Tampa Bay home prices continued to soar in February

$180,000 median price of a bay area single-family home in February • 16.1 percent increase from February 2015 to February 2016.

Tampa Bay homes prices soared again in February, continuing a robust start to the year driven by the meager supply of homes on the market.

The median price of a single family home jumped to $180,000, a 16.1 percent increase from the same month a year ago. That follows January’s year-over-year price jump of nearly 20 percent.

February’s biggest gains were in Pinellas County, where prices shot up 21.6 percent to $189,700 on a modest 3.2 percent increase in sales.

“I’ve been in buyer-heavy markets, but this, with the level of inventory and the amount of people relocating to St. Pete from larger metro areas, is something else,” said agent Judson Kidd of Southern Roots Realty.

Kidd, who himself moved from Atlanta 21/2 years ago, said the low supply of homes puts an added “level of responsibility” on agents representing would-be buyers.

“When a great house hits the market and I have six buyers, who am I to judge who should see it first?” Kidd said.

Though house-hunters continue to clamor for property in and around downtown St. Petersburg, which is drawing national attention for its lively culture and restaurant scenes, the most expensive bay area homes sold in February were both in Tampa.

A local investment group listed a waterfront West Indies-style spec home on Davis Islands for $5.995 million and sold it to a trust for the same price in an all-cash deal. It was the second sale topping $5 million this year; there were no sales above $5 million last year.

“The market is very strong, there’s especially a lot going on in the high-end market,” said Mary Pond, the Smith & Associates agent who represented the sellers. Another spec home by the same group, listed at $4.995 million, is under contract, she said.

In the Sunset Park area, an Ohio trust represented by Mary Pipino paid $4.25 million for a 7,000 square foot home overlooking Tampa Bay. Pipino is CEO of a large real estate risk management and insurance firm.

Across the bay, well-known eye doctor Stephen Updegraff and his wife, Elizabeth, sold their waterfront estate on Snell Isle’s Brightwaters Boulevard to a trust for $2.9 million cash. In Pasco County, the Wesley Chapel area continued to be hot as a plantation-style home once featured in Southern Living magazine brought $1 million. And in Hernando, the top price paid was $595,000 for a multilevel home on Hernando Beach.

Once again, all four bay area counties had less than a four-month supply of homes. Next to Pinellas, Pasco saw the biggest jump in the median price of a single-family home, up 18.5 percent to $157,000, followed by Hillsborough, up 13 percent to $200,000, and Hernando, up 9 percent to $117,5000.

Prices for condos and townhomes in the Tampa Bay area also showed healthy gains in February, up 16 percent from the same time last year. But the volume of sales dropped 1.8 percent.

Statewide, sales of single-family homes rose less than 1 percent while prices jumped 11 percent.

“Realtors across the state are reporting great interest from buyers, but with inventory levels still tight for single-family homes, the search can take time,” said Matey Veissi, president of Florida Realtors. “New listings increased in February, which is good news for would-be buyers. … And the good news for sellers is that they’re receiving more of their original asking price” — 95.3 percent.

For the first time, the Realtors organization this year is releasing separate monthly sales and price figures for the Villages, the fast growing, largely Republican community in Central Florida that has become a must-visit stop for political candidates. In February, 69 single family homes sold there, a 103 percent jump from the same month a year ago, but the median price dropped slightly, to $224,000.

Among larger Florida metro areas, Naples had the biggest increase in home prices, up almost 18 percent to $460,000.

By Susan Taylor Martin, Tampa Bay Times 3/21/16