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This home hasn't changed very much - but the price sure has

Frequent turnover is the key at 50 Acacia St. on Clearwater Beach.

Published February 15, 2004

CLEARWATER - There's something about 50 Acacia St.

There's no pool, no screened-in porch, not even a garage.

Yet the 1,460-square-foot home, built in 1955, has sold four times since 1999.

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And each time, the new owners have handed over more money. The house hasn't changed, but the price went up 75 percent in less than three years.

Current owner Jean Comb bought 50 Acacia St. minutes after seeing it 22 months ago.

When Comb, 52, paid $270,000 for the three-bedroom, one-story house in 2002, the price was $116,000 more than what Viola and Ernest Mattucci had sold it for in 1999.

"That surprised us," said Viola Mattucci, 79, who now lives in Palm Coast. "We still have friends who live there, and they have been telling us what's been happening."

On Clearwater Beach, home prices have more than doubled since the Mattuccis left in 1999. The median sales price then was $171,500. Through July of 2003, the median sales price was $345,000 - the fourth highest percentage increase in north and mid Pinellas.

"We've been a little sleepy community," said real estate agent Andy Burwell, who sells homes on Clearwater Beach and also lives there. "Slowly, people have been finding us through the years. Word's gotten out."

That word has translated into higher prices, Burwell said.

And there's no better example than 50 Acacia St.

Comb, an accredited interior designer who lives in Michigan, said she didn't blink at buying the house because she knows it's worth more, despite the marked rise in price since 1999. Today, homes in the neighborhood are starting at $400,000, Burwell said.

"If you are a bargain shopper, you're not going to buy into the beach community," Burwell said. "You're going to buy in Pasco or Citrus. What you're buying on the beach is the lifestyle and the land."

Comb, who is also a licensed real estate agent in Michigan, said she has been rehabbing and then selling homes for 30 years.

Currently, she is renovating a 3,000-square-foot home on a Michigan golf course hosting this year's Ryder Cup matches.

But she doesn't have plans to sell her Clearwater Beach property, even though she has spent a mere 10 days there in nearly two years.

"As soon as my daughter's out of high school, I'm there," said Comb from her Michigan home. "I can't wait."

Location, location

What's so special about 50 Acacia St.? It's a modest house, but it's a modest house two blocks from the Gulf of Mexico on Clearwater Beach. That's why it sold four times in four years, without the owners' making any significant improvements to the property.


July 1999/$154,000

March 2000/$170,000

June 2001/$224,000

April 2002/$270,000

Total increase $116,000 (75 percent)

- Source: Pinellas County Property Appraiser's Office

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