Tampa Bay home sales surged in July, marking second month of pandemic recovery

The inventory of homes on the market continues to put a squeeze on supply.
[ ROBERT BURKE | Times (2007) ]
Published Aug. 21, 2020

Tampa Bay’s real estate market trended upward again in July, marking its second month of recovery after the coronavirus pandemic stunted spring sales.

Compared to July 2019, closed sales of single-family homes were up by 8 percent in Pinellas, about 12 percent in Pasco and 8 percent in Hillsborough County, according to new numbers released Friday by Florida Realtors. In June, too, each county saw year-over-year sales increases, though of less than 1 percent in Hillsborough.

Those increases mostly came from sales of homes priced at $250,000 and above, as the lowest-priced homes still lagged behind.

The more robust sales, though, are highlighting another statistic: the shrinking inventory of homes on the market for sale. July was the starkest month so far in that regard, with all three Tampa Bay area counties having more than 40 percent less inventory in July 2020 than the same month last year, according to the report.

Put another way, Florida Realtors estimated that the current supply of homes in Tampa Bay will last roughly 1.4 months in the current market. The number for a “balanced market,” favoring neither buyers nor sellers, is 5.5 months.

The same trends were true nationally. Sales of single-family homes, townhomes, condos and co-ops were up 8.7 percent from a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors. Sales were also up 24.7 percent compared to June, which the association said was a record month-to-month jump.

Economists say low interest rates, pent-up demand and greater interest in suburban areas are creating a source of momentum that could provide needed strength to broader economic recovery.

The Realtor association’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, said in a news release the housing market has moved past recovery and is now “booming.”

“With the sizable shift in remote work, current homeowners are looking for larger homes and this will lead to a secondary level of demand even into 2021,” he said.

Total housing inventory was also down 21.1 percent nationwide compared to last year, which Yun said needs to be remedied.

“The number of new listings is increasing, but they are quickly taken out of the market from heavy buyer competition,” he said. “More homes need to be built.”

Median sales prices have continued to rise, and Friday the National Association of Realtors announced that for the first time ever, the national median price crossed over $300,000, at $304,100 in July.

Pinellas’ median sales price crossed that threshold in June, and rose again to $308,000 last month, which was a 13.3 percent increase over last year. The median price in Hillsborough was $289,470, a 12.2 percent year-over-year increase. And in Pasco, it was $255,000, up 7.1 percent year over year.