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September 2008 Analysis

The Markets, Fall Season, and Pinellas CountyIt’s certainly interesting that just recently the federal government, the presidential candidates, and media outlets all have awakened to the fact that the suffering real estate markets were something they should not have ignored for so long. We told them that the problem was more than a bursting bubble over eighteen months ago when the Fed and others were smugly stating that the real estate market would not affect the economy. RPAC continues to work hard to get the attention of the powers that be and we are hopeful that some help may be on the way. If action is taken to ease the foreclosure and pre-foreclosure situation, it is certain to benefit our local market here in Pinellas County.

Even without government intervention, the single family market showed distinctive signs of improvement. We reported a higher number of pending sales previously, and September brought some harvest.

  • The absorption rate was the highest it has been this year.
  • Year over year, unit sales increased 21.3%.
  • The third quarter this year held steady month to month.
  • Inventory remained steady; however it is nearly 6.5% lower than last year.
  • The most remarkable number though was in the median price. At $165,000 in September, it is at the lowest level for the year and reflects a 17.1% drop from last year.

It would appear that we may be getting close the right level for buyers to feel good about buying again. Note that sales were best in the $120,000 to $160,000 range, with 21.5% of sales within that price range. Of the homes that went under contract in September, the median price was $165,950, and once again the number of pending sales was almost 26% higher than last year.

Condo sales, on the other hand, are still working through a slower market. Listings are down 17.2% and sales are also down 6% year over year. The median price continued to drop, now at $150,000 which is 7.7% below September, 2007. Twenty-two percent of the condos sold were in the $100,000 to $140,000 price range, with another 12+% in the $200,000 to $250,000 range.

Just as with single family homes, the future looks brighter, with pending sales at 22% higher than last year. The median price of the pending sales is $149,900.

Pinellas County has a lot going for it. We may have problems with foreclosures and short sales, but they will work through.  Sooner, rather than later, we hope. Fall is here and the first month of the autumn season was much better than last year. 

-Ann Guiberson, President/CEO of the Pinellas REALTOR® Organization