Tampa Bay area renters struggle to buy home in current market – ABC Action News Tampa Bay

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PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — The Tampa Bay area is a slice of paradise. So many people want to put down roots and have a place to call their own.

At the same time, people who live in the Tampa Bay area community say they just cannot afford to buy a house right now.

ABC Action News Anchor Lauren St. Germain wanted to give you a voice on this topic, so she spoke with a local woman who is having a hard time buying a home.

“It’s been really difficult in every sense of the word,” said Stela Bermema.

Bermema lives with her husband in Pinellas County. They are searching for a house and a condo for her parents.

“How is that for you guys as a couple and your whole family really because your parents are looking as well?” asked St. Germain.

“It’s tough. You have this idea you are finally getting married. You’re going to move into your house with your husband, and the primary reason I moved here is to be close to my elderly parents,” said Bermema.

She works with a realtor and searches online.

“We are very tech-savvy. We both have our Zillows of the world. We have our realtor.com apps on our phone,” said Bermema.

She continued, “Now, it becomes a two-fold problem. The prices are high, and the value isn’t there. We are all intelligent people. We are able to search what they were in the past and get the comps from the realtors. It’s just not there, and the interest rates are through the roof.”

St. Germain also spoke with Liane Jamason, a licensed real estate broker.

“The number of actual sales has gone down about 8% across the board in Tampa Bay. I think that’s mostly because of interest rates,” said Jamason, Broker/Owner of Corcoran Dwellings.

“What does that really tell you, that you’re seeing the housing prices up a bit and the sales actually declining?” asked St. Germain.

“I think there are people on the sidelines kind of waiting for that interest rate to come down. I think we all got a little spoiled during COVID with 3% interest rates. So people are holding on to those homes and not wanting to sell,” said Jamason.

She said with sales down, buyers can potentially benefit by getting the seller to pay some closing costs.

“The pros are prices have leveled out a bit. They are still creeping up slowly year over year. I think that’s just Florida, everybody wants to be here, but I think you can still get in and buy a home. We are not back in 2021 when we are seeing people have to pay $50,000-$100,000 over asking price,” said Jamason.

She continued, “The cons are obviously the interest rate, but again, I don’t know if that’s going to change anytime soon because 6% is historically average. I still think it’s a good time to buy in Florida because no matter what, we are going to continue to see pricing go up.”

Bermema said she has noticed that price increase as she has looked at Florida real estate throughout the years.

“Especially for people who remember Florida for what it used to be, and we are like, ugh, why didn’t we catch that earlier?” said Bermema.

“Our goal is, 2025 to not see us in the same apartment,” said Jamason.

There are more homes on the market, so there will likely be more listings by the Spring.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell said the Central Bank is on track to cut interest rates three times this year. Economists predict that could start as early as May.

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