Online classifieds might be a good place to find romance, a new job or a deal on a TV.
And, these days, even a mansion — for rent.
Take the Mediterranean estate found recently on Craigslist with a Bayshore Boulevard address. Enter beveled glass doors to the warm glow of Brazilian cherry floors under 12-foot ceilings.
For $7,300 a month, you're home.
The price tag runs nine times Tampa's average apartment rental rate of $800 but is not totally unheard of these days, even for renters.
"It's a steal," said Dan Botbol, who had the house built last year and initially put out a $2.3 million for-sale sign.
He got no offers, so he decided to rent it four months ago.
"We're seeing more high-end houses renting below market," said Hyde Park Realtor Steve Beachy. Many are in foreclosure.
From Beachy's perspective, "everybody's doing what they have to do to wait out the economy," he said.
Last year, higher-end homes in South Tampa held their value in the struggling market. But sales are down 10 to 30 percent, depending on the neighborhood, said real estate agent Ed Gunning.
Paying thousands in rent may boggle the mind when unemployment nationally is the highest since the early 1980s, but in wealthy circles, the house is a bargain, said Scott Strepina, owner of Benjamin Ruth Mortgage, a Tampa mortgage broker.
"It's a situation where you can live in luxury with half the price tag," he said. A mortgage payment on Botbol's house would likely be $16,000 a month, he said.
High rental tags are not unheard of. Last year, a Davis Islands five-bedroom Mediterranean home with a climate-controlled wine room on a canal rented for $7,750 a month.
A Bayshore Beautiful mansion with views of the bay, two laundry rooms and a mahogany paneled library went for $12,500.
Lower-priced homes tend to rent for close to the cost to own. Not so for pricey homes. As home value rises, rents are disproportionately smaller, said Strepina, who joked about teaming up with another couple and moving into the Bayshore house.
That's not what the owner has in mind, said his agent, Andrea Rottensteiner. She's looking for one family with no co-signers. She has turned down Super Bowl and other party offers for short-term rentals.
"We don't want a fraternity house," she said. "It's too hard on a home."
Rottensteiner handles rentals for Hughes-Shelton Realtors, of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, and currently has about 10. Rents range from $1,100 to $7,300.
As of her last check, the latter was the highest rental being offered in South Tampa.
She recently leased Botbol's smaller house next door for $6,300.
At $5,000, houses rent pretty steadily, Rottensteiner said.
She posts rentals on several Web sites and said most people start looking about 30 to 45 days before they move.
So who can afford it?
Planners advise spending no more than 28 percent of gross income on housing. So whoever rents the Bayshore house would need an annual income of about $313,000 to rent it, or $686,000 annually to buy it and afford the higher mortgage payments.
Most who inquire about such rentals are executives or celebrities, Rottensteiner said.
Botbol's timing was off in building the luxury homes.
"I put my heart into both of them," he said. "Unfortunately they were completed right at the time things went sour."
So what do you get for $7,300 a month?
Three balconies, five bedrooms, a lavish master bath and a kitchen fit for Food Network. Out back, a large spa spills into a waterfall, which falls into a large pool.
It sits on about 21/2 lots with a lawn its brochure suggests would make for a perfect playground or tennis courts.
Or maybe a game of football.
Earlier this week, one of the two people interested was a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.
Elisabeth Parker can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3431.