Sunday, December 03, 2006

Home Tours

Home Tours serve two primary purposes. They help change people's opinions of a particular neighborhood and help sell homes in the area. This occurred with Southeast Seminole Heights. There was a negative perception about our neighborhood, even from other Seminole Heights neighborhood residents.

That changed after we held our first home tour and keeps changing. People find there are nice houses in this area and decide they would like to move in. Or at least visit.

Secondary benefits are they can be a fund raiser for the respective associations. They also given people ideas of what in their own homes.

As there is a negative perception about the core of Tampa, and there is not a lot of money in Tampa core, you would think the City would encourage and supper these neighborhood association home tours. As homes sell for higher amounts, revenue from taxes goes up. People think more positively about living in central Tampa.

These days instead it seems as if they are placing roadblocks. I hear the associations have to rent the parks now. There may be problems about getting the trolleys. Could this be a death knell for the home tours caused by the City?

Also, I have heard that Old Seminole Heights or Tampa Heights discourages open houses and special openings/activities by businesses on Home Tour days.

I think that is wrong, given my ideas about primary purposes of the home tours.


Anonymous said...

I have to comment on today's tour. I am assuming your association has worked all year on this tour. It was FABULOUS! Wow, what beautiful homes your neighborhood has. I have never been on such a well organized tour. The homes were spectacular, the hospitality was overwhelming.

We decided to ride the buses. At first they were very frequent, but became delayed as the day went on. The Gentleman on the bus was EXTREMELY knowledgable about the neighborhood, each home and even various homes for sale (not to mention he was quite the looker...grrrr) There was not one question he did not have an answer for.

The cookies were an over the top touch. I have never eaten so many cookies in one day. AWESOME idea.

The interesting thing was our bus guide kept informing us of each open house (These were sale by realtors/owner, not on the formal tour) Some of these were the highlights of our afternoon.

Again, this was by far, the best, most organized tour we have ever attended. Great job Seminole Heights. I now see what is so special about this area!

PS. Is the bus boy single???!!!

Anonymous said...

I had a couple of different guys on my home tour buses today. Both were extremely nice and both handsome. This tour is the best tour in the city. Way to go SE Seminole Heights. Always top notch.

Greg said...

I too am bothered by the fact that the city does not reach out to assist the neighborhoods with these types of events ( in these situations - what I wouldn't give to live in St Pete where the city sponsors many neighborhood events).

Regarding the city and the trollies - HARTline ( in the past) had used a federal grant to cover the cost of the neighborhoods using the trollies. As I remember it - the grant was to be used to reduce auto emissions in the urban area so the trollies could be utilized for our event and many others. We were told the grant funding ran out (expired) and there were no other funds to divert as it is written into federal law that if there is a private entity that provides the service then a federally funded entity can not take that business opportunity away from the private sector- hence - no more HARTline trolley or so we were told. They would not even give us an option to rent them.

Regarding open houses during the tour - OSHNA does not discourage open houses - how could we? What we have not encouraged is a house that is on the tour and currently for sale to be not actively marketing the home on the day of the tour - a home tour is one thing and a realtor open house is another - I personally feel that the two as the same entity are not a good mix.

Having been active with the OSHNA tour since inception I am aware of the level of effort that goes into making a quality event happen and I congratulate SESH on another postive event for the 'hood.

I agree with the original post that a home tour goes a long way in creating a positive image to those that just fly by on the interstate and only read the crime stats in the paper. We are a real neighborhood and you can't just judge a neighborhood by its throughfares!

CONGRATS AGAIN on a job well done.

Anonymous said...

SESH, I would like to congratulate you once again on a very well organized tour. With the exception of the broken down bus, this was one of the smoothest tours I have attended. The cookies were an excellent touch and went over very well. Your Tour committee is to be commended on their hard work.

As for the city/trolley service: I feel that we as neighborhood associations should ban together and fight this. As taxpayers we support Hartline, yet, I would bet most if not all never ride their bus service. I have read for years what a failing organization Hartline is, yet nothing has been done to change the perception. This should be a HUGE day for Hartline to market themselves and their services. They should have had their buses out encouraging guest to use their buses for everyday transportation. I think if they continue to shun neighborhood events, this could cripple the home tour circuit. However, the interesting thing is the Hartline buses are still allowed to be used for the Gasparilla and Guavaween events. Go Figure, lets shuttle a bunch of drunks around town that will not remember the service tomorrow! Great promotion.

Maybe we should invite a rep from Hartline to a Greater Seminole Heights meeting to explain the rationale behind them deciding to follow the federal regulation instead of fighting for the neighborhoods.

Anonymous said...

Gasparilla is a "city sponsored" event after all hence the ability to use Hartline buses. The powers of the "Crew" can pull the strings that lowly neighborhoods can't - we're just taxpays and none of our houses even crack the million dollar mark so why bother with SH - the city powers won't have to be faced with an uncomfortable encounter with any of us at the yacht club after being turned down for yet another city service.

We've always made it on our own so the city doesn't want to hear from us but to get our property tax checks.

shawn-non-anonymous said...

Anonymous 9:41am: Serveral Krewe members live in SH in homes that don't crack the million dollar mark. Krewes Care (am I spelling that right?) started in Evelynn City in OSH. Gasparilla brings in millions and millions of dollars to the city and is a huge national marketing opportunity. Can we say the same for our wonderful but puny home tours?

Having attended Tampa Heights tours twice now, I have formed a very solid opinion on the appropriateness of using the home tour to sell houses or services. I dislike it. Who goes on a home tour to be accosted by the builder with brochures and sales pitches? I'm there on a tour not a home-builders convention. I don't like being greeted by a realtor, either. I don't think the neighborhood has any reason to get into business with developers, builders, construction companies, or realtors on that level. Let them buy an ad in the brochure and leave the in-your-face hard-sell for another time.

Open houses? OSHNA has never discouraged that and has no authority to enforce any rules if they wanted to. So it's a moot point. But open houses *on* the tour--no way.

That said, one of the best homes I toured yesterday was Scott's and it wasn't on the tour.

Anonymous said...

I agree. I would never suggest having a realtor staffed home on the tour. However, yesterday was the most brilliant idea I had seen on a home tour. The neighborhood had several homes on the tour route open and for sale. Our Bus Guide suggested we stop in a few of the "For Sale Open Houses" to check certain items out...painted floors, columns, etc. He was extremely knowledgeable of each home and we took his advice. I enjoyed it. I would say we went into 15 homes total.

The reason I said this was brilliant was many of the people on our bus said they were not from the area. Our bus guide asked everyone where they were from. One young couple said they were from Wesley Chapel. They were considering relocating closer to civilization, therefore they were looking for something in town. WHen the bus guide asked if the tour had changed anyones perception of Seminole Heigts, you should have heard the conversation. It was all positive. As a civic association, I think that the most important thing you can accomplish is changing how your neighborhood is perceived to the general public. Most people fly down 275 and never really know that this little GEM is tucked away below the beautiful oak canopy.

I must say that whoever developed the holiday concept, whoever organized this event, whoever coordinated such a well planned tour should be congratulated. I know it took a well oiled army to pull off yesterday's event.

MightBeMike said...

I would like to congratulate Erin and Stan for putting together our best home tour yet. We are truly blessed in this neighborhood to have such talented and willing volunteers to put on such a large event.

Bloggerwife said...

Scott suggested yesterday that all the home tours start asking for the zip codes of ticket buyers to help determine how many people come from outside the city. That way information could be gathered as evidence to the city of how beneficial these tours are. They aren't just fundraisers. They are opportunities to highlite the neighborhoods. I met a woman yesterday from Virginia who hopes to move to Tampa. The tour was a great way for her to get a sense of this neighborhood.

Unfortunately, we didn't have a chance to go on yesterday's tour, but even after we move away, I plan to come back every year for this tour and OSHNA's. I wouldn't want to miss out on the creative talents applied to each and every home. Every year there's something new.

TC said...

The tour was great. The houses looked great and the cookies were very, very good.


CouldBeSherry said...

A couple of comments.

First I doubt anyone was accosted to view any of the open houses or besieged by Realtors. They were there, and if you were interested you were encouraged to visit them. The Real Estate insert also featured homes from other parts of SH.

Second. The trolley thing. It is not the fault of a grant or the city not caring. It is that there has been a law on the books for some time that says a municipality cannot compete with private business, or give away services that would otherwise be purchased from a private business. Apparently it is one of those laws that has gone unused, but unfortunately someone somewhere with a bus line, sued a city because of allowing people to use the busses instead of having to purchase. It was a big suit, the city lost and now no one in any city wants to put themselves in that position. I had more information on this months the location and who was involved, but I no longer have it. But bottom line is it is just another one of those things that comes from being a litigious society!

amarathonguy said...

Thank you to those who came and walked through my home on the tour for your kind comments, appreciation of my efforts, and for a graciousness we see so seldom in our day to day lives. I had a blast telling jokes, talking about paint color, maple-leaved hibiscus and antiques from my Italian aunt. Please come back to our neighborhood for a walk, another tour or to live. You were awesome. To those who get asked to be on the tour next year: Do it!
To the organizers: kudos! To the other homeowners and my neighbors: I am so very glad I moved here!

Karen Guiliana said...

I think you are referring to the cute guy with the Crest smile. He had a ring on. However, he was one of the funniest guides. Between him and the old bus driver, which should have been retired, I think they had to have rehearsed their routine for weeks. They kept us rolling. We started feeding them and bringing them water at the stops. I do want to know, how did your committee come up with the idea to furnish water and cookies? Brilliant!

Next year, we request one small change. With all of the water, we were all the way at the end of the tour and needed restrooms, none around. We had to find the bus, ride back to the church. At that point, we were forced to drive to finish the tour.

Old Kenwood said...

I had heard the the previous tour volunteers did not help this year, yet I saw them. The entire tour team is unbeatable. SESH really knows how to put on a tour. Your tour really shines for a number of reasons. 1) Parking at the church. Other tours are so hard to get parking at just to get tickets. 2) Hospitality of the homeowners. Other tours have some homeowners that don't even speak, or sit and watch TV. 3) Bus service. Your tour has the narrators and very fast service. You are fortunate to have such a concentrated group of homes. 4) Volunteers. I have never seen such a large group of volunteers. With you all wearing red, it made it very easy to identify and realize how many there really were. 5) Free Stuff - The water and cookies were the best idea. What a way to put everyone in the holiday spirit!

As always, your association has really tapped into a talented group of people that really know how to market and pull off such an event.

shawn-non-anonymous said...

Sherry: My comment was directed at the possibility of having open houses that were homes on the tour and not just homes alongside the tour (as was the case last weekend.) I did tour two open houses and I was agressively greeted (accosted) by the realtor in one of them. (greeted at the door, all names taken, several requests to fill out a form with name and contact information, prizes, etc) If open homes were officially on the tour, that situation would have been uncomfortable for me. You'd never know when entering a home if you were exposing yourself to hard-sell advertizing. As was the case last weekend, I was able to choose to enter the open house, knowing in advance what I was getting myself into, kinda like girding yourself prior to stepping onto a car lot to buy a car. ;-)
(I'm friends with other set of realtors so I'd have felt slighted if they *didn't* accost me on the way in. Ego is such a fickle creation. Oh, and they weren't taking names, giving out prizes, or anything silly like that. They were just answering questions about a very sweet home.)

One of the Tampa Heights tours had a home built by a builder and the builder put the home on the tour and set up a sales table inside the home. In my opinion, that crossed the line. I don't go to their tour anymore.

An ad in the brochure (or a "real estate insert") is great.

Again, let me repeat, I'm responding to the suggestion that open houses *on* the tour is a bad idea. Not that open houses alongside the tour is a bad thing or that realtors shouldn't advertize in the brochure. (Or even that it's bad for realtors to greet their potential customers at the door.)

The only complaint I have about the SESH tour (and I have similar complaints about OSHNA events) is that in order to attend it, I had to enter into the building of an openly and strongly homophobic organization (the church) to buy a ticket. I'd rather not start this fight up again, especially here, so I'll leave it that. But other than this one nit-pick, the SESH tour is a charmer worth hitting every year.

CouldBeSherry said...

The association in SESH definitely realizes how fortunate they are in their location, and size. It is funny because for many years, SESH was considered the red headed step child. The "other side" of the tracks (Interstate!) Think that just makes us work all the harder. We are diverse and love it and tap the talents of whomever is willing to add something "different" to whatever we do. We push the envelope every chance we get and have a fabulous time doing it! There is amazing energy in SESH.

I have the great fortune to be the president of this association. Admittedly it works me half to death and is truly a second job. And for sure my house is slowly going to pot for lack of time. But working with such a great group of people, and watching what comes from the fabulous brain trust here is well worth it.

All the SH area is wonderful and is filled with super people and beautiful homes. And something great has happened over the last couple of years,,,,,,,,,,,this working together thing the three associations do. It makes a better place for all of us!

So to all of you who volunteer,....You are the absolute best! You are responsible for the changes that we see every day. To those of you who have not yet joined in, think about it. Your missing some fun and a real feeling of accomplishment! Good for sleeping at night!

Anonymous said...

FYI to everyone. No-one volunteers more time and energy than Sherry Simons. I am always and amazed at how much she is able to get done. We are very lucky to have all of our volunteers, but we are MOST lucky to have her. Thanks, Sherry!!!!!!

ranbar said...

Anon 10:42: I agree that Sherry does volunteer an inordinate amount of time, as do I as president of OSHNA and Gary Ellsworth as president of SSHCA. We are also blessed with dedicated volunteers without whom events like our home tours, concerts, seminars and porch parties would never happen. We also spend a great deal of time working with the city for improvements and going to City Council to comment on rezonings and proposed ordinances.

All the time and hard work is rewarded, however, when an event is as successful as the SESH Home Tour was or we pack the house for and interesting an informative seminar, like the recent Burget Brothers photo event at the Garden Center.

Also, one of the fun things we get to do, is throw the switch to light up the Starbucks christmas lights, which the three of us will be doing tonight.

Seminole Heights said...

I don't mean to suggest that a Home Tour House should be an For Sale Open House also.

CouldBeSherry said...

Without a doubt, the most rewarding part of this years Home Tour was the dedication of the volunteers. Example, when the branch blocked 12th, I was able to call and in five minutes I had people to clear the road. People in red shirts....our volunteers! They were awesome!

Anonymous said...

What time is the Christmas light event at Starbucks?

Anonymous said...

I think 7:00 PM

Anonymous said...

Starbucks is 6:30-8pm. THe lighting is at 7pm.