Friday, June 22, 2018
Business

Tampa Bay year-over-year home prices see first dip in 29 months

Tampa Bay home prices dropped year-over-year for the first time in 29 months as the spring selling season sputtered to a close, triggering fresh worries over a flattening housing rebound.

Median home prices sagged to $162,000, down about 1 percent from the previous May, data from Realtors' multiple listing service show. The number of sales also dipped for the seventh time in the last eight months.

The price slide, though small, combined with sluggish sales marks a dispiriting end for the season Realtors hoped would rekindle a dimming market.

But it also underlines what economists have called fundamental weaknesses in the housing recovery: stagnant wages, strict mortgage rules and anxiety over the cost of the American dream.

"Consumers' lukewarm income expectations and reticence about the economy seem to be holding back housing demand," Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at mortgage giant Fannie Mae, said Monday. "Economic conditions continue to be the top concern among consumers who think it's a bad time to buy or sell a home."

Agents say home sales are struggling because house hunters can't find anything they want to buy. Sellers are hesitant to list amid rising prices or worried they won't be able to find a place to move, dropping inventory levels below what is traditionally seen as a balanced market, Hills­borough and Pinellas Realtors groups said.

Many can't even think about buying, because they still owe more on their mortgages than their current homes are worth. Tampa Bay remains the most "underwater" community in America, with 179,000 homeowners, or about 30 percent of all mortgaged homes, still waiting to resurface, CoreLogic data show.

Once-reliable fuels of the housing market have proven increasingly hard to find. First-time buyers, who are struggling with limited savings, spotty credit and weighty anchors from student-loan debt, accounted for 29 percent of existing-home sales nationwide in April, down from an average of 40 percent five years ago, National Association of Realtors data show.

And while rates for a 30-year fixed mortgage remain historically low, at 4.14 percent, banks' strict lending standards are blocking potential buyers or spooking them before they start.

"The likelihood of you getting a loan is not that much different, you just have to jump through a lot more hoops," said Andrew Duncan, a Re/Max real estate broker in Tampa. "The process is just more grueling. People are worried they won't qualify, or they'll be embarrassed, so they just don't try."

The market this year has underwhelmed largely due to the booming rebound of 2013, when buying was boosted by a torrent of cash from investors gobbling bargain-priced homes.

As the bargains have vanished, so, too, have the bulk buyers who propped up the market. Cash deals from investors and other deep-pocketed buyers last month slid below 40 percent of all sales for the first time since early 2012.

"At this time of the year last year, things started to get a little crazy. It had that bubble feel to it, with so many offers," said Steve Capen, a Keller Williams agent in St. Petersburg. "Things are getting balanced. . . . It's a healthier market. But we still have a very low inventory."

The condo market, where supplies have been constrained during a years-long construction coma, is also seeing fewer sales but heightened prices. About 775 condos sold last month, 10 percent below last year, while median prices rose to $90,000, 14 percent above May 2013.

The share of what's selling in single-family homes has changed, too, with short sales dropping to the lowest share of purchases since 2008. Conventional sales of nondistressed homes have grown, but many foreclosures remain stuck in limbo. By April, state court data show, foreclosure judges still had more than 38,000 Tampa Bay cases to resolve.

Drew Harwell can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8252.

Comments
Coal and gas hold onto their share of electricity production, despite massive push for renewables

Coal and gas hold onto their share of electricity production, despite massive push for renewables

Here’s an intriguing set of facts: Coal produces the same percentage of the world’s electricity as 20 years ago. Oil and gas remain about level, too.Same for nonfossil fuel sources. In other words, the massive push towards renewables over the past co...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Brink: Why have Florida’s working-age men left the labor market in droves

Brink: Why have Florida’s working-age men left the labor market in droves

A cancer lurks within Florida’s otherwise rosy job numbers, one that’s been called a quiet catastrophe and an intractable time bomb.Too many men between the ages of 25 and 54 have stopped working.Economists call those the prime-age years. Incomes gen...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

TAMPA — The days ahead were supposed to be bright.For weeks, health care tech company CareSync had been thrown into question as founder and CEO and founder Travis Bond unexpectedly departed, kicking off multiple rounds of layoffs. But that was all in...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Pride divided no more: St. Pete Pride comes back together

Pride divided no more: St. Pete Pride comes back together

ST. PETERSBURG — The 16th annual St. Pete Pride Parade is getting ready to march along the downtown waterfront the second straight year. But many hope to move past the division caused last year when the parade was uprooted from its original hom...
Updated: 6 hours ago
For sale: A Tampa Bay area elementary school where you can eat tacos and buy wine

For sale: A Tampa Bay area elementary school where you can eat tacos and buy wine

ST. PETERSBURG — For sale: a 104-year-old elementary school with restaurant and wine shop. It even has a title company where you can close the deal.Less than a year after completing a major renovation of the historic North Ward school, developer Jona...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Domain Homes: Buyers love them, some others don’t

Domain Homes: Buyers love them, some others don’t

TAMPA — When the 2008 financial crash brought down the nation’s housing market, hundreds of home builders went out of business. Among them was Sharon McSwain Homes in Atlanta, forced to liquidate in 2009.But just as developers like to develop, builde...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Armature Works developers sue Ulele and city of Tampa over use of nearby building

Armature Works developers sue Ulele and city of Tampa over use of nearby building

TAMPA — Two of the city’s hottest developers — the companies behind Ulele and the Armature Works — are heading to court over control of an old city building that sits between the hit eateries. Both want to redevelop the city&...
Published: 06/21/18
Orlando airport first to scan faces of U.S. citizens on international flights

Orlando airport first to scan faces of U.S. citizens on international flights

Associated PressFlorida’s busiest airport is becoming the first in the nation to require a face scan of passengers on all arriving and departing international flights, including U.S. citizens, according to officials there. The expected announcement T...
Published: 06/21/18
Saboteur or whistleblower? Battle between Elon Musk and former Tesla employee turns ugly, exposing internal rancor

Saboteur or whistleblower? Battle between Elon Musk and former Tesla employee turns ugly, exposing internal rancor

Hours after Tesla had sued its former employee on charges he had stolen company secrets, and days after chief Elon Musk had called him a saboteur, the Silicon Valley automaker made a startling claim. The company had received a call from a friend of t...
Published: 06/21/18
WTR Pool and Grille brings ‘fun dining’ pool party scene to Tampa

WTR Pool and Grille brings ‘fun dining’ pool party scene to Tampa

Mike Piper has traveled to Las Vegas and Miami and enjoyed the fun, daytime, party pool scene that the two cities have to offer.Now he aims to bring that same atmosphere to Tampa with a new dining and hang out spot. WTR Pool & Grill opened on Sunday ...
Published: 06/21/18