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Tampa Bay's jump in home prices among highest in the state

The Tampa Bay area posted a sales increase in July, with 3,500 single-family home sales, a 22 percent year-over-year jump.

Times files

The Tampa Bay area posted a sales increase in July, with 3,500 single-family home sales, a 22 percent year-over-year jump.

Tampa Bay homes last month posted some of the biggest price jumps in the state, but gaunt supplies of homes for sale continue to stifle the market, Florida Realtors said Monday.

Median home prices here jumped to about $165,000, 27 percent over those in July 2012, a rate beaten only by Punta Gorda and Vero Beach, where fewer sales lead to more volatile price shifts.

Prices jumped 20 percent in Miami and 23 percent in Orlando. Tampa Bay also posted a bigger sales increase than those metros, with 3,500 single-family home sales, a 22 percent year-over-year jump.

Why here? A rush of buy-to-rent investors targeting bargains in the Hillsborough and Pasco suburbs has helped boost prices and crimp supplies already tight with buyer demand.

Foreclosures and short sales that dragged down prices are also exerting less pull. About 60 percent of sales here in early 2011 were of distressed homes; last month, that dropped to 30 percent, listing data show.

Tampa Bay home prices now sit almost directly in the middle of their 2006 peak ($245,000) and 2011 bottom ($107,500), a sign that the local market is still more moderate than the last bubble.

But the seller's market empowered by a skimpy supply of local for-sale homes could further cut into what many home buyers can afford. Hillsborough's home inventory dropped last month to a three-month supply, half the size of a healthy market. And Pinellas' inventory stands at about four months, a 23 percent drop over last year's.

There are some "straws in the wind," however, that suggest the state's inventory crunch could ease, Florida Realtors chief economist John Tuccillo said.

New home listings in Florida have jumped year-over-year every month since December, as sellers enticed by higher prices jump into the market. That could cause prices overheated by competition to cool.

"Most likely, we're going to see prices begin to stabilize," wrote Bruce Tigert of Bayshore Title in a report on South Tampa's housing market, "and a slight — but very slight — cooling of demand."

The median Florida home sold for 18 percent more last month than in the year before, and sales grew 20 percent over July 2012, to more than 21,000 closed deals.

Florida Realtors, which typically releases data alongside the National Association of Realtors, made its newest numbers public Monday after a five-day technical delay.

Across the country, median home prices jumped to $213,500, just 7 percent below their 2006 peak. Two years ago, U.S. home prices were 25 percent below their peak.

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

Tampa Bay's jump in home prices among highest in the state 08/26/13 [Last modified: Monday, August 26, 2013 9:23pm]
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