Parts of Florida and the nation are still recovering from the last housing bubble, which sapped personal wealth and confidence in home ownership, government, banking and the markets. That's why the latest snapshot suggesting a cooling down in housing prices in Tampa Bay might be a welcome sign of sanity.
In Hillsborough County, median prices rose for the third straight month by a single digit, July sales figures show. Pinellas, at 11.6 percent, saw the second-smallest increase in a year. Prices still gained a robust 11.2 percent in Hernando County and 14 percent in Pasco County, although increases have slowed significantly since the first part of the year.
It's foolish to draw too many sweeping conclusions from any single month. But a tempering of the market could be healthy. A slowdown in prices would be a relief to first-time home buyers, and it could help attract new talent to one of the nation's fastest-growing metro areas. High prices have forced some potential buyers into the rental market, jacking up prices in that sector as well.
Home prices that are more in line with household incomes also would benefit the economy and society more broadly. It helps to stabilize the personal finances of many in the middle class, creates new opportunities for minorities to achieve the American Dream and can act as a natural bridge for integrating communities.
Home prices are still rising far faster than incomes, stretching disposable dollars that could be put to better uses. Still, the July figures show the market might be becoming both healthy and a bit more level-headed. Nothing wrong there.