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Buying a winter home in Tampa/Clearwater?
Old 03-28-2011, 04:27 PM   #1
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Buying a winter home in Tampa/Clearwater?

The thought of some time by the beach in the dead of winter sure sounds appealing! Tampa appears to have one of the most depressed housing markets around - lots of properties listed at 1/4 to 1/2 of what they cost here in Colorado.

Anybody live in the Tampa area? Any advice about the local market? Are property taxes in Florida excessive?

Maybe some of that cash I can't seem to get invested could purchase a nice little retreat home...
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Old 03-28-2011, 05:30 PM   #2
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We are curious as well, particularly the St. Pete area.
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Old 03-28-2011, 05:49 PM   #3
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I live in Florida and I think you have to narrow down what you are looking for before you start the search . Do you want to be near a beach ? Do you want a big city or a small town ? What other amenities are you looking for ? Florida property taxes are high and so are insurance costs . There are some great buys right now but you need to know the area . Tampa is a big city not on a beach . St. Pete is also decent size city with beaches . Both have lots of restaurants , good medical care ,close to airports , congested traffic & some dangerous areas & some not so dangerous areas . There are areas in Florida for every buyer you just have to figure out where you belong .
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Old 03-28-2011, 05:56 PM   #4
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I live in Florida and I think you have to narrow down what you are looking for before you start the search . Do you want to be near a beach ? Do you want a big city or a small town ? What other amenities are you looking for ? Florida property taxes are high and so are insurance costs . There are some great buys right now but you need to know the area . Tampa is a big city not on a beach . St. Pete is also decent size city with beaches . Both have lots of restaurants , good medical care ,close to airports , congested traffic & some dangerous areas & some not so dangerous areas . There are areas in Florida for every buyer you just have to figure out where you belong .
Perhaps renting a winter or two in an area could help you decide where to live.
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Old 03-28-2011, 06:57 PM   #5
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This is a great question that is applicable to anyone considering moving (not just to Florida).

Does anyone know of any reliable utilities on the Internet that help one "explore" an area graphically? Things like home prices, crime rates, congestion, and so on. I am thinking of something along the lines of Google Maps/Earth with layers important to a person thinking of moving to an area they do not know.

Hopefully this is not too naive a question...
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Old 03-28-2011, 07:09 PM   #6
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Does anyone know of any reliable utilities on the Internet that help one "explore" an area graphically? Things like home prices, crime rates, congestion, and so on.
This is a great start...
Compare Two Cities, City Profile Report, City Comparison Tool
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Old 03-28-2011, 07:23 PM   #7
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Interesting! Thank you.
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Old 03-28-2011, 07:38 PM   #8
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You could always be my neighbor in Fort Walton Beach!
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Old 03-28-2011, 07:48 PM   #9
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We live to the west of Tampa, five miles from the Gulf of Mexico in Largo (not Key Largo, just Largo). St. Pete is to the South of us although everything is built up from here to there. We love it here but we have chosen to live in an apartment. We have great parks, a beautiful new community center built within walking distance, a very nice library, and a cultural center where all types of performances and events are held. There is pressure on the city budget due to the declining tax base but so far so good.

Housing prices have tanked locally (and in the entire state) and the inventory appears to move slowly. If you buy something, you better plan to keep it for awhile...a VERY long term investment. I don't think taxes are high but homeowners' insurance can be expensive due to the hurricane risk.

And yes, nice warm sunny days during the middle of winter are absolutely wonderful which is why we sold our house, packed the U-Haul and moved here 18 months ago! It's raining cats and dogs today but we need it.
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Old 03-28-2011, 08:08 PM   #10
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We are curious as well, particularly the St. Pete area.
In July 2007, our friends purchased a home in St. Pete on a deep water canal leading from the marina to Boca Ciega Bay for $629k. The estimate of value on Zillow is $307k. It also says their property taxes are about $7k. That does seem a little expensive. Our OH house was worth about $300k and our property taxes were less than $3k.

It's a beautiful location and there are a couple of houses for sale on their street! One is a short sale for $375k although the Zestimate is $309k. Even a lift for your boat!
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Old 03-28-2011, 08:27 PM   #11
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Old 03-28-2011, 09:37 PM   #12
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Another area where there are good bargains is the Alabama coast. The economy and oil spill has done a job on the area. I was just in Orange Beach a couple of weeks ago and was told there are some properties selling for 1/3 the value of what they were in 2007. Some have held their value better than that, but lot's of bargains. No signs of oil BTW, beaches and water look fine. I'm half way kicking around the idea of buying something cheap. Just half way though.

City of Orange Beach, Orange Beach, Alabama 36561

If you don't need a pretty beach front property, Fairhope, AL is a cute town near Mobile. It was listed in the Wall Street Journal as one of the top small town retirement communities a few years ago. My nephew lives close to it and I enjoy visiting the area.

20 Things To Do | Beautiful Fairhope
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Old 03-29-2011, 07:29 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by steelyman View Post
This is a great question that is applicable to anyone considering moving (not just to Florida).

Does anyone know of any reliable utilities on the Internet that help one "explore" an area graphically? Things like home prices, crime rates, congestion, and so on.
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I can't believe these tools would be of much help. As the old saying goes real estate is local - and that means really local. In an urban area a few blocks can make a huge difference. And one neighborhood can seem like a different planet than another. Same thing on beach areas along the Florida or any other coast. I think you need to spend some time in an area before buying. Get a place for a few weeks from VRBO or something and see the area up close and personal.
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Old 03-29-2011, 08:51 AM   #14
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At one time I was (wore the same insigna ). Stationed at Hurlburt many moons ago...
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Old 03-29-2011, 01:54 PM   #15
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One thing to keep in mind is that there is no urgency. There seems to be another leg down in prices percolating right now. So renting maybe one week in each of four places would make a lot of sense.

We have stayed on Lido Key in the Sarasota area and Madeira Beach in St Petes Beach area. They are very different, offering their own unique beach experiences. We also stayed on the water in Dunedin. They are all very different. We preferred Madeira Beach.

(We decided to buy in Mexico but that is a story for another thread. We did not like the prospect of wearing sweaters on the beach in February.)
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Old 03-29-2011, 03:01 PM   #16
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One of my favorites is Venice ,Fl. It's a lot smaller than Tampa or St. Pete but has lots of restaurants and a historical downtown with little cafes . Another favorite is Anna Marie Island . It has a real beachy feel and not too far from Tampa or St. Pete . When we were getting ready to move down we visited several times and then I got the local newspapers from the top contenders . It helped me eliminate one of them .We also rented for just about a year before we purchased .
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Old 03-29-2011, 03:08 PM   #17
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Tampa is a very different animal than St Pete Beach, Madiera Beach, Clearwater Beach or the other beach communities. Tampa has some nice areas but the crime rate is much higher than you would expect from just driving around. A lot of that town looks nice but in reality isn't very safe. I would encourage you to rent in the area for several months before buying.
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Old 03-29-2011, 11:13 PM   #18
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can probably give you some local insights. Of course, the best thing is what was said and repeated here - to live there a while. My experience is that you have to live a year in one area to get o know it enough to make a good decision (i.e. without regrets) on a home to purchase.
I have looked into the area as well, but my preference was heading north - Fort Myers and Sanibel.
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Old 03-30-2011, 08:01 AM   #19
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DW and I just returned to the cold north from just under three months in the Fort Meyers/Cape Coral area. First year for us. We rented a beautiful house down there and spent quite a bit of time "exploring" the area. There is a ton of real estate for sale in most areas, but from what I could tell, prices were somewhat stable and not necessarily still going down (this was just my perception based on a few conversation and reading local real estate advertisments, etc.) Regardless, there are also plenty of places to rent, which is what I would recommend for a couple years.

Nice homes valued between ~$250K and $400K can be rented for around $2500 a month (depending on the area.) After tossing this same idea around over and over, I can't justify buying. Sure, renting isn't for everyone, but for us, it's a MUCH better use of our money. If you think "investing" in real estate down there offers good opportunities, then that's a different issue. For us, we already have a home, we don't need another. We'll be renting the same house again next year and are looking forward to it.
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