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Housing inventory dips to record low in Zillow report

Zillow found fewer homes in the market nationwide than ever since December 2019. Tampa's numbers exceeded the nation's average.

TAMPA, Fla. — A new report is showing housing inventory dipped to a record low since just before the pandemic struck.

Zillow reported there were fewer homes on the market at the end of 2021 versus the end of 2019. But Tampa Bay's housing inventory numbers exceeded the nationwide average. The report shows it was down by 46%, according to Zillow. That's almost half of the options available two years ago.

Nationwide, the numbers were down by 40% the past two years. 

Zillow economist Jeff Tucker said while the numbers are a consequence of Tampa Bay's supply and demand housing woes, there are also typically fewer homes on the market this time of year.

"We will see more options listed for sale. We'll see more inventory because sellers put more in the spring," Tucker said.

"Before COVID was even part of our lives, it was a seller's market," said Kailin Consuegra, a Cornerstone Properties International real estate advisor in Tampa.

The pandemic exacerbated the competitiveness of the market, said Cristian Consuegra, another real estate advisor with Cornerstone Properties International.

Construction can't keep up with the influx of people moving in due to economic and job growth, weather and culture, they added. Not to mention, historically low mortgage rates initially and lagging construction since the 2008 recession. 

But with construction growing and the initial aftershock of the pandemic fading, realtors expect more options to choose from this year. 

Realtors said knowing the market is essential to landing one's chances of finding a dream home. New homeowners like Nikki Doughty said the homework paid off for her.

"If I wouldn't have educated myself and asked the right questions, I don't think we would be in the home we are in today," Doughty said. 

Doughty closed in on a Riverview home this past October after moving from Utah. 

But even with the right questions, that wasn't enough. Doughty said finding a local realtor knowledgeable of one's needs was necessary. 

Nicole Hernandez, realtor at Tomlin St Cyr Real Estate Services, helped Doughty find a new home. 

Hernandez said other tips she tells her clients include getting pre-approved first, then using a local lender. She also suggests choosing a home that meets most needs and wants, but not all, since it may be impossible unless the home is custom built. 

"If your offer does not get accepted on the home, it wasn't meant to be," Hernandez said in an email. "As cheesy as that sounds, I always tell my buyers the right home will work out how it's supposed to."

Realtors also echoed buyer's remorse as a common feeling after closing in on a purchase. 

"It could be one of the most stressful situations you deal with your entire life," Cristian Consuegra said. "So we take pride being that person there."