David Bennett, president and CEO of the Pinellas Realtor Organization, said 59 percent of Pinellas County home sales in June were cash deals.
SEMINOLE – Overall, the real estate market in Pinellas County is slowly improving.
Just four years ago, the residential inventory of homes stood at 22,876 but that number has been whittled down to 7,033 as of last month, according to David Bennett, president and CEO of the Pinellas Realtor Organization.
Speaking Aug. 9 during a real estate forum at St. Petersburg College, Bennett said owners of homes in the range of $170,000 to $225,000 are having no trouble selling. Not including distressed property, Bennett said there is currently .93 homes available in Pinellas for every person shopping in that price range.
“The demand has been high,” said Bennett. “Realtors have actually been contacting homeowners and asking homeowners if they would be interested in selling.”
Realtor Chuck Oldanie told a story of a listing he had in Seminole that had 10 inquiries and two offers within 24 hours of being listed.
Since January 2008, the month’s supply of inventory for townhomes and condos in Pinellas has dropped from 28 to 6.9 and single-family homes from 20 to 6.1.
Bennett said 59 percent of sales in Pinellas for June were cash deals. That compares with 29 percent nationally.
“People can’t get financing, so cash deals have been unbelievable,” he said. “In a lot of cases, parents are making their children some very good deals.”
Bennett attributed the Pinellas rebound to high affordability in the market, a solid stock market recovery, rising rents (up an average of 8 percent) and “smart money (investors) chasing real estate.”
Pinellas Property Appraiser Pam Dubov said many of the sales in the county are at low price points, or big volume at low prices, in locations such as Lealman, midtown St. Petersburg and south St. Petersburg.
The county’s recovery is not uniform, she said. In north Pinellas, prices remain flat and in the mid-county area home prices are flat but condo prices are increasing. In the south end of Pinellas, she said, prices are going down, primarily on investment properties.
On the beaches, she said prices of both single-family homes and condos are on the increase.
While foreclosures have decreased the past two years, she warned that the trend could change through the second half of 2012.
“Banks previously held off on the ‘shadow’ market (homeowners behind on their mortgages more than 90 days),” Dubov said, “but the number is on the increase again.”
On another point, Dubov said county inventory on the tax rolls has dropped 37 percent since 2007. Five years ago the county had $119.8 billion in taxable inventory and the figure is now $75.8 billion. Taxable values have dropped from $80.1 billion in 2007 to $54.4 billion.
On a national scale, Bennett said the real estate industry has seen 11 quarters of growth, which has been fueled by strong corporate profits. But a lack of jobs still hinders a complete recovery, he said.
“We need several million jobs to get the economy rolling at a level we’d like to see,” he said.