The SunCoast Herald

Here we will keep you up-to-date on all things real estate in the Tampa Bay Area.

Jan. 30, 2015

Has the new FEMA Flood Map affected you?

For the first time in over 20 years, FEMA has redrawn the flood map.  Some lucky people have found that they are no longer in a flood zone, but many others weren’t so lucky.  It’s not a good feeling when your lender sends you a letter demanding that you buy flood insurance.  If you don’t buy it, your lender will at triple the price.


Has this happened to you or someone you know?  Believe it or not, there ARE options.  Take action now, and you may require less insurance than your lender is telling you! You may even be exempt from having to buy insurance at all.  If you or someone you know is in this situation, fight back!  


We have learned how to fight back and would like to share that knowledge with you.  Please contact us. Leave your address and the word “insurance” in the comment section and after we look up your property and find the preliminary data, we will contact you with a plan of action.

Note:  Many people have been affected by this change.  You may know someone who needs this information.  Please share this blog with your friends, and potentially save them thousands on unnecessary flood insurance.


Sept. 26, 2014

Flood Zones, FEMA, and Flood Insurance

There is so much confusion regarding flood insurance and flood zones. It’s no wonder, though, as there has been so much change that it is nearly impossible to keep up on it all, at least for long.

First, the flood maps are being (or have been but not all published yet) redrawn. If that isn’t going to be enough of a challenge to work through, the laws have changed – and changed again – in the past couple of years.

In the beginning of flood zones, there were already some houses built. So, the wisdom of the day decided that those houses should not have to worry about the new rules, since they are already built. The grandfather clause.

So, for all these years, those houses, built early 1980’s and earlier, would be “subsidized”. Their flood insurance would not be based on the elevation like the newer houses would be. Those houses were built in accordance with the FEMA requirements in mind. The newer home owners understood that elevation was important in FEMA Flood Hazard zones.

In 2013 a law became effective. The law stated that there would be no more subsidies for those houses built prior to early 1980’s (the exact year is county specific). That meant that all these houses needed to obtain elevation certificates (about $125-150) and have their insurance increase to the appropriate cost. But, all other houses build after that time, would see no change. 

Following a tremendous uproar, that law was amended to read that the increase would be gradual and beginning once there was a new owner. I have, however, learned that at least some of the insurance companies are raising their rates before the law mandates it.

So, at first, it was only those houses that were built before the early 1980’s. But now, since new flood maps have been drawn, they are all subject to change. So far I have heard that not too much change has been seen by those built post early 1980’s, but do understand you cannot necessarily look at yesterday’s zone as accurate today.

March 12, 2014

Why Serious Home Buyers Should Avoid Zillow and Trulia

If you've spent any time at all browsing the internet for houses, chances are you've run across the major national real estate sites like Zillow and Trulia.  These sites boast a high rank on Google and attractive interfaces, but their usefulness is limited, especially to serious home buyers.  Why?  The short answer is because they rely on second-hand information that is often incomplete and outdated.

It works like this: When you do a search at an agent/broker website (like you are getting constantly updated and fresh information straight from the MLS.  When a newly listed house comes on the market, or when it gets sold, agent websites are updated the very same day.  National sites, on the other hand, must rely on many various sources for information to try and compile a complete picture of the market. 

According to a 2012 study, there are between 20% and 30% more listings found on broker websites than on Zillow and Trulia.  But that's not all.  New listings show up on agent sites 7 to 9 days faster than they show up on national sites. Even more frustrating, about 2 out of every 5 listings on national sites have already been sold, but are falsely shown to be still on the market!

In the end, while the big national sites are somewhat useful if you are just taking a casual glance at the housing market, anyone serious about buying or selling must hold a higher standard. Don't base a decision on incomplete data. Don't miss out on a new property hitting the market. Don't waste your time on properties that aren't even for sale anymore.  Don't use national sites like Zillow and Trulia.

March 2, 2014

Welcome to the new SunCoast Group Realtors website!

SunCoast Group Realtors is proud to unveil our new state-of-the-art website, complete with a powerful IDX search engine, free membership and property updates, and our new SGR blog!  We are certain that these tools will be a mutually beneficial part of our relationship with our clients, and put all of the Tampa Bay area right at their fingertips.  We urge everyone to try out our IDX search, buyers and sellers alike, because knowledge is power and it's absolutely free.  

Whether you are looking for a gulf-front home in Tarpon Springs, an executive home on a private lake in Odessa, or a beautiful golf-community like Innisbrook in Palm Harbor, we want to make it happen.  SunCoast Group Realtors will put our knowledge, attentiveness, and professionalism to work for you!