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Susan Taylor Martin, Times Senior Correspondent

Susan Taylor Martin

For someone who doesn't particularly care to fly, Tampa Bay Times senior correspondent Susan Taylor Martin has logged a lot of hours in the air — in the past decade she has traveled extensively throughout Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and China. She covered the invasion of Iraq, the war in Kosovo and the war against terror in Afghanistan and Pakistan. On 9/11, she and two other Times staffers got in Martin's aging car and drove 24 hours nonstop from Tampa Bay to New York City, her hometown. Among the other breaking stories Susan has covered were the death and funeral of Princess Diana, the funeral of Jordan's King Hussein and the handover of Hong Kong to China. There have been lighter moments, too. Martin has written about a restaurant in Jerusalem dedicated to Elvis Presley's memory; a Scottish hamlet that finally got TV and hated it; and the gay and transvestite scene in Turkey, a conservative Muslim country. Her hobbies include figure skating, antiquing, flea-marketing, and rooting for the Blue Devils basketball team of Duke University (her alma mater).

Martin has won numerous state and national journalism awards, including the 2007 Paul Hansell Award presented by the Florida Society of News Editors for distinguished writing and reporting.

Phone: (727) 893-8642

Email: susan@tampabay.com

Blog: Hot Spots

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  1. Home of Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman hits market at $3.45 million

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — The Davis Islands home of Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman is back on the market for $3.45 million after a brief hiatus.

    The Mediterranean-style home built on a canal in 2007 and purchased by Yzerman and wife Lisa in 2010 for $2.43 million cash has four bedrooms, five bathrooms and two half-baths in 6,265 square feet. Amenities include covered terraces with cypress ceilings, an outdoor kitchen with sink, grill and gas firepit and a heated pool with spa....

    The Davis Islands home of Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman is on the market for $3.45 million. [Courtesy of Hi Res Media]
  2. Will new laws protect condo owners from apartment conversions and rogue associations?

    Real Estate

    Danny Di Nicolantonio has lived in St. Petersburg's Calais Village Condominums for 33 years. Annoyed at times by the actions, or inaction, of the condo board and property managers, he has complained to the state agency that is supposed to investigate.

    That has left him even more annoyed.

    The Department of Business and Professional Regulation "is about as useless as a snowball in Florida," Di Nicolantonio says. "I'm sick and tired of filing complaints with them only to continuously be told it is out of their jurisdiction, my file has been closed or to go hire an attorney."...

    A bill passed by the Florida Legislature would affect places like The Slade in Tampa's Channelside district, where condominium owners have battled a plan to convert homes into apartments.
[Times file photo]
  3. Tampa Bay homes values continue to rise along with sales prices

    Real Estate

    For the second month in a row, Tampa Bay had one of the highest year -over-year increases in home values in May, Zillow reported today.

    The median value of a bay area home jumped to $184,900 for an 11 percent gain, tying with Dallas for the second biggest increase among the nation's 35 largest metro areas. Seattle was No. 1 as home values there shot up 13 percent to a median of $440,100....

    For the second month in a row, Tampa Bay had one of the highest year -over-year increases in home values in May, Zillow reported Thursday.
[Times file photo]
  4. As home prices continue to rise, what will $215,000 get you across Tampa Bay?

    Real Estate

    Within 24 hours of listing a 1,000-square-foot bungalow near Tampa's Seminole Heights, agent Bob Matthews received four offers. The compact but adorable house went under contract in two days and sold in May for $215,000 — $20,000 more than the asking price.

    "You really can't buy anything that nice for $215,000 in South Tampa or Westchase so Seminole Heights is a good alternative for people who want to have a nice house in a good area," Matthews said....

    This renovated house that sold for $215,000 in May in Tampa's Seminole Heights area had been renovated with three bedrooms and two bathrooms in a little over 1,000 square feet. [Courtesy of Bob Matthews]
  5. Former St. Pete Beach estate of beer titan August Busch Jr. fetches $5.4 million

    Real Estate

    ST. PETE BEACH — Nearly a decade and one scrubbed auction after it first hit the market, the former winter home of beer and baseball magnate August A. Busch Jr. sold today for $5.395 million.

    That is the second highest amount paid for a residentially zoned property in the Tampa Bay area this year. A Clearwater estate sold for $11.18 million in April.

    "An integral piece of Tampa Bay history has changed hands and the iconic Busch estate will enjoy a fabulous new legacy," said agent Rafal Wazio, who represented the seller, developer John De Silva....

    The Birds of Paradise Resort,  former St. Pete Beach  winter estate of beer and baseball magnate August Busch Jr., has sold for $5.395 million.  [Courtesy of Rafal Wazio/ Cary John]
  6. What does a top land broker say about Tampa Bay's real estate market?

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — As Mark Twain once said: "Buy land; they're not making it anymore.'' That finite aspect of land is one reason it can be so valuable, especially in fast-growing areas like Tampa Bay.

    Mark Eilers is managing director of land services for Colliers International in Tampa. For more than 20 years, he's been helping clients buy and sell land, either vacant parcels or developed land that awaits new uses. ...

    Land broker Mark Eilers of Colliers International, posed for a portrait at the parcel of land he is selling, on Tyson Street, off of South Westshore, across from Hula Bay.
[MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  7. Developer: Tampa tower could 'one-up' Beach Drive in St. Petersburg as waterfront destination

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Riverwalk Place, a 53-story tower planned for downtown Tampa, will have four restaurants, "many, many'' outdoor tables and a rooftop bar atop the garage.

    And that's not enough, developer Larry Feldman says. Ideally, the project will spur what he calls the "Beach Drive-ification'' of Tampa's entire Riverwalk.

    "I don't want to hear any more, 'Why can't downtown Tampa be like downtown St. Pete?' " Feldman said Thursday in reference to the bounty of restaurants and cafes along St. Petersburg's Beach Drive. "I hope (Riverwalk Place) will set an example for everybody else in town.'' ...

    Larry Feldman touted the 53-story Riverwalk Place.
  8. Fewer Tampa Bay homeowners in foreclosure and late on mortgages

    Real Estate

    As more Tampa Bay borrowers regain equity in their homes, foreclosures and mortgage delinquencies in the four-county area have dropped to their lowest level in a decade.

    In March, just 1.6 percent of all bay area homes were in some stage of foreclosure compared to 2.4 percent in the same month a year earlier, the property information service CoreLogic reported Tuesday.

    Tampa Bay homeowners who were seriously delinquent on their mortgage payments — at least 90 days late — also declined, from 4.7 percent a year ago to 3.2 percent this March. ...

    The Kings Lake community in Gibsonton was once the epicenter of the area's housing crisis with one in every five homes in the southern Hillsborough County community going through foreclosure. Now, like much of Tampa Bay, sales are soaring, prices are up sharply and foreclosures have dwindled. [Times file photo]
  9. St. Petersburg Beach Drive penthouse brings top condo price this year

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — It pays to be close to your neighbors, especially if you're in the real estate business.

    Broker Joe Rosenthal lives in the Parkshore Plaza condo tower in downtown St. Petersburg and got the listing when a fellow owner decided to put his penthouse on the market. Rosenthal also found a buyer and the result was a $3.725 million cash sale this week, the top price paid for a Tampa Bay condo in 2017 thus far. ...

    This penthouse in Parkshore Plaza on Beach Drive in downtown St. Petersburg sold this month for $3.725 million, the most paid for any Tampa Bay condo this year.
[Courtesy of Amy Lamb/Native House Photography]
  10. Tampa Bay still a leader in home flipping but profits are dropping

    Real Estate

    Tampa Bay's house flipping fever has cooled but there are still plenty of flips in dozens of local ZIPS.

    In the first three months of 2017, the number of flips and the average return on investment dropped both locally and nationwide compared to the same period a year earlier, according to a new report by ATTOM Data Solutions, parent company of RealtyTrac.

    Flippers in one Tampa Bay ZIP Code area actually lost money on average, and those in some other ZIPS barely made enough to cover their costs. That's partly because home prices continue to rise even for fixer-uppers — a trend that has prompted more and more flippers to borrow money for their deals instead of using cash. ...

    House flippers in St. Petersburg's 33704  which includes the sought-after Snell Isle area shown here  posted the highest gross profits in the region, a new breakdown shows. Flippers paid a median price of $165,500 and sold for $279,950 - a gross profit of $114,450.
[File photo courtesy of James Ostrand Photography]

  11. Need to sell one house before you buy another? A bridge loan could help

    Real Estate

    In Tampa Bay's frenetic real estate market, buyers need to move fast when they find a house they like. That can be a problem if they have a house they need to sell.

    One solution: a bridge loan.

    This week, Ohio-based Third Federal Savings and Loan Association became one of the first lenders to revive a type of loan that fell out of use while millions of Americans owed more than their homes were worth. But now that values have bounced back, a bridge loan enables qualified borrowers to tap the equity in their current home to make the down payment on their next one....

    A bridge loan can enable home buyers to put in an offer for a new house that wouldn't be contingent on the sale of the buyer's existing home having to close, say real estate experts. [Associated Press photo]
  12. Developers buoyed by sales at Tampa's new Virage condo tower

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — More than half of the units — including a penthouse priced at nearly $5 million — are under contract in Tampa's newest proposed condo tower, Virage.

    Two months after sales began, the 71-unit project on Bayshore Boulevard ''is certainly exceeding our expectations," Jay Tallman, president of Sarasota-based Ascentia Development Corp., said Tuesday. "We couldn't be happier.''...

    Ascent Development Group Vice President Steve Barber, left, along with Smith & Associates Real Estate Vice President of Real Estate/Development Services Dave Traynor pose for a photograph near a model of Virage Bayshore Wednesday, April 05, 2017 in Tampa. The luxury condominium building features 24 stories with 71 residences. Among other features of the building are Penthouse Residences of exceptionally large size. The top two floors of the tower offer a single penthouse residence each, with homes spanning 6,900-square-feet and panoramic views of Hillsborough Bay, South Tampa and downtown. The following four floors are have two 4,500-square-feet residences per floor. The Tower Residences range in size from 2,400-square-feet to 3,300-square-feet. CHRIS URSO   |   Times
  13. Home of former Bucs' QB Vinny Testaverde hits market for nearly $5 million

    Real Estate

    ODESSA — Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Vinny Testaverde and his wife Mitzi are downsizing, and it shouldn't be hard to find a smaller place.

    The 12,323-square-foot Lake Keystone mansion that the Testaverdes and their sons have called home for a decade just hit the market at $1 shy of $5 million.

    And while the property is not quite as big as a football field, it does come with a veritable sports complex including basketball and tennis courts, putting green, full-size gym and of course a pool. ...

    Former Bucs QB Vinny Testaverde's 12,000-square-foot lakefront house in Odessa with putting green, basketball court and tennis court is on the market for nearly $5 million. 
[Courtesy of Amy Lamb | Native House Photography]
  14. Do you live in one of the hottest-selling neighborhoods in Tampa Bay? Check your ZIP

    Real Estate

    In February, Crystal and Lugene Luckey sold their house in Gibsonton's Kings Lake community for $215,000 — or $90,000 more than they paid six years ago.

    "We were definitely happy, '' Crystal Luckey says. "We sold it on the first showing.''

    It's become a common story in Tampa Bay's hot real estate market but an especially satisfying one for sellers in Kings Lake, one of several communities in south Hillsborough County that were wracked by the housing crash and foreclosure crisis. Just a few years ago, sellers were practically begging for buyers....

    Realtor Alissa Caputo of Oldsmar, stands in front of a home she sold at 7115 Westcott Drive, Port Richey, one of the bay area's most active real estate markets.
[DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]

  15. Can another Tampa Bay home fetch $11 million? Several luxury sellers are trying

    Real Estate

    Make way, Naples and Sarasota. Tampa Bay is staking a claim as the newest address for luxury homes.

    In April, the bay area recorded its most expensive residential sale ever: a waterfront Clearwater estate that went for just over $11 million.

    This week, there are four homes on the market priced at more than $11 million.

    The most recent addition to this elite group is a five-bedroom, 9,100-square waterfront estate in Largo's Harbor Bluffs area listed Thursday for $11.6 million....

    Among the amenities of this? 13-bedroom home in Tarpon Springs on the market for $12  million is "The Village'' - an interior area with a real movie theater, ice cream parlor and cigar shop.
[Courtesy of The Gunn-Swainston Group]