Home sales are on a tear in Florida and the Tampa Bay area

Real Estate recovery driven by investors

TAMPA - After the crash of 2008 and the slump that followed, sales in the first quarter of this year are up 10 percent in Florida.  Prices are up even more.   But for most of us right now, it's better to be a seller than a buyer.

Alyson Luikart was surprised that her Riverside Heights home got snapped up in one week when her family decided to move to Lutz.

"Our realtor assured us it would go quick.  She said the market turned around and things were just flying," said Luikart.

The Florida Realtors association believes the turnaround is both a result and a contributor to Florida's overall improving economy.

"We think the growth in jobs in the first quarter combined with growth in population is a great foundation for our housing market getting better," said Vani Ungapen of  Florida Realtors.

But Tampa real estate analyst, Peter Murphy of Home Encounter says the real drivers of the real estate market right now are investors big and small who pay with cash.

"We're in a situation where 56.8 percent of all of our sales in the first quarter were cash purchases," said Murphy.  15 % of sales in 2006 were all  cash.

The good news in that is that a huge backlog of abandoned and foreclosed homes from the 2008 crash are being bought, fixed up and mostly rented out.  The bad news is for first time buyers who need to get financing.

"You're going in there with your three percent down. They're going in there with cash. They want to buy in as-is condition. They don't care if it's improved or not and you're competing against that kind of buyer. That's a tough competition," said Murphy.

Alyson Luikart ran into that kind of competition when she had to buy her new house.

"There were three people who put an offer on that house, we had to move quick."

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