A drop in the number of listings may be behind a sales slowdown in Tampa, Florida. Closed sales fell 1.7 percent in November compared to November 2014, as inventory declined more than 7 percent, according to the Greater Tampa Association of Realtors.
"We've got a considerable lack of inventory which caused the lack of sales," said Andrew Duncan, a real estate agent at RE/MAX Dynamic. "I think we'll see a big ramp up in the start of 2016, with continued low interest rates but the prospect of higher interest rates."
The tight supply in Tampa is pushing prices higher. The median price of a home sold in November was $210,000, a sharp 20 percent jump from a year ago. Tampa was one of the hardest hit areas during the foreclosure crisis, with thousands of distressed properties hitting the market; it still ranks as No. 10 on the list of top metropolitan market foreclosure rates, according to RealtyTrac, but the numbers are much improved from the worst of the crisis.
Investor demand has been quite strong in Tampa, and banks have been packaging properties in bulk to sell to hedge funds, according to Duncan. That has meant very few bargain-priced homes available for owner-occupant buyers.
"There are still foreclosures and short sales but very few, and most of the ones that are selling are selling at retail prices," added Duncan. "We just don't see much of that bank inventory hitting the market anymore."
Working in Tampa's favor is a diverse economy and demand base. Downsizing baby boomers are retiring to the area, and Europeans and Canadians are paying cash for beachfront properties. Meanwhile young millennials are being drawn to a revitalized downtown, which now includes a $2 billion mixed-use development plan backed by the owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning of the NHL, Jeff Vinik.
It will include offices, residential, retail, a hotel and restaurants, as well as the University of South Florida's Morsani College of Medicine. Vinik said it will be the first "well-certified" urban development, which means it will be designed to meet new health standards for buildings. It is expected to break ground in 2016.