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  1. Business

Tampa Bay housing prices rose in 2018 but not nearly much as they had been

Prices continued to rise in all four bay area counties but the rate of increase has been cut in half since 2016, according to figures released Tuesday by Florida Realtors. Sales also lagged.
The historic Stovall-Lee house on Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard sold for $9. 5 million in 2018, making it Tampa Bay’s top sale of the year.

Tampa Bay's housing market had another good year in 2018 — but not nearly as good as it has been.

Prices continued to rise in all four bay area counties, but the rate of increase has been cut in half since 2016, according to figures released Tuesday by Florida Realtors. Sales also lagged, with three of the four counties showing little or no growth in completed transactions.

"I would say that right now we are currently experiencing a market rebalancing in that we are shifting more into a buyer's market,'' said Rachel Gallagher, the broker-owner of a Pasco County realty firm. "We're seeing that active days on the market are a little bit longer than normal.''

After the disastrous housing crash of 2008, prices didn't start to rise again until 2012. By the close of 2016, Tampa Bay's market had become one of the hottest in the country.

That year, single-family home prices for the area as a whole shot up 14.5 percent and sales climbed 4.3 percent.

Last year, prices rose 6.8 percent and sales rose less than 1 percent.

Pinellas had the best showing in 2018, with prices for single-family homes climbing about 8 percent to a median of $254,000. It was the only bay area county with prices as high as the statewide median.

Sales, though, dropped more than 3 percent as the supply of available homes continued to be tight for most of the year.

"I definitely feel like it's slowing though it's still a great market,'' said Rachel Sartain, managing broker of two Keller Wiliams' South Pinellas offices with a total of about 400 agents. "You don't have to be afraid of a big boom or a big bust, it's just a good, healthy, stable market.''

Here's how the other bay counties fared in 2018:

Hillsborough: sales up less than 1 percent, prices up 5.7 percent to a median of $248,500. (In 2016, the median price for a single family Hillsborough home was $220,000.)

Pasco: sales up 1.5 percent, prices up 7.5 percent to $215,000. (In 2016, the median was $177,450)

Hernando: sales up 4 percent, prices up 9.7 percent to $170,00. (In 2016, the median was $135,00)

Gallagher, whose Trinity-based office has the highest sales volume of any in the West Pasco Board of Realtors, said she recently met with her 40 agents to discuss the realities of a changing market.

"We've been prepping our agents that they are going to have to work a little harder in 2019 than they did in 2018,'' she said. "I think the days of multiple offers will be decreasing and as we're shifting into a buyer's market, the buyers are going to have more of an upper hand.''

Homes that have been upgraded, though, still tend to sell quickly. "Buyers are not wanting to spend time to fix it up,'' Gallagher said.

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.