Some people are clueless when it comes to a realistic price for a home. I know because I am one of the clueless people who bought a home at the top of the housing market in the Tampa area for $183,000 during the housing bubble of 2005.
According to an article by The Wall Street Journal's SmartMoney, Tampa, Florida is one of the cities considered to have the most realistic home prices. They claim the median listing price is $139,000 with the median sales price being $135,500.
Buyers are getting a 3 percent discount in Tampa, which took a massive hit on home values during the Great Recession and foreclosure wave.
After watching the housing values in the Tampa area rise and fall, I have a better grasp of what makes a home a good deal or whether a listing price is realistic.
Consider the builder
One of the things that can make a major different in the value of a home is the specific builder. I've noticed a lot of real estate ads fail to mention who the builder was unless it's an impressive builder. It's essential to know the differences between the builders whether buying a new construction home in Tampa or purchasing an older home. Some builders are known for using the unpopular "popcorn ceilings." Sellers may list a home based on what's sold in the neighborhood, but a subdivision may be made up of homes constructed by several different builders.
Ask about fees
One of the mistakes I made was buying a townhome in a master-planned community about 10 years ago in the Tampa area. I didn't realize I would be paying home owner's association fees as well as CDD or community development district fees. I've noticed some Realtors are combining the CDD fees into one number with the taxes. It's important to ask whether a community is a CDD community. It's not a good deal if you have to pay an extra $200 a month just for special fees.
Check for Chinese drywall
One telltale sign that a home in Florida may have Chinese drywall is the age of a home. If a home was built in 2006, when builders were short on building materials, it's at higher risk for containing the toxic drywall. I'd never buy a home in Florida without having it tested for Chinese drywall first. It's not a deal if you have to pay tens of thousands of dollars to have Chinese drywall removed.
Drive around the neighborhood
Our subdivision seemed to have gone down hill a few years ago when so many homes fell into foreclosure. Some renters do not keep the yards up or take the same kind of pride in ownership. However, in the past year, I've noticed an improvement. I'd never purchase an investment property or my future retirement home in Florida without first driving around the neighborhood.
Overall, real estate prices in Tampa do seem reasonable. A family friend was able to get a short sale for only $94,000 in my neighborhood. At the top of the housing bubble, the same home would have sold for twice as much. If half price isn't a deal, I don't know what is.
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