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What’s Your Westchase Home Worth?

In 2016, Westchase real estate was hot, rising 6.4 percent in a year. What did 2017 do to the value of your home?

Those who lived through the housing boom and bust in Westchase remember it with a shudder. Beginning in 2004, home prices in the Westchase area exploded, rising an unsustainable $52.29 per average square foot (or 39 percent) to $185.60 a square foot in 2006. Yet the real estate bubble dramatically deflated the next year, decimating the newest homeowners’ equity.

That terrible slide lasted three years and saw more than a quarter of Westchase home sales as late as 2011 consisting of foreclosures and short sales. Average Westchase prices ultimately declined more than they rose during the frothy bubble. The typical home fell $58.23 per square foot to the 2009 bottom of $127.37 a foot.

It’s been a long, erratic climb since.

While 2010 saw a small increase, 2011 saw Westchase homes give back the 2010 gain. Solid growth returned in 2012, followed by an impressive rise of nearly $15 per square foot in 2013. After a third straight year of respectable increases in 2014, 2015 brought a small decline, bucking the overall trend in Tampa Bay. In 2016, however, prices jumped 6.4 percent.

Which brings us to 2017.

According to the Case-Shiller home index, last year home prices across the nation rose 6.2 percent while Tampa Bay homes rose 7.2 percent in price from October 2016 through November 2017.

Perhaps due to its larger than average sizes and their above average prices, Westchase homes grew at a far more modest pace. What was the take of the Realtors we interviewed about Westchase real estate?

“I am happy to say it was another very strong year in Westchase and the surrounding neighborhoods. Home prices continued to rise and inventory continued to stay at historically low levels,” said Kimmie Cimino Fine of Palermo Real Estate Professionals

Citing solid growth patterns, Wendy Ross, Florida Executive Realty stated, “The Westchase and Northwest market has recovered very well from the Great Recession.” Ross added, “Out of 109 sold properties in the past six months in Westchase, only nine properties received less than 95 percent of their last listing price. Sellers are receiving closer to 96-98 percent on average of their last listing price in the Westchase market.

Anne Hart of Florida Executive Realty saw an increase in inventory and many sales, which she attributed to more homeowners having enough equity in their homes to sell now that the market it closer to 2005 prices. “Most homes and townhomes sold very quickly with multiple bids,” she said.

Taking a different take was Melanie Atkinson, Smith & Associates. “I would describe Westchase real estate in 2017 as hot and cold: Homes with all of the key ingredients (updates, well maintained, great location, and priced right) sold very quickly. However, homes that did not have those ingredients tended to linger on the market longer than expected.”

Nancy Wood of Smith & Associates, who compiled and sorted all the data for this article, commented, “It was a game of ‘Tug O’ War’ for buyers and sellers as each felt out the other to determine ‘market value.’” She added, “Buyers moved fast and paid top dollar for homes that were turn-key and balked at homes that needed any amount of updating or additional cash outlay for projects, especially ones over the $450K range.”

What do the numbers say?

A total of 253 Westchase homes sold in 2017, roughly seven percent of the Westchase total. That’s consistent with annual number of sold homes in Westchase since 2013. The average Westchase home that sold in 2017 was 2,316 feet and sold for $400,426 in 63 days. The square foot sold price of $172.90 increased $4.13 per square foot over 2016, for an increase of 2.4 percent, still above the 2017 inflation rate of 2.1 percent.

How does Westchase compare with other areas?

According to sales graphs offered WOW by Ross, the median home price (the midpoint of all sales) in the fourth quarter of 2017 for the entire 33626 zip code was $400,000. (WOW’s individual Westchase sales, representing a smaller portion of 33626, put the number at $384,000.) In contrast, in the fourth quarter of sales in zip code 33647, where New Tampa is located, the median price was $310,000. In Wesley Chapel, it was $289,900. Meanwhile South Tampa’s median home sold for $587,000, Brandon’s went for $217,000you’re your typical home in Carrollwood sold for $257,900.

Across Hillsborough County the median home price in the last three months of 2017 was $226,000.

Since 2004, the year before the real estate bubble began, overall inflation has run 29.6 percent. In 2004, the average Westchase home sold for $133.31 per square foot. Adjusted for inflation, that 2004 home would sell today for $172.77, nearly matching the 2017 average square foot in Westchase. Historically nationwide home prices over the long-term usually just outperform the inflation rate (because of Americans’ desire for bigger homes over the years). Currently, the Westchase market appears to have returned to following that pattern.

Nevertheless, to reach the height of the 2006 market, when the average Westchase home sold for $185.60 per square foot, Westchase prices would have to rise an additional 7.3 percent. According to graphs offered WOW by Ross, two areas of Hillsborough County have already seen average home prices exceed their 2006 peeks: South Tampa, which is at the urban core, and Wesley Chapel, one of Tampa’s more distant bedroom communities. Meanwhile, Carrollwood home prices currently match their 2006 heights.

Bookending sales in our neighborhood were the least expensive Westchase home, a 1,152-square-foot, two-bed, two-bath home in Berkeley Square townhome, which sold for $140,000 on May 5 and a 4.531 square-foot, four-bedroom, three-bathroom home in The Estates, which sold for $745,000 on March 3.

Price increases, however, were not the same across all Westchase neighborhoods. Two of the top four neighborhood performers back in 2016, The Bridges and Radcliffe, saw pullbacks in price in 2017. The Bridges nudged 0.2 percent downward in 2017 averages while Radcliffe saw a 3.7 percent decline. In Radcliffe’s case, only three of its eight 2017 sales exceeded the average sale price Radcliffe homes fetched in 2016.

Meanwhile, two neighborhoods identified by this annual review as “best buys” in the last two years saw their previously below average prices rise notably above average in 2017. The Shires saw its square foot price rise 8.7 percent to $172.40 per square foot while homes across Bennington, Wycliff, Woodbay, Glenfield and Keswick Forest shot up 9.1 percent to $180.87 per square foot, the biggest gain in the Westchase market. Also showing a strong increase in 2017 was The Vineyards, which saw its square foot prices rise 8.2 percent to 173.14 per square foot.

Notching increases closer to the overall average of 2.4 percent were West Park’s Single Family Homes (2.4 percent), The Fords, (2.9 percent), and The Greens and Harbor Links/The Estates, which both saw 1.2 percent increases.

How long does it typically take to sell a home in your neighborhood?

Selling fastest among the bigger neighborhoods were homes in West Park Village, which on average sat less than a month on the market (29 days), and homes in The Bridges, which averaged 33 days to sell. As has been typical in recent years, higher priced homes outside of West Park Village took progressively longer to sell, proportionate to their prices. Homes in The Greens took 84 days to sell on average in 2017. Radcliffe homes took 87 days and Harbor Links/The Estates homes took 97 days, all slightly longer than in 2016. Offering the most expensive homes in Westchase, Harbor Links/The Estates, however, is still showing a much faster sales market than in 2015, when its homes took nearly five months to sell.

Among the smaller, maintenance free homes in Westchase, all but one also saw an increase in average price. The top performer among them was Saville Rowe, whose square foot price increased 11 percent in 2017 to $147.17. In contrast, Glencliff Villas square foot average gave up 12.2 percent, sliding to $153.74. A word of caution is in order, however, because in both of these neighbors only three units sold. Such a small number of annual sales can often bring wide swings in annual averages.

In contrast, 25 West Park Village townhomes sold across its various subassociations, producing a 7.8 percent square foot price increase to $166.14 and taking 52 days on average to sell. Berkeley Square saw 13 units sell in an average of 15 days for $132.90 per square foot, a two percent increase. Meanwhile The Enclave saw 11 units sell in 96 days on average; they charted an impressive 7.8 percent increase to $140.14 per square foot.

What’s Westchase’s most expensive home per square foot? That would be the Villas of West Park Village. They saw a 1.7 percent increase to $199.57 per square foot, a square foot price almost seven percent higher than those in Harbor Links/The Estates. In 2017 four West Park Villas units sold in an average of 34 days.

While not in the Westchase Community Association, Tree Tops saw the immediate Westchase area’s most expensive sale. On Dec. 29, a 6,010 square foot home sold for $1.3 million. That neighborhood saw 10 homes sell in 2017 at an average square foot price of $222.48 and taking 132 days on average to close.

Across the board, despite the inflationary uptick in prices, the Realtors we interviewed described a market with low inventory. Are homeowners getting multiple offers?

When priced correctly, Hart said she’s experienced multiple offers across all price levels.

Commented Atkinson, “If a house has been updated, well-maintained, and priced reasonably, there is a good chance it will receive multiple offers. But, just because it is located in a desirable area that doesn’t guarantee a seller a frenzy for their house. To get peak pricing, you have to invest in your house and prep it thoroughly.”

“It all depends on the property,” said Alisha Stockton of Charles Rutenberg Realty. “If the home is updated and turn-key, we are seeing a tons of interest and multiple offers.”

Said Ross, “The Westchase area properties still receive multiple offers at times; a property with just the right mix of appropriate market pricing, a premium location and superior condition can easily receive multiple offers.”

Wood, however, offered a different take, stating that she found more buyers more cautious about overpaying than they were in 2015-2016. There were, however, some homes that received multiple offers. “The homes that were perceived as very well-priced and in perfect condition, with all of today’s newer finishes, were the ones that experienced multiple offer situations and a few of the rarer products with lower price points, like villas, also saw multiple offer situations.”

But with Westchase, there are always whispers about schools. Many folks believe that buyers are regularly seeking homes just outside Westchase in order to be zoned for Farnell Middle and Sickles High School. If that alleged higher demand for neighborhoods just north of Westchase exists, you simply can’t find it in the numbers. Westchase’s average square foot price is $172.90. In contrast, neotraditional Highland Park, zoned for Sickles and Farnell, has an average square foot price of $160.23. West Hampton has an average price of $146.58 and Westwood Lakes’ price is $160.74 per square foot. Even square foot prices in The Bridges and West Park Village townhomes, both in Westchase, are higher than all neighborhoods immediately north of Westchase except perhaps Waterchase, whose data WOW didn’t examine.

Clearly a strong demand exists for Westchase homes. Yet if you’re planning to move, there are some key ways to attract more buyers and more offers. Stockton said Westchase buyers are looking for updated homes and neutral colors. “Everyone loves a ‘white’ kitchen these days!” She added, “If you’re looking to update on a budget, neutralize your wall colors and look into refinishing your cabinets throughout. This will give your home a fresh clean look and it often makes the home feel bigger.”

Harte said she’s finding buyers looking for open floor plans, updated interiors, white cabinets, quartz counter tops and hardwood floors.

What does 2018 hold?

“I see prices continue to steadily rise in 2018,” said Fine. “One reason is that interest rates are still historically low. Another reason is that some people aren’t willing to live farther out and have a longer commute to work, school and activities.”

Fine also cited the impact of the new federal tax laws, which incentivizes residents of states with high property and income taxes to relocate to Florida.

Ross agreed with the increases. “After more than six consecutive years of improvement,” she said, “the Westchase inventory remains very low and the time on the market is rather short, so prices should continue to rise throughout 2018.”

Harte was more cautious. “It’s really difficult to say as incomes are not going up as dramatically,” she said, although she added that folks moving from the Northeast do perceive Florida real estate values as bargains.

Based on real estate data from Westchase and WOW Northwest neighborhoods, the area appears to be heading toward a return to historical norms. That generally means home prices trending slightly higher than the inflation rate. Nevertheless, as with any market, a well-maintained home in a desirable location goes a long way in protecting your investment.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher; Photos by James Broome Photography

Editor’s note: WOW thanks Nancy Wood of the Wood Team at Smith & Associates for the many hours she put into running and compiling 2016 home sales data in the Northwest region. Her valued help, along with Wendy Ross’ data from other Tampa Bay neighborhoods, made this article possible.


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