House flipping is slowing down as home prices rise, though the Tampa Bay area remains among the most active places in the nation for investors hoping to turn a quick profit.
ZIP codes in the Pinellas Park, Seminole Heights and St. Petersburg areas were especially popular among flippers in the three months ended in September, according to a new report from RealtyTrac's parent company.
Overall, Tampa Bay's flipping rate — during a period in which both profits and cash deals dropped — tied for third highest among U.S. metro areas.
"While the macro trends of low housing inventory and rising home prices are favorable for flippers, they are also … attracting more competition and reducing the availability of deals," said Daren Blomquist of ATTOM Data Solutions. "This is chasing some investors into markets and neighborhoods that may be less fundamentally sound but also offer more value-add opportunities for flippers."
RealtyTrac defines a flip as a property sold in an arms-length transaction for the second time in a 12-month period. In the third quarter, Tampa Bay had 13 of the 100 U.S. ZIP code areas with the highest flipping rates.
Ranked 28th nationally but tops locally was Tampa's 33603, which includes South Seminole Heights. The median purchase price there was $81,000 while the sale price was $170,000, for a 110 percent gross profit of $89,000. (Gross profit does not include the often sizable costs of financing and renovations.)
The adjacent 33604 ZIP, which includes Old Seminole Heights, Sulphur Springs and the Lowry Park area, was also in the top 100.
The soaring popularity of downtown St. Petersburg continues to spur flipper interest in nearby but less expensive areas like ZIP 33713, which includes Historic Kenwood, and ZIPS 33712 and 33705, generally south of Central Avenue. The latter two ZIPs contain up-and-coming neighborhoods like Palmetto Park.
"There are homes built in the '20s and '30s that need attention, but some can be purchased so inexpensively that investors can put in the money they need and still make a profit," said Bruce Harris, a broker with Scott Samuels Realty.
A house bought for around $100,000 "might be worth $200,000 renovated," Harris said. "There are some neighborhoods where you can still pick up houses for $50,000 or $60,00 and they're only worth $130,000 renovated, but that still leaves a (profit) margin good enough for investors."
Elsewhere in Pinellas County, flipping was high in ZIPS 33714 (Lealman), 33781 and 33782 (Pinellas Park) and 33755 (Clearwater). Other bay area ZIPs in the top 100 were 33542 (Zephyrhills), 34668 (Port Richey), 33610 (East Tampa) and 33619 (Clair-Mel City in east Hillsborough).
Nationally, flipping decreased in the third quarter after hitting a six-year high the previous quarter. Meanwhile, the share of flippers buying with cash — 67.9 percent — was the lowest since 2008.
Of metro areas with at least 90 flips in the third quarter, Memphis had the highest flipping rate — 11 percent of all sales — followed by Clarksville, Tenn., at 9.5 percent. Tampa Bay tied with the Daytona Beach and Porterville, Calif., areas at 9.3 percent.
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Contact Susan Taylor Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.