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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Homes hit the auction block-Tampa, FL

Homes hit the auction block

An unusual auction draws bidders to the Seminole Hard Rock.

By EMILY NIPPSPublished February 25, 2007

TAMPA - Inside the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, thousands of slot machines jingled loudly over the blare of Peter Gabriel's Sledgehammer.
Straight-faced men and women sat hunched over hands of Texas Hold 'Em. Cigar smoke drifted around patrons at the center bar.

It seemed like an odd place to shop for a home. Yet about 250 curious guests gathered in the casino ballroom Saturday and had the chance to bid on an array of Florida properties while sipping free cocktails and eating hors d' oeuvres. Some watched online.

Within a few hours, the "All In Mega Auction" was over, and 26 of the 46 properties had winning offers. Judging by some of the offers, it appeared that the festive casino setting and large turnout didn't do much to offset the current buyer's market.

The winning bid on a three-bedroom Sarasota home? $50,000.
An 1,800-square-foot Bradenton home with a pool? $100,000.
A two-bedroom house in West Palm Beach's historic Flamingo Park? $115,000
"The deals here are surreal; it's so hard to believe it," said Joey Anderson, a 22-year-old Tampa man who recently began investing in real estate.

It was Anderson's first time at a property auction, and he took his chance: a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, two-car garage home on Clearwater's Coronet Lane. After competing with a few others in the ballroom, he won with an offer of $195,000.

It was unclear Saturday how many sellers would accept the offers, since none were obligated to do so.

Angelina Lochridge, who hoped to sell her parents' home in Valrico and watched the live bidding online, was disappointed with the top offer of $235,000. The home was originally listed at $324,000.

"I think we'll look into doing a lease option or renting," she said. "We're not going to sell at a loss. I seriously don't think a lot of those homeowners are going to sell at those prices."

Yet winning bidders like Steve Ward were optimistic. The Land O'Lakes real estate broker came to the auction with no intention of buying. Then he saw a six-bedroom New Tampa home flash across the large projector screen and found himself in a bidding war. He won at $215,000.
"I could sell that all day for $375,000," he said, though he knew it wasn't a sale yet. "I'll be more excited when it closes."

The event was the brainchild of Jay Bailey, who owns Bailey's Realty & Estate Auctions and served as the auctioneer. Before Saturday, he said he expected 400 people or more and a frenzy of bidding. He also predicted that such "mega-auctions" will be the wave of the future.
Although the event might have fallen short of those expectations, some sellers did get reasonable offers that might result in sales.

A three-bedroom home in Sarasota received a winning bid of $410,000. A Tampa couple looking to buy a 758-square-foot house near a canal in Hudson thought their $105,000 offer was fair and waited around the casino for the seller's answer.

"We're hoping," Jackie Henderson said. She felt like some of the other offers were ridiculous.
"There's no way the sellers are going to accept some of those."

To search for homes in your area visit our Real Estate Website covering all of the Tampa Bay area.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Want to live in Seminole Heights?

Want to live in Seminole Heights? Here's some history and an example of a 1940's Bungalow.

Known for its historic background. Seminole Heights is popular due to the craftsman style bungalows from the early 20th century that remain. Certain buildings in the neighborhood existed back in the early 1900's, including the Seminole Heights Methodist Church, Seminole Heights Elementary School, Broward Elementary, Hillsborough High School, and St. Paul's Lutheran Church. Nebraska Avenue, which runs through Seminole Heights, is also U.S. Route 41, a major commercial road through the neighborhood. The road contains several retailers including Publix, and a few corner stores. Garden Center, a neighborhood park, is used for many events such as art festivals and picnics. Seminole Heights has the longest stretch of Riverfront parkland in the city of Tampa. Rivercrest, Epps, and several unnamed pocket parks provide access to the Hillsborough River.

Original in Character, updated with contemporary furnishings.

In recent years the region has seen rising property values and a decrease in crime. The area is popular among young professionals and their families who are seeking an alternative to master planned communities. The area contains two designated historical districts including Seminole Heights (local and national designation), Hampton Terrace (national designation).

An ever evolving neighborhood tradition is the "porch party." Some are sponsored by one of the three active neighborhood organizations and others by individuals. There are also two annual home tours. Old Seminole Heights Home tour has become an April tradition. Southeast Seminole Heights conducts a holiday home tour in December.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Existing-Home Sales Ease, Supplies Tighten -- 2006 Historically High

Existing-Home Sales Ease, Supplies Tighten --

2006 Historically High Existing-home sales eased but prices stabilized as inventories tightened in December, while 2006 was the third-highest sales year on record.Total existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – eased 0.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.22 million units in December from a level of 6.27 million in November.

Sales were 7.9 percent lower than a 6.75 million-unit pace in December 2005.There were 6,480,000 existing-home sales in all of 2006, down 8.4 percent from a record 7,075,000 in 2005. The second highest total was 6,779,000 in 2004; NAR began tracking home sales in 1968.

David Lereah, NAR’s chief economist, said home sales remain historically high. "Despite all of the doom-and-gloom stories and dire predictions over the last year, 2006 was the third strongest year on record for existing-home sales," he said. "It looks like we're moving beyond the low for the housing cycle last fall, and buyers are responding to historically low interest rates and competitive pricing by home sellers.

In addition, a tightening inventory of homes on the market is supporting prices."Total housing inventory levels fell 7.9 percent at the end of December to 3.51 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 6.8-month supply at the current sales pace – down from a 7.3-month supply in November.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $222,000 in December, which is unchanged from December 2005. The median is a typical market price where half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less.

For all of 2006, the median price was also $222,000, up 1.1 percent from a median of $219,600 in 2005.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Florida Insurance Crisis Update, Tampa, Fl

Florida governor freezes property insurance rates

By Michael PeltierReuters
Tuesday, January 30, 2007; 12:13 PM
TALLAHASSEE, Florida (Reuters) -

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist on Tuesday froze property insurance rates and blocked insurers from canceling policies as the state prepares for another hurricane season and insurance reforms kick in.

One week after state lawmakers signed off on a sweeping package of property insurance reforms, Crist said the remedies needed time to work and that he feared insurers may attempt to drop customers and raise premiums that do not reflect the recent changes backers say would reduce their risk.

"It's fundamental that we make sure no policies are canceled and we make sure that no rate increases are slipped under the door before this law becomes effective," said Crist, a Republican.

Soaring homeowners insurance rates, coupled with rapidly rising property taxes, were a threat to Florida's fast-growing economy, according to Crist and others.
Crist's emergency rule, which remains in effect for 90 days, took the industry by surprise. The order will not affect companies that have recently had rates approved by the state's Office of Insurance Regulation.

Private insurers say the freeze, though temporary, may cause their bond ratings to drop, which will directly affect their bottom lines.

"We think the rule will have a drastic negative impact on some of our members," said Guy Marvin, president of the Florida Insurance Council, an industry group that represents most private property insurers still writing business in Florida.
Last week, Crist signed into law a bevy of fixes aimed at resuscitating Florida's property insurance market. Property owners in Florida have been reeling from skyrocketing rates and an exodus of private carriers after eight hurricanes hit the state in 2004 and 2005.

The new laws more than double the size of the Florida state hurricane catastrophe fund by putting policyholders on the hook for as much as $36 billion in hurricane losses that would be paid by assessing holders of property, automobile, commercial and other lines of insurance.

In response, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services and Fitch Ratings in the past week have downgraded ratings on outstanding bonds from the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund Financing Corp. The new laws could significantly increase the amount of bonds issued by the fund, according to the Wall Street ratings agencies.
With access to cheaper reinsurance, insurers must pass on savings to their customers, who on average could see rates fall by more than 20 percent, state officials estimate.

In addition, Florida's biggest property insurer, state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp., would expand by selling other types of coverage to some of the 1.3 million policyholders who have wind insurance with Citizens.

Lawmakers also froze Citizens' rate at 2006 levels, a move that negated planned increases of more than 75 percent.

© 2007 Reuters

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