Plant City isn’t immune to Florida’s booming housing market

When Erica Perkins started house hunting last year, Plant City wasn’t exactly on her list of neighborhoods. Perkins was interested in the Seminole Heights area, where her husband is from. When they heard about home prices in Tampa, the family of two decided to broaden their horizons.

“Honestly, we moved here because of the price,” Perkins said. “We were house hunting and couldn’t find anything decently sized and affordable in Tampa.”

The family of two opened their search in the I-4 corridor and examined homes in Wesley Chapel, Brandon and eventually Plant City. They closed a $350,000 four-bedroom, two-bathroom home near the Plant City Hillsborough Community College campus in November.

Their story is typical.

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Cameron Hamade, a Valrico-based real estate agent with Greco Real Estate, said the Perkins’ home may be worth much less in 2020.

According to Hamade, the median price for a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Plant City was $215,995 two years ago. In April, the median selling price of a home in Plant City was $335,500, according to Realtor.com. Homes usually only stay on the market for five days before closing, according to the local listing service.

By comparison, the median sale price for a home in Lakeland in April was $321,500.

It’s a situation he doesn’t see ending anytime soon.

“If a house was purchased in Plant City in 2019 at an average price of $215,995, the annual appreciation rate was 15.17%, that same house is now valued at $333,500…Even if the rate annual appreciation drops to 10% over the next few years, their home they bought today for $333,500 would be worth $439,230 in 2025,” Hamade said.

“The housing market here is a lot like the rest of what you see in Tampa,” Hamade said. “The numbers line up pretty well. It’s hard to talk about Plant City without talking about the overall problem, Lakeland too.

He said many of his buyers are single-family homes priced out of Tampa and looking for good neighborhoods to raise a family. There are also investors who buy land and lots and divide them up.

Rosie Ziegler has experienced this.

Ziegler has lived in Plant City all her life, but in January 2021 she and her four children were evicted from their mobile home at 215 South Webb Road after an investor purchased the property.

Ziegler said she rented the three-bedroom, one-bathroom home for $500 a month from previous owner Curtis Bass, 91. When Bass sold to an investor, they could no longer pay the rent.

“We lived there for five years and loved it,” Ziegler said. “Well, we hated the house, it was a dumpster, but we loved our neighbors. They have always paid attention to the youngest.

Ziegler works two jobs; she is a substitute teacher for the Hillsborough County School System and works night shifts as a bartender at the Finish Line Saloon in Dover. Despite this, she can no longer find an apartment or a house within her budget.

More people are moving to Florida than in pre-COVID times.  As a result, the Tampa area is oversaturated with home buyers.  Rural Plant City is no exception

“Once we got the note on our doorstep, I took it out…I went to the Plant City courthouse, the first time the judge threw it out because no one showed up,” Ziegler said. “But the judge said to me, ‘Ms. Ziegler, you have to start looking for a place.’ »

The family lives in local hotels, including the Knights Inn, where they stay for $249 every three days.

“Before that, I had more money than I’ve ever had in my entire life,” Ziegler said. “Now it’s completely gone, it doesn’t matter that I’m working two jobs, my credit just isn’t right.”

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