Luxury Homes in Tampa

When we walk around an aristocratic environment comprising of elegant mansions, country estates and chic condominiums the dream of owning such a real estate is kindled at the bottom of our hearts. Of course it is quite natural a phenomenon to feel so. Dreaming of a big and extravagant luxury home is not a sin. But choosing the correct area to invest seems to be the big challenge.

Florida has always been a vacation get-away. It’s beautiful sandy beaches, proliferation of luxury homes and architectural styles along with oceanfront and waterfront properties cause people to flock here. If you want the glitz and glamour of an international city or a planned community with everything in walking distance like Beaches and parks towns in Florida run the gamut insuring to find that luxury home you’ve been waiting to buy.

We specialize in luxury homes in Tampa,Florida.

One of the finest magical areas of Florida city is Tampa which has sophistication, culture and a rich heritage in the Cuban-influenced district of Ybor City. Tampa is situated on Florida’s largest inlet, Tampa Bay, which separates it from its sister city, St. Petersburg. This city has been marked as the 5th outstanding city by Forbes which clearly figures out the high standard of living of the people of Tampa.

As with all of Florida, Tampa has a humid weather in summer seasons and has a mild winter. The spring and fall weather is generally warm and pleasant. With a percentage of health care workers per capita above the national average, Tampa is well prepared to look after the older people too. This city combines the ultra modern features with a simple suburban feel that fills you with a different blend of joy.  If tranquility is your preferred lifestyle, then living in the unique villas on the outskirts of the city or the quaint ranches in the southern parts of Tampa is probably the choice for you. These areas offer you serenity and a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. You can take in the peacefulness of the man-made lakes or enjoy the sounds of the rushing waves. Though such a young city, it also has great luxury real estate that give you the peace you can’t find in a busy city elsewhere.

You will find that when you go to Tampa it is a geographical area meant for a particular group of people to live rather it is a mixture of different cultural lifestyles that make Tampa what it is now. With some awe-inspiring luxury real estate within its lavishing boundaries Tampa is the best place to call home. You may be able to discover by yourself that Tampa is a city that is out of all communal diversities once you opt to stay there.  No matter where you come from, when you are in a Tampa luxury home, you will explore its diverseness and its history together with the other people in the area. It is Tampa that binds the people together and what better place can do that other than Tampa.

Tampa Luxury Homes Will Have You Awestruck

Many people make the choice to own their own luxury homes. Luxury homes are available in a wide range of prices that suit all budgets. Having your own place gives you the right to get away at any time you like from the cares of the city and work and come back to a soothing and beautiful environment with all luxurious amenities waiting for you.

These luxurious homes are usually designed with all the features that give a spacious and roomy look to the space.  They come with vaulted ceilings and open-plan lounge and dining areas, for example. You will find that luxury homes give an uber-comfortable in-town feel, because with luxury homes you will have high ceilings, well graved high quality floors, ultra-spacious bedrooms and kitchens that allows convenient living designed for the rich. You will need to think about how many people might be visiting the year around in your luxury home, because they come in different sizes. You could look at luxury homes that offer four to five bedrooms, also a lounge or extra room for guests that offers much room for extended families to come and spend time.

One of the ideal spots is Tampa which is situated in the U.S state of Florida which is the 54th largest city of the United States. Tampa Bay luxury homes and real estate are situated in parks located in areas that provide stunning backdrops for all sorts of outdoor activities. Here you can find luxury real estate near sandy beaches, perfect for long walks and picnics. Luxury homes are also cited near forests, offering you and your family exceptional opportunities to go for nature walks on paths and trails. Some parks have built-in history as well you could spend quality time at a park that offers ancient castles or lighthouses, for example.

Another benefit that comes from park living in Tampa is that you have access to all of the wonderful amenities like golf or tennis, because the luxury homes and parks have courses and courts. Swimmers are in luck, because certain luxury homes are provided with all indoor swimming facilities. Most parks also offer guests access to top-quality restaurants situated in country clubs, as well as bistros and pubs for a variety of pleasant dining experiences. This and so much more awaits you at luxury homes and parks at Tampa.

Luxury Real Estate: Wanting to Own Your Dream Home?

To own a luxury real estate means to live a fairytale in this day and age. Luxury real estate is distinguished from ordinary real estates in many ways depending on the location and the luxurious amenities available in the specific residential area. Any home that is priced over $1 million can conveniently term as luxury homes. The most expensive luxury real estate in the U.S. is a house that has 29 bedrooms, a movie theater. a disco, 3 swimming pools all encompassing a 6.5 acre land. Over 20 years ago the house was priced at $20 million and at the current market status the house is marked at a whooping rate of $165 million

Luxury real estate is all about the quality and its upscale market value that reaches soaring high prices after a particular period. It is a great investment and it never fails to multiply your investments manifold. True luxury real estate is few in number as compared to its ordinary counterparts. The features that make it essentially a luxury home are the presence of important institutions in the vicinity which may include schools, hospitals, and landscapes, beach and so on. The location of the real estate plays a major role in deciding its value.

These luxury real estate’s are usually multi-storeyed, may have swimming pools, may also have historical or architectural structures and usually are located near places of high commercial importance. Also these luxury homes are found in close proximity to places like the beach where the residential settings are much higher than what one can ask for. With the plush surroundings and breath taking view of the unending blue-green waters of the sea and the 24 hr rendezvous with the fresh sea breeze makes it a home high in demand.

The flooring is exceptionally good and is made up of high quality material and so are the other contents of the house. The ceilings are usually high and the rooms are a lot spacious. Companies that deal with the luxury real estate market strive to differentiate them from other property buyers and sellers by publishing their own magazines both online and offline. The real estate brokers for luxury homes are highly skilled professionals and take extreme care in catering the needs of the people of the high society. It takes more than one round of visit to finalize a luxury home. It concerns certain legal issues as well for which having hiring an attorney is crucial. Since a lot of money is involved extra care is taken that the procedures are done immaculately. Check for the reputation of your real estate agent and get a background research done before you hand over the job of luxury home-hunt job to the experts of this business.

I hope this helps you, and I hope you have a great day. So if you have any questions, feel free to get a hold of us at We would be more than happy to answer any questions you have. We specialize in luxury homes including Avila homes for sale.

Tampa Communities / Subdivisions – Knowing the Difference

One of the most asked questions I get from people who do not live in Tampa or who are not familiar with Tampa is where should I live?  They just do not know the different Tampa Bat communities and areas.  So what I am going to do is I am going to break down the different areas for you and give you an idea based off what I say where you might want to live.  Let us start off in South Hillsborough County.  What I am going to do is I am going to take Hillsborough County and South Pasco.  So we will start off in South Hillsborough County.

Sun City is basically a 55 and older community, it has a lot of things to do and a lot of amenities for people who are over 55.  Just a little bit north of that is Apollo Beach.  If you own a boat, Apollo Beach could be a great area.  You could see homes for sale, single family maybe from $150,000 up to high $900,000 maybe over a million dollars.  A lot of people who own boats really like Apollo Beach because it will give them bay access, but keep in mind this part of the bay is not the ocean, it is not like the gulf with blue or aqua waters, it is very brown and murky.  The other thing about Apollo Beach is there are some smokestacks that you could see from about 20 to 30 miles away, so that could turn a lot of people off.  If you like the closeness of a little community right on the water, Apollo beach could be a very good choice and it is in South Hillsborough County.  So you are going to be closer to other areas of the water.  Maybe getting down to Naples, Sarasota, if you want to go over to St. Pete, it is a very convenient area to live.

North of that is Riverview.  Riverview is really nice because it gives you a lot of bang for your buck.  It is not as expensive as some other areas up north like maybe New Tampa or Wesley Chapel.  It is very affordable for single-family homes.  There is not a lot in Riverview except homes.  If you want to go and see a movie, you are going to have to drive to Brandon.  If you want to go to a mall, you are going to have to drive to Brandon.  If you want to go shopping, you are going to have to drive to Brandon.  Pretty much everything is in Brandon.  You have a grocery store on the north end of Riverview and the south end of Riverview, and a lot of people in the military live there.  It is pretty convenient access and again you get a lot of bang for your buck.

Fish Hawk, which is in Lithia, is also a very nice place.  It is very, very family orientated.  That is really what they were going after.  You could get homes in there that are probably mid $100,000 all the way up to $500,000 and $600,000, even higher $700,000.  It is a very nice place if you have kids and a lot of things to do.  There are grocery stores, there are restaurants, but then much like Riverview if you want to go to the mall you are going to Brandon, if you want to go to the movie theater you are going to Brandon.  The negative on the Fishhawk area out in Lithia, is from I-75 it is an 8 mile two lane (one lane in each direction) road.  So it could get very congested in the morning and at peak hours at night.

Going a little bit further north you have Brandon.  Brandon is an older area, built a lot in the 70s and 80s.  The main road in Brandon is Highway 60 and it is like a gauntlet, it is always crowded.

You have Valrico a lot like Brandon is older a lot of it was built back in the 70s and 80s, probably a little more nicer, a little more upscaled than Brandon.  There are some new communities in Valrico, not many but there are some.  It is a little further east, so it is going to take you a little longer to get to I-75.

Our downtown area is called South Tampa.  South Tampa is extremely diverse.  You could see a single family home in South Tampa for $60,000 and you can see them up well over five million dollars.  So it is really like any downtown area, there is a lot of diversity.  You could be in Hyde Park or Palma Ceia in a half a million-dollar home then four blocks over you have a home for $120,000.

Channelside was supposed to be the up and coming area, a lot of lofts, a lot of I guess more of a yuppie area, but then when real estate sort of went bust around the end of 2005 and 2006 they stopped building out there and it is just now turning around.  You are next to she shipyard, which probably is not the prettiest thing to look at but it is a very convenient location.  As a matter of fact we have two terminals down there where the cruise ships leave out, so if you are a cruiser you could just walk to the cruise ship from Channelside.  There are a lot of restaurants, movie theaters, and dance clubs, a lot of things out there.  It is a very convenient location.

Moving a little further north, Temple Terrace, sort of in the center of Tampa, it is an older area.  Basically a lot of small homes for the most part, built in the 60s, the 70s.  That is where the University of South Florida is located.  Some of the homes are cute and they are a little larger, maybe in the 2000, 3000 square foot area, but then you have a lot of little small run down homes also.  It is a very convenient location especially if you are a professor or student at USF.

Over to the west side of that is Carrollwood.  Carrollwood is an older area, built in the 70s and 80s, very nice though.  They have a golf course and country club out there that is very nice.  As far as more matured areas in Tampa, Carrollwood is one of the better ones.

Just north of Carrollwood is North Dale, which is not as nice as Carrollwood.  Again, a lot like Carrollwood, built in the 70s and 80s, but probably a step down, just not as nice.  It is still a nice area, but it is just not as nice as Carrollwood.

If you go over to the west you are going to go into Citrus Park.  Most of Citrus Park was built in probably the 70s, 80s, and 90s.  There is Citrus Park Mall, there are a lot of restaurants, there is a movie theater over there, but overall Citrus Park is a pretty small area, not real big.

Just a little southwest of Citrus Park you have Westchase.  Westchase is a new area, it is not real big if you are comparing it to New Tampa (we will get to New Tampa in a little bit), it is probably not even half the size, but very nice, very upscale.  It is really hard to find a single family home in Westchase under $200,000 and they will go over a million dollars.  It is very nice.  You will be going to the movie theaters and mall up in Citrus Park but there are restaurants there.  It is just very clean, a great place, the street layouts are nice, the homes are nice, the communities are all nice, but for communities out there it is certainly a more expensive community.  There are really three reasons, you are closer to the water, you are closer to the airport, and you are closer to downtown or South Tampa.

North of West Chase is Odessa.  Odessa does not really have subdivisions or little communities per se it is more of an open area.  So if you say I want to buy a home out there for $300,000 and I want it to be on half an acre, that is a good option, or you could be in multimillion dollar homes in Odessa.  It is very open, they do not have your standard planned unit developments, which is pretty much what most of Tampa Bay is, where they have the community pools, the tennis courts, etc.

If you go a little bit north off Highway 54 over to the east you have Land O Lakes.  Most of the communities in Land O Lakes are right off Highway 54.  Land O Lakes is a really nice area, but for whatever reason I do not know if it really has the community feel.  Because it is are so spread out, they are either all off Highway 54 or a lot of the communities are way far north off US 41 and a lot of other ones are off Collier Parkway, which is over to the east side of Land O Lakes.  They have a lot of really nice subdivisions in Land O Lakes, so that could be a good choice depending on what price range you are in.  If you are in the $100,000 maybe $130,000, $150,000 area Ballantrae could be a really good choice for you and some other ones.  If you are up in $400,000, $500,000, and $600,000 there are choices as well.

One community, city, or area in Tampa over to the east is Wesley Chapel.  Wesley Chapel and New Tampa is basically where all the growth is going on right now.  Wesley Chapel has really exploded over the last several years.  They have just opened up The Shoppes at Wiregrass, which is an outdoor mall.  They have opened up another mall, sort of like a strip center mall, with a Cobb Movie Theater in it.  The largest mall in Florida is slated to open up there.  There are subdivisions like Saddlebrook Country Club, which is just an incredibly beautiful subdivision; pretty much all homes in Saddlebrook are over $500,000 or $600,000.  You have Seven Oaks, which is a nice subdivision.  There is a lot of growth, pretty much everything in Wesley Chapel is all new, and they are redoing the roads.  You would never guess that this area slipped into a little recession or a dip looking at Wesley Chapel.

Just south of Wesley Chapel and probably the last place is New Tampa.  New Tampa is very large, again it is probably twice the size of Westchase and it is called New Tampa for that.  Most things are new, they do have a couple of subdivisions in New Tampa like Pebble Creek, Hunter’s Green, and Tampa Palms that were built in the late 80’s and 90’s, but most of the subdivisions in New Tampa; Cory Lake Isles, Heritage Isles, Live Oak Preserve, Grand Hampton are all pretty much newer, they are all built in the 2000s.  Every subdivision in New Tampa is a planned unit development with the exception of Tampa Palms.  Tampa Palms is huge; it is actually a master planned community.

If you are not sure of the difference, a planned unit development is when they go in and they plan it out, they put in a pool, they put in tennis courts, they put in basketball courts, etc.  A master planned community is where everything is planned out, in other words; so many people move in they build an elementary school, so many more they build a grocery store, so many more they build another elementary.  It is actually a master planned community and Tampa Palms also has a golf course that is really, really nice.  New Tampa is a little bit pricey because it is very nice, but you can find homes in New Tampa starting probably at $140,000, $150,000 all the way up to over five million dollars.  You also have Flatwoods Park in New Tampa.  It is great, you could kayak, you could canoe, you could go for walks, you could roller blade, and you could off road bike.  There are so many things to do.

To look at all of these communities and see where they are all at so you will have a good idea of what I am talking about go to  When you get on the main site, go up to the upper right hand corner, there will be a map, like a Google map.  Click on the picture of the map and what I am talking about will all show up, it will show you all the communities.  You could click on each individual community or city; you could click on city each individual community will come up.  You click on the community it will tell you about the community and show you all homes for sale.

Finding a New Home in Tampa, Florida

New Homes in Tampa - Video
Click on the photo to view the video.

If you are looking at new homes in Tampa, FL you are going to have a lot of choices. It is a lot different than buying a preowned home. In a preowned home you already know a lot of things, you know what the community looks like, you have a good idea what your neighbors are like or at least how they keep the homes. With a new home it is not like that at all, depending on what stage you buy the home in. You could buy a home and there is nothing but dirt, as a matter of fact you might not have even seen the home because the builder may not have one built anywhere or you might be at the last or tail end of the community where almost all the homes are built and you get to see what the other homes look like, and you have a good idea what the completed project of the community looks like. Now there are a couple of things when buying a new home you need to keep in mind that you should do no matter what the stage.

The first is try to get an idea on what the overall community is going to look like. Let me give you an example: Let us say there is one builder in the subdivision and let us say that builder is US Homes. Let us say the subdivision is maybe four hundred homes, which is a pretty decent size community. Well if you have one builder most builders will have twelve floor plans each floor plan might have three elevations, but the fact of the matter is usually when it comes to builders out of the twelve floor plans, four of them are going to be purchased quite often, four of them might be purchased occasionally, and then you have four that probably just will never really get built. You are going to have the same thing when it comes to the elevation, the way the home looks. You are going to probably have one elevation that is going to be really, really nice. Another elevation may be nice and the third elevation a lot of people just are not attracted to. So the problem is you tend to get in a community and you tend to start seeing the same homes over and over again, the subdivision really is not that diverse. Now, of course the builder does not tell you any of this and they want you to think it is really diverse with everything they are building, but the fact of the matter is it is not.

When you get into a subdivision that has a lot of builders, now let say you get into a subdivision that has four builders, well four times twelve is forty-eight. Not to mention you have three different elevations, so with everything you have almost a hundred and fifty ways to build the home. Now, it is going to be the same principle but it is just going to be a lot more diverse. You are not going to notice every home being basically the same. I have been in subdivisions where I have gone down and I have seen what appears to be every fifth or sixth home the same home at the same elevation. In a lot of cases it is the model home, because those are usually the best floor plans and the most desirable. So you are going to want to have a good idea on how diverse it is going to be.

Also, what kind of builders are going in there, you are going to need to keep in mind on the builders. You could get one builder and I will say figuratively they have a 2000 square foot home priced at $200,000; and another builder has the same 2000 square foot home but it is priced at $230,000. What is the difference? There is a lot of difference, not just cosmetically, I am not talking tile over laminate, or Corian counter tops over granite counter tops, but the things that you really have to look at. How wide is the lot? Maybe the $200,000 one is on a fifty-foot lot where the $230,000 one is on a sixty-foot lot. The $200,000 one might have ten-foot ceilings, where the $230,000 has twelve-foot ceilings, it is opening up a lot more. The roof pitch is much nicer. The design outside or the elevation has a lot more detail to it. There are a lot of things you really need to pay attention to and look at. A lot of times builders, and some of them are just masters at this, they really know how to, I do not want to say deceive people, but they really understand what buyers are looking for and they could sometimes sell a fairly inexpensive or cheap home and just put granite in it and a lot of other things that the buyers want because the buyers are not really paying attention to stuff like the low ceilings. Maybe the elevation is really, really basic. They are cutting stuff out like the sprinkler system and it is a small lot. So a lot of these things you really need to pay attention to. Sort of like buying a car, you could go buy a really nice four-door car with an engine, transmission, four tires and it is $30,000. But then you go over to the dealership right next door and you have a Mercedes Benz, it is the same four-door car with an engine, transmission, four tires but it is $55,000. There is a difference why the Mercedes is $55,000 and maybe the Honda is $30,000 or $35,000. So you have to look at that with homes as well.

Now, a couple of other things you just might want to ask yourself and in different orientation, if you are buying a home and say it is backing up to a vacant lot. Well, I would call the city or county, the zoning department, and I would see what it is zoned for. I would not rely on the builder rep. One thing to keep in mind when you are dealing with builder reps; yes they are nice, they are there to help you but their loyalty goes to the builder and their job is to sell the home. They are not going to point out if there is going to be a strip center, commercial property, or maybe even apartment complexes built behind. They are there to sell a home and once you sign on the dotted line you are pretty much locked in to buying that home. I have had clients, I have gone out, and I have listed there home. I had one in a fifty-five and older community and it was zoned for a fire station. Now, he was not too happy years later when they put that fire station in, as a matter of fact almost everybody on the whole street was selling because they did not want to back up to that fire station noise. So you are going to have to look at it. Let us say, go back to US Homes, you are going to want to go out and you are going to want to talk to some people who have built some US Homes. Now, maybe if they have not built any in this community, you are going to want to get a good idea where the builder has built before and you are going to want to do some door knocking. I know this is hard, I know you are probably not going to want to do it, but believe me there is one thing people love to talk about whether they have had a good experience with a builder or a bad experience with a builder you will probably make their day by talking about it. Just going up to the door, knocking, tell them you are looking to buy a home in this subdivision or another subdivision by this builder and ask them how the process was. A lot of cases, a lot of the better companies hire the really good builders, really good architects, and really good sales rep. Some of the ones that are not that great a builder tend to hire the lower level sales reps, lower level builders, lower level contractors, etc.

So it is really a good idea to start studying and doing a lot of research on the different builders out there. Another thing you could do is talk to your real estate agent, if you have a real estate agent you will definitely want to work with them. A lot of people think well if I use a real estate agent it is going to cost me more money, it is not and here is why. Builders all set their budget at the end of the year, usually in October or November and they set it off of projections the next year, so the real estate commission is already budgeted in. Whether you use them or whether you do not, it is already paid. No different than the sales rep whatever they are getting paid or any marketing they are doing, etc.

So you will definitely want to use a real estate agent, but I caution you. Make sure if you use a real estate agent they have sold and understand new homes. It is vitally important, because they are going to be able to walk you through the homes and tell you lot about how the home is constructed and what the builder is doing because there is a lot of ways that they could cut corners. So one question I would ask if you are looking at interviewing a real estate agent or even if you found someone you want to work with and you are looking at buying a new home. Are they a new home specialist? Do not ask them that question because they are in sales, of course they are going to say yes I am a new home specialist. Ask them what is the percentage of new homes to preowned that they have sold. What are some of the reputations of some of the builders? What are some of the good communities out there and why? Ask them how many new homes they have sold. I would say, unlike a preowned home which is what it is, you really need to look at a real estate agent that really has sold over a hundred new homes at a minimum, because they are going to have a really good idea on what is going on in the market. The last thing you are going to want to do is get under contract and all of a sudden your real estate agent is out there hibernating for six months, your having problems.

How to get the Best Mortgage Interest Rate

A lot of buyers that I work with want to know, how can I get the best interest rate?  A lot of times they might look at me for that, because I had five and a half years in mortgage banking and as a mortgage broker.  There are quite a few ways that people go about doing it, I do not really think all of them are good and I think some are certainly better than others, so please take what I say with a grain of salt and make your own decisions.

The first thing a lot of people do is they tend to go to the newspaper and look up the interest rates there.  I do not like that idea; the main reason is because the interest rates are usually collected on either Wednesday or Thursday with it coming out on Sunday.  Well they are already old, so it leaves a lot of baiting and switching going on in the newspapers for the companies who put the rates in there.

The second way is a lot of people will go to online companies like Lending Tree.  The problem with Lending Tree is they are really not getting people bidding for your interest rate unlike they say on the television commercials.  What they do is they basically sell your lead, the information you give them, to three different companies and possibly even more than three.  The problem is you really do not know anything about these people and they could be in business for a matter days, a matter of weeks, or they could usually be a legitimate organization, though a lot of the legitimate ones they do not need to go to Lending Tree and of the like.

What I would do and my recommendation is this:  Take three companies, maybe your real estate agent might know of a lender, you might have a local bank, and maybe someone else, maybe it is a credit union or something like that.  Of course, I am not a real big advocate for credit unions.  I personally would stick to either a mortgage banker or a mortgage broker, though some banks like Wells Fargo are good.

What you will do is you will talk to them and you want to make sure they are comparing apples and apples.  So make sure that all of them know when you are going to close, just tell them to assume you are going to be closing on the fifteenth of the month and let them know you want a thirty day lock, etc.  Because, there are a lot of ways that they could manipulate the information they give you, they could put your home owner’s insurance extremely low and put your closing at the end of the month and just estimate everything real low on there based off of certain parameters.  So what you want to do is you want to go to them, give them the information and really feel who you have the best comfort level with, who you like the best.  Once you find out who you like the best then take the other two quotes.  If the one you like the best is the lowest, great, use them.  If one of the other ones is lower, then go to the person who you have the comfort level with, give them the good faith estimate and ask them if they can meet or beat it.  A lot of them will say, hey we can, or this is what they are doing, this is why theirs is a little bit lower, etc.  Then that way you are going to be able to work with someone who you really like and trust and you will have the lowest interest rates.  There are some situations, it is pretty rare that they would not be able to meet or beat it.  I always told people when I was in mortgage banking that I will meet or beat their rate out there and if I can’t beat their rate I will give you $50, but it has to be from a legitimate company, it can’t be from XYZ Mortgage Shack.  So if you follow these guidelines and what to do, I think you will be looking really good and I think you will be really happy at the end.

Another word of advice I will give you, is to make sure everything is in writing, everything you get, what the interest rate is, when that lock expires for the interest rate, get it all in writing.  I hope this helps you and I hope you have a great day.

If you have any questions about Tampa Bay home prices please give us a call.

Quarterly Sales Increase – Biggest in Three Years

Florida businesses posted their biggest quarterly sales increase in three years, while their counterparts in Sarasota County — where the recession has been deeper and longer — saw their biggest jump in four years.

But in a sign of the shallowness of this recovery and the economic pain being felt by hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers, the best performing industry in both the state and the county was scrap metal, fueled in part by the jobless looking for cash.

The figures come from a preliminary report on sales figures for 90 industries in each of the state’s 67 counties, a wealth of data considered key to measuring local economic activity. But the figures are from March and economists question whether consumer confidence — and thus spending — has held up since.

“The problems in Europe and the oil spill have made people more cautious,” said Mark Vitner, an economist with Wells Fargo.

While they may have slipped since, the sale of goods and services steadily improved throughout the first quarter in Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties. Sarasota County businesses saw a 6 percent jump in sales in March, marking the second straight monthly increase in a county that had suffered through nearly three years of consecutive monthly declines.

“I don’t know if a couple of months is true momentum,” said Sean Snaith, a University of Central Florida economist.

Nationally, retailers have seen business improve in “fits and starts” but not consistently, Snaith said.

By Doug Sword

How Will Changes in the Mortgage Markets Affect Your Purchase/Sale?

As most of you know by now, there is tremendous change occurring in and around the mortgage / financing world.  As a result of these changes, our buyers, sellers, agents, and lenders are experiencing unprecedented challenges with their closings.  Below, you will find several examples of these changes, as well as PROACTIVE steps you can take to mitigate any potential transaction challenges, resulting from them.

1) Home Valuation Code of Conduct, or HVCC –  This code regulates the solicitation, compensation, and selection of appraisers which will be hired by a buyer to appraise the home the buyer is purchasing.  As a result of HVCC, appraisals must be ordered through an independent “Appraisal Management Company (AMC)”, with the lender having no input, contact, or influence on the appraiser.  The goal of HVCC is to ensure more accurate, reliable determinations of a property’s value.  HVCC has resulted in a) more accurate appraisals, b) more delays in appraisal turn times, and c) more detailed analysis of a property’s condition, value, etc.  This has resulted in delayed closings, properties not appraising for sales price, and more explanations regarding quality and condition of a property.

To help ensure HVCC does not negatively impact you, I recommend the following steps:
a:  Listen to your agent and follow their leadership regarding a property’s value.  If comps don’t support a value, and your agent can’t support a value, chances are an appraisal won’t support the value.  Accepting an offer that is over a property’s value, or making an offer over a property’s value, can result in renegotiation of a sales price several weeks into a transaction when a property does not appraise.
b:  If you have a good offer on your property, but think, as a seller, you can hold out for more, it may be wiser to take the secure offer than hold out for a higher bid that could be knocked down when the appraisal comes in.
c:  If you are a seller, I would recommend trying to have the appraisal complete during your option period.  If there are going to be appraisal problems, it is better to know sooner than later.

2) Disclosure Requirements on behalf of a borrower.   Beginning last July, HUD significantly changed a lenders REQUIRED DISCLOSURE timelines for a lender to a borrower.  As a result of these changes, any significant change in a borrower’s loan file requires additional disclosures, and each of these disclosures require several days of waiting before a loan can actually close.  Without going into detail on the actual “days” required with each disclosure, suffice it to say, it is imperative your lender is adequately disclosing the borrower’s loan.   One major example is this:  Assume a borrower changes mortgage companies/loan programs, rates, etc. during a transaction.  Each of these events will require a) re-disclosure, and b) additional waiting periods.  If these changes occur in the last couple of weeks before a closing, the closing date may have to change.

To help ensure these disclosure requirements don’t delay a closing, the following steps can be taken:
a:  A seller MUST know and TRUST the lender their borrower is using.
b:  A borrower must make their decision regarding the terms of their loan as soon as possible in the process.
c:  The borrower’s agent and seller’s agent should communicate regularly with the reputable lender to ensure the lender’s disclosures are in compliance.

3) Changes in Credit Reporting prior to closing…  Beginning this month FNMA began requiring that 48 hours prior to a loan closing, a lender must re-pull a borrower’s credit report.  In the event there are significant changes (delinquencies, higher balances, new debt, inquiries) the borrower must address these changes to an underwriter’s satisfaction.  For example, assume a borrower applies for a loan July 1st.  Their credit is checked, is satisfactory, and the loan is approved.  48 hours prior to the scheduled closing July 31st, the credit is re-pulled.  At this time, assume the borrower’s credit card balance has increased 5%, they have two additional credit inquiries, and they are 30 days delinquent on a car loan.  At this point, the loan would go BACK into underwriting, the borrower would have to address the increase, the inquiries, and the delinquency, and the underwriter could possibly deny the loan.   THIS IS HUGE!!

To help ensure this does not happen, the following steps should be taken:
a:  Inform your borrowers that they need to go CREDIT STATIC from the moment they apply for a mortgage until they close on their new home.  No new accounts, inquiries, delinquencies, etc.  NOTHING.
b:  Communicate with your lender 48 hours prior to closing to ensure they have re-verified credit and everything is in good shape.
c:  I would suggest that a seller have a 1-2 day lease back after every closing, so that they can be prepared to stay in their house in the event of a possible delay.
d:  If at all possible, make sure your contracts have more “performance teeth” in them.  Make sure that failure to perform on a contract is an expensive decision for both parties.

4) Underwriting Guidelines are getting MUCH more difficult for a borrower.   Thus, it is harder and harder for a borrower to get approved for a loan.  Everything from income verification to asset verification is becoming much more detailed, specific, and accurate, resulting in potential delays, loan denials, etc.   The original pre-approval really needs to be backed as soon as possible from an underwriter’s approval.

To ensure that these guidelines don’t negatively affect your closing, I recommend the following steps:
a:  As a listing agent, do NOT accept a contract on behalf of your seller if the borrower has not PRE-QUALIFIED with your trusted loan agent.  If this is not an option, make sure you communicate with the borrower’s loan officer and get a comfort level that the loan is truly approved.
b:  Ask the HARD questions.  You need to know if there is ANYTHING in a borrower’s file that could affect the approval.  If a loan is “borderline”, it is better for all parties to know NOW rather than later.
c:  As a buyer’s agent, provide the guidance your borrower’s need from you.  Introduce them to the Loan Officer you know and TRUST.   Borrower’s do not understand how complicated the mortgage market has become, and not giving them direction in this regard may not only cost you a transaction, but it very well may cost you borrower’s trust for the foreseeable future.

I hope this information was helpful to you.

If you have any questions about Tampa, Florida Luxury Homes please give us a call.

Tampa Palms Homes – The Perfect Place to Own

Do you find yourself ready to plunge in the long-life commitment? No we are not talking about a marriage but this is definitely a necessity after a marriage and it is nothing but the buying of a home for you. Home shopping stakes are high and could be stressful, however, it is fruitful for life and if you want to lead the rest of your lives in peace and harmony encompassed in lovely and picturesque surroundings that give a constant supply of freshness and content you need to look for real estate in Tampa Palms, Tampa, Florida.

There are plentiful homes available at present in the Tampa Palms. Real estate in Tampa Bay has been on a constant bloom since the city has seen a notable upsurge in high market demands from consumers that is a clear indication of wealth influx into the metropolitan. It is a city for all generations – the young and the old – with its various amenities that just fits their lifestyle to the T. For sports junkies Tampa has a professional football team, arena football, hockey and baseball teams, for party goers Tampa has Channelside, Seminole Hard Rock and Ybor, and for hardcore nature enthusiasts Tampa is jeweled with well maintained community parks, beach fronts and gardens. Apart from these you have performing arts center and convention centers.

New Tampa is one of the fastest growing areas in Hillsborough County and covers a huge area of 24 square miles. Communities in New Tampa were built with the purpose of serving as a recreational society for its residents with its various state-of-the-art facilities and amenities for high quality living. With a variety of sports and swimming centers and nature trails this community fetches brownie points on the quintessential peaceful and harmonious living. Tampa Palms is a part of the New Tampa and encompasses an area of 7000 acres. It is the perfect framework for nature filled picturesque surroundings that are characterized with the presence of 45 breathtaking lakes and half the area of the whole of Tampa Palms is home to exotic nature preserves.

The massive Hillsborough river is at a stone’s throw away if you happen to be lucky enough to own a splendid home anywhere near the River park in Tampa Palms. Tampa Palms brings the most sought after natural beauties of Florida right at your door steps. You have the freedom to choose from a wide range of home-types like single family homes, apartments, townhomes and custom estates for those who require luxury living. Other amenities of Tampa Palms include the prestigious Tampa Palms Golf Club and Country Club that pride themselves with their 24 marvelous guest suites topped with the provision of top of the class recreational activities for their guests. Other features of Tampa Palms real estate include bike trails, 85 acres of park, picnic locales, campsites, summer camp programs and playgrounds for sports like tennis, volleyball, softball, soccer, basketball and racquetball. Tampa Palms homes are available within the price range of $200,000 to over $3,000,000.