A Colorado couple moving to the Tampa Bay area did a careful search for the perfect spot to build a new waterfront home. As boaters, they wanted a place with a view but sheltered from the direct pounding of waves. They finally found it — on the southwest tip of San Miguel Point in Tampa’s Sunset Park Isles.
Now the couple is moving again, and the house, built just four years ago, is on the market for $11.7 million. It has the kind of amenities expected at that price: a pool, a putting green, an outdoor kitchen, a Zen garden and, of course, a stunning view of Tampa Bay. But it also epitomizes two recent trends in the area’s torrid luxury real estate market.
With several balconies and patios facing the water, the three-story house is designed in an airy, contemporary style popular in California. More and more of the high-end homes being built in Tampa, St. Petersburg and along the Pinellas beaches are eschewing the traditional bungalow and Mediterranean styles for a sleeker look.
“Florida has always emulated California but we’ve always been a few years behind,” said Jeff Shelton of Compass Realty. “Now, because Tampa is more of an international city, we are starting to see more of what I call California modern, with our wealthy now having living and entertainment spaces flow seamlessly throughout.”
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In another trend, fueled by Florida’s low taxes, pro-business government and sunny climate, the state is drawing thousands like the Colorado couple from other parts of the country. Zillow says Tampa is the third most popular choice for people considering a move, and it predicts the bay area will be the nation’s hottest housing market this year. Forbes has called Tampa the top emerging tech city in the nation.
“Tampa has really become the new tech capital and we’re seeing so many entrepreneurs for tech businesses,” said Shelton, who listed the house with fellow agent Mike Hughes. “Most buyers in this price range come from outside areas.”
Another luxurious home the two sold this year had multiple offers, including ones from California, Chicago and Seattle.
The bay area’s soaring popularity has had a predictable effect on prices, including for high-end homes. In 2015, not a single house in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties sold for more than $5 million. In just the first three months of this year, 12 homes sold for more than that amount.
“There continues to be a strong market for luxury homes in our area,” said Jennifer Zales, a Coldwell Banker agent. “I am working with many buyers from the Northeast, Chicago, California and even the east coast of Florida who are buying in Tampa Bay. Most recently, I’ve had an influx of Canadian buyers who are back and buying on the beaches.”
In the first quarter of 2022, Zales closed $45 million worth of residential real estate. Among the buyers were transplants from New York, Boston, Connecticut, New Jersey and South Florida.
Despite the skyrocketing prices, “Tampa Bay represents a tremendous value when compared to the more expensive markets such as Miami, Naples and even Sarasota,” Zales said.
As for the sellers of this Sunset Park Isles home, they’re not going far — they’re purportedly building a new home on the gulf beaches.