Axios Tampa Bay

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Hello, Saturday!

We've written many stories on the brutal 2023 real estate market. Today we're focusing on the silver linings of buying in winter.

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Today's newsletter is 455 words β€” a 2-minute read.

1 big thing: 🎁 Home for the holidays

Illustration of a house wrapped with a bow.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

It was a bad year to be a buyer, but the tail end of 2023 might offer a bright spot for Tampa Bay house hunters.

Why it matters: With still-high mortgage rates, home shoppers are desperate for even a little more buying power.

The big picture: There's less competition among buyers right now β€” thanks to mortgage rates and the typical holiday season demand dip β€” which leaves some room for buyers to negotiate better deals.

What they're saying: Houses are sitting on the market for two weeks longer than they were in 2021, which gives buyers a window to strike a better deal, Tampa Bay agent Adam Grenville says.

  • Concessions like rate buydowns and closing cost assistance are more popular than dramatic price reductions. Though, list-to-sales price ratios are "as low as 90% in some areas," Glenville tells Axios.
  • In some cases, sellers are giving the buyers 3-6% of the sale price to cover closing costs.

Zoom in: Inventory is still tight. But the new build market is exploding in East Pasco markets like Wesley Chapel and Zephyrhills, Glenville says.

Zoom out: More than one in three U.S. sellers gave concessions β€” like cash for repairs or closing costs β€” to buyers August through October 2023, according to a new Redfin report.

What's happening: Most sellers β€” sitting on record-low mortgage rates β€” are only moving if they have to. Desperate to close the deal, they might throw in cash for repairs, closing costs or mortgage rate buydowns, per Redfin.

  • Some sellers will pay cash toward a temporary lower mortgage rate for the buyer instead of reducing the asking price, mortgage lender Donny Kirby tells Axios.
  • It helps make "the payment palatable in the first couple of years," and most buyers are betting they can refinance later, he says.

Bottom line: Desperate sellers and minimal competition help give buyers a little more power this winter.

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2. Charted: Monthly mortgage payments

Data: Freddie Mac fixed-rate mortgage calculator; Note: 30-year fixed-rate mortgage; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Freddie Mac fixed-rate mortgage calculator; Note: 30-year fixed-rate mortgage; Chart: Axios Visuals

After peaking above 8%, mortgage rates have fallen closer to 7% over the last month.

The big picture: A one percentage point drop in mortgage rates doesn't have a huge impact on a new homebuyer's monthly payment. But even a slight dip was enough to get some buyers off the sidelines.

State of play: A $400,000 home costs nearly $1,000 more per month than it did two years ago β€” in principal and interest alone.

Go deeper: How to interpret mortgage rates you see in headlines

3. πŸŽ₯ 2023 real estate review

Animated illustration of a floating key rotating to reveal a question mark.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Readers, we want to know your biggest takeaways from this year in real estate.

  • If you had to write a headline summarizing the 2023 real estate market, what would it be?

Email [email protected] or hit reply with your name and hometown. We might feature your insights in an upcoming newsletter.

Our picks:

πŸŽ„ Bri is obsessing over nostalgic Christmas decor.

🌟 Sami is voting in this year's Goodreads Choice Awards. (She picked "Shark Heart.")

Thanks to our editor Ashley May and copy editor Bill Kole.