By Kenneth Hall

Home ownership has long been the cornerstone of the American dream, but for the last five years or so, the housing market has been a scary place for many people. However, things are definitely looking up in the Tampa Bay housing market, according to Charles Richardson, regional senior vice president of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, who closely monitors market trends. Each month, he studies the current and previous six month’s sales statistics, and he sees favorable indicators that the resale market is becoming more stable, especially in the area of inventory.

“We are back to a market that is showing signs of good health,” Richardson says. “Based on the average of the last six months, there is a 3.46-month supply of inventory homes in Hillsborough County and 3.54-month supply in Pinellas County. Both are strong markets in that regard.”

Richardson explains that there is equilibrium in the market when there is a six-month supply of inventory homes, and that market prices are stable at that level of supply. Because the Tampa Bay area’s average supply of inventory homes is below six months, home values are on the rise.

“There is a trend in the market for prices and values to be going up, and that’s a good thing,” Richardson adds. “There is more demand than supply.”

Richardson points out that in October 2013, the median price for single-family-home sales in Hillsborough County was $175,000, compared to $145,000 a year ago and $130,000 two years ago. In Pinellas County, the median price for single-family-home sales in October 2013 was $150,000 compared to $129,000 a year ago and $120,000 two years ago.

“That’s obviously a very attractive growth rate. It’s easy to see the direction of the market and that is a very positive sign for the overall health of the economy,” Richardson adds. “Right now we are in a really strong growth cycle in real estate.”

Because home values and prices are on the rise and the unemployment rates in the Tampa Bay area are decreasing more people are looking to buy a home.

“When the job market improves, and when houses sell, it creates jobs and more people buy houses,” Richardson says. “Many people were waiting for the market to show the signs of life that we are seeing now. Those who are coming back to the marketplace are capitalizing on the better prices they are getting for homes, as well as the great values they are getting on the homes they are buying.”

Richardson says it is a great time to participate in the market, whether as a buyer or seller. The limited supply of homes and rising prices make it a very attractive market for sellers wanting to get the best price for their homes. For those in the market to buy a home, Richardson says that now is the time to act.

“The interest rates we have right now are unprecedented,” Richardson says. “We’ve had interest rates below 5 percent for an extended period, but that can’t last forever. If the interest rate goes up 1 point, which many economists believe it will, people will have 25 percent less buying power, so now is the time to capitalize on this window of opportunity. There are a lot of good quality properties on the market at historically low prices.

“Right now is a good time for a homeowner to look at the value of their home and compare it to what they could buy in the marketplace, whether they want to look at a higher price point or to downsize,” Richardson continues.

Richardson says that Coldwell Banker can get homeowners the best deal when they are ready to sell their current home. He says that the vast majority of homebuyers begin their search for a new home online, and Coldwell Banker’s properties are on 575 different websites, and operates in more than 50 different countries.

“Coldwell Banker reaches more people with our marketing and internet presence than any other real estate company,” Richardson adds.  “Our extensive marketing provides the maximum exposure for your home, which provides the best chance to get the highest possible price in the shortest amount of time. If you are thinking of buying a home, you may find you will get more for your money with the selection available in today’s market and at today’s interest rates than you could have ever found before in any market we have seen in the past.”

Source: Tampa Tribune (24 November 2013)