Is Tampa Bay’s real estate market starting to calm down?

One local Realtor said the market is headed for “normality,” but another said it’s too early to tell.
A home for sale, 541 Locklie Street, on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, in Dunedin.
A home for sale, 541 Locklie Street, on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, in Dunedin. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Aug. 24, 2021

After months of bidding wars and offers coming in over asking price, new sales data released Monday showed the pace of Tampa Bay’s hyper-competitive real estate market slowed in July.

Pinellas County saw nearly 13 percent fewer single-family home sales than the same month last year, according to the data from Florida Realtors. Hillsborough’ dropped almost 8 percent and Pasco had about 3 percent fewer sales. Hernando County bucked the trend with about 1 percent more sales in July year-over-year, but all four counties saw fewer sales when compared to June.

It’s not the first time during the year’s white-hot market that sales have declined. When that happened previously, it was widely blamed on the nationwide inventory shortage. Last month, there were small signs of improvement. More houses were listed in July than the same month last year in all four counties, from nearly 13 percent more new listings in Pinellas to about 19 percent more in Pasco.

Related: House inventory shortage ‘dire’ with gap of millions of homes, Realtors’ report warns

Pinellas-based Realtor Michael Thompson, who works for Keller Williams, attributed the data to a calming of the market, and said it’s “on a trajectory to what we consider normality.”

The rise in listings combined with the drop in sales is a sign that many sellers are “behind the curve,” he said.

“They want to list and they want to list too high,” Thompson said, adding that he’s noticed more properties lately taking longer to sell. “The buyers are just not going to fall for it as much.”

He said as more people perceive a “shift” in market conditions, it’s possible that there will be a surge of buyers who’ve been waiting on the sidelines. But in the coming months, Thompson predicted that sales will continue to slow, and buyers won’t be paying so much over asking price anymore.

Prices around Tampa Bay continued to be more than 20 percent higher than the same time last year. Pinellas’ median sales price in July was $375,000, while Hillsborough’s was $350,000. Pasco had a median price of $310,000 and Hernando’s was $260,000, according to the Florida Realtors figures.

Cash sales, which are more often used by wealthy second-home buyers and investors, were also dramatically up in all four counties, by as much as 123 percent in Hillsborough.

Related: Tampa Bay’s June home sales, listings tick upward

The nationwide sales numbers moved in the opposite direction as those in Tampa Bay, with a 2 percent increase in sales of single-family homes, townhomes, condos and co-ops from June to July, according to the National Association of Realtors. That represents 1.5 percent more sales than the same month last year.

Still, Lawrence Yun, the association’s chief economist, also pointed to a rise in inventory across the country, which he said “will lessen the intensity of multiple offers.”

“Although we shouldn’t expect to see home prices drop in the coming months, there is a chance that they will level off as inventory continues to gradually improve,” he said.

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Joseph Troy, a Realtor with Charles Rutenberg Realty in Pinellas, said he’s also heard talk about the market cooling off, and said things have felt “subtly different.” But he said it’s too early to tell if it’s the beginning of a trend.

“Maybe if somebody was getting 20 offers before, they’re getting 10 offers now,” he said. “By any measure it’s still an extreme sellers’ market.”