Did you know? Duke Energy has an Energy Efficiency Program that allows homeowners to get rebates on improvements. A home assessment must be completed either online, via an in-home appointment or by phone. I completed the assessment online and am now getting new insulation put in my home with a $200 rebate from Duke Energy. The current insulation is only 6″ thick and does not come close to meeting the thickness standards. The total cost to me will be $462 and I will surely save on future electric bills.
After I completed the online assessment, Duke also sent me the pictured box of energy efficient items. The weatherstrip was easy to put around my door, and who can’t use light bulbs? To find out more, please visit Duke Energy’s website.
Here are some new Florida State laws that I find noteworthy:
SB 1400 allows property owners to trim or remove trees on their property without a permit as long as they have a letter from a certified arborist or landscape architect stating the tree is a danger.* This change should save homeowners time and money in the permit process.
Banning vegetable garden restrictions
Floridians, yes we can turn our front yards into vegetable gardens! A new law established in SB82 prevents local governments from prohibiting them. The issue has come up numerous times nationwide when local governments deemed that front yard vegetable gardens are not aesthetically attractive. In one instance, a Miami Shores couple had to uproot their vegetable garden. My review of the City of St. Petersburg’s ordinances leaves me unclear if there is anything that would prohibit them. This new law makes it clear. I know I have seen several front yard vegetable gardens in St. Pete, including my own neighborhood of Central Oak Park.
This article in the Tampa Bay Times elaborates on the subject. Homeowners associations may have their own rules. Also note that ordinances designed to allow access to the right-of-way and to allow clear road views may still apply.
HB 447 allows local governments to close a permit six years after its issuance as long as no apparent safety hazards exist. It also prevents local governments from penalizing property owners for an open permit that was applied for by a previous owner. This change goes into effect Oct. 1, 2019.
SB1552 establishes the Florida Red Tide Mitigation and Technology Development Initiative – a partnership between the state and Mote Marine Laboratory to develop technologies that can control and mitigate red tide and its impact. This state bill sets aside $3 million a year for the next six years to fund the project. In addition, more than $625 million in environmental funding will be used for things like Everglades restoration, completion of the project that will raise Tamiami Trail, springs restoration, beach restoration projects, a red tide/blue green algae task force and a septic-to-sewer cost-share program.
As of now, tests show no signs of red tide in the Gulf. Testing is reported on the Florida Fish & Wildlife’s website “Red Tide Status.” Scientists are forecasting a “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico this year due to high levels of rain. Read more about this dead zone here.
*Please consult with an arborist before cutting down trees.
Additional reference: Florida Realtors
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.
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
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 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 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 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
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
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 long. There 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 weeks” CNBC. 3/2/2017
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.
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!
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.
Back to Econ 101 and Supply & Demand –
Most of the nation is currently in a seller’s market and has been for some time. While it may seem obvious this means that the market favors home sellers over buyers, what does it really mean?
A seller’s market means that there are more buyers than sellers active in the market. The inventory of homes is low. This creates a competitive marketplace where homes sell at a faster rate and often get multiple offers on the same home. This is also contributing to the increase in home prices (think supply and demand). In a seller’s market, buyers have less bargaining power. Currently, a buyer may feel they don’t have an abundance of homes to chose from and in some cases are waiting for new homes to come on the market.
To gauge just how strong of a seller’s market we are in and what direction the market is heading, look at the month’s supply of inventory. The industry standard for a balanced market is 5.5 months of inventory. The statistics below are provided by Florida Realtors (Association).
Pinellas County (St. Petersburg/ Clearwater) – Median Sale Price & home inventory
The above chart shows that the median sale price for single family homes in Pinellas County have gone up 8.7% in the past year and the inventory has gone down 14.8%. The median sale price of condominiums and townhomes went up an ever greater amount of 14.4% and the inventory was down a whopping 17.6% over the prior year.
To read more on a seller’s market, read my Blog “The Best Time of Year to List a House for Sale,” which explains the absorption rate and it’s correlation to seller’s and buyer’s markets.