Promising numbers in the Pinellas real estate market - FOX 13 News

Promising numbers in the Pinellas real estate market

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ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -

The current chairman of the Pinellas Realtor Organization and a local homebuilder shared remarkably similar observations. PRO chairman Amy Seeks said Pinellas is in a seller's market.

"Anything less than six months in inventory typically is a seller's market and...in some markets we're less than four [months]," Seeks said.

Of special note: June sales of homes priced between $600,000 and $999,000 were up more than 93 percent compared to last June.

"The over-a-million-market has also increased 50 percent," Seeks said. Real estate trusts continue to shop mid-priced houses for rentals but according to Seeks "...bulk purchase of 8, 10, 15, 20 properties, they're not out there right now."

Trimming out his newest house in preparation for an appraisal, builder Tom Parsley said "There's an abundance of buyers and there's nothing on the market. There's not enough inventory." He said his finished products usually sell within 30 days of completion, compared to sitting for months during the Great Recession.

Another confirmation of economic recovery comes from the value of construction permitted by the City of St. Petersburg. Nine months into the fiscal year, that figure reached $328 million, compared to $310 million for all of FY 2012. That means 2013 will be the best year for construction since 2007.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, the Great Recession claimed nearly half of Florida's construction jobs. Those positions are now expanding again. In fact, according to the Fed's July Data Digest, the Tampa-St. Petersburg metro area shows the highest "employment momentum" in the state.

Whether that momentum builds depends in part on interest rates. Mortgage rates are beginning to edge up, which Seeks said is motivating buyers.

"If you look at what's the cost of that money today, and what's that money going to cost a year from now, people realize right now I can buy a whole lot more house for the money than a year from now," she said.

In June, the average sales price was $232,000. That is a price-point Parsley can compete against by emphasizing the value of new construction.

"You get everything up to date and up to code, and the new homes have the wind loads, so your insurance is very, very affordable," Parsley reasoned.

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