PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – While COVID-19 wreaked havoc on small businesses across the nation, real estate, specifically in Florida did not share that experience.

Doug Wagner, a Loan Officer in Pinellas County shares, “In a lot of ways, people thought that the whole world was going to come to a screeching halt and some people thought really bad things were going to happen. A lot of people thought real estate prices were going to drop or there were going to be a lot of foreclosures and it has really just been the complete opposite.”

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We’ve seen it all around us throughout the Bay Area. The For Sale sign pops up in the neighbor’s yard and within a few days, it’s under contract. As the exodus continues in the northeast, Florida has seen increased interest along with a lot of new residents. We are experiencing a supply and demand issue in the housing market right now and Chase Walseth, Real Estate agent and Team Leader with Keller Williams says it’s going to continue this way for the foreseeable future.

“You know real estate is a limited resource, especially in Pinellas county, where everybody wants to be. We’re a destination place within a destination state. And there’s going to continue to be more and more and more demand,” says Walseth. For those looking to purchase a pre-existing home in Pinellas with a conventional mortgage offer, the process is an aggressive one in the the current sellers’ market. 

Walseth says “there are more people looking for a house in Pinellas than there are houses available and the only thing that you can do to fix that, is raise your prices up!” But as the prices increase, so does the competition. “I have to tell those buyers in Pinellas, that right now we’re at about 55% cash purchases and that’s just the reality of the market. And if there is a home that you’re interested in, you are very likely that you’re going to be up against a cash buyer.”

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For Bay Area residents looking to build a new home, they’re sure to notice that COVID-19 has presented its own set of adversities in that process. Mike Miano, Owner of Sun Bay Builders says patience is the key. He points out that Covid has increased the volume of business, but the industry has also been hit with a labor shortage. Buyers are eager to get into their new homes, but rushing the process has led to noticeable quality control issues that can haunt new homeowners down the line.

What’s more, the industry is adjusting to recently inflated costs of products and goods such as lumber. The labor shortage has presented extra work for Miano and his team to oversee projects. “I think that all of the commercial work that’s out there, all the other available jobs out there, it’s hard for us to compete with because we have kind of set labor rates, so we just don’t know if we can keep up with the current inflation of labor rates.”

The loan officer, Wagner says over the course of the next 12 months, this rising momentum is anticipated to continue in the Pinellas Real Estate Market, adding, “we expect homes to go up another eight to ten percent [in value] over the next twelve months. So the house that you could be buying today for $300,000 could be around $330,000 next year.”

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Wagner says if we also continue to see inflation rates increase, we may also see interest rates increase in Pinellas County.