RealtyTrac in February of 2013 listed the Tampa Bay area as having the nation's fourth highest foreclosure rate. Guess where the next three higher foreclosure areas are located? They were all in Florida with Miami in 1st, Orlando in 2nd and Ocala in 3rd. Of the top ten hardest hit cities in the nation for foreclosures seven are located in Florida! Needless to say Florida still leads the nation with the highest foreclosure rate.
The Tampa Bay Times' staff writer, Drew Harwell reported on March 14, 2013, that data shows that over "5,000 notices of mortgage default, foreclosure auction or repossession were sent across Tampa Bay last month, a 23 percent jump over last February". State court data records report in excess of 54,000 pending foreclosures in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco Counties.
Despite these dramatic statistics, local realtors all report near record closings and the Tampa Bay area continues to be called a "Seller's market".
The explanation for this apparent dichotomy is clearly the influx of real estate investors who have virtually flooded into the Tampa Bay real estate market.
The rental market also continues to remain strong as real estate investors lease out their real estate holdings while they await expected increases in property values over the next several years.
The economy remains the potential grim reaper to this whole investment situation. Are the increases in local real estate values a true indicator of better economic times ahead or are they merely the result of real estate investor frenzy which has given the area a false sense of rising real estate property values? Time will tell.
I have been involved in several recent residential sales locally on behalf of my clients and was pleasantly surprised to find immediate full price cash offers as soon as the multiple listing hit the market. In all cases the buyers were real estate investors who already had tenants waiting in the wings to lease the properties.
Commercial rental rates have also taken a sudden spike upward as vacant commercial buildings start filling up once again. In the last several weeks I have reviewed more commercial leases then I had done in all of 2012! Commercial retail rates in my area have been running around $20-28 dollars per sq. ft. for base rates in triple net leases for strip centers, depending upon the age and condition of the building. Most lease terms run 3-5 years with one to two option periods. Correspondingly, I have also done more incorporations and business start-ups over the last several weeks then I had done in all of 2012.
In seems that despite all the gloom and doom from Washington DC and Tallahassee, Florida, small business owners are willing to venture back out into the world of retail sales. Perhaps they are just tired of waiting for the economy to improve!
So while large industry continues to down size and shelf indefinitely expansion plans, small business has taken a more optimistic approach and has once more started to venture out into the world of capitalism and profit. Let's hope for everyone's sake that they are right.