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October was another strong month for Tampa Bay home sales

One sign of the times: Some local homeowners have been getting unsolicited texts from investors looking to buy their houses, one Realtor said.
[Associated Press]
[Associated Press]
Published Nov. 23, 2020

Tampa Bay’s real estate market continued to charge forward in October, marking the fifth straight month of mostly robust numbers since the onset of the pandemic slowed down sales this spring.

Compared to the same month last year, sales of single-family homes were up by about 13 percent in Pinellas County, by about 12 percent in Hillsborough, by nearly 28 percent in Pasco and around 15 percent in Hernando, according to figures recently released by Florida Realtors.

Both Pasco and Hernando counties have seen enough sales so far this year to overcome the slump earlier this year, with an overall increase of sales year-to-date. Pinellas and Hillsborough counties still have had slightly fewer sales year-to-date, but are on track to make it in the black by the end of 2020 if the momentum persists.

“Frankly, considering all the adverse elements of the year we are all delightfully surprised that things in the real estate world are going so well,” said Lance Williams, a Tampa Realtor.

Lou Brown, Jr., a St. Petersburg broker and owner of his own firm in Pinellas, said one sign of the market’s fast pace is he’s been hearing from homeowners around Midtown St. Petersburg who’ve been receiving unsolicited texts, postcards and other solicitations from investors trying to buy their houses.

“Two or three times a week people get either a text or some kind of email ... just begging for their business,” he said. “It’s aggravating if you have no interest.”

The inventory of houses on the market still sat at abnormal lows, with all four counties seeing more than 39 percent fewer listings at the end of the month compared to October 2019. Pasco’s drop was the most dramatic, at nearly 50 percent.

That low inventory plus soaring demand meant that October also followed the pattern of rapidly rising prices.

Last month, Pinellas’ median sales price climbed more than 18 percent year-over-year to reach $325,000, Hillsborough’s increased nearly 16 percent to $290,000, Pasco’s went up by about 16 percent to $266,208 and Hernando’s also rose 16 percent to $215,500.

Brown said these numbers only add to his concerns about affordability.

“It’s great if you’re on the inside and you got it, but if you’re on the outside and you’re trying to get it, not so good,” he said.

The local numbers reflected the continuing national strength of the housing market. Nationwide, sales of single-family homes, townhomes, condos and co-ops were up 26.6 percent in October year-over-year, according to the National Association of Realtors.

“With news that a COVID-19 vaccine will soon be available, and with mortgage rates projected to hover around 3 percent in 2021, I expect the market’s growth to continue into 2021,” said Lawrence Yun, the association’s chief economist, in a statement.

Prices are also rising quickly around the country. A recent report by the National Association of Realtors found that in the third quarter, single-family existing-home prices rose in all of the 181 metro areas that it tracks, 65 percent of which saw price increases in the double digits.

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