Ready To Live The Florida Lifestyle? You’re Not Alone!

Enjoying The Florida LifestyleAs a trend, when the real estate market suffers vacation homes are often the first to suffer.  People tend to put off purchasing a vacation or second home when the housing market struggles.  However, when vacation homes sales begin to perk up this is a positive sign the housing market is really on a comeback and people can once again look forward to their dream of “living the Florida Lifestyle”.

According to a survey by the National Realtor Organization, vacation home sales have risen by 10.1% compared to a 2.1% decline in investment property sales and a 17.4% increase in the sale of primary homes.  The median price for vacation homes is trending upward as well, at $150,000 up from $121,300.  Interesting that the motivation behind this increase is 1) lower prices (today’s market is still a bargain compared to several years ago) @ 38%; and 2)  the desire to have a family retreat @ 28%.  A vacation homeowner plans to use the property for their own enjoyment, whereas an investment purchaser is most likely looking at potential rental income.

Many of the baby boomers set to retire soon saw plans put on hold as the economy took its toll on employment, cost of living and decline of their real estate investment value.  That doesn’t mean the dream has ended.  The last several winters have been brutally cold with seemingly a blizzard around every corner. To an aging population there is a huge interest in retiring to a warmer climate… that is where Florida has such an edge.  Here in Tampa Bay, with its easy access to international travel, a temperate climate with a myriad of outdoor activities ready for an active or quiet lifestyle, and waterfront property in abundance throughout the bay area… we are seeing the same demand. However, the inventory is at its lowest in years.

It is imperative in this newly evolving market to use a professional realtor and The PURTEE Team has three of the finest.  Let us help you locate and secure the home that will set you on your own road to living the Florida Lifestyle!

Consumer Confidence Declines, Except in Florida

Florida is standing apart from the nationwide decline in consumer confidence for the month of March.  The decline has been fueled by uncertainty with regards to the economic outlook, appraisals of current conditions declining and the assessment of the labor market being mixed.  The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index is now at 59.7 down from 61.4 in February.

However, Florida’s consumer confidence has risen three points since February according to a University of Florida monthly survey.  This rise was not expected, but can be attributed to factors such as Floridians having an overall increased perception of being financially better off than they were a year ago, increased expectations that the US economy will improve over the next year, and feeling that now is a time to buy big-ticket items.  The only sign of decline in the survey was that Floridians were uncertain about whether or not they will be better off financially a year from now.

The big news and a great reason for this increased confidence in Floridians could be due to the fact that the state’s unemployment rate is now one-tenth of a percent lower than the national average of 7.8 percent.  This is the first time this has happened since the recession.

Another great reason is that Florida is experiencing a strong housing market, with the median price of single-family homes at $150,000 in February.  This is up almost 3.5 percent from January and 12.8 percent from a year ago.  Some areas, including Tampa Bay, are experiencing housing shortages, which is then driving up prices.  This is why so many buyers are checking out the Purtee Team VIP Buyer Program!  It really works to get their buyers matched up to the right property as soon as it hits the market.

Finally, gas prices in the state have decreased by 15 cents a gallon in the past three weeks. 

For more information on the trends, go to http://www.bebr.ufl.edu/cci

Here On Tampa Bay Beaches We Take Sea Turtle Nesting Seriously!

Sea Turtle Nesting

Living here on the beach in Tampa Bay, I am constantly reminded of the importance of maintaining a healthy ecosystem when it comes to the health and well being of not only the Gulf of Mexico but also the oceans all over the world.  Summertime is when two amazing seasons take place… sea turtle nesting and scalloping!

We love to go scalloping for the sport of it and especially for the taste of those cherished bay scallops! What we learned is that maintaining a certain population level of these creatures has a direct impact on the cleanliness of our water out in the bay. Each individual scallop has the ability to filter 15 gallons of sea water per hour. WOW! A healthy scallop population means a healthy bay.

So back to the sea turtles…  we often here about avoiding bright lights on the beach at night. The female sea turtles will basically drag themselves out of the water and up on the beach to burrow herself in and lay her eggs. Once her job is complete back to the sea she goes.  Our animal rescue department is in charge of spotting these nests, taking their copious notes of exact time and location… and determining the well-being of the eggs. The turtle nest right in front of us has just had a basket put over it to help direct the small hatchlings into the water.

 The sea turtle population has declined over the years due to a variety of reasons such as over fishing and decline of adequate nesting areas.  Why do they, even at their diminished population, play such an important role in the marine ecosystem?  They provide a key habitat for other marine life by maintaining healthy seagrrass beds and coral reefs which helps to balance marine food chain and facilitating nutrient cycling from water to land. One only has to watch the plentiful sea bird population to see how critical this is for their existence. By grazing on the sea grass beds, they literally improve its productivity.

So a little more reporting on the nature of where we live and how we protect it!

Focus on Tarpon Springs

What started off as a small community of Greek divers has today become an area with a distinct Hellenic flavor within America. Just a mere 30 minutes north of Clearwater, Tarpon Springs with its new houses and stately mansions has a lot to offer when it comes to Greek heritage. Festivities in this region are centered on the Spring Bayou and are kick started by the annual Epiphany celebrations in January which draw Greek Americans from across the country. As a matter of fact, the traditional diving for the cross took place in 40 degree weather as hearty young men competed in the dive for the sacred cross. The population here actually triples in size over the Epiphany weekend.

 

In 1887, as sponges were discovered growing in the waters of the gulf in that area, Tarpon Springs found its niche in the sponge business. By 1890, the sponge industry was firmly established in Tarpon Springs. The Cheney Sponge Company sold almost a million dollars worth of sponges that year!
 
The early sponge divers created a need at the docks for eating places for the boat crews. Then as news of the industry grew, people began coming to the docks to see the sponges. Shops opened so people could buy the sponges and other souvenirs. Today Greek Cuisine proliferates in the downtown area of Tarpon Springs with at least 25 Greek restaurants and cafes offering a variety of snacks and meals. Greek influence is so strong that you can feel it all along the Dodecanese Boulevard, which is dotted with Greek bakeries, sponge and souvenir stores and the Spongeorama Exhibit Center, displaying different aspects of the town related to sponging, religion, and culture at Tarpon Springs.
 
When looking for a unique excursion near Tampa Bay, head to the sponge docks for authentic sponges of every sort, loofahs and great Greek food. A stop at Hellas Bakery is a MUST! I can be writing for a long, long time with how much there is to do and see around Tampa Bay!!!

So… Are People Who Live In A Sunshine State Truly Happier?

According to a new study conducted by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, people in sunny, outdoorsy states — Hawaii, Florida and Louisiana — say they’re the happiest Americans. The ‘happiness’ ratings were based on a survey of 1.3 million people across the country comparing self-described pleasant feelings with objective measures of good living. The places where people are most likely to report happiness also tend to rate high on studies comparing things like climate, crime rates, air quality and schools.
 
The survey used data collected over four years that included a question asking people how satisfied they are with their lives. Economists Andrew J. Oswald of the University of Warwick in England and Stephen Wu of Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., compared the happiness ranking with studies that rated states on a variety of criteria ranging from availability of public land to commuting time to local taxes.
“We wanted to study whether people’s feelings of satisfaction with their own lives are reliable, that is, whether they match up to reality — of sunshine hours, congestion, air quality, etceteras — in their own state. And they do match.”
 
It is true… at least for us… especially hearing all the stories about the “Blizzard of 2009”! Being able to play tennis or golf year round, take long walks on the beach and absorb all that great Vitamin D right from the sun!!! You may want to consider life in Tampa Bay, too. It won’t be long before you understand our tag line, “Come For A Visit, Stay For A Lifetime.”

Stone Crab Delicacies Back On The Menus!

It is that time of the year again! Beginning October 15th, Stone Crab season begins and extends until May 15th. Throughout the gulf coast and keys of Florida, fishermen are getting prepared to set their traps… marking the start of an anticipated 3.1 million pound harvest, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

 
The stone crab claws are definitely a delicacy… the meat is incredibly sweet and has a distinctive taste found in no other seafood. The claws make up half the weight of the whole crab, they are removed by carefully grabbing from the rear and twisting. There are serious rules to be followed in harvesting the claws. Only one claw may be removed so the crab can defend itself. Egg bearing females are not allowed to be declawed.The crabs are captured in baited traps. No spears or hooks are allowed. The crab is returned to water and the claw regenerates. It takes between 12 to 24 months to reach legal size again.
 

For those of us Florida residents and visitors lucky enough to be here next week, Frenchy’s 25th Anniversary Stone Crab Weekend will launch the season in style! October 16th, 17th & 18th, they will be offering Stone Crab at wholesale prices all weekend, while supplies last! We LOVE the Beach Party atmoshere and this year there will be a huge block party with live music. The PURTEE Team can’t wait!
 
On the other hand, if you are not able to join the celebration we have found a place that will ship directly to your home. At Joe’s Stone Crabs, “We’ll ship them overnight wherever you are in the continental United States and they’ll arrive fresh, ice cold and ready for cracking. Our complete package meals come with a mallet, a cracking board, cocktail forks, bibs, and instructions.”

Nature’s Nightly Beauty… What A Way To Spend The Fall!

We are on the phone daily with clients from all over the USA, Canada and Europe. Recent conversation seems to turn to the weather. The northern states and Canada are enjoying cooling temperatures and the beautiful colors with the turning of the leaves. Colorado has turned quite chilly.
 
Well, here on the beach in Tampa Bay we actually had a cold wave come through yesterday! That means highs only up to mid-80’s and lows hovering around 70! Hummm… so last night with the sliding doors open, we listened to the sounds of the rolling waves from the Gulf of Mexico and felt the gentle breeze as we slept. This, of course, after witnessing one of the more spectacular sunsets!
 
 
Sunsets here on the west coast of Florida are always special. Every night of the year Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach holds their sunset festivities 2 hours before and after sunset with live entertainment, food and handicrafts. Often, we will walk along the beach and find people mesmerized at the colors changing throughout the sun setting. Inevitably, we will offer to take pictures of couples with the sunset behind them. Beach weddings are a favorite all along the beach communities and sunset photos are a must for a romantic bride and groom.
 
Each night, depending on the cloud formation and probably a million things only a climatologist would understand, we watch as shades of blues and aqua begin to mix with pinks and corals… and then on the lucky night – the fiery reds like in the photo we took last night. Just wanted to share it!