Real Estate News for North Pinellas County

Archive for January, 2012

You otter live in Dunedin!

You probably know by now that I like Florida’s birds, and I can’t help taking pictures of birds of all types when I come across them in my travels throughout Pinellas County.

But birds aren’t the only wildlife you are apt to see when you drive through Palm Harbor, Oldsmar, Dunedin or other parts of Pinellas County.

otters SMALL 1

This morning I was in a Dunedin neighborhood, and I noticed some loud splashing in a creek that ran behind some houses near the Dunedin Community Center. I walked over to investigate, and saw two otters frolicking in the water.

After I watched them for a few minutes, I realized there were more than just two — there were four in all, splashing in the creek and then chasing each other around one of the backyards.

There’s all kinds of wildlife in Pinellas County, and you usually don’t have to travel very far to find them.

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Interest rates are low, but they won’t always be. Remember that when you consider buying a home in Pinellas County

What single factor may splash cold water on the recovering housing market? According to a CNN/Fortune Magazine report, it could be interest rates.

“What’s that?” you say. “Interest rates are at historic lows. Interest rates seem to be the one single thing that we don’t have to worry about when we think about the housing market.”

Yup, you are correct.  But according to the report, rising interest rates could be looming. And if that comes true, it will retard the housing market recovery.

According to the report, there are a number of factors that should have favorable impacts on a better housing market – strong improvements in the rate of single-family housing starts, more construction permits being pulled, and an upward trend in home sales across the nation, to name just three.

And let’s not forget really, REALLY low interest rates.

balancing houseBut, according to the report, interest rates will inevitably rise. And when they do, mortgage costs will go up. And that will be an impediment to a market recovery.

Those historically low interest rates are around 4 percent right now. But the MEDIAN interest rate, looked at long-term, is more like 9 percent. The report says that when interest rates go up, as they inevitably will, the effect is likely to be like an anchor on the recovery of the housing market.


Something else that is probably inevitable – people saying, “Wow, I wish I had purchased a home in Dunedin or Palm Harbor when the prices and interest rates were really low.”

That doesn’t have to be you. Call or e-mail me now and we’ll discuss what you want to accomplish home-wise. I’m always available! [email protected], or 727-643-7100.


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Waterfowl love living in Dunedin

As I’ve said before here, I love Florida’s birds — they are one of things that make living here so interesting.

crane in pondThere’s a pond a few steps from my back door, and it attracts all sorts of different birds. There’s a family of ducks that live there, and they are there every day, but other waterfowl pop in for vistits pretty regularly.

I was outside the other day when this big guy dropped in. I think it’s a heron of some sort, but I’m no expert and I couldn’t find a picture on the internet of a bird that exactly matched this fellow, so I’m not really sure what he is. If you recognize it, please post what you know.

What’s the point of bird pictures on a blog that specializes in Pinellas County real estate? Good question. But it’s my blog, and I like birds, so you can expect to see some photos of birds that I come across in Pinellas County. This particular guy is in Dunedin, a little south of Palm Harbor.

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Pinellas County real estate: It’s not Silicon Valley

Real estate agents in two very different California markets are thinking that 2012 might be a banner year for high-end real estate sales. Even though these two markets are more than 200 miles apart, they are banking on the same circumstances to boost their high-end sales.

Silicon Valley, around the southern tip of San Francisco Bay

Silicon Valley, around the southern tip of San Francisco Bay

The two areas are San Francisco – or Silicon Valley, to be more specific – and Lake Tahoe, about 200 miles to the east. Real estate agents in both of those markets are thinking that economic developments in Silicon Valley’s high-tech industry might create a huge stimulus to high-end real estate sales in their areas.

A little history; the Lake Tahoe area has long been a favorite vacation spot for Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. Lots of high-tech CEOs and other highly compensated executives have long been drawn to the Lake Tahoe area on the California-Nevada border, just a four-hour drive from the San Francisco area.

One upcoming business event really has captured the attention of real estate agents both in Silicon Valley and in Lake Tahoe; the expected IPO of Facebook. That single event, if it takes place as expected, will create a new generation of Silicon Valley millionaires, many of them young adults with families.

Young, wealthy adults with families are a perfect fit for high-end lakefront properties in Tahoe.

The Tahoe market for million-dollar vacation properties has been depressed during the last few years, as you might expect. But the sales of premium Tahoe properties perked up during the third quarter of 2011, and observers of the market say Silicon Valley high-tech execs were right in the thick of those sales. Sales of those premium vacation properties stretched from a million dollars to four million or more.

Some buyers from the tech industry have snapped up vacation homes recently that run from $1 million to $4 million or more. Observers of the real estate scene in the Lake Tahoe area noted that one expensive lakefront development, Martis Camp, had 20 parcels bought up in the past year by executives for such high-tech companies as Google, Facebook and Apple, all based in Silicon Valley.

Facebook may be the biggest IPO player on the horizon, but it is not the only one. Ernst & Young says that 25 high-tech companies in the San Francisco Bay area are getting their Initial Public Offerings together.

“That’s all just great,” you may say. “But, really, what does all that have to do with real estate here in Tampa Bay? After all, Silicon Valley and Lake Tahoe couldn’t be much further away from here.”

True enough. But here is why I think this discussion is relevant:

Silicon Valley has Facebook, Google, Apple and literally hundreds of other high-tech companies. Most of them are doing really well. Somewhere around 25 of them are planning to go public very soon. When that happens, the high –end real estate markets in at least two separate geographic areas of California will boom. Sales of home in the middle price ranges should benefit, as well.

iStock_000016449443XSmallSo where is our Silicon Valley? Where are all the IPOs in Tampa Bay?

There isn’t one, and there aren’t any.

We don’t have a sluggish real estate market; we have a sluggish economy, with little in the way of good-paying jobs and bright financial futures.

I’m delighted for Silicon Valley and for the Lake Tahoe area. But their success may mean little to real estate’s big picture if we don’t find ways of igniting this country’s economy once again.

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A short life remembered on a small patch of Dunedin real estate

There are two golf courses in Dunedin, and we live in a condo right between them.

 Step out our front door and walk to the left, and in a minute or so you are in front of Dunedin Country Club. Walk to the right, and in about the same amount of time you are walking past a par-three public course, Dunedin Stirling Links.

 I usually walk east, in the Dunedin Country Club direction, when I walk Bo, our puggle. My husband usually goes in the other direction, and heads past Dunedin Stirling Links when it is his turn to walk the dog.

golf course tree 009Down in that westerly direction, not quite as far as Alt. 19, there is a small tree. Its trunk is surrounded by white decorative blocks. We both have walked by that tree many times, but it was only recently that we noticed there was a small plaque in the ground at the tree’s base.

 As you travel around North Pinellas County, there are quite a few commemorative plaques, but you have to pay attention or they simply blend into the background and you never see them. All of them have been put in place for a reason, but they don’t always have room to tell the entire story.

 In this case, there isn’t much more than a name, a couple of baseballs, and a family’s loving sentiment. Here is what it says:



In Memory of
Elliott Richard Pape
Big L
2 – 7 – 87       12 – 5 – 05
We love you
We will see you again
Love Mom Dad and girls

 Someone went to some trouble to plant that tree in a young man’s memory, and I thought I’d see if I could find out more of the story.

 It didn’t take much work.  I went to the St. Petersburg TIMES website (okay, I know, its been called the Tampa Bay TIMES since New Year’s Day, but I don’t think I’ll ever get used to calling it that), and found a story published just before Christmas of 2005.

Elliott Richard Pape was an 18-year-old Dunedin youth who worked part-time as a bat boy for the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. On Dec. 12, 2005, he was killed in a motorcycle accident as he rode home.

 golf course tree 011Here is what the newspaper said about his death:

 “On Monday afternoon, Pape was riding his 2006 Suzuki motorcycle home to Dunedin. He took the Roosevelt Boulevard exit ramp off Interstate 275 at 4:08 p.m. when he lost control in the turn, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

“He hit the brakes, but the motorcycle skidded into the guardrail, throwing him over the rail and onto the embankment, troopers said.”

 So that’s the story of the tree. I don’t know whether Elliott Richard Pape liked to play golf at Dunedin Stirling Links, but hopefully his tree will grow and prosper, and golfers will stop there once in a while to read the plaque that his family put there.

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