Romanik says the pandemic also caused more people to look for new homes.By Casey Albritton

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – You may have noticed home and rental prices skyrocketing in the Tampa Bay Area.

A local realtor explained to CW44 News At 10 why this is happening, and how you should navigate your living situation.

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Joey Romanik, realtor with Douglas Elliman Real Estate, says “Between 2015 and 2020, the average sales price in our market went up 100 thousand dollars. Between march of last year and march of this year, it went up 100 thousand dollars in 12 months.”

The increase in home prices may be shocking to people, Romanik says there are several reasons for it.

“As a country we are about 10 million new housing starts behind where we should be since the last recession. That’s amplified here in St. Pete because we don’t have big areas of land,” said Romanik.

He says because of everything the Tampa Bay Area has to offer, from beaches to great restaurants, people from other parts of the country want to move here.

“We also have all of the millennials hitting the market right now and there’s just a lot of competition for new homes,” said Romanik.

Romanik says the pandemic also caused more people to look for new homes.

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“It kind of changed how people feel about their homes…they decided ‘hey, if I’m going to work from home, I need more space, I need a home office’ and they wanted more amenities. They wanted swimming pools and larger yards,” said Romanik.

As home prices go up, so do rental prices.

“I know there are a lot of people in our market area who stay in that renting situation because they haven’t been able to find something they’ve been looking for,” said Romanik.

Ebonie Wanderlust is moving to St. Pete from Maine, and says she’s had a hard time finding an affordable apartment.

“My search has been stressful. Very stressful. I don’t understand why it is so ridiculous to survive,” said Wanderlust.

Romanik says research predicts rental and buying prices won’t go down for a while, so in the mean time he has some advice.

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“I would tell them to shop smart, to be patient but to also be flexible,” said Romanik.