‘More sophisticated’ buyers pushing up downtown Tampa condo prices

Downtown Tampa's Skypoint condominium tower is commanding impressive sales prices, but just as important as the numbers are the driving forces behind them.
A penthouse unit that sold for $650,000 two years ago recently traded for $895,000. A two-bedroom unit sold Friday for $481,000 — the highest price for a two-bedroom unit, outside of that penthouse, since the original developer was selling the units in 2007.

Brenda Daly, an agent with Smith & Associates, is seeing the beginning of a trend beyond rising sales figures. Daly was the listing agent for the penthouse and the two-bedroom units and was the original sales manager for the building when the developer was pre-selling units in the mid-2000s.

"The demographics of our buyer has changed," Daly said. "We've gone from seeing primarily young professionals — who are still very powerful — and new homeowners to an older, more sophisticated buyer."

Demand for luxury urban apartments in Tampa has been strong for several years, with most development happening in the Channel district. But as the city's downtown revitalization efforts evolve, Daly says she's seeing an increased demand from people who want to buy in the urban core — and are willing to pay a premium to be there.

"People really want to be in downtown Tampa," she said. "They get so excited with the shopping, the restaurants, the Riverwalk. It’s not a conception that we were selling in 2007."

Daly said she's had multiple two-bedroom units in Skypoint sell before they're listed, just through word of mouth. Of Skypoint's 380 units, 119 are two-bedrooms. The remainder have one bedroom, but Daly said the greatest demand is for two- and three-bedroom units.  Condos were one of the hardest hit real estate sectors in the Great Recession, and downtown Tampa's market hasn't quite recovered to the point that new construction is feasible. But it's getting closer. The $481,000 sale of the two-bedroom unit breaks down to $380 per square foot, and prices need to be around $400 per square foot to justify new construction.

Mortgage lenders are also more willing to lend on condos, though appraisals haven't kept up with the surge in demand.

"The appraisals are lagging new prices, but the sellers are in a position where they’re not coming down to meet the appraisal," she said. "Buyers are bringing money to make up the difference."

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