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Home prices 'have likely peaked' in the Tampa Bay area after years of gains

Tampa Bay home sellers take note - the steady price gains of the past few years might be coming to an end.

"Home values have likely peaked in the Tampa metro area,'' according to Zillow, the online real estate giant. "Home values have fallen in each of the past two months and are down quarter-over-quarter, indicating the start of a longer-term trend.''

The median value of a Tampa Bay home - houses as well as condos and townhomes - was $213,800 in April, down slightly from March. That reflected a national trend, with the typical U.S. home showing the first monthly decline in more than seven years.

Other areas where prices have probably peaked include all of California's major cities as well as Miami, Houston, Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle and Portland, Ore.

"These markets are . examples of a price correction after years of significant home value growth above and beyond the pace of income,'' Skylar Olsen, Zillow's director of economic research, said in a release. "We expect other metro areas to join this list before too long.''

Charles Richardson, senior regional vice president for Coldwell Banker, thinks there is still room for bay area prices to grow despite a few months of overall price decreases.

"I think (prices) are cycling, I don't think they've peaked,'' he said. "We're in a little bit of downturn from a pricing perspective but based on other evidence out there, there shouldn't be an extended type of downturn. We still have in-migration, we still have very attractive interest rates that have been going down for several months and that allows people to buy more home for the money.''

Based on figures released Tuesday by Florida Realtors, Tampa Bay's real estate market continues on an erratic course as prices of single-family homes - the biggest share of the market - rose in Pinellas, dropped in Hillsborough and Pasco and were flat in Hernando. Houses are taking longer to sell than they did a year ago April. Sellers also are getting less of their asking price than they did in April 2018.

Here's the county-by-county breakdown:

Pinellas: Prices up 6.8 percent to a median of $269,500, sales down 2 percent.

Hillsborough: Prices down 1 percent to a median of $247,390, sales up 11.2 percent.

Pasco: Prices down 2.1 percent to a median of $213,150, sales up 9.5 percent.

Hernando: Prices up less than 1 percent to a median of $190,688, sales up 8.7 percent.

The top price paid in April was $5.2 million for a five-bedroom, six-bath house overlooking the Palma Ceia golf course in South Tampa. Though built just six years ago, the 8,761-square-foot home resembles a vintage French Provincial chateau and evokes the "golden era of Hollywood glamour'' inside, the listing says.

Pasco recorded its priciest transaction in three years - a five-bedroom, seven-bath house in Dade City that sold for $1.699 million. The 8,156-square-foot home in the Lake Jovita Golf & Country Club area sits on more than three acres overlooking Clear Lake.

In Pinellas, the highest price paid was $2.998 million for a four-bedroom, three-bath bayfront house in St. Petersburg's Snell Isle neighborhood. And in Hernando, a lakefront estate in Spring Hill's Lake in the Woods gated community sold for $765,000, among the 20 highest prices paid in that county since 2009.

Statewide, single-family home sales in April climbed 6.2 percent while prices rose 2.6 percent to a median of $259,470.

Nationally, sales of all existing homes fell 4.4 percent compared to a year earlier while prices rose 3.6 percent to a median of $257,900.

The national decrease in sales - the 14th straight month of year-over-year declines - is somewhat confounding since mortgage rates have again dropped after rising late last year. But Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, said he is not worried.

"First, we are seeing historically low mortgage rates combined with a pent-up demand to buy, so buyers will look to take advantage of these conditions," he said. Also, job creation is improving, causing wage growth to align with home price growth, which helps affordability and will help spur more home sales."

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at smartin@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.

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