No mortgage, no maintenance, no problem for renters
Some baby boomers such as John and Luanne Stark are sold on the idea of living in Sun City Center, but they aren't sold on being property owners here. Realtors are seeing a growing demand for rental properties. Stark said he knew he wanted to live in SCC after he saw the quick medical response when his mother, Jean Stark, accidentally drove her golf cart into the Winn-Dixie. By the time he arrived, in a panic, his mom had already been checked out of the hospital with a bandaged broken arm. He was also impressed by the friendliness of residents."My daughter, Kourtney asked me once, 'Is it a rule that you have to say 'hi' here? I though that was neat," said Stark, who recently looked at homes listed for sale in Sun City Center. Stark and his wife own a home in Wesley Chapel's Saddlebrook, which he may not sell. "It's a question: Do you rent or do you buy?" Stark said. "If you can rent for $1,000 a month and they want $180,000 for a house, I could be here 15 years and never have any other issues such as taxes, the lawn, repairs and maintenance." Chuck Dyer, a Realtor with Century 21 Beggins Enterprises, said most Realtors agree the housing market in SCC and Kings Point has hit bottom. People who purchased a home in 2005 or 2006, may have homes that are worth about half as much, he said. But people who sell their homes are able to purchase less-expensive homes, Dyer said. Even with low interest rates and rock-bottom housing prices, the rental market is growing hotter. "There are a lot of people who want to rent," Dyer said. "There are not a lot of places to rent. It's not a low-rent area. Rents are reasonable, but they range from $650 to $2,500 a month." Older generations used to purchase their SCC with cash, but not all baby boomers have enough money to make a cash deal. Some rather rent than have a mortgage possibly for the rest of their lives. Dyer attributes the increase interest in rental properties on economic uncertainty. At the same time, things are looking up in some cases. "We are getting some strong offers," he said. "Some are at or higher than asking price. We are getting multiple offers on some houses. We are telling people to give your best offer first rather than play cat and mouse because bartering does not go on as much as before." Maggie Cashman, 72, has been renting a home in Kings Point for six years. She said the owners of the rental would sell it to her for a $100,000 loss, but she isn't biting. "We like being responsibility free," said Cashman, who owns a home in Houghton Lake, Mich. "We may keep our home in Michigan and continue to rent down here. We love the summers up in Michigan." Cashman said she is debating whether or not to be tied down to a home purchase in SCC considering her children live in San Francisco and Seattle. Eventually, she may move to be closer to her children.
Lcone@mediageneral.com (813) 731-2008