Pinellas County Real Estate Statistics, which includes St Petersburg, St Pete and Clearwater in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, for September 2013 indicate a slow continued improvement in sales and market activity over September 2012. While industry professionals work hard to overcome obstacles, the most recent being the flood insurance issues and the government shutdown. Inventory is still historically low but the positive news is there is improvement this year over last year.

Here is a brief summary of the September 2013 report:

Closed sales for single family homes are up 20.4% from September 2012. Closed sales on townhomes/condos are up 20%.

Cash sales for single family residences are up 7.3% over last September and cash sales for townhomes/condos is up 17.9%.

New single family home listings are up 23.1% and new condo/townhome listings are up 8.2% over last year.

Traditional closed sales for single family residences are up 38.4% and for townhomes/condos, up 41.9% over last year.

Consumer confidence could take a bit hit, along with our market stability, with the new proposed flood insurance increases. Your real estate professionals and our Pinellas Realtor Organization are hopeful the government will sort out the issue that has been created and act in the best interest of homeowners across the USA. Several bills are on the floor that could put a moratorium on the rate increases, and it is important we all continue to put pressure on our elected officials, stay informed and proactive, share your experiences, and

…call, email, fax letters, send your concerns and your story to Washington. As of this writing, all local cities, County and State Legislators are on board to STOP BW12. Please show them your support.

There has been a great deal of movement in Congress.  Working with Karl Eckhart at National Association  of Realtors (NAR) and John Sebree at Florida Realtors®, here is what we know.

Legislation in Congress is finally close to introduction.  We expect a bipartisan bill to be introduced in the US Senate.  Among other important provisions, this bill would delay the implementation of rate increases for the following properties until 2 years after FEMA completes the affordability study mandated in Biggert-Waters and the Administrator of FEMA certifies that the agency has adopted sound engineering practices to accurately determine flood risk:

  1. All grandfathered homes and businesses that were built to code and later remapped into a higher risk area;
  2. All properties sold after July 6, 2012; and
  3. All properties that purchased a new policy after July 6, 2012.

The legislation also requires FEMA to propose regulations that address the identified affordability issues within 18 months after the completion of the study and establishes a 6-month moratorium thereafter to provide for Congressional review.  Affordability measures addressed under this section may include targeted assistance to individual policyholders and factor in the impacts of rate increases on overall program participation.  FEMA has estimated it will take an additional 2 years to complete the affordability study before regulations can be issued and reviewed by Congress meaning rate increases would be delayed for approximately 4 years.  

Also, Representative Maxine Waters has announced that the U.S. House will introduce a similar bi-partisan bill this week.   You can read more about Representative Waters intentions here.

There has been an article from an insurance journal circulating that states a “Bipartisan Deal has been Reached to Delay Flood Insurance Premium Hikes.”  While there has been significant progress, as indicated above, the legislation has not yet been introduced.  It could be a month or more before Congress takes final action on this legislation.  Again, this is positive movement but please know this legislation just has a long way to go before it reaches the president for his signature.

You may go to for news and political information from the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce.