Thursday, September 20, 2018
Business

Tampa Bay's housing market remains a bargain as nation's home prices climb

Tampa Bay's median home price enjoyed a bump to $175,000, a brisk 12.2 percent annual gain in the second quarter, but those figures reveal a housing market that remains sharply cheaper than many of its peer metro areas in Florida and the Southeast.

The lower price yet higher growth in Tampa Bay marks it as a more affordable market that's still appreciating faster than many similar metros in the state and southern region. That's not only a promising opportunity for home buyers but a marketing message for Tampa Bay economic development leaders to businesses considering relocation or expansion here: There's good bang for the investment buck, especially with mortgage rates still extremely low.

Within the state, Orlando's median price hit $198,000 and Jacksonville cracked the $200,000 marker at $204,500, with the Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro topping the larger Florida markets at $289,900 — all up from a year ago but at slower growth rates than in Tampa Bay.

A strip of Florida's east coast enjoyed some of the faster leaps in housing prices in the country. According to the National Association of Realtors, home prices rose rapidly in the stretch of small cities between Port St. Lucie and Titusville, with the median sales price in those areas rising about 20 percent from a year earlier.

Among major metros in the Southeast, Atlanta's median home price rose 9.2 percent to $181,500. That's $6,500 more than Tampa Bay's median price after a period of years when this Florida housing market was consistently more expensive than Atlanta.

In North Carolina, Charlotte's median price was up 11.3 percent to $211,400, while Raleigh enjoyed a 17.2 percent spurt to $247,900 — reflecting the state capital's ongoing reputation as a go-to place for technology companies, millennials and well-educated workers.

Like Raleigh, some other markets that Tampa Bay likes to compare itself to are getting expensive. In Texas, Austin's median home price hit $271,900, up almost 10 percent on the year. And Nashville homes rose 12.8 percent to $208,500, more than $33,000 above Tampa Bay's comparable price.

Nationally, home prices in the second quarter rose in 163 out of 176 metro areas, continuing their upward trajectory even as economists warn of looming affordability problems and a limited supply of homes for sale.

The median existing single-family home price rose to $229,400 in the second quarter, up 8.2 percent from a year earlier.

"Steady rent increases, the slow rise in mortgage rates and stronger local job markets fueled demand throughout most of the country this spring. While this led to a boost in sales paces not seen since before the downturn, overall supply failed to keep up and pushed prices higher in a majority of metro areas," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist.

If these price differences across the Southeast metro areas seem substantial, they are. Tampa Bay home prices are rising after a crippling drop during the burst housing bubble.

On a broader map, though, certain metro areas boast median home prices so startlingly high, it's a wonder they will not soon face an exodus. California cities continued to dominate the list of most expensive markets, with San Jose/Silicon Valley commanding a median sales price of $980,000 — or 5.6 times Tampa Bay's price.

Contact Robert Trigaux at [email protected]

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