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Home Tours in St Petersburg

We’re starting to get phone calls asking about the holiday homes tours here in St Petersburg, so here’s the information for your calendar.

OLD NORTHEAST Candlelight Tour of Homes

Sunday, December 8 from 3 pm to 8 pm.  Tickets are $20 when purchased in advance and the proceeds are donated to charity. This will include a self-guided tour of 8 homes. A tour brochure will have a map and a detailed description of each home. There will be free shuttles throughout the tour time. Hospitality houses offer complimentary refreshments and the use of their restroom facilities. Watch a video of the Candlelight Tour of Homes and get more information on the Historic Old Northeast Neighborhood Association (HONNA) website.

SNELL ISLE Holiday Homes Tour

Saturday, December 7 from 10 am to 4 pm.  Advance tickets are $20 and will benefit The Florida Orchestra.    The tour will include 5 homes on Snell Isle, along Brightwaters Boulevard, Coffee Pot Riviera and Monterey Boulevard. A limited number of reservations are available for a wine tasting reception with hors d’oeuvres on December 6th. Get more information on the Snell Isle Holiday Homes Tour on the Florida Orchestra website.

If you like what you see and want to buy a home in the Old Northeast or Snell Isle, please contact Sharon, Tami or Rob with The Simms Team at ALVA International, Inc.  We’re at 238 Beach Drive NE, next to Tryst and across from the Museum of Fine Arts in downtown St Petersburg.


Spoken by Sharon Simms | Discussion: No Comments »

Rita Gould Fine Arts Gallery Opening in St Petersburg

Rita Gould Fine Arts Gallery has Grand Opening

Rita Gould Fine Arts Gallery


The Grand Opening of the Rita Gould Fine Arts Gallery is Saturday, November 9th from 5:30 – 9:00 pm. The gallery is located just across from the Courthouse at 550 1st Avenue North in downtown St Petersburg. This a welcome addition to our arts community. St Petersburg has consistently been rated the #1 mid-size city for art.

Artists featured in the gallery include Carole Bardes, Kennedi Benjamin, Mirella Cimato, Gail Falkingham, Jean Hurst, Ronn Johnson, Mary Khosh, Richard Logan, Pamela Rubinstein, Sonia Ann Smith and Rita Gould.

Spoken by Sharon Simms | Discussion: No Comments »

Flood insurance relief for St Petersburg and the beaches

Good news this morning for flood insurance in St Petersburg and Pinellas County! Implementation of rate increases is postponed for four years and is subject to required studies that were not completed as well as showing of affordability. Read the article on flood insurance relief.


Spoken by Sharon Simms | Discussion: No Comments »

Progress on flood insurance in St Petersburg and surrounds

Two insurance companies plan to offer a flood insurance alternative to the National Flood Insurance Program for some homes in St Petersburg and surrounding area, according to the Tampa Bay Times.  This is progress since my report on flood insurance on Oct 15th.

One of these is Homeowners Choice Property & Casualty Insurance Co., which will offer flood insurance as an endorsement to its homeowners policies. This is the company that sent letters to some Broadwater waterfront home owners recently saying that it would take policies out of Citizens. This flood endorsement would be subject to approval by the Florida regulators.

The other company, The Flood Insurance Agency of Gainesville, is offering a program backed by Lloyd’s of London. Since it is a surplus-line carrier they do not need state approval. Here you can view Lloyd’s Private Flood.

We’ll see if the federal government or the state of Florida will be offering more alternatives.



Spoken by Sharon Simms | Discussion: No Comments »

Citizens is transferring St Petersburg home insurance policies

Several people in our Broadwater waterfront neighborhood of St Petersburg have been calling to say that Citizens Property Insurance dropped them and wondered what to do. We, too,received a notice from a new insurance company saying they were taking over our policy. We're referring here to general homeowner's insurance, not flood insurance.

Some people don't realize that they still have an option. They can decline the switch and stay with Citizens. That's what we decided to do. To be safe, we notified the new company by both email and regular mail that we were opting to stay with Citizens. We had to sign a notice that we knew our premiums might be higher and that our coverage may be lower if we stayed with Citizens.

In the past, some of the companies taking policies from Citizens have not been financially sound. Admittedly, I didn't check out the financial stability of this particular company. I decided that the devil I know is better than the devilI don't.

If you received a notice that an insurance company is taking you out of Citizens for your home here in St Pete – I'm not telling you what to do, only what I did. The point is, you do have a choice!

p.s. I hope Florida will opt out of the National Flood Insurance and if private insurance companies don't come forward, that Florida will set up a Citizens-like flood insurance. Florida has paid in over $16 billion in premiums and received less than $4 billion in claims. To now face some premium jumps to ten times the amount of past annual premium is incredible. People who own their home free and clear can opt out of flood insurance and self insure. Those with a mortgage cannot. So you choose to buy in a non-flood zone? You have no guarantee that when the flood maps are redrawn that you will not then be in a flood zone.


Spoken by Sharon Simms | Discussion: No Comments »

Will Florida help with rising flood insurance premiums?

Following my recent blog post on flood insurance, which mentioned that there is some consideration of Florida withdrawing from the national flood insurance program, an article discussed a proposal by Sen. David Simmons concerning Florida and flood insurance. Simmons thinks the problem calls for a solution from the state of Florida. He suggests having private insurance companies step in to write flood insurance as an alternative to the national program. If private companies don’t do that, then he feels the state needs to step in and provide a “last-resort” market. Simmons thinks that the prospect of withdrawing our billions of dollars in premiums from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) could also be leverage to  prompt Congress to act.

Since 1978 Florida has paid $16 billion in premiums and has received less than $4 billion in claims. Yet the NFIP is now creating havoc with some premiums increasing by 1,000%. It isn’t fair that we’ve been subsidizing the rest of the country and it’s even less fair to significantly increase that subsidy!


Spoken by Sharon Simms | Discussion: No Comments »

St Petersburg – get service with your gas

Bob KLee's Tire Company for full service gas, tires and vehicle maintenance and repairs

Bob Lee’s on 4th St

Would you like an option to pumping your own gas? Try Bob Lee’s Tire Co at 1631 4th St N in northeast St Petersburg. Years ago only women got full service every day at Bob Lee’s but now it’s everyone who drives in. Not only do they pump your gas, they clean your windshield, check your tire pressure and check under the hood. Even before their official opening at 7:30 am they are pumping gas and cleaning windshields – with a smile.  Bob Lee will tell you why paying about 6 cents more a gallon can actually save you money.

Bob Lee’s has been around for 66 years, since 1947. They were on Fourth Street when it was a brick road with a trolley running down the center. They aren’t just a gas station – they have tires for cars, trucks and all sorts of equipment and they have 10 mechanics so they do both small and large repairs and maintenance.

For full service real estate service, contact The SimmsTeam at ALVA International. Look for the red awning on Beach Drive across from the Museum of Fine Arts.


Spoken by Sharon Simms | Discussion: No Comments »

Flood insurance and St Petersburg home sales

Homes in flood zones

Homes in Flood Zones

What's happening with flood insurance? How is the new flood insurance affecting home prices in St Pete and on the Gulf beaches? What should I do about the new flood insurance rates? These are questions we get nearly every day.

Homes built before 12/31/74 will no longer have subsidized flood insurance rates. All flood insurance policy renewals after October 1, 2013 will need to have a flood elevation certificate in order to determine the rate for these properties. We've heard of premiums ranging from $4,000 to nearly $30,000 – and that's per year, and only provides $250,000 of coverage. Florida has more affected properties than any other state and Pinellas County has more affected properties than any other county in Florida. As you can see by the section of the Property Appraiser's map that is printed here, it's not just waterfront properties that are affected. Many homeowners paying cash or having no mortgage will opt to self insure.

We haven't had enough sales data to make any conclusions about the drop in value of homes with high flood insurance, but we do know that it means that the loan a buyer can qualify for will be reduced and that buyers are asking what the new flood policy rate will be and opting out of looking at or making offers on homes with high flood insurance rate increases. Some buyers are using the new Florida sales contract to put a maximum premium they'll pay – if the premium is higher, they can cancel the contract.

For homeowners living in their home as a primary residence, the full rates will be phased in, with premiums capped at an increase of “only” 25% per year. If your home was built before 1975, get an elevation certificate and discuss options with your insurance agent. Perhaps you can raise your deductible to lower the premium. By October 2014 homes that were built in 1975 and after that are “grandfathered” because they were built to code at the time of construction can expect to see major increases as well. FEMA is having new flood maps drawn again, so we'll have to wait and see what happens with “base flood elevation”.

Many people, including legislators, did not realize what effect the Bigger-Waters Reform Act of 2012 would have. The required affordability study has not yet been completed. Florida residents have paid in nearly 4 times as much in premiums than they have collected in claims. There is some consideration of Florida withdrawing from the federal program and setting up something for Florida alone.

As Confucius said, “May you live in interesting times.”


Spoken by Sharon Simms | Discussion: No Comments »

Moving a house

As you can see, moving a house in downtown St Petersburg is not a one day job. Compare this week's photo of the house being moved from the site where JMC will be building the Rowland Place condominiums.

Contact The Simms Team at ALVA International, Inc. about purchasing one of the remaining 4 Rowland Place units.


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Rowland Place moving forward

Home being moved for Rowland Place

Site for Rowland Place

Yesterday there was activity at Rowland Place – the existing home was being prepared to be moved, the first step in clearing and preparing the land for construction.

Only 4 condominium units remain to be sold, all priced in the $700s. Units were available starting in the high $400s and progressing upwards, but all those have been sold. This is the latest developmenyt by JMC, who built Florencia and Ovation in downtown St Petersburg, Sandpearl and others on Clearwater Beach, Dolphin Cay and other developments.

Rowland Place is on 4th Avenue NE, just a half block off Beach Drive in downtown St Pete. Parkshore Plaza is in the background.

For information about purchasing one of the Rowland Place condominiums, contact The Simms Team at ALVA International.


Spoken by Sharon Simms | Discussion: No Comments »

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