Which Up and Coming Neighborhoods in Tampa Should You Be Investing in Now?

It wasn’t long after giving a talk on buying investment property in Florida over at the Marriott on Westshore that a few attendees followed up with questions via email. I wasn’t surprised. It happens every time I speak on the subject of real estate investing, whether it’s here in Tampa or across the bay in St. Petersburg. I always respond thoughtfully and as thoroughly as I can, leaving the door open for further discussion since there is really no end to learning this business.

One young Tampa investor—Joey—has really taken my open-door policy to heart, too. Lately, we’ve been corresponding about which up and coming neighborhoods in Tampa are worth investing in. Since it’s one of my favorite subjects to cover, whether I’m in front of a mic or not, I always have a lot to say on the topic. But, I’ve trimmed the details here in case you’re also interested in investing in Tampa—and, I can say as a long-time Florida investor, you should be. 

The Up and Coming Neighborhoods in Tampa Worth Investing in Today

Tampa has a lot going for it right now, including a real estate market that is on fire. At a time when some U.S. cities are running out of market fuel due to saturated inventory and falling home sales prices—we’re looking at you, San Francisco—Tampa is still hot, hot, hot. Median home list prices, currently at about $275,000, are trending upward by 5.8% year-over-year. And, homes are selling at around 98% of their asking price.

With the city’s population growing by nearly 150 new residents per day, it’s no wonder. Tired of the expense and congestion of New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, people are leaving those cities in search of affordable alternatives that are easier to navigate. They’re finding them in economically diverse, multiculturally distinct, bustling business centers, like Tampa. And, that constant push in demand has consistently driven home prices higher. For investors highly skilled at real estate investment analysis and valuation, like me, realizing good returns by meeting local market demand has been easy. 

It’s not always easygoing in Tampa, however—not for distressed homeowners, anyway. Divorce, job loss, and prolonged illness have as big of an impact on our locals as they do anywhere else in the country. But, this impact, which often includes failure to keep up with a home’s mortgage and repairs, is more visible here than a lot of places. Tampa is among the top 10 housing markets with the highest number of zombie homes. That means some homeowners abandon their properties when behind on payments and threatened with foreclosure. And, these properties don’t always get repossessed by the bank. So, these homes just sit there, empty, when they could be housing a family.

It’s in reaching these and other financially distressed homeowners before things go from bad to worse that typically yields some of the best deals. And, you’ll find a fair share of them in many of Tampa’s up and coming neighborhoods. With as many people motivated to get in as there are people who need to get out, buying and selling houses as a business in these communities has the potential to help everyone—including your bottom line.

These are the up and coming Tampa neighborhoods where I look for deals:

University Square

The North Tampa neighborhood of University Square ranks high in diversity and low in cost of living, making it ideal for families and seniors living on a budget as well as young professionals just getting started. Good public schools, an above-average nightlife, and close proximity to attractions such as Tampa Bay’s Busch Gardens only add more spice to its appeal. Not bad for an area long associated with high rates of poverty and crime that spilled over from nearby communities.

Of course, it is precisely because of what University Square has had going for it—and what it hasn’t—that it’s landed on this up-and-coming list. As new home buyers have gotten pushed out of increasingly popular Tampa neighborhoods, like Hunters Green, they’ve had to search for under-the-radar deals where they get a lot more for a little less money. University Square is that place.

University Square is also a place where you should park some of your investing dollars. Provided you run the numbers right when you buy, your returns are less likely to go wrong when you sell. But, with a high number of renters still inhabiting the neighborhood, you’ll want to invest in real estate rentals in University Square, too. By doing so, you’ll be building your portfolio while helping to build this community. 

Tampa Heights

South of University Square and slightly north of downtown, the old neighborhood of Tampa Heights is attracting a lot of new attention. The focus of revitalization efforts spurred on mostly by developers and the entrance of new businesses in recent years, residents of this up-and-coming community have embraced the changes—like mixed-use spaces such as Armature Works—with gusto. And, that’s energized others to want to join in the fun. In fact, Tampa Heights’ popularity is soaring so high that median home list prices are trending up by an incredible 11.8% year-over-year.

At almost $285,000, however, median home list prices remain relatively affordable—especially when you consider how close the community is to downtown. Of course, both of these factors help to feed its appeal for homeowners hungry for a manageable mortgage and short commute from a neighborhood as ethnically-diverse and culturally-eclectic as Tampa Heights.

But, with Tampa Heights already in the throes of transition, you’ll need to jump on this investing wagon sooner rather than later. If your entry point gets too high, your ability to potentially realize good returns could sink. Unless, of course, your strategy for generating qualified leads helps you find motivated sellers more eager to get out of Tampa Heights because of their rising costs to stay in. 

Highland Pines

East of Tampa Heights is the sleeper-hit of a neighborhood, Highland Pines. Plagued for years by high unemployment and crime as well as low median income and property values, Highland Pines was considered one of the last places you’d think of for buying a home. And, the community still struggles to prove that it has a new reputation just over the horizon.

Luckily, investors who understand the social impact that investing in real estate can have believe that Highland Pines could be more than just its past. Buying, renovating, and selling homes—especially in neighborhoods that could use an injection of funds and hope—provides jobs, lowers crime, and raises property values. This, then, turns up the heat in homeownership interest and further fuels the attention of more investors. For neighborhoods like Highland Pines, the transition can be a long, painful crawl. That is, until it isn’t.

Recently, median home list prices in the neighborhood shifted gears. Trending up by more than 60% a year, early investors who knew demand was coming are seeing their efforts finally pay off. And, at just over $150,000, prices are still affordable enough for homebuyers who are just starting to catch on to the true up-and-comer that is Highland Pines.

But, don’t worry. You are far from coming late to the party since there is still a lot of work to be done in this community—including helping distressed homeowners get out from under the houses that they can no longer afford.

East Ybor

For a long time running, Ybor City was the considered the up-and-coming neighborhood. And, with so much around the area still changing so fast, it’s hanging on to that title for as long as it can. Home to great Cuban food, old-time trolleys, and new bars, the area also continues to be a draw for all kinds of people—including would-be residents who want to live in the cool part of Tampa.

But, it’s a subset of Ybor City that has drawn my focus: the “forgotten” neighborhood of East Ybor. Caged in by heavy tourist traffic to the north and east and Ybor’s historic district just to the west, this quiet residential community seemed to remain a secret for years. Residents didn’t always mind, though, since it brought them closer together; but, the lack of attention also drove crime up—and property values down.

Crime has recently done an about-face, however, and so have home values thanks, in part, to real estate investors renovating old and ugly houses. Developers are slated to bring more business in, too, since so much of the land is commercially zoned. Already, these changes are attracting new home buyers—especially since, at $165,000, the median home sales price is fairly easy to reach. With the secret of East Ybor now out, however, that price is bound to go up. That means it’s important not to forget to invest there soon so that you can also realize potentially good returns.

Now, I sometimes get into a friendly debate with a couple of colleagues over which cities actually make the best places to invest in Florida real estate. And, I have to admit, we’ve got good pickings all over the state. That doesn’t change how strongly I feel about the up and coming neighborhoods in Tampa, however, and whether I think they hold the best investment potential. Tampa is home, and you know what they say: home is where the heart is. It also happens to be where I think the best deals are.

The key to succeeding as an investor, no matter where you buy property in Florida, is knowing how to find real estate deals that provide potentially great returns under any market conditions. For that, you need access to qualified leads today, tomorrow, and for as long as you own your business. And, I haven’t found a better way to do that than by opening a business where the best leads come to you.

Get Better Leads Now So You Can Invest in Tampa Today and Tomorrow

I was about Joey’s age when I started investing in Florida real estate and I got my start right here in Tampa, too. He’s further along than I was, however, and I like knowing that I helped him get a head start. I struggled for years to find consistent deals and, if it wasn’t for a billboard I drove by, I might have given up on my career altogether.

That billboard, part of HomeVestors®‘ nationally-known “We Buy Ugly Houses®” ad campaign, encouraged Tampa homeowners to sell directly to a Tampa franchisee. And, that encouraged me to call about becoming an independently owned and operated local HomeVestors® franchisee, too. I knew I’d gain access to marketing tools and resources like the billboard I saw, so I didn’t hesitate to get on board. I thought, if I could get homeowners in up and coming Tampa neighborhoods to contact me when they needed to sell their home, my struggles with finding deals—and building a professional real estate investing business—would be over.

I’m happy to say that, with a solid work ethic behind me, my instincts were correct. Now that Joey is also a Tampa HomeVestors® franchisee, he’s on his way to getting better leads on investment property and building his own solid career, too.

Franchise opportunities are limited in the Tampa area, but if you act now you can still gain access to some of the best qualified leads on local investment property. So, request more information about becoming a HomeVestors® franchisee today so you don’t miss out on good Tampa deals tomorrow.

Each franchise office is independently owned and operated.

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