12/09/13 Real Estate
TAMPA — An Avila megamansion modeled after a 17th-century royal palace is now headed to the foreclosure auction block, the latest disgrace for bankrupt gold dealer Mark Yaffe and what was once Tampa Bay's most expensive estate.
The 29,000-square-foot castle, which took seven years to build and went on the market in 2008 for $25 million, will become perhaps the biggest seizure from Yaffe, who bankruptcy trustees said used his National Gold Exchange, once one of the world's largest precious coin wholesalers, as a personal piggy bank....
12/09/13 Real Estate
Home builder D.R. Horton will stop severing the mineral rights from Florida homes and offer to return those rights to homeowners, a month after the Tampa Bay Times investigated the practice.
In a letter Friday to the Florida Attorney General's Office, the nation's largest home builder said it would suspend its hoarding of underground drilling rights until state lawmakers consider the issue next year. ...
12/06/13 Real Estate
Hoping to capitalize on Florida's housing recovery, tens of thousands are seeking work as real estate agents, but the vast majority fail before they get to list their first home.
More than 42,000 took the state test needed to become a Realtor this year, nearly double the count in 2009, 2010 or 2011, Florida Division of Real Estate data show.
And about 16,000 agents earned the sales associate license allowing them to sell homes and collect commissions, the most this state has seen since the peak of the housing bubble in 2005....
12/04/13 Real Estate
At his most desperate, Isaac Lidsky packed his family into their Chevy Suburban and sped south, through the pre-dawn darkness, toward his last chance at making it right.
His year-old triplets slept in pajamas in the backseat. His wife, Dorothy, drove as he sat silently, listening to lullabies. Their aim was a Florida Turnpike rest stop, two hours away from home.
Waiting there was Isaac's mother, just in from Miami and hefting a bulky purse. Inside she hid a lifetime of savings: $360,000 in stacks of $100s. She blew kisses to the babies, handed it over and waved goodbye. "I know you're going to fix this," she said....
11/25/13 Real Estate
CLEARWATER — A Palm Beach speedboat aficionado who spent $3.1 million last week on a glitzy waterfront mansion holds the record for the priciest home ever sold in this city's coastal enclave of Island Estates, sales records show.
The 6,500-square-foot mansion boasts a thousand-bottle wine cellar, a two-tier spa and docks just east of Clearwater Beach, Coldwell Banker agents said.
John Ben Ali Haggin, Jr., the buyer, founded a championship powerboat racing team, Miss GEICO, that once raced near there, offshore....
11/20/13 Real Estate
The first month of big flood insurance changes and the autumn slow season cooled Tampa Bay's housing market last month, though home prices still showed year-over-year growth, new sales data show.
Single-family home sales in Tampa Bay dropped 5 percent compared with October 2012, listing data show. And though median prices have slid since their summer peak, they remained 16 percent higher than last year, at $155,500....
11/20/13 Auto racing
ST. PETERSBURG — The IndyCar race set to roar along the downtown waterfront for the 10th time in March has a new name: the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
One month after longtime sponsor Honda suddenly dropped out, race promoters said Wednesday they had a new backer with the tire company. Tickets for the March 28-30 event will go on sale Dec. 1.
"We always felt confident we had a very valuable property," race president Tim Ramsberger said. "Firestone has been with us since the beginning. They're familiar with our event, and they see the value in the event."...
11/08/13 Real Estate
BRANDON — When Mallory and Zach Sinclair were looking for their first home, they swooned over a new townhouse in the Brandon subdivision of Whispering Oaks. With well-manicured lawns, it looked fresh and untouched, with streets bearing pastoral names like Spring Flowers and Summer Clouds.
But in January, when the young parents cracked open their closing papers, they noticed an alarming clause. Their home builder had quietly signed away the rights to the land beneath their home to its own energy company. It now had free rein deep below the surface to drill, mine or explore....
10/31/13 Real Estate
The financial instrument that became Public Enemy No. 1 during the housing crisis is back with a new set of stripes, as private-equity giant Blackstone shops a new rent-backed security based partly on the cash flow from Tampa Bay homes.
The $480 million deal, the first of its kind in the country, was first marketed on Wednesday to potential investors in New York. Bond investors would pocket income from monthly rent payments and potential returns if the homes are sold....
10/30/13 Real Estate
TAMPA — One of Tampa Bay's largest mansions, a 10-bedroom castle once owned by disgraced corporate raider Paul Bilzerian, was listed for sale Tuesday at $6.5 million, sales records show.
Sprawling across more than three lakefront acres in Avila, the elite enclave in north Tampa, the gated brick mansion includes an "athletic wing" with an indoor basketball court and four fireplaces.
The mansion spans more than 22,000 square feet, with a wine room, elevator and sweeping grand staircase. A guest house alone is the size of an executive estate, with four bathrooms, a study and twin fireplaces....
TAMPA — Here's another sign of the growing strength of Tampa's cruise ship industry: AIDA Cruises will arrive next year and add winter trips to the Caribbean in 2014 and 2015.
It will be the first time the German cruise line will dock at the Port of Tampa. AIDA, a subsidiary of Carnival Corp. & PLC, becomes the fifth cruise line to make Tampa a home port for one of its ships, joining Carnival, Holland America, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cruise lines....
10/24/13 Real Estate
Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik appears to be making good on his pledge to settle in Tampa, listing his mansion in one of Boston's priciest suburbs for a staggering $17 million.
The seven-bedroom, 11-bathroom estate is nestled on more than 7 acres of groomed lawn in Weston, Mass., minutes from downtown Boston, according to a sales listing Wednesday.
The 19,000-square-foot home includes an in-home basketball court, a 16-seat theater, heated pool, art rotundas, billiards room, wine cellar, granite patio and "interactive space ship arcade."...
10/22/13 Real Estate
TAMPA — One of downtown Tampa's tallest, sleekest and most recognizable skyscrapers was sold last week for $98 million, property records show.
Element, the 35-story apartment tower at 808 N Franklin St., was bought by a firm tied to Crescent Heights, a Miami-based luxury high-rise developer that also owns Tampa apartment complexes the Slade and Lexington Park.
The blue-glass, postmodern skyscraper shadows the popular Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. At 460 feet, it is the fifth-tallest building in Tampa, taller even than its towering twin, SkyPoint, nearby....
10/21/13 Real Estate
Worries over flood insurance, mortgage rates and low inventories have yet to derail Florida's housing recovery, as home sales stayed on a year-over-year growth streak last month, new Florida Realtors data show.
More than 18,000 single-family homes sold statewide last month, 18 percent more than September 2012, Realtors data show. And the median home price rose to $170,000, 17 percent higher than last year....
10/18/13 Real Estate
ST. PETERSBURG — The for-sale sign outside the "Cotton Candy Home," a 1913 charmer known for its Halloween sweets, says nothing of its new kitchen, heart-pine floors or bucolic wrap-around porch.
Instead, the home's sellers in this city's vaunted Old Northeast neighborhood have chosen a single bragging right to catch buyers' attention: no flood insurance required.
"It's a big, big selling point," said Nancy Driver, the Hofacker Homes agent who listed the home. "People driving the streets to pick the area they want will know it's on there for a reason."...