Pinellas real estate market emerging from the abyss - FOX 13 News

Pinellas real estate market emerging from the abyss

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ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -

Pinellas County's real estate market showed more evidence of recovery in January. Statistics from the Pinellas Realtor Organization show the number of sales rose 15 percent compared to January 2012, with the average sales price increasing nearly eight percent, to $167,200.

"The statistics show that we are on the upswing," realtor Brian Smith commented, cautioning that it is not yet a full recovery.

"No, we're probably won't be there for another year and a half or so," he said.

Smith added that middle-class housing is moving quite well.

"If you put a house on the market right now, or a condo on the market right now, for $200,000 to $300,000, it'll be gone in two days to a week," he said.

Brandi Gabbard, another realtor, agreed with Smith: it is all about pricing now.

"If you price it right, if it's in good condition, you're probably going to get an offer pretty quickly," Gabbard said. "If you have not gotten an offer relatively quickly in this market, then you are overpriced."

Gabbard also noted the return of a long-absent consumer.

"A lot of move-up buyers," she said. "They're starting to be able to achieve a price on their home that they were needing, so now they are in the market to purchase that move-up home that they could not have done a couple of years ago."

Buyers have also witnessed a decade of real-estate boom and bust, with an extraordinary top and bottom of the market. As a result, today's shoppers are better educated and discriminating.

"They know what they want, they've done their homework, they come to the agent and the say okay, this is what I'm looking for," Smith said.

And Gabbard says sellers have to step up.

"Nowadays, [sellers] do have to really show buyers that there is care and maintenance has been done to the home, she said.

Both realtors think most buyers realize the market has bottomed and is now moving up.

"Inventory" is now considered by real estate professionals to be at a healthy level: In January, there was a three month supply of houses and a six month supply of condominiums. During the last real estate boom, prices chased a limited supply of product. During the bust, prices deteriorated because too many homes were available.

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