New Help on Short Sales

picture of video from NAR PresidentNAR President Moe Veissi praises new help for struggling homeowners.    The Federal Housing Finance Agency on Tuesday announced measures to make “short sales” of underwater homes easier for homeowners, including extending help to people who have financial difficulties but haven’t missed mortgage payments.

View video from Moe at New Help on Short Sales

An Introduction to Tampa Native Emersed Plants

picture of emersed plantsThere are quite a few native emersed plants in Florida that provide food for the wildlife in the area. Rising above the water’s surface, the plants require a steady supply of water. The impressive amount of water in Florida results in many of the plants being listed as invasive. The right climate and conditions make it simple to take over an area, threatening or destroying other habitat. Before planting any type of vegetation around homes in Tampa, check with the university or Department of Agriculture to learn about its characteristics.

Lake hygrophila, a semi-aquatic herb, is native to the swamps and wet hammocks of Central Florida. This rooted plant grows quite enthusiastically in slow moving water that is less than 6 feet deep. It is able to create floating thick mats of unattached plants. The brittle stems, which reach an average length of 6 inches, are cylindrical when underwater and have a four-square appearance above the water. Leaves are oval with broad points; the native lake hygrophila has larger leaves than other species. The flowers range in color from white to light blue. Hygrophila interferes with aquatic life and water use.

A common sight in the wetlands, cat-tails are one of the most common aquatic plants in the world. They offer nesting locations and protection to wildlife. The leaf is stiff and resembles a strap. Tiny flowers appear in clusters. Stems grow up to 9 feet in height, topped with deep brown cylinder-shaped flower spikes. Their name comes from the resemblance to the fluffed-out appearance of an angry cat’s tail. They populate rivers and lakes, as well as the wetlands.

An interesting creeping herb, lemon bacopa is an emersed plant common to brackish and fresh waters. It is one of at least three bacopa plants native to Florida. The flowers have 4 to 5 small blue petals. The thick, succulent leaves are slightly over half an inch long and extremely narrow, while the upper stem is hairy. Crushed leaves produce a lemony scent.

Swollen underground stems give the duck potato its name. Large, wide leaves are shaped like lances and grow to 2 feet in length. They fan out from the rhizomes. The most remarkable feature of this plant is the 3-petal white flowers high above the stems, typically a foot or more above the leaves. This plant is found in ditches and swamps, as well as the lakes and streams of Florida.

The incredible variety of plants that grow in yards and homes in Tampa delight residents. The number of aquatic plants in the various wetlands, parks and preserves is invites locals and visitors to enjoy their beauty.

Positive Signs That National Home Sales Are Increasing

image of arrow going upThere is good news on the housing market. More “For Sale” signs are getting that magical “SOLD” sign running across the sales placard on the front lawn. According to a report from the Commerce Department in August 2012, U.S. new home sales rose 3.6 percent in July. That number matches May’s two-year high of 372,000 new-home sales. That annual rate, seasonally adjusted, reflects the highest sales since April 2010.

The downward turn of new home sales several years ago is due to a number of things. Massive layoffs and company closures caused people to concentrate on current financial responsibilities rather than incurring an additional one in the way of a new home. Because of limited funds, credit records were damaged. That prevented qualification for home loans. Banks were subject to scrutiny on loans given during the last decade. The result is more stringent requirements for mortgages. It is harder to qualify for a loan and the required down payment has increased.

Builders walked away from planned and partially completed housing developments when the sales stopped. As a result, the number of new homes for sale is significantly less than usual. The number of new homes for sale in July was only 142,000. Nearly half a century has passed since 1963, the last year records reflect that low of a number.

Home prices escalated rapidly up until 2006. The bubble burst in 2006 and sales stagnated. Lower prices have provided affordable pricing, as homes are nearly a third of previous prices. Mortgage interest is less than 4 percent and the economy is rebounding.

Further good news is that previously-owned homes are part of the increased home sales market. That is true for Tampa Bay real estate as well as other parts of the nation. According to the National Association of Realtors, sales of previously occupied homes in July surpassed the number for June. With a ten percent raise in sold homes during the past year, the number of homes that were available in July could be exhausted in about four and a half months.

Builders that left projects standing due to lack of funds and buyers are gaining confidence. Potential buyers are once more looking at homes and property. Building permit applications are the highest they have been in almost four years, as new homes are built.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) estimates 3 jobs are created for a year for each home that is built. Tax revenue is also significant, as it totals approximately $90,000. As projects are undertaken and developed, others appear to help with the recovery. Home prices increased slightly over two percent for a one-month period in May. April and May increases lead to a perception that the housing market is on its way to recovery.

A healthy housing market requires 5.5 million previously occupied homes and 700,000 new homes sold each year. An anticipated 8 percent growth in annual sales of previously owned homes sold will result in 4.6 million sold for 2012. New homes will also fall short of their goal. However, the trend towards recovery is steadily moving forward with these positive signs that national home sales are increasing.

If you are considering the purchase of Tampa, Fl. real estate or have questions, please visit www.tampa2enjoy.com.

Steps to Encourage Offers for Your Property

The home buyer light at the end of the tunnel is back with a vengeance. An improvement in the economy is motivating people to start looking at homes across the nation, including Tampa real estate for sale. Homeowners have been waiting for this golden moment to list property that has been off the market for several years. Instead of a minimum number of sales at low prices, sales are up. That is driving prices upwards and making the bidding wars on reality shows look mild in comparison. The result is fewer homes for sale as the demand increases.

image of tips to sell your homePotential buyers could be looking for a great deal and not be adverse to assuming responsibility for repairs if the price is right. Conditions are almost like the turn of the century, when several earnest bids could often be submitted by different hopeful purchasers on the same piece of property within minutes. The internet helps get offers, counteroffers and acceptance done quickly. Having an energetic, responsive broker on your side provides the change to be one of the competitors.

If you are one of the homeowners, start now to make your property enticing enough to gain attention. The more interest it draws, the better, because that starts people looking and deciding how much they want your home.

Think about the significance of landscaping. The area surrounding the house is the first thing people see. Trim the trees and hedges in your yard. If flowers have yet to blossom, get and plant blooming plants from the nursery. Set them in a beautiful planter to display on the porch and around the yard. Invest in solar or low-voltage LED landscape lights that will display the highlights of your yard, such as a pond or exotic plant, at night. Economical and effective, potential buyers will appreciate the safety factor and feel that the current owner cares about the home.

Emphasize the features that caused you to purchase the home. Neat and clean are appealing. Pet odor and cigarette or cigar smoke can kill a sale. Instead of disguising problems, eliminate them. Donate old magazines and games to the VA hospital or other charitable organizations. A fresh coat of paint on the walls adds brightness to the room. Checking electrical appliances is instinctive, so be certain the dishwasher, garbage disposal, lights and fans are working properly. These tips could be the selling point for your home over the one down the road.

Offer financing if the property is free and clear. Price the home at a reasonable low amount to encourage agents and brokers to show your home. That gives the client room to bid a higher amount instead of feeling the price is already at the limit. The final bid may be near or above the best offer expected. Remember the sense of relief you felt when you received clear title on the home and knew you could finally close escrow? Have a current lien search and inspection for prospective buyers to examine. That gesture demonstrates good faith on your part. Anticipate a number of offers and beneficial results.

Native Freshwater Submersed Aquatic Plants of Florida

image of plantThe ocean comes to mind when people think of Tampa and the area around it. Imagine the incredulous look on their face when they find out there are 127 lakes in Hillsborough County, of which Tampa is the county seat. Instead of seaweed, the freshwater lakes have native plants that thrive near the shore. The plants serve other purposes besides looking beautiful. Submersed aquatic plants hold the soil in place and provide a safe haven for fish seeking shelter near the shore. Following are several plants native to Florida.

Tape Grass, also known as Eel Grass, is a popular aquarium plant. It thrives in clearer bodies of water. The long, ribbon-like leaves flutter in accord with the water’s motion. Lake Alice in Odessa, in addition to some natural springs and clear-water rivers, contain a good supply of tape grass. Shad, bream and bass are three varieties of fish that enjoy swimming about the plant. Swimmers should be wary of the plant, as it can trip up the careless person wading through the growth.

Coontail, also known as hornwort, is a dark olive-green color. The name comes from the tips of its branches, so crowded with leaves it resembles the tail of a raccoon. A perennial without roots, this free-floating plant forms dense clusters to reduce travel. The stiff leaves, designed to support this colony, have a whorled design with many forks. Small teeth run down one edge. It is common in the streams, lakes and ponds of Central Florida. Small invertebrates reside in the plant, providing food for ducks, fish and amphibians.

Sago Pondweed needs to be in at least 8 inches of water. It grows in the shallow areas of lakes and rivers, where the water does not exceed 6 feet in depth. Although the grass grows up to the surface of the water, it does not grow above it. It is very popular with ducks and geese that dive down to fetch and eat the bulbs. Ducks especially like to eat the seed produced by Sago Pondweed in the fall. Waterfowl depend on the productivity of this fast growing plant for feed. Unfortunately, it interferes with shore fishing. Anglers can use a weedless lure, as that type of lure and hook is designed for successful fishing in areas with sticks, rocks and weeds.

Like other bladderworts, the Florida yellow bladderwort is rootless. Bright yellow flowers grow from long stalks and extend above the water. Lacy leaves have tiny bladders attached that capture small organisms like water fleas and other tiny animals to provide food for the plant. This carnivorous plant is one of Florida’s most unique submerged aquatic plants.

Enjoy living in an area with interesting plants and wildlife when you own one of the homes in Tampa, Florida. If you have any questions, please visit www.tampa2enjoy.com.

The Amazing Area of Odessa

One thing that surprises people is the different types of real estate in Tampa and its outlying areas. From rural atmosphere to city sophistication, acreage and buildings vary in size, shape and purpose. Looking at homes and landscaping is a favorite pastime in a number of areas and the Greater Tampa area is no different. A resurging economy, great schools and hospitals, and the opportunity to still purchase a wonderful home at a reasonable price are reasons for making this region the choice for working and living.

The late 1800s and early 1900s brought about the start of Odessa, now recognized as part of the Northwest region of Tampa. A sawmill, turpentine factory and the railroad contributed to the draw that brought residents. It was entirely within Pasco County during that time, with a 1920 census count of 700. The Dowling Brothers Lumber Co. was significantly destroyed by fire in 1922, leaving just the dry kiln and machine shop. Only partially covered by insurance, the company considered rebuilding. By 1927, the operation was moved to Gulf Hammock. Buildings at the Odessa site were sold for lumber. A citrus grove replaced the mill.

Eventually, the town spilled over into northern Hillsborough County and is recognized as a census-designated place (CDP) in both Pasco and Hillsborough counties. Agriculture continues to play a part in its economy through livestock, plant nurseries and traditional, tree, and fish farms. The weather has played a factor in the continuation of citrus crops, as hard freezes have led farmers to change crops and items of production. Still, Odessa remains a mostly rural area dotted with luxury homes on huge lots that encompass five acres and more in some cases.

A population of 7267 was reported in the 2010 census. Several things account for the continued success of this town. Industry includes Bay Tech Industries (BTI), which specializes in turning, milling and welding. State of the art software provides the ability to complete all facets of machining. BK Plastics specializes in heavy gauge thermoforming, while Ajax Paving deals with asphalt and concrete manufacturing.

Farmland, trees and pastures present mingle with the newer housing brought about by the change to urban living. Enjoy outdoor activities at the 272-acre Lake Rogers Park, where a plethora of adventure awaits. Shaded trails, picnic shelters, fishing and camping are only a few of the family-friendly events. Shopping, culture and sports require just a short trip to Tampa. Odessa has room for expansion, making it an ideal spot to consider for a home or business.

If you have been considering relocation to one of the homes in Tampa, Fl., or have any questions, please visit www.tampa2enjoy.com.

Enjoy an Active Lifestyle at Sun City Center, Florida

image of people at sun city centerAre you one of the families searching for Tampa condos even though you still undecided about where in the area you want to live? If you are fifty-five and over and looking around at the different communities in Tampa Bay, you will find it easy to spot intriguing features and conveniences. If you are already living in this metropolis, there is no need to leave. Improved roads and recreational facilities continue to thrive. Employment is on the rise. Friends might disappear for a few months of vacation in another location, but come back home every year.

A condo gives the opportunity to own a residence at a lower price than a single-family home. Different floor plans allow a choice of bedrooms, bathrooms and living area. Select the type of flooring you want in your new home. The majority of the year brings sunshine to this part of Florida. That, in turn, presents the chance to enjoy outdoor recreation and activities year-round.

One of the great age-restricted Tampa communities, Sun City Center features condos, single family homes and townhomes. Located about 25 miles south of Tampa, it is part of the unincorporated area of Hillsborough County. Residents must be 55 and older to qualify for residence. However, toss preconceived ideas of retirement centers out the window when looking at this active adult self-contained village. It takes a lot of volunteers to keep the community running, including volunteer positions for the various homeowners associations (HOAs). That is just one part of staying active and informed.

The beauty, creativity and social environment is defined as an amenity campus. There are three in Sun City Center to provide a good life for area residents, offering card games and tennis among other social activities. Spending time at restaurants and shopping plazas is just as entertaining as playing golf or taking part in a yoga class. Golf carts can be driven on the roads, making it easy for residents to get from one place to another.

Originally a Del Webb project, Sun City Center began in 1961. Single-family homes and townhomes are available, as well, if that suits your style of life more. Attend church, shop for groceries or shop at Walmart without leaving the center. South Bay Hospital has a facility in this area that also offers emergency care.

If are looking at purchasing a condo or home in Sun City Center please visit www.tampa2enjoy.com.

Ways to Enjoy Golf in Tampa, Florida

image of disc golfYou do not have to play golf to live in Florida, but it is a nice option for outdoor recreation. For beginners, a driving range provides the chance to develop technique and boost confidence in your game.

Some of the best instruction comes from watching and listening to some of the best golfers in the world. Getting a job at one of the Tampa courses provides the chance to learn the language of golf and hear evaluations of equipment and different holes and ranges. No wonder it looks like fun: it is!

A variety of homes in Tampa Bay are near some form of golf. Take part in an indoor game with a golf simulator. Simulation lets you develop golfing skills, hit a bucket of balls, or spend an hour or more in the comfort of a climate controlled range.

Another outdoor sports feature is the popular sport of disc golf. Instead of a tiny white golf ball, a plastic disc such as those tossed back and forth at parks is used. Baskets of chain-link are hung on poles along the course. The challenge is getting the disc into the basket. Professional players of this sport often have more than one type of disc to accommodate various shots. Beginners and casual players are able to play the game using the standard disc. The cost of playing varies from free to several dollars, delivering inexpensive entertainment for hours of fun.

Brandon features the Limona Disc Golf Course, established in 2005. It was the first public disc golf course in Hillsborough County. A woodsy course, big trees and canopies add to the challenge of play. Some of the amenities include large tees, a great view with rolling hills, water and sidewalks.

Other sites to enjoy this sport include the Lutz Executive Golf Center. Two features for those still perfecting their golf game include a public 9-hole par 3 course and a practice range for club, ball and tee golfers. In addition, there is a great 18-hole disc golf course, complete with water hazards, designed by Champion Ken Klimo and Reese from Fly 18 in California. Rent a disc if you forgot to bring one along.

In Temple Terrace, just north of Tampa, you will find the USF disc golf course at Riverfront Park, established in 2002. It is mostly flat with a number of trees providing beauty and a challenge to the sport. The course consists of 18 holes. Non-students must pay a fee and be accompanied by someone with a student ID. Make exercise interesting by participating in a form of golf.

If you have been thinking about luxury homes in Tampa Bay that are close to golf courses or have any other questions about real estate in that area, please visit www.tampa2enjoy.com.

The Real Estate Market In Florida Continues To Get Better

picture of rising arrow above 2012Pending sales, closed sales and median prices rose, while the inventory of homes and condos for sale dropped in Florida’s housing market in July, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.

“Florida’s real estate recovery is on solid ground,” said 2012 Florida Realtors President Summer Greene, regional manager of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Florida 1st in Fort Lauderdale. “Since May 2011, pending sales have increased every month for both existing single-family homes and for townhome-condo properties. In July, pending sales were up more than 42 percent for existing single-family homes and 26 percent for townhouse-condo units, compared to a year ago. Home prices are on the rise in many markets, while the inventory of homes for sale is down. Florida’s housing market is growing stronger and stronger.”

Pending sales refer to contracts that are signed but not yet completed or closed; closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

Statewide closed sales of existing single-family homes totaled 17,420 in July, up 9.8 percent compared to the year-ago figure, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department and vendor partner 10K Research and Marketing. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $148,000, up 7.8 percent from July 2011.

According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in June 2012 was $190,100, up 8 percent from the previous year. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in June was $320,540; in Massachusetts, it was $325,000; in Maryland, it was $268,910; and in New York, it was $220,000.

The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less. Housing industry analysts note that sales of foreclosures and other distressed properties continue to downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes.

Looking at Florida’s year-to-year comparison for sales of townhomes/condos, a total of 7,779 units sold statewide last month, up 2.8 percent from those sold in July 2011. The statewide median for townhome-condo properties was $102,000, up 10.9 percent over the previous year. NAR reported the national median existing condo price in June 2012 was $183,200.

Last month, the inventory for single-family homes stood at a 5.3-months’ supply; inventory for townhome-condo properties was at a 5.4-months’ supply, according to Florida Realtors. Industry analysts note that 5.5-months’ supply symbolizes a market balanced between buyers and sellers.

“We really need to recognize that over the past year, we have seen a market reversal, from a clear buyers’ market to a neutral market to one that is verging on a sellers’ market,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo. “This is a precursor to price growth. Our MLS (Multiple Listing Service) numbers confirm this in that both median and average prices have been trending up. Florida Realtors’ soon-to-be-launched price index, based on all sales, is showing the same sort of behavior in that price drops ended in 2009 and are now showing signs of moving up.”

The interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.55 percent in July 2012 – significantly lower than the 4.55 percent average during the same month a year earlier, according to Freddie Mac.

For more information on the Tampa housing market visit my my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TampaRealEstateExpert or go to www.tampa2enjoy.com.

Carambola : Subtropical Trees in Tampa, Florida

picture of a carambola treeIt is a surprise to travel to the southern parts of Florida and California and see the beautiful subtropical plants that thrive so nicely. Some display intense shades of green leaves. Others present colorful flowers with exotic fragrance. The presentation of tropical fruit is an amazing treat. The three things together constitute three of the biggest reasons so many people move to either of these states, and it seems to be more true for Florida.

If you have been thinking about real estate in Tampa Florida area, you will appreciate knowing that a good number of subtropical plants thrive in that area. One of the most intriguing plants is a tree called carambola, cultivated for centuries in Malaysia and Southeast Asia. You may recognize it by the name “starfruit” because cross-section slices are shaped like stars. The fruit ranges from the size of a kiwi to five inches long. The crisp, yellow fruit is quite juicy, ranging from a light sweetness to a tangy, face-puckering sour flavor.

If you intend to plant a carambola tree in the yard of your single-family home in Wesley Chapel, it is important to realize it grows up to 30 feet high, with the branches spreading out nearly 25 feet. Mature trees survive an occasional drop in temperatures to 27 degrees. The younger trees can die if the temperature reaches 32 or severe flooding occurs. The good part about this tree is that you can grow it in a movable container until you are certain where you wish to place it permanently. That allows you to put it in a protected location when the weather is bad.

An evergreen tree, it grows slowly. That adds to its charm as an ornamental plant. The leaves reach up to ten inches in length. The carambola also has short leaflets that fold together at night. Different shades of green make an elegant display. Blooming occurs all year, with clusters of fragrant flowers ranging in color form pink to lavender. The tree prefers full sun.

If you do not have a lot of time for gardening, you will be happy with this tree. It is well-suited to much of the soil found in Tampa. Rich loam increases growth and productivity. Avoid overwatering, but give it enough each day to keep the soil slightly moist. Pruning is seldom needed. Ask your local nursery about the Kiang or the Golden Star carambola, which originated in Homestead, Florida. Golden yellow skin and sweet flavor are its best features. You will get quite a bit of fruit without the need of cross pollination.