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Can you afford a four-bedroom house in Tampa or St. Pete? New online tool can help you decide.

Realtor.com’s new Price Perfect lets buyers add or delete certain home features to see what they can afford the price they want to pay. (Courtesy of Realtor.com)
Published Mar. 28

You're planning to buy a house, and you're thinking it would be nice to have a spare bedroom for those visiting relatives from Rochester.

Or you still have two teenage girls at home, and bathrooms for both would end a lot of early-morning fights.

But can you afford that extra space? There's an online tool that can help you decide.

Realtor.com just launched '"Price Perfect,'' which enables buyers to configure their ideal house in their desired neighborhood and price range. Zillow, Trulia and other online sites also let buyers search by ZIP code, size etc. But Price Perfect goes a step further by showing the median price of homes in a ZIP and how certain features increase that price.

"We found that the No. 1 consumer need is understanding affordability,'' Brad Silvert, Realtor.com's general manager, said in a phone interview Wednesday. "Not just how much you can afford but what trade-offs you are willing to make. If you can afford $360,000, what features are most important to you in looking for a new house? ''

Example: In ZIP 33626 of Tampa's Westchase area, Price Perfect shows that the median price of all three-bedroom, two-bath houses currently on the market is $459,000. An extra bedroom adds $40,900 to the price; an extra bathroom $60,000.

Or in St. Petersburg's 33704, which includes the Old Northeast and Snell Isle areas, the median price of a 3-bed, 2-bath house is $694,900. A fourth bedroom would pump up the price by $267,510 and a third bathroom would raise it by $144,460.

Conversely, deleting one bedroom would reduce the cost by only $27,590 and subtracting one bathroom would reduce it by just $5,990.

Why such a price differential? "It has to do with inventory,'' Silvert said. "In St. Pete, there are not as many four bedroom houses and by default those tend to be nice homes and the price goes up dramatically. If you really want that extra bedroom, maybe you should consider expanding the search'' to another area.

Once users have added or deleted features, Price Perfect links to all homes meeting the criteria in that ZIP. It also shows what the monthly mortgage payments would be, based on 20 percent down and including taxes and insurance. For the basic 3-2 house in Westchase, the payment would be $2,597. In the Old Northeast, it would be $2,475.

Price Perfect currently has limitations. It can't account for the cost of pools, waterfront locations or certain other sought-after features. But users of the site are asked for suggestions, and more features "absolutely will be added,'' Silvert said

Price Perfect uses an algorithm of listing prices and characteristics of homes currently on the market in a specific neighborhood. "This ensures all costs reflect market conditions in real time, making these insights incredibly relevant to buyers currently in the market,'' Realtor.com said in a release.

Realtor.com originated as the online home-search arm of the National Association of Realtors. Since 2015, it has been owned by News Corp. and it licenses the word "Realtor'' from the association.

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at smartin@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.

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