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Spring Hill turns 40: Housing costs spur change
By CHANDRA BROADWATER
Published May 1, 2007
SPRING HILL - Realtor Frank Stefaniw smiles when he thinks about clients Chris and Sherry Brant.
But he's just as quick to worry about the couple - one of the latest to move to Spring Hill. Earlier this year, Stefaniw helped them buy their three-bedroom, two-bath home on Banyan Road.
He thinks the Brants, both managers at the Sonic fast-food restaurant on U.S. 19, are good people. But Stefaniw worries about their financial future. The couple, both in their early 30s, live in a Spring Hill that's much different than it used to be.
As the community celebrates its 40th anniversary, it's evident that the Mackle brothers' offerings of a cheap chance at basking in the Florida sunshine isn't so cheap anymore.
In 2005, the median sale price of a home was $155, 500, compared to the most expensive $20, 600 homes for sale back in 1967. The cheapest ones cost about $8, 500 then.
"Years ago, the two-bedroom, one-bath homes were fine for seniors to retire, " said Stefaniw, 42, who works with Marie Powell Realty in Spring Hill. "But now, families are moving here. The demand for larger homes has increased. And with the increase in people, the county needs more money. There are taxes, insurance and all kinds of other expenses that didn't exist before.
"It's not what it used to be by a long shot, even compared to when I moved here in 1998."
The Brants signed a zero-down, 30-year mortgage for the $175, 000 home, built in 1988 on land owned by the Deltona Corp.
But 40 years ago, couples moving to Spring Hill had the option of putting as little as $76 down and paying $15.50 a month for a home. They could buy one for less than $10, 000 over time - much more manageable for the average working family than prices today, regardless of how much inflation has affected prices.
Along with more expensive homes in Spring Hill have come more affluent residents. For example, U.S. Census data from just the first half of this decade show that the median household income in Spring Hill jumped nearly $10, 000, from $32, 861 in 2000 to $41, 735 in 2005.
All residents continue to increase the demand for services they want to meet their way of life, said Pat Fagan, a longtime county resident who lives in Spring Hill. "When Spring Hill was built, it was not built to accommodate what it is today, " Fagan said. "We're having to spend money to upgrade the roads, parks and schools. We could build a new park next week, and six months from now we could be getting requests to build another one."
For Stefaniw, who moved to Spring Hill from Hackettstown, N.J., nine years ago, the surge in prices and growing affluence have been phenomenal.
"My home when I bought it was $76, 000, " Stefaniw said. "Now, even in this slower market, it's about $250, 000."
He says he will remind the Brants to refinance as soon as they can, so they don't end up like so many others: in foreclosure because of homes they couldn't really afford.