We know Tampa's real estate market has not been in great shape, but now, a new ranking takes aim at all the empty and foreclosed houses in the area.
Tampa has just been named, by a survey done by CNBC.com, as one of the "emptiest" cities in America, because of the number of vacant homes.
Despite what that survey says, ask any realtor and they'll tell you the market in Tampa is red hot right now.
Here's the key: Properties which are move-in ready sell in a flash.
However, properties with issues may be what's behind our "empty" designation.
"I think it's a misnomer. When I look around on my street, I see a lot of improvement in the last two years," said Rick Fifer with Florida Executive Realty.
Fifer specializes in homes in Seminole Heights and Riverside Heights, and said Tampa being named one of America's "emptiest" cities just doesn't fit.
"Our inventory has been dropping and the for-sale signs have been disappearing," said Fifer.
Hillsborough County, he said, has been out of a buyer's market for almost a year.
"When we get something out there on the market that's in good shape, it is selling and it's selling fast," continued Fifer.
We don't even have six months' worth of inventory here, he said.
"We dipped below six months of inventory for the first time since this whole mess began last August," he said.
Near the corner of Sligh and Lynn, we found a seriously blighted home. Good luck walking through the front lawn of the weed-choked, abandoned structure. The front door is ajar and inside is an absolute mess.
"The termites are holding hands," joked Fifer.
And to think, that house once sold for more than $200,000.
One of the reasons vacant homes will sit like that on the market for so long Fifer explained is, the owners simply don't have the money needed to make structural repairs, to get the house up to code, to pass a four-point inspection.
"Is that house insurable?," we asked. "I would have my questions about it," said Fifer wryly.
If you can't insure a home, you can't financing for it.
Just across the street from that home is another blighted house for sale. The windows are boarded-up, and yet adjacent to that are several well-maintained homes, like the one owned by Marlen Osorio.
"I don't know what happened to this street," laughed Osorio.
She moved in seven years ago and there have been times where hers was the only house on the block that was not for sale.
"What you're finding is, houses aren't available that are in move-in condition," said Fifer. "That's the biggest thing, because when they are showing nice and move-in condition, they're going fast, I've had houses sell for list price, the day I put them on the market."
Take heart that Tampa was ranked number nine on that list of empty cities. Orlando, which was the only other Florida city on that list, is number one, as the most vacant city in America.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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