A recent story in the St. Petersburg Times reported that existing home sales in the Tampa Bay area notched a 36 percent increase from February to March 2011. According to the article, which was based on information supplied by the Florida REALTORS® and National Association of REALTORS®, it was the biggest increase since late 2005.
The article magnified those statewide numbers to include existing home sales in Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties from February to March, and that uptick came in at 32 percent. That is more than double the 15 percent of existing home sales statewide since March 2010, and more than five times the national average during the same period.
Unfortunately, the Times did not include Hernando County in its report. So I thought it would be useful to provide readers of The TEAM Works blog with some comparable information, as well as a little advice about how to interpret this news.
Closed sales of existing homes in Hernando County were up 28 percent from February to March. That is good news, but it is important to keep it in perspective. First, this number only includes single-family residential sales. It does not include commercial, multi-family or vacant land sales.
Second, and this is very telling, almost 47 percent of closed sales from January to March were for distressed properties — foreclosures or short sales. And, of the approximately 2,200 available listings in Hernando County, almost half are foreclosures or short sales.
The median sale price for Hernando County homes in the first quarter of this year was about $80,000, and more than 55 percent of the buyers who closed on these homes used cash rather than financing. In Pasco County, 59 percent of sales were made with cash, and in Pinellas County cash accounted for 66 percent of transactions.
As property values begin to creep up, that trend may change, but for now home buyers are likely to continue driving past lending institutions on their way to a real estate bargain.
It is important to remember that because the market took such a severe hit when the real estate bubble burst in 2006, increases in home values and frequency of sales must be kept in perspective. Gains will be modest and gradual, and so should sellers’ expectations.
But based on the first quarter of 2011, the inescapable conclusion is that the economy is getting stronger and now is a great time to buy real estate in Hernando County. Prices are only going up, so if you’re in a position to buy, don’t wait.THE Gail Spada TEAM hopes you have found this information useful. Your feedback is encouraged. Until next time, please remember our pledge: When it comes to buying or selling property in Hernando County, we make sure … it’s all about YOU!