At Bungalo, we’re all about translating complicated industry jargon into actual human language and quelling the nerves that inevitably come with buying a home. One way we can make things easier? Share an inside-look at the individual real estate markets where we sell our homes.
We’ve covered Dallas-Fort Worth. Next up: Tampa.
Over the last decade, the Tampa Bay area has experienced a surge of population growth and a booming economy. Between 2010 and 2017, the population increased by 11 percent and is only projected to get bigger over the next five years. With beautiful weather year-round, a blossoming downtown, and close proximity to beaches and world-class attractions like Disneyworld and Universal Studios, Tampa is as fun as it is friendly—so it’s no wonder that thousands are heading south.
Thinking about making the Tampa Bay area home? We know you’re going to love it! To help you prepare, here are a few tips you’ll want in your back pocket as you start your home search:
1. You Can (Still) Get a Lot of Bang for Your Buck
Unlike other booming metro areas like Seattle or Austin, Tampa real estate has managed to stay relatively affordable. In November 2018, the median price of homes sold in Tampa was $209,800—slightly lower than the national average of $225,700.
Out-of-towners who move to the Tampa area are often pleasantly surprised at how much square footage they can get for their money, says Tampa-based agent Sandi Sasser.
“Out of state buyers will tell me, ‘Do you know what I paid for my house in New York? Do you know how small it was?’” Sasser says. “If you have a budget of $300,000 you can likely get a house over 2,000 square feet and there’s a good chance, depending on the area, you might even be able to have a pool.”
And while Tampa’s sellers have long enjoyed a real estate market that’s been in their favor, signs are pointing that the market is starting to even out, which makes it an ideal time to buy, says Bungalo’s Tampa-based broker, Chase Moore.
“We’re seeing more of a balanced market,” says Moore. “The stories of ‘Oh, this house sold with three offers and $20,000 over the asking price’ are not as common in Tampa anymore.”
So, what does this mean for you? It’s a good time to buy in Tampa: you get more selection at a lower price.
2. Homes Sell Quick—but You Don’t Need to Quick Draw
While homes in Tampa go into contract fairly quickly—with an average time on the market coming in at 32 days in Hillsborough county as of October 2018—buyers generally don’t need to feel pressured to make a decision on-the-spot, nor should they. At the end of the day, it all comes down to pricing and the area you’re looking in.
“Houses that are priced $300,000 and under move reasonably quick, about 30 days, but when you’re closer up to $400,000 or $500,000 they’re sitting longer for sure,” explains Tampa-based agent Alison Connors.
Bottom line? Things have slowed down enough in the Tampa market for you to tour a house and think on it a minute, but don’t wait too long before your dream house slips away!
3. Florida Ranch Homes Rule the Scene
California has its bungalows, New York has its brownstones and Florida has created its own version of the classic ranch home. A typical “Florida ranch” home is one-story with an open floor plan, Stucco siding, a tile roof and will often have a screened-in porch called a lanai (which extends your living space and allows you to enjoy the outdoors and warm weather year round).
The reason why this particular style is so popular? Two of Tampa’s biggest obstacles: hurricanes and pests.
“In Tampa, your home has really got to have more durability,” explains Connors. “Up north, you see a lot of wood-frame homes, but here, because of pests, and specifically termites, they’re not as common. Also because of hurricanes I think concrete block homes are more desirable for buyers.”
4. Get Hurricane Ready
If you’re going to live in Florida, you’re going to deal with the occasional hurricane. So what does this mean for you? When you’re touring a home in Tampa, check for things like hurricane rated windows, hurricane shutters and a good, sturdy roof.
Once you make an offer, make sure your home inspector evaluates the roof to look for things like hurricane clips and what length of nails the roofer used. You should also have a wind mitigation inspection, which means that the inspector will look at any features the home has that will reduce damage from heavy winds. The more you have, the better off you’ll be. Not only will it help you be safer but “it can give you major insurance discounts as well,” notes Connors.
5. The Homestead Exemption Can Save You Thousands
Just like in Texas, Florida residents enjoy a pretty sweet tax discount just for owning a home. Called the “Homestead Exemption,” this tax break allows homeowners to deduct up to $50,000 off of the assessed value of their home come tax time. What does this mean in plain English? If your home is worth $200,000, then you are only responsible for the taxes on the difference ($150,000), which can save you major bucks.
To take advantage of this deal for the next tax period, you must own the home before January 1 the year you apply for it; otherwise you’ll have to wait until the following year.