Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tampa Bay Foreclosure Update Report

Tampa, Fl. December 19, 2007
A surprising new monthly report suggests that U.S. home foreclosures declined 10 percent in November. “This could indicate that foreclosure activity has topped out for the year,” says RealtyTrac Chief Executive Officer James Saccacio. But “the true test of whether this ceiling will hold will come at the beginning of next year.” Florida, with one filing for every 282 households, ranked second nationwide.

Read the full story:

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Florida Property Insurance Update

Tampa, Fl November 4, 2007
Many Florida homeowners are starting to see more options when it comes to property insurance coverage. Since January, eight insurers have received approval from the state Office of Insurance Regulation to cover Florida homes, with another three companies waiting for the go-ahead.

Read the full story:

Florida Prpperty Tax Reform Report

Tampa, Fl November 4, 2007
The tax swap may be back. A panel of the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, a group with the power to put an amendment directly on the November 2008 ballot, is considering a plan to reduce homestead property taxes and cap non-homestead property taxes with a temporary increase in the sales tax. FAR President Nancy Riley serves on the commission.

Read the full story:

Florida Homes Sales Report

Tampa, Fl December 4, 2007
Disruptions in the mortgage market and tightening credit continued to impact Florida’s housing sector in October, with statewide sales of existing single-family homes totaling 9,165, a decrease of 29 percent from the October 2006 figure. The statewide existing-home median price last month was $222,100.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

When is doing a 1031 exchange beneficial?

Tampa,Fl November 27, 2007

Want to know more about 1031 exchanges? Using these like-kind exchanges instead of selling the property outright will almost certainly save your seller big bucks in taxes, according to an expert in 1031 exchanges.

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Support the Tampa-based Cut Taxes Now Citizens Petition

Tampa, Fl November 27, 2007.
Continuing to bash a property-tax plan he reluctantly voted for, House Speaker Marco Rubio is now urging supporters to back a citizens’ petition to cap the total amount of taxes paid by every property owner to 1.35 percent of the property’s value.

Read the full story:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Modest Recovery of Home Prices Expected in 2008

Tampa, Fl November 14, 2007
A modest recovery for existing-home sales is expected in 2008 as the impact of the credit crunch subsides, according to NAR’s latest forecast. The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in September, rose 0.2 percent.

Read the full story:

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Florida Population Growth Report

Tampa, Fl. November 8, 2007.
UF research finds that Florida’s population grows by about 900 people per day; slightly less than the 1,100 per day a few years ago. Top counties by rate of growth, in order: Flagler, Sumter and Osceola. Top growing counties by number of new people, in order: Orange, Miami-Dade and Hillsborough.

Read the full story:

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Tampa, Fl
U.S. House Democrats and Republicans continue to negotiate a possible compromise on legislation that would give bankruptcy judges more flexibility to alter mortgage terms for borrowers facing foreclosure.

Read the full story:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Interest Rate Update

September 20, 2007. Tampa, Fl.
The Federal Reserve Board’s half-point cut in a key interest rate yesterday surprised most analysts who expected a more modest quarter-point cut. The move should help homeowners with ARMs and perhaps homebuyers considering an ARM.

Read the full story:

New Home Sales Report

September 19, 2007. Tampa, Fl.
The U.S. Commerce Department reported Wednesday that construction of new homes fell by 2.6 percent in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.331 million units – its slowest level in 12 years.

Read the full story:

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Real Estate Report and Update

Tampa, Fl 9/11/2007
Tighter credit for home mortgages will measurably dampen home sales in the short term and postpone an expected recovery for existing-home sales until 2008, according to NAR’s latest forecast. Still, “The volume of existing-home sales this year will be better than 2002, which was the second year of the housing boom,” says NAR Senior Economist Lawrence Yun.

Read the full story:

Monday, September 10, 2007

Florida Foreclosure Update

Tampa, Fl 9/10/2007.
The number of homeowners receiving foreclosure notices hit a record high in the second quarter, driven up by problems with subprime mortgages. The delinquency rate, which tracks the number of homeowners with late mortgage payments, was also up sharply.

Read the full story:

Friday, September 7, 2007

9/07/2007 Tampa, Fl .
Looking for a ray of sunshine in today’s overcast housing market? Here’s one: foreign buyers. The rise of the euro, combined with the decline in U.S. home prices, allows Europeans to buy a U.S. home at the equivalent of 2002 prices.

Read the full story:

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Florida Foreclosure Update

Tampa, Fl.
The number of U.S. homes facing foreclosure surged 58 percent in the first six months of the year. Florida was the No. 2 state for homes in some stage of foreclosure, with a total of 64,250, an increase of 77 percent year-over-year.

Read the full story:

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Florida House Price Trends Report

Tampa, Fl July 12,2007.
NAR issued its latest forecast: A pickup in existing home sales by the end of 2007 with a recovery in 2008. A rebound in new home sales, according to the forecast, will shadow the resale industry, with a turnaround in 2008. Median existing home prices should drop 1.4 percent in 2007 and rise 1.8 percent in 2008.

Read the full story:

Waterchase Real Estate Report for July 2007

As of 7/12/07 there are 52 Single Family homes for sale in Waterchase ranging from $329,900 for a 2046 sq.ft home to $1,149,900 for a 4929 sq.ft 4 bedroom 5 bath home. The avg. listing price per sq.ft is $208/sq.ft. down from $215 in May 2007 and the avg. days on market(DOM) is 100 down from 118 days in May 2007. So your avg. Waterchase home is 3,128 sq.ft in size and lists for $651,259 and is a 4/3/3. That amount is $32,643 less than the $683,302 avg. price back in May 2007 which is a decrease of 4.7%. Today, I will give you a run down on Mar Azul, Allicante and Savona. In the village of Mar Azul- There are currently 7 listings down from 8 in May 2007 and ranging from $869,900 for a 3737 sq.ft home to $1,149,900 for 4929 sq.ft. home with DOM currently at 119 down sharply from 141 in May 2007. The avg. house is listed at $249 sq.ft. down from $271 sq.ft. and has an avg. price of $949,628 which is down from $1,121,991 in March. Alicante - There are currently 6 listings which is down 1 from May 2007 and ranges from $719,900 for a 2993 sq.ft home to $949,500 for 3408 sq.ft. home with DOM 77 which is down from May's 80 DOM and listing for an avg. of $258 sq.ft. or an avg. price of $864,866. Savona - There are currently 7 listings which is unchanged from May 2007, ranging from $449,900 for a 2438 sq.ft home to $675,000 for a 3000 sq.ft. home with DOM currently at 73 down sharply from 159 DOM in May 2007 and listing for an avg. of $199 sq.ft. which is unchanged from May 2007. The Waterchase Community seems to be slightly favored toward a buyers market but is starting to firm up on the sellers side.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tampa, Fl. July 10, 2007
Freddie Mac’s top economist released his forecast for 2007 home sales yesterday: a total of 6.28 million new and resale homes for a decrease of 6.7 percent from 2006 numbers.

Read the full story:

Friday, July 6, 2007

Luxury Homes in Tampa Bay

July 7th 2007, Tampa, Fl.
Football fans with money represent a new market niche for upscale condos. Most say they would live in the stadium if they could, but instead buy a unit – some selling for over $1 million – that they use only when attending a game.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Top Mistakes Seller Make when Listing Their Homes.

Buyers can be skittish and reject a listing out-of-hand based on easily-fixed problems. According to an online survey conducted by the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents, broken locks lead the top list of turn-offs.

Read the full story:

Florida Property Insurance Update

Tampa, Fl June 29,2007. How do property insurance rates compare in your county? Homeowners and buyers can now find comparison info on a state-run Web site, which creates a fictional house and then shows how much it would cost to insure, by company and county, based on rate filings submitted to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. Gov. Charlie Crist announced the launch of the “Shop and Compare Rates” Web site –
Read the full story:

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Florida House Price Trends Report

Florida’s housing market, thought to be stabilizing earlier this year, deteriorated in the latest quarterly UF survey, a situation likely brought on by uneasiness about lending practices, insurance rates and the state’s property tax structure, according to UF analysts.

Read the full story:

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

What's Sells in a slow Real Estate Market?

What’s selling in the new-home market? According to many homebuilders, their top-selling models are priced between $500,000 to $2 million and offer numerous specialty rooms without expanding the home’s square footage.

Read the full story:

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Towers of Channelside Construction Update

Tampa, Fl May 22, 2007. If you are looking for the latest update of the completion dates for the Towers of Channelside, a twin 29 story complex that is being build in Channelside you have come to the right place. The Towers of Channelside are twin 29 story towers located directly across from the Channelside Entertainment District. You have probably watched them grow daily and noticed that they are nearly complete. According to the Towers of Channelside Sales Manager, Tower 2 (the tower that is closest to the parking garage) is scheduled to be completed sometime in July 2007 and closings are planned to start that month as well. Tower 1 is scheduled to be completed in September or October 2007. The Towers of Channelside has advanced high-speed connections, forward thinking architecture, and progressive home systems. The Towers of Channelside have created a complete living environment offering comfort and flexibility for anyone looking for the best in Tampa Bay. The Channelside district is also home to some of Tampa's most coveted professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Lightening Hockey team and the Tampa Bay Storm Arena Football team. The Towers of Channelside has definitely changed Tampa emerging and growing skyline. If you are buying or selling your Towers of Channelside condo please call Tom Burkett at 727.278.8062 or visit him online at To receive the lastest updates on any of the Tampa bay area construction developments please subscribe to

Monday, May 21, 2007

Tampa, Fl May 21, 2007. I would like to introduce you to one of the best Lounges in the Tampa Bay area. The Rack. If you haven't already discovered the Rack this gem located 1809 W. Platt St. you need to put it on the top of your to do list. Where else can you go and order chicken wings and Sushi at the same place. The Sushi at The Rack is some of the best in town and I've been everywhere in my search for the best. There is always a hip crowd and the staff is always friendly and fast. You can shoot darts,play pool, watch the latest sporting event on one of many plasma's located throuthout or just dine on a wide variety of cusine. They also have some new sushi rolls to try out. The best nights to go to the Rack are Thursday and Friday's although any night is good if you enjoy eating great tasting food. The Rack is one of my favorite places to go in South Tampa and if you go I think it will become yours as well. For more information of the Rack go to their web site at or call 813-250-1595.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Florida Property Tax Reform Update

Tampa, Fl May 18,2007. While a House-Senate committee discussing Florida property taxes has not reached any conclusions, negotiators said yesterday they’ve tentatively agreed on a method to use – expand existing exemptions, such as homestead, and create new ones for non-homesteaded properties.

Read the full story:

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Florida New Construction Update

Tampa, Fl May 17,2007. Construction of new U.S. homes posted a 2.5 percent gain in April compared to one month earlier, but applications for building permits plunged by the largest amount in 17 years. Year-to-year, construction was off by 25.9 percent.

Read the full story:

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


Tampa, Fl May 8th 2007

Citizens Property Insurance Corp. was always referred to “Florida’s insurer of last resort” . But no more. A just-passed bill’s key provision expands Citizens’ operations and allows it to compete with private insurers. And those currently insured won’t have a rate increase at least until 2009.
Read the full story:

May 8th 2007, Tampa, Fl.
Remember a few years ago when everywhere you went you would hear people talking about all the Real Estate deals they were making money on and about how excited they are about their next deal? Well, today if you listen you hear people talking about what on earth am I going to do with all this Real Estate. As a Realtor and Real Estate investor myself, I'm facing the same questions. Realtor's should step up to the plate and give solid advice to thier clients thinking about walking away from deposits or how to manage being stuck in a property with either negative or no cash flow. Sure, we stand to lose some immediate commissions if the right thing to do is to walk away from the deposit and not close but if handled correctly we could also gain the loyality of a life long client.
One of the best ways to help investors stay afloat in this market is to generate income from vacant properties. Vacant Properties don't sell as fast and usually sell for a lower price. So, I suggest investors put a little money in painting the house with warm colors and furnishing the property. Then offer the home on a short term rental basis. The home will show better with furniture and furnished short term rentals are in demand right now. Also, when the home is decorated and furnished it makes it an easier tenant transition because they can move right in and out without having to move alot of furniture. How do you decide if you should spend the money to decorate and furnish the home? Just calculate the average days on market in your area and times that by your monthly carrying cost to arrive at an amount that you would spend if the home doesn't sell. Then take that money and furnish the home. This will allow you to weather the slow market and ease the negative cash flow if the home goes unsold after six months and beyond. The bonus is that you can also use the property when it is vacant for a vacation home or barter it to business cleints and or friends. Went it comes time to sell the home you can also recapture some of your furniture investment with a higher price by selling the home fully furnished and move in ready. This might not be the best fit for every investment property but it is definitely something one should look at, especially if the investment home is located in or near a vacation destination or is a condo.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Waterchase Real Estate Report for 5/2007

As of 5/1/07 there are 52 Single Family homes for sale in Waterchase ranging from $379,900 for a 2135sq.ft home to $1,599,900 for a custom Marc Rutenberg home that is 4935 sq.ft. The avg. listing price per sq.ft is $215/sq.ft. down from $220 in March 2007 and the avg. days on market(DOM) is 118 up from 112 days in March 2007. So your avg. Waterchase home is 3,171 sq.ft in size and lists for $683,302and is a 4/3/3. That amount is $14,466 less than the $697,768 avg. price back in March 2007 which is a decrease of 2%. Today, I will give you a run down on Mar Azul, Allicante and Savona. Mar Azul- There are currently 8 listings down from 10 in March and ranging from $873,900 for a 3942 sq.ft home to $1,599,900for 4935 sq.ft. home with DOM currently at 141 up sharply from 108 in March. The avg. house in listed at $271 sq.ft. down from $281 sq.ft. and has an avg. price of $1,088,852 which is down from $1,121,991 in March. Alicante - There are currently 7 listings which is unchanged from March and ranges from $719,900 for a 2993 sq.ft home to $989,900 for 3932 sq.ft. home with DOM 80 which is up from March's 54 DOM and listing for an avg. of $253 sq.ft. or an avg. price of $870,215. Savona - There are currently 7 listings down from 10 in March 2007, ranging from $449,900 for a 2438 sq.ft home to $749,900 for a 3926 sq.ft. home with DOM currently at 159 up from the 115 DOM in March 2007 and listing for an avg. of $199 sq.ft. up slightly from $196 or an avg. price of $611,071. For more info about Tampa Bay area Real Estate.

Monday, April 16, 2007


The Florida Senate’s property tax plan, unveiled last Thursday, is generating mixed reactions. Proponents of lower taxes say it doesn’t go far enough, while local governments and business interests generally prefer it. It’s clear that there’s one tax change no one is considering, however: the creation of a state income tax.
Read the full story:

Thursday, April 5, 2007


FAR leadership needs to know what you think about property tax reform and current proposals in the Florida Legislature. If you have not already done so, please link to an FAR survey designed to gauge members’ opinions on this year’s high-profile issue for the 2007 Florida Legislature.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Chico's Wood Fired Grill in Westchase

Chico's Wood Fire Grill located at 12217 W. Linebaugh Ave in the Westchase area is definitely worth the trip and they are ready to Salsa..Smoke...and Sizzle your favorite Tex-Mex dishes. This place is family friendly and is a favorite among locals in the Westchase area. The staff is always fast and friendly and Laura our server always gives us great recommendations. If you go make sure not to get filled up with the chips and salsa that come free with every meal. Although it is not that hard to do because they have the best salsa in town. My recommendation for first timers is the Pork Tacos made with slow roasted pork,mango salsa, red onion, cilantro and lime and is served with a side of black beans for $6.49. What a deal. In fact I would recommend that you try all their tacos especially the Filet Mignon Tacos. Tonight I tried the Smokin Chicken Wrap made with wood fired chicken breast, cajun spice, mixed greens, mango salsa, shredded cheese, roasted peppers, cilantro, lime dressing and crispy onions and it was excellent. My last recommendation is the Latin Barbecued Pork meal for $11.95 but you better be hungry if you order this one or you can share it with someone at your table. Chico's is also a great place to enjoy this year's Cinco De Mayo Fiesta from 3 -9pm featuring live music, drink specials, face painting for the kids and an outdoor tent. To find out more about Chico's Wood Fire Grill and see what else they offer visit them at or call them at 813.814.2023 and ask for Jason. This is truly a place I love to recommend because at Chico's Wood Fire Grill you come as strangers but leave as friends. They can be reached at 813.814.2023.

Samari Blue Sushi Restaurant in Westchase/Highland Lakes

I was so excited about Samari Blue opening up and enjoyed it the first couple of times but was disappointed with the way they decorated the inside and the owners don't seem to care to much about customer service. The sushi there is excellent and the "Volcano Roll" is a must along with their spicy tuna roll, however my wife and I received very poor customer service one night when we had to wait for over a hour for a table then another hour for our food. The waitress didn't even come take our drink orders during that time and the Manager said sorry but we are very busy tonight and that was that. Has anybody else had any customer service issues there? Maybe it's just the kinks being new. Now that Zen Bistro Bar & Grill has opened in the New Shops at Westchase Village and we have dined there several times, we prefer Zen Bistro over Samari Blue. We perfer Zen Bistro because it has a better sushi selection and the atmosphere there is warmer and actually more upscale. Check back for more Tampa Bay area restaurant reviews at

If you are considering a move to Tampa you owe it to yourself to visit Waterchase and the Westchase area as part of your home tour. The Burkett Collection at Charles RutenbergRealty has full time team members living in Waterchase to help you with your home search!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Why American Idol fans love and hate Sanjaya?

American Idol- Why does there seem to be an American Idol contestant every year that falls into the "Clay Aiken" mold. I think one of the reasons is there is a certain percentage of Americans that just love to root for the underdog. I believe this comes from seeing a little of ourselves in the underdog. American Idol fans are everyday normal people who don't have much if any talent of any kind, so when they see "one of us" getting a chance at becoming famous or going after their dreams we think about what it would be like if we made it that far. So when we feel this connection we tend to vote for them. The other reason has to do with the American counter culture. These are Americans who just want to vote for the opposite of what middle America likes. The last reason is he is Indian and maybe he is drawing a lot of the votes from people of Indian decent. I mean they are the second largest race on the planet. Anyway, I think that in the end America will make the right decision and select an American Idol whoever that might be. Any comments would be welcome on this subject.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Where to you go to watch Florida Gators Basketball in Tampa?

Tampa, Fl. Wouldn't it be nice to see Ohio State and the Florida Gators face off for a National Title again this year? Although it wouldn't be on the field but on the court. If it does happen the best place in South Tampa if you support the Gators is definitely Cherry's Bar anf Grill located on Bay to Bay in South Tampa. There was quite a crowd of avid Florida Gators fans that night. It certainly makes it more fun to watch your team when the whole bar is backing your team. Cherry's is a small chain out of Jacksonville and looks like it is expanding into Tampa with other locations in Brandon, Ruskin, North Tampa, and Bradenton. The menu is basically what you would expect from a Sports Bar with chicken wings, burgers and of course ice cold beer on tap. There were also a very large percentage of women there as well. For more information on the Tampa Bay area or local Tampa Bay Restaurant Reviews visit my Inside Tampa Bay Real Estate Blog or visit me at

Waterchase Community in Northwest Tampa, Fl

Waterchase Tampa, Fl. Waterchase is an award-winning Master Planned Community located in Northwest Tampa, Florida and is located right outside of the Westchase area. This is one of a few Tampa developments from Taylor Woodrow, the same group that brought us Grand Hampton in NE Tampa.
Tucked away on approximately 475 acres, Waterchase offers homes in seven distinct villages. The well-planned community features 633 family and estate homes as well as 132 townhomes on homesites ranging from 45x120 to 90x200 feet, creating a warm, inviting neigborhood where families can grow and memories grow eve stronger. As a designated telecommunity, every home in Waterchase comes with Brighthouse Basic Cable TV already on when you move in!
Waterchase's Additional recreation options include the child's playground, four lighted tennis courts, half and full basketball courts, resort style pool and a two- story water slide that makes a splash with kids of all ages. There is also an all-purpose athletic field and a fitness center attached to a 6,400 square foot Clubhouse with timeless Spanish, English and French architectural influences.
Waterchase homes for sale are built by some of the premier builders in Tampa, including Arthur Rutenberg Homes, Marc Rutenberg Homes, Nohl Crest, Ryland Homes, Taylor Woodrow and various others. Waterchase homes for sale also include townhomes and estate homes along with single-family homes reflecting Spanish, Ranch Hacienda and Craftsman style architecture. To learn more about Waterchase visit the Waterchase Home Owners Association's web site.
Waterchase is located just 1/2 mile north of Race Track Rd and Countryway Blvd. in Northwest Tampa.
If you are considering a move to Tampa you owe it to yourself to visit Waterchase and the Westchase area as part of your home tour. The Burkett Collection at Charles Rutenberg Realty has full time team members living in Waterchase to help you with your home search! To view Waterchase Listings please go to
Visit, or visit my Tampa Real Estate Blog at or to learn more about the Tampa Bay area.

Sandpearl Resort Suite on Clearwater Beach. For Sale. Asking $699,000 or Rental

Sandpearl Resort, Clearwater Beach Fl. This Penthouse suite is available for purchase for $699,000 or Vacation Rental and can be rented out Daily, Weekly or by the month.

For a pampering experience, This Sandpearl 1-bedroom suite features a beautifully appointed living and entertaining space with private balconies to capture the most exquisite views. Featuring all of the standard guestroom amenities, this suite also offers such premium amenities as in-room washer and dryer, full gourmet kitchen and a soothing jet tub in the Master bath. This Sandpearl Resort suite invites you to enjoy an intimate retreat thats perched along the shoreline with unobstructed views of Mandalay Harbor and the Clearwater Island. Relax as soothing Gulf breezes whisper through the open windows and allow our discerning staff to attend to your every need.
This top floor suite faces East and has a spectacular view of Mandalay Bay. This 1 bedroom suites has a King size bed with a sofa sleeper in the separate living room. Included is a full kitchen, dining table, and washer/dryer. Master bathrooms include a jetted roman tub, separate shower, and dual sinks. It also has 2 private balconies.
Concierge DeskProviding the highest level of guest service, Sandpearl's professional concierges are dedicated to the needs of both business and leisure travelers. With hospitality and a personal touch, they offer a broad range of services from planning your family's trip to Disney to arranging fine dining reservations at the area's best restaurant. Stationed in the main lobby, concierges are available day and night to handle guest requests with great attention to detail.
The casually elegant settings of Sandpearl offer a range of Wedding venues for your special day. Choose our spacious and luxuriously appointed Hunter Ballroom for a formal wedding reception after exchanging vows in the dramatic Gulf-side Suite on the beach. Or say ‘I do' right on the beach and invite your guests to relax in a casual poolside reception. However you decide to begin your journey into ‘happily ever after', we will happily meet your every request
Some of Sandpearl's beautiful locales for your wedding and reception:
Gulf-side Suite
Gulf Lawn
On the beach
Pool Lawn
Cove Reception Room
Hunter Ballroom
Harbor Room
Please call me at 727.278.8062 or visit about booking this Sandpearl Resort Suite and I will provide more information concerning future rates and upcoming availability. Sandpearl Resort will be opening in the summer of 2007. Also make sure you visit my Tampa Bay Area Blog for all the latest on the Tampa Bay Area at

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Top 5 reasons why we shouldn't let Florida voters decide on Property Taxes

I'm glad to see that Florida property taxes and the negative effects of the "Save Our Homes" amendment are finally being addressed in this year's legislative sessions. What concerns me the most however is that the new house proposals are leaning toward letting the voters decide on the new property tax structure. I have 5 top reasons why we shouldn't let voters decide.
1. One needs to remember that it was the Florida voters that got us into this unfair property tax mess to begin with when they passed the "Save Our Homes" amendment back in 1992.
2. Amendments tend to get approved by "headlines" or misleading proposal names like "Save Our Homes" and can get us into a bigger mess than we started with.
3. A voter approved amendment will take to long. If we let individual counties approve whatever they want it will take to 2010 and beyond. We need relief yesterday.
4. What happens if the voter amendment does fix what was broken when it is passed? Look how long its taken to discover that the "Save Our Homes" amendment was a mistake.
5. What happens if the amendment doesn't pass? Then we are back to square one and have lost the momentum for real tax relief.
Why don't we set out to fix the problem that was started back in 1992. I'm proposing that we go back to that year's property base and then add back 3% per year for inflation and whatever percentage the growth rate has been for those years to arrive at the amount are taxes would be today had the "Save Our Homes" never got passed in the first place. Then going forward we cap government spending every year to 3% plus growth rate instead of capping homesteaded property. This would bring much needed relief to second home owners, vacation properties and business owners. We could still keep the $25,000 homestead principle in place but the yearly cap of 3% would no longer be needed because of the cap on government growth. This would eliminate the problems and tax inequality that "Save Our Homes" has brought. Sometimes its the things that are the simplest that makes the most sense in solving complex problems. If you would like to contact your legislator about the recent tax proposals a county by county list is at or visit

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Criteo Autoroll

Criteo is a recommendation engine, and AutoRoll is a product designed using their open API. The idea is much like Amazon’s “If you like this book, you might also like these other ones…,” recommendations, with blog substituted for book. The idea is that by gathering and analyzing information on which blogs people are visiting, AutoRoll can recommend other blogs you might be interested in. If 50 people who like my blog also spend a lot of time at, say, Inside Tampa Bay Luxury Real Estate blog, then that blog will automatically begin appearing on my AutoRoll. Pretty neat. We will give it a try.

The "Mexican Standoff" continues with an edge towards buyers

I'm surprised everyday waiting for the other shoe to drop and an article to come out telling us what most Tampa Bay area Realtor's already know. Absorption rates (Inventory Turnover) has been dropping since it hit a peak of 59% back in June 2005. The absorption rate is determined by dividing the total number of units sold in a month by the total number of listings in MLS. It looks like it may have bottomed out in January 2007 at 4.2%!! because last month it improved slightly to 5.4%. That means we how have about an 18 month supply of homes on the market with thousands being added every month. Up until now the sellers have been standing firm and the buyers have be waiting for prices to drop, hence the above mentioned "Mexican Standoff". Who will break first is everybody's guess but it would seem that the buyers have the statistics on their side. The condo market in Pinellas is even worst with a 3.5% asorption rate in February 2007, which rebounded a tad from a low of 2.8% in January 2007. On the bright side for sellers is that interest rates have dropped a little and are now around 6 1/4% which helps and will most likely go even lower by the end of the year with the economy continuing to slow. However, we haven't seen the worst of the foreclosures yet which will put more strain of home prices. Having said all that, sometime later this year and into 2008 will be a good time to buy. Lower rates and lower home prices will be too tempting for buyers who have been sitting on the sidelines for over 2 1/2 years. The pent up demand for homes is growing everyday and will finally burst sometime in the next 2 years. Until then buyers and sellers will continue to just sit and stare at each other. To see more statistics go to

Monday, March 19, 2007

Fed's Inflation Concerns May Lead to Bigger Rate Cuts

By Craig Torres
March 19 (Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve officials may cling this week to their bias for tighter credit, setting themselves up for bigger interest-rate cuts later in the year if the economy continues to lose momentum.
"The Fed is often a little behind the curve when you get to these turning points,'' says J. Alfred Broaddus Jr., president of the Richmond Fed from 1993 to 2004. "The reluctance to move toward ease once you have an inflation bias in place may be just a fact of life if you are concerned about credibility.''
Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and his colleagues on the Federal Open Market Committee, meeting March 20 and 21, will most likely debate changing their tilt toward higher interest rates. They may even add language to their statement underscoring their concern about weakening economic conditions, economists say. That would allow them to set up expectations for a change in their rate outlook in case the economy deteriorates more than expected.
The Fed will be reluctant to go further because Bernanke and at least six other FOMC members are on record as saying they want inflation to slow to between 1 percent and 2 percent. The Fed hasn't achieved this goal since March 2004, almost two years before Bernanke became chairman.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Zen Bistro Grill & Sushi Bar - Westchase

Last night I finally got the chance to try out Zen Bistro in Westchase. What a pleasant surprise. A quaint little bistro tucked in the corner of the new Avenue of Westchase just east of West Park Village. My daugthers are always on the look out for great local restaurants in the Westchase area and we have found one at Zen. First off, if you love sushi as much has we do then you must try Zen Bistro. We order the “Sixth Sense” roll which is Spicy tuna, avocado, tempura onion, wrapped in rice paper and toppped with more spicy tuna,tobiko, and wasabi tobiko. What a delight! We also enjoyed the “Dragon” roll which is spicy tuna,tempura flakes,cucumber, topped with tuna, masago scallion and spicy mayo. We can’t wait to go back and try their “Art Meditation” roll which is chunks of tuna marinated in chili sesame oil and lime sauce with fresh asian herbs and slaw atop a california roll. The atmosphere was surprising upscale and done with serene zen garden boxes set into the floor with a neon light display that gave the bistro a very modern but relaxing feeling. Our waiter Rick was very attentive and made some nice recommendations. We will definitely be coming back.

Real Estate Update 3/15/2007

There’s been a lot of interesting news out the past two days so I’m combining them into one article.

One hand may not know what the other hand is doing: The Florida House wants to get rid of property taxes; at the same time, however, it has told local school boards to increase property taxes if they need more money to operate. Read complete story.

In Tallahassee yesterday, the Senate began their debate on property tax reform, focusing on a priority of commercial Realtors to change the tax basis of “highest and best use” to one that considers how a property is actually used. In the House, debate continued as Democrats offered their own reform plan.
Read the full story

Subprime mortgage market troubles already make it more difficult for some homebuyers to secure a mortgage, but fear of a broad collapse has caused Congress to consider tougher standards for the industry.
Read the full story

HUD is preparing to punish some subprime mortgage lenders under investigation for discriminatory practices it announced yesterday. HUD also suggested that the largest mortgage companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, should consider giving strapped homeowners more time to make their payments.
Read the full story

Florida officials approved a new business plan for Citizens Property Insurance, allowing the state-run insurer to be more competitive and offer some savings to policyholders. Under the plan, Citizens will offer a complete policy that covers windstorm damage, as well as fire, theft and liability.
Read the full story

The real estate market faces unique conditions right now, such as the subprime mortgage market problem and unusual weather. Consequently, NAR predicts that things will likely get better this year but hesitates to say exactly when that turnaround will occur.
Read Full story

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Trump Tower Tampa Update

This is the lastest update regarding the development status of Trump Tower Tampa which is timely due to today's St. Pete Times article.
Simdag now has a signed Letter of Intent with The Related Group of Florida, who will serve as a co-developer of the project. The Related Group has a long history of developing luxury high-rise buildings in South Florida, and are currently developing several Trump projects in the Miami area. PCL will remain as the General Contractor for the Trump Tower Tampa project.
With The Related Group involved with this project, they are confident that they will be able to negotiate significantly better construction costs and much more favorable lending terms. Related has already begun re-bidding subcontractor contracts, and those bids are all due this week. They will be reviewing all new subcontractor bids, and will be awarding contracts shortly. Once this process is complete, they will be able to go back to their lenders with a new construction cost figure to secure the required financing.
Simdag also states that soil and geotechnical studies are complete, and they now have the remedy for the soil abnormalities which have contributed to the construction delays. The additional costs for these remedies are not uncommon in large scale developments and are being factored into the new construction financing.
According to Simdag, the purchase price as stated in the original purchase contracts will not be affected.
According to Simdag the new completion date has been moved to late 2009 with construction scheduled to restart in june 2007.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Home Improvement

How long will a home improvement actually remain an improvement? How long do new wood floors last? New stoves? A new countertop? NAHB conducted a study that tries to determine the lifespan of home components.
Read the full story: or visit

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Tampa Bay's Premier Mortgage Broker

I wanted to introduce everyone to one of Tampa's Premier Mortgage Broker's in the Tampa Bay Area. His name is Mike Carrier and he specializes in contruction loans and purchase money mortgages in Tampa and is based out of the Carrollwood office. I've known Mike for years and feel very comfortable referring my Real Estate clients to him. I know they will receive the best service and I can feel secure knowing that the loan will be approved. He is definitely a valued Partner of "The Burkett Collection. He can be reached at 813.391.5356 or email him at

Monday, March 12, 2007


An alternative House Republican plan to swap property taxes for sales taxes began to gather steam Friday. The idea is to eliminate the portion of property tax bills that go to school districts and pay for education through a higher sales tax. To read the entire story click here.

A flock of Canadian snowbirds are banning together to call for property tax reform in Florida. Snowbird Phyllis Turek says she doesn’t expect the same concessions as full-time residents, but believes snowbirds should get some credit for paying taxes year-round and using services for only a few months. I agree that the tax relief should be aimed at the people you have been paying more than their fair share. Click here to read the entire article. Visit my website for more info on the Tampa Bay area and local Real Estate. info

Sandpearl Resort Opening Summer 2007!!

The newest hotel build on a Pinellas county beach in over 25 years is set to open this Summer. The Sandpearl resort is a 253 room 4 diamond rated resort hotel that will host conventions, weddings, socials and the like. It will be one of Tampa Bay's landmark properties. I have a 1 bedroom penthouse suite at the Sandpearl that will be available for rent starting this summer. Check it out at or visit for local Real Estate information.

Buffalo Wild Wings

My wife and I went to Buffalo Wild Wings on Saturday night off of Hillsborough ave in Tampa and had the best chicken wings I've had in years. It reminded me of my college years. It is also a great place to catch a game because they have alot of large flat screen tvs throughtout the entire restuarant. The NW Tampa area is getting more of a South Tampa feel everyday. What a great place to live and raise a family.

This Week in the News

The nation's unemployment rate dipped to 4.5% in February, as employers added 97,000 jobs to their payrolls, close to economists' forecast for a gain of approximately 100,000, the Labor Department reported March 9. Unemployment fell despite bad winter weather that forced construction companies to slash 62,000 jobs, the most since 1991.
The Labor Department also reported that the number of laid-off workers filing unemployment claims fell by 10,000 for the week ended March 2. The decline provided a break from a recent rise in layoffs stemming from a weakness in the housing and auto sectors.
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said there was a "one-third probability" of recession in the United States this year, according to a March 6 interview with Bloomberg news service. His comments contrasted with those of current Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who said that the Federal Reserve continues to foresee "moderate growth going forward."
The nation's trade deficit narrowed slightly to $59.1 billion in January, down 3.8% from a December deficit of $61.5 billion. Exports of goods and services rose by 1.1% to an all-time high of $126.7 billion in January, reflecting gains in sales of airplanes, computers and farm products.
Rates on 30-year mortgages fell to their lowest level since mid-December, as investors moved to the safety of bonds after last week's stock market turmoil. Typically, more money flowing into the bond market makes more money available for mortgage lending.
This week look for updates on producer prices on March 15 and consumer prices on March 16.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Verify sq.ft. of house before you buy

One of the things that some sellers do when they list their house is overstate the square footage of the home. I’ve noticed this happening in Tampa and is a big factor in the final price that you pay. Overstating the square footage of the home based of tax records is the most likely reason. Sometimes tax assessors measure from the outside of the home increasing the avg. home size by 5-8%. When it comes to buying houses you need to make sure you verify the square footage of the home you are buying. Below are 4 ways you can use to help establish the true square footage.
1. Have an appraisel done and make your offer based on a price per sq.ft price that could change based on the appraisel.
2. If you are buying a house that was built by a national or local builder, find out what the model floorplan is and go to their website and verify the square footage from that floorplan.
3. Ask neigbors what the square foot of the house is or a Realtor that is familiar with the area homes.
4. Ask the seller if they have the original floorplan from the builder or a set of blueprints and verify the square footage from that.
A little extra effort on you or your Realtor’s part can pay huge dividends when the avg. sales prices for homes can reach over $200/sq.ft. or more in Tampa. Overstating the size of a 3,000 sq.ft home by just 5% can add about $30,000 to the final purchase price.

New Gambling Site is Huge Success!!

Whether you play the ponies, wager on your favorite sports teams, engage in weekly poker games or just enjoy frequent trips to the casino, Winning Gone Wild is sure to become your most visited website. Here is some tips from the The Player. This guy can pick'em!!!

Good Morning from Tampa Bay Downs. It’s a shaky start to this Saturday card but it gets better as the afternoon progresses.
BEST PLAY: Race 8. Cherokee Prince at 8/1
SECOND BEST PLAY: Race 12. Louis LeGrand at 5/2
BIGGEST FALSE FAVORITE: Race 8. Hemingswaykey.
BEST FAVORITES:Race 4: SaremRace 6: Go Directlyto JailRace 9: Saint Knows

Westchase/Waterchase Little League Sports News

The Westchase Colts are holding new player registration for football and cheerleading at 10am - 1pm. Saturday in front of the 7-11 at Linebaugh Ave and Sheldon Road. Registration is open to boys and girls aged 5-14. Call 813-448-7301 for more information.

Welcome to "Inside Tampa Bay Real Estate" Blog

Welcome to my "Inside Tampa Bay Real Estate Blog". It sure is nice weather we are having down here. Have a look around if you are planning on moving to the Tampa Bay area. "The Tampa Bay area is such a great place to live and raise a family with it’s strong influence of Midwestern core valves and the understated charm of the south along with some of the most beautiful white sandy beaches in the world.” by Tom Burkett.

State House leaders fast-track bill to reduce property taxes

In a rush to show that lawmakers are serious about cutting property taxes, a House council passed a controversial bill Wednesday to sharply roll back local taxes, which would save property owners statewide as much as $5.8 billion. Finally, Some relief may be in store for second homeowners, vacation homeowners and business owners. To read the complete article click here. or visit

Waterchase Real Estate Report for March 2007

As of 3/1/07 there are 56 Single Family homes for sale in Waterchase ranging from $369,900 for a 2046 sq.ft home to $1,650,000 for a custom Marc Rutenberg home that is 4935 sq.ft. The avg. listing price per sq.ft is $220/sq.ft. and the avg. days on market(DOM) is 106. So your avg. Waterchase home is 3,178 sq.ft in size and lists for $697,768 and is a 4/3/3. Today, I will give you a run down on Mar Azul, Allicante and Savona.
Mar Azul- There are currently 10 listings ranging from $873,900 for a 3942 sq.ft home to $1,650,000 for 4935 sq.ft. home with DOM currently at 96 and listing for an avg. of $285 sq.ft. or an avg. price of $1,121,991.
Alicante - There are currently 7 listings ranging from $697,900 for a 2800 sq.ft home to $999,500 for 3904 sq.ft. home with DOM currently at 54 and listing for an avg. of $248 sq.ft. or an avg. price of $844,129.
Savona - There are currently 10 listings ranging from $459,000 for a 2438 sq.ft home to $699,900 for 3800 sq.ft. home with DOM currently at 110 and listing for an avg. of $195 sq.ft. or an avg. price of $604,339.
As of 3/1/2007 there are 15 Townhomes for sale in Providence. Prices range from $289,900 to 399,900 and the avg. DOM is 91. The avg. list price is $182 sq.ft.
Please check back for updates and thanks for all the neigborhors who came to the BBQ on Saturday. It was nice to let out and meet everyone. For more info about Tampa Bay area Real Estate.

UF study: The price is right, so buy now!

It’s official: Now is the time to buy a house, according to a UF study, noting that the market has probably bottomed out, and “there’s not much to be gained by holding out at this point.” Read the full story here. Also check out more Real Estate info.