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Tampa Bay’s August home sales flat, prompting more predictions of normalcy

One national economist said buyers are getting more patient, while another sees the market starting to level out.
A Charles Rutenberg Realty sign marks a home for sale, 541 Locklie Street, on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, in Dunedin.
A Charles Rutenberg Realty sign marks a home for sale, 541 Locklie Street, on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, in Dunedin. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Sep. 22
Updated Sep. 22

Tampa Bay’s competitive real estate market continued to follow the trends seen over the last year in August, as inventory remained low and median sales prices were double-digit percentages higher than a year ago.

But there were also slight signs of change. Pinellas County had about 5 percent fewer single-family home sales compared to August 2020, Hillsborough had about 3 percent more sales, and Pasco’s remained close to level with just a 1 percent increase, according to new numbers released Wednesday by Florida Realtors.

Those figures, relatively flat when compared to some of the year-over-year gains of months past, lead some industry professionals to believe the market’s fervor is ever so slightly starting to level off. Hernando County was the exception, with about 18 percent more sales than the same time last year.

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

Nationally, sales of single-family homes, townhomes, condos and co-ops also decreased by 2 percent from July to August, and were 1.5 percent lower than one year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors.

“Sales slipped a bit in August as prices rose nationwide,” said Lawrence Yun, the association’s chief economist, in a news release. “Although there was a decline in home purchases, potential buyers are out and about searching, but much more measured about their financial limits, and simply waiting for more inventory.”

Ruben Gonzalez, chief economist at Keller Williams Realty, also pointed out that the “abnormal surge” of sales in the second half of 2020 will increase the likelihood of negative year-over-year percentages, even if sales this fall stay relatively strong compared to normal years. But he also predicted a “return to normal seasonal patterns.”

“Home sales will remain strong going into next year, but we should see inventory levels continue to slowly trend toward more normal levels and home price appreciation begin to slow over time,” he said in a statement.

Higher prices continue to be a major concern of economists as affordability continues to erode. The national median price last month hit $356,700, marking 114 straight months of year-over-year gains.

The median sales price was $362,000 in Pinellas, $358,000 in Hillsborough, $316,000 in Pasco and $273,000 in Hernando.

But Carol Hasbrouck, a St. Petersburg-based Realtor with Charles Rutenberg Realty, said she has noticed some sellers reducing prices after they listed their houses too high.

“I personally have not had any sales with multiple offers in the last three sales I’ve done,” she said, though she noted they were all higher-end properties between $400,000 and $1.5 million.

Homes more in the price range for first-time buyers attract stiffer competition, she said, and she still hears about buyers struggling to compete with cash offers and homes selling above asking price.

Tampa Bay’s inventory, measured in how many months it would take to deplete all listings at the current sales pace, was still less than half the already low national average. Cash sales were also significantly up in all four counties when compared to last year.

“It’s definitely still a sellers’ market,” Hasbrouck said. “I do feel a slight easing up.”