A recent spike in home values across Hillsborough County is translating into more dollars for renovation and new construction businesses, according to vendors at a recent home show.
Mark Leek of Brandon, the owner of Doorpro Entryways, Inc., 8503 E. Adamo Drive, Tampa, had a constant stream of prospective customers Jan. 5 at Florida’s Largest Home Show at the Tampa Convention Center.
“We do replacement and we also do new construction and both are booming right now,” said Leek, who renovated his own 1950s bungalow. “For new construction, I’m seeing first-time home buyers, people who are no longer upside down on their mortgages, and, of course, the rich, who always had money.”
Leek said customers are taking advantage of lower interest rates while they are still available. He doesn’t anticipate business slowing down, at least not in the Brandon and South Shore areas.
“From Gibsonton Drive to Ruskin, it’s slated to have 5,000 to 8,000 new homes in the next three years,” Leek said.
Esther Dempsey of Carrollwood, an artist, said not everyone is rushing to become a homebuyer after the recession.
Dempsey, who displayed her oil, acrylic and digital art at one of the booths at the home show, said she thinks the rental market is still more attractive to some people.
“I don’t see the housing market progressing,” she said. “For me being single, I like renting. There is no upkeep. The area is nice and quiet.”
A volunteer for Meals on Wheels, Dempsey said a lot of older people have more pressing financial concerns than trading up to a nicer home or renovating.
“People are afraid to spend, especially if they have health care concerns,” she said. “People are looking for more stability with the economy and it’s not occurring. They threw the health care in and deterred a lot of people from spending.”
Steve Costa of Spring Hill, vice president of Sunrise Homes & Renovations Inc., said his company builds custom homes throughout Hillsborough and surrounding counties. He was one of 900 exhibitors at the home show by Turner Expositions.
Although he does build some homes for baby boomers or those nearing retirement, Costa said many of his customers are young professionals starting off who don’t have children yet.
“Right now I’m getting a lot of people who want to build new and others who want to tear down and rebuild,” he said.
Costas said most of the homebuyers ages 30 to 45 are looking for location as well as fewer headaches and competition in the buying process. They also have more realistic ideas about what they can afford and what they need.
“No one wants to build a McMansion anymore,” he said. “They are staying in the 1,800 to 2,200-square-foot range.”
Costas said he understands why young people are frustrated with foreclosures and short sales. He made a cash offer on a home himself, but didn’t close a deal until seven months and 11 contracts later.
“They are spending months and months with a Realtor and when they get a house, it’s a can of worms,” he said. “A lot are thinking, ‘Why not build new?’”