Is Tampa Bay a buyer’s or seller’s market? Some say it’s a ‘no man’s land’ – Tampa Bay Times

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After a sluggish winter season, home sales have begun to pick back up in the Tampa Bay region.

The Tampa Bay area saw a 1.7% increase in single-family home sales compared to this time last year, according to May data from Greater Tampa Realtors.

There was also a 5.5% increase in April, the first uptick after six straight months of declining year-over-year sales. The Realtors group defines Tampa Bay as the Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater metro areas.

Price growth has remained steady this year and May was no exception. The median sale price increased 4.2% year-over-year, bringing it to $423,710.

Real estate markets across the country are still trying to find their footing in the aftermath of the the COVID-fueled home-buying frenzy of 2021 and 2022 said Michael Wyckoff, a global real estate advisor with Engel & Völkers in Madeira Beach.

“We’re in this weird sort of no man’s land,” he said. “Sellers are still on a little bit of a power trip because the market has been so strong in the past few years.”

High mortgage rates are causing hesitation among potential buyers and sellers.

The average rate for a 30-year-fixed mortgage is around 6.87%, according to the most recent weekly data from Freddie Mac. Though rates have dropped modestly in recent weeks, they’re still a long way off from the peak of the pandemic, when some home owners were locking in rates as low as 2.65%

“If you don’t have a very strong reason to sell your home, it’s going to be cheaper to stay where you’re at than try to upgrade to a better home and have to get a new mortgage,” said Lei Wedge, an associate professor of finance at the University of South Florida Muma College of Business.

Still, May data from the Mortgage Bankers Association shows applications are up 13.8% year-over-year.

“There continues to be strength in the new home purchase market, as purchase applications increased in May compared to both the prior month and from a year ago,” Joel Kan, the Mortgage Bankers Association’s vice president and deputy chief economist said in a statement.

One bright spot for buyers who do decide to take the plunge — the process of finding a house is becoming much easier.

“2021 and 2022 were the crazy years,” said Wedge. “Too many people wanted homes and they were going so fast. That was definitely a seller’s market.”

This month, the number of active listings increased 77.6% year-over-year, which means there are more options for buyers to choose from. Homes are no longer being snapped up by cash buyers within hours of listing. The median time for buyers to be under contract on a home now hovers around 28 days, which Wedge said is more on par with historic norms.

Wyckoff said people with second homes and investors are likely driving this uptick in inventory.

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“With the cost of maintaining and insuring a home going up, a lot of those people are deciding it makes more sense to sell.”

Wedge said there’s a chance that rates could drop slightly through the end of the year but buyers who are still holding out hope for pandemic or even pre-pandemic level mortgage rates will likely be disappointed.

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