09/23/16 Real Estate
A 35-story apartment tower in downtown St. Petersburg. Two huge new communities with sunset views of Old Tampa Bay. A 52-story tower overlooking Tampa's Riverwalk.
If you haven't heard much about these lately, it's because not much is happening — at least not yet.
While a $2 billion redo of Tampa's Channel District and other mega projects are underway, others have yet to get out of the ground. That's partly the nature of the projects themselves and partly the nature of development in general, especially as another boom begins to show hints of a slowdown....
09/22/16 Real Estate
Tampa Bay home prices soared nearly 20 percent in August, outpacing all other metro areas in Florida.
The big year-over-year price gain was great news for sellers, pushing the bay area's median price for single-family homes to $209,900 with even higher amounts in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. But the increase in prices was propelled by a continued — and worrisome — shortage of homes for sale both in the bay area and nationwide....
09/16/16 Real Estate
A decade ago, Tampa appraiser Ron Balseiro realized something disastrous was about to happen.
His letter carrier owned five rental houses. A teacher he knew had seven. All had been bought with borrowed money, and all could face foreclosure if tenants stopped paying and home values plunged, making it impossible to sell or refinance.
That's exactly what happened.
"They were able to keep their own houses, but they lost all the rest,'' Balseiro said. "To me, what caused a lot of the problems is that too many people were buying too many houses they couldn't afford.''...
09/15/16 Real Estate
In the Tampa Bay area, there's a whole lot of flippin' going on.
One out of every 10 homes sold in the second quarter of this year was a flip, RealtyTrac reported today. That's 13 percent more than a year earlier and enough to rank Tampa Bay third-highest nationally in flips — defined as any property bought and resold in an arms-length transaction in a 12-month period.
"There are loads and loads of (flippers) out there,'' said Bruce Harris, a broker associate in St. Petersburg. "Most of them buy houses that Mr. Joe America can't unless he has the cash.'' ...
09/12/16 Real Estate
TAMPA — A Chicago private investment firm has bought the Westin Harbour Island for an undisclosed sum and plans a "very robust renovation.''
Opened in 1987, the hotel has 299 rooms, 17,432 square feet of meeting space, a heated outdoor pool and water views.
Tampa's hotel market "has been strong, so people are interested in the market in addition to all the other good news — job growth, excitement about what's planned for the Channelside district,'' said Daniel Peek, senior managing director of HFF, which arranged the financing. "Those factors drive the interest and also the reurbanization. We have more people living downtown than historically so all that helps.''...
09/10/16 Real Estate
The 6,900-square-foot bayfront home that sold this month in Tampa's Culbreath Isles might seem like any other palatial abode but with one key difference — the buyer paid $4.5 million to knock it down.
That could be the most expensive teardown ever in the Tampa Bay area, according to Realtors who specialize in luxury properties. They say, though, that more and more well-heeled buyers are razing places that most of us could happily live in for the rest of our lives. ...
09/09/16 Real Estate
When it started six years ago, the $7.6 billion federal Hardest Hit Fund was intended to help people save their homes.
Now, at least in Hillsborough County, it has morphed into a program that helps people buy homes.
Since January, only 123 struggling Hillsborough homeowners have qualified for Hardest Hit help in paying their mortgages, a Tampa Bay Times analysis found. In the same period, nearly eight times as many people — 935 — have received up to $15,000 for down payments and closing costs to buy homes, including new townhouses....
09/08/16 Real Estate
Looking for the most affordable place to buy a home in the Tampa Bay area? New Port Richey might be a good choice.
The average listing price of a four-bedroom, two-bath house in the Pasco County city is just $154,830, according to Coldwell Banker. That ranks New Port Richey fourth-lowest in Florida and about $550,000 less than top-priced Key Largo.
In fact, all of the Tampa Bay area is a relative bargain given its wealth of beaches, activities and amenities. No bay area city ranks among the state's 15 most expensive, and Largo barely squeaks into the top 30 with an average listing price of $324,383. ...
09/02/16 Real Estate
Less than a year after going public, Tampa-based LM Funding America is losing its president, cutting staff and slashing salaries.
The company, which buys the rights to collect delinquent homeowners association debts, is taking the steps because of a slowdown in collecting the debts.
"One of the challenges in this business is predicting when accounts will pay off, as we have little control over the speed of the court system and other variables," Bruce Rodgers, LM Funding's founder and CEO, said in a press release. "We have experienced a decline in the number of paid-off accounts in the last two quarters although the average payoff amount continues to increase."...
Palm Harbor attorney Angela Morton Armstrong charged hefty fees to handle bankruptcy cases for people hoping to shed their debts and make a fresh start.
There was just one problem, records show: She collected the money but did little if any work.
After numerous clients complained, Armstrong was suspended from practicing law in 2014 and again last year. Finally, in April, she was disbarred....
08/30/16 Real Estate
Even as Tampa Bay's housing market continues a robust recovery, distressed sales still make up a significant share of all home sales.
Distressed sales — foreclosures and short sales of homes sold for less than the amount owed — accounted for 17.3 percent of bay area sales in May. That was more than twice the national rate and the third highest rate among the 25 largest metro areas, CoreLogic reported Tuesday....
08/26/16 Real Estate
For months, neighbors in St. Petersburg's Pinellas Point area wondered what would become of the large, aging waterfront house with its wide-open view of the Sunshine Skyway bridge.
So when the "for sale'' sign disappeared in June, their thoughts ran along two lines: "We were hoping it would be either an investor who would demo it, because it was pretty rundown, or a homeowner with a family,'' says Mary Weber, who lives next door with her husband and two children. "That would be nice for us if another family came in.''...
08/25/16 Real Estate
BELLEAIR — The iconic Belleview Biltmore Hotel is no more, but part of it will live on as the new Belleview Inn. JMC Communities, which bought the property last year for a condo- and carriage-home community, is spending $13 million to move and preserve a 38,000-square-foot, three-story section of the hotel including the lobby, original stained glass, heart pine planks, fireplace and grand staircase. Sporting the original distinctive green and white exterior, the new inn will have a pool, ice cream parlor, history room, social events venue and "grand lawn'' for outdoor events. It will sit at the end of a new boulevard landscaped with palms and flowering bushes. The move and renovation are due to start this fall and take 16-18 months to complete....
08/24/16 Real Estate
Sorry, Tampa Bay home buyers — prices are still shooting up.
The median price for a single-family house jumped 12.6 percent in July, the ninth straight month of double-digit, year-over-year increases. The steady rise continued to be spurred by a tight supply of available homes, with 4.3 percent fewer houses sold in July than in the same month a year earlier.
"We still have demand out there that's not being met with the amount of supply," Charles Richardson, senior regional vice president of Coldwell Banker, said Wednesday. "It's a great time to come on to the market as a seller — if I was thinking of selling I'd want to be in this market. It's crazy to see it last this long on the demand side."...
Even before the Great Recession, New Port Richey attorney Constantine Kalogianis was in serious financial trouble.
In a letter to a bank that was suing him, Kalogianis said he had exhausted his savings and "simply could not go (on) this way any longer.'' His real estate holdings were worth less than the loan amounts. He had stopped paying on two business lines of credit.
Yet Kalogianis told none of this to a client who agreed to "invest'' nearly $230,000 with him....