Most Americans' single largest investment is their home, so the health of the local residential housing market has a far more direct impact on their financial well-being than the fate of the global markets.
Charles Richardson, residential senior vice president for the West Central Florida region of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, makes it his business to monitor the local residential housing market closely, and he says he likes what he has been seeing lately.
"I study the markets on a monthly basis and track what has happened over the previous six months of sales activity," Richardson explains. "When we look at the single-family homes segment of the market, we see the demand and the buyer activity increasing while the active inventory is decreasing. That's a good thing. We are seeing market activities and other signs of recovery that clearly indicate that the Tampa Bay area housing market is turning in a favorable way. Prices have stabilized and the median sales price has been showing signs of growth over the last few months. Those are encouraging indications of a market in recovery."
In the $250,000 and under price range, Richardson says that the demand is exceeding the supply in the Tampa Bay area and that buyers are looking for value.
"There has been increased traffic at our open house events because people are out looking for their dream home," Richardson explains. "People are aware that it is a fabulous time to buy a home, because of the great pricing, affordable interest rates and large inventory to choose from."
While the greatest reduction of residential inventory was in the $250,000 and less segment of the market, Richardson says that savvy buyers are finding great deals on the luxury side of the market, where prices start in the $500,000 range. The luxury home inventory has remained fairly constant as consumers are naturally wary of spending too much, while others are downsizing from their larger homes into something more manageable.
"Buyers are finding tremendous values in the luxury market that they would not have dreamed possible five years ago," Richardson explains. "The shrinking inventory of available homes in the $250,000 market segment should encourage buyers not to wait if they want to get the best values in that price range."
Richardson says it may take a little longer for the residential housing market to balance itself out in regard to high end luxury homes, but he says that the trends he has been tracking in single-family homes sales are indicators that the market as a whole is experiencing recovery.
"It is likely to take a little more time for the luxury side of the market to balance out," Richardson adds. "The signs for the Tampa Bay market overall are very positive. Hillsborough County has had a very strong rebound over the last few months."
As the largest real estate broker in the Tampa Bay area, Coldwell Banker has to study the market closely and understand its dynamics. Whether a client is a buyer or seller, Richardson wants his company to exceed expectations.
"In the Tampa Bay market, we sell 2½ homes for each home that our nearest competitor sells," Richardson explains. "Our success is largely the result of having highly-trained sales associates, many with specialist training in specific market segments, such as short sales or luxury homes. Whether clients are buyers or sellers, they want to work with people who are the best trained and who have expertise in the type of real estate transaction they are seeking. No other broker can match Coldwell Banker when it comes to the training programs offered to associates."
Richardson points out that Coldwell Banker also offers a full-service property management division for annual and seasonal rentals as well as investors looking to rent out their properties. "The rental division has grown significantly with the change of the market due the numbers of short sales and foreclosures. We want to offer our clients a full-service real estate experience when they come to us for their real estate needs," he says.
"Now is the best time we have had in a decade to buy or sell real estate. Because of our market share, Coldwell Banker is the best broker choice for anyone looking to buy or sell a home," Richardson continues. "We are the No. 1 Internet broker. If you list your home with us today, tomorrow it will be marketed on more than 550 different Web sites with a global audience."
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