Recently I was interviewed for a blog about historic homes, and I thought my blog readers might be interested to read my responses about what’s going on in the Tampa Bay real estate market, as of December 2018. Note for the images below – our stats generally come out 45-60 days later which is why they reflect October 2018.
Interviewer: Anyone who is entering the real estate market in Tampa for the first time is going to want to know what kind of inventory there is—and by inventory I mean architectural style. I know that stucco ranch houses are a big part of this inventory, but can you tell me why? And why do they appeal to so many buyers in Florida?
Liane: There are a lot of architectural styles here actually – from historic bungalows in Hyde Park and the Old Northeast to the stucco ranch homes that are newer construction in areas like New Tampa and Westchase. I think people like a variety of styles – some like stucco/block homes for the feeling of security that comes with them should there be a major storm to ever hit our area, while others enjoy a wood frame bungalow that has stood the test of time for over 100 years.
Interviewer: How quickly are homes selling in the Tampa area? Do buyers need to be quick to make decisions or do they have time to think some things out?
Liane: Things are still moving fast. What I find really interesting is in Pinellas County which encompasses St. Petersburg and Clearwater – homes are selling in 30 days or less. But in Hillsborough County which encompasses Tampa, Brandon, Riverview, and some other the other outlying communities, the time to contract increased 243% since last year. Meaning last year homes were selling in 16 days, now they are selling in 55 days. So buyers might have a little more time in Tampa, but I still wouldn’t hesitate to put in an offer if you see the home of your dreams. You always have your inspection period to fully vet your impending purchase.
Interviewer: Can you give me a simplified explanation of what the Homestead Exemption is? Who is it for and who does it benefit? How do you make sure you get it?
Liane: Homestead exemption is very simply a nice tax break for owning a home. In order to meet the qualification deadline for the exemption you must be a Florida resident and own and occupy the property as your permanent residence on January 1st of the year you claim the exemption. March 1 of each year is the last day to submit a timely filed homestead exemption application. Nevertheless, the property appraiser’s office will consider homestead exemption applications filed after the March 1 deadline. You can apply for homestead for Hillsborough County or Pinellas County online.
Interviewer: What specific things do home buyers need to do to make sure the home is hurricane prepared? How do they tell if the home has been damaged by the hurricane in the past?
Liane: Fortunately, Tampa Bay has not had a direct hit by a hurricane in 30+ years (knock on wood). When you are buying a home, your home inspector can check for signs of past flooding damage, roof damage, etc. You can also ask your insurance agent to check the history of the home for any homeowners insurance claims filed by the owner or previous owners which may indicate storm damage. To prepare for hurricanes, certainly high quality windows help, and hurricane shutters or plywood will help prevent significant damage to the home.
Interviewer: What is the state of Tampa’s real estate market? I’m reading that total inventory is up, which means that the seller’s market is turning into more of an equal playing field for buyers. What do you think?
Liane: Yes and no. Everything is hyper local here. Meaning one neighborhood in Tampa Bay may have rising inventory where another may have extremely low inventory. For example, I guarantee there’s a difference in how fast a Hyde Park bungalow goes under contract, likely in a few days, because inventory is extremely low in this highly desirable waterfront neighborhood versus a New Tampa resale built in 2005, which may take a few weeks or months because there is new construction here competing with the resales. We are still at historic lows for inventory county-wide, but I am starting to see an increase in inventory in some of the new construction areas as buyers continue to want brand new homes and sometimes won’t consider the resale homes in the same area.
Interviewer: Why would a buyer want to move to Tampa and break into this real estate market?
Liane: Well why would you live where there are blizzards?! 🙂 No state income tax, tech industries are moving here as well as the health industry is rapidly expanding here with the building of new hospitals. And obviously our amazing weather doesn’t hurt. I always say your best real estate investment is near water – they aren’t making anymore waterfront.