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Looking to buy a new home? Here's what you should know

Builders face shortages & delays amid hot market
Riverview neighborhood under construction.
Posted at 6:17 AM, Apr 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-19 17:58:07-04

TAMPA, Fla. — The housing market is hot with bidding wars, soaring prices and limited supply. But, builders and industry experts we interviewed for this report tell us a new home is still the best way to go. But, a lot has changed since last year.

For starters, if you buy a new home this year, you will be paying a lot more than you were last year in supplies and regulatory fees alone.

"Just between lumber and local regulatory fees, consumers in Hillsborough county are now paying about $50,000 more this year than they were this time last year for the same home," Jennifer Motsinger, Executive Vice President of the Tampa Bay Builders Association, said. "Hillsborough County has a moratorium going on right now. They just increased impact fees from $9,000 to $28,000 a house, and that's inside of a year now all of that is passed onto the home buyer."

Motsinger says it is a challenging market for buying a new home or a resale. But, she said, "it's still cheaper to own a home for most families than it is to rent, and so I think a lot of families in this area are able to afford a home."

Builders tell us when they release 10 to 20 homes to the market, you have to be ready to make an offer or get left behind.

"We sell everything in one day; everything. We open up; we sell the same day," Matt Kelsey, Sales Manager for Casa Fresca Homes, said.

Casa Fresca Homes is the daughter company of Homes by West Bay, focusing on more affordable homes starting in the low $250s.

"We are trying to put out as many cool homes as we can at good prices for people because right now the inventory is just not enough for the amount of people moving into the market," Kelsey said. "The new home prices aren't that much different from resales, and buyers love it if they are not competing with 50 other people on one house. It's nice."

Even their high-end homes built by Homes by West Bay aren't staying on the market. A master-planned community in Riverview has options for buyers to look at both types of new construction.

"We are focused on building it right the first time," Brian Bullock, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Homes by West Bay, said.

ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska interviewed Bullock inside one of their model homes in Riverview.

The 4,000 + square foot two-story came with an infinity pool, high-end finishings and all the bells and whistles a buyer would want to customize. But, it might take a while for someone to move into their dream home.

"So typically, it would take us about four months from the time we broke ground on a home to complete it. Right now, we are probably about an extra four to six weeks out. Because of just waiting for materials to come and the lead time to order those materials is just getting greater and greater," Bullock said.

Factory shutdowns during COVID-19 created a shortage of appliances and the deep freeze in Texas impacted the supply chain.

"The resin that they need to build plywood or make plywood was greatly impacted by the freezes in Texas. Some of the factories that shut down really put us about a month behind," Bullock said. "The reality of it is that there are certain things that are going to be out of any builder's control and we all just kind of have to work together. We are all in this together."