The St. Pete area is unique compared to other areas I’ve lived. Growing up outside of Minneapolis I was living on the edge of Suburbia and farmland and saw the suburbs continue to expand out into the previously rural areas. In Germany there was also lots of rural areas and many villages and cities with available space to rent or buy – typically efficiently laid out apartments and townhome style developments. In the Florida Panhandle there is a concentration of housing near the water but plenty of rural land north of the main cities.
Pinellas County is different. It’s a peninsula and the vast majority of the land is already built upon so vacant land is harder to find. We have mostly homes from the 1920’s, 1950’s and some from the 1970’s as well. Some of these are amazing pieces of history that should be preserved forever but some of them are just cheaply made homes which sit on land that would be better suited for a nice new construction house instead.
This is especially true as our city becomes more and more desirable, it only makes sense to use this land in the best way possible. If you buy a house in an up and coming neighborhood you may move into a home with a dilapidated home next store, since I’m a full service realtor I will burn your neighbors house down if that helps boost your property value. (That’s a joke don’t sue me please).
With that said I want to explore the reasons why you should buy a new construction home in St. Pete, Florida and also some helpful things to keep in mind when you start the process.
5. New Construction Is Virtually Maintenance Free Living
I live in a condo and own another condo as a rental. I love it because budgeting for big ticket items is not something I want to worry about. Some people enjoy fixing things around the house, I personally like to use my free time to go enjoy this awesome place we live in. I also lack those handyman skills that people like my Dad have seemed to acquire. Do you automatically have those skills once you have kids? I may never know.
New construction is the same concept except better – You don’t have to pay an HOA fee and potentially worry about how your money is being spent around the association.
New construction comes with Florida State mandated warranties that hold a builder responsible for his/her workmanship. On top of that, we can write a separate third party builder’s warranty into the contract the give you added protection. These third party warranties are called 2-10 warranties and you can find more information about them here.
According to The Official Site Of The Florida Legislator a home builder is responsible for the following
- For a period of 3 years from the date of completion of construction of a building or improvement, a warranty as to the roof and structural components of the building or improvement and mechanical and plumbing elements serving a building or an improvement, except mechanical elements serving only one unit.
- For a period of 1 year after completion of all construction, a warranty as to all other improvements and materials.
There’s a lot more to it as well. Here’s a link that goes into more depth about these standards a new construction builder is responsible for.
4. New Construction Will Typically Be More Safe Than Older Homes In The Event Of A Hurricane
All new construction isn’t required to have impact resistant windows however if it’s built within a mile of the coast then it is required. With that said – new construction homes usually still have systems to protect your home in a hurricane. This could come in the form of rigid window covers, kevlar, retractable metal awnings or it might be as simple as secure nubs around the window to attach protective materials to.
The vast majority of new construction is also concrete block construction which is much sturdier than wood frame. This means that your insurance rates will be cheaper on average since your home has less chance of getting major damage during a storm.
If you’re moving here and cautious about potential storms then I’d recommend finding a new construction home in a neighborhood with higher elevation. A few neighborhoods near Downtown have pretty high elevation including Historic Kenwood, and Palmetto Park (Warehouse Arts District.
3. New Construction Has Great Resale Value
This whole area has been appreciating rapidly but I’ve noticed that the resale value of new construction typically outpaces older homes. I wouldn’t say that everyone wants a new construction home but the concept of low maintenance living without HOA fees and your own privacy is appealing to many.
Even if you don’t plan on selling ever, this equity in your home could be helpful if you ever want to borrow against your mortgage with a home equity line of credit. Also worth mentioning that if your home rapidly goes up in value you are still at an advantage tax wise in Florida if you homestead your primary residence – Florida law states that property taxes can go up a maximum of 3% per year with a homesteaded primary residence.
2. New Construction Is Safer & More Energy Efficient
New windows, new electrical, new HVAC, new insulation, warrantied materials and a final inspection by the city will make sure this house meets certain energy and safety standards. New construction homes are tested for energy efficiency and have to meet a certain standard to get their certificate of occupancy from the city.
Electric bills can be massive in homes that aren’t maintaining energy standards like new construction does, sometimes by hundreds of dollars every month.
1. Find An Agent That’s Willing To Find You Off Market Properties
This can be really important, especially in this fast paced market. In St. Pete we don’t really have big developments of new construction besides high rises and townhomes.
Usually these builders buy up land and have lots available. I’m more than happy to reach out to builders to find something that works for you. Currently I’m working with someone who is looking to find a home with a mother in law suite for his elderly mother to stay in. I talked to a couple builders and found one that has property zoned for this sort of thing. I’m also working with another client who is getting a bit discouraged after being beat out on offers we put in on two properties in Gulfport. I was able to reach out to some builders and find available lots that will be built on.
My friend who used to live here and moved up to New York for a job has been looking for a property to invest in. He’s actually sent me a bunch of information and helped me learn about opportunity zones in South St. Pete that allow 10 year capital gains tax deferments. We’ve been in contact with the city and although we’re getting a few different answers, we’re finding out that some zoning is flexible and you could potentially get tax benefits by building a home with a rental apartment and providing ‘workforce’ housing which is basically affordable housing for people within certain incomes. This is more for a whole different article but here is a link to the cities page on opportunity zones in case you’d like to know more!
Depending on the builder and the stage of the process you can sometimes pick your own finishing as well. Whether this be colors, doors, appliances, fixtures, fans or other little items that make your home fit your style, this can definitely be the better option than doing these projects on your own.
New construction is rare in the St. Pete area which is why it takes a bit more effort to obtain and is coveted for resale value. The ability to live in a home with low maintenance costs and warranties that give you peace of mind is super appealing to most people. Less work on your house means less unexpected expenses and more free time to live your best life in St. Pete which may just be the best city in the known universe. With this crazy market it’s actually one of the better options if you’re looking for a home – You can secure a contract with a builder before it even hits the market, pick from available lots and many times customize the house to your liking.
Please feel free to reach out to me via phone (I prefer text since my phone flags spam calls all the time) or email. I’ll add that in this market you’ll definitely need a responsive agent that can get you into the houses you want to see ASAP – I’m a single man with two cats so I’m here for you. Thanks for reading, have a good day!