St. Pete Beach multi-family live and learn

10 Replies

My wife and I want ease into the St. Pete Beach multi-family market by living in and rehabbing a two to four-unit property. Our current thoughts are to pay cash or do minimal financing (to bypass flood insurance ASAP) on a two to four-unit fixer upper and live in one or two units while we rehab the others. When it's done and fully rented, we would then buy a single-family home nearby and continue to manage the property. We might also consider doing short-term rentals in one unit, although we've seen a lot of controversy about this topic. If this is something you've had experience with, here or elsewhere, we'd appreciate any ideas, tips or warnings to help us get started. Thanks!  

@Tom Shaw I like your plan. I can’t comment on the flood insurance part but the live in Fix N Flip sounds like a tried and true newbie strategy. Good luck!!

Hi @Tom Shaw ,

I can't say that I'm an expert, so I suggest you contact Pinellas County, and talk to someone in zoning. 

I think the parameters for "short term" are: A stay no longer than 30 days, and the owner cannot rent it out for more than 4 times a year.  I think that the county doesn't just go around fining people for using their property illegally if we use the above definition. However, in every scenario I've heard about, it was the neighbors complaining about it, because of a negative experience from the Airbnb/VRBO tenants, that caused the authority to fine the hosts.

The correct way is if the property is your primary residence and homestead. So you can live in 1 of the 4 units and short term rental the other 3, legally. Then they are considered guests, and they can stay for however long and no restrictions on how many times a year. 

Still definitely urge you to talk with a county representative.

Good luck! 

Thanks for the input, Tom Parris. We're just getting into this, but if the scenario you mentioned is correct, that would be great! We'll have to delve into the regulations and try to get some clarification. The beach communities all have their own ordinances and land development codes that vary quite a bit.

Thanks, Racheli Vidal! The area that you're working in Miami has great potential. Best of luck to you as well!

Originally posted by @Tom Shaw :

My wife and I want ease into the St. Pete Beach multi-family market by living in and rehabbing a two to four-unit property. Our current thoughts are to pay cash or do minimal financing (to bypass flood insurance ASAP) on a two to four-unit fixer upper and live in one or two units while we rehab the others. When it's done and fully rented, we would then buy a single-family home nearby and continue to manage the property. We might also consider doing short-term rentals in one unit, although we've seen a lot of controversy about this topic. If this is something you've had experience with, here or elsewhere, we'd appreciate any ideas, tips or warnings to help us get started. Thanks!  

 Hi Tom, sounds like you are focused. It sounds like you have done some research and wish you the best of luck. 

Hi @Tom Shaw . We purchased a 4 unit in Largo (western Pinellas) and have renovated 2 units (we live in one), finishing up our 3rd unit, and renewed the lease of one set of tenants for the 4th unit. We've done a good portion of the work ourselves (not by choice, just tough to find reliable workers). In this area, it seems that the rental rates are low in the multi families, the tenants are on month to month, but the sellers want to sell at the "what the rent rate should be," so the selling prices are inflated and the properties need a lot of work. We should have looked into this more before buying the property, however, we're able to get the rents up to still cover the PITI with the renovated units. Theshort term rental rules depend on each city for short term. Pinellas County requires an additional usage tax of 6% for anything below 6 month rentals.

Short-Term in Pinellas is a huge storm of a topic politically right now, and it is going granular to the city level.  It is definitely something to watch and vote on in any coming elections.  It can be lucrative.  I have seen some huge fines in Clearwater -- check with the city to see regulations.  Tom is right -- it is often the neighbors complaints that draw the attention, but there are also cities that are cruising the Airbnb and other ads for easy targets, as well (and other cities that have given up enforcement for the time being).  St Pete Beach can be pricey, but there are still plenty of great deals there as well.  Welcome to Pinellas!

As far as flood insurance, I would recommend paying it if you're in a flood zone, whether you have a lender requiring it or not.  I would hate to lose an investment over something as relatively cheap as insurance.  And my theory is that you just factor that into the purchase price and the rest of the numbers to see if the purchase makes sense.

For the live-in multifamily strategy, I am in the middle of one right now in Western Central Pinellas -- Largo -- it is going well!  We are rehabbing the units and actually doubled the rent on the first unit we rented out with new tenants.  As we bring it up to market pricing, we will be cash flowing even while living here.

Hi Renee,

I'm currently doing due diligence on a property in St. Pete Beach, just wondering if anything has changed for you or do you still find the rental rates are low? I'm just learning that I'd have to rent it for min. of 30 days at a time... have you seen that it stays rented enough with that restriction? Thanks!

Originally posted by @Tom Shaw :

My wife and I want ease into the St. Pete Beach multi-family market by living in and rehabbing a two to four-unit property. Our current thoughts are to pay cash or do minimal financing (to bypass flood insurance ASAP) on a two to four-unit fixer upper and live in one or two units while we rehab the others. When it's done and fully rented, we would then buy a single-family home nearby and continue to manage the property. We might also consider doing short-term rentals in one unit, although we've seen a lot of controversy about this topic. If this is something you've had experience with, here or elsewhere, we'd appreciate any ideas, tips or warnings to help us get started. Thanks!  

Looking forward to following your search! I live in Wesley Chapel and intend on looking for a multi-family to rehab and rent in the greater Tampa area (likely Pinellas or West Tampa. Good luck!

Originally posted by @Renee Potoczny :

Hi @Tom Shaw . We purchased a 4 unit in Largo (western Pinellas) and have renovated 2 units (we live in one), finishing up our 3rd unit, and renewed the lease of one set of tenants for the 4th unit. We've done a good portion of the work ourselves (not by choice, just tough to find reliable workers). In this area, it seems that the rental rates are low in the multi families, the tenants are on month to month, but the sellers want to sell at the "what the rent rate should be," so the selling prices are inflated and the properties need a lot of work. We should have looked into this more before buying the property, however, we're able to get the rents up to still cover the PITI with the renovated units. Theshort term rental rules depend on each city for short term. Pinellas County requires an additional usage tax of 6% for anything below 6 month rentals.

This is really good info! It does seem tough to find a good deal right now that I can expect to cash flow well so I’m staying patient!

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