The recent correction in the real estate market may have scared off investors who were looking to make a quick profit, but it has been a boon to home buyers in the Tampa Bay area, according to Bob Glaser, president of Smith & Associates Real Estate.
"Tampa is fortunate because although some of the short-term investors have left the market, buyers have found the affordability to be there to move back into the market," Glaser says. "We've had continued job growth and low unemployment in the Tampa Bay area. Buyers have re-entered the market at a time when the inventory of available homes is high, so they have a good opportunity to negotiate great pricing."
Glaser cites a recent article in Forbes magazine that says the Tampa market's strong economy ensures a V-shaped recovery pattern, where the real estate market goes into a fast, sharp decline, but recovers quickly. The lower selling prices are expected to last until the current inventory of available houses is sold, which is expected to happen in the first quarter of next year, according to Moody's Economy's online forecasts.
"Buyers have gotten back into the market, so Tampa is on an upswing," Glaser says.
"I think that is what Forbes was pointing to," says Natalie O'Connor, mortgage consultant with Smith & Associates Mortgage. "Buyers should not be discouraged by the recent media saturation of bad news regarding the lending environment. Many of the revisions that were made to lending guidelines impact only a small percentage of borrowers.
"While it is true that jumbo rates [for loans of more than $417,000] are a little higher than they were last year, they are still very attractive, historically speaking. Combine that with high inventory and motivated sellers and you have a perfect opportunity that should not be missed."
O'Connor urges prospective home buyers to seek the advice of a professional on their loan options.
Glaser says the rough patch in the real estate market has given Smith & Associates the opportunity to exercise creativity and consistency. He says the company has continued to seek out and hire the best agents in the area. Many have been with Smith & Associates 10 years or more, he says.
Realtors Rick and Flip Miller can attest to the importance of remaining consistent in good and bad markets. They say in times like these, veteran agents hone their skills by updating their technology, expanding their knowledge of the market's neighborhoods and new developments and becoming better versed in the ever-changing intricacies of real estate contract requirements.
Smith & Associates agents are offered education and training opportunities to help them focus on the fundamentals, such as composing solid contracts, offering protection to buyers and sellers and maintaining a thorough knowledge of closing procedures, says Chief Operating Officer Scott Becker, COO of Smith & Associates Real Estate. He says those elements, combined with a focus on customer service, make the company the top independent real estate firm in the Tampa Bay area, according to a recent MLS study.
"We realize the importance of offering a level of knowledge unmatched by any other real estate firm in the Bay area," Becker says. "We thrive on innovation and originality. A transitional market demands creative marketing and highly educated real estate professionals who consistently deliver."
As part of Smith & Associates' commitment to customer service, the firm's Web site is constantly evolving and offers real time response from the staff.
"We would like to challenge readers to request information on our site and see how quickly they get a response," Becker says. "We have an extremely robust relocation department and an exclusive affiliation with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, the nation's top relocation company. We offer true one-stop shopping with our highly-educated staff at our affiliate in-house companies, Smith & Associates Real Mortgage and Smith & Associates Title."
Improving the quality of life for Tampa Bay area residents is another focus of Smith & Associates, Becker adds.
Whether supporting the arts, education or charity efforts, the firm is involved in giving back to the community. So far this year, Smith & Associates has lent its support to The Tampa Theatre, Lamplighters, Celma Mastry Ovarian Cancer Society, Florida Blood Services, the Kaleidoscope Festival, American Stage in the Park and the Cattle Barron's Ball, among others, Becker says.
Smith & Associates anticipates a full recovery of the Tampa Bay area real estate market and is preparing for the next boom.
"Real estate is cyclical and although no one can predict the exact timing of the market, past experience and current indications point toward a complete revitalization," Glaser says. "At Smith & Associates Real Estate we are committed to keeping our customers informed and ahead of the curve. We offer a team of the most professional sales associates in the Bay area and a myriad of services to make your real estate transactions seamless. Now is the time to buy and we're here to help."
For information or to find an agent, call (813) 839-3800 or visit www.smithandassociates.com.