Area Real Estate News & Market Trends compliments of The Tom Smith Team Coastal Properties Group

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!  The Tom Smith Team is ranked in the top 1% of all agents in Pinellas County in 2019 with over $100,000,000 listed and sold.

Call or text anytime to 727-686-1596

July 29, 2020

Negotiating Tips For Buying A Home In A Hot Market


When you are looking for a new home in a hot market there are certain steps that we recommend you take in preparation of making an offer.  In a hot market, homes can have multiple offers within 24 hours.  With the proper mindset and preparation, you can increase your probability for success.

1. Be ready financially if you are financing

Getting pre-qualified for a mortgage proves to sellers that you are serious about buying and capable of affording their home. That will push you to the head of the pack when sellers choose among multiple offers. They will go with buyers who are a sure financial bet, not those whose financing is shaky.  We recommend a local lender who is familiar with the market, especially if you are buying a condo or a waterfront home.

2. Know the sellers’ position

Ask your agent for information to help you understand the sellers’ financial position and motivation. Are they facing foreclosure or a short sale? Have they already purchased a home or relocated, which may make them eager to accept a lower price to avoid paying two mortgages? Has the home been on the market for a long time, or was it just listed? Have there been any previous offers? If so, why did the seller not accept them? The more signs that sellers are eager to sell, the lower your offer can reasonably go.

3. Work back from a final price to determine your initial offer

Know in advance the most you are willing to pay, and with your agent’ guidance work back from that number to determine your initial offer, which can set the tone for the entire negotiation. A too-low bid may offend sellers emotionally invested in the sales price and you may not even get a response. A too-high bid may lead you to spend more than necessary to purchase the home.  Work with your agent to evaluate the sellers’ motivation and comparable home sales to arrive at an initial offer that engages the sellers yet keeps money in your wallet. Negotiations can be a smooth process where everyone wins. However, if you are competing against multiple offers, you should consider offering the highest and best price you’re willing to pay because you may not get the opportunity to negotiate if the seller accepts a different offer. Click here to learn more about multiple offers.

4. Avoid Contingencies

Sellers favor offers that leave little to chance which equates to the least amount of risk. Keep your bid free of complicated contingencies, such as making the purchase conditional on the sale of your current home. You should keep contingencies for a mortgage loan approval, home inspections, and environmental inspections typical in your area, like radon.

5. Remain Unemotional

Buying a home is a business transaction and treating it that way helps you save money. Consider any movement by the sellers, however slight, a sign of interest, and keep negotiating.  Each time you make a concession, ask for one in return. If the sellers ask you to increase your price, ask them to contribute to closing costs or pay for a home warranty. If sellers won’t budge, make it clear you’re willing to walk away; they could get nervous and decide to accept your offer.  Buying a home can be emotional but negotiating the price shouldn’t be. The key to saving money when purchasing a home is sticking to a plan during the turbulence of high-stakes negotiations. A real estate agent representing you can guide you and offer advice, but you are the one who must make the final decision during each round of offers and counter offers.

6. Don't let competition change your plan

Great homes and those competitively priced can draw multiple offers in any market. Try not to let competition propel you to go beyond your predetermined price or agree to concessions — such as waiving an inspection — that may not be in your best interest.


If you are interested in learning more about the buying or selling process, local real estate market trends, specific communities and more please call or text anytime.

Call 727-686-1596. 


The Tom Smith Team Video

Posted in Market Updates
July 28, 2020

Clearwater Beach The Best of The Best Winner 2020

BEST OF ST. PETE/CLEARWATER 2020 WINNERS surveyed visitors and locals to tell us their favorite beaches, restaurants and bars, activities, and things to see and do in our area.  The results are in and Clearwater Beach is the winner!  Check out the video below and you will know why we absolutely love the communities here.  If you would like to know more about the local market here contact The Tom Smith Team.  We rank in the top 1% of all agents in Pinellas County with over $100,000,000 listed and sold.   Call Kristin and Stephen Vincelli at 727-686-1596.  Hoping to see you on the beach one day soon!    



Best Beach Bar

Rockaway Grill front?
  • 1
    Frenchy's Rockaway GrillClearwater Beach
  • 2
    Palm PavilionClearwater Beach
  • 3
    Caddy's Treasure IslandSunset Beach
  • 4
    Crabby's Bar & GrillClearwater Beach
  • 5
    Shephard's Tiki Beach Bar and GrillClearwater Beach

Best Beaches

Clearwater Beach?
  • 1
    Clearwater Beach
  • 2
    St. Pete Beach/Pass-a-Grille
  • 3
    Caladesi Island/Honeymoon Island State Park
  • 4
    Indian Rocks Beach
  • 5
    Fort DeSoto Park

Best Charter Boats

Captain Memo's Pirate Cruise?
  • 1
    Captain Memo's Pirate Cruise (daytime)
  • 2
    StarLite Cruises (dining)
  • 3
    The Tropics Boat Tours (sunset)
  • 4
    Hubbard's Marina (fishing)
  • 5
    Sea Screamer (dolphin)

Best Hotels

Sandpearl Resort?
  • 1
    Sandpearl ResortClearwater Beach
  • 2
    TradeWinds Island ResortsSt. Pete Beach
  • 3
    The Don CeSarSt. Pete Beach
  • 4
    Wyndham GrandClearwater Beach
  • 5
    Opal Sands ResortClearwater Beach

Best Boutique Hotels

Fenway Hotel?
  • 1
    Fenway HotelDunedin
  • 2
    Palm Pavilion InnClearwater Beach
  • 3
    The Belleview InnBelleair
  • 4
    Treasure Island Beach Resort
  • 5
    Postcard Inn on the BeachSt. Pete Beach

Best Water Excursions

  • 1
    SnorkelingEgmont Key
  • 2
  • 3
    Topwater Kayak OutpostFort De Soto Park
  • 4
    JetLev Water Jet PackSt. Pete Beach
  • 5
    Speed Boat AdventuresSt. Pete Beach

Best Rooftop Bars

Jimmy’s Crow’s Nest Bar?
  • 1
    Jimmy's Crow's Nest, Pier House 60Clearwater Beach
  • 2
    Canopy, The BirchwoodSt. Pete
  • 3
    Hi-Fi Rooftop Bar, Fenway HotelDunedin
  • 4
    The Hurricane Seafood RestaurantPass-a-Grille Beach
  • 5
    Level 11 Rooftop Lounge, Grand Plaza HotelSt. Pete Beach
Posted in Market Updates
July 14, 2020

10 Things You Should Know Before You Begin The Condo Buying Process In Florida

If buying a condo in Florida is on your bucket list there are a few things you should know to ensure your investment is protected and you are buying a condo that is right for your lifestyle.      

#1 Know what the rental restrictions are if you are thinking about renting it out while away.
Each condo building from Dunedin to St. Pete are unique in this area.  Some buildings allow for daily and weekly rentals.  Most however require a 1 month, 3 month and sometimes 1 year minimum.  Clearwater Beach only has a handful of daily and weekly condos whereas further south towards Indian Rocks Beach there are more short-term rentals.  Location is key when it comes to long term or short-term rentals.  A real estate advisor will know each buildings rental restrictions and provide income expectations.

#2 What can you expect to get in rental income?
When trying to estimate what an individual condo will rent for we always look at the rental history of the unit, the time of year it will be rented for, the location of the building and if the unit has been updated inside.  An evaluation of these elements gives us the best estimate on what you might expect for seasonal or long-term rentals. The season as we like to call it on the beach is December - April.  Renting a condo during the season will be yield the highest rate of return.  If renting your condo is important to you we highly recommend you let us do a complete analysis before you make an offer.
Having a beachfront condo in Florida, or any condo for that matter, can be an excellent investment if you know how to buy it.  A condo on the beach can be quite different than a condo inland just blocks away.  One of the reasons is the management.  Each condo building is its own community with financial managers and property managers.  If the building is financially healthy and managed well you should expect higher rental rates, a continuous flow of tenants, and steady appreciation rates.

#3 Is the building financially sound? 
Always review the current annual budget, balance sheet and reserve schedule.  Some things to consider during your review: Are the reserves properly funded?  Is there any litigation pending against the association that could create a big expense if found to be at fault?   Are there multiple unit owners who are in default on the HOA fee?  Are there past due assessments or significant expenses planned for the building over the next 3 years?  Our team of agents keeps current financials on most condos on the beach.  We review them often and know what buildings are rated highly.   

#4 Is the building be properly maintained? 
From a distance the condo building may look well cared for and usually are.   As an agent who is familiar with condos up and down the beach, I always try to discover any maintenance issues as quickly as possible for the main reason is that it could be costly and adds a layer of risk passed on to the new owner.  I always look for the following:
Are there any delayed maintenance issues?
Is there any construction within the building planned?  
What is the age of the elevators?
Does the building need to be repainted?
I really look at the grounds (outside walkways, hallways, and landscaping) for up keeping and attention to detail.
Every so many years the condo will need new paint, parking lot repaved, pool resurfacing, and common area updates.  Your agent will assist you getting answers to these questions fast.

#5 What kind of appreciation can you expect?
It is difficult to predict as with any market.  In May of 2015, the average sale price for a condo on the beach was $663,850.  In May of 2020 $647,667.  Since 2015 the highest average sale price was August of 2018 $739,292.  Prices have only dipped below $600,000 once since 2015 which was March 2017 at $597,000. Location and supply/demand are the main drivers.  Condos on the beach have a higher appreciation rate than condos just a few blocks away.  If the building is in a good location, well-kept and financially sound you can expect the maximum appreciation that the market is giving at that time.  (Statistics pulled from MLS historical condo sales data since 2015 condos with a water view from Clearwater Beach to Indian Rocks Beach 500k to 999k range)

#6 The views and amenities, do they matter?
There are several types of water views, direct Gulf front, partial or peek-a-boo view, or a combination of both Gulf and Intracoastal.  How much are you willing to pay for a direct Gulf view?  In our experience selling hundreds of condos, units with direct Gulf views of the water can be $50,000 - $100,000 more. Usually, even on the intracoastal, west-facing condos that are above the 5th floor are high enough to have a Gulf view beyond the Intracoastal. Also, some condos face due north or south which allows views of the Intracoastal to the East and Gulf to the west. This seems to be the preferred view, “best of both worlds” as we like to say. Since at night, the Gulf is dark, but the Intracoastal is alive with sparkling city lights and boats going by.

Amenities vary greatly from each community and is a personal preference depending on if you plan to live there full time or use it as a vacation getaway. Most condos have at least outdoor amenities, heated pool, spa and BBQ. The luxury condos have a fitness center, tennis, basketball, multiple pools, club room, and media rooms for entertainment.  Amenities are a bonus to most buyers, but views and appreciation rates seem to be what affects decisions the most. 

#7 HOA fees what do they cover and are they fixed?
HOA fees vary in each community and depend on the size of the condo, the amenities offered and the floor number. Typically, the larger the unit and higher the floor, the more the HOA will be.  A 1-bedroom unit on the 2nd floor will have a lower fee compared to a 3-bedroom unit on the 10th floor.  HOA fees are paid to the association for exterior building insurance including the master flood insurance policy, ground maintenance, basic cable, water, trash service and some even include internet.  Fees can range from $300 to $1,200 a month.  When shopping for a condo, do not focus solely on the HOA fee.  A low HOA fee is not always a good thing.  This could mean the condo is not budgeting appropriately for replacement items and a special assessment for a major repair could be eminent.  Always review the budget, balance sheet, and reserve as part of your due diligence.  Special assessments impact all owners of the building and could cost thousands of dollars.

#8 Property taxes and Insurance what is required and how to calculate them?
Property taxes are calculated on the assessed value using a predetermined millage rate set by the city.  To get an estimate on what your taxes will be the following year after the property is assessed on its new market value go to
Link to property appraiser.  The HOA fee will include insurance for the exterior of the building.  An additional policy called a contents policy is required by lenders to cover the interior of the unit including your contents.  This is only required if you are obtaining financing to purchase but it is highly recommended for protection against storms and possible water intrusion from neighboring unit. You can expect to pay a range of $1,000 - $2,000 depending on the square feet, the purchase price, the use of the condo (full time residence vs. rental) and the amount contents you would like to insure.

#9 Condo hotels and Co-ops, what makes them different and are they right for you?

Condo Hotels are a form of condo ownership that will have an on-site rental desk with receptionist for check-in and other hotel like amenities.  There are luxury condos like The Aqualea and Sandpearl that are run by big name hoteliers.  There are also smaller condo hotels like Pelican Pointe, Island Cay, Camelot and Barefoot Bay that are old hotels converted into condominium ownership.  If you are interested in a condo hotel here are a few things to keep in mind:

·         Do your research online check for reviews on the building’s hotel services.  The interaction between the management company and your renters should be hassle free.


·         Check for stipulations on how long you can stay in your unit as an owner. Some limit to 4 weeks a year or no more than 7 days in a row for example.


·         Can you manage the unit yourself or does it have to stay in the hotel’s rental management program?


·         Maintenance fees are typically higher, plus if you are required to use the on-site manager you may have to pay 25% - 35% of gross revenue to them.


·         Financing can be an issue as only a few lenders are funding this type of property.  For a list of approved condo hotel lenders contact Stephen Vincelli at 727-430-1995.


·         Your pool of buyers is lower than a typical condo and may create challenges when you try and resell.

Condo Cooperatives (Co-op) are quite rare in our area but are quite common up north.  The difference is that when you buy a co-op, you become a shareholder in the corporation that owns the building.  These are extremely rare and difficult to get financed due to the corporation structure instead of condominium.  We only know of one building in the beach area with this type of ownership, it is called Horizon House, located at 31 Island way on Island Estates in Clearwater Beach.  Pricing is low but requires a cash only buyer. For more information on these units or to schedule a tour please call us.

#10 Financing a condo what is the lender going to require?
Lenders are going to do a thorough review of the condo building, financials, management and the comparable sales in the building before they issue a commitment letter to you.  Have your agent do a thorough analysis of the recent comparable unit sales in the building.  Your agent can see the same thing the lender’s appraiser ahead of time.  This will save you having to pay $500 for an appraisal if you know value could be an issue.  
Here are a few characteristics that could present problems:

·         Is there an on-site rental office?  If so, they will consider it a condo-hotel and lending restrictions change at that point.


·         Is there an active litigation against the HOA? 


·         Any damages to the building and or common areas?


·         Are more than 50% of the units currently rentals? 


·         Are more than 10% owned by one entity. Too many investors can create financial instability and a higher risk to the bank.


·         What is the percentage of the HOA fees that go towards reserves for future expenses and emergencies?

Low down payments are eligible for condos that meet lender’s guidelines.  3% down for first time homebuyers and 5% down for all other primary homes.  10% down for second homes and 25% down for investors.  If you need assistance finding a local experienced condo lender call or text Stephen at 727-430-1995.

If you would like to speak Kristin or Stephen, we would be very happy to be able to help guide you through the process and help you negotiate your best offer on buying a condo in Florida.  Our expertise and knowledge of the local market will put you on the right path to finding and owning your dream condo.  Thank you for sharing your time with us today and continuing to use our real estate home search site.

See you on the beach!

Kristin Vincelli 727-686-1596,
Stephen Vincelli 727-430-1995,
Top 1% of Agents In Pinellas County
Real Estate Advisors with The Tom Smith Team 
Coastal Properties Group International

Posted in Condos, Market Updates
July 31, 2017

Curious About Local Real Estate?

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Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

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You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your neighborhood. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties across the city or county. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.

We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

Posted in Market Updates