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Tampa Bay home sales soar again in April as condo market sizzles

Courtesy Premier Sotheby's International Realty
Premier Sotheby's International, Unit 1202 at 400 Beach Drive, which sold in April at its full asking price of $1.375 million after just a few days on the market.
Courtesy Premier Sotheby's International Realty Premier Sotheby's International, Unit 1202 at 400 Beach Drive, which sold in April at its full asking price of $1.375 million after just a few days on the market.
Published May 22, 2015

Tampa Bay home sales shot up in April with prices also showing strong gains even as many buyers paid in cash.

In Pinellas County, year-over-year sales of single-family homes rose 21.3 percent while sales of condos and townhomes jumped 17.5 percent.

In Hillsborough, sales of single-family homes increased 20.2 percent while sales of condos and townhomes soared 27.4 percent.

"It's a fabulous market, absolutely,'' said veteran agent Mary Pond of Smith & Associates in Tampa. "It's been tremendous.''

Especially buoyant are condo sales in downtown Tampa and downtown St. Petersburg as more and more buyers, many with cash in hand, seek that urban vibe.

In Tampa, 36 condos sold in April, double the number a year ago. A 3,000 square foot penthouse at the Towers of Channelside commanded the top price — $1.04 million in an all-cash deal.

Condo sales were equally robust in downtown St. Petersburg, doubling year over year.

Prices shot up, too, with five sales over $1 million compared to just two at the same time last year. Most luxury condos sold near or at list price — the buyer of a Vinoy Place condo paid $31,000 above the $1.499 million asking price for a three-bedroom, two-bath unit.

"It's an extremely hot market right now,'' said Peggy Grom of Premier Sotheby's International Realty. "People want to see the water, and you have the restaurants, sport venues, cultural opportunities.''

Grom was the listing agent on a 12th floor unit at 400 Beach Drive that sold almost immediately for the full $1.375 million asking price.

"We put it on the market the Friday of the Grand Prix and we had buyers from around the country and world looking at it because they were here for the race,'' Grom said. "We had eight showings on Grand Prix weekend and two contracts that Monday. It sold the next business day.''

In all, 21 of the 36 condos that changed hands in downtown St. Petersburg in April were cash deals including six of the 10 most expensive.

"It's amazing to me how many people are paying in cash,'' Pond said.

Who are all these cash buyers? Doctors? Lawyers? Hedge fund managers?

"It's all different realms,'' Pond said, "but they're getting younger and younger.''

While luxury condos are in high demand, some cash buyers still like grass under their toes. The two most expensive places sold in April were both single-family homes.

In Pinellas, a two-story bayfront manse in northeast St. Petersburg's Venetian Isles went to Kyle Leon Investments of Canada for $2.1 million. (Leon is a well-known muscle builder who markets a "customized fat loss program.'' )

That was only the second Venetian Isles home to sell for more than $2 million, said Dania Perry, the Century 21 listing agent. A third is under contract.

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In Hillsborough, the CEO of Bongo International, a company that facilitates cross-border e-commerce transactions, paid $2.726 million cash for a 5,500 square foot home on Culbreath Bayou in always popular South Tampa.

Pasco's most expensive sale in April was $950,000 for a home on Lake Ann in Odessa. In Hernando, a home in Weeki Wachee drew the top amount, $430,000.

As the Tampa Bay Times reported Sunday, the booming market is making it ever harder for buyers — especially young, first-time ones — to find moderately price homes in desired neighborhoods.

In Hillsborough, the average price for a single-family home shot up to $242,246 in April — $26,000 higher than in February — while the average condo price hit almost $153,000, a year-over year increase of 12.7 percent.

In Pinellas, average prices were $250,368 for single-family homes and $196,034 for condos, year-over-year gains of 9.1 percent and 14.3 percent respectively.

Statewide, sales of single-family homes jumped 17.9 percent while condo sales rose 8.1 percent.

"The housing market continues to surge with all of Florida's metro areas showing some improvement,'' said John Tuccillo, chief economist of Florida Realtors. "But the data details show some areas of concern obscured in the aggregate number. … Inventory is critically short in the under $200,000 price range.''

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

CORRECTION: A photo on this story shows a Tampa home at 4915 Bay Way Drive that sold in April for the highest amount of any bay area home. The 5,500-square-foot home on Culbreath Bayou in South Tampa was purchased for cash. Earlier versions of this story appearing in print and online gave a different address.

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