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Best buys in the resale market

You're about to go house-hunting in the Tampa Bay area. New homes are out of your price range and, besides, you'd like to buy in an established, older neighborhood. So where do you look? Where can you find the best buy in a market that's just beginning to recover from a year-long slump?

We polled several local Realtors to find out where resale property is moving in the five-county area. Here's what they had to say:

South Pinellas County

Ginny Vail, ReMax Affiliates, St. Petersburg: "Waterfront, waterfront! Specifically, Tierra Verde, St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island. Those areas are always strong and sometimes pricey, of course. Over by the Pasadena Yacht Club (Gulfport Boulevard), that's really moving, too. And Park Street (bordering Boca Ciega Bay) is always a good area. For more moderate-priced homes, Holiday Park and Sheryl Manor in northwest St. Petersburg have plenty of good buys, and there are some bargains in the Old Northeast, too (near downtown)."

Randy Ierna, Century 21 Spinning Wheel, Tierra Verde: "Properties in St. Pete Beach and Treasure Island are moving quickly and there's very little on the market. It's a buyers' market on Tierra Verde .


. nice inventory there. Maximo Moorings, on 34th Street S, has been very good. That's medium price range. Lakewood and .


. south of Pinellas Point Drive S have been strong. First-time home buyers are swarming the market now, so those properties that are $60,000 to $100,000 are really selling quickly. A third of our inventory now is below $100,000."

North Pinellas County

Morrie Somach, Century 21 Arthur M. Miller Inc., Countryside: "Palm Harbor's real good these days, the part of it that's east of U.S. 19. Safety Harbor is decent and Highland Lakes, on U.S. 19 in Palm Harbor, is excellent. That's a retirement community, so it's a lifestyle people are buying in there. Countryside holds its own, but I'd say it's not as good as it was three or four years ago. Those houses date back to the late '70s and early '80s, and they're starting to show some wear. In our area in general, starter homes in the $60,000 to $75,000 range do well."

Hillsborough County

Joe Lewkowicz, Tam-Bay Realty, Tampa: "Old Carrollwood, north of Busch and east of Dale Mabry, around Lake Carroll _ that's a staple. South Tampa is selling steadily and the older areas of Temple Terrace are doing well, too. Overall, prices are stable and they're almost identical to the last two years. Although I don't think by April some of the best buys will still be around. Actually, the thing I see selling the most are houses newer than 1986, or fixed up to that condition. A lot of people are moving up toward Cheval (Dale Mabry, near the Pasco County line), and Tampa Palms (I-75 and Bruce B. Downs Boulevard) is still holding its own."

Pasco County

Allen Crumbley, Prudential Tropical Realty, Port Richey: "Around the Gulf View Square Mall, Jasmine Lakes, that's the most active area. And in Bayonet Point, Beacon Woods _ they have a 40-acre county park, a golf course, a new hospital, a couple of new shopping centers. All the amenities are there. The nicer homes are under 10 years old. Maybe the fastest-appreciating area is in the southwest corner of the county _ the Seven Springs corridor, down by the county line. The big Trinity Communities is there, and that has some upscale housing. That whole area is becoming a bedroom community for people who commute to jobs in Pinellas and Hillsborough. That area is geared up for major growth."

Hernando County

Robert Buckner, Robert Buckner and Associates Realtors, Brooksville: "What has stayed steady are the developments in the western part of the county: Seven Hills, Glen Lakes on U.S. 19. Those are some upscale communities. And the Spring Hill area should continue to do well. Eastern Hernando probably will be the next growth area, due to I-75 and the construction of a new wastewater treatment facility to bring in infrastructure."

Citrus County

Alan Bell, ERA Suncoast Realty, Crystal River: "Citrus Springs, on U.S. 41, near Dunellon, has begun to sell. It's sort of out in the middle of nowhere, but they're inexpensive, $30,000 and $40,000 houses. There's a lot of value there. Sugarmill Woods, on U.S. 19 south of Homosassa, has begun to be active, both in resale and new homes. Near Lecanto, Pine Ridge is quite active.

"Beverly Hills is still a reasonably good resale market; that's always an older crowd.

"In Crystal River, the Connell Heights neighborhood, out State Road 44, is good. That's a mature subdivision of 10 to 15-year-old homes."