Make us your home page

Tampa Bay homes sales sputter, but prices show steady climb

Fewer short sales and investor purchases led Tampa Bay home sales to sputter last month, but rising prices and a stabilizing housing market could fuel a strong spring selling season, new listing data show.

About 2,900 homes here sold last month, down 7 percent from March 2013, extending a losing streak not seen here since 2007: Five of the past six months have seen sales drop lower than they were a year before.

But that dropoff is largely due to climbing median home prices, which hit $157,000 last month and which have beaten their year-ago levels for 27 months in a row.

Those climbing prices have turned away bargain-hunting investors who helped fuel last year's housing market. About 1,200 homes sold last month in all-cash deals, which investors prefer, compared with 1,500 in March 2013.

Rising prices have also helped "underwater" homeowners who owed more than the value of their home resurface with equity. About 225 homes sold last month as short sales, for less than their outstanding loans, compared with 500 in March last year.

Condo sales slipped 1 percent last month compared to March 2013, but median prices jumped 10 percent, to about $81,000, data show.

As the first month after the winter doldrums, March is seen as a key month for real estate agents. Last month saw 25 percent more home sales here than in February, My Florida Regional Multiple Listing Service data show.

And many of those sales came the old-fashioned way, not as short sales or foreclosures, which agents said was a sign the scars of the housing bubble are continuing to disappear. About 2,000 conventional sales were completed last month, about the same level as in March 2013.

"The market is stabilizing. The last of the short sales are pretty much gone, and (foreclosures) have slowed," said Brad Monroe, a Brandon-based broker associate with Pangea Realty Group. "The regular market is doing very well."

Some Realtors expect this selling year may be one of moderation, after last year's resurgent bounce off the bottom led to worries over a new housing bubble.

Mortgage rates have nudged upward, with a 30-year fixed loan averaging about 4.3 percent last month, compared to 3.5 percent last March.

Agents and buyers continue to struggle with tight inventories of homes on the market, as home­owners wait for even higher prices before listing their home for sale.

In a monthly survey by Credit Suisse, agents here said buyer traffic was lower than expected, with many running into problems securing loans from banks or scouring for too few homes.

Tight supplies of for-sale homes have helped bump prices higher, and agents said they expected them to keep climbing in coming months.

After a poor January and February, said Craig Beggins, the Apollo Beach-based broker of Century 21 Beggins Enterprises, March was "fantastic." "I've got people bouncing off the walls expecting the spring selling season to knock it out of the park."

Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 893-8252 or

Tampa Bay homes sales sputter, but prices show steady climb 04/08/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 7:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Airbag maker Takata bankruptcy filing expected in Japan, U.S.


    DETROIT — Japanese airbag maker Takata Corp. has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of faulty air bag inflators.

  2. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park


    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  3. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  4. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood


    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  5. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa


    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.