And if you're doing the smart thing and renting before buying you should rent the least expensive apartment in an apartment complex in a safer area. This is just a "temporary" living arrangement so you may want to find a nice safe inexpensive place near your work. If you decide to rent, you will have little to no assistance from a Realtor because in Tampa Bay it's not uncommon for a tenant's Realtor to receive only $100 compensation. That wouldn't even pay the gas for the car!
Also if you decide to rent from an individual owner versus in an apartment complex you MUST do a background check on the owner before handing over any money or signing a lease. You may even want an attorney to review your lease agreement when renting from an individual. You see we have a lot of properties in pre-foreclosure status and some owners will not tell you that once you move in and sign a year lease that they will then decide to sell it via a Short Sale and you will be required to allow Realtors inside to show prospective buyers--not fun!
Trulia has a very helpful tab at the bottom of a property listing that will show the crime statistics.
Also if you decide to buy and have a 640 credit score and ability to qualify for an FHA, USDA, Conventional or VA mortgage, the State of Florida has a Bond program that may be able to give $7,500 towards your downpayment and closing costs. One of my clients put $1k down and actually got $375 back at closing and a beautiful newer single family home for her and her son. They are no longer subjects to a Landlord (with rental increases) and after their tax deduction are also paying significantly less than renting a much smaller place in a crowned complex with higher crime.
All the best,
Alma Rose Kee, PA
Work with an agent, to help you determine where you'd like to live, the amenities and your price point.
Brock Realty Inc.
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There are many great areas and neighborhoods to consider in the Tampa area. I always ask my clients to consider thir lifestyle when thy relocate. What types of activities do you participate in? Do you need a great running park? Are you active in your church or religion? Do you need to be close to certain people or places? These answered questions can help a a realtor guide you to the right neighborhood for your life.
Please review my profile and if I can help, just send me a messge or give me a call.
No pressure, just help.
Prudential Tropical Realty