Make us your home page

'Short sales' shift local home sales figures

The latest home sales figures showed an interesting anomaly: While prices continue to plummet, the home sales decline in the Tampa Bay area was less than half the state average.

What seems to be swaying the market is a rash of short sales, the practice of dumping a home on the market for less than the outstanding loan balance. Realtors says short sales contribute not just to the region's better-than-average sales, but to its worse-than-average price declines.

"I've got 70 or 80 short sale listings now. Maybe more. Twenty percent of them have multiple offers," said Craig Beggins of Century 21 Beggins Enterprises in southeast Hillsborough.

Jim Knetsch of RE/MAX Realty Associates in Carrollwood said, "Some of the best bargains right now are short sales. In many of the communities in central Pasco, I'm guessing half the properties or more are truly in short sale territory."

Existing home sales in Florida slipped 26 percent in March over the same month a year earlier, according to the Florida Association of Realtors. It said 9,142 homes were sold last month, compared with 12,356 in March 2007. State home prices were off 15 percent during the same period, from $242,800 to $205,600.

By comparison, the Tampa metro area reported an 11 percent decline in home sales, from 1,250 in March 2007 to 1,107 last month. Prices dropped 18 percent, from $219,800 a year ago to about $180,500 today.

Local totals were skewed for March. That's because Realtors from Pinellas County and west Pasco County failed to report numbers to the Florida association. They blamed complications from a new computer system.

Noteworthy in the March sales statistics was how the real estate slump has spread to what had been relatively immune markets outside the major metro areas. Miami, with its 56 percent home sales decline, was the top loser. But places like Ocala, Pensacola and Gainesville also had worse-than-average declines.

Nationally, Realtors said sales of existing single-family homes dropped 18.4 percent in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.93-million units. The median price of a home sold last month was $198,200, a decline of 8.3 percent from a year ago.

Tampa area Realtors are spotting tentative signs of life in their businesses. Beggins' agency, based in Apollo Beach, reported 114 sales in March, almost double the monthly sales late last fall.

Knetsch is banking on further activity this spring, as lenders sign off on short sales rather than press their claims all the way to foreclosure court.

"What people have to realize is that January and February were two of the slowest individual months since at least January 2003," Knetsch said. "Hopefully we've survived the worst of the market."

James Thorner can be reached at

A mixed bag for local sales

Single-family home sales and prices locally, statewide and nationally were down in March compared with the same month last year. But while the bay area's sales decline was less than half the state average, prices were down more than national and state averages.

Bay area sales: -11 percent; prices: -18 percent

Florida sales: -26 percent; prices: -15 percent

U.S. sales: -18.4 percent; prices: -8.3 percent

* Bay area figures exclude Pinellas and west Pasco sales


A spreading virus?

Smaller Florida metro areas previously buffered from the worst of the home sales decline are now some of the most affected. Here's a sampling of annual sales declines:

Miami: -56 percent

Ocala: -50 percent

Jacksonville: -37 percent

Pensacola: -37 percent

Gainesville: -34 percent

Tampa: -11 percent

Source: Florida Association of Realtors, March 2008 vs. year ago

'Short sales' shift local home sales figures 04/22/08 [Last modified: Friday, April 25, 2008 12:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Last steel beam marks construction milestone for Tom and Mary James' museum


    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom and Mary James on Wednesday signed their names to the last steel beam framing the 105-ton stone mesa that will be built at the entrance of the museum that bears their name: the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.

    The topping-out ceremony of the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art was held Wednesday morning in downtown St. Petersburg. Mary James (from left), husband Tom and Mayor Rick Kriseman signed the final beam before it was put into place. When finished, the $55 million museum at 100 Central Ave. will hold up to 500 pieces of the couple's 3,000-piece art collection. [Courtesy of James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art]
  2. Heights Public Market to host two Tampa Bay food trucks


    TAMPA — The Heights Public Market announced the first two food trucks for its "rotating stall," which will feature new restaurants every four months. Surf and Turf and Empamamas will be rolled out first.

    Heights Public Market is opening this summer inside the Tampa Armature Works building.
[SKIP O'ROURKE   |   Times file photo]

  3. Author Randy Wayne White could open St. Pete's biggest restaurant on the pier

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG — The story begins with Yucatan shrimp.

    St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, pilot Mark Futch, Boca Grande, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, and author and businessman Randy Wayne White,  Sanibel, exit a Maule Super Rocket seaplane after taking a fight around Tampa Bay off the St. Petersburg waterfront, 6/28/17.  White and his business partners are in negotiations with the City of St. Petersburg to build a fourth Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille on the approach to the St. Petersburg Pier with a second event space on the pier according to White. The group met near Spa Beach after a ground breaking ceremony for the new pier. "We want to have our business open by the time the pier opens," said White. Other Dr. Ford restaurants are located on Sanibel, Captiva and Ft. Myers Beach. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  4. Guilty plea for WellCare Health Plans former counsel Thaddeus Bereday


    Former WellCare Health Plans general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District …

    WellCare Health Plans former general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday, pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District of Florida stated Wednesday. [LinkedIn handout]
  5. DOT shows alternatives to former Tampa Bay Express toll lanes


    TAMPA — State transportation officials are evaluating at least a half-dozen alternatives to the controversial Tampa Bay interstate plan that they will workshop with the community over the next 18 months.

    Florida Department of Transportation consultant Brad Flom explains potential alternatives to adding toll lanes to Interstate 275 during a meeting Wednesday at the DOT’s Tampa office. Flom presented seven diagrams, all of which swapped toll lanes for transit, such as light rail or express bus, in the I-275 corridor from downtown Tampa to Bearss Avenue.