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Tampa area housing sales jump 21 percent from last year

— Home sales have slumped nationally, but in Florida, they increased by 10.7 percent compared with 2013 and in the Tampa Bay metropolitan region rose by nearly 21 percent.

In the Tampa Bay region, which includes Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk and Hernando counties, November home sales were 20.9 percent above last year’s numbers and the median sale price was up 6.7 percent to $160,000, according to a report released Monday by Florida Realtors.

Statewide, the median sale price was $176,000, a 3.5 percent increase over the previous year, according to the data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis.

Nationally, fewer Americans purchased homes in November, with buying sliding to its slowest pace in six months, the National Association of Realtors reports.

However, the outlook for the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 looks promising, said Pinellas Realtor Organization President and CEO David Bennett. “There are several factors in play that will boost consumer confidence and spending in the real estate space.”

Earlier this month, he said, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac released details on new mortgage product offerings that will allow some to borrow with as little as 3 percent down.

“The big things are good job numbers and this 3 percent that is going to be available with Fannie and Freddie,” Bennett said. “That’s a pretty tremendous factor because the younger generation that has school bills and such, it’s not easy to accomplish that 10 or 20 percent down.”

So, the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac news is not only good for the real estate business, but it’s good for consumers “to get into the marketplace and build on their home equity as soon as they can.”

Regionally, sales of single family homes in the $400,000 to $599,999 range were up 44.5 percent year over year and sales of homes costing $1 million or better rose 42.1 percent in November, compared to November 2013. Sales of homes in the $250,000 to $299,999 range were also up considerably, showing a 31.3 percent increase this year over last.

In Hillsborough County, sales of single family homes rose 14.3 percent, though the median sale price rose just 2.9 percent year over year to $175,000. In Pinellas, closed deals on single family homes shot up by 16.3 percent, with the median price rising 12.9 percent to $175,000.

Closed sales on townhouses and condominiums in the region were also up year over year by 15.2 percent, with the median sale price up 6.4 percent to $104,250. The credit for that goes mostly to Pinellas County, where townhouse and condominium closed sales were up 15.4 percent last month, compared to a year ago. In Hillsborough County, sales of townhomes and condos actually dropped by 0.9 percent over November 2013 and the price dropped to $96,950, or by 3.1 percent, according to Florida Realtors.

Statewide, Florida’s housing market showed higher median prices and a stable inventory in November. Condos and townhouses also did better, with the median price up 7.7 percent statewide $140,000, compared to last year.

“Florida’s housing market hit a milestone in November. For three years now — 36 months in a row — statewide median sales prices rose year over year for both single family and townhouse-condo properties,” said 2014 Florida Realtors President Sherri Meadows. She is CEO and team leader for Keller Williams in the region including Gainesville, Ocala and The Villages. “Realtors across the state continue to report increased buyer interest, while stability and consistency remain key trends for the housing sector.”

Nationally, the combination of higher home prices and relatively stagnant incomes has reduced affordability and restrained buying, the National Association of Realtors reports. November sales fell in all four major geographic regions and buying activity over the past year fell for homes worth less than $250,000.

Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomic said a sudden blast of cold weather and snow storms at the end of November may have had an impact. This was the coldest November since 2000.

But there are signs sales could improve. Mortgage rates have fallen sharply in the past few weeks, which should make homes more affordable. As of last week, the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage dropped to 3.8 percent from 3.93 percent. That is the lowest level since May 2013.

yhammett@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7127

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