What price should we offer?

When I am working with a buyer and an offer is being made, the buyer will ask, “What should I offer?” To respond to this question, my first step is to provide the buyer with comparable properties that have sold recently and collectively we form an opinion on what the home is worth. If the home needs some repairs or updating, that is taken into account on the price.

The next question from the buyer may be, “How much lower can we offer?” Let’s say for example that the home is priced at $250,000 and after reviewing the comparable sales it is determined that the home is in fact worth $250,00. The next consideration should be how long the home has been on the market (keeping in mind that we are in a seller’s market). If the home just went on the market, the chances are much lower that the seller will accept a lower offer. In addition, there is a chance that another buyer may submit an offer. In our current market, homes that are priced right sell quickly!

Say the house has been on the market for 60 days. How low of an offer is advised? In low-medium priced homes, anything that is 90% below asking price is considered a low-ball offer. Some may think it doesn’t hurt to try, but in fact it can. I have personally experienced sellers rejecting low-ball offers and declining to even counter. If the buyer truly is only willing to pay the lower price, than by all means make the offer with the awareness that it may be strongly rejected. In my role, whether I represent the buyer or the seller, I try to maintain amicable negotiations throughout the process. A low-ball offer, even if it leads to successful negotiations can start things off on the wrong foot.

I did an analysis of all the home sales in a specific area of St. Pete (Central Oak Park Neighborhood) for the last 60 days (mid-March – May). The average sale price for these homes was 96.5% of the asking price. That tells us that sellers are getting very close to asking price and they are not accepting low offers! The except is those homes that are overpriced and not selling at all!

So what would I advise offering on that $250,000 house that has been on the market 2 days? If the buyer says they really want the house, then offer $250,000. If it has been on the market 2 weeks and the list agent says that no other offers are currently expected, then offer $240-245,000. If it has been on the market for 60 days, then an offer of $230,000 would not be unjustified in my opinion.

Buyers typically want to buy low and sellers want to sell high. Working with both buyers and sellers balances my perspective. In some cases I have been selling a client’s home while at the same time procuring a new one. I ponder their expectations for selling their home above market value and not accommodating their buyer’s repair requests while at the same time submitting a low offer on their new home and expecting the seller to make repairs!

Posted on May 19, 2019 at 3:17 pm
Michelle Anderson | Category: Home Buying, Real Estate Market, Selling Your Home

What’s A Pool Worth?

How to value a pool comes up a lot in my work with buyers and sellers. Putting in a new pool averages about $80,000 but appraisers do not value pools based on their cost. Typically, if a buyer wants a home with a pool, it is more economical to buy a home that already has a pool rather than add one. Since we are in Florida, one might think that pool homes would be in abundance. However, finding homes with pools is not as easy as you might think in St. Pete.

Right now, there are 766 single family homes for sale in St. Pete priced under $500,000. 84 of these homes have an in-ground pool. Furthermore, only 33 of these homes are not in a flood zone. I had two different appraisers gave me their guide for making home valuation adjustments. For a home priced at $250,000, one appraiser gives $8,000 – $15,000. If the pool has a screened enclosure, they add another $5,000. Another appraiser’s guide stipulates a $12,000 – $25,000 adjustment and also another $5,000 for a screened enclosure.

Working with buyers and sellers, I have had a sense that pools are reflecting a higher value to buyers in the St. Pete market than just a $15,000 adjustment, so I took a closer look at the statistics.

In the last 6 months (October 2018 – March 2019), 111 single-family homes with pools that aren’t in a flood zone sold under $500,000.

Data calculated on all homes recently sold under $500,000 with an in-ground pool:

Average sale price Average sale price/SF
       With pools – not in a flood zone  $299,000  $186.13
       With pools – in a flood zone  $329,000  $198.13
 Without pools – not in a flood zone  $204,798  $166.01
 Without pool – in a flood zone  $248,500  $178.oo

 

Pools homes definitely sell for more. Based on my analysis, in-ground pools add $50,000 – $80,000 to a home’s value.

This leads me to another point – homes in St. Pete that ARE in a flood zone sell for more. Obviously, waterfront property commands a higher price. However, many of the homes in a flood zone aren’t actually waterfront. Some of the nicer neighborhoods in St. Pete are close to the water. In those neighborhoods, you also find homes that were built later than their counterparts built in the 20s, 40s & 50s and these homes have larger square footage, garages and POOLS! The central parts of St. Pete tend to be older and were not built with pools.

Posted on April 1, 2019 at 11:08 pm
Michelle Anderson | Category: Home Buying, Real Estate Market, Selling Your Home, St. Petersburg

Why is Title Insurance Needed?

Title-Insurance-Policy

Title insurance “insures” the title of the property. Title insurance makes the title marketable and insures the homeowner against claims to the title. Examples of title issues are claims from prior heirs, instances of bad foreclosures and prior liens such as construction or tax liens.

For example, a friend of mine bought a bank-owned house in Maryland that had been foreclosed on. After she did extensive renovations on the house, it was discovered that the prior foreclosure had been improper. The former owner was not provided with the due process that is required to foreclose a home. This occurred during the housing recession when large numbers of homes were being foreclosed on and there were many instances of process and paperwork errors. Luckily, my friend had title insurance that protected her, and the problem was resolved (and not at her expense).

Most buyers will not buy a house without title being insured. And, the vast majority of lenders require that both the buyer and seller have title insurance. The title policy purchased by the buyer protects the buyer and the lender while the seller’s policy protects the seller.

So for sellers – a seller’s policy is required unless you have a cash buyer, and even cash buyers often want title insurance. There’s nothing that makes it mandatory for the seller to pay for the owner’s policy, however, it is customary and requiring the buyer to pay it would be a disincentive to the buyer. After all, they are already paying for their own policy. I personally have not encountered a seller asking for a buyer to pay for both policies.

Other closing fees fall under recording & transfer taxes and doc stamps and are government fees. The title company that handles the closing and conducts all the liens searches, obtains title policy and holds the escrow funds also has a closing fee of a few hundred dollars. A seller’s title policy is typically $5.75 per every $100,000 of the sale price plus $5.00 per every $1,000. Recording and transfer fees to the seller are typically .70 cents per every thousand dollars. When working with sellers, I provide an estimated closing statement that details these fees.

Posted on January 22, 2019 at 7:30 pm
Michelle Anderson | Category: Home Buying, Selling Your Home | Tagged ,

The Unique Neighborhoods of St. Pete

One of the things that makes St. Pete special are the unique neighborhoods, each with a unique feel and characteristics. They are diverse and many of them have active communities. Some are driven by voluntary neighborhood associations that promote neighborhood enhancement and community involvement. The sense of community is one of the things that drew me to St. Pete.

Some of the more active neighborhoods have regular social gatherings, events and meetings for residents. “Porch Parties” is the prevalent description for neighborhood parties held by neighborhoods where residents volunteer to open their homes and host gatherings. Porch Parties are predominantly outdoors which is fitting given our fabulous St. Pete weather that allows an outdoor lifestyle all year long. Party goers show up carrying a dish to share and a beverage of choice.

The neighborhoods range in architectural styles from bungalows, craftsman homes, mid-century modern, Victorian, Spanish and Florida style. Many of the homes in St. Pete were built in the 20’s, 40’s and 50’s. New construction is rare (except for the upscale condos downtown). Some neighborhoods are lined with brick streets flanked with mossy oak and palm trees. Many of the neighborhoods have a diverse makeup of styles – not cookie cutter neighborhoods.

The other thing I love about St. Pete is that you have the beach on one side and downtown on the other. Central Avenue runs straight across St. Pete from downtown, which sits on Tampa Bay, to our Gulf Coast Beaches. Heading west on Central Ave., once you leave the mainland, you cross the Treasure Island Causeway. The entire span is approximately 9 miles from downtown to the beach! We have neighborhoods with a beach vibe, a historic atmosphere, and a downtown vibe.

The City of St. Petersburg says it supports more than more than 110 neighborhood and business associations, and the City’s website says, “The city welcomes residents to take part in improving our neighborhoods and quality of life by voicing concerns and pinpointing priorities.” The City also gathers input from neighborhoods for future planning through neighborhood plans submitted by associations. For more information, visit the City’s page on neighborhoods.

Given there are so many neighborhoods in St. Pete, we also have a Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA). CONA’s website lists 86 neighborhoods! The full list below, and the following is a snapshot of just a few:

Historic Old Northeast

Historic Old Northeast Home

Historic Old Northeast Home

Nestled on the north side of downtown and Tampa Bay, development of Old Northeast started in 1911. The makeup of home styles includes Queen Anne, Victorian, Colonial Revival, Spanish Eclectic, Craftsman Bungalow, Prairie and even Italianate. The Historic Old Northeast Neighborhood Association’s website says, “Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003 Old Northeast is characterized by waterfront green space, brick streets, granite curbs, hexagon block sidewalks, brick alleys, mature trees and lots of welcoming front porches. The neighborhood is an excellent example of preserving and restoring the best of the past while offering a high quality of living in the present where neighbors possess a strong sense of community identity and pride.” They have a busy event schedule filled with porch parties, parades, holiday events and meetings.

The neighborhood’s boundaries are 5th Avenue N/NE on the south and 30th Avenue N/NE on the north with Tampa Bay and Coffee Pot Bayou its eastern boundary and 4th Street N its western boundary. The neighborhood contains approximately 4,100 households and is home to some 10,000 residents.

Historic Kenwood

Historic Kenwood Home

Historic Kenwood calls itself “Neighborhood of the Arts.” Located just west of downtown, the Historic Kenwood Neighborhood Association describes the neighborhood as “is a charming neighborhood filled with historic bungalows and tree-lined brick streets. We enthusiastically embrace the arts, and we actively cultivate an authentic, friendly culture where people are welcoming, diverse, and engaged.

In addition to monthly porch parties, Kenwood events include “Pinot in the Park,” BungalowFest, Founder’s Day and Kenwood Kidz. The section of Central Avenue that borders Kenwood has seen great revitalization in recent years with the opening of trendy restaurants, bars, breweries, boutiques and antique shops.

Central Oak Park

Central Oak ParkCentral Oak Park is where my home is, so I couldn’t leave it out! It is just a couple of miles west of downtown and only 5 miles from the beach. It is one of the largest neighborhoods in St. Pete with 3,900 residences including a few condominium and townhouse communities. The home prices in Central Oak Park are lower than average than other parts of St. Pete and I feel buying a home in Central Oak Park is a sound investment. The neighborhood has a diverse makeup of bungalows, a few craftsman and Spanish style homes and small cottages. There is a good deal of home renovation taking place and the Central Oak Park Neighborhood Association is becoming increasingly active. The neighborhood holds monthly porch parties, a Holiday Party on some of its blocked off brick streets, monthly membership meetings and has other events in the works like a spaghetti dinner and a neighborhood plant and seed swap. The neighborhood spans from 34th St N (US-19) to 49th St N and 13th Ave N to 5th Ave S.

Gulfport

Gulfport House

Gulfport is technically its own City due to incorporation, but with approximately 12,000 residents it’s around the same size as other St. Pete neighborhoods. Gulfport homes are a mix of small cottages and bungalows. Gulfport has an appealing water front downtown with thriving restaurants and indecently owned shops. Gulfport holds regular artwalks. The annual GeckoFest is a costumed festival featuring themed live music, vendors, strolling and stationary street performers, a quirky walking parade, colorful costume contests, and the ever-popular end-of-the-day dueling street dances

Crescent Lake
This fabulous video best describes Crescent Lake.

List of St. Petersburg Neighborhood Associations as listed on the Council of Neighborhood Associations’ website:

1.     22nd St Business, Historical & Cultural District
2.     Allendale Terrace Neighborhood Association
3.     Americana Cove
4.     Azalea Homes Community Association
5.     Bahama Shores Homeowner’s Association
6.     Barcley Estates Home Owner’s Association
7.     Bartlett Park Neighborhood Association
8.     Bayou Highlands Neighborhood Association
9.     Bayway Isles Homeowners Club, Inc.
10.  Brighton Bay Neighborhood
11.  Broadwater Civic Association
12.  Casler Heights Neighborhood Association
13.  Causeway Isles Neighborhood Association

14.  Central Oak Park Neighborhood Association
15.  Clam Bayou Neighborhood Association
16.  Childs Park Neighborhood Association
17.  Coquina Key Property Owner’s Association
18.  Crescent Heights Neighborhood Association
19.  Crescent Lake Neighborhood Association, Inc.
20.  Crossroads Area Homeowners Association
21.  Disston Heights Civic Association
22.  Downtown Neighborhood Association
23.  Driftwood Property Owners Association
24.  Eagle Crest Civic Association
25.  Eden Isle Civic Association, Inc.
26.  Edgemoor Neighborhood Association
27.  Euclid Heights Neighborhood Association
28.  Euclid-St. Paul Neighborhood Association
29.  Fossil Park Neighborhood Association
30.  Fruitland Heights Neighborhood Association
31.  Gateway Neighborhood & Crime Watch Association
32.  Grand Central District
33.  Greater Grovemont Neighborhood Association
34.  Greater Pinellas Point Civic Association
35.  Greater Woodlawn Neighborhood Association
36.  Harbordale Neighborhood Association
37.  Harbor Isle Homeowners Association
38.  Harris Park Neighborhood Association
39.  Highland Oaks Neighborhood Association
40.  Historic Kenwood Association
41.  Historic Old Northeast Neighborhood Association
42.  Historic Park Street Neighborhood Association
43.  Historic Roser Park Neighborhood Association
44.  Historic Uptown Neighborhoods, Inc.
45.  Holiday Park Home Owner’s Association
46.  Isla Del Sol Owners Association
47.  Jungle Prada Neighborhood Association
48.  Jungle Terrace Civic Association
49.  Lake Euclid Neighborhood Association
50.  Lake Maggiore Park Neighborhood Association
51.  Lake Maggiore Shores Neighborhood Association
52.  Lakewood Estates Civic Association
53.  Lakewood Terrace Neighborhood Association
54.  Live Oak Neighborhood Association
55.  Magnolia Heights Neighborhood Association
56.  Maximo Civic Association
57.  Meadowlawn Neighborhood Association
58.  Mel-Tan Heights Neighborhood Association
59.  Methodist Town Neighborhood Association
60.  Northeast Park Neighborhood Association
61.  Northeast Terraces Neighborhood Association
62.  North Kenwood Neighborhood Association
63.  Old Southeast Neighborhood Association
64.  Pasadena Bear Creek Neighborhood Association
65.  Palmetto Park Neighborhood Association
66.  Pasadena Golf Club Estates
67.  Perry Bayview Neighborhood Association
68.  Point Brittany Community Association
69.  Placido Bayou Community Association
70.  Ponce De Leon Neighborhood Association
71.  Renaissance Neighborhood Association
72.  Riviera Bay Civic Association
73.  Riviera Bay Subdivision Homeowners Association
74.  Shore Acres Civic Association, Inc.
75.  Snell Isle Property Owner’s Association, Inc.
76.  Thirteenth Street Heights Neighborhood Association
77.  Thirty-First Street Neighborhood Association
78.  Tropical Shores Neighborhood Association
79.  Venetian Isles Homeowner’s Association, Inc.
80.  Westminster Heights Neighborhood Association
81.  West Shore Village Neighborhood Association
82.  Wildwood Heights Neighborhood Association
83. Winston Park Neighborhood Association
84. Caya Costa Neighborhood Association
85. Garden Manor Neighborhood Association
86. Grand Central District
87. Ling-A-Mor Neighborhood Association
88. St. Pete Heights

Posted on January 7, 2019 at 2:44 pm
Michelle Anderson | Category: St. Petersburg

When Is the Best Time of Year to List a House in Pinellas County?

by Michelle L. Anderson, MBA, REALTOR, RE/MAX Metro

Most of the year, Florida enjoys an active real estate market. Unlike states to the north that are not active in cold winter months, Florida benefits from our fabulous winters and our snowbirds. The short answer to this question is that late winter – early summer are the BEST times to put a house on the market. But the only time I advise sellers to NOT list a house is the 2nd half of December through the first week of January. The reality is that real estate activity slows to a crawl during the holidays. However, at any given time there are lots of people who need to move and homes sell all year longThere are a few things to consider when defining what is the “best” time, because is it best to sell the fastest, or at the highest price or do these factors coincide?

I looked at the numbers for Pinellas County for 2014 – October 2018* to see exactly what the sales trend looks like by month. Below is a graph that shows the number of closed sales for each month. Keep in mind that homes that closed likely went on the market two months prior. The average days homes have been on the market in the past year is 26 days and on average, most contracts close in 30 days.

You will see that sales consistently spike in the spring and summer. They also consistently die down in the fall and have a short spike again right at the end of the year. I hypothesize the end of the year spike is due to people making purchases prior to the end of the year in order to qualify for homesteading or investors looking to acquire a tax deduction. Another factor may be people from up north looking to buy in time to enjoy their new home for the winter.

Number of closed single family home sales, Pinellas County Florida

 

Absorption Rate

The absorption rate is pretty much what it sounds like. It is the rate that listings are selling and it is calculated by dividing the number of closed sales by the number of active listings. A lower rate means that homes are selling slower (buyer’s market) while a higher rate means that homes are selling quickly (seller’s market). One of the highest rates in recent years was 44% in June 2016 and I can attest to encountering numerous bidding wars for homes at that time.

When the absorption rate is going up, sellers can list their homes at a higher price. However, when the absorption rate is declining, homes shouldn’t be listed at a higher price. In other words, a declining rate indicates that it isn’t a time to “push the market higher,” and that demand is decreasing.

Absorption Rate – Pinellas County Florida, Single Family Homes, real estate statistics

 

From 2014 – 2018, the absorption rate has been trending upward. The rate also seems to follow a similar pattern with the number of listings, the number of sales and the median sales price. Homes that are on the market over the holidays sit the longest and the absorption rate tends to peak for the year in the spring and summer.

Appraisals
Home appraisers do factor absorption rate into their valuations. This means that when the rate is climbing, they may add additional value to a home. However, when the absorption rate is declining, they are less likely to increase value for market factors.

Sales Price
While the median sales price has been trending upward at a high rate over the last few years, the trend is not a perfectly straight path. Below are some charts that show the median sale price by month. Interestingly, each year the highest median price for the year occurs in the spring/early summer and dips down in the fall with another small spike prior to the year end. This trend mirrors the trends of the number of closed sales, number of listings and days on market.

How much difference in price does it make? An article on CNBC says that on average, homes that sell at peak times sell for $1,500 more. The article also says that the best time to list homes in warm weather markets like Florida is March.

Median Sale Price, Single Family Homes, Pinellas County, Florida 2014-2018

Median Sale Price, Single Family Homes, Pinellas County, Florida 2018


Days on Market / Median Time to Contract

The median number of days homes were on the market prior to going under contract follows a similar trend with the longest average time falling around the holidays and beginning of the year and then declining until reaching a low point in early summer.

Median Time to Contract – Single Family Homes, Pinellas County Florida, Days on Market, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

Pinellas County, Florida Real Estate Statistics, January 2018 – October 2018

Want to know what day of the week is best to put a house on the market? Visit my previous blog: Best Day to List a Home

 


*Numbers as reported from the Pinellas Realtor Organization. Statistical calcualations and analysis conducted by Michelle L. Anderson

Graziosi, Dean. “What Is Absorption Rate in Real Estate and Why Is It Important?” Huffington Post 12/6/17 0

Olick, Diana. “Homes sell fastest during these two weeksCNBC. 3/2/2017

Posted on December 18, 2018 at 4:26 pm
Michelle Anderson | Category: Real Estate Market, Selling Your Home, St. Petersburg | Tagged , ,

Best Day to List Your Home?

 

Best day to list a house for sale

The day your home is listed on the market does matter.

When working with sellers, I always try to schedule the listing to go live during the middle of the week. So when I stumbled on this article that substantiates this practice, I decided to turn it into a post to reinforce this practice.

This article explains that listing a home in the middle of the week allows for optimal showings and statistics show that houses listed in the middle of the week actually sell for a higher price. The timing allows the home to be included in buyers scheduled showings over the weekend and allows for timely scheduling of open houses.

When a home is listed over the weekend or early in the week, it does not allow for buyers to schedule weekend showings. This equates to wasted days on market and statistics show that the longer a house is on the market, the lower the sales price is. When selling a home, it is ideal to hit the market running and make every day count.

Want to know what time of year is best to put a home on the market for sale? Read my blogpost – When is the Best Time of Year to List a House for Sale?

Read the full article

Posted on November 1, 2018 at 4:20 pm
Michelle Anderson | Category: Selling Your Home | Tagged , ,

Looking for your dream house?

Buying your dream house

Many home buyers begin the home buying process with a mindset of wanting to find their “dream house.” They come with a long list of criteria that is often unattainable or is unattainable in their budget. The best approach is to prioritize needs and wants and determine what things aren’t necessary and what things can be done to the home after it becomes yours. Sometimes these priorities change during the process of looking at homes.

For example, a buyer may start with a list like: 3 bed, 2 bath, 2-car garage with a pool and an updated kitchen. Perhaps they find a house that meets all their requirements except it doesn’t have a pool, but it does have room to add one. Or, a buyer wants to be in a certain neighborhood and their list is similar – 3 bed, 2 bath with a garage, but they want a craftsman bungalow that doesn’t need a lot of work. Craftsman bungalows that don’t need a lot of work are not in abundance. Instead, they opt for one without a garage, that has a parking pad off the alley.

When I initially started my home search for my current home in St. Pete, I did not want to undertake extensive renovations. However, after looking for a while and not finding the right house, I opted to buy a home at a lower price point that needed an entire kitchen renovation. By doing it myself, I got to design the kitchen that I wanted, and that included the Spanish tiles that I wanted!

To read more on this subject, view this article Real estate Q&A: Looking for your dream house? Here’s help

Posted on November 1, 2018 at 4:00 pm
Michelle Anderson | Category: Home Buying | Tagged , , , ,

HOW DO HURRICANES EFFECT THE ECONOMY?

eye of the hurricane

This question actually has many layers, because the answer is different when you ask, “How do hurricanes effect the economy in the short-term,” “the long-term.” Or, “How do hurricanes effect the national economy,” or “how do they effect the area that was impacted?”

SHORT-TERM
In the months following a storm, the local economy will initially see huge losses of wealth. But following that, thriving areas will actually see a bump when insurance checks are cut, and rebuilding takes place. Spending also gets shifted around regionally. People evacuate and spend money elsewhere. Hardware store, gas stations, grocery stores and hotels see increased business while local business are shuttered. The national economy sees a small dip in GDP.

LONG-TERM – NATIONAL ECONOMY
According to an article in Florida Realtor  “On net, storms tend to subtract from gross domestic product in the early months and add to it in later months – leaving the economy, on balance, with few overall effects after a year.”

LONG-TERM – LOCAL/REGIONAL ECONOMY
“Hurricanes impose huge losses of wealth and initially slow regional economies, but over time they can be a tonic that creates more prosperous communities,” According to Florida Realtor.

What the data shows here is that thriving communities rebuild, and often in a way that enhances the area and results in a better community. New buildings improve the area and are often built to better withstand acts of nature. “Some areas see a bump in growth from the rebuilding,” according to an article in the New York Times.

However, in poorer areas, most damage falls on the uninsured and rebuilding doesn’t take place. These areas may never fully recover.

Each storm and area has its’ own nuances. Was the damage mainly for flooding or wind? What percentage of the effected had insurance? How much damage occurred to the local industry, such as were oil refineries impacted? My short answer to a complex question is that in most cases, areas hit by hurricanes come out stronger in the long-run and so does our national economy.

For more information on this topic, read my Blog Post, “The Florida Keys 1 Year After Hurricane Irma.”

Sources:

Hurricanes make us poorer but don’t slow the economyFlorida Realtor, 9/26/18.

Hurricane to Cost Tens of Billions, but a Quick Recovery Is Expected,” New York Times, 8/28/17.

Posted on November 1, 2018 at 3:41 pm
Michelle Anderson | Category: Real Estate Market | Tagged , , ,

THE FLORIDA KEYS 1 YEAR AFTER HURRICANE IRMA

The Florida Keys were my home for 10 years. Specifically, I lived on Cudjoe Key at mile marker 23 which means it is right above Key West with the southernmost point being mile marker zero. Although I had been in St. Pete for several years when hurricane Irma hit in 2017, I watched the news as the damage unfolded with a sick feeling in my stomach. Despite that I had sold my former home there and closed my business, it all still felt like it was hitting home.

Key West was left virtually physically unaffected. Irma’s eye hit right over my old house in Cudjoe Key and spared the area to the west. The Lower Keys and Marathon were the most severely impacted, but damage was done all the way up to Key Largo.

Florida Keys Mangroves


INFRASTRUCTURE/BUILDINGS

“Almost 5,000 properties were damaged or heavily destroyed by Hurricane Irma when it made landfall at Cudjoe Key on Sept. 10, 2017. Rebuilding those lost homes has been extremely slow. According to county data, only 228 permits for demolition of properties destroyed or badly damaged have been submitted since the storm. Only 27 permits have been filed to rebuild single family homes and just three have been submitted for new mobile homes.”*

ENVIRONMENT
Immediately after hurricane Irma, the landscape of the Keys was drastically diminished with many downed trees and trees and shrubs stripped of leaves. I spoke to my good friend Loren Rea who lives in Sugarloaf Key (MM 16) and asked for her perspective on life in the Keys post-Irma. “It is amazing to see how much things have grown back,” said Rea. The tropical climate of the Keys has allowed for fast regrowth. This includes the mangroves which were affected but are also growing back.

In the Lower Keys and Key West, things look pretty normal. But in Big Pine Key, clean-up work is still in progress. Now a year later, groups still go out on organized weekend cleanups to remove debris from canals and mangroves. Keys residents have self-coordinated to do some of the clean-up themselves.

Some of the islands were shifted by Irma. Picnic Island, a long-time popular hangout spot for boaters, is now 3 separate islands according to Rea. Local fishing guides are out putting anglers on fish just as they were before Irma.

REAL ESTATE

The chart below of closed sales by month shows that most months after hurricane Irma have had a significantly lower number of closed sales than the preceding year. Prices, however, have continued to rise with the median price up 4.3%. The supply of inventory in the Keys is much higher than the rest of the country with 9.2 months compared to the average of 2.9 in most of Tampa Bay. Median time to sale in the Keys is 141 days compared to 65 in Pinellas County.

Monroe County, Florida Keys Real Estate Market, August 2018

Monroe County, Fl, August 2018 closed real estate sales in the Florida Keys

POPULATION
The labor force is now 11% smaller than it was before Irma. * Rea said that the effects of a decreased population and workforce are felt in daily life. Lack of staff in doctors’ offices, stores and restaurants is affecting service. The Keys population swells in winter-months with snowbirds and vacationers. But the year-round residents are those working in the restaurants, hotels and other tourist attractions. Post-Irma the Keys had a housing shortage. Many displaced due to damaged properties found temporary harbor in hotels but were pushed out once tourist season rolled around. Some residents just couldn’t withstand the loss of income felt around the hurricane. And some landlords capitalized on the housing shortage, and raised rents adding to the financial blow. The suicide rate in the Keys doubled post-Irma,** and every resident seems to have known a handful of people lost to it.

Every hurricane is unique just as the Keys are a unique place.


*Hudson, Tom: Health News Florida, “Rebuilding The Florida Keys One Year After Irma,” 9/7/18
http://health.wusf.usf.edu/post/rebuilding-florida-keys-one-year-after-irma#stream/0

**Florida Keys Cope With Suicide Spike After Hurricane Irma, http://health.wusf.usf.edu/post/florida-keys-cope-suicide-spike-after-hurricane-Irma

Posted on October 30, 2018 at 8:20 pm
Michelle Anderson | Category: Real Estate Market | Tagged , , , , ,

Squaremouth Comes to Central Oak Park Neighborhood

Squaremouth headquarters St. Petersburg, FL

Central Oak Park has an exciting new neighbor in one of its architectural treasures. I went to visit the new location of Squaremouth at 4355 Central Avenue recently to find out exactly what’s going on.

Squaremouth is an insurance technology company. They recently relocated from downtown St Pete to their new location that was formerly the Redeemer Engelical Lutheran Church. This development is favorable for Central Oak Park for several reasons. The existence of a progressive tech company bodes well to the future development of our Central Avenue corridor. Squaremouth is also doing some much-needed renovations to the property while still maintaining the existing structure and its Spanish character.

Rumor has it that there were several other bidders for this property that posed a likelihood of demolishing the current structure and building a new modern structure. I for one am glad that Squaremouth was the winning bidder given their plans for renovation and restoration of this beautiful 23,000 SF building built in 1950.

Squaremouth view from Central Avenue

I spoke to Meghan Moncrief, Marketing & Sales Director, about their plans for the location which include a new roof (all 23,000 SF!$!) and restoring the open courtyard area and balconies (as shown in the below photo). The pews are being donated to a church in Haiti. The existing beautiful stained-glass windows are being donated to a church in Cambodia and replaced with windows that allow more light. They also have plans to make a community area and coffee shop that will be open to the public. That means that Central Oak Park residents will have a coffee shop that we can walk to!

open courtyard

open courtyard

Balconies are being restored

Squaremouth is the largest travel insurance shopping engine that allows consumers to compare travel insurance policies from every major provider in the United States. Using their online comparison engine and over 60,000 customer reviews, travelers can search, compare, and purchase travel insurance. Travel insurance policies can cover trip cancellations or medical coverage while traveling. The Squaremouth workspace is characterized as an open workspace with comfortable chairs where employees move around in the workspace. Their culture is described as Google-like, with beer taps and games. Work schedules for their 35 employees are very flexible and vacation is encouraged.

Meghan said that after the renovations are done, Squaremouth wants to become more involved in the community. I told her about the Central Oak Park porch parties and hinted that Squaremouth would be a good location for one!

Currently, Squaremouth’s largest community initiative is their Thank You Campaign. Squaremouth employees search for 20 outstanding customer service providers in St. Pete and surprise each with $1,000 in cash, and an additional $10,000 to the overall winner. The winner this year was Melissa Wolf from 3 Daughters Brewing. Read more on this campaign here.

As a neighborhood, let’s welcome them and embrace what the future holds for this property, Squaremouth’s prosperity and our progressing community.

Squaremouth open workspace

Squaremouth gameroom

Posted on October 29, 2018 at 2:48 am
Michelle Anderson | Category: St. Petersburg | Tagged , , , , , ,