn over quicker and cost the lender less. Short sales in Tampa Bay grew by 33 percent, and sold for about $11,000 cheaper than the median last year, as banks settled for leaner prices to sweep homes off their books.

"The lower-end stuff is falling off the market," said Hillsborough Title short sale processor Beth Cromwell. "Buyers are still able to get deals."

More sales at higher prices could inject some breathing room into local inventories, as homeowners previously reluctant to sell for cheap opt to test the waters.

Building is starting to percolate, too. Developers are restarting massive subdivisions, scooping up land and betting tens of millions of dollars that buyers put off by low inventories of existing homes will instead invest in newly built homes.

Thousands more permits to build single-family homes across Tampa Bay have been pulled this year, U.S. Census data shows, a signal of growth to come.

But agents caution against seeing the good housing news as the first sparks of an explosive ascent. Tampa Bay's median prices remain below the national median of $186,000, and far below the local peak of $240,000 in 2006. Outside factors, too, could still tamp down housing's rise.

"When you have this many people unemployed, and this many economic woes … it's hard for me to say the real estate market's going to become a new boom," said Andrew Duncan, chief executive of Re/Max Dynamic in Tampa. "But we're seeing lots of positive things."

Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 893-8252 or

Home sales rise in Oct.

Tampa Bay2,87235.1%

* Since Oct. 2011

Home prices rise in Oct.

Tampa Bay$133,0009.4%

* Since Oct. 2011

Home prices rise in October

Tampa Bay$133,0009.4%

* Since Oct. 2011

Buyers snap up homes, bumping up Tampa Bay prices 11/11/12 [Last modified: Sunday, November 11, 2012 10:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trigaux: Closing Iron Yard coding school hits area tech hard but leaders talk of options


    The coming shutdown this fall of the Iron Yard software coding school in downtown St. Petersburg — announced this month as part of a national closing of all 15 Iron Yard locations — remains a shocking event to a Tampa Bay technology community that dreams big of becoming a major player in the Southeast if not …

    In better days last fall, friends and family of graduates at The Iron Yard, based in the Station House in downtown St. Petersburg, applaud during "Demo Day" when grads of the coding school show off their skills. Despite the local success and strong job placement by the coding school, The Iron Yard is closing all of its 15 locations across the country this summer. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  2. U.S. economy gathers steam in second quarter


    WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy revved up this spring after a weak start to the year, fueled by strong consumer spending. But the growth spurt still fell short of the optimistic goals President Donald Trump hopes to achieve through tax cuts and regulatory relief.

    A government report released Friday showed economic output picked up in the second quarter. 
[Associated Press file photo]
  3. Founder of Tampa home sharing platform questions Airbnb, NAACP partnership


    TAMPA — A Tampa rival to Airbnb, which was launched because of discrimination complaints on the dominant home sharing platform, has concerns about the new partnership between Airbnb and NAACP announced this week.

    Rohan Gilkes poses for a portrait at his home and business headquarters in Tampa. 

Innclusive, a Tampa-based start-up, is a home-sharing platform that focuses on providing a positive traveling experience for minorities. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
  4. Appointments at Port Tampa Bay and Tampa General Medical Group highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers



    Port Tampa Bay announced that Jamal Sowell has been named director of special projects. Sowell, a former member of the U.S.Marine Corps, will support internal, external and special projects, assist the executive team with management oversight and serve as a liaison on a variety of port …

    Port Tampa Bay announced this week that Jamal Sowell has been named director of special projects. [Handout photo]
  5. Drones restrictions coming at Tampa Bay area airports


    Starting Sept. 1, Tampa International Airport officials will be enforcing new height restrictions for drones and other unmanned aircraft systems, according to a press release.

    In this February 2017 file photo, a drone flies in Hanworth Park in west London. Starting Sept. 1, Tampa International Airport officials will be enforcing new height restrictions for drones and other unmanned aircraft systems,
[John Stillwell/PA via AP, File]