Tampa Bay's heated housing market is finally starting to cool, as fewer sales and tempered prices signal a shift from the summer boom.
About 2,800 local homes sold last month at a median price of $160,000, 18 percent higher than September 2012, listing data show.
But last month's sales slipped 12 percent from August to their lowest point in seven months. Median single-family home prices have fallen about $10,000 since the July peak.
Home sales often slow in the fall because many buyers want to move before their children start school.
But Realtors say prices are settling down as big investors slow their home-buying binges. For the ninth month in a row, fewer local homes were bought with cash than the month before.
"I can see those red arrows (of sales prices) pointing down from the listing price," said Armando Ruiz, a Re/Max Realtor covering eastern Hillsborough County. "That wasn't the case earlier this year."
A little dialing back might be good for the local market. Months of rocketing price gains had many worried about a new, unsustainable bubble.
But some of the slowdown may also stem from worries over flood insurance rate hikes, which Realtors say have squashed deals and spooked once-interested buyers.
Some buyers may also have been discouraged with sudden mortgage rate jumps in June and July, when many of the homes sold last month went under contract.
Economists call moderating prices a positive sign that home sales are moving closer to a traditional market.
"The housing market is transitioning away from a rebound driven primarily by speculative forces to one where the underlying fundamentals will be much more important," Wells Fargo analysts wrote last week. "The housing recovery will now depend more on that most elusive element — homeowners. Put simply, we need more of them."
Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 893-8252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.