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Tampa Bay's home prices continue to climb in a seller's market

Tampa Bay's spring-summer selling season got off to a strong start in April though it was again better news for sellers than buyers.

With single-family homes still in short supply, the median price jumped nearly 12 percent year-over-year to $190,000. But sales rose just 3.8 percent.

How tight is the supply and how high is the demand? In Pinellas, the median time from listing to contract plunged 30 percent — from 40 days last April to just 28 days this year. That means "buyers can continue to expect a very competitive market,'' David B. Bennett, president of Pinellas Realtor Organization, said in a statement.

All four bay-area counties showed solid price gains. Hernando led the way at 20 percent, to $138,000, followed by Pinellas, up 11 percent to $200,000; Pasco, up 10.4 percent to $170,000; and Hillsborough, up 6.4 percent to $207,545.

In Hillsborough, the market "is very steady and across the board, whether it's luxury homes or bungalows,'' said Ed Gunning, an agent with Smith & Associates in Tampa.

Gunning and his colleague Mary Pond listed the bay area's priciest home sold in April — $4.213 million cash for a newly built, 7,300-square-foot French West Indies-style home in Tampa's Culbreath Isles.

That bayfront community "is going through a huge renaissance with, like, 12 new homes,'' Gunning said. "They are tearing down 3,500-square-foot houses to build today's houses. And believe or not, a lot of these really expensive homes are cash — I hardly see any mortgages.''

As for South Tampa in general, "it is its own world,'' Gunning said. "Even during the recession you never had a lot of inventory. You're on a peninsula surrounded by water, it has great architecture, great restaurants, it's just really hot all the time.''

April's top sale in Pinellas was $3.625 million for another newly built home, a 7,000-square-foot Mediterranean-style mansion on the Gulf of Mexico in Indian Shores. It, too, was an all-cash deal.

In Pasco County, the most paid was $750,000 for a 5,000-square-foot home with fairway views of Trinity's Fox Hollow Golf Course. And in Hernando, a home on nearly nine acres in Masaryktown went for $500,000, slightly over list price.

Sales of condos and townhomes in the Tampa Bay area rose nearly 8 percent in April with prices climbing 8.2 percent to a median of $131,000.

Throughout Florida, year-over-year sales of single family homes dipped by 0.6 percent while median prices rose 9.2 percent to $213,000, the 53rd month in a row of gains.

"Still-low mortgage interest rates and a strong jobs outlook are positive trends for Florida's housing market," said Matey Veissa, president of Florida Realtors. "We're also seeing a rising number of new listings added to the market, which is a trend that needs to continue as many areas still face a shortage of supply, particularly for single-family homes."

An encouraging sign for buyers: New listings for homes rose in the Tampa Bay area in April, with Hernando leading at 12.5 percent, followed by Pinellas at 3.9 percent, Hillsborough at 3.4 percent and Pasco at a scant 0.3 percent.

Gunning predicts that Tampa Bay will continue to remain a hot real estate market because of its enviable geographic location.

"There are very few major metro areas like Tampa or St. Pete that you can live in and be at the beach in 30 minutes,'' he said. "Whether you're buying a first home or a $4 million place, that's nice for a lot of people.''

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

$190,000 The median price of a single-family home, which jumped nearly 12 percent year-over-year

3.8 Percent of the rise in sales of single-family homes in Tampa Bay

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