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Local housing picture still positive in June

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Published:   |   Updated: July 23, 2013 at 10:38 PM

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TAMPA - Housing prices in the Tampa Bay area rose 18.7 percent in June when compared with this time last year, a strong performance even if it was slightly slower than the blistering growth of previous months.

That's one of the insights from a generally positive Florida Realtors report issued Tuesday. Another noteworthy development: Cash purchases across the state are falling, a possible sign that the frenzy by investors is slowing.

According to new Florida Realtors' figures, the Tampa Bay region saw 3,440 closed sales of existing single-family homes in June. That was up 11.1 percent over the same month last year. The figures only count homes sold through the Multiple Listing Service, so they don't include foreclosure sales at the courthouse or private sales between banks and investors.

Housing prices continued rising, too, with the median sale price in the Bay area rising 18.7 percent to $158,500. Those are good numbers, but they're slightly off from a red-hot market in May, when the number of home sales surged by nearly 20 percent and the median sale price rose by more than 23 percent when compared with the same time last year.

Ken Chase, a Realtor based in Wesley Chapel, said appraisers seem to be bumping up their valuation of homes, which should make it easier to close deals. He's in the midst of selling a home in South Tampa for $255,000 and worried the appraisal might come in too low and kill the deal. Instead, the home appraised for $275,000.

"I feel appraisals are getting better, because the market is realizing" the appreciation, Chase said.

Statewide, the median sale price of a single-family home rose to $175,000 in June, and the number of closed sales rose to 20,403. Those figures were up 15.1 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively, year over year.

John Tuccillo, chief economist for Florida Realtors, said the state's housing market is in the middle of positive expansion that should continue through the year. The rising prices are good for homeowners, but they may be scaring off some investors. For example, in June, about 43.5 percent of all sales involved cash buyers. That has fallen every month since February, when cash-only deals accounted for 50.8 percent of sales. It's assumed that many cash buyers are investors, Tuccillo said.

That may be a sign that investors are starting to retreat because prices are getting too high for them to make their investment returns. Another possible sign of an investor slowdown is a decline in sales of low-priced homes. The number of homes selling for $100,000 to $149,999 in June fell by 0.7 percent over the past year, the first time houses in that price range have seen a decline in months. That's the price range many investors target, so it's another sign they are backing off, Tuccillo said.

msasso@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7865

Twitter: @msasso

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