As a measure of the price difference between homes in Pasco County and its neighbors to the south, consider this: The "cheapest'' of the 25 most expensive homes sold in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties last year cost almost three times as much as the most expensive Pasco house.
Yes, Pasco prices are so far below those in Tampa Bay's two most populous counties that even huge estates seem relatively affordable. That combination of lower prices and bigger lots is drawing luxury-home buyers north across county lines.
"The majority of our customers are relocating from other counties for various reasons -- the cost of living is lower, taxes are lower, insurance rates on auto and home are lower,'' said Robert Welbourn, a Realtor who specializes in Pasco areas east of U.S. 41.
Many buyers also come from planned communities, where they've tired of homeowners association fees and deed restrictions.
"They seek a lifestyle change and wake up one day and decide they would like to live in a more rural setting,'' said Welbourn, the listing agent on a 48-acre Dade City estate that sold last year for $1.15 million.
Most of Pasco's most expensive homes in 2018 were in the southern part of the county, where the Suncoast Parkway and Interstate 75 allow for relatively easy commutes to Tampa. Almost midway between the two limited-access highways is Land O' Lakes, where homes on Lake Thomas command high-for-Pasco prices.
Also popular is the Wesley Chapel area, because of its proximity to the Shops at Wiregrass and a huge new outlet mall. Wesley Chapel's upscale Estancia community and other high-end areas like Trinity and Champions Club are loosely knitted together by State Road 54.
"Restaurants are now coming in there (along 54), there are a lot more things than there used to be,'' said Christina Barone, whose husband, Vincent, is also a Realtor.
For those who can't afford or don't want to pay Pinellas County's sky-high, gulf-front prices, an attractive alternative is New Port Richey on Pasco's west coast. Homes there with Gulf of Mexico views and access command some of Pasco's top prices.
Even though more luxury-home buyers are considering Pasco, the demand for homes priced above $500,000 shows signs of slowing down.
"I watch the market on a daily basis,'' Welbourn said, "and I've noticed a trend where price decreases are posted at a faster rate than new listings.''
Here’s a look at Pasco’s five most expensive homes sold last year (actually six, because two tied at $1.1 million) and the buyers:
$1.3 million, Dade City
The basics: 5,290 square feet, five bedrooms, four full baths
This 46-acre estate with a pond and two barns was bought by Daniel and Carmen Raterman. He is president of Implant-Tech, a company that makes implants for the plastic surgery market. She is a biology teacher.
$1.2 million, Land O' Lakes
The basics: 6,264 square feet, five bedrooms, five full baths
The Dana Goldsborough Revocable Trust purchased this home on nearly two acres on Lake Thomas. She owns a plumbing and air-conditioning company.
$1.175 million, Trinity
The basics: 5,150 square feet, four bedrooms, five full baths
This home on a half-acre lot in Champions Club sold to James and Stephania Szilagy of Gibsonia, Pennsylvania. He founded Prodigo Solutions, Inc., which makes software designed to help reduce healthcare costs, and she is the company’s controller.
$1.150 million, Dade City
The basics: 11,768 square feet, 12 bedrooms, eight full baths
Orthopedic surgeon Charles William Davis II and wife, Kathleen Marie, purchased this colossal lakefront home on 48.5 acres.
$1.1 million, New Port Richey
The basics: 3,977 square feet, five bedrooms, three bathrooms
This home on a half acre with access to the Gulf of Mexico sold to Ted and Lidewij Hocharik of Riverside, California. He has been CEO of Pacific Tank Lines; she is a speech language pathologist.
$1.1 million, New Port Richey
The basics: 3,214 square feet, four bedrooms, three full baths.
Patrick and Rachel Gallagher bought this waterfront home in the Gulf Harbors area of New Port Richey. He is a financial advisor; she is a Realtor.
Contact Susan Taylor Martin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.