Friday, December 30, 2011

Real estate agent gets short sale miracle

After losing four buyers waiting for a short sale seller lender approval and waiting 379 days, a local real estate agent appealed to Freddie Mac officials and finally got approval! Tampa Bay Times link

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Short Sale program flops

The St. Petersburg Times reports that the Bank of America short sales program has been offered to 20,000 of the 253,000 Florida homeowners delinquent on their B of A mortgages.  Unimpressed, only 3,000 or so have taken the bank up on its offers.  The Times reports that qualified program participants could receive up to 5% of their unpaid mortgage balance from B of A with a maximum of $20,000; yet a real estate agent is quoted saying:  "I don't see how anyone...will get the $20,000." 

It should be noted that not all Bank of America Florida mortgage holders were eligible for the program which had a December 12th deadline.  Link

Monday, December 26, 2011

2012 Suncoast Arts Fest next month at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel

The Seventh Annual Suncoast Arts Fest (2012) will be held at Wiregrass again this year in January.  The popular arts festival will be held on January 21, 2012 from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM and on January 22, 2012 from 11:00 to 5:00 PM. at The Shops at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel.  Here's a video from 2011:

The artist application deadline has been extended until December 31, 2011.  Artist application link

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Hanukkah!

Christmas without snow in Florida

The weather forecast for Christmas day in Tampa calls for 78 degrees!  No snow here for Christmas! (I post this Florida Christmas classic every year.)

Chinese drywall homeowners in Easton Park waiting for help

Some homeowners in Easton Park continue to seek help for homes they purchased that were built with Chinese drywall.  The Tampa Tribune reports that up to 20 homeowners purchased homes built by Mobley with potentially defective drywall.  The Tribune adds that Mobley spokeswoman, Sasha Goodman has said that "the company still is evaluating the situation".  Full story from the Tampa Tribune  It should be noted that some homeowners of homes built with defective Chinese drywall in New Tampa & Wesley Chapel built by other builders have had their homes mitigated, with estimated costs of up to $100,000 per home. Previous article in the Tampa Tribune.

The following is a video link  (Added on December 21, 2011)

Monday, December 19, 2011

The widening project for SR 54 in Wesley Chapel finishes up and new businesses are planned

It sure is refreshing to have three lanes (mostly) open in each direction on SR 54 from BBD to Curley, now that the widening project is coming to an end!  It looks like several Wesley Chapel businesses are ready to locate on the recently widened highway.

There are four items of interest in Wesley Chapel on this week's agenda for the Pasco County Development Review Committee; one of which is a variance request:
  • Wells Fargo-- Preliminary/Construction Site Plan for the Southeast side of the proposed intersection of S.R. 54 and Wiregrass Ranch Blvd.
  • Advance Auto Parts--Preliminary Construction Site Plan for S.R. 54, approximately one-half mile west of I-75.
  • Family Dollar on the southwest corner of S.R. 54 & Cobb Drive (Across from Home Depot on S.R. 54)--Preliminary/Construction Site Plan
  • Variance request for a 4,000 sq. ft. fast food restaurant at the northeast corner of SR 54 & 581 (BBD).   (Sorry, I don't know the name of the restaurant at this time.)  Also, in between the proposed restaurant and Walgreens is a proposed Racetrac gas station that is not on this week's agenda.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Chinese drywall settlement reached

Another settlement has been reached with a manufacturer of defective Chinese drywall.  The Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal report that the manufacturer has agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to resolve claims by property owners.  AP article   Wall Street Journal article.  Also, it appears that homeowners in a New Tampa community have not yet been able to resolve their Chinese drywall claims with a builder.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Menorah lighting at Wiregrass

Light up the night, Celebrate Chanukah:  A menorah lighting will be held at The Shops at Wiregrass at Dillard's on December 26, 2011 beginning at 5:30 PM.  Doughnuts, latkes and chocolate gelt will be served.  Additional info:  813.642.3244

Chanukah at Wiregrass

Thursday, December 08, 2011

New Tampa & Wesley Chapel Holiday Lights

We are fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful areas of Tampa Bay and the gorgeous entrances, clubhouses and landscaping in the many communities of New Tampa and Wesley Chapel are even more magnificent in the evenings this time of year.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Zampetti to address PACA this week

Pasco County Code Compliance and Zoning Administrator Debra Zampetti will discuss her agency’s issues that affect homeowners when she addresses the Thursday, Dec. 8, meeting of the Pasco Alliance of Community Associations (PACA). 
Among the issues Zampetti will detail are new provisions in the county land use code designed to address the impact of “street trees,” planted by developers between sidewalks and streets that are now tearing up some of both in many communities. She will also discuss ordinances under review and being changed as the county works to update, simplify and streamline its rules and regulations. After her presentation, Zampetti will take questions from members and guests on any zoning and land use issues.

The public is invited to attend PACA’s Dec. 8 meeting. It begins at 7 p.m. at the Land O’ Lakes Community Center, located at 5401 Land O’ Lakes Blvd.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Known felons granted real estate licenses in Florida

A shocking article in the St. Pete Times today about the Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC) granting real estate licenses to known felons!  The Times states that since 2008, "the state has processed 34,780 total applications and denied 215".  (Well that's something at least!)  FREC meets monthly with applicants who have "serious" criminal offenses or who have failed to disclose criminal matters on their real estate license application which then showed up during the background check of law enforcement data bases.  The Times adds that the monthly meeting is often referred to as the "Jerry Springer Show". Recently, licenses were granted to people with previous dubious histories such as lewd and lascivious behavior and cocaine trafficking.  (I sure would like to know what it takes to be denied a real estate license.)  Link to full story

Friday, December 02, 2011

Wesley Chapel's Kirkland's grand opening

Kirkland's of Wesley Chapel:  Grand Opening events are this weekend, with deals, giveaways, and FREE personal design consultations with local interior designer Sylvia Rosado-Delay. Now through Sunday, you’ll also find 50 gift ideas priced at 50% off. Some are as low as $1.50!

Here are a couple of coupons you can print out and take with you for purchases this weekend!
$10 off $50
$25 off $75
Active duty and retired military and their dependents all get an additional 10% off all purchases. Just show proper ID at checkout.
Happy shopping!

Fresh market at Wiregrass this Saturday

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Fields at Wiregrass makes its pitch

In yesterday's workshop, the Pasco County Board of Commissioners tentatively agreed to $8.5 million for The Fields at Wiregrass sports complex proposal in Wesley Chapel after a presentation by Wiregrass representatives.   Many details/hurdles remain to be worked out however so we'll just have to wait and see if the board and the private developer can play ball together and the park actually gets full approval and funding.  Additional details

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cypress Creek Town Center update

2007 file photo
Remember the stalled Cypress Creek Town Center at I 75 & SR 56?  The proposed 1.3 million square foot mall has been plagued with lawsuits and suspended permits since 2007.  Today a federal court reversed a previous district court ruling that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers improperly examined the impacts to wetlands and waterways in granting the mall a permit, but it also found that the Corps and the developer must address the project's impact to the Eastern Indigo snake, a threatened species.

The St. Pete Times provides the following response to today's ruling from the Cypress Creek Town Center developer, The Richard E. Jacobs Group: "The Jacobs Group is confident that this development will now finally proceed forward."

Home Again Interiors plans to open next week in Wesley Chapel

Home Again Interiors, a home furnishings consignment shop plans to open on December 5th.  The new store is located on BBD in The Shoppes at New Tampa near Beef O Brady's.  If you have furnishings you would like to consign, call:  813.973.8363.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Many Short Sale properties continue to fail to actually close in New Tampa

Short Sale/Pre-foreclosure properties continue to prove to be hard to actually close/sell.

Our local MLS data* shows that the total number of reported Short Sale properties in New Tampa under contract is once again the highest percentage of the three categories:

64% are identified as Short Sales
7% identified as REO/Foreclosures
29% are "normal" sales

Short Sale contracts wait for sellers' lender(s) approval/rejection:

19% of the Short Sale properties currently under contract in New Tampa have been under contract for six months or longer; 25% have been under contract for 3 to 6 months and 57% for less than 3 months.

Compare those percentages to the following for "Normal" listings in New Tampa under contract which don't require approval by the sellers' lender:  2.5% have been under contract for 6 months or longer; 2.5% for 3-6 months, and 95% for less than 3 months.  So, if you are a buyer and are dead set on purchasing a Short Sale home, prepare to wait!

We continue to see that the percentage of total homes that actually close (sell) and identified as short sales is consistently much lower than those that go under contract.

For example, in the past month the short sale homes that sold in New Tampa represented only 12.5% of the total reported sold; REO's/Foreclosures, 15%; and "Normal" homes sold were 72% of the total.

Finally, currently 68% of the New Tampa single family homes listed for sale in our MLS* are "Normal" sales, 29% are Short Sales, and 3% are REO/Foreclosures.

*MLS information deemed reliable but not guaranteed

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

11 million homeowners underwater--HARP 2.0 may help some refinance to lower interest rate

There is a new federal refi program to lower the mortgage interest rate (not the principal) for some homeowners who are underwater--"HARP 2.0" :  Link.   To check if your current mortgage qualifies as a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan (a requirement to qualify) visit the following sites:  Fannie Mae  Freddie Mac.  Note:  It may not be until December or January when lenders will have specifics in place, so be patient.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Holiday pictures with Santa

Kids holiday pictures with Santa begin on Sunday, November 20th at The Shops at Wiregrass.  See the following link for photo packages and prices and to sign up for "fast pass" reserved dates & times.

*Santa Paws pet pictures on Monday nights at Wiregrass, from Nov 21 - Dec 12 4:00-8:00 pm in Santa's Village.

*Santa Claws pet pictures with Santa at Petsmart stores.  See the following (Facebook page link) for date(s), time(s), etc. I suggest you call ahead and confirm the date(s) and time(s) at your individual store.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Fields at Wiregrass

The Fields at Wiregrass

The Fields at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel is one of two park proposals submitted to Pasco County for consideration.  The other proposal is for a wake park located at the former SunWest mine in Aripeka, using a cable system to pull wakeboarders and skiers.  Funds for the park(s) will be provided by the Pasco tourist development tax which the county has collected for over 10 years, impact fees and future park revenues.

The Fields at Wiregrass:

A proposed 200 acre $25 million regional and national sports tournament complex:
  • 12 multipurpose fields for soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, and football  (1 with TV caliber lighting allowing the broadcasting of championship games.)  2 bleachers per field
  • 3 full sized baseball fields; 1 TV broadcast capable; 2 bleachers per field
  • 3 little league fields; 2 bleachers per field
  • 3 softball fields; 2 bleachers per field
  • 4 concession stands
  • Restrooms
  • 2 welcome centers
  • 1 children's play area
  • 1 maintenance building
  • 1 "amenity building" with canoe launch
  • Press boxes, parking, walking paths, picnic areas, arcade/game room
  • Bicycle racks, flag pole, etc.
It should be noted that in addition to the playing fields, the The Fields at Wiregrass proposal includes "a passive recreation area that includes other amenities that allow for fishing, hiking, canoeing and kayaking, interpretive trails, a boat house and will be interconnected into the larger master trail system throughout the complex and Wiregrass".

Located east of the Wesley Chapel Medical Center under construction on BBD (now called the Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel) and northeast of The Shops at Wiregrass, the proposed park will be accessed initially via the future roads to be built for the proposed Raymond James Financial campus in Wesley Chapel at SR 56 & (future) Wiregrass Ranch Blvd. and eventually via SR 54 and Bruce B. Downs.  (See above survey for proposed park location in green highlighted area.)

If approved by the Pasco County commissioners before the end of this year, the proposed schedule is as follows:

January 2012 - December 2012  Design, permit, and initial marketing of complex
January 2013 - December 2013 Construction of The Fields at Wiregrass
First Quarter 2014  Grand Opening

It is anticipated that The Fields at Wiregrass will generate 20 events per year initially providing 41,000 hotel room nights, with an economic benefit of $8 million yearly to the area.  (As many as 40 events are projected starting in year 5.)  Wiregrass Sports, LLC will operate and manage the complex with Steve Daugherty, a senior sports business professional with Disney Sports Attractions management experience, serving as Chief Operating Officer.

Will the Fields at Wiregrass be approved by Pasco County Commissioners when they take this up on November 30th or will this simply be a Field of Dreams?   In the past, the Board has had a rough go of reaching agreements on sports complexes including the failed Pasco National Tennis Center and the failed Sportsplex USA project.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sushi Cafe to open

Sushi Cafe
The Sushi Cafe (located next to Panera Bread on BBD in New Tampa) plans to open within a month.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day 2011

Check out this link for free meals and discounts for veterans and military service members (provided by for Veteran's Day 2011.  Additionally, Tijuana Flats is offering 50% off entrees to veterans and active military.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What price are homes selling for in Wesley Chapel?

28% of the reported single family home sales for October, 2011 in Wesley were cash sales; 24% new conventional loans, 31% new FHA loans, 5% new VA loans, and 12% were other.

Presently there are over 275 single family homes listed for sale in Wesley Chapel; 57% are normal sales, 39% Short Sales/Pre-foreclosures, and 4% are REO/Foreclosures.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Gallagher to address Pasco Alliance of Community Associations

Pasco County Administrator John Gallagher will address the November 10th meeting of PACA and will cover a range of fiscal and policy issues.  The public is invited to attend the meeting which will begin at 7:00 PM at the Land O Lakes Community Center (5401 Land O Lakes Blvd.).

Monday, November 07, 2011

New Tampa Real Estate Report for October, 2011

Over 50 single family homes were reported sold in October, 2011 in New Tampa (33647 zip code) by our local MLS.  80% of the reported sales were "Normal" sales.  For distressed sales--Foreclosures/REO's made up 11% and Short Sales/Pre-foreclosures made up the remaining 9% of the reported sales in New Tampa.  The two October New Tampa home sales that were on the market the longest were two short sales with over 300 days on the market from listing to close.

Currently there are over 300 single family homes listed for sale in the 33647 zip code ranging in asking price from $99,900 to over $2 million.

*Information reported in MLS deemed reliable but not guaranteed

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Tis the season (almost)

There's a bit of nip in the air and they have recently started the assembly of the enormous Christmas tree at The Shops at Wiregrass in preparation for the Symphony in Lights kick off on November 19th.

Fresh market at Wiregrass today

Fresh market at The Shops at Wiregrass (10:00 AM to 3:00 PM)

Friday, November 04, 2011

Wesley Chapel's Kirkland's to open next week

The new Kirkland's in Wesley Chapel located on BBD in the North Woods shopping center (between Target and Marshalls) plans to open on November 9th.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Symphony in lights kicks off on November 19th

Symphony In Lights

The annual tree lighting celebration at The Shops at Wiregrass will be held on November 19, 2011 from 5:00 to 9:00 PM with the season kick off of Symphony in Lights, with shows (and snow) nightly through December 31st at 6:00 PM, 7:00 PM, 8:00 PM, and 9:00 PM.

Trimmed with over 250,000 lights, 47 miles of wire, 2,000 watts of sound, and 10 tons of holiday dècor and in concert to the music of the Trans Siberian Orchestra.  Center Court at the mall transforms into a Winter Wonderland of snow flurries and an impressive display of light, sound and snow.

The tree lighting celebration entertainment on November 19th includes live music by Late Night Brass, as well as stilt walkers, costumed characters, face painting, balloon artist, and Bounce House.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dogtoberfest 2011 at Wiregrass this Saturday

Dogtoberfest 2011
Don't forget the third annual Dogtoberfest pet costume contest and pet adoption event this Saturday at The Shops at Wiregrass from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.  Details of the pet costume contest.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Do the CherryBerry in New Tampa

CherryBerry, a self service yogurt bar is coming to New Tampa offering over 50 frozen yogurts and over 50 toppings.  The new shop will be located a few doors down from Michaels in The Walk at Highwoods Preserve on BBD.  I don't have a projected opening date, so I am not sure how long before we can "do the CherryBerry".

Monday, October 24, 2011

New Tampa bridge photo update

New Tampa bridge (View from New Tampa Blvd.)

           New Tampa bridge (View from I-75) 
The $14 million New Tampa bridge project over I-75 is scheduled for completion in 2013 and will connect New Tampa Blvd. to Commerce Park Blvd., providing an alternate route to BBD. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

Florida Orchestra Pops in the Park this Sunday in Tampa Palms

Don't forget the free Pops In The Park Concert by the Florida Orchestra will be held this Sunday at Compton Park in Tampa Palms at 7:00 PM.  Link

View Larger Map

San Diego congresswoman introduces bill to help homeowners avoid foreclosure

The response time from banks in accepting or rejecting short sale contracts on homes can be exasperating to all parties involved and sometimes can take many months for any type of response.

"As homeowners across the nation continue to tangle with banks, Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) introduced legislation to give people another tool to avoid foreclosure and the subsequent damage to the their credit rating. The Short Sale Transparency Act will require Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to disclose the minimum asking price they are willing to accept for a short sale if the first offer is rejected.

“People deserve a real chance to avoid foreclosure. It is unfair to expect someone to complete a short sale instead of abandoning their home to foreclosure, if the banks don’t meet them half way,” said Davis. “So many homeowners are willing, even eager, to work with banks to get out from under the mortgage and protect their credit rating. But far too often, they find themselves in a guessing game as to what dollar amount will complete the sale.”

"For many Americans a short sale, the sale of a home below what is owed, is a last chance to avoid foreclosure. However, when the acceptable price is unknown, short sales become less viable because homeowners are essentially shooting in the dark when submitting bids to a bank. As a result, loan servicers can repeatedly deny short sale offers without giving homeowners guidance on the price the bank is asking. Ultimately, this back and forth ends in foreclosure.

On the other hand, if an offer is, for example, $2,000 short and the homeowner knows this, they could find a way to make up the difference in order to complete the short sale.

Disclosure is essential to ensuring fair transactions between investors and borrowers. Fairness to consumers is critical to boosting the economy and ending the cycle of foreclosures."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Caribbean Jubilee to open at Wiregrass

Caribbean Jubilee
Caribbean Jubilee hopes to open on Saturday, October 22, 2011 at The Shops at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel.  They still were busily stocking the store when I dropped by.  The store is located next to Crazy 8.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wiregrass Ranch in Wesley Chapel still in the running for county sports park

Pasco County Commissioners were expecting three proposals for a county park.  One from Wiregrass Ranch, one from Aripeka for a "wake board" park in the old SunWest mine site, and one from Odessa for Starkey Park, but Odessa apparently dropped out.  The Wiregrass Ranch park previously was reported to be a 160 acre multipurpose sports complex with as many as 30 fields.  According to the St. Petersburg Times, details of the park proposals won't be revealed for at least 30 days.  A sports complex in Wesley Chapel has been kicked around for years, going all the way back to 2007 with the Pasco National Tennis Center which ultimately "crashed and burned" in 2009.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Average credit score for Tampa slightly below national average

Of the top American cities, Tampa ranked 92 with an average credit score of 740 for folks here, which is slightly below the national average of 749.  West Palm Beach topped the list for Florida cities with a ranking of 62 and an average score of 753, Orlando ranked 98 with an average score of 734, and Miami had a ranking of 122 with an average credit score of 719.  Which US cities had the top and lowest ranking?  Wausau, WI had the top average score of 789 and Harlingen, Texas ranked 143 with an average credit score of 686.*

What's the cost of a lifetime of bad credit?  Over $200,000!
Tips on how to boost your credit score

*Sources:  Experian, Vantage Score

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Major FDOT road project begins and others are planned for New Tampa & Wesley Chapel

I-75 widening project begins:
A $95 million project to widen I-75 to six/eight lanes from Fowler Avenue to State Road 56 began yesterday.

The project will add one lane in each direction, as well as auxiliary lanes near interchanges to enhance safety and reduce congestion along this major north-south highway. When finished, I-75 will be at least three lanes in each direction throughout Hillsborough County and up to north of State Road 54 in Pasco County. Work is expected to be completed by spring 2016.

FDOT Five Year Tentative Work Program:

The following local information was presented Thursday in the FDOT, District Seven, Five-Year Tentative Work Program Public Hearing for Fiscal Years July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2017.  Note:  Planned projects for Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, & Hillsborough were covered.  The projects listed below are the only ones located in New Tampa & Wesley Chapel:

Wesley Chapel:
  • Widening of SR 54 from Curley Road to Morris Bridge Road-- Right of Way advanced from 2015 to 2014  Construction added for Fiscal Year 2016.
New Tampa:
  • Bruce B. Downs widening from Bearss to Palm Springs Blvd.  Construction--Fiscal Year 2015
  • Bruce B. Downs widening from Pebble Creek to County Line Road --Right of Way added for 2014 and Construction for FY 2017
  • Cross Creek Blvd. widening from Cory Lake Dr. to Morris Bridge Rd.--Construction FY 2013
The public hearing/webinar was the first step in the process.  Next will be the executive review, followed by a state wide hearing before it is adopted on July 1, 2012.

Public comment/input is encouraged and can be made via mail to:  Donald Skelton, District 7 Secretary, FDOT, 11201 N. McKinley Dr., Tampa, FL 33612 or e-mail: before October 24, 2011.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Two local Arts & Crafts Shows this weekend

Don't forget the two arts and crafts shows that will be held locally this weekend:

Arts And Crafts Under The Palms in New Tampa is held by the Tampa Palms' Womens Club and will be held Saturday and Sunday at Market Square (BJ's Wholesale) from 10:00 to 4:00 PM.

The Wesley Chapel Fall Festival also will be held on Saturday and Sunday and will be held at The Grove mall in Wesley Chapel.

Don't forget the fresh market at The Shops at Wiregrass on Saturday from 10:00 to 3:00 and while you are out and about you might want to stop by our local pumpkin patch too!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wesley Chapel Pumpkin Patch

If you are looking for pumpkins, here are some pictures of a Pumpkin Patch in Wesley Chapel on SR 54:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

Kirklands coming to Wesley Chapel and hiring!

Kirkland's, a home decor retail chain with almost 300 stores in the U.S., is coming to Wesley Chapel and will be located in the North Woods Shopping Center on BBD/CLR between Petco and Marshalls. According to the posted sign there will be a HIRING FAIR on October 11, 12, & 13 at the Brandon location (Regency Square, 2448 West Brandon Blvd., Phone: 813-684-0343) from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Positions available: Management, Associates, and temp. positions.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Meadow Pointe September real estate report

21 single family Meadow Pointe homes were reported sold in September by our local MLS:
  • 19% were "traditional sales", with an avg. sales price/sq. ft. of $83.30 and 142 average days from listing to closing.
  • 29% were REO/Foreclosures with an avg. sales price/sq. ft. of $64.47 and 109 avg. days from listing to closing.
  • 52% were Short Sales/Pre-foreclosures with an avg. sales price/sq. ft. of $69.78 and an average of 289 days from listing to closing.
Currently there are over 40 single family homes listed for sale in Meadow Pointe with prices ranging from $102,000 to over $300,000.