TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s getting increasingly difficult for first-time homebuyers to find anything to buy in the Tampa Bay area.

In addition to the lack of real estate inventory and increasing number of people moving to our area, companies are also swooping in to neighborhoods and buying up properties to either flip them or use them as rentals.

Erik and Maylin Mello weren’t sure they would ever purchase their own home. Maylin is eight months pregnant, and the couple started looking for a house to buy when they learned she was expecting.

It turned out to be eight months filled with disappointments.

Erik Mello says the couple made offer after offer, only to be turned down.

Erik and Maylin Mello searched for a home to buy for eight months.

“There are houses that we saw and that we liked that we followed up on – and they were asking for $350,000 – and they sold for $450,000,” he said. “It’s been $60,000 over asking, it’s been no appraisal contingency, it’s been no inspection, no anything on the house.”

Maylin Mello was just praying they would be in a home prior to the birth of their son.

“We’re on a timeline,” she said. “[We’ve] been looking everywhere and putting offers on houses.”

The Mellos aren’t alone. It’s getting increasingly difficult for first-time homebuyers to purchase homes in Tampa Bay.

There is a lack of inventory and an abundance of buyers, and not all buyers are individuals.

Doug and Nancy Wood are real estate professionals with Smith and Associates out of Tampa. Doug Wood says companies are snatching up homes for sale.

“There’s corporations that are buying up homes like offer pads and the open doors and other investors,” said Doug. “Not long ago, we had a listing here in the Westchase area that in the first 12 hours, we had seven offers. Of those seven, six were investors. Only one was an owner occupant.”

Nancy Wood says some first-time homebuyers are also experiencing “sticker shock” when looking at listings.

Nancy and Doug Wood are real estate professionals with Smith and Associates in Tampa.

“It’s really tough for local buyers,” she said, “Who are trying to put their mind around where the values were even three years ago, versus now.”

The Woods have this bit of advice for potential homebuyers: link up with an established real estate agent who you trust. That agent could have access to information about properties that are about to hit the market, but haven’t been listed yet. In some cases, sales can be negotiated prior to the “for sale” sign being posted.

The Mellos settled for a home in the Countryway area of Hillsborough County. The property needs quite a bit of work, but it’s nothing the couple can’t handle. They are just happy, they finally have a place they can call home. The closing is just around the corner.

“We are counting down the hours to sign off on closing, at this point,” said Erik. “We have a team ready to come in and make our home ours. “