stocksnap_7cbtrb4buxAs the year begins to wind down, you may want to consider getting a piece of the St. Petersburg Real Estate action! It’s not too late to take advantage of this years upswing. Below we have outlined some of the reasons the Real Estate Market in our area is at its prime!

1. Wide range of price points in the housing market. 

1. People are employed. The trend line for the Tampa unemployment rate began to drop at the beginning of September 2015 and, by November, had dipped to 4.6 percent. Much of that employment came from sectors outside agriculture – translation: jobs, jobs, jobs! And jobs mean people are in the market for homes.

2. People are educated. Over a dozen years beginning in 2000, the population in the 25-to-34 age group with a bachelor’s degree grew by more than 30,000 in Tampa, St. Pete and Clearwater. That represents a growth rate of 40 percent! Portland and its surrounding metro areas are trendy, but our rate surpassed even theirs. Our region also outstripped three other huge metropolitan areas: the greater Washington, D.C., metro region; Los Angeles and environs, and New York-New Jersey, whose growth in this category was 36 percent, 30 percent and 25 percent, respectively. This is good for sellers because a younger, more highly educated population is hungry for homes.

3. Housing starts trend upward. Housing starts are a measure of the optimism of home builders. Lots of starts mean a strong belief that a good buying market exists for homes. If you look at a graph of housing starts back through 2010 and even before, you see an upward curve with very few dips. Closings closely mirror starts, again reflecting that upward trajectory.

4. Homes exist in every price category. Tampa Bay, over the past few years, has displayed a strong inventory of homes at almost every price point. That choice and array makes us attractive to people looking to relocate. If you are looking in the lower price ranges you may want to consider the Palm Harbor and Oldsmar areas where there is more to choose from. Most of the homes fall into three categories: $150,000 to $200,000, $200,000 to $250,000, and $250,000 to $300,000.

5. More homes are changing hands each year. This is an active market, with sales handled by Realtors breaking new records every year since 2011. (There are a few exceptions to this, such as November 2013 compared with November 2012, but such dips in sales are rare.)

6. Almost any month is a good month to sell a home. Home sales surged in our region in June and July of 2015. But the curve isn’t dramatic. Sales typically slump a little in January and February, but not by much.

7. You are likely to make money on the sale. Five years’ worth of data shows that sales prices shot up throughout 2015. In at least four months during the year, the median home price in 2015 in Tampa Bay was approximately $20,000 higher than the year before.

8. The short sale frenzy is over. Sales of traditional homes are up almost 17 percent. Short-sale transactions are down 41 percent. The market is returning to something approaching normal.

9. Either Hillsborough County or Pinellas County is a good place to sell a home. It doesn’t matter which side of the bay you’re on – houses fly. Comparing December 2015 to the prior year, sales of single family homes in Pinellas are up 3.4 percent, and in Hillsborough they’re up .5 percent. Median sales price is up 10 percent in Pinellas; up 15 percent in Hillsborough. In both counties, single-family homes sell in about six to seven weeks on average. The median sale price in Pinellas started 2015 in January at $156,500 and ended in December at $186,450. The median sale price in Hillsborough started 2015 in January at $160,000 and ended in December at $211,450. That’s money in sellers’ banks.

10. Competition with other sellers is better now than it will be. Economists say some sellers are still holding out, betting that their homes will command higher prices in a healthier market. But once that glut of homes-for-sale occurs, supply-and-demand will kick in. Instead of cashing in, you’ll be one of many awash in a sea of “for sale” signs. New listings in Pinellas numbered 1,131 in December, down 1.5 percent over the previous year. Hillsborough had more new listings – 1,356 – but was down 6.4 percent. Now is the time!

Interestingly, those tracking growth in the Tampa region might be surprised to know that the top four regions for housing starts (new construction) are, in descending order, South Hillsborough, Central Pasco-New Tampa, South Brandon and Southwest Pasco. Our area is straining at the northern and southern seams.

As I’ve said in the past, sellers should strongly consider putting their homes on the market now while demand is outstripping supply. Jonathan Smoke, chief economist of realtor.com®, confirms the outlook. He says, “Fundamentally, we are experiencing a market with not enough to sell.”