The Tampa Tribune reports that Tampa home sales took off in March with sales up 27.3% compared to March 2014. Here is a copy of the article:

The March housing report released a burst of sunshine Wednesday with the news that homes sales were up 27.3 percent in the Tampa region over the same month last year.

A better job market, more people lining up for home loans and some great Central Florida weather all are considered contributors.

sold sign“I’d call it positive and almost remarkable,” said Bob Glaser, CEO of Smith & Associates Real Estate with offices in South Tampa, St. Petersburg and in the beach communities. “My sense to that would be that consumer confidence is strong,” Glaser said.

Statewide, the news is almost as good, with single family home sales up 24.6 percent. Condo and townhome sales in this region jumped 22.1 percent over 2014.

Florida, is ahead of the nation in increased sales. The National Association of Realtors reported a 10.4 percent sales increase in March, compared to a year ago.

“Although there are a lot of folks that are new to this market, there is also a lot of move-up going on in the market,” Glaser said. He also said it is almost certain weather here, compared to a frigid winter elsewhere, played a role in the vigorous March sales growth.

The median sales price for single family homes in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties was $166,918 in March, up 11.3 percent over March 2014. The median sale price for condos and townhomes in March was $115,000, up 9.5 percent over last year.

Barbara Jordan, president of the Greater Tampa Association of Realtors Inc., said this latest marketing report, released by Florida Realtors, should give homeowners assurance about listing their homes and receiving their asking price. Here in Hillsborough County, the percent of original list price received increased by 0.6 percent year over year, with sellers receiving 93.9 percent of their asking price for existing single family homes.

Positive growth in Florida’s housing market is encouraging sellers and buyers,” said 2015 Florida Realtors President Andrew Barbar, a broker with Keller Williams Realty Services in Boca Raton. “Inventories for existing single family homes and for townhouse-condo properties remain in a stable range with a 5- to 6-month supply. On the buyers’ side, new pending sales for existing single family homes in March increased 12.9 percent year over year, while pending sales for townhouse-condo units increased 1.4 percent.

“On the sellers’ side, new listings for single family homes rose 8.6 percent year over year and new townhouse-condo listings rose 5.5 percent,” statewide, Barbar said.

County Statistics

In Hillsborough County, single family homes sales increased by 25.5 percent in March, compared to the same month last year. The median sale price was $186,750, up 7.1 percent year over year. Homes here remained on the market for a median of 50 days, down 2 percent from March 2014. Sales of condos and townhomes increased 25.1 percent, with a median price of $118,587, a 15.4 percent increase over last year.

In Pinellas County, sales were up 27.1 percent in March, compared to 2014. The median sale price for a house was $175,000, up 12.2 percent year over year. Homes in Pinellas remained on the market for a median of 58 days, a 3.6 percent increase over March 2014. Sales of condos and townhomes were up 26.5 percent over March 2014, with a median sale price of $120,000, up 10.1 percent over last year.

Glaser, of Smith & Associates, said he believes people are beginning to understand interest rates better and legislative underwriting changes that have occurred, so they can apply for and get loans, something that hasn’t been easy for quite some time.

“Folks have had to be a bit cleaner than in the past” when it comes to credit scores, he said. “Initially, it took a little bit for people to work through getting a loan and now more people are queued up and have done whatever was necessary to get the loan and move in to the housing market.”

Also, as employment in Florida and in this region has begun to grow, people are in a better position to move up in the housing market, Glaser said.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR, had the same notion. “The combination of low interest rates and the ongoing stability in the job market is improving buyer confidence and finally releasing some of the sizable pent-up demand that accumulated in recent years.”

Florida Factor

And then there is the Florida factor, Glaser said. “Because of it, we are able to garner a bigger international market. And, of course, we are in a much more stable economy in the U.S. and Florida is much more attractive” than a lot of other places.

“When people come here, they want to be at the beach or in a walkable area like St. Pete or in communities with golf courses. Affordability is great and we now have more direct flights coming into Tampa” from other countries.

The surge in sales has yet to cause a meaningful increase in listings, both here and elsewhere in the country. The market, nationwide, has just 4.6 months of supply. A six-month supply is considered a healthy market. The limited supplies have caused prices to rise at a level that hurts affordability. Median home prices increased 7.8 percent over the past 12 months, nationally, to $212,100.

This sets up a tension between rising demand and limited supplies. In order to build on the current sales momentum, more houses need to be listed, said Richard Moody, chief economist at Regions Financial.

“While improving labor market conditions have fostered sturdier income growth and first time buyers are coming back, we nonetheless continue to harbor concerns that lean inventories could pull the plug on a potentially promising spring selling season,” Moody said.

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