Make us your home page

Tampa Bay home sales see best October in four years

A St. Petersburg home recently sold on Fifth Street N. Tampa Bay home sales had their best October in four years.


A St. Petersburg home recently sold on Fifth Street N. Tampa Bay home sales had their best October in four years.

Tampa Bay home sales had their best October in four years as buyers scooped up distressed properties using the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit.

Realtor sales in Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough and Hernando counties totaled 2,758 in October, the month's highest number of closings since 3,735 homes changed hands in October 2005.

The rise wasn't restricted to Tampa Bay. All 19 Florida metro areas reported year-over-year gains in home sales. Home buyers also turned out in greater numbers nationally.

Apollo Beach real estate broker Craig Beggins had his best month in more than a year: His realty company closed 124 deals worth about $20 million. A quarter of those were short sale homes in which banks approved transactions for less than the mortgage amount.

Typical of the first-time homeowners attracted to the tax credit, a young bartender Beggins befriended landed a 1,400-square-foot townhome near Apollo Beach for $61,000. It was selling for $120,000 just two years earlier, but the bank let the preforeclosure home go at a steep discount.

On top of that, the buyer will get a $6,100 check from the government next year to cover the first-time home buyer tax credit. The credit is 10 percent of a home's purchase price, up to $8,000.

"Her total payment's just $550 a month," Beggins said. "Now she's going to Home Depot to buy drapes and all that stuff. She's stimulating the economy."

The home sales data comes from Florida Realtors, which noted that Tampa Bay home sales rose 36 percent from a year earlier, when closings totaled 2,021. Foreclosure and preforeclosure homes made up close to half of all sales in October. The median home price dropped 10 percent over the year, from $152,300 to $137,500. That's 42 percent lower than it was at the price peak in the summer of 2006.

Across the country, resales rose 10.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.1 million in October, from 5.5 million in September. It was the biggest monthly increase in a decade and far better than what economists expected, according to Thomson Reuters. The median home price nationally was $173,100, down 7 percent since the previous October and 25 percent from the peak.

Low prices, the $8,000 tax credit and favorable interest rates combined to make it a good time for first-time home buyers. But in the Tampa Bay area, cash buyers were rife, too, suggesting it was much more than first-timers driving the market.

"We sold a half-million-dollar place on the beach to a couple from Scotland sight-unseen," said Mike Ward, a manager at Keller Williams Gulf Coast Realty in Seminole. "We just keep plodding through, and it all came to a nice culmination in October. Let's hope it continues."

What's good for home buyers isn't always good for banks. One Beggins cash buyer snagged a townhome originally worth $440,000 for $75,000 last month in the Little Harbor area of Apollo Beach. The payments are so small the investor-owner can profit by renting it out. "If he doesn't want to rent it, he's got a beautiful little resort townhome he can use part of the year," Beggins said.

The government recently extended the tax credit into 2010 and expanded it to non-first-time home buyers. To collect the subsidy, buyers need to sign a purchase contract by April 30 and close the deal by June 30.

Some housing analysts fear the expiration of the credit, combined with high unemployment and soon-to-rise mortgage rates, could postpone a full real estate recovery.

Rising foreclosures could prevent home appreciation next year, though one prominent real estate company, First American CoreLogic, forecasts that Tampa Bay home prices will rise 5.6 percent between September 2009 and September 2010.

"When we do kick those crutches out from under the housing market, will it be able to stand on its own?" said Mark Fleming, chief economist with First American CoreLogic. "It's really hard to tell."

James Thorner can be reached at or (813) 226-3313.

Year over year gains

October home sales and how much they improved from a year earlier

Florida15,160+45 percent
Tampa Bay2,758+36 percent
Hillsborough County/east Pasco County1,722 +35 percent
Pinellas County718+37 percent
Source: Florida Realtors, Pinellas Realtor Organization, Greater Tampa Association of Realtors

Tampa Bay home sales see best October in four years 11/23/09 [Last modified: Monday, November 23, 2009 10:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Groundbreaking today for complex on old Tampa Tribune site

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — A groundbreaking is slated for 10 a.m. today for a 400-unit apartment complex planned on the site of the former Tampa Tribune building in downtown Tampa.

    Renderings for a high-end apartment complex that will be built on the Tampa Tribune site in downtown Tampa. 
[Courtesy of Related Group]
  2. Walmart announces delivery partnership with Google


    Walmart announced a new delivery partnership with Google to make online shopping easier for customers.

    People walk in and out of a Walmart store in Dallas. Walmart announced a new delivery partnership with Google.  [Associated Press]
  3. Insurance regulators fret over a spike in auto glass claims


    TALLAHASSEE — Three months ago, state regulators weren't tracking a surge in broken auto glass claims, particularly in Tampa Bay.

    The issue has their attention now.

    The Office of Insurance Regulation is taking on assignment of benefits abuse in the 2018 legislative session. Pictured is Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier. | [Times file photo]
  4. Proino Breakfast Club owner charged with not paying state taxes


    LARGO — Just before noon on a recent Sunday at Proino Breakfast Club, the dining room was bustling as owner George Soulellis chatted with a customer.

    Proino Breakfast Club at 201 West Bay Drive in Largo. The owner was arrested last month on a theft of state funds charge, according to court records. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times
  5. Former Sen. Greg Evers, advocate for law enforcement, dead at 62.

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Former State Sen. Greg Evers, the Baker Florida strawberry farmer and veteran politician, was killed in a single car crash hear his home in Okaloosa County. The Florida Highway Patrol confirmed the death late Tuesday, but deferred any further information pending an investigation. He was 62.

    Former Florida Senator Greg Evers, R- Milton, was a passionate advocate for law enforcement and corrections officers. He was found dead Tuesday afternoon in a car crash. He was 62. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]