With Florida motoring ahead of the US economy, it’s obvious that the Sunshine State has left the recession well behind. And within Florida, the Tampa-St Petersburg-Clearwater MSA stands out for exceptionally positive figures. As a result, the Tampa Bay property market hasn’t had it so good for years.
Latest figures point to rises across the board with the trio of employment, tourism and house prices showing double-digit increases. In a recent article, TBN Weekly spoke of “signs of an improving economy in abundance” as the area keeps “moving on up”. It reported strong statistics for Pinellas County (home to St Petersburg and Clearwater), figures that are mirrored by those in Hillsborough County (home to Tampa).
Jobs boom in Tampa Bay
One of the principal reasons behind the strong Tampa Bay property market lies in the area’s massive job creation. New jobs were so abundant in the MSA that Tampa ranked as top in the state for creating new employment. Job growth was especially strong in the professional and business services sector where over 13,000 jobs were added. Education and health saw over 11,100 more and jobs in the financial sector went up by over 4,700.
Unemployment in Pinellas County in May stood at 3.9 per cent, the first time the figure has dropped below 4 per cent since May 2007. The Tampa Bay MSA registered a fractionally higher rate of 4.1 per cent. Both were, however, considerably below the national 4.5 per cent.
The latest figures show a continuation of last year’s tendency when Tampa Bay ranked well ahead of US averages in economic terms. According to data released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Tampa MSA economy grew by 3.5 per cent in 2015, the eighth fastest in the US where the average was 2.2 per cent. Private sector growth was even higher and reached 4 per cent, almost doubling the national average of 2.3 per cent.
Tourism takes off in Tampa Bay
Tourism forms an essential part of the Florida economy and the state achieved record figure visitors last year. Those for this year in Tampa Bay point to further records in the making. The rise in visitor figures has very positive repercussions for the Tampa Bay property market as the demand for holiday rentals grows exponentially.
St Pete-Clearwater International Airport registered record figures in June. Passenger traffic rose by 12 per cent in the month and by 11 per cent in the year. The airport handles mainly domestic flights outside the winter season and the latest figures show the increased interest in the Tampa Bay area from American tourists.
Bed tax – collected on holiday lets – has also risen significantly in Tampa Bay over the last year. In Pinellas County, bed tax collections rose by 14 per cent in Q4 2015 to reach almost US$7.9 million. Between January and May this year, around US$26 million was collected, translating to a 27 per cent increase on last year.
Hillsborough County is experiencing a similar phenomenon. Tax levied on holiday lets in the area in April went up by 6.3 per cent over the year to reach their highest level ever. Tampa Bay offers myriad attractions to tourists including miles of stunning beaches on the Gulf of Mexico coastline, which also constitute hot spots for property.
Tampa Bay property market moves up
As a result of increased job opportunities and more tourism, property in Tampa Bay has experienced a marked shift upwards over the last year. House prices are registering double-digit rises and sales are buoyant.
According to data from Florida Realtors, in the first three months of this year, single-family homes in Tampa Bay saw price hikes of 14.6 per cent in the year. The average price for this property reached US$180,000. Sales grew by 5.3 per cent.
In the townhouse-condo sector, a major component of urban areas within the Tampa Bay property market, prices went up by 16 per cent annually in Q1. As a result, the median price averaged US$124,900.
Analysts point to more of the same for the rest of this year. Job creation continues to boom so relocators are flocking to the area and Tampa Bay appeals hugely to American tourists looking for a stay-cation with good weather and stunning surroundings.
“These factors augur well for the Tampa Bay property market,” says Dies Poppeliers, Managing Director of BRIC Group, “and we can clearly see the potential in the area, currently one of the hottest for property in the state. We expect further price hikes this year as demand continues to push prices up.”
BRIC Group, an investment company specialising in global real estate opportunities, offers US real estate investments including turnkey properties in Florida and Houston, and land plots in Florida. BRIC Group is also developing The Coral resort, in Northeast Brazil, a luxury beachfront resort with land and villa investment opportunities. BRIC Group has been creating wealth for its clients since 1996 and has offices in Brazil, Dubai (consulting office), Hungary, Spain and the US.
(Sources: TBN Weekly, Florida Realtors, US Bureau of Labor Statistics)