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For home buyer searching houses for sale in Tampa, MiraBay pops up

When Sue Heard was laid off from the Golf Channel, where she had worked for 18 years, she really had no reason to stay in Orlando, far from her aging parents in Palm Harbor.

So she started looking for a home in the Tampa Bay area to be closer to them.

She wasn't a novice homeowner when she began her search for a home in 2009.

Heard plugged "neo-traditional communities" into an Internet search engine, and MiraBay came up. It was about an hour from her parents, a more reasonable distance for the daughter who didn't want to live on her parents' doorstep.

Neo-traditional architecture is defined as contemporary architecture that is inspired by historic styles.

She visited MiraBay and was sold.

"I fell in love with the community and decided to contract for a house in May of 2010," Heard said.

She was attracted to MiraBay's community of cottages, which are interspersed in the development with custom-built mansions, duplexes and larger single-family homes.

"It was small, simple, cute and just fine for me.

"I don't need a lot of square footage. It's just me and the dogs," Heard said. She has three shelties: Luke, Ike and Maggie.

The personable and energetic former human resources employee has been buying, rehabbing and reselling houses since she was in college in 1974. She said she has overseen the construction to varying degrees of about a dozen houses built in several states in her lifetime.

She was the general contractor on two of the houses, and on one she even helped do the physical labor with her then-boyfriend.

"I have always loved to draw homes . . . even when I was little," Heard said.

The 2,200-square-foot home she built with her boyfriend is in Wilmington, Ohio, between Cincinnati and Dayton.

"I bought 3 acres right on the edge of a park. I drew the house plan and then called the University of Dayton architectural college for advice. They put me with a senior who helped me with the plans for his senior project."

She drew plans for another house in Winter Garden, a suburb of Orlando.

"It was Spanish architecture. I was general contractor building that house," Heard said.

So when she found the MiraBay community on the Internet, she was going in as a seasoned owner of new houses.

"I've always had a fascination with neo-traditional communities like Seaside and Celebration," Heard said.

The community of MiraBay harkens to the past with its large front porches and traditional seaside architecture.

So she picked out the lot she wanted and worked with the builder, Cardel Homes, to make a few changes and scale down the size of the house.

"It's a happy house, a happy community. It makes you feel good to live here," Heard said.

And then there's this: As she was packing up to move to her new home, she came across some old copies of Coastal Living magazine that she had kept.

"I found a magazine from 2003 where I had dog-eared a page, thinking it was interesting," she said.

On that page? An ad for MiraBay.

"This was meant to be," she said. "This was karma."

For home buyer searching houses for sale in Tampa, MiraBay pops up 02/19/11 [Last modified: Saturday, February 19, 2011 3:30am]
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