Real Estate News for North Pinellas County

Archive for the 'renovation' Category

Finding, buying and fixing up the perfect Pinellas County home

(A couple of weeks ago I posted a story by my friend, Stephanie Henningsen, who described her plans for buying (and renovating) her first home, using financing provided through the neighborhood Assistance Program of America. In this installment, Steph talks about the process of finding the right house, buying it and beginning the remodeling process.)


I completed all the steps that NACA requested – I had a set amount in my bank account, my credit report had been checked (all was well), and I supplied them with several months of pay stubs and bank statements.

steph house outside SMALLNow came the fun part – looking for my house.

Over the course of a few weeks, I drove around various neighborhoods to look for just the right place, within the right budget. NACA had agreed to loan me only about 80 percent of what I could afford for a home to make sure I didn’t suffer from payment shock, which could cause me to fall behind on the mortgage.

The trick was to find a house low enough in price so I would have enough money left in my mortgage package to fix it up.

One day I stopped at an old purple house that looked deserted. I happened to see one of the neighbors outside and began asking questions about it. He told me that the lady who lived in it had died and that her daughter now owned the place. However, he was unable to tell me the woman’s name or exactly where she lived.

So I went to the Web site of the Pinellas County Property Appraisers’ Office and typed in the address. After getting the owner’s name from the site, I called the office, got his phone number, and learned that the house was for sale (it turns out he was a home investor who had only purchased the house five months earlier). Within days I had a meeting with his agent to view the house.

Once inside the house, I fell in love. It had high ceilings, wood floors, a fireplace – everything I wanted in a home. The best part was that the price of the home was low enough so that I could afford the remodeling of it as well.

During this process, NACA provided me with a Realtor, who helped me with the home buying process, as well as helped me find the contractor who fixed up the house.

I closed on the house in June. In August, the remodeling process began, with my contractor adding an upstairs bathroom, rewiring the electrical system (it still had the knob and tube wiring from the 20s), adding central heat and air, completely remodeling the kitchen, and painting the home inside and out.

By December I moved into my newly remodeled home.

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Finding — and financing — the perfect Pinellas County home

Stephanie Henningsen

Stephanie Henningsen

I met Stephanie a while back, and she told me a story about how she was able to buy her own home, even though she was a single woman at the time living on one paycheck.  Not only was she able to buy the home, but she was also able to finance an extensive renovation that brought back a fine old home in St. Petersburg that deserved to be saved. I asked her if she would describe the process for my blog. Here is the first installment — there will be more coming.




I’ve always been attracted to older homes, the homes you find in historical neighborhoods immediately outside the downtown areas of municipalities around the country. It’s the details that draw me in – lots of windows, high ceilings, wood floors, crown molding.

Many of these remodeled homes come with a price tag that is way out of my range. However, I found a way to live in my dream home (complete with wood floors!) without going broke in the process.

A friend told me about the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA), an advocacy program designed to help:

• Homeowners refinance mortgages
• Low-income families find an affordable home
• Turn over neighborhoods by offering mortgages that allow homeowners who make above a certain income to buy a run-down home and remodel it.

NACA helps potential buyers through the following steps to prepare them for homeownership.

Once I had completed these steps, I was ready for the next adventure – finding my dream home.

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