Buying a home in Greater Tampa/St Pete.

15 Replies

I am in the process of learning how to invest in real estate, now that I am mostly an empty nester. I was taking it slow at first, so I didn't make big mistakes. I was looking for a multi family home or one with a mother in law suite. In the past two months I have been forced to move sooner than later. I do not have enough liquidity to use cash, so I am using a VA loan.

Are there preferred areas and neighborhoods to buy a starter home? Areas that will also have a better chance at being a good investment with sweat equity? I would do most of the work myself with the help of my friend that is a GC. 

I was looking in the greater St Pete area, since its near my aging mother. I am not finding much and totally disappointed in the realtors I am coming across. Most say a home is always a good investment, want me to move in an area that would be unsafe for my daughters, don't understand VA loans, or want me to find a home that "speaks to your heart".

From what I've read, it seems like buying a starter home and leaving the rest of my approval income to do a traditional or FHA loan to buy an investment home out of state in a less expensive state/area.

Do you have any advice, suggestions, words of wisdom, or constructive criticism?

Unfortunately, you're coming into the Pinellas County high point for Real Estate value. What I do personally -- and what I suggest to anyone else -- is drive around nice neighborhoods and find the nastiest house. Find the owners info and make them an offer. Of course, your mortgage will influence the condition the property can be in.

Feel free to connect via PM to talk more! Happy to help.


As @Jared Decker mentioned, you are coming into Pinellas County at a time when prices are at their all-time highs.  

I don't know what your price range is but I think that if you're looking for multi-family, you will probably see a bunch of stuff that you wouldn't want to live in because of the area. Or, if you find a multi in a nicer neighborhood the price is likely going to seem ridiculous. It's going to be very difficult to find a deal on the MLS, unfortunately that just seems to be the nature of the market in Pinellas right now.

If you want to stay in St. Pete, your best bet is to try and find a single family with a detached garage on the alley with an apartment upstairs.  Or, maybe a single family property with the opportunity to build a garage apartment on the back.  Make sure you check with the City of St. Pete to determine eligibility.  You might look west of downtown for something.  Directly north of downtown (Old Northeast) is a great historic neighborhood but quite expensive.  If you have the money, you can't not like the Old NE neighborhood.

If you are persistent and patient, I think you'll be rewarded.  Good luck!

@John Ballard congratulations on your new investment endeavors. If you ever need any suggestions on hot area or lending information please feel free to contact me. Take your time while you’re starting out and find a good contractor, this will reduce your expenses. If you need any suggestion I will send you anything I have.

I have to find a place in the next few weeks so there won't be waiting it out anymore. I've wasted the majority of the year walking through homes that would not take VA, in neighborhoods that weren't safe, or waiting for my realtor to have free time show me a house that ends up pending 3 days later. If I do not find a place in the next 3 weeks I will be renting. Even with the military background, couch surfing for a year is rough.

I am approved for $350k but have no interest in buying something that large unless I can rent rooms and get a good deal. I haven't seen any deals that would be approved by the VA. I gave up on multi families a couple of months ago.

Up until now I was looking at 3+/2 with a garage, but think it would be smarter to find a small 2/1 with a garage, closer to 150k, so I can use the rest of that approval to finance rental property in another state/area. 

Except for east of Tampa, I have looked in other areas. Mainly in the St Pete, Largo and up to Carrolwood. I would prefer to be within 45mins of S. Tampa. 

Hey John! 

If I had a piece of advice, I would suggest possibly looking in some of the areas mentioned above that are close to Pinellas County such as, but not limited to, South Of Gandy in South Tampa, Town n Country (there are worse areas here but some are still very nice), Carrollwood. It really depends on budget and preferences but Pinellas is prohibitively expensive in some areas for sure.

Oldsmar and Palm Harbor may also work. 

Feel free to PM to chat further. I am always looking at deals. Good luck in your search! 

Yeah @Account Closed , it would be a hard drive for sure especially with those world famous bridges. 

All these decisions depend on personal preference and you have to decide that for yourself. I have sold homes to people that live an hour from work and some homes to people who live five minutes from work. It is really up to the individual and what they feel is important to them. 

Good luck though! I hope you enjoy this area as much as I have!

Thank you Melvin. I am not aware of the VA renovation loan. I stopped researching to focus on finding a home, which I finally did. A small 2/1/1 in St Pete.

I will look in to that because I am hoping to purchase another home for rental income ASAP. 


Have you been able to find / close on a place?

Send me a PM if you are still looking, I have an idea.

Unfortunately I have not. In fact, Saturday I am looking at a few apartment complexes to rent. I trust my current realtor (I've gone through many) and this she has been helpful . I have spent $2500 in inspections this past year. A VA loan and homes that have room to make that sweat equity do not seem to work well together. The majority of the connections I've made on here have been realtors or lenders trying to push their product. A little burned out after couch surfing for over a year. In November I relocated again......wearing out any welcome mats that friends have offered.

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