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Move-In Ready?

If you’ve been waiting for the Tampa Bay area’s real estate market to rebound, your wait is over. In fact, the market began its comeback last year and, with historically low inventory and the return of bidding wars, 2014 looks to hold lots of opportunities for buyers and sellers.

The National Association of Realtors has named Tampa one of 10 housing markets it believes will see a housing turnaround.

The Tampa Bay area real estate market has been steadily improving. Signs of the turnaround are already becoming clear in South Tampa. In comparison to Oct. 2012, Oct. 2013, the most recent statistics, the average selling price in all categories increased, with three bedroom condos and townhouses seeing the largest increase – nearly 48 percent. The number of properties sold increased and average days on the market decreased from 102 to 67. Both detached single family homes and attached homes such as condos saw increases. In fact, home prices increased by 26.51 percent! In Oct. 2012, the average selling price was $423,696. It was $535,998 in Oct. 2013.

Craig Beggins of Century 21 says there’s a unique opportunity to build wealth in real estate. And no, this opportunity is not like the bubble that burst on homeowners. For buyers, there’s plenty of good news. Many homes are still priced below replacement cost and interest rates are still low (probably lower than many of us will ever see again in our lifetimes). And builders are again stepping up to provide extraordinary opportunities in new home inventory.

While the market is on the upswing, there are still some challenges ahead. This year, a number of tax breaks will expire if Congress does not extend, or make permanent, these breaks. Some of the tax breaks include:

  • The ability to deduct premiums for mortgage insurance (PMI).
  • The ability to exclude on a principal residence up to $2 million in taxable income because of debt forgiven in a foreclosure or forgiven by a lender in a short sale or mortgage restructuring. Originally, expected to expire in 2009, it was extended. The impact will vary from state to state. Several states have anti-deficiency legislation in place. Florida does not.
  • The ability to take a maximum lifetime tax credit of up to $500 for energy efficiency improvements on a primary residence.

Despite the expiring tax credits, there is still much to applaud for 2014. The Federal Housing Finance Agency has said it won’t reduce the $417,000 Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac conforming loan limit. Home sales are forecasted to rise 10 percent this, according to the National Association of Realtors. And inventory is at a 13-year low. Home prices are expected to rise 6 percent.

And there is good news for those who have been through a short sale. Some lenders have begun offering loans just one year after the homeowner has gone through a short sale. This means some renters can rejoin the buying pool sooner than they could in the past.

The positive momentum in real estate is expected to continue. Think about taking advantage of it.

Carolyn Heckman offers buyers and sellers real estate help. Visit or call 813-476-3800 to learn more.

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