Mixed bag of real estate news has Pinellas realtors optimistic

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Pinellas County real estate prospects are certainly looking up for 2013, at least according to local realtors. However, there seem to be a few small clouds in an otherwise sunny view.

In a report by the Pinellas Realtor Organization, combined single-family home and condo/townhome sales numbers for April 2013 have increased 16 percent from the same period last year. A combination of the real estate numbers indicates definite recovery in home sales for the county.  

“The excitement can be felt,” says David Bennett, President and CEO of the Pinellas Realtor Organization in a press release, “but the question on everyone’s mind is; how long will it last?”

Homebuyers paying in cash for condominiums are seeing Pinellas County as the place to go. Cash sales increased by nearly 13 percent in the last month.  These rising numbers for both condominiums and townhomes are part of a steady eight-month trend. Median and average sales price also increased, as they have every month since January 2013, driven by the lower supply of available inventory.

Active listings are down, by 14 percent for single-family homes and 13.1 percent for condominiums.  New listings continue to improve over the last year, with an 12.6 increase for listings of single–family homes.

Last month, Pinellas County experienced a decline in sales of single-family homes. However, those numbers are still better than reported sales for 2012.

Over the past few years, foreclosures and short sales have been difficult issues for Pinellas County homeowners. For them, the recent report brings a mixed bag of both good and unpleasant news.

The good news for homeowners is that there are significant decreases in short sales and foreclosures for condominiums and townhomes. Foreclosures are down 15.5 percent, and short sales dropped a stunning 41.2 percent.

The bad news is foreclosures for single-family homes are still high, shooting up 44 percent since last April.

A few sour notes in an otherwise (mostly) promising real estate outlook have not dampened realtors’ enthusiasm.

“The overall market health continues to improve,” Bennett says.  “We encourage buyers and sellers to take advantage of the current market condition.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.