Recently, I had the opportunity to appear again on Bay News 9 and talk about what’s going on in the Tampa Bay real estate market and what to expect from the summer selling season.
Holly Gregory: We are getting into the busiest time of year when it comes to buying and selling a home – that’s spring and summer. People wanting to get in a new house before school starts again and so we wanted to check in and see how things are looking with the Tampa Bay real estate market and Liane Jamason is with DWELL Real Estate. She helps us track these things. Welcome back.
LIANE: Thank you. Thank you.
HG: It’s still a sellers market.
LIANE: Yes still a seller’s market. Yes.
HG: And it has been for how long now?
LIANE: Quite a while. Gosh. I mean it’s been close to a decade.
HG: Is that the longest you’ve ever seen a sellers market.
LIANE. Yeah – I mean I got my license at the beginning of ‘06 so it was a – you know – I starting to see short sales trickle in and things like that then. So it’s been up for quite awhile.
HG: OK. And what defines a seller’s market exactly?
LIANE: So a seller’s market is typically when you are below about five and a half to six months of inventory. When you hit about five and a half, six months you’re considered a balanced market. And then more than that would be considered a buyer’s market.
HG: So where we’re below that then?
Liane: We’re way below. We’re very much so – we are at about three months supply of inventory which is very low. We’re up slightly from where we have been – we were at about 2.4- 2.5 months. So it’s up slightly but still extremely in that seller’s market range.
HG: OK. And why do you think it is or are people just who might want to go upgrade a home or might otherwise be selling their home or are they just waiting for the market to correct a little bit more or what all goes into it?
Liane: Yes I think there could be several things but I think that’s that’s part of it. Some people are just waiting to see what happens. But interest rates you know we’re expected to go up and they actually went down and it’s looking like they’re going to stay down for the rest of the year. So that is encouraging people to go ahead and buy. And of course we have thousands of people move to Florida every day.
HG: We sure do. So we do now as a seller’s market you would expect that the prices would therefore be going up. Are you seeing that reflected?
Liane: Yes they are going up very slightly just slightly. So the median sale prices are up about 6 percent in Pinellas and Pasco last year. Hillsborough County was only up about 1 percent. But the closed sales are down very slightly. So again that can be an inventory problem – sometimes things aren’t being built fast enough for people to buy them.
HG: And Pinellas would have more of a problem with that than the other counties.
HG: And maybe that’s why their prices are a little bit showing more growth there. Price ranges? Any anything better in a certain price range to sell than others? I mean what’s really in demand.
LIANE: The most popular is $150 to 400K. Where the majority of the sales are taking place.
HG: So as we get into spring and summer that’s when families want to buy that house if they’re looking because they want to get settled in the school districts. And it’s going to start to really really heat up or is it already?
LIANE: It is already. Yes. Yes definitely.
HG: If you’re a seller things you are to your advantage right now theoretically but you still want to be able to get the very best price as a buyer you want to get the very best deal.
HG: So what do folks on either side of the fence here need to know is they are entering this busy time.
LIANE: So for sellers, yes you still have to make sure your home looks good, you’re still in competition with many other listings out there. So you know look at the curb appeal of the home as if you’re a buyer – painting the front door and you know planning new flowers and cleaning up the beds can make a big difference. Sometimes I tell people you know it depends if you put money into a home or not if it makes sense. But kitchens and bathrooms are a big place that people look. So if you can do a minimal investment to update a kitchen or bathroom that’s always a good thing. Staging if the home is vacant stage tomes you statistically sell for more money. So it’s you know it makes sense it’s a good investment.
HG: I remember selling a house once and we were already moved out and moved into another one and I just thought well if it’s open if you can see everything and then people can visualize what they’ll put into it and it looks bigger because all the furniture is gone. But actually I think it’s just the opposite isn’t it?
LIANE: Yeah, it can make it feel a little bit cold if it’s not staged so it definitely makes a difference.
HG: That’s a small investment that you could do.
HG: Another thing that you noticed in these numbers that’s really interesting is a jump a significant jump in Pinellas County in condos and you think you know why that is.
LIANE: Yeah I think I’ve have that figured out. It was a 42% jump in the average price of townhomes and condos and I directly attribute that to ONE St. Petersburg which is now the tallest condo tower in St. Pete. They went under a reservation around 2015-2016 and they just sold out and now we’re even seeing resales flipping there. The average price point there was over a million dollars. So that is a direct correlate.
HG: That’s going to bring up the average for sure. Now those folks who bought what three years ago when they had the chance to do that before they had even building in place. And you’re saying they’re reselling them.
LIANE: Mm hmm.
HG: How’s that investment working out?
LIANE: It seems to be a great investment – I’m seeing people getting between about a 25 to 41% return on their money. So that’s not too bad over two or three years.
HG: Oh no not at all no. And they’re gonna have an opportunity to invest in another property as well?
LIANE: Yes the same developer KOLTER has a new project coming up called SALTAIRE and they are expected to start taking reservations here very shortly.
HG: And the folks in ONE St. Petersburg will have priority.
LIANE: Yes. Yes. They made them a priority offer to come in this week and do a reservation.
HG: Would you expect to see that go quickly considering those numbers?
LIANE: Oh yes, I think they are seeing what happened at ONE and I think it’s going to probably follow the same pattern and sell quickly.
HG: Any other trends or suggestions as folks head into this season if they’re thinking of either buying or selling that they that they should have in mind?
LIANE: Definitely when you’re on the buying side it’s a competitive market out there because especially in that $150 to $400K price point so you want to choose a Realtor who is a strong negotiator, maybe that one that knows what an escalation clause is, which is a special clause that you can use in a contract to help you win if you know you’re going into a bidding war.
LIANE: Limit contingencies in the contract, maybe shorten your inspection period. Put a little more money down in escrow if you can. So those are just a couple tips to help you win.
HG: Get the one the one that you want. Because I wonder since it’s such a seller’s market if you know folks are even giving up who have money to buy but they’re just not quite finding something what they want or the competition is is too much for them.
LIANE: So yeah it can be a little frustrating.
HG: All right well thanks for keeping us up on the trends. It’s going to be a busy season I’m sure. How long do you think you might see a flip and it becomes a buyer’s market or is that too tough to see?
LIANE : Yeah I wish I knew. Right now with interest rates so low, you know I think it’s going to continue this way for a while.
HG: Alright Liane thank you.