What a conundrum (also the name of a good wine) the real estate market in Pinellas County is. This includes Clearwater, Dunedin, Oldsmar, Tarpon Springs and the various beaches among other communities.  Sales are up. Even prices are up!! The number of listings is down. And distressed property was less than 20% of the active inventory in our area of Tampa Bay for the month of May. Better yet, bank owned (foreclosed) property was only 5% of active listings.

The median prices for non-distressed (short sale and bank-owned) properties in the Tampa Bay real estate market were 16% higher than the distressed property prices. The best news is that total sales for this year are up almost 12% compared to last year.

So why is the media still talking about the bad Tampa Bay real estate market? The short answer is, "I don't know." Today when a house in good condition comes on the market and the price is close to market value, it seems these properties are flying off the shelves. Of course, there are still those sellers who "need" to get XX dollars from the sale of their house, and their Realtor does not do a very good job of presenting the true market value, thus the house goes on the market too far above market value, sits there for months with no activity, and ends up sitting on the market after turning into a stale listing that no one even wants to see.

The best way to maximize your profits when selling a house is to price it at the market value.  In the current market for Pinellas County, when a house is priced right, buyers who  have been following the market and know the inventory is low, look at it immediately. The buyers then determine the market value by showing up to look at the house, and make offers.  The seller has the opportunity then to either sell the house at the offer price, negotiate a deal, or hold fast to a price that is too high, thus re-buying their own home. In this environment, it is not rare for the house to actually sell a little above the list price. When there is not a lot of selection, buyers get more eager when a good property comes available.

In our Tampa Bay market (St. Petersburg, Madeira Beach, Ozona, Clearwater Beach and others), houses that are currently in the $120,000 to $140,000 price range are selling fastest, making up just about 10% of the market. The number of active listings in Pinellas County in May 2012 was 3,217, a decrease of more than 34% from May of 2011. This appears to be the lowest level of active listings since before January of 2007. That is the lowest level of listings in over 5 years!! This is telling the buyers who are looking for further price drops that there probably won't be any, as the law of Supply and Demand is kicking in.

One last little statistic, in the Pinellas County real estate market, 60% of residential transactions year to date (thru May) have been cash, 24% are conventional, and 11% FHA.

The message is clear, if you are a buyer, don't wait or it will cost you more money for the same house. The other way to look at that is you will get less house for the same money. Look at the above info and you can determine if the Tampa Bay real estate market has hit bottom yet.