Frantic markets, costly materials put home buying and building out of reach for many

It’s a tight market for anyone trying to buy a house in the Tampa Bay area. Realtors say newly-listed houses are sometimes snatched up in one day.

"We put one on [the market] on Sunday, had an open house and we got eight offers yesterday," said Anne Mullis, a realtor with Smith & Associates in Tampa.

Mullis and her realtor partner Greg Szewczyk said buyers pay more attention to cash offers first, making it even more difficult for first-time homebuyers.

"It generally takes two or three times missing out on a home before they realize they’re going to have to come in above market price to even be considered," said Szewczyk.

Builders can’t build new houses fast enough to keep up with demand. The pandemic disrupted manufacturers, impacting construction timelines. Tampa home builder and chairman of the National Association of Home Builders Chuck Fowke said one of his builds in Fishhawk is affected.

"This house we’re at today, my windows were ordered November 24. Usually, I have the windows within 45 to 60 days. At this point, I’m four months out. I still don’t have the windows," he said.

Fowke can’t put up drywall until he has windows, and those delays cost builders money.

Vendor prices also went up during the pandemic.

"The cost of lumber alone, the additional cost of lumber has gone up $24,000 on the average home throughout the country," said Fowke.


Tampa Bay area sees sharp increase in rent costs

In the last year alone, rent costs in the Tampa Bay area have increased almost 7% -- one of the biggest hikes in the entire country.

Realtors shared some dos and don’ts for making an offer on a house during a strong market, with the top suggestion being a high offer.

"The other thing is hiring a great agent. We work on behalf of the client," said Szewczyk. "But also to stay persistent. You probably will lose out on some deals, but a good agent can guide you through that path."

Low inventory and materials delays aren’t the only contributing factors to the high housing prices. Fowke said construction labor is stretched thin. Builders are now trying to decide how high they can raise prices to cover their costs without turning off homebuyers.

"For every $1,000 a house goes up in price, nationwide 154,000 people are pushed out of the market to be able to afford a home," said Fowke.

He said the National Association of Home Builders hopes to work with the Biden administration to help fix the home supply issues.