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Punta Gorda - Port Charlotte Charlotte County
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Old 08-21-2015, 12:46 PM
Location: PGI-finally here!!!!!!!!!!
325 posts, read 371,450 times
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I don't think you will see any small spec houses getting built. Just not enough money in them for builders to take a chance on.
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Old 08-21-2015, 02:39 PM
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Yeah. I'm not sure why it is that way (why it would be perceived as taking a chance), but you're probably right.
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Old 08-23-2015, 10:00 AM
Location: Ohio
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I bought a 606 sf home in Englewood just off downtown and it's a great size. 2 BR one bath built 1950's with poured concrete on top the perimeter with concrete block walls. Built like a tank and even though the roof is very flat (minimum slope) no leaks with all this rain and in Zone X so less flood worries.

One builder in the area 1950's-60's built this home floor plan all over town (Kluge I think was his name) and they are still there, being owned, rented, etc.

Resale price is not an issue because it wasn't expensive to buy and less than 4k renovations (biggest cost was mini-split air unit to replace 3 window units). Electric bill is now $35/month with A/C on 24/7. Many realtors and landlords love to buy these because they can rent them for pretty good money and get a big return on investment.

Small homes are not for everyone but much of Florida living is done outside, on lanai or deck or porch so just make sure you have lots of windows and sliding doors to make your small home feel bigger. Put up shade awning so sunlight doesn't enter your A/C space.

I don't live in the home I bought, will be using it for guest house and hobby space. It's also a good investment because although we don't want to be landlords the eventual buyer will probably do that.

If you do buy an older home that you want to renovate I strongly suggest only buying a Zone X home because homes not in Zone X that are below floodplain have severe limitations on how much you can renovate. Like only 30% reno. of what the county says it's worth (not your purchase price, much lower). No you can't do your own reno and save money, the county reviews your plans and costs them out based on contractors prices.
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Old 08-23-2015, 12:56 PM
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Great info--thank you for posting!

Some time ago, I had pulled up flood zone info for quite a few cute, smaller, older homes that I'd seen online in the area that I think you're talking about. Since the ones I checked were in high-risk zones, I had just (wrongly, I now see from your post) assumed most anything there (at least in my low price range) would be high risk and so was looking more toward East Englewood (but where prices on anything that's not a foreclosure or in a high-risk flood zone seem to have gone up too high for me). So I will look more closely at that area--thanks!

I agree with you about the importance of checking flood status. I worry for people who say they will buy a home that's below BFE in a high-risk flood zone and just "self-insure" that not all of them understand all the implications. I'm sure some are well-informed, and the risk is acceptable for their overall personal situation, but I think perhaps others have no idea.

I just love the entire Cape Haze Peninsula area--feels so peaceful and beautiful whenever I've gone there.

Last edited by City__Datarer; 08-23-2015 at 01:24 PM..
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Old 08-23-2015, 04:26 PM
Location: Ohio
1,217 posts, read 2,341,731 times
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You are welcome C_Datarer

I'm sure you found this but since it's relatively new I'm posting for others interested in what flood zone a property or a neighborhood is in.
This is Sarasota County's flood zone map online.

In Charlotte County you can look up an individual property by address and it will list what flood zone it is in. Slower because you cannot zero in on a neighborhood this way, just individual properties. FEMA also has flood maps online but they are a bit difficult to use, I have not used them in several months so maybe they've gotten better (haha).

Neither Sarasota or Charlotte will tell you what elevation the property was built to, which is also important if it's non-Zone X. Properties not in Zone X that were built above the flood plain don't have the renovation restrictions. I found it difficult to get answers about this when looking at properties. Generally if they can't tell you what the elevation is you can guess it's BFE (below flood elevation). This number (elevation) is established by a survey and not worth having done on a property you don't own.

I am not a realtor, just love real estate in general and really like to do my homework before buying any property.

edit to add: there are several blocks in downtown Dearborn area that are Zone X, the 1st and 2nd blocks closest to 776. As you go west on those streets Zone X disappears and becomes flood-potential. East Englewood does have many Zone X possibilities too as you discovered but not many tiny homes.
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Old 08-23-2015, 05:13 PM
494 posts, read 876,624 times
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Old 08-23-2015, 05:31 PM
Location: New Jersey/Florida
5,426 posts, read 10,483,870 times
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Default I strongly suggest only buying a Zone X home

And that doesn't guarantee that FEMA is/will not change the Zone designation. I live in a Zone X home in NJ and it is being changed to an AE flood zone in May 2016.
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Old 08-25-2015, 10:17 AM
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Yes, the uncertainty about future insurance costs is something that complicates the home-buying decision process for a lot of people (especially in Florida), particularly anyone whose budget doesn't have much discretionary income that can be shifted, if the need arises in the future, to an escalating expense (such as insurance).

The idea that one should own a home as a hedge against inflation and should try to have the mortgage paid off by retirement (and have it be in an area without super-high property taxes for anyone on a tight budget)--which is an idea that's been pretty central to my decision making--while still important to consider in planning, is no longer the whole story. Along with the property tax rates of different possible locations, future insurance costs are becoming a much bigger factor (at least in Florida) in trying to situate oneself for affordable future housing expenses, and it's a factor that's hard to predict. (What will future flood maps look like? Will we or won't we have major hurricanes that cause windstorm rates to skyrocket again?)

When I first came to Florida (more than a dozen years ago and before the 2004-2005 hurricanes), I was looking at some modest, low-cost single-family homes where I was advised to budget around $400-$500 a year for insurance. (In those days, insurance was predictable enough, and a low enough percentage of total housing expense, that real estate agents and loan officers, at least in my very limited experience, were comfortable offering that type of guidance, just based on knowing in general what type of home you were looking for. Now, I'm guessing the answer would typically be something more like "There are too many factors to give you a reliable approximate cost--best to get a quote from an insurance agent on the specific home you're interested in.")

And in looking at condos (basic ones, not in gated communities with upscale amenities), the monthly fees I was most commonly coming across back then were $120-$130 a month. I'm guessing, with many condos, that increased insurance costs are not the only factor, but one of several that had a significant impact (other factors that come to mind being hurricane damage not covered by insurance and, later, foreclosures during the crash), accounting for the fact that fees generally seem to have gone up a lot faster than would be caused by inflation alone. My main reason for preferring a single-family home to a condo is I feel more able to predict/control future costs--but insurance is a wild card.
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Old 08-25-2015, 02:01 PM
Location: CT
3,461 posts, read 1,843,856 times
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I don't know if you're still considering manufactured or trailer living, but one advantage is that rather than appreciate, they depreciate, bad if you were to consider resale, but good for insurance and taxes(?). I do know that there are hurricane standards for trailers and manufactured homes, as well as site standards to hold 'em on the ground. I found this site for smaller homes: go to jachomes dot com, it's a florida manufacturer, click on park model homes.

Hope it helps
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Old 08-26-2015, 09:52 AM
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Thanks for the ideas/suggestions!

Some of the park model homes seem quite nice. They are SMALL! (even by my standards ). But some come with a storage shed and/or a large Florida room adjoining the main structure. And some have a very charming cottage-type look.

As with any other type of home, there are trade-offs to consider with (any size of) mobile/manufactured home, especially as the ones in 55+ resident-owned communities seem to have gone up a lot in price recently (even the older ones).

So, I look at new listings of those but also continue to consider other possibilities.

I hope that if anyone who's built a small single-family home in recent years comes across this thread, they will post their story.

Thanks again to everyone who posted for all the great info and suggestions!
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