High mortgage rates | Closings down 22% in Tampa Bay area

The real estate market shifts in the local area as rates remain high.

TAMPA, Fla. — As mortgage rates increase, the number of real estate closing sales is decreasing. In the Tampa Bay region, single-family home closings have dropped 22 percent from a year ago, according to Florida Realtors.

You may hope that’d nudge prices down. Unfortunately, no. The median sale price of a single-family home is $400,000, up 15 percent from a year ago. 

Higher interest rates have given buyers leverage, with more active inventory and fewer closings. 

“So it means that there are more choices for buyers and that things that buyers would have overlooked a year ago, they’re not,” Cyndee Hardee, a broker associate with Future Home Realty, said. 

Hardee said she’s seeing sellers get creative in how they can save buyers money when mortgage rates have overall budgets reduced. 

“I think that for the first time in two years, buyers are feeling like they have a little bit of negotiating ability,” Hardee said. “We’re able we have a couple of people closing right now. And we were able to negotiate things for them, like repairs, like closing costs that help them make that transition.”

Active inventory in the Tampa Bay area is up 116 percent compared to last year, according to Florida Realtors. This enables buyers to be pickier and forces sellers to show flexibility. 

“A buyer is able to buy a lot, a lot less,” Hardee said. “So really, most people look at a payment. And so that payment has shifted as a result of the interest rates.”

Chuck Wyse is one of Hardee’s clients. He is closing on a condo in Sand Key on Tuesday. 

“It’s a wonderful view, we have not only a view of the intercoastal but of the Gulf of Mexico,” Wyse said in describing his new home. 

It’s because of steep interest rates Wyse said he was able to seal the deal with an offer 10 percent below the asking price.

“There would have been a bidding war months ago,” Wyse said.

Not only did he save tens of thousands of dollars, but he was also able to negotiate repairs and appliance replacements too. A bathroom drain did not work and the water heater needed replacing. 

Had he bought his condo six months ago, Wyse said these negotiations likely would have never happened. 

“We’re definitely glad we waited,” he said. “We were going to wait even a little longer. And we thought you know what, rates may just go up and prices may not come down”

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