When Christine moved her family here several years ago, her original intention hadn’t been to start buying Florida investment property. She simply wanted a higher quality of life that moved at a more relaxed pace—something she hadn’t experienced living and working up north. Having more days of sunshine than not was a big draw, too. It is for almost everyone who lands here.
But, by the time we met over at Black Crow Coffee, she’d been bitten by the real estate investing bug and was wondering where she could find the best deals for entering the market. Fortunately for her, I’ve been buying houses to renovate and sell in the area for years now. That meant I was able to point her in the direction of the best up and coming neighborhoods in St. Petersburg, FL—the kind of communities that have always provided me with better potential returns.
The Best Up and Coming Neighborhoods in St. Petersburg, FL
As you probably remember, Florida as a whole was hit pretty hard during the housing crash. Property values plummeted, unemployment skyrocketed, and residents across the state fled in search of a place that didn’t look or feel so financially desperate and desolate. And, though it didn’t fall quite as hard or fast as other Florida towns, St. Petersburg suffered, too. At the height of the housing crash, homeowners in the region were unloading their houses for tens of thousands of dollars less than what they paid and unemployment spiked to nearly 12%. Some areas, particularly in the suburbs, even started to resemble ghost towns as the number of houses abandoned by the owners who could no longer afford them rose.
But, though it took longer than many parts of the country, the region’s economy turned around nicely. Jobs in staple industries, like financial services, returned and opportunities in growing industries, like information technology, followed suit. As a result, unemployment has dropped to 2.9%. That’s lower than the national average. While these changes include the shift we’re seeing in the entire Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater area, they’ve helped put St. Petersburg on the map for Millennials looking for beachfront communities where employment opportunities abound. In fact, because it’s been one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country, the entire city of St. Petersburg has been called ‘up and coming’ in recent years.
There are some neighborhoods in the Sunshine City, however, where your potential to earn better-than-average returns could shine a little brighter in the coming year. So, if you’re looking to enter the St. Petersburg real estate market, like Christine, here are the areas to set your sights on first:
Immediately west of downtown St. Pete, the historic inner city neighborhood of Kenwood has been on the revitalization trajectory for more than a couple of decades. After falling into decline midway through the 20th century and remaining in a state of neglect through the early 1990s, community leaders pushed to update Kenwood’s infrastructure, attract new businesses, and bring decrepit houses up to minimum code standards. It wasn’t long before real estate investors started buying single-family homes as investment property to rehab and sell to new homeowners with an eye towards preserving the area’s old-school charm. And, in 2003, Kenwood landed on the National Register of Historic Places.
But, room for growth remains in this economically and culturally diverse neighborhood, especially as you head towards its south end. Homes in disrepair dot the landscape, though new construction and recently renovated houses reside there, too. And, with the area’s reputation as a vibrant artist’s enclave on the rise, the demand for move-in ready homes from eclectic newcomers is also expected to go up. So, it’s up and coming status may not last for much longer. But, if you can get in now, your potential returns in Kenwood could take you a long way.
Another near-downtown neighborhood, Old Southeast, flew under most Floridians’ radars for years. Known primarily for being the part of town where college kids and ethnically-diverse groups prefer to live, this one-time suburban secret’s appeal is out. Home to small bungalows and large ranches, the range of housing affordability allows first-time Millennial buyers, downsizing retirees, and established professionals commuting into nearby Tampa entry into homeownership. It also provides them with access into an inclusive community with a family-friendly feel. And, for a lot of homebuyers who thrive in that kind of close-knit urban environment, but don’t want to be forced to pay hip downtown-adjacent prices, Old Southeast is the place to be—and the place you’ll you want to invest in.
The trick to realizing good returns in Old Southeast, however, is to focus on buying distressed homes at below-market prices, then renovating according to the needs of your target market. Like many areas around the country, median home list prices are in correction and trending downward. But, sellers are still getting close to their asking price. Their properties don’t stay on the market for long, either. So, demand hasn’t waned. So, as long as you buy at the right price, your potential returns in Old Southeast should be just right, too.
The suburban neighborhood of Gulfport only recently started to slide into up and coming St. Petersburg territory. And, depending on where you look, you might think it doesn’t belong there at all. In fact, the presence of gated modern communities and a members-only yacht club suggest you’ve gotta have green if you want to live in Gulfport. But, these upscale homes and amenities tell only part of Gulfport’s story. Unemployment here is higher than the region and that’s kept the area’s poverty rate higher than other areas, too. This imbalance has strained some of ‘Old Florida’s’ homeowners into falling behind on the care of their less-than-modern homes.
The upside to this imbalance, however, is that it provides you with an opportunity to purchase properties that could use a makeover while also making the lives of distressed homeowners better. And, since the city is working to reshape its image into a haven for independently-owned businesses and local street artisans, demand for the homes you rehab—and their selling price—is likely to grow as well. Gulfport is a sleepy beachfront town that is truly poised to transition. You should transfer some of your investing attention that way, too.
Of course, knowing which up and coming St. Petersburg, FL, neighborhoods hold the most promise for providing potentially strong returns won’t be enough to secure the best deals. If you’re anything like me—and, now, Christine—you’ll also need to figure out how to generate the right kind of qualified leads for real estate investors who prefer buying older, smaller, ugly homes to rehab and sell. And, those leads generally come directly from homeowners who are motivated to offload their properties fast because they can no longer afford their upkeep. Having been at this business a while, I know where to find those, too.
A Better Way to Connect With the Most Promising Leads
As a younger, less experienced investor like Christine, I focused too much on finding the best locations for buying investment property and not enough on locating the most qualified leads. The end result was that I missed out on more than a few deals. St. Petersburg’s up and coming neighborhoods do tend to hold the most promise for providing potentially great investment returns, but there are good deals all around town. Plus, neighborhoods fall into and out of transitioning status all the time. So, you never want to limit yourself by looking at location alone.
To keep your options open, and connect with the most promising leads anywhere, I suggest you look at becoming an independently owned and operated HomeVestors® franchisee, like me. The marketing tools and resources, like the “We Buy Ugly Houses®” national ad campaign, that are available to all franchisees are worth it alone.
When distressed St. Petersburg homeowners see our HomeVestors® billboards or hear one of our commercials on the radio, they know who to call—local HomeVestors® franchisees like me. They get to offload their properties quickly, at a fair price and I get to acquire a good deal that provides potentially great returns. It’s an end result I can live with. And, I have no doubt you’ll be able to, too.
To locate qualified St. Petersburg leads on Florida investment property, contact HomeVestors about becoming a franchisee today!
Each franchise office is independently owned and operated.