Affected by Coronavirus? Mortgage Payment Options May Be Available

Here in Florida, we’ve been hit hard. Not directly by the virus, but by the side effects of the fear, panic, and unknowns inherently found in a situation like this.

It’s March. It’s Spring Break. It’s baseball’s Spring Training.

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The roads are normally so congested it takes twice as long as any other time of the year to get anywhere. In February, March, and April, we can normally expect much greater wait times in restaurants, stores, bars, and at special events. This time of year is when our travel-related industries – hotels, restaurants, stores, bars, stadiums, etc – see their business explode. This is the time of year many of these business owners and employees restock their savings accounts to make it through the slow periods.

Yet, the tourists have not come. And that’s going to affect a lot of people and their ability to pay their bills. There is help though.

The information below comes directly from Realtor Magazine.

If you are experiencing a financial hardship due to COVID-19, please call your mortgage servicer to learn about options available to you.

Borrowers who are unable to make their monthly mortgage payments due to COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, have options to postpone payments, according to a new statement released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency. FHFA Director Mark Calabria reminded mortgage servicers this week to offer forbearance options to those who are affected as the virus continues its spread through the U.S.

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“To meet the needs of borrowers who may be impacted by the coronavirus, last week Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reminded mortgage servicers that hardship forbearance is an option for borrowers who are unable to make their monthly mortgage payment,” Calabria said in a statement. “For borrowers that may be experiencing a hardship, I encourage you to reach out to your servicer.”

The Federal Housing Administration also announced mortgage payment assistance available to those impacted by the virus. “As with any other event that negatively impacts a borrower’s ability to pay their monthly mortgage payment, FHA’s suite of loss mitigation options provides solutions that mortgagees should offer to distressed borrowers—including those that could be impacted by the coronavirus—to help prevent them from going into foreclosure,” the FHA said in a statement.

Forbearance options are available not only to those sick from the virus but also owners who may be facing a temporary hardship from it, such as a borrower who is quarantined and unable to work.


Check out my home search site at www.realtorcrisintampa.com. On there you can search homes, save neighborhoods you’re interested in, save homes you love, see local recommendations and insights, see school info, calculate commute times and much more.

Interested in an easy-to-use, no-obligation mobile search app? Try my KW app. It’s free! And it works all over the US. Download it now!

Best and Worst Renovations for Adding Value to Your Home

It’s a crazy market in some price ranges in the Tampa Bay area. Anything under $300,000, for example, seems to just fly off the market, often with multiple offers near or at asking price. One thing we see with most of these homes, though, are renovations adding value to the home. In other words, the homes that have been recently (less than a year) remodeled or renovated, sell much faster and closer to asking price than other homes. Even homes that are move-in ready but a little dated languish on the market for days or weeks.

When we see renovations adding that much value to a home, it tells us Realtors a couple of things. First, it speaks to buyer behavior. Buyers want to move in, show off a beautiful home, and get on with their lives. Many buyers right now are simply not interested in living in a construction zone to get a pretty home. They would rather simply pay more for a home that has already been renovated. Second, we know that sellers who invest the time and money into these renovations will come out ahead. Now, I know it isn’t always feasible to put $20,000 or $30,000 into a home before you sell it; however, if you are going to put money into your home, you probably will want to do so where you’ll see the best return on your investment.

The following are the best and worst renovations specifically for the Tampa Bay area. The data comes directly from Remodeling’s Cost vs Value Report for 2019, and the spreadsheet is pictured above. If you want more information, head over to their website and check it out for yourself.

Worst Renovations for Home Values

The worst renovations for adding value to your home are those which recoup the least percentage of your investment. They are not bad investments; they just aren’t the best places to spend your money. That said, some of these are necessities so if one of the following is a remodel job that your home really, really needs, go for it!

Wood Window Replacement – 58.8% ROI

When I preview a home for buyers or show a home to buyers, one of the things I look for first is the age of the windows. If they need to be replaced, we have to take that into consideration, especially for buyers who are already stretched thin financially. Older windows, especially crank windows, will cost buyers in power costs as well as replacement costs.

While vinyl window replacement checks in as one of the best returns on investments for renovations, wood windows are one of the worst. Though it’s true that most homes won’t use wood windows, if you’re buying an older (historic) home, chances are you might want to replace old wood windows with newer wood windows. On average, wood windows cost about $20,000 and add back a little over $11,000 in value.

Major Kitchen Remodel – 57.9% ROI

We classify kitchen remodels as minor and major, as mid-range and upscale. A major upscale kitchen remodel returns the least on the investment. So what do we mean by major and upscale? A major remodel takes it right back to the walls and sub-flooring. Major remodels replace every component, such as floors, updated electrical and plumbing, counters, cabinets, appliances, and possibly even the layout of the kitchen. An upscale remodel uses the best materials and brands. Think high-end finishes on the cabinets, quartz counter tops, and smart appliances.

Photo by Mark McCammon from Pexels

Bathroom Addition – 55.7% ROI

In Pinellas County, we have a lot of homes that were built in the 1950s and 1960s as small retirement places. They were 2 or 3 bedrooms, 1 bath and sometimes a second in the garage so “the men had somewhere to wash up,” and less 1100 square feet, often smaller.

As these homes became family and starter homes, the need for a second bathroom became apparent. Now many of these homes have a second bathroom in the garage, with varying degrees of completeness. Some are no more than a toilet and crude sink. Others rival the finest of indoor baths.

While the a second bathroom may become a necessity for some families, a bathroom addition rarely recoups the entire cost of the investment, making it one of the worse renovations for adding value to your home.

Photo by Jean van der Meulen from Pexels

Master Suite Addition – 54.5% ROI

Another addition we see often in Pinellas County is the master suite addition. This one is most often a garage conversion. I’ve seen some really beautiful ones and some not so great conversions. The best will have the garage floor brought up to the level of the rest of the house and use materials that mimic the finishes found in the home.

When considering a master suite addition, consider more than the cost. First, be sure the addition doesn’t become an over improvement for the neighborhood. Next, consider that while adding square footage to the home, if completed as a garage conversion and not done well (or permitted), an appraiser may not give much value, if any, to the conversion.

Backyard Patio – 49.5% ROI

In Florida, the backyard patio is the worst bang for your buck.

But, wait, Cris. Don’t Floridians love that outdoorsy lifestyle?

Yes. And that’s why it’s the worst renovation choice. Because a backyard patio is so common in Florida that it’s expected. Definitely, put in a patio. Use it. Enjoy it. Just don’t expect it’ll add anything. Buyers will expect one, and if your home doesn’t have one, that’ll detract from the overall appeal of the home.

All that said, the figures in the spreadsheet above put the cost of a new patio at just shy of $55,000. That’s a super fancy patio (with a pool!), and we know you can install a standard 12’x12′ patio for much less money than that.

Two Women Sitting on Sofa

Best Renovations for Adding Value to Your Home

The best renovations for adding value to your home are those which recoup the largest percentage of your investment. Some of these may surprise you. Some, maybe not. If you have to spend money on your home prior to selling, these renovations are definitely the ones you should look in to.

Roof Replacement – 67.1%

Not only is a new roof functional and a necessity, it can actually help the sale of your home. Most loan programs will require a roof to have some kind of functional life left in it. FHA- and VA-backed loans have even more stringent requirements. If your roof is at the end of it’s useful life, it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and replace before putting your home on the market. It will save you a lot of headaches with contracts potentially falling through later on. And it’s a great marketing blurb for the MLS and brochures.

Deck Addition – 72.5%

So…we’re in Florida, and many of our homes won’t fit a deck. Decks, by nature, work best in rolling terrain – which the Tampa area doesn’t have – or on homes that are lifted off the ground, like older homes with crawl spaces or mobile homes. Many of you won’t be able to add a deck on to your home, and for the reasons stated above under Backyard Patio, hopefully you have one of those already.

If you can add a deck on to your home, it’ll be a good investment. Decks create more outdoor living space where it might be difficult to create, like on a hill side. And they can be beautiful, too, with plants spilling over the edges.

Photo by Im3rd Media on Unsplash

Garage Door Replacement – 73.7%

Curb appeal again. There’s not much point in putting in new landscaping or painting the house if the garage door is old and dented. A garage door sets you back about $3,000 or so. It’s an investment worth making, and one which is affordable for many sellers. Replacing the garage door adds character and charm to the home and ups that all-important curb appeal.

Minor Kitchen Remodel – 74.1% ROI

Whereas a major kitchen remodel ranks as one of the worst renovations for adding value to your home, a minor kitchen remodel ranks as one of the best. What’s considered minor? Think new appliances, or new granite counters. It’s not remodeling the entire kitchen, just some of it.

Manufactured Stone Veneer – 83% ROI

Does it surprise you to find stone veneer as the best renovation you can make? It did me. It is, however, beautiful and a trend that’s been around for many years so we know it stands the test of time.

Manufactured stone veneer is usually made of Portland cement, aggregate, and iron oxide. The aggregate makes it lighter than real stone, and the iron oxide gives it the coloration needed to mimic stone. Stone veneer can be used inside – around a fire place, for instance – or on the exterior of the home. Wherever it’s used, it makes an impact and provides a great degree of character.

Photo by chris scott from FreeImages

Check out my home search site at www.realtorcrisintampa.com. On there you can search homes, save neighborhoods you’re interested in, save homes you love, see local recommendations and insights, see school info, calculate commute times and much more.

Interested in an easy-to-use, no-obligation mobile search app? Try my KW app. It’s free! And it works all over the US. Download it now!

13 Most Expensive Homes in Tampa in 2019

Tampa, Florida is the Florida’s west coast business hub. One of Florida’s oldest cities, Tampa has a history of that includes piracy as well as luxury. Tampa’s waterfront exudes this luxury with multi-story homes, some of which are the most expensive homes in Tampa in 2019. Davis Islands, in particular, is the place where one finds many of these homes.

Davis Islands is two islands at the mouth of the Hillsborough River in Tampa Bay. The islands offer spectacular views of the Port of Tampa and of Tampa Bay, making them a popular and desirable place to live. Originally two small islands called Little Grassy Key and Big Grassy Key, Davis Islands were expanded into the modern man-made islands by dredging Tampa Bay in the 1920s. The archipelago is now home to many of the city’s professional athletes and top businessmen. That said, not all of Tampa’s most expensive homes sold in 2019 are located on Davis Islands. Some offer other water frontage along historic Bayshore Boulevard or golf course frontage.

1. 556 Riviera Drive – $7,500,000

This custom estate offers a unique bayfront location on Davis Island with 100 feet of captivating water views. The West Indies-style interior features superior craftsmanship & designer upgrades. All 7 bedrooms are en-suite with an additional 1.5 bathrooms across 8,050 sf. The property also has an elevator, 1550 bottle wine cellar, gourmet kitchen with Italian marble, Savant smart home tech system, surround sound, outdoor lighting, central vacuum & more. Outdoors a resort-style 2-story lanai opens to a saltwater heated pool-spa and summer kitchen. Other features include wood floors, new seawall, dock with submersible kayak launch, and a game room.

2. 108 Martinique Avenue – $6,000,000

Open Bay Waterfront on one of the most coveted slivers in Tampa Bay. Private villa-style oasis with open bay waterfront sits on one of the most coveted slivers in Tampa Bay. The resort-style pool and outdoor spaces designed for entertaining & play are the big draw for this home. The pool is like the Blue Lagoon with water slide, grotto hiding spaces, fire pit at the pool’s edge, waterfalls, West Indies-style Cabana with kitchen, and a dock cantilevered over the Bay. Inside the home quality features include wood floors, custom cut marble with wavy edges, 500+ wine cellar, and a chef’s kitchen.

3. 921 S. Golf View Street – $5,200,000

This stately French Provincial chateau with interior features of “that golden era of Hollywood glamour” is newly constructed with wooded and golf course views. Designed for entertaining, this home has marble and wood flooring throughout, a 2-story staircase, fabulous chandeliers, and a rec room with honey onyx bar and a 500 bottle wine cellar. This home also boasts large sleek wood cabinets and stone French Chef’s kitchen complete with butler’s pantry, a magnificent two story study with upper book walk, 4 car garage and motor court. Magnificent is really an understatement for this home.

4. 4939 New Providence Avenue – $5,175,000

A true master piece in design, this picture, perfect property in South Tampa showcases a beautiful Colonial Bermuda style home which overlooks Tampa Bay. This unique property offers yacht protection on the side canal. While the formal garden with fountain and an orchid greenhouse is a gardener’s delight. The interior of the home offers many amazing details as well. Twelve foot ceilings create elegance through the home and allow the arched palladium windows to draw huge quantities of light into the home. Arched, molded doorways, arched shell cabinets, and a hexagonal granite kitchen add to the uniqueness of this property.

5. 5131 W. Neptune Way – $4,500,000

New construction offers waterfront South Tampa living at it’s finest. Offering 5 spacious bedrooms plus an office, 6 full bathrooms, movie theater, gym, elevator, oversized 3 car garage, and so much more in 6,520 square feet. This masterpiece boasts exquisite high-end finishes throughout, stunning water views from every room, a gourmet kitchen designed by Allikristé Custom Cabinetry & Kitchen, custom pool/spa, summer kitchen with 40” grill, and a rooftop terrace complete with a wet bar and fire pit. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a luxury waterfront home without a dock and boat lift.

6. 5111 W. Homer Avenue – $4,500,000

Spectacular new Coastal living waterfront residence built by Don Hughes is located on a protected deep water canal. Offering a blend of luxury & sensible function, entertaining is a breeze with the chef’s kitchen, bonus room with wet bar, and a large heated saltwater pool. Gorgeous covered lanai is an extension of the living area w/ a full kitchen. Six bedrooms and 6.5 baths with more than 6,400 square feet ensures plenty of room for family, friends, and guests to enjoy the open water views and waterfront lifestyle.

7. 116 Adalia Avenue – $4,345,000

Davis Island waterfront masterpiece reveals the latest in luxury residential design with exceptional finishes and a fresh Modern Farmhouse architectural style. This home is a stunning statement of refinement and is perfectly positioned on an extra deep over-sized waterfront site along the Adalia/Baltic canal. With 7674 square feet, six bedrooms, and 7.5 baths, this home will features sweeping water and downtown skyline views from several vantage points including the rooftop deck and the crows nest.

8. 5130 W. San Jose Street – $4,340,000

Built in 2016, this canal-front home features 5 bedrooms, 5.5 baths, more than 6000 square feet, a pool, and a dock. (Only minimal information was provided on MLS.)

9. 3605 S. Bayshore Blvd – $4,000,000

Contemporary yet Classic Devonshire custom built and designed home, this is a true Craftsman style with details inspired by the West Indies. Views of the backyard oasis drift throughout the house, pulling the eye outdoors. This home is designed with the latest “smart” resources, including charging port for a smart car, media room wired for a state of the art system, full service elevator, and smart appliances. No detail has been overlooked from the chef’s kitchen, the study, work-out room/guest suite with steam shower, and upstairs and downstairs master bedroom suites.

10. 202 Blanca Avenue – $3,900,000

One of the original homes on Davis Island, built in 1925, this Mizner Spanish Revival has 5 bedrooms, 6.5 baths, and more than 4,000 square feet as well as nearly 300 square feet in the guest house. The property offers sweeping views of Tampa Bay, a waterfront pool, detached garage with office, and a dock.

11. 602 Riviera Drive – $3,725,000

Custom built by Devonshire in 2002, this home features exquisite architectural details and high end finishes throughout the 7,000 square feet. Plus, there are water views from nearly every room. Special features include plantation shutters, central vac, tankless hot water heater, French doors, and wainscoting. The home includes a fabulous theater room, butler’s pantry with wine fridge, gourmet kitchen, and a family room that opens to the oasis of a backyard. All bedrooms have en-suite bathrooms plus there are an additional one and a half bathrooms. The outdoor living space is a retreat, with a heated pool & spa, outdoor kitchen, covered dining and entertainment space with fans and TV, plus a large travertine patio.

12. 26 Sandpiper Road – $3,500,000

This 5-bedroom, 5-bathroom luxury home yields open views of Tampa Bay and a home filled with light and has custom high-end finishes. A chef’s kitchen entices the foodies with custom cabinets, dining nook, professional stainless steel appliances, and a double pantry. The home is made for entertaining and family gatherings with plenty of room for guests, a separate formal dining room, wine cooler/bar area, a large great room with fireplace, living room, bonus room with three TVs, a downstairs guest suite, and a study with built-ins overlooking the water. Enjoy the best Florida lifestyle and outdoor living with your own boat dock with lift, pool and spa, gas fire pit with seating area, and outdoor kitchen. This home truly has it all.

13. 4605 Bayshore Boulevard – $3,450,000

One of the finest homes on iconic Bayshore Boulevard, this contemporary Charleston style home, with its commanding presence is setback on an elevated knoll overlooking the sparkling waters of Tampa Bay. Juxtaposing modern sensibility with classic design, this recently completed, high-level renovation will elevate your senses to appreciate the meticulous detail and artful style. High tech smart features include surround sound, automatic window coverings, 360-degree exterior camera views, whole house generator and LED lighting. This home also extends the luxury indoor living to the outdoor spaces with its elegant design of upper and lower balconies overlooking beautiful gardens and courtyard with French limestone fountain.


There are so many amazing homes on this list! So many recently built. Which one is your favorite? I really love the modern look of the home on Neptune; however, as in my favorite most expensive home in Pinellas County, the Bermuda-style home simply speaks to me. Not just the color which is one of my favorites, but that look with tall, wide windows and high ceilings so reminiscent of Florida before the invention of A/C.


Check out my home search site at www.realtorcrisintampa.com. On there you can search homes, save neighborhoods you’re interested in, save homes you love, see local recommendations and insights, see school info, calculate commute times and much more.

Interested in an easy-to-use, no-obligation mobile search app? Try my KW app. It’s free! And it works all over the US. Download it now!

What Does $100,000 Get You in the Tampa Bay Area?

A Tiny House in Pinellas Park

If you love a tiny house, with land, close to everything…this is it! Over 1/4 acre of land on this corner lot (that’s a lot for Pinellas County) and just a 15 minute drive to St. Petersburg. This home is simply adorable!

A 1-Bedroom Condo in St. Petersburg or Odessa

A cool 100k will get you a 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom condominium in St. Petersburg and in Odessa (north of Tampa). Both communities are pet-friendly and the units have been recently updated.

Acreage in Lakeland

How does 4.5 acres sound? It comes with an older mobile home, but the value is in the land. Build a dream home. Give a home to lots of animals. Try out your green thumb in a ginormous garden. Lakeland is east of Tampa and has lots of land still available with an easy(ish) commute into Tampa for work. This is also where you’ll find the headquarters of Florida’s iconic grocery store, Publix.

A 2-Bedroom Condo in Bradenton

Head to the south shores of Tampa Bay and into Manatee County for affordable condos. Bradenton is close enough to St. Petersburg to commute over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, and Bradenton is filled with delightful parks and beaches.

A Fixer-Upper in Tampa

For $100,000, sometimes you have to sacrifice condition for price. Fixer-uppers like this one allow buyers to put their own creative stamp on a home and make it truly their own.

A Starter Home in Plant City

Home of the Strawberry Festival, Plant City is east of Tampa and certainly offers much more affordable housing. For those who work on the east side of Tampa, Plant City is full of housing opportunities.

A Block Home in Port Richey

Or head north of Tampa for an affordable family home. Pasco County offers tons of new home communities in Wesley Chapel, but further west you can still find plenty of affordable homes in places like Holiday and Port Richey. The Suncoast Parkway makes getting into Tampa fast and easy.

A Mobile Home in Ellenton

Mobile homes, though not ideal in hurricane country, can be a great option. They offer more home for the money and newer ones are just as energy efficient and nice as block or frame homes. Many mobile homes also have carports and a small yard so they’re a good alternative for those people who want more privacy than a condo has but don’t want to do all the yard work required by a detached home.

A Fixer-Upper in Clearwater

If you find a fixer in Clearwater, snap it up. These don’t come along often and when they do, investors try everything they can to outbid each other. However, even if you have to get a mortgage to purchase a home, there are ways to make your offer just as enticing as a cash offer. You just have to move really, really fast. And if you win, you might be living in paradise a couple miles from the country’s best beach. Worth it, isn’t it? Definitely!

Want to see the most expensive homes in Pinellas County? Check them out here. Or go see the most expensive homes in Tampa.


Check out my home search site at www.realtorcrisintampa.com. On there you can search homes, save neighborhoods you’re interested in, save homes you love, see local recommendations and insights, see school info, calculate commute times and much more.

Interested in an easy-to-use, no-obligation mobile search app? Try my KW app. It’s free! And it works all over the US. Download it now!

15 Most Expensive Homes Sold in Pinellas County in 2019

Palm Beach can be considered the Belleair of Florida, with it’s Billionaire’s Row and uber-expensive homes. Eight of the most expensive homes in Florida are in Palm Beach. But did you know Florida actually has a town called Belleair? Not surprising, it’s one of the most exclusive area in Pinellas County with many of the county’s most expensive homes found there.

The fifteen most expensive homes in Pinellas County are found from end to end. There’s one in Tarpon Springs at the north part of the county, one in St. Pete Beach at the southern end of the county, and many between the two. These are the 15 most expensive home sales in Pinellas County in 2019. All information is taken from the multiple listing service.

1. 1700 Gulf Boulevard, Belleair Shores – $16,500,000

This Mediterranean-inspired residence sprawls across more than 19,000 square feet on 2.36 acres. The home has 7 bedrooms, 8 baths, and 4 half-baths. Terraces and patios on three levels capture the magnificence of Florida’s Gulf coast beaches, sea, and sky. Additional amenities include a six-car garage; a lazy river with waterfalls, bridges, a bar, and a grotto; 200′ of beach and Gulf of Mexico frontage; a bowling alley; and a movie theater.

Sold by former Phillies All-Star, Ryan Howard, the stunning residence echoes rooms on the outside from the inside. For instance, there’s a billiards table on the expansive covered patio of the beach level, as well as a summer kitchen to rival any gourmet kitchen, an outside bar, and a number of seating areas.

2. 1176 Mandalay Point, Clearwater – $11,000,000

This property in the exclusive Clearwater enclave, Mandalay Point, seems a bit modest compared to others on this list. It’s value comes from it’s location. As we say in real estate: location, location, location. Mandalay Point covers the northern most point of Clearwater Beach, a place where homes sprawl across large lots and often have views of both the Gulf of Mexico and the inshore waters of Clearwater Harbor. This home has 2 bedrooms, 2.5 baths and a bit over 5000 square feet. It was purchased by the founders of the IT company, ConnectWise, which sold early in 2019 for over $1 billion.

Would you rather watch than read? Check out the video on YouTube! With bonus photos!

3. 3255 Buffalo Run, Tarpon Springs – $10,000,000

Despite it’s grandeur – travertine marble floors, Venetian plaster ceilings, cast stone walls – this property focuses on family fun. The main home of 21,000 square feet and guest house of 6,200 square feet sprawl across 19.54 acres. The main home features “The Village”, a wing of the house dedicated to fun with a movie theater, a pub, an ice cream shop, poker and cigar room, music lounge, and a book store/library. The fun continues outside with an amazing pool which features a lazy river, 14 waterfalls, a swim-up tiki bar, rope bridge, and a water slide.

4. 1188 Mandalay Point, Clearwater – $9,250,000

Another spectacular Mandalay Point home, this one has just over 4,800 square feet with 4 bedrooms and 6 baths. Like many homes in this exclusive Clearwater neighborhood, this home features sunrises over inshore waters of the Intracoastal Waterway and sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico with direct access to both. The home has a delightful pool, dock, and almost 1 acre of land.

5. 1104 Mandalay Point, Clearwater – $9,000,000

Let’s stay in Mandalay Point for the fifth most expensive home sold in Pinellas County in 2019. This wonderful 1931 home called The Gate House sits on 1.3 acres of land with 155 feet of deep water access and 152 feet of beach frontage. The home features classic Florida style in it’s expansive wrap-around porch, high ceilings and peaked roof line, all of which brought cool breezes through the home in the days before air conditioning. With 4 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, and 3,658 square feet, The Gate House offers a putting green, a 350 foot boardwalk to the beach, and old Florida details inside the home such as wood floors and pecky Cypress walls.

6. 144 Willadel Drive, Belleair – $7,900,000

This stunning estate provides more than 12,000 square feet with 6 bedrooms and 6 baths. This home is designed for the entertainer in all of us. Almost 2 acres of land slope to the waterfront and provide gardens and terraces to stroll through as well as the resort-style pool which includes an underground water slide that exits through a stone wall, a spa, waterfall, and bridges. The property also features a guest house, boat slip, and shared tennis court. Buyer Stu Sjouwerman is the founder of the IT security company, KnowBe4, and co-founder of Inc.

7. 180 Beach Drive NE #2700, St. Petersburg – $6,849,000

The only penthouse on this list, this Ovation Penthouse offers 360 degree views of St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay. Encompassing the entire floor, it has thermal, hurricane-impact windows; a high-speed elevator; three balconies; a 3-car garage; marble floors throughout; and a gourmet kitchen. The highlight of this penthouse, besides exquisite luxury, is the views. Watch the cruise ships pass by, fireworks on the Fourth of July, or just enjoy Florida’s beautiful sunrises and sunsets from high above the city.

8. 320 Gulf Boulevard, Belleair Shores – $6,015,000

This stunning newer home (built in 2014) offers exquisite details in it’s architecture and millwork. It has a gourmet kitchen with oversized breakfast bar, third floor game room, and private terraces for each bedroom. The home has 4 bedrooms, 5 full baths, and 2 half baths on almost a 1/2 acre with 82 feet of beach frontage. An elevator makes accessing all three floors easy and a 4-car garage with tons of storage provides space for all the toys. This beautiful property is now owned by the Letsons; Conrad Letson is GM and operating partner of a Dodge dealership.

9. 820 Gulf Boulevard, Belleair Shores – $5,800,000

Right down the road from the previous road, this Mediterranean-style estate offers so much to it’s new owners. Five bedrooms, five bathrooms, and 2 half baths sprawl throughout 7,311 square feet. The ground floor – affectionately called the beach level – features the pool, 120 feet of beach frontage, and a 5-car garage with 2 bedroom guest accommodation. The rest of the home features a gourmet kitchen, office, media room, elevator, and spacious bedrooms with views of the Gulf of Mexico.

10. 2701 Sunset Way, St. Pete Beach – $5,285,000

Located in Pass-a-Grille, this inspiring home captivates with it’s luxurious finishes and unique design elements. When you combine Jerusalem gold limestone and bamboo floors with imported coral stone and Chihuly glass art, you come away with a masterpiece. This home 3 bedrooms, 4.5 baths along 60 feet of Pinellas County’s most desirable beachfront. Finishing touches include a media area, gourmet kitchen, fitness room, library/office, morning bar in the master suite, and private terraces around the home with gorgeous views.

11. 515 Brightwaters Boulevard, St. Petersburg – $5,043,500

This historic waterfront Mediterranean estate occupies a prime spot on Snell Isle with open water views and views of downtown St. Petersburg. Built in 1928, the home boasts timeless architectural details such as 1500 year old reclaimed floors from Spain, cast stone wood burning fireplace, exposed beamed ceilings, and original brass window cranks. Nearly every room offers a wonderful water view, including the 5 bedrooms. The lot it sits on covers nearly 3/4 acre with 146 feet of water frontage. Sweeping lawns welcome visitors to the front of the home and beckon them to the water’s edge and boat dock. Radiologist, Dr. Gehad Aboud now owns this property.

12. 15700 Gulf Boulevard, Redington Beach – $4,900,000

This 2016 home has spectacular open patios along the entire rear of the home to take in the amazing Gulf of Mexico views. The property offers direct beach access with 70 feet of beach frontage. Five bedrooms with six and a half bathrooms cover 5,593 square feet. All the details feature the latest in luxury, including a chef’s kitchen with quartz counters, custom wood cabinets, a den/office, 6-car garage, and elevator.

13. 288 Spottis Woode Court, Clearwater – $4,835,000

This 11,000 square foot home has so many amenities it’s mind-boggling. Though not located on the more desirable beaches, this property has 192 feet of frontage on Clearwater Harbor with direct access to the Gulf of Mexico. The home features seven bedrooms, 2 kitchens, billiard room, wine room, 5-car garage, gym, sound studio, and movie theater. The pool and boat slip with lift can be found across the street at the community area.

14. 16254 Gulf Boulevard, Redington Beach – $4,700,000

Enjoy Gulf front sunsets from the beach at this beach front home. With 5 bedrooms and 4.5 baths, this home sits on more than a quarter acre. The home is a fortress, constructed of concrete slabs on all three floors, reinforced seawall, and 31 pilings. It’s built to withstand a hurricane. The master suite occupies the entire third floor and includes a private office. The ground floor screams entertainment with a gourmet kitchen and exquisite views.

15. 980 Gulf Boulevard, Belleair Shores – $4,700,000

The final home on our list features four bedrooms, four and a half baths, and a four car garage. Each of the two floors has balconies that stretch the length of the back of the home to enjoy the Florida sunsets. The home sits on nearly a half acre with 80 feet of beach frontage.


Each of these homes is amazing in its own right. The amazing beaches along this part of Florida mean that homes here with beach frontage can fetch a pretty penny. Though modern and Mediterranean seem to be the favored building style, my favorite home on this list is The Gate House, the 1931 home we find at #5. I love that classic Florida style, sort of Bahamian and Key West. Which one of these homes is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below! And if you’re looking for the most expensive homes in Tampa, go check out those top 13.


Check out my home search site at www.realtorcrisintampa.com. On there you can search homes, save neighborhoods you’re interested in, save homes you love, see local recommendations and insights, see school info, calculate commute times and much more.

Interested in an easy-to-use, no-obligation mobile search app? Try my KW app. It’s free! And it works all over the US. Download it now!

Mortgages 101: Your one-stop blog for mortgage terminology

Welcome to Mortgages 101! This will be a periodic series discussing different aspects of mortgages with the intention of educating buyers about home loans. We’ll talk about the mortgage process and other mortgage basics that every home buyer should know. Buying a home is already a hectic, overwhelming time. The more you understand what will happen and why, the less stressful the home buying and mortgage processes will be.

Before learning about anything, no matter what it is, it’s important to learn the terminology. Maybe not all of it though definitely the words you’ll hear and use the most. These are the 21 most common words you’ll hear when you’re going through the mortgage process.

Appraisal

An expert estimate of the value of the home, condo, or land. An appraisal is completed by a certified professional called an appraiser.

Closing Costs

Fees paid by buyers and sellers in a real estate transaction. Though typically between 2% and 7%, they vary from state to state and transaction to transaction. For instance, a cash transaction will have less closing costs than one in which you are obtaining financing to purchase the real estate.

Conventional Loan

A mortgage that is not insured by any government agency, such as FHA or VA. A conventional loan usually has a fixed rate and terms. Historically, this is the loan that required 20% down; however, there are now many programs that do not have that requirement and are not the low or no down payment loans of FHA or VA.

Debt-to-Income Ratio

A number that measures your monthly debt versus your monthly income. To calculate DTI, divide your monthly debt payments (rent, utilities, credit cards, etc) by your gross monthly income. The number affects the kind of loan you can get as well as your credit score.

Down Payment

A payment made in cash during the purchase of a home. Also called “escrow”, the down payment is typically refundable within a certain time period if certain criteria are met. Initial down payments are usually between 1% and 5%.

Equity

In simplest terms, equity is ownership. When asked, “Who owns this house?”, some people answer, “Me. And the bank.” Equity is the difference between what the house is worth and how much is still owed on the mortgage.

FHA Loan

A loan guaranteed, or insured, by the Federal Housing Administration. Buyers who qualify for FHA loans typically can use a smaller down payment and have some of the closing costs paid by the seller. This loan is designed to help low- to moderate-income borrowers become home owners.

Loan Commitment

A lender’s promise to lend a business or individual a specific amount of money.

Loan Originator

Broadly speaking, your lender. A loan originator is the salesperson or mortgage broker you first speak with. This is the person who takes your information, prequalifies or preapproves you for a loan, and is generally your first point of contact for all mortgage things throughout the buying process. A loan originator works with a team of other mortgage professionals, such as underwriters, loan processors, and coordinators.

Mortgage

A loan from a financial institution, such as a bank, credit union, or mortgage company, that enables you to buy a real estate. The real estate secures the loan.

Mortgage Insurance

Mortgage insurance is insurance which protects the lender if you default on your loan. It is often required on loans in which you put down less than 20%. When issued for a conventional loan, MI will drop off once you pay in 20% on the principle. With an FHA loan, however, MI remains for the life of the loan. An upfront fee of 1.75% of the loan is due up front (or rolled into your monthly payment) while a monthly premium of 0.4% to 1.05% is rolled into your monthly payment

Origination Fee

A fee charged by your lender to cover the costs of processing your loan application. This fee can be anywhere from 0.5% to 2%. Some lenders waive the origination fee, though look for other names such as processing fee, underwriting fee, and application fee.

PITI

An acronym which stands for Principle, Interest, Taxes, Insurance. These are the items which make up your monthly mortgage payment.

Points

Mortgage points or discount points. These are fees you can pay to your lender to “buy down” your interest rate. A lower interest rate usually results in a lower monthly mortgage payment. One point generally costs 1% of your mortgage amount. The amount it buys down your interest rate depends on your lender.

Preapproval

The pre-qualification for a loan. A preapproval is a lender’s offer to loan you a specific amount of money based on specific criteria. The preapproval usually expires after a certain period of time, such as 90 days. When a lender preapproves you, they have substantiated some or all of the information needed from you, such as income and debts.

Prequalification

A step below a preapproval. A prequalification is a lender’s offer to loan you a specific amount of money to buy a house. Unlike a preapproval, a prequalification is based solely on what you tell the lender. A prequalification can be done in a matter of minutes and does not include any verification of the information you give them.

Principal

The amount of your loan; the amount of money you borrowed and have to pay back.

Rate

Interest rate. The rate varies from person to person and is affected by things such as your credit score.

Rate Lock

An agreement between you and your lender to lock in your interest rate for a specific amount of time. You want to lock your rate when interest rates are on the rise, but not if they are trending downwards.

Underwriting

Part of the origination process. In underwriting, the lender determines whether the risk you pose is acceptable enough to loan money to you. In other words, the underwriter looks at your income, debts, payment history, the value of the home you wish to purchase, etc and makes a determination about whether or not they think you will default or not on your mortgage. There are five basic steps to the underwriting process: 1) Prequalification, 2)Income verification and documents, 3) Appraisal of the home, 4) Title search and insurance, and 5) Approved, approved with conditions, denied, or suspended.

VA Loan

A loan available through a program established by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. VA loans help servicemembers and their surviving spouses purchase a home. The VA determines the terms of the loans and guarantees a portion of the loan.


Check out my home search site at www.realtorcrisintampa.com. On there you can search homes, save neighborhoods you’re interested in, save homes you love, see local recommendations and insights, see school info, calculate commute times and much more.

Interested in an easy-to-use, no-obligation mobile search app? Try my KW app. It’s free! And it works all over the US. Download it now!

7 Reasons Tampa is Your Smartest Move

So you want to move to Florida but haven’t decided where in Florida you think you should settle. That’s a common issue among new Floridians. Unless you have family or friends already living here. The entire state offers unique pros and cons. People who love horses or activities like riding ATVs might prefer a more rural location. Beach lovers will flock to the coasts. As will boaters. Maybe you need a major airport nearby.

What if I told you there’s one city in Florida where you can get all or most of that as well as so much more? Tampa has always been the “little sister” city, so to speak, to Miami or Orlando. Yet, the greater Tampa metro area has so much to offer! Here are seven reasons to consider a move to the Tampa Bay area.

#1 Reason to Move to Tampa = #1 Beaches

TripAdvisor users consistently rank Clearwater Beach as the USA’s #1 beach. In fact, Clearwater Beach has been voted #1 for the second year in a row, and in 2019, St. Pete Beach was voted #4.

Nearby Caladesi Island also consistently ranks as a top beach in the country. Dr. Beach named it #1 in 2009. It has also hit that top 10 list every year since 2016.

Professional Sports Year-Round

The Tampa Bay area hosts professional sports teams in all sports except basketball. We have the Rays (baseball), the Bucs (NFL), the Bolts (hockey), the Rowdies (soccer), and our most recent addition, the Vipers (XFL).

In addition, the Tampa Bay area hosts several major sporting events including the St. Pete Grand Prix (auto racing), the Super Boat Championships, the Valspar Championship (golf), and the Outback Bowl (college football). Plus, five MLB baseball teams come to the greater Tampa metro area for Spring Training – the Yankees in Tampa, the Tigers in Lakeland, the Pirates in Bradenton, the Phillies in Clearwater, and the Blue Jays in Dunedin.

Raymond James Stadium, home of NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and XFL’s Tampa Vipers. Photo courtesy of Raymond James Stadium.

Move to Tampa for the Entertainment

From art museums to theater to concerts and more, the Tampa Bay area attracts top shows, exhibits, musicians, and artists. Tampa is home to museums such as MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry) and Glazer Childrens Museum. In St. Pete, the Museum of Fine Arts exhibits amazing pieces spanning art from two thousand years ago to the present. The Dali Museum delights visitors as does the glass collections at Morean Arts Center and the Chihuly Collection.

If performing arts are more your style, the Straz Center attracts major Broadway shows including Lion King and Aladdin while smaller theaters bring off-Broadway shows and local productions. Ruth Eckerd Hall is well-known as a stop for classics such as Stomp and Riverdance. Art Harvest in Dunedin is one of the country’s top juried art shows. And the Mid-Florida Amphitheater in Tampa delivers top concerts year-round.

Monet’s Houses of Parliament: Effects of Fog is on display at St. Petersburg’s Museum of Fine Arts.

Find Amusement

Love amusement parks? We’ve got ya covered! Busch Gardens thrills visitors with it’s roller coasters and animal park. It’s one of the most successful manatee rehabilitation centers in Florida as well. Adventure Island, adjacent to Busch Gardens, provides hours of water park fun. Zoo Tampa (formerly Lowry Park Zoo), Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and Florida Aquarium bring wildlife up close while providing an educational experience. If you don’t mind an extra hour’s drive, Legoland in Lakeland is the ultimate kids amusement park. Or head to Weeki Wachee to see Florida’s natural springs and mermaids.

Kids love getting soaked on Busch Gardens’ Congo River Rapids ride, especially on a hot summer day. Busch Gardens and other amusement parks are one of the many reasons to move to the Tampa Bay area.

Experience Other Cultures

Two of Tampa Bay’s favorite cultural experiences are Ybor City and Tarpon Springs. Ybor City was founded by Cuban immigrant cigar makers in the late 1800s and flourished until the Great Depression. It was the only successful town in the southern US to be owned and populated almost entirely by immigrants. The neighborhood still shows off it’s unique architecture and the distinctive Cuban food, including the iconic Columbia Restaurant.

Across Tampa Bay in the small town of Tarpon Springs, you’ll find the large Greek American community in the United States. Though founded by wealthy northerners, it was the Greek sponge divers who gave Tarpon Springs it’s charming character. The town holds the largest epiphany celebration outside of Greece, and Greek influence, including food, dance, and architecture, can be found throughout the town.

Tarpon Springs’ Epiphany Celebration

Small Town Vibes

Tampa’s suburbs have embraced traditional town squares and vibrant downtown areas. Towns like Safety Harbor, Oldsmar, and Brandon host festivals, fairs, and other community events in their downtown corridors. Shops and restaurants attract visitors and residents. We often hear, “We came on vacation and loved it so much we just stayed!”

Many of Tampa’s suburbs exude a small town feel reminiscent of simpler, more neighborly times. When the town gathered for a parade (Dunedin holds the largest Mardi Gras parade outside of New Orleans). When walking and cycling to town were the norm. When neighbors shopped in the local shops and supported local businesspeople. Many of Tampa’s suburbs strive for this kind of environment and the residents (and visitors) love it!

Dunedin’s Pioneer Park is the central location for many of the town’s community events, like the St. Patrick’s Day Street Party.

Move to Tampa for the Affordability

According to a June 2019 article in Business Insider on home affordability, Florida ranks #23 in the country for average home prices at $233,000. However, if you want to find these prices (or lower ones), you’ll likely have to travel into the more rural parts of the state.

As a whole, the Tampa Bay area’s average price lies slightly above that at $254,000. It’s still one of Florida’s more affordable major metro areas. Consider that in Miami the average price is $330,000, in Fort Lauderdale it’s $310,000, and in Naples you’ll pay an average of $335,000. Orlando’s average price is comparable to Tampa’s (but it has no beaches!) and Jacksonville is lower than the state average at $221,000.

Still, when you consider everything the Tampa Bay area offers, it’s definitely worth a look. Especially if you look at more affordable suburbs like St. Pete ($239,000), Clearwater ($220,000), and Tarpon Springs ($150,000).

I could give you another 10+ reasons to move to this area. However, this gives you a good general idea of what the Tampa Bay region offers to residents, businesses, and visitors. If you’re considering a move to Florida, consider a move to the Tampa Bay area. You won’t be disappointed!


Check out my home search site at www.realtorcrisintampa.com. On there you can search homes, save neighborhoods you’re interested in, save homes you love, see local recommendations and insights, see school info, calculate commute times and much more.

Interested in an easy-to-use, no-obligation mobile search app? Try my KW app. It’s free! And it works all over the US. Download it now!

Everything you need to know about home warranties

You just bought a house, and in the negotiations your Realtor suggested you ask for a home warranty. Now you have one and have no idea what to do with it. What is a home warranty? What does it cover? How does a home warranty work? Is it worth the money? These questions flash through your head as you put the brochure and other paperwork away in a file cabinet. Will ever use the home warranty? Let’s hope not!

If you’re confused about home warranties, how to choose a home warranty, and the other questions above, read on. I cover all of these and more in this article. By the end, you should be able to make an informed decision about whether a home warranty is right for you.

What is a home warranty?

A home warranty is a combination of insurance and service agreement. Think of it like the warranty you might get with your car. It is not a homeowners insurance policy, and it is not short-term insurance if anything breaks in the home right after you buy it. Instead, it is a service agreement between the home warranty company and individual service providers which allows for the replacement of certain items within the home in case they break after buying the property.

The annual “premium” varies depending on the extent of the coverage you purchase. Very basic plans can start as little as $400 for the year and go up from there. Very comprehensive plans that include things like pool repairs can cost more than $1,000 a year. Usually, there’s also a service call. Some home warranties also cap the upper limit that they will cover for a repair.

Photo by Milly Eaton from Pexels

What does a home warranty cover?

Home warranties function like most other warranties so it allows you to get repairs and replacements as long as the warranty is in effect. How much it covers depends on the warranty you purchase. Usually, however, it will cover the major systems and appliances in your home. For example, the water heater breaks a couple of months after you purchase the home. A home warranty might cover that, if it’s included in your coverage.

There are also some repairs they don’t cover, unless specifically stated. Because the home warranty is designed for the major systems of your home, it generally doesn’t cover general repairs or maintenance. For example, it won’t pay for fixing the broken window if a baseball goes through it. Or annual preventive maintenance on your HVAC. These will still be out-of-pocket expenses.

How does a home warranty work?

You moved into your new home a few months back. You come home from a long day at work, and your newish refrigerator is not cold. After salvaging as much food as you can, you pull out the home warranty information and call them. The warranty company calls a service provider they are contracted with. The service provider comes to your home, diagnoses the problem, and fixes your refrigerator. If it’s not able to be fixed, you get a replacement fridge. You’re only out-of-pocket the cost of the service call, usually around $75.

Is a home warranty worth the money?

The beauty of the home warranty is not necessarily in the money it can save you, though that’s a plus, too. One of the big advantages is the instant connection to a local, trusted service provider and the coordination of the service. This is particularly useful if you’re new to town and don’t yet have connections with local repairmen. While you could definitely use a service like Angie’s List or Home Advisor, you’ll still be stuck with the cost of the repair.

It’s difficult to say whether a home warranty is worth the $400+ a year it will cost. Like any insurance, warranty, or service agreement, there will be years when you don’t use it at all. And there might be some years in which you use it a lot. This will be also depend on the coverage of your home warranty.

Which home warranty company is the best?

There are so many! I have personally worked with a few different companies. They all cover basically the same things for the same costs. It’s difficult to say how much they cost annually because cost is based on the size of the home, the location, and whether it’s a condo or single family home. All of these companies have online quote systems to make customizing your quote quick and easy.


Check out my home search site at www.realtorcrisintampa.com. On there you can search homes, save neighborhoods you’re interested in, save homes you love, see local recommendations and insights, see school info, calculate commute times and much more.

Interested in an easy-to-use, no-obligation mobile search app? Try my KW app. It’s free! And it works all over the US. Download it now!

When is the best time to sell a house?

One of the questions I’m asked most frequently resembles some variation of “when is the best time to sell my house?” The real estate industry puts out lots of answers, and if you follow any Realtors or real estate blogs for more than a year, you’ll quickly come to one conclusion: any time is a good time to sell. A quick look back at the blogs I follow revealed these headlines:

  • “7 Reasons to List Your Home for Sale This Holiday Season” (November 2018)
  • “4 Reasons to Sell Your House This Winter” (December 2018)
  • “The Best Time to List Your House? TODAY!” (January 2019)
  • “Thinking of Selling Your House? This is a Perfect Time!” (February 2019)
  • “2 Reports That Say Now is a Great Time to Sell” (March 2019)
  • “Now is the Perfect Time to Sell Your House” (July 2019)
  • “Existing Home Sales Point to a Good Time to Sell” (August 2019)

We Realtors make a living helping you consumers buy or sell homes so it’s not necessarily surprising that real estate blogs can find a good reason to sell pretty much any time of year. After all, it would be crazy to say, “Nah, now’s not a good time. You should wait.”

When someone asks me what the best of time of year to sell a house is, I have one question in reply. “What are you hoping to accomplish by selling your home?” The answer to this question will determine the answer to the previous one.

Statistically, of course, the housing market strengthens during some months more than others. And it’s those months when it is generally best to sell. For instance, during the summer when families hope to move into better school districts. On the flip side, November and December are generally slower times. People simply don’t want to pack and move during the holidays. Unless they have to.

Why do homeowners sell?

Homeowners choose to sell a home for all kinds of reasons. Broadly-speaking, though, we can divide home sellers into two categories – those who HAVE to sell and those who WANT to sell.

Homeowners HAVE to sell for many reasons, including:

  • death of a family member
  • divorce
  • job relocation
  • loss of a job making payments difficult

Those who WANT to sell do so also for many reason, including:

  • upsizing (move-up buyers)
  • downsizing
  • looking for a better lifestyle
  • moving closer to family
  • better schools
  • liquidating part of an investment portfolio

If you HAVE to sell, any time is a good time to sell your home. If you don’t have to sell, you might want to take a few things into consideration, such as buyer activity, what interest rates are doing, the political environment, and any local factors – good or bad – which might affect the value of the property.

The National Association of Realtors, through data collected over years and decades, shows us that the busiest time of year for home sellers to list their homes are January and May/June. If sellers are considering selling in November or December, they often choose to wait until after the holidays. We typically see a mass influx of new listings in January. In May/June, people are selling with the intention to make a move during the summer. There is also more buyer activity in the summer.

More buyers = more eyeballs on your home. It also means more competition in the form of other homes hitting the market. Statistics from our own MLS for Pinellas County show the same trend. The graph below shows that active listings increase the most in January though in some years May or June have seen a large increase as well.

Why Sell During a Slow Time

There are several good reasons to sell during a slower period, like during the holidays. While many home sellers will wait until a more favorable time of year, that might not be the best choice, especially if the home you’re selling isn’t your primary home (and you won’t have to convince the fam to pack and move during the holidays!)

1. Less competition among homes for sale

Would you rather be one of 6,000 homes for sale? Or one of 6,500? The first, clearly.

2. More serious buyers

We know people don’t like to move during the holidays. The buyers who are looking to buy during the holidays HAVE to buy. Maybe they’re relocating. Maybe they’ve been looking since September and keep missing out on homes due to multiple offers. Maybe they want to be in their new home before the holidays to be able to enjoy them. Whatever the reason, buyers looking during a slow time are generally serious buyers.

3. Closings happen more quickly

If there are less closings, they can happen faster. Appraisers and home inspectors can get to the appraisal or inspection faster. Title companies can get their work done faster. Lenders can approve buyers faster. We have three listings under contract right now that will go contract to closing, with financing, in less than 30 days. Typically, lenders prefer if we give them 35-45 days to close.

Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. from Pexels

Conclusion

The best time to sell a house is when it works best for your life and schedule. That said, we know there are certain times of the year when buyers are actively searching more than others. And there are times of the year when a large increase in home listings creates greater competition. A good Realtor will be able to help guide you through the various factors that will go into your individual home sale.


Check out my home search site at www.realtorcrisintampa.com. On there you can search homes, save neighborhoods you’re interested in, save homes you love, see local recommendations and insights, see school info, calculate commute times and much more.

Interested in an easy-to-use, no-obligation mobile search app? Try my KW app. It’s free! And it works all over the US. Download it now!

About Me

Hey, there! I appreciate you wanting to learn more about me – as a real estate professional, a neighbor, and a person. I’ve posted my “official” bio below. Briefly, though, here some highlights of my life.

  • Obtained real estate license in 2003
  • Mom of one son
  • Florida native
  • Animal lover
  • Plant mom
  • Writing and reading aficionado
  • Kayak paddler
  • Amateur photographer

Now, here’s the official bio you’ll find on all my sites. If you want to know more about me, scoot down below the bio and the photo. I’ve posted 25 Get-to-Know-Me Questions.

“Cristina has been a licensed real estate consultant since 2003. Her experience and knowledge spans many demographics and types of markets. She is equally comfortable working with first time buyers, investors, or luxury clients, and has experience working in sellers markets, buyers markets, and normal markets. In 2009, Cris moved to the Tampa Bay area and has never felt more at home. She lives in a quaint home walking distance to downtown Dunedin. She enjoys the many festivals and fairs in Dunedin as well as the proximity to the water and Gulf of Mexico. During her down time, you can find Cris out kayaking, riding her bike on the Pinellas Trail, trying one of the new restaurants the Bay Area offers, or photographing the many beautiful places around Tampa.”

I took my son to the Florida Association of Realtors convention in August. He enjoyed parts of it, but this wasn’t one of those parts!

25 Get-to-Know-Me Questions

1. What is my middle name? Caridad. It’s Hispanic and means “charity”.

2. What was my favorite subject in school? In high school, my senior year, my favorite subject(s) were my electives. I front-loaded my high school experience so I had five electives in my senior year, and my favorite classes were photography, drafting, and drama. In college, I enjoyed both my economics and my marketing classes.

3. What is my favorite drink? Hands down, water. I love that stuff. And tea, particularly Earl Grey.

On a cold Florida winter day, the Princess likes soft blankies and I like my hot tea.

4. What is your favorite song at the moment? That really depends on my mood. If my brain is frazzled, I reach for something zen, like bamboo flutes. If I’m feeling energetic, however, I might listen to rock, alternative rock, or EDM. The only thing I really don’t listen to is country.

5. What is your favorite food? Salad. I love salad and eat it daily for lunch, sometimes for dinner or breakfast, too. Arugula, spinach, tomato, cucumber, radish, and some kind of protein with olive oil and salt for a dressing.

My favorite kind of salad. I added flowers from our native “weed”, Bidens alba.

6. What is the last thing you bought? Groceries yesterday at lunch time. Flank steak for dinner last night, soup to go with my salad for lunch, and bacon for breakfast today.

7. Favorite book of all time? I have a very old copy of Oliver Wendell Holmes’ book of poetry. That one is probably my favorite because it’s so old and poetry is a favorite of mine.

8. Favorite color? Yellow.

9. Do you have any pets? Of course! Right now we have a dog and a cat. The dog, Hitch, we found running on the side of I-75 about 13 years ago. He’s some kind of terrier mix. He once loved to terrorize squirrels, birds, and lizards in the back yard. Now he just likes to sleep. I figure he’s earned it. The cat, Crystal, showed up on our doorstep in 2014. She thinks she should have her own IG channel. We often call her “Princess” because she acts like one so often.

10. Favorite holiday? Halloween and Christmas. I love to decorate for both, and I love to find the perfect gift to give to people.

11. Have you been out of the country? If so, how many times and where? I have been and enjoy it every time. I’ve been to Canada, Jamaica, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, the Bahamas, Ireland, England, Haiti, Honduras, and Belize. I think that’s it.

12. How many siblings do you have? I have a younger brother.

13. Can you cook? I can, and I love to cook. I even love to cook for many people!

14. Why did you pursue a career in real estate? Initially, it was a way to get out of waiting tables and bartending. I never intended it to be a full time career because I never considered myself a very good salesperson. Over the years, however, it’s something I kept coming back to. Eventually I realized three things:

  1. If you do it right, you’re a real estate consultant or advisor, not a salesperson. It’s a relationship business, not a sales business.
  2. I’m good at it.
  3. I really do enjoy it.

So, I stuck with it and have had the opportunity to work in many roles in the industry which, I think, broadens my experience in ways many other Realtors don’t have.

15. How do you make yourself a priority? I’m still figuring that out! I go to the gym every day at lunch time, meditate almost every night, and pretty much allow myself to not feel pressured to do “something” if I’m tired.

16. What are your hobbies or favorite “other” things to do? So many. So little time! I love photography and take my DSLR camera with me a lot so I can take photos if the mood or subject strikes. Kayaking is one of my favorite activities, especially alone in the morning or evening because the water tends to be calm, and it’s so serene. I’m a big fan of travel and writing and have combined the two into my travel blog, Wander Florida, where I recount our travel experiences around Florida.

17. Favorite thing about your childhood? Looking back… all of it! We lived on a boat that my parents built. Only for a couple of years, but it’s an experience that probably kick-started my love of travel and learning while I travel. We “cruised” up and down the East Coast of the US for 9 months or so, were homeschooled, and were able to have living lessons. We learned about Civil War stuff while in South Carolina, about Ponce de Leon and the first settlement in the US while in St. Augustine, about science by witnessing it first hand, about English and writing by writing and exploring our own personal stories wherever we were. It was an amazing way to learn.

18. Favorite life quote? My soul purpose is serving love.

19. What is your Big Why? I have a couple of them. The first is to travel more. I want to travel to out-of-the-way places and experience those cultures deeply. I’m not interested in the type of travel where you hit 10 countries in 14 days and only see the major tourist attractions. The second is that I’d like to make enough money to be able to give away the majority of it. I want to be able to start a fund or foundation that assists single mothers who have left a difficult marriage to purchase their first home, perhaps through down payment assistance or something similar. I also want to give to animal sanctuaries and rescues.

20. Which is more important: what you say or how you say it? I learned recently that different people “hear” words differently. What I mean by that is that about half of people “hear” the emotion behind the words you speak so for them how you say something is most important. The other people “hear” the words you speak so for them what you say is most important. Therefore, both are important. It’s imperative we learn to read other people to be able to communicate with them in the most effective manner.

21. Do you live to work or work to live? One of the things we say at Keller Williams Realty a lot is “the purpose of business is to fund the perfect life”. So, I work to live. Despite the evil rap that money gets, the reality is that money is really good for all the good things it can do. Work enables us to have more money which means we can fund the perfect life and do more good in the world.

22. Are you religious? If so, what religion? I was raised Catholic; however, I consider myself spiritual, not religious. I’ve read a lot about many different religions, including some of their religious texts and find myself drawn to different aspects of all of them. At the core, however, I believe all religions are born of a need to find answers, acceptance, and love. Whether that is internally or externally very much depends on the religion. For myself, I prefer to find it internally which is more in line with gnostic Christianity, Buddhism, and other such religions, and I believe the world is my church. There is beauty everywhere, if we just allow ourselves to pause long enough to experience it.

23. What was the last thing you did that was really worth remembering? There’s something every day. Yesterday at lunch, several of us in the office sat at a large table in the middle of the office. We ended up having an impromptu mastermind around finances, investing, and the like. It’s worth remembering because we’re an office who, at the heart, is all about sharing ideas and knowledge. And this was the perfect example of that. It’s really wonderful to be able to exchange and explore the many different experiences of some of the top Realtors in the area. It makes us stronger as an office, stronger as individual Realtors, and stronger as work family and friends.

24. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to ride and train horses professionally. And I did for about 9 years.

My horse, Petey, and I warming up for a class in Wellington around 1992-1993.

25. Who is your celebrity crush? I have two right now – David Tennant and Chris Pratt.


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