Tag: tampa bay

Tampa Bay Home Sales Up In October

It was another good month for Tampa Bay homes sales in October. It was the biggest percentage gain in the last three months. And typically, October is not a very active month for real estate sales.

Sales were up 21% in October. One realtor commented that there was really no slowdown at all in this usually quieter fall buying time.

Florida overall did well. Sales were up 17.8% and prices rose 4.6% to $177K. That’s the 35th consecutive month where prices have risen.

Some say that it’s too soon to know if this is a sustainable trend or if this is just a one month spike. But it’s clear that the real estate market is heading in the right direction.

Tampa Bay Median Prices Still Low

The median sale price in Tampa Bay for single-family home is $159,900, still one of the lowest in the state. But on a county-by-county basis there are pockets of good news.

  • Pinellas’ median is $175,000 which is up 13% from the same time last year.
  • Hillsborough was at $204,231 which was a 6% increase.

Condos in general are looking good as well. They moved up 17% to $116,000.

The next question is how will the normally slow holiday period of November and December do. If things stay steady then we might just be doing well.

Who knows, maybe the early cold weather up north may have some snowbirds down here looking for a more permanent place to roost. After all, isn’t that how many of us got here?

What About Jobs

The only sobering thought is how poor the average income is in the Tampa Bay area. According to recent studies talked about in this post, average incomes in Tampa Bay are moving up very slowly. The recovery is adding many low-paying jobs and not enough middle-income jobs. This will help keep home prices down and sales weak unless things change.

But let’s focus on the good news for now.

It Doesn’t Add Up For Low-Income Home Buyers

Despite having one of the lowest median home prices in Florida, buying a home in Tampa Bay is far from easy for lower-income or even middle-income families.

Yes the median home price in Tampa Bay of $156K would seem to be in reach of many buyers. But the problem is incomes are even lower. The average median household income this year is $45,880 for the typical Tampa Bay family. That puts the Tampa area dead last among the top 25 metro areas.

If you look at the numbers, according to financial advisor website interest.com, Tampa Bay middle class homebuyers are 3% short if having enough money needed to buy even the average home on the market today in the Tampa Bay area.

No wonder the Tampa Bay real estate market is still struggling.

This study supports findings by another report by the United Way. They found that almost half of Florida households struggle to afford basic needs. That study says 3.2 million in the state, or about 600,000 in the Tampa area, are having trouble buying necessities let alone consider buying homes or luxury items.

This helps explain why the Rays have a hard time filling the stadium and why restaurants often close after a short time. People just can’t afford these “luxury” items if they are having a hard time meeting basic needs.

The Most Affordable Metro Areas

Of the major metropolitan areas here’s the top 5 in terms of affordability…

  1. Minneapolis
  2. Atlanta
  3. St. Louis
  4. Detroit
  5. Pittsburgh

Tampa Bay ranks 13th in terms of affordability in the interest.com list of the Top 25.

I guess the good news is, we sure would choose Tampa Bay over the cities on that list. It has so much more to offer. And that explains why so many people want to live here despite the problem with average incomes.

The Lowest Income Metro Areas

Here’s the top 5 lowest and highest income cities on the list…

Lowest

  • Tampa – $45,880
  • Miami – $49,946
  • Pittsburgh – $51,291
  • San Antonio – $51,716
  • Phoenix – $51,847

Highest

  • Washington D.C. – $90,149
  • San Francisco – $79,624
  • Boston – $72,907
  • Baltimore – $68,455
  • Seattle – $67,479

Still living in Tampa Bay is not so bad and definitely worth what it costs us to live here. It reminds me of the famous quote from Mark Twain…

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

Tampa Bay Home Prices Lag Behind State

Yes home sales continue to go up at a nice rate… a solid 4.4% over the last three months compared to last year.

But home prices are not going up at the same rate. The median home price was down 9.3%, or an average of $145,000, during that same 3-month period.

I suppose if you’re a first-time buyer, or are in a lower income bracket, this is not bad news. It does make our region one of the the most affordable places to buy a home in many ways in all of Florida.

But if you’re one of the many homeowners who are underwater with their mortgages then you’d like to see prices go up a bit more quickly.

Tampa Bay Has Always Been “Inexpensive”

Compared to other major metro areas in Florida, Tampa Bay’s median home prices are quite low. And they’ve pretty much been that way for a long time.

There are nine other metro areas with higher median home prices.

  • Naples-Marco Island – $342,500
  • Miami-Fort Lauderdale – $270,000
  • Sarasota-Bradenton-Northport – $195,850
  • Fort Walton Beach-Destin – $192,500
  • Jacksonville – $186,500
  • Cape Coral-Ft. Meyers – $180,000
  • Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford – $179,950
  • Gainesville – $181,000
  • Tallahassee – $175,000
  • Tampa-St. Pete-Clearwater – $145,000

How come we are lagging so far behind?

Well it’s really just about our reputation. We don’t seem to attract the big-spenders or the well-healed to our area. They tend to go to Naples and Miami. You could argue that the Tampa Bay area is a well-kept secret. This can be both good and bad for home owners.

That secret may be great for some, but for homeowners looking to see their investment grow, it’s not so great.

Older Homes Bring Down Median Price

And it’s true our area has a lot of homes that are smaller and were built over 30 years ago. Most of the homes built in the last 15 years are bigger and nicer and have higher values. But those older homes and neighborhoods are still relatively inexpensive. Again, good for new home buyers but it does keep the average down a bit.

Still, we all know we live in a wonderful area with far more perks than many of the areas rated higher. Not many areas have three professional sport teams, a thriving night-life, some of the best beaches in the world — and can claim to be affordable. Personally I think Tampa Bay has much more to offer than any of the metros higher on the list. And sooner or later the word will get out and those home prices will go up.

And then we’ll be calling this time frame “the good old days.”

Maybe we just don’t know just how lucky we are.