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What are Tampa Bay's most sought-after neighborhoods? The answer may surprise you

Home inspector Jim Belt examines a home’s roof in Tampa’s Carrollwood area in May. Stable neighborhoods and moderately priced homes make Carrollwood-Northdale (ZIP 33624) one of Florida’s most sought after by home buyers, realtor.com says.
Published Jun. 8, 2016

Forget Davis Islands, South Tampa and downtown St. Petersburg — Tampa Bay's hottest ZIP codes are two you might not expect.

While wealthier parts of the bay area have seen greater price appreciation since 2004, the areas most sought after by home buyers today are Largo/Seminole (ZIP 33778) and Tampa's Carrollwood-Northdale (ZIP 33624), realtor.com says.

The main reason for those ZIPs' popularity is simple — both have stable neighborhoods with the kind of roomy yet moderately priced homes that are in increasingly tight supply these days.

In ZIP 33624, "Northdale is affordable square footage for the money,'' says Joe Lewkowicz, a veteran Coldwell Banker agent. "Plus, they've got the YMCA, which a lot of people use, the golf course, a great school right there (Gaither High), and it's close in to downtown.''

Lewkowicz is negotiating an offer on a 2,400-square-foot home with a new kitchen and golf-course view, listed at $325,000. "In a lot of other areas you cannot get that for that kind of money,'' he says.

As for Carrollwood Village, "It was one of the earlier planned unit developments so it's not cookie-cutter houses but nice big lots and for a reasonable price,'' Lewkowicz says. "And it's so much closer in (to downtown) while some of the nicer neighborhoods like Cheval are almost to the county line.''

In Carrollwood Village, Lewkowicz just closed on a four-bedroom, four-bath, 3,400-square-foot home on a golf course that was snapped up for $425,00 just seven days after it was listed. In South Tampa, a comparable-size home not on a golf course would run $750,000 or $800,000.

As of Tuesday, ZIP 33624 had only 87 active listings — more than half priced at less than $250,000 — while 121 homes were under contract.

On the other side of the bay, ZIP code 33778 has the same appeal for buyers.

Including parts of Largo, Seminole and popular Walsingham Park, the area is "pretty much high and dry, it has good school districts and the resale values have been trending upward in that area higher than in most areas,'' said Peter Chicouris, broker/owner of Equity Realty. "It's family oriented and (has) lower crime than in some other areas of Pinellas.'' (One reason could be that the headquarters of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office is in the same ZIP.)

Currently, ZIP 33778 has just 44 homes for sale, more than half of them priced under $250,000. Another 39 are under contract.

The two Tampa Bay areas are among Florida's 10 hottest ZIPs, according to Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for realtor.com, the online arm of the National Association of Realtors.

Orlando-area ZIPs dominate the list, which is based on the supply of available homes versus the demand. All 10 hottest ZIPs are in Central Florida.

The list appears in the June issue of Florida Realtor magazine in a feature on "7 Reasons You Should Buy a Home Now.'' Among them: Mortgage interest rates are still low; rents are rising faster than homes prices, especially in central and coastal Florida; and "housing demand still exceeds supply so if you wait it may be harder to find an ideal home at a price you can afford.''

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

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