03/14/14 Real Estate
ST. PETERSBURG — When her daughter called with news of the Senate's flood-insurance overhaul this week, Keller Williams real estate agent Eve Sawicki decided she had to celebrate.
Sawicki, a St. Petersburg agent who for months had watched sales of homes threatened by huge rate spikes go "dead in the water," popped a bottle of Korbel champagne.
"What buyers have been very leery about is the uncertainty, this big black hole," Sawicki said. "What the Senate did for us … was remove that uncertainty from the market. Waterfront homes are once again going to sell."...
03/14/14 Real Estate
Tampa Bay homeownership, once so popular, continues to lose its appeal. The share of people here who own a home plunged last year to its lowest point since the U.S. Census Bureau started counting in 1986.
Since peaking at 73 percent during the housing boom, homeownership here, or the rate of lived-in housing units that are owner-occupied, has fallen six straight years to 65 percent, lower than the Florida average....
TAMPA — Bright House Networks will soon launch Florida's fastest home Internet connection in the Tampa Bay suburbs, offering a hyper-speed competitor to broadband powerhouses like Google Fiber, the cable company said Thursday.
The ultrafast gigabit network, more than 10 times speedier than Bright House's top-line "Lightning" service, will debut this spring in model homes by Tampa subdivision developer Metro Development Group....
03/12/14 Working Life
Florida's vast workforce of low-wage service workers and middle managers could see their paychecks swell because of President Barack Obama's directive this week to expand who can benefit from overtime pay.
Employers can deny time-and-a-half pay to salaried workers logging more than 40 hours a week if they earn more than $455 a week, or as little as $24,000 a year, and are labeled administrative, executive or professional employees....
The Wolf of Ulmerton Road: Largo securities seller becomes fugitive after losing hundreds of thousands in housing crash03/07/14 Real Estate
TAMPA — A Largo mortgage broker who squandered hundreds of thousands of dollars on risky and unlicensed securities has become a fugitive, after his failure to pay back devastated investors led a judge to order his arrest.
John Steve Tsavaris, who attorneys say built his Home Saving Mortgage Corp. brokerage into a spurious investment mill that crumbled during the housing crash, was ordered in 2012 to pay back two small-time Florida investors who lost a total of more than $350,000....
02/28/14 Real Estate
Just how big is Florida's biggest backyard swimming pool?
If you believe the sellers of a $14.3 million East Lake mega-mansion, it's very, very big, with 14 waterfalls, a lazy river and enough chlorinated glory for eight typical suburban pools.
The gargantuan estate, listed this week as Tampa Bay's second-most expensive on the market, is already a masterpiece of excess, with its opulent 21,000-square-foot mansion and 13 full bathrooms....
02/25/14 Real Estate
RUSKIN — A three-story Victorian mansion famous for floating up Tampa Bay during an extravagant tugboat move has bobbed onto the market for just under $5 million, a sales listing Tuesday shows.
The century-old Lamb Manor, all 220 tons of it, cruised 25 miles from Palmetto to Ruskin in 2006 after a developer sought the land beneath it to build a condo tower.
George and Nancy Corbett, who run a North Carolina retreat for Baptist ministers, said they bought the once-abandoned home for $1. They spent the next seven years and about $1.9 million restoring the 7,000-square-foot Queen Anne-style estate....
02/21/14 Real Estate
TAMPA — When developers broke ground this month on Tampa's newest apartment skyscraper, they defined their goal as a portrait of homey domestic splendor: neighbors "sharing dinner on a Friday evening, looking west over toward the ... sunset."
But to get there, SkyHouse Channelside's developers had to look in the other direction, toward the Far East. Up to $15 million of the tower's $68 million price tag will come from the American arm of Tokyo-based Kajima Corp., one of Japan's most powerful construction conglomerates....
02/21/14 Real Estate
Few companies here last year played more of a punching bag than Wannemacher Jensen, the architectural firm charged with cheerleading the Pier's voter-doomed replacement candidate, the Lens.
But even as their most prominent project crumbled, the architects' fortunes soared. As demand for new designs surged last year, the firm boosted its staff from seven architects to 12 and saw revenue nearly double to $3.2 million — "our best year ever," partner Jason Jensen said....
BRANDON — T.D. Bowen quit his insurance-agent job and cashed in his 401(k) to launch Moon Mountain Vapor, a custom-built laboratory for mixing the flavorful nicotine cocktails heated into vapor by e-cigarettes.
It was a big risk on a budding market, he said, and "the scariest time of my life." But less than a year later, his lab is brewing thousands of bottles of "e-liquid" a month, with names like "Earth is a Blueberry" and "Space Suit Surprise," for retailers in 42 states, Malaysia, France and the United Kingdom....
Comcast and Time Warner Cable's $45.2 billion mega-merger would combine the nation's two largest cable companies into a media juggernaut.
But it's unclear just what effect the telecommunications behemoth, which would reach one in three American pay-TV households, could have on Tampa Bay's TV sets.
Bright House Networks, Florida's second-biggest cable provider behind Comcast, relies on Time Warner Cable to negotiate programming, channel lineups and content deals....
02/13/14 Real Estate
Tampa Bay saw 20 percent fewer foreclosure filings last month than in January 2013, a sign that lingering distress from the housing crash continues to slowly fade from view, RealtyTrac data released today show.
But the good news ends there. Tampa Bay posted the seventh-highest foreclosure rate in the country last month, with twice as many filings — notices of default, auction or repossession — as Phoenix, Dallas or Detroit....
02/11/14 Real Estate
Who bought a home in Florida last year?
A lot more single women than single men, for starters. A lot more suburbanites than city folk. And many who intended to move in with their parents or grown children.
We mined the Florida Realtors' newest Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers, a survey of hundreds who dove into the Sunshine State's housing market in 2013, to learn more about where and how Floridians are living today....
02/10/14 Real Estate
With its leaky cushion of investor cash still deflating, Tampa Bay's housing market entered 2014 with home sales sliding to their slowest level in almost two years, listing data show.
But sales of homes at risk of spiking flood-insurance rates rebounded as private insurers and savvy sellers found ways to seal the deal. And even in a wintry month infamous for sales slumps, Tampa Bay home prices extended their price-growth streak to 25 months in a row....
TAMPA — One year after its debut in Tampa and nationwide, CNN Latino is shutting down.
The ambitious Spanish-language programming block, a CNN-affiliated gamble at winning America's flourishing Hispanic market, will end later this month.
The network said in a statement Wednesday that CNN Latino "was not able to fulfill our business expectations." It's unclear how many will lose their jobs....