In an era in which many potential homebuyers may feel priced out of the downtown and first tier suburbs, homebuilders in the Tampa Bay Area offer affordably priced homes within 20-to-35 miles of Tampa.
First-time homebuyers, millennials and GenXers, are gravitating toward housing developments that offer a surban (suburban+urban) living experience (think West Chase) close to major traffic arteries like Interstate 75, U.S. Highway 301 or U.S. Highway 41.
“They want a nice home,” says Sean Strickler, Division President of PulteGroup’s West Florida Division, which caters to first-time buyers through its Centex brand. “They are a little bit more willing to sacrifice commute time to ensure that they find a home that meets their budget.”
Wesley Chapel has been a popular area. “Pinellas is pretty much built out,” Strickler says. “We are looking to expand our footprint into Polk. As land prices continue to rise, we need to consider areas that are a little bit further out but still are along major thoroughfares.”
Pulte has secured 104 acres for a new Westbridge community in Wesley Chapel, which will feature 350 single-family homes priced in the mid- to high-$200,000s. “It’s a great location, but price-wise it’s still going to be very affordable.”
Situated on Wells Road across from Wesley Chapel Elementary School, Weightman Middle School and Wesley Chapel High School, the community offers easy access to Interstates 75 and 275, State Road 54, the 140-acre Wesley Chapel District Park, and shopping at Wiregrass and Premium Outlet Mall.
Groundbreaking is planned in late summer or fall, with construction on models beginning in early 2019.
“We’ll have our first new homeowners in the second part of 2019,” he says.
Wesley Chapel has been attractive because of the small town feel, parks and open spaces. “People like that it’s north of the 275-75 split,” he says. “Families are really drawn to it, simply because of the good schools.”
Those with deeper pockets are being attracted to the Wesley Chapel area Epperson, a master-planned community of 1,500 homes which is part of “The Connected City” especially built on a fiber network allowing gigabit Internet speeds. It also features the country’s first Crystal Lagoon, a 7.5-acre lagoon using a patented purifying and clarifying technology.
Several builders are involved along with Pulte, which is finishing land development for the second phase. “It’s a very, very popular community right now,” he says. “The lagoon is drawing such excitement.”
Another affordable community in development north of Tampa is Talavera in Hudson, off U.S. 41 and State Road 52. The company is pricing its 100 homes in the 700-home community in low $200,000s. “We’re actually decorating our models,” he says.
The other builder is MI Homes.
“The home sites up there are very large,” he says. “You definitely get more property with your home.”
For those who want a new home closer in, there also are infill developments. A 140-unit townhome community in Mango will be priced from the mid-$100,000s for 1,500 square feet. Pre-sales have begun at Rego Palms off of Williams Road north of Martin Luther King Boulevard, and the first move-ins are anticipated early this summer.
With a median home price of $207,000, Tampa Bay was listed third among 14 top sites in the nation where people can purchase a house on a $50,000-a-year salary. In an article published at Thrillist Travel online in summer 2017, Tampa was listed after Lexington, KY, and Boise, ID.
“Tampa has always been a more affordable geography than say for instance Chicago or Seattle, where land is much more difficult to come by,” Strickler says. “You have that opportunity to serve the buyers, particularly with interest rates as low as they are.”