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Tampa Bay home sales rebound off weak spring, but challenges remain

Tampa Bay home sales rebounded last month after a disappointing spring, rising 3 percent over last June and renewing hopes that the housing recovery is back on track.

About 3,400 single-family homes sold here in June, the second-busiest month for sales since the housing bubble burst, Realtor data show. The median home sold for $167,000, about 2 percent higher than at the same time last year as prices near a post-bust peak.

Home prices here have consistently gained since the market bottomed in 2011, with median prices climbing year-over-year for 30 of the past 31 months.

Those jumping costs nudged out bulk investors and tight-budget buyers, causing sales to drop nearly every month this year. But pent-up demand from the spring slowdown, coupled with some of the year's lowest mortgage rates, have helped nudge home shoppers back to life.

"Home buyers still appear to have a little more spring in their step as … job growth and consumer confidence continue to improve," Wells Fargo Securities economists wrote in a commentary released Wednesday.

The changing tenor, analysts say, could reflect a market that's shaking off the distorting effects of big-spending investors and a flood of underwater homes.

All-cash deals, many from investors, dropped last month to 35 percent of all home sales, the lowest point since 2010. And not since 2008 have conventional sales made up such a big part (73 percent) of total sales — and short sales and foreclosures such a small slice (27 percent).

About 750 Tampa Bay condos sold last month, leading to the biggest year-over-year sales jump since last summer, and condo prices continued a 14-month climb, to a median of $85,000.

Mortgage rates for a 30-year fixed loan dropped to 4.14 percent last month, down from 4.53 at the start of the year.

Though buoyed sales inspired optimism from real estate agents, analysts said a host of worrying challenges for home buyers remain, including strained supplies of homes for sale, restrictive lenders, high levels of delinquent mortgages and overstretched affordability for hopeful homeowners, especially first-time buyers.

"While the improvement has brought about a sense of relief," Wells Fargo Securities economists wrote, "the fundamentals are only marginally better than they were a few months ago."

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

Tampa Bay housing numbers

Single-family home sales

AreaJune 2014May 2014June 2013
Tampa Bay3,4013,3673,287
Hillsborough1,4531,3681,425
Pinellas1,0801,1571,017
Pasco759734711

Median home price

Area June 2014May 2014June 2013
Tampa Bay$167,000$162,000$162,500
Hillsborough$182,990$182,550$186,500
Pinellas$160,000$159,900$158,950
Pasco$150,000$147,332$143,000

Source: My Florida Regional Multiple Listing Service

Tampa Bay home sales rebound off weak spring, but challenges remain 07/09/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 9, 2014 11:20pm]
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