First and foremost, determine if your time horizon. If you know you will have to move (e.g. be transferred, etc.) outside the area in less than three years, then you have to examine your finances and decide if you could carry a potential loss of capital or subsidize a renter. This is advice you should heed under any market conditions...or any investment. The shorter your time horizon, the more conservative your investment decision.
If your time horizon is futher out, or if you have the financial capability to handle a depreciation, then make a list of what is important in a home for yourself. Location? Size? Neighborhood? Number of bedrooms, baths, garage? Yard, large or small? Amenities? etc.
Find a good Realtor who is willing to listen to you and search for your criteria. If a realtor immediately tells you that you can afford more and should buy as much as you can afford, excuse yourself and move on to another. If you aren't sure how to locate a Realtor in Tampa's east side, just shoot me a message. I'll find you one, and no, I won't charge you for it.
Wish you luck and happy hunting.