Make us your home page

Shadow inventory stalks Tampa Bay housing market

How much shadow inventory is stalking the Tampa Bay housing market?

Shadow inventory means homes that should hit the real estate listings but don't for economic reasons.

Tampa real estate consultant Tony Polito, who was a panelist Thursday at a business breakfast sponsored by the Tampa Bay Builders Association, tried to size up the problem — admitting how hard it is to get a grip on something so ephemeral.

Polito's guesstimate: Shadow inventory represents at least 14,000 homes atop the 28,000 homes already listed for sale in Tampa Bay.

Polito defined shadow inventory broadly. He counted not just foreclosure and pre-foreclosure homes tucked away in bank portfolios, but home sellers sitting on property for lack of buyers.

If you toss shadow inventory into the pot, the market's recent progress recalibrating supply and demand looks a lot less impressive.

Many question why shadow inventory even matters. If these homes aren't for sale, how much of a housing glut can they cause?

But builders at the business breakfast had good reason to dread the shadow. Last year was likely the worst year for Tampa Bay housing starts in decades. These homes, like black holes, drift unseen on the edge of the market, eventually exerting a formidable pull.

In such a depressed environment, the last thing a builder needs is discounted homes materializing next door and undercutting prices already depressed 40 percent.

Average Joe and Jane home­owner probably sense the shadow in the rental homes cluttering their suburban streets. Bought by investors during the boom, these homes, many with delinquent mortgages, will go up for sale at the first profitable or not-so-profitable opportunity.

These doppelganger homes play havoc with predicting a real estate recovery. The general consensus among builders: A tepid upturn in 2010 turning hotter in 2011.

Polito suggested that tracking shadow inventory is like tracking a ghost in the fog.

Banks are tight-lipped about distressed properties on their books. As for homeowners desperate but unable to sell, how do you measure their motivations without an advanced degree in mind reading?

"I've never seen a real good measurement of exactly what it is," Polito said of shadow inventory on Thursday.

So there's hope: Like a short shadow at noon, the problem might be smaller than feared.

James Thorner may be reached at or (813) 226-3313.

Shadow inventory stalks Tampa Bay housing market 01/07/10 [Last modified: Thursday, January 7, 2010 7:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa is 15th-most popular city to move to with U-Haul


    TAMPA —Tampa is undoubtedly a destination point, at least according to U-Haul.

    Tampa is the No. 15 destination for people moving with U-Haul trucks. | Times file photo
  2. Florida's economy growing faster than other big states and far better than U.S. overall


    When it comes to economic growth, Florida's running alongside the leading states and well ahead of the United States as a whole.

  3. Westshore Marina District project takes shape with another acquisition

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — One of Tampa Bay's prime waterfront areas took another major step toward redevelopment Friday as WCI Communities bought 2.35 acres in Westshore Marina District.

    WCI Communities, Lennar's high-end subsidiary,has paid $2.5 million for 2.35 acres in the Westshore Marina District for 35 townhomes. WCI is under contract  to buy an additional 9.5 acres.
[BTI Partners]
  4. Posh Guy Harvey RV park to open in Tampa Bay with $250,000 cottages


    HOLIDAY — Love those Guy Harvey T-shirts with the soaring marlins? In the not too distant future, you might be able to kick back in your own Guy Harvey cottage in the first-ever Guy Harvey RV park.

    Renderings of the clubhouse and an RV cottage site of the planned Guy Harvey Outpost Club & Resort Tarpon Springs.
[Guy Harvey Outpost Collection]
  5. Port Tampa Bay secures $9 million grant to deepen Big Bend Channel


    Port Tampa Bay has secured a $9 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the widening and deepening of the Big Bend Channel in southern Hillsborough County.