Although I LOVE Tampa, Clearwater, St. Pete mostly due to the great west coast waters, sunsets,, etc.....I live in Orlando the middle of it all.
Besides what Lisa commented on, I would ask yourself what it is you want? Why are you looking in the area's you are? Is it due to the water? Do you have kids? Will you have jobs?
What you need to know that is different from MN is a breeze - NOT SNOWING HERE ;-) AND YES, get a mtg broker here, preferably with the buyers agent you work with, they have more clout than just picking one out of the phone book.
The only other thing I can think of that you asked us to post is that I'm a certified real estate consultant.....help consumers with what they need, give options, unbiased opinion... for more info on using a real estate consultant, email me or visit http://www.theconsultingtimes.com.
The thing to think about is WHY you want to move... That wil tell you the answser as to where to move, or whether to move at all. Do you have any friends or family here? Why FL? Why not AZ or CO? I have a needs analysis form you can fill out that will help guide you with this important decision if you are interested, let me know. and I'll send to you.
With that said, there is NO better time to buy a house, anywhere, than NOW. Prices are low, mtg rates are low and if you are a first time home buyer, there are tax incentives, so whatever you decide to do, DO IT, but move forward with caution and knowledge so you don't make a mistake.
Happy 2009 hope this helps!
If you are interested in Tampa Bay Florida - contact me and I can answer any questions on the area including all four counties. I can also email you some websites to help you get information i.e schools etc.
I of course would always suggest Tampa Bay. As a community there are many opportunities especially for jobs. We have University of South Florida and University of Tampa. There are three professional sports teams, etc. etc. We also have two of the top twenty high schools nationally: Plant High School and Hillsborough High School. And there is much much more.
Florida definately has appeal....especially during the winter months for northerners. We are transplants and wouldn't consider going back.
We would like to recommend for consideration an area south of Clearwater consisting of several communities. Sarasota, Venice, Englewood, and North Port offer location, quality of life, opportunity, and value and should not be overlooked.
We would be happy to provide you with additional information as needed.
Susan & Bill Eckler
Michael Saunders & Company
we are warmer here
and yes I suggest central FL as in Mount Dora
and for good reason
mortgage broker none but the best
best schools are in Seminole county