Editor’s note: This story is part of a series that examines how Tampa Bay has changed in the past decade. We will publish one story a day until Dec. 31. Read the whole package here.
In 2009, there was hardly a block in the Tampa Bay area that didn’t have at least one house in foreclosure. Neighbors who had lived there for years were suddenly gone, last seen backing out of their weedy driveways with U-hauls packed to the roof.
Prices had begun to fall three years earlier as interest rates rose, and by 2009 many houses were selling for less than half of what they had at the peak of the real estate boom. People couldn’t sell for what they owed, and they couldn’t keep making payments on mortgage loans whose adjustable rates had soared to unaffordable levels. In 2009, Pinellas County had 15,164 new foreclosure filings, two-and-a-half times more than in 2006.
In the boom days, "if a house was on the market more than two weeks, clients started to get worried,'' recalls Lance Williams, a Tampa Realtor. "After the downturn, the timetable was probably three months to six months. You would have clients saying, ‘Why isn’t it moving?’ and you’d just have to tell them the truth — the bottom’s fallen out.''
Willliams stuck with it but thousands of other real estate agents left the business. Investors with cash were about the only ones buying.
In early 2013, signs emerged that the market might be starting to recover. Companies like Texas-based David Weekley Homes began buying small, older houses in South Tampa and St. Petersburg’s Snell Isle and replacing them with big new McMansions that sold for more than $1 million. By 2015, sellers were starting to reap small profits and by 2016 the recovery was well underway.
In 2009, the median price of a Tampa Bay home was $151,500. Today, it is $244,900. In January, a gulf-front mansion sold for $16.5 million, the most ever paid for a Tampa Bay home.
Now, the main complaint is there aren’t enough nice, affordable houses for everyone who wants one.
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Tampa Bay housing, 2009-2019
1. Number of Pinellas County homes that sold for $1 million or more in 2009: 112
Number of Pinellas County homes that have sold for $1 million or more this year: 652
2. Number of bank-owned homes in Hillsborough County that sold in 2009: 3,669
Number of bank-owed homes in Hillsborough County that have sold this year: 786
3. Number of Pasco County houses that sold for $100,000 or less in 2009: 2,022.
Number of Pasco County houses that have sold for $100,000 or less this year: 714
4. What the house at 3781 10th St. NE n St. Petersburg sold for in 2009: $115,000.
What the house at 3781 10th St. NE in St. Petersburg sold for last year: $247,000.
5. Number of people who took the licensing exam to be a Florida real estate agent in 2009: 22,736
Number of people who took the licensing exam to be real estate agent last year: 66,665