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Real Estate

Home sales, listings are rising in Tampa Bay area

Staff
Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 03:39 PM

When something falls as hard as the housing market did a few years ago, it's sometimes hard to feel comfortable being a part of it again.

But anyone who is still approaching buying or selling a home with trepidation could be left out of the cold. The housing market has rebounded, ??? and locally Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate is leading the way.

"I was at four different open houses recently, and the traffic at each of those was just outstanding," said Charles Richardson, regional senior vice president of West Central Florida for Coldwell Banker. "We are seeing an increase in buyer activity, which is always an encouraging sign, and there is substantial value in the marketplace."

Buyers are not only taking advantage of lower prices, but also interest rates that could fall below 4 percent depending on the type of mortgage. That has shrunk the size? NUMBER? of local unsold homes from amounts that would take years to sell off, to just a six-month supply.

That means some of the best deals for the best homes are being negotiated now, and buyers standing on the sidelines could easily miss out.

"Right now, we have less supply and greater demand, which is helping property values to stabilize," Richardson said. "We've even seen some situations in the last couple months where we've had multiple offers on a single property."

Existing home sales are up 8 percent across the state and 6 percent in the greater Tampa Bay area, according to Florida Realtors. Listings are up just as much locally as well, with Colwell Banker enjoying the No. 1 market share position with approximately 14 percent of closed sales in 2011.

Richardson attributes the significant market share growth enjoyed by Coldwell Banker this past year to an expanding Internet marketing presence and a highly trained sales force, which is equipped with state-of-the-art technology for marketing and communication systems.

Median prices of homes have also remained stable over the past two years, despite the continued presence of short sales and foreclosure sales, which tend to bring the market down.

In fact, short sales and foreclosure sales still make up more than 40 percent of the market in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. And when those numbers are removed from the equation, housing prices are much more in-line with what people might expect in a normal market.

And that means it's becoming a good time to sell, too.

"We are really seeing a sense of urgency out there from buyers who would like to connect with a great home," Richardson said. Because far fewer homes are on the market as they were in recent years, the choices have become much more limited. So a great home in a great neighborhood could attract broad attention, and even see its price pushed higher through bidding.

Most of the attention has centered on homes listed under $300,000. In Hillsborough and Pinellas, those homes are typically not on the market longer than a few months, while pricier homes above $1 million might spend a couple years waiting for a buyer.

The days of seeing a home languish on the market for months or even years are over, HE SAYS? and deals are being closed.

That just happened recently in Tampa's Westchase neighborhood to a home listed by Coldwell Banker agent Nancy Wood of The Wood Team.

"We had just listed a nice, move-in ready home for under $250,000, and had eight or nine scheduled showings and an offer within 48 hours," she said. "Desirable neighborhoods with established good schools will help sell a home quickly that is priced correctly."

Getting the right price can be tricky, but it's good to know what the market can take, and what buyers are interested in paying. That's where a good Realtor comes in, Wood said.

The Westchase sellers had owned their home for nearly a decade, and are now taking advantage of better pricing in the market to upgrade to a larger home at $150,000 less than they would've paid a few years ago, Wood said.

"We are seeing an increase in the market, and that is a very clear sign that we are in that stage of recovery," Richardson said.

But for it to continue, buyers and sellers have to stop wading their feet in the pool jump back ?? into the market. When they do, they'll see first hand how much different today's housing market was from the doom and gloom of recent years.

Find out what Coldwell Banker Real Estate has available, or how you can get your home on the market at www.FloridaMoves.com. Or, contact Coldwell Banker's Home Resource Center at (888) 937-6426.

Coldwell Banker's Charles Richardson attributes the significant market share growth enjoyed by his company to an expanding Internet marketing presence and a highly trained sales force.

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