1. Archive

Selling a homey feeling

THE ART OF HOME SELLING: Dennis Johnson, a South Tampa land developer, went way beyond the fresh-baked bread scheme when planning open houses for the Culbreath Bayou home he finished renovating in June.

He wanted to make the house seem warmer, friendlier and brighter. More homey. So he enlisted the help of consultant Katharine Gibson, who helps homeowners and businesses choose art for their walls, and interior design wholesaler Gary Dicus. Dicus threw down some rugs and Gibson used the house for an impromptu art show. She collected works from local galleries that she hung in the living room, family room, kitchen, master bedroom, stairwell and third-floor hallway.

Johnson bought the Cape Cod-style house, which was built in 1967, for $400,000 in January. He put in a new kitchen, plumbing and electrical systems and air conditioning. He also converted the attic into two bedrooms and a full bathroom.

The 3,100-square-foot house now has five bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms. It's listing for $649,000.

Johnson didn't get any firm offers on the home at the open houses, but Gibson sold a painting _ a one-of-a-kind, folk-art cow that two people wanted.

Johnson's not discouraged. The last home he rehabbed and sold was a 1920s historic Mediterranean in Beach Park. He sold it in February to Thad and Heather Taylor for his asking price of $433,000 in one week. Two months later, Thad's employer, Johnson and Johnson, decided to transfer him to Little Rock, Ark.

The Taylors put the house on the market and had several contracts on the house in less than a week. And _ even better _ if the closing, which is scheduled for August, goes smoothly, they'll make a profit.

"My houses move fast," Johnson says.

Makes your head spin.

ON THE WATERFRONT: Waterchase, Taylor Woodrow's North Tampa community on Race Track Road near the Pinellas County line, reported sales of 78 homes for a dollar volume of more than $31-million from Dec. 1 through June 30.

Most of the homes sold were in the $400,000 range. When completed, Waterchase will have a little more than 600 homes and 150 townhomes ranging in price from $200,000 to $1-million.

The community's official grand opening is scheduled for mid-September. That's when the $3.5-million amenity package, which includes a clubhouse, aerobics room, two pools (one with a tower slide), a basketball court, tennis courts and playground, will be finished.

Homebuilders who have completed models at Waterchase are Arthur Rutenberg, David Weekley, Morrison, Ryland and Westfield.

_ Write to Janet Zink in care of the St. Petersburg Times at 1000 N. Ashley Drive, Suite 700, Tampa, FL 33602; or by e-mail,