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.