Susan Taylor Martin, Real Estate Reporter

Susan Taylor Martin

Real Estate Reporter

Call me a nosy neighbor. I’ve always liked checking out Sunday open houses, especially houses for sale around my area of St. Petersburg. And I’m a huge fan of HGTV shows like “Flip or Flop’’ and “House Hunters.’’ Maybe that’s why why I ended up four years ago as the Tampa Bay Times real estate reporter. It’s a great job, especially now that the market is hot. But there’s a lot more to real estate than pretty (or not so pretty) houses. I’ve reported on a good number of scams and the colorful characters behind them, including one fellow that my stories have sent to federal prison - twice! In my off-hours, I like to travel (was a foreign correspondent for 12 years), figure skate, hit garage and estate sales, read and check out new restaurants. I’m probably one of the few people who remember when downtown St. Pete had only four restaurants — the lunch counters at Maas Bros. and Woolworth’s plus Aunt Hattie’s and Uncle Ed’s. Alas, Aunt Hattie’s closed in the early ‘80s after a rat ran over a restaurant critic’s foot.

New federal rules could make it easier to obtain a mortgage on a condo

Many Florida condo buyers will soon have an easier time getting FHA-backed, low downpayment loans.  [SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN | Times]
The change could benefit first-time homebuyers especially.

Tampa ranks No. 4 as a hot spot for new commercial development

Tampa Bay is considered a shot spot for new development, like these apartments going up near downtown St. Petersburg, because of relatively affordable land prices. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
Land in the Tampa Bay area is still at 'reasonable prices.'

Belly up: Florida liquor licenses up for grabs starting next week

Liquor behind the bar at the Pelican Pub in downtown St. Petersburg. [DIRK SHADD | 2018 | Times]
The annual lottery allows people to apply for a license for $100, then sell it for potentially much more.

Look out — Tampa Bay has more zombies than many other areas

This  St. Petersburg “zombie’’ house was vacant and in foreclosure for years before finally selling in April for $143,100. [Times | (2015)]
Pinellas County has the highest percentage of zombies, or vacant houses in foreclosure.

Tampa Palms apartment community sells for $59 million

Mezzo at Tampa Palms (Courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield)
Mezzo of Tampa Palms was developed in 1992 on the northwest side of Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.