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Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates


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Congress Acts on Flood Insurance

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

Congress has reached agreement on amending the Biggert-Waters Act for flood insurance reform.  A key component is that houses built to code at the time of construction will be grandfathered, so that they are protected from rate spikes due to new mapping.  AND, the protection stays with the property and not the policy.

Congress has reduced FEMA's authority to increase premiums.  There is now an annual cap of 15% for a property class and up to 18% for a specific property.

Another item that Congress has addressed is that the bill has removed the sales trigger - which allows a purchased to take advantage of a phase in.  The new purchased is now treated the same as the property owner and the premiums cannot spike when the property changes hands.

For specific details on how the new legislation, which will go into effect as soon as the President signs the bill, contact your local insurance agent.

Hopefully, this bill will stabilize the real estate market for older houses built in flood zones and eliminate the uncertainty that was created when Congress initially passed the Biggert-Waters Act a couple years ago.

Choose Your Realtor Carefully!

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

Choose your Realtor carefully because it could be one of the most important decisions you make in the process of selling your home.  When interviewing Realtors, among the questions to ask is not "how many listings do you have?"  The better question is "how many homes do you sell?"  A non-productive agent will be counter-productive when it comes to selling your home.  They may lack negotiation skills, may be willing to take your listing at a price well above market value - which greatly increases the chances that qualified buyers will not even look at your house, or they will offer to take your listing at a significantly reduced commission because they don't have a real marketing plan to sell your house, beyond putting a sign in the yard and placing it in the Multiple Listing Service.  

In our Keller Williams Realty office in Palm Harbor, the following are statistics comparing the general Realtor population in our MLS versus our Keller Williams Realty office.  Keep in mind that these statistics for Keller Williams are not internal office improvement, it is how our office compared against all the agents in the Multiple Listing Service area.

MLS down 9.4% in closed units             Keller Williams Realty UP 37.4% in closed units

MLS up 4.2% in new listings taken         Keller Williams Realty UP 69.5% in new listings taken

MLS down 12.7% in closed units            Keller Williams Realty UP 42.2% in closed units

For these three statistical measurements, Keller Williams Realty outperformed the MLS by 46.8%, 65.3% and 54.9% respectively.

All that these numbers are saying is to choose your Realtor carefully.  Good Realtors get results and that translates into more dollars for you, the seller.

Curious About the Schools in Palm Harbor??

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

Now is the time to start looking for a home in Palm Harbor, if you are thinking of moving and finding a school for the next school year.  The Palm Harbor real estate market has three main ZIP codes, 34683, 34684, and 34685.  There is a lot of information available on the schools in Palm Harbor.  This special Market Insider link will take you to a page to get started investigating schools.  When you get there, simply enter a zip code and get additional info on that zip code for schools, or other community data.

As long as you are checking out the school systems, you may also want to look into house prices for an area.  You can do that on the same Market Insider page, just click on the "Market Analysis" tab, enter your zip code and learn about the Palm Harbor real estate market.

While checking out the homes for sale in Palm Harbor, you might want to find the value of your home, if you are going to be considering selling in the near future.  Get an immediate estimate of your home's market value, then if you need a customized report, contact us for a professional comparative market analysis.  As this is written, there are 136 single family Palm Harbor homes for sale in zip code 34683.

If you would be interested in seeing which Palm Harbor homes for sale are currently available, visit our IDX home search link, select a zip code, then add as many or as few other details as you like, and start searching.

Palm Harbor is a terrific community with plenty of things to do, events to attend and a whole lot of good places to eat and shop.  Visit Old Palm Harbor's downtown area, with some really good restaurants to enjoy a meal and get together with friends and family.  The Gulf of Mexico is the western border of Palm Harbor, so boating and fishing are easy activities to get involved in.

Check it out, it is a great place to live.

Biggert-Waters Act, Flood Relief??

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

Congress is set to vote on H.B. 3370, named the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, or Biggert-Waters Act.  As currently written, homeowners anywhere near a flood zone are being devastated by the uncertainty happening.  In our area, some homeowners have seen their flood insurance go up from about  $2000 per year to over $15,000 or more per year.  These rate hikes are driving people out of their homes and paralyzing the real estate market.

The Senate passed a bill a few months ago and when the House passes their version of the bill, it will go to committee to work out the differences.  The sooner the better, for consumers, homeowners and the real estate industry, which impacts more than just individual homeowners and Realtors.  The wider net of current uncertainty affects home inspection companies, construction companies, home repair companies, plumbers, electricians, flooring installation companies, and many more.  All of these companies have jobs that may now be going unfilled.  Resolving the Biggerts-Waters Act just might put a whole lot of people back to work, so they can buy products and groceries, pay taxes, and have a positive impact on society.

The House proposal can provide greater consumer confidence by:

  • Permanently removing the new policy rate trigger for primary residences when a home is sold
  • Reinstate grandfathered rates by de-coupling rate increases with FEMA remapping
  • Providing a refund for people who purchased a pre-FIRM subsidized house without total transparency from FEMA
  • Increases the threshold to 50% from 30% of the fair market value that triggers a loss of Pre-FIRM status for homes substantially damaged or rebuilt
  • Include generally accepted affordability measures for items such as: high deductible options, flood-proofed basement exemptions, map certification, flood protection funding recognition, optional monthly installment plans, exceptions on escrow requirements, removing the funding cap on the affordability study and more.

If you, or anyone you know, has been negatively affected by the Biggert-Waters Act, contact your Congressman or Congresswoman and let them know they need to vote for H.B. 3370 so we can get the economic recovery on track and help people move on with their lives.

The president of the National Association of Realtors has written a letter to each representative in Congress supporting the House bill.  You can read the letter from President Steve Brown by clicking here.

Dunedin Homes for Sale

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

Today, just after Valentine's Day, there are over 140 Dunedin homes for sale.  They range in price from $62,000 to $4.5 million.  If you are looking for variety, Dunedin has it.  All of these are single family homes, there are lots of condos also available, we just won't address them here.  The smallest house is 780 square feet, and is listed for $84,000.  The largest house is over 7,600 square feet and is listed for $4.5 million.  It is in Dunedin Isles, has 5 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms and is on the St. Joseph's Sound, on the Gulf.

There are 12 Dunedin homes for sale for less than $100,000, 64 for between $100,000 and $200,000, another 30 homes for sale between $200,000 and $300,000, so there are lots of options for many price ranges.

Why would you want to live in Dunedin?  It is a waterfront community, the downtown area is vibrant, with lots of interesting shops, some might call some of them quirky, outstanding restaurants - from the Mobile Guide rated Black Pearl, to several restaurants featuring sidewalk patio dining, to "New York" pizza, to hand made ice cream, to dining on outdoor patios overlooking the Gulf.

Then there are the festivals during peak season, or snowbird season, where almost every weekend there is a crafts fair, arts festival, movie in the park, farmer's market, or some other street festival where the City of Dunedin simply closes downtown to cars and there is music, fun, food, happy people, beverages, and lots to do.

Dunedin is a charming community full of welcoming people, and it is business friendly too.  Take a look at living here, find something you like in the Dunedin homes for sale, and get ready for a wonderful lifestyle.

Ten Favorite Breakfast Restaurants

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

This is a listing of ten of our favorite breakfast restaurants in Palm Harbor, Clearwater, Tarpon Springs and Dunedin.  This is by no means comprehensive and they are in no particular order.  This list has been compiled by going to each one several times, with our parents so we get additional input.  So let’s get started.

Tiffany’s Restaurant in Palm Harbor offers breakfast all day.  They have wonderful crepes and all their portions are plentiful.  Get coffee and your cup is never empty.  With each breakfast comes a basket of mini-corn muffins that are simply delicious.  Tiffany’s is on the west side of US 19, just south of Alderman Road.  Check out their website:

The Lucky Dill Deli in Palm Harbor is also on the west side of US 19N.  This is a true New York deli with New York breakfasts and incredible portions.  The Dill, as many of the locals refer to it, offers a full menu and lunch sandwiches are easily good for two meals.  Check out the breakfast menu:

First Watch in Alderman Plaza, on the west side of US 19, offers fresh ingredients and excellent breakfasts, with as good a cup of coffee as you’ll find in any restaurant.  Their breakfast crepes are on our list of best of the best. They also offer brunch and lunch.  Check out the locations around the area:

Rodies Restaurant and Pancake House, on Alt 19 in Tarpon Springs also has breakfasts worth going out of your way to eat.  And, they top the list of my wife’s favorite for crepes.  ‘Nuff said there.  The breakfast skillets are enough for two, and are delicious.  Take a look at their breakfast menu:

Our Place on Route 580 in Dunedin is the place for home cooking comfort food for breakfast, as well as lunch and dinner.  The breakfast is cooked to order and the staff is really friendly.  Plus, they offer New York water bagels, can it get any better?  Take a look at their breakfast menu:

Chatterbox North on Alt. 19 at the intersection of Alderman Road in Palm Harbor has the friendliest staff you could ask for.  The breakfast is wonderful, as you can tell because the place is full every Sunday morning.  The coffee keeps coming, the food is served quickly and is delicious.  You can’t beat the price either.  Check out the comments on Yelp:

Chloes Family Restaurant on Alt. 19 in Tarpon Springs, just across from Helen Ellis Hospital offers delicious breakfasts and huge portions at very reasonable prices.  The place is very clean, the owner also waits tables and is happy to talk with everyone.  This is another restaurant where if you leave hungry, it is not their fault.  Check out their menu on Yelp:

George’s Breakfast Station on Alt. 19 in Tarpon Springs is easy to miss, however the locals definitely know where it is.  They focus on great service, keeping your coffee filled, and delivering freshly cooked and hot breakfast,  and offer specials all the time.  It is clean, the staff is friendly, the service is really fast, and you get a great breakfast at a great price.  Give them at try on S. Pinellas Ave.

Kelly’s on Main Street in downtown Dunedin is in the middle of the action of the Main Street section of downtown.  The breakfast is outstanding, and the portions are enough for the biggest appetite.  You can eat inside, or when the weather is pleasant (when is it not in Florida) you can eat on the outdoor patio.  The staff is wonderful, the locals eat here and the prices are good.  Check out Kelly’s for a wonderful meal.

Bob Evans on US 19 in Clearwater has wonderful breakfasts, as evidenced by the crowds every morning.  Yes, this is a national chain, and we do eat there, and it is good. The staff is pleasant and the service is very good.  Besides, it made the top four for Gwen’s favorite breakfast crepes. With the total makeover the restaurant had last year, dining in is more pleasant than ever. Check out their menu:

So there is our list of ten favorite breakfast restaurants in the Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater and Tarpon Springs area.  Now go out there try these, then find ten of your own favorites and let us know what you think.  The area has lots more restaurants that are outstanding, these are just some of the many we really like.  Any list that has more than ten places gets watered down.

Dunedin Homes for Sale Between $150,000 and $250,000

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

Are you looking for Dunedin real estate in the $150,000 to $250,000 range?  You might want to take a close look at Dunedin, FL.  Dunedin offers a great lifestyle.  This gem of a city is on the Gulf of Mexico, has a population of about 45,000, has a small town feel with some big city features – especially top flight restaurants, a downtown that is often closed to motor traffic during the many arts festivals, various holiday celebrations ( Cinco de Mayo, Mardi Gras, Wines the Blues, juried crafts fairs, Old Fashion Christmas, among may others, great beaches, including Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island state parks, and on and on.  The life style is all Florida.

Oh yeah, the houses for sale.  As of today, there are 91 homes for sale, including single family homes and condos, 39 properties under contract and 10 homes sold in the last 30 days. That is only in the $150,000 to $250,000 price range.  For a more detailed outlook of Dunedin homes for sale, check our Sun Bay Associates home search link.

Of the homes for sale, they range from a 1 bedroom, 1 bath, 695 square feet condo in a 55+ community for $150,000 to a 3,050 square foot single family home zoned as an Assisted Living Facility, for only $189,000 or a 1761 square foot, 3 bedroom, 2 bath single family home on a highly desirable brick street for $249,900.

The ten properties that sold in the last 30 days range from a high of $249,900 for a 1370 sq. ft. condo on the Dunedin Causeway to a 1515 sq. ft. townhouse condo in a Gulf front community.

Now, back to the lifestyle.  The downtown area has terrific options, from a Mobil Guide rated restaurant, the Black Pearl, to some of the very best barbeque anywhere at the Dunedin Smokehouse, to homemade ice cream at Strachan’s Ice Cream, all on Main Street.

If you like to watch the sunset and enjoy a meal or beverage, try the Old Bay Café at the Dunedin Marina or Bon Appetit, both overlooking St. Joseph’s Sound.  Old Bay Café offers a Florida casual atmosphere with the fresh caught fish of the day on the menu.  Or Bon Appetit has an outdoor café and terrace for your enjoyment, including live entertainment, or retreat inside to the more formal dining room. 

This is just a sampling of the Florida lifestyle in Dunedin, FL and of the availability of Dunedin real estate.  Check it out for more of what you’re lookin’ for.

Short Sales Are Affected by the Debt Relief Act

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

Short sales are affected by the Debt Relief Act, and that act has expired.  As of Dec. 31, 2013, the Mortgage Debt Relief Act expired and here is what that means.  If you, and this is a generic you, owed $300,000 on your house but could only get a market value of $200,000 when you sold it, and you are in a 30% tax bracket, you now are looking at having the $100,000 shortfall considered income.   This means that you are now on the hook for a $30,000 tax bill.  That is money due the IRS, and we all know the IRS does not fool around when it comes to collecting money owed.

Your congressman can get things started and re-enact the Mortgage Debt Relief Act so that you do not get hit with a tax bill of $30,000 or whatever you could be responsible for when your house is sold at short sale.  Say you "only" are forgiven $25,000 on a mortgage.  That still translates to a tax liability of $7,500 if you are in that 30% bracket.  Sounds like a tax increase to me.

Contact your congressman or congresswoman and tell them that it is time to extend the Mortgage Debt Relief Act so that we can get the housing market back on its feet, get the homeowners out from under crushing debt - or tax liability, and get our economy moving.  There are many homeowners who owe more than their houses are worth in today's market and they are not selling yet.  In Florida, where we are just about at the top of the foreclosure rate, short sales are still better than a foreclosure.  Couple this with the uncertainty of flood insurance, which is a topic for another blog, Congress can do something to help the real estate market moving forward.

Royal Stewart Arms, Dunedin, FL

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

Royal Stewart Arms, Dunedin, FL is a 55+ condo community on the intra-coastal waterway in the Gulf of Mexico.  Why would someone want to live here?  Here are a few reasons, and then we'll go into a bit about Royal Stewart Arms real estate activity recently.

Gulf views.  You get spectacular views of the Gulf of Mexico and the intra-coastal waterway by Dunedin, FL.  Many of the condo units directly overlook the Gulf and the sealife.

Amenities.  The amenities include being on the Dunedin Causeway, which is the approach to Honeymoon Island and its ferry to Caladesi Island, one of Dr. Beach's best beaches in the world.

There is also a fishing pier for Royal Stewart Arms residents.  The clubhouse is outstanding for community events, there is shuffleboard, tennis and many other activities, not to mention that downtown Dunedin is just a very short drive away, or an easy bicycle ride on the Pinellas Trail.

Lifestyle.  You can relax, have morning coffee overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, enjoying the dolphins, walk along the Pinellas Bike Trail to Honeymoon Island, or visit your neighbors.  Sit on a bench and simply enjoy the water views, watch the fishermen or boaters, or wind-surfers.  Go to the community fishing pier and catch dinner.  This 55+ community has a no pets policy.  The condo fees cover just about everything you can imagine, including building exterior, flood insurance, water, trash removal, grounds maintenance, clubhouse, tennis courts, the roof, and basic cable.  All you have to do is take care of the inside of your own home.

Recent Royal Stewart Arms Real Estate Activity.

There are one bedroom, one bath condos up to 2 bedroom and 2 bath condos available in Royal Stewart Arms.  The square footage ranges from 539 square feet for a 1 bedroom/1 bath unit to a 1239 square foot end unit with 2 bedrooms and 2 baths.

In the last year, 27 condos have sold in Royal Stewart Arms, ranging from $50,000 for a 539 sq. ft. 1 bedroom condo to a high of $190,000 for a 1181 sq. ft. end unit with a west view and fully remodeled.  

There are always condos for sale in Royal Stewart Arms, so if the Dunedin 55+ Florida lifestyle on the water is for you, take a look and start dreaming about your new home.


Why Should a Buyer Act Now?

by Doug & Gwen Campbell at Sun Bay Associates

Here is a little bit of interesting news, if you watch your dollars and purchasing power.  The last month for which figures are available, November.  These numbers are from the National Association of Realtors for November 2012 and 2013.

November 2012  Average Price = $227,900  Interest Rate = 3.32  Principle and Interest = $1,000.61

November 2013  Average Price = $244,500  Interest Rate = 4.29  Principle and Interest = $1,208.53

What this means is that buyers who waited to buy this year instead of last year, saw prices go up and interest rates go up.  With increased prices, and rising interest rates, purchasing power for buyers decreased a whopping 9.7%.  Simply put, a buyer who qualified for a house valued at $200,000 in 2012 now qualifies for a house valued at $180,600.  Couple this with an increase of home values of just over 7%, the true value of a house that same buyer can buy this year compared to last year, using $200,000 as our model, is now $168,000.  This translates to $32,000 in lost purchasing power.

To a buyer, this could mean you can no longer buy in the neighborhood you want to be in.  Or it could mean you simply can't find a house large enough.  Or you can't get a home in the school district you want.  Or it may mean you will stay in your current home.  This year, home prices are rising, perhaps even more than last year, and there are experts predicting interest rates will be close to 6% by year's end.  If you are in the market to buy a home, protect your purchasing power and do not wait.  Act now or you just might miss the opportunity to buy your dream home.  Start searching for your home now.  Don't procrastinate!!

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 294




Contact Information

Photo of Gwen and Doug Campbell at Sun Bay Associates, LLC Real Estate
Gwen and Doug Campbell at Sun Bay Associates, LLC
Keller Williams Realty
35095 US Hwy 19N, Suite 100
Palm Harbor FL 34684
Gwen's Cell 727-741-4744
Doug's Cell 727-741-4189
Fax: 888-447-7908