Susan Taylor Martin, Real Estate Reporter

Susan Taylor Martin

Real Estate Reporter

Call me a nosy neighbor. I’ve always liked checking out Sunday open houses, especially houses for sale around my area of St. Petersburg. And I’m a huge fan of HGTV shows like “Flip or Flop’’ and “House Hunters.’’ Maybe that’s why why I ended up four years ago as the Tampa Bay Times real estate reporter. It’s a great job, especially now that the market is hot. But there’s a lot more to real estate than pretty (or not so pretty) houses. I’ve reported on a good number of scams and the colorful characters behind them, including one fellow that my stories have sent to federal prison - twice! In my off-hours, I like to travel (was a foreign correspondent for 12 years), figure skate, hit garage and estate sales, read and check out new restaurants. I’m probably one of the few people who remember when downtown St. Pete had only four restaurants — the lunch counters at Maas Bros. and Woolworth’s plus Aunt Hattie’s and Uncle Ed’s. Alas, Aunt Hattie’s closed in the early ‘80s after a rat ran over a restaurant critic’s foot.

Seller of Tampa Bay mansion paid buyer $300,000 to ‘get out of my life’

This Tarpon Springs estate was the subject of a recent lawsuit in which a prospective buyer tried to force the owner to sell to her even though the financing did not come through on time. [Google maps]
The buyers said they had been looking for the perfect house for five years, while their current home was in foreclosure.

Big Texas company buys 77 St. Pete houses in a multimillion-dollar deal

This house near 22nd Avenue S and 16th Street is among 77 rental houses recently bought by a Texas company, Amherst Residential. (Courtesy of Dan Huntington)
Houses will be used for rentals as many American no longer have the dream of home ownership.

$117 million apartment tower and hotel planned for downtown St. Petersburg

A rendering of Ascent St. Petersburg, a 36-story apartment tower with adjacent hotel in downtown St. Petersburg. (Courtesy of Greystar)
The site was once planned for the luxurious Grand Bohemian hotel but has sat vacant for years.

Sentencing reset for Mark Riddell, Tampa Bay man involved in the college admissions scandal

Mark Riddell departs federal court Friday, April 12, in Boston, after pleading guilty to charges in a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal. [Charles Krupa | Associated Press]
Harvard grad pleaded guilty to taking tests for rich people's kids.

Clearwater firm sues Vinny Testaverde over unpaid ad bill for auction of his Odessa estate

The home of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarter back Vinny Testaverde is back on the market.  (Courtesy of Firelight Images)
The former Tampa Bay Bucs quarterbar has been trying to sell his house for more than two years.