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Flood insurance woes and fall slowdown cool Tampa Bay housing market

The first month of big flood insurance changes and the autumn slow season cooled Tampa Bay's housing market last month, though home prices still showed year-over-year growth, new sales data show.

Single-family home sales in Tampa Bay dropped 5 percent compared with October 2012, listing data show. And though median prices have slid since their summer peak, they remained 16 percent higher than last year, at $155,500.

The big wild card slowing the market, real estate agents said, is the Biggert-Waters act, which has led to steep flood insurance premium hikes for homes with subsidized rates and has discouraged prospective buyers.

In Pinellas County, which has more subsidized policies than anywhere in the country, Realtors said "it is affecting the industry" but added they hoped a proposed pause on big insurance rate hikes would keep the slowdown from becoming an ongoing trend.

Statewide home sales last month actually grew 6 percent over October 2012, and median prices climbed 16 percent to $169,000, new Florida Realtors data Wednesday show.

Nationally, purchases of previously owned homes fell in October to the lowest level in four months as limited supply and higher mortgage rates restrained momentum in the housing-market recovery.

Sales dropped 3.2 percent to a 5.12 million annual rate, the fewest since June, according to Realtors data. The partial federal shutdown last month may have delayed some closings, the group also said.

Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 893-8252 or dharwell@tampabay.com.

Flood insurance woes and fall slowdown cool Tampa Bay housing market 11/20/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 7:48pm]
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