Thinking of moving to and investing in Tampa/Clearwater/St. Peter

30 Replies | Tampa, Florida

I own a few rentals in Seattle but have been researching Florida for a year as it is more favorable to rental property investing than Seattle. After looking at a few potential states for a new place to move to for more cash flow favorable properties and other personal criteria I am looking for (warm weather, cheaper real estate, no state income tax, no ghetto's, lot's of jobs in my IT speciality, etc.) Florida and these areas specifically came to the top of my list.

So I've been looking at Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tampa, Kissimmee, etc. Real estate prices look good but are these houses in the ghetto when in the 100-150K range? They don't seem to be when I look at Trulia's Crime Heat map, in that there is less crime there than any of the areas I own property in HERE. MUCH less.

Example of property I'm looking at:

http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/2884-Edenwood-St-Clearwater-FL-33759/47021940_zpid/

Generally speaking, no. $150k can get you a pretty nice single family or duplex in a solid neighborhood. Let me know if I can help in any way. I have a couple of properties you might be interested in, and I also offer property management for out of state owners. 

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Now this is a fun thread! A fellow from Seattle reaches out looking for local input, so what could go wrong? The first response comes from an eager Realtor hoping to be helpful (make a sale). He forgets to mention that the property is being sold FSBO, the house is already under contract, and the deal looks solid. The good news is he does live five minutes away!

@Jack B.   The markets you have mentioned are so varied and different that if anyone gives you a one-size-fits-all answer, beware....

@Jack B. I use crime rates as well as a good determining factor for deciding where to invest, but vacancy rates, school zones and other factors are easy to check out in Zillow and other websites.  I use some professional software for these reports and make most decisions based on the area statistics to be safe.  Also, sure yes there are rough areas in the low 100s all over Florida, where I'm from.  And, although I'm partial to Orlando, where I'm specifically from and travel back to often, it may be a nice fit for you as well to consider.  A couple areas in particular that I am seeing good deals in are NW St Pete as close as possible to the water, and S Tampa as well.  Best of luck.

I can give you a link to all the MLS properties in the Tampa Bay Area, which includes St. Pete, Clearwatet, Largo, Dunedin (a great area), Holiday, Port Richey, etc.

I also buy properties at the court houses public foreclosure and tax deed sales.

The house you referenced is not the ghetto, that's a decent neighborhood.  Nothing fancy but not a bad area.    I have a similar house about 2 blocks away that I've had as a rental for the last 8 years and never had an issue.    If you start looking at houses under $50k in Tampa Bay these days you're probably in a rough part of town but there are plenty of areas where you can buy in the 100's and have a nice house in a decent area.  

Originally posted by @David Dec :

I can give you a link to all the MLS properties in the Tampa Bay Area, which includes St. Pete, Clearwatet, Largo, Dunedin (a great area), Holiday, Port Richey, etc.

I also buy properties at the court houses public foreclosure and tax deed sales.

Originally posted by @Tangala Williams:
Originally posted by @David Dec:

I can give you a link to all the MLS properties in the Tampa Bay Area, which includes St. Pete, Clearwatet, Largo, Dunedin (a great area), Holiday, Port Richey, etc.

I also buy properties at the court houses public foreclosure and tax deed sales.

 Sorry I didn't mean to quote this  I'm still learning the ropes

There are some decent pockets in Largo, P Park, and N. St. Pete where you can find properties in the $150's.  What seems to be a popular rental play in St. Pete is buying Section 8 rentals for $25k-$35k, putting $15k-$20k into them... and renting them out from anywhere between $900-$1500 (depending on number of bedrooms).  

The school district technique is not necessarily a solid gauge to use when trying to identify a good rental market.  We are in Florida... where... well... you know... We aren't exactly known for our education system if you know what I mean.  In fact, I don't believe there is a school district in Pinellas county with more than a 3 out of 10 rating... Yeah, it's that bad.  I've read that Palm Harbor and Seminole have decent or "above average" ratings compared to the state. 

Trying using other metrics to decide on a good rental market such as economic stability, rental rate to purchase price, year on year rental increase, and rental property absorption rate will give you a better look into the true worth of a rental market.  

Schools are a nice plus, but I think overall, it is more of factor for home buyers....

Originally posted by @Michael Valerio :

There are some decent pockets in Largo, P Park, and N. St. Pete where you can find properties in the $150's.  What seems to be a popular rental play in St. Pete is buying Section 8 rentals for $25k-$35k, putting $15k-$20k into them... and renting them out from anywhere between $900-$1500 (depending on number of bedrooms).  

The school district technique is not necessarily a solid gauge to use when trying to identify a good rental market.  We are in Florida... where... well... you know... We aren't exactly known for our education system if you know what I mean.  In fact, I don't believe there is a school district in Pinellas county with more than a 3 out of 10 rating... Yeah, it's that bad.  I've read that Palm Harbor and Seminole have decent or "above average" ratings compared to the state. 

Trying using other metrics to decide on a good rental market such as economic stability, rental rate to purchase price, year on year rental increase, and rental property absorption rate will give you a better look into the true worth of a rental market.  

Schools are a nice plus, but I think overall, it is more of factor for home buyers....

Pinellas County is all a single school district which leads to even worse management because it's a vast area.   There are schools you are zoned for but it's all run by the same idiots. The only decent school district anywhere around is Plant in Tampa, and those homes have gotten very expensive.   Pinellas is more about playing the lottery for the decent magnet programs or in my case, writing a very large check for private school.    

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@Peter Lee - pretty presumptuous to just ASSume you know what my intentions were. All I did was click on the Zillow link while sitting at a stop light and saw the house was close by in a neighborhood I have done multiple transactions before.

Personally I would prefer my title said "investor" and not agent but once you put in your license number on your profile it doesn't give you another option.

Why don't you just stick to Pasco County?

@Brandon M.   Stick to Pasco?!  Even though I buy/sell millions in both Pinellas and Hillsborough?  Is that what you would do?  Are you speaking from experience?  Is there only a very defined area for which you are either allowed to or skilled enough to venture into?  I don't understand your point at all!  Please clarify....

@Jack B.   I lived in the Tampa Bay area (Valrico) for 12+ years.  I tell anyone thinking of moving there to visit in the summer, then decide.  I think it is a great area and if I move there again, I would choose closer to the Gulf...better chance for a breeze and less time it takes to go fishing.

Also, my opinion, choose someone who lives, works and invests in the area to help you out.  I have "driven" around on google maps street view enough to know that you get a real mix of properties within close proximity.  (I have also physically driven the area when I lived there.)

I hope to invest in Florida and then move there (in that order since I have obligations here in San Diego).  I will be getting in touch with someone local.

So the good news is that it sounds like the house I posted, which is in the same price range as others I'm looking at online, is in a decent area. I don't need fancy McMansions, I live in one and have a few for rentals. I'd rather manage a portfolio of rentals that are paid off there and snowball the money to buy more, since I live below my means. Luckily because I live in and own most of my real estate in King County I'm setup for equity gains, one of the top 6 markets in the country for such.

Although I can pull the trigger now, work/career is good right now so I'm getting money from that while the getting is good and just waiting and investing in other things. In about 6 years, I plan on pulling the trigger on this so I have a bit of time to do some due diligence and make a few trips.

***I'm even considering buying a four-plex there. ***

The buildings there for apartments seem to be mostly solid concrete construction with stucco walls, etc. I doubt there is much neighbor noise in these types of units compared to say, stick built apartments. I may very well cash out-refi some money out of my equity properties that also cash flow and buy a 4-10 unit apartment building with a mortgage OR in cash depending on size and just slow down.

More than likely I'll keep working for a bit after that but not for too long, maybe 45. There are more jobs in MY IT specialty there and for a higher wage than is typical here with a far lower cost of living and less traffic. In fact Florida is the highest paying state for my skills. Top it off with cheap real estate with high rents, warm weather, and the BEACHES....

Biggest concern is the sink holes...My research shows it's a big problem in west central Florida. People from there tell me it's not as common as it's made out to be. It doesn't happen that frequently around the globe so although it happens a lot in Florida it's still relatively safe. Other things are more likely to be a problem. Am I wrong?

It's always a bit hard to separate the fact from fiction when it comes to sinkholes in this part of the state.  For too many years sinkhole claims were a much used and abused scam benefiting homeowners, engineering firms, repair companies, lawyers etc..

By some remarkable coincidence, as the cost of coverage became more expensive, benefits became slimmer, and the economy improved, the amount of claims have fallen off dramatically.  Could the bedrock have just stopped shifting?  I am certainly no expert in the field.  Just a guy wondering aloud.

There was a time in the not too distant past when the most common billboards one would find on the main thoroughfares in the area were by companies who would fix your sinkhole, or the lawyers who would help you sue your insurance carrier.  Where did all those billboards go?

@Jack B.   The number of sinkholes reported have gone way down since the insurance companies cracked down on the fraud.  Many people would get big payouts on some simple settlement cracks.  Most of the actual sinkholes are going to be in Pasco, if you buy Pinellas/Tampa you'll probably be fine.  

Originally posted by @Don Johnston :

@Jack B.   I lived in the Tampa Bay area (Valrico) for 12+ years.  I tell anyone thinking of moving there to visit in the summer, then decide.  I think it is a great area and if I move there again, I would choose closer to the Gulf...better chance for a breeze and less time it takes to go fishing.

Also, my opinion, choose someone who lives, works and invests in the area to help you out.  I have "driven" around on google maps street view enough to know that you get a real mix of properties within close proximity.  (I have also physically driven the area when I lived there.)

I hope to invest in Florida and then move there (in that order since I have obligations here in San Diego).  I will be getting in touch with someone local.

 No reason to live inland in Florida, all of the negatives without any of the benefits.  The summer is just fine out fishing or at the sandbar on the boat.  

If I lived in California I know I wouldn't be able to afford a backyard like the one I have in St Pete

....

Yeah, rub it in @Patrick L.   I haven't found anything like the gulf coast out here on the left coast in the "granola state".  That back yard and a house on stilts...strong stilts for the tidal surge from the storms that occur once in a while...and lots of windows for the views.  Love it.

If you lived in San Diego, the cost of your house in St. Pete would be a good down payment on a house with a back yard like you have in Florida.

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has a great resource if you are concerned about crime in an area. Of course, it only coveres Hillsborough County which incompases Tampa. But it's great because you can look at only crimes you are concerned with from fraud to robbery to mischief to murder.

http://gis.hcso.tampa.fl.us/crimemapping/

Take a look and see what you think, hope it's helpful.