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Neighborhood profile: Seven Oaks in Wesley Chapel, Pasco County

There's a community in eastern Pasco County where there are more "sold" than "for sale" signs. Seven Oaks, a 1,500-home development just east of Interstate 75 between State Roads 54 and 56, is unusual in that many properties have maintained their value, comparatively, and the slight upturn in the economy has meant an upturn in interest.

Location helps, too. It's half a mile from the interstate, across the street from the Shops at Wiregrass mall, which opened in late 2008, and Wesley Chapel Medical Center, now under construction. There's a Sam's Club on the property as well as small commercial office spaces occupied by professionals such as doctors and dentists.

Seven Oaks is a small city unto itself, and if you never wanted to leave the area, you probably wouldn't have to.

That was a big part of the draw for Diana and Jorge Velez, who moved from Staten Island, N.Y., with their two children in 2008 and bought their dream home in Seven Oaks.

They pored over real estate sites on the Internet and made several trips to the Tampa Bay area, looking at many developments. But they always came back to Seven Oaks.

"We're a little meticulous," said Jorge Velez, who retired from the New York corrections department and now works as operations manager for a hospital housekeeping department.

Seven Oaks, which sits on approximately 2,000 acres, is surrounded by a conservation area. The mature landscaping within the development's 24 subdivisions belies the fact that groundbreaking was less than a decade ago.

There's a 17-acre club and complex that includes three pools, one with a twisting theme park-style water slide, five tennis courts, a basketball court and sand volleyball courts.

The Velezes also were looking to move to a place that had top-rated schools for their daughter, Brittany, 15, and son, Aaron, 11.

Seven Oaks Elementary, which is in the development, John Long Middle and Wiregrass Ranch High are all top-rated, said Brenna Eddins, a real estate agent with Seven Oaks Realty Group.

There are 1,500-square-foot townhomes, which sell in the low $100,000s, to single-family homes in the $600,000s. There are also villas and rental apartments.

The Velezes' story is one of being at the right place at the right time.

Diana Velez fell in love with a 3,500-square-foot luxury home in the Shoregrass subdivision. It was on the market for $590,000, a steep price for many but less so for many folks up North.

But they couldn't get a mortgage until they sold their home in Staten Island so they rented in Seven Oaks. By the time they were ready to buy a year later, their dream home was not only still on the market but had come down $155,000 in price as a short sale. They couldn't be happier.

"We pinpointed Seven Oaks for what it had to offer," Diana Velez said. "We knew buying here would be a great investment."

The Velezes mirror the community, as most folks are families in their upper 20s to mid 40s, Eddins said.

It's a dynamic community. The phone rang in the car while Eddins was talking. It was another real estate agent who had listed a house two days ago for $465,000.

Eddins had a buyer.

"I will probably put it under contract today," Eddins said. "I almost always have someone waiting for a house."

Gee, it sounds a little like the good old days.

Patti Ewald is a freelance writer based in Gulfport. She can be reached at pattiewald@gulfcoastwriter.com.

A Seven Oaks family

Jorge and Diana Velez, daughter Brittany, 15, son Aaron, 11, and Spunky the Yorkie and Roxy the boxer

Their home: 4 bedrooms, 4 1/2 baths; 3,500 square feet, plus pool and spa.

Why they love it: It's much larger than the 1,200-square-foot townhome they left on Staten Island. Diana Velez likes being near her parents and other family in Tampa. "We love where the house is — sitting by a conservation area — and we love that it has a first-floor master bedroom," she said.

Unusual features: There is an upstairs media room off a large game room. A second-story balcony runs the length of the two rooms. On both floors, the glass doors overlooking the back yard and pool are "disappearing" — when closed, the rooms look open to the outdoors.

When they bought: April 2009

Current value on Zillow.com: $335,000.

Neighborhood profile: Seven Oaks in Wesley Chapel, Pasco County 05/27/11 [Last modified: Friday, May 27, 2011 7:08pm]

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