By Bonnie Mason

Buying a home can be an almost-mystical, stress-inducing process, especially for first-time home-buyers like Charlene Caines, who didn’t let this often-difficult experience get her down. Caines turned to Phil Paul, the owner and president of Buyers Home Store, a full-service real estate agency specializing in new homes in the Tampa Bay market, located on SR 54 in Lutz, minutes from Wesley Chapel.

Paul was a sales consultant for Buyers Home Store from 2010-12, when he purchased the business from its previous owner. Buyers Home Store real estate agency specializes in helping its clients purchase new homes, especially homes in new construction neighborhoods. Paul says the firm’s eight licensed real estate consultants, including him, have a combined 75 years of new home sales and consulting experience.

“Our consultants are Tampa Bay residents who have worked for builders and developers in the area, giving our clients ‘insider’ expertise other real estate agencies can’t offer,” says Paul.

Caines says she was greatly appreciative of Paul’s thoroughness and efficiency.

“As a first-time buyer, buying a home can be overwhelming and stressful,” she says. “However, Phil provided personalized service, which gave me a sense of calm through what was one of the biggest decisions of my life. His expertise was tremendous — whether it was helping me to set the parameters to narrow my search, or always being available to answer any questions I had.”


Rent Or Buy?

Since the recent burst of the housing bubble (both locally and nationally), many potential buyers have gotten into the mindset that renting a home is best at this time. And, while this may still be true in certain areas, a sales consultant from Buyers Home Store can help you determine your best options, especially if you know up front how long you plan to live in one area. According to Zillow Real Estate Research’s “Breakeven Horizon Index,” it takes 8.3 years before buying a home makes more financial sense than renting a home in a major market like San Francisco. In Tampa, however, Paul points out that the number of years is much smaller, at only about 1.6 years.

“As the local economy continues to improve, buying a home is becoming a more attractive investment,” Paul says, “and it’s certainly a move to consider if you’re planning to stay in one spot for several years. If you’re paying more than $1,000 each month in rent, you’re probably paying too much. We can get you into a brand new home with a $960-per-month mortgage payment.”

Paul adds that many clients don’t realize that purchasing a new home may, in reality, be more economical and more within reach than purchasing an older home. “It may even be less expensive to buy new than a short sale or one in foreclosure,” he says. “This is where the expertise of Buyers Home Store sales consultants can come into play.”

FREE Seminars For Buyers?

Of course, a home buyer’s credit rating has to be high enough to qualify for a mortgage, but Paul says the decision to become a homeowner is becoming an easier one to make. And, his firm can then help you determine the type of home that’s best for you, by empowering you, the consumer, with valuable knowledge about real estate. Paul’s team believes the more you know, the better off you are — and that’s why the firm offers a plethora of valuable resources, including “Home Buying 101” seminars. And, he says, whether you’re a first- time home-buyer or embarking on the home-buying journey for a second or third time, everyone can benefit from attending a “Home Buying 101” seminar, whether you ever become a Buyers Home Store client or not.

“Making smart decisions about real estate is good for everyone, and this is our way of helping to do our part as real estate professionals who truly care,” Paul says.

First time home-buyers, especially, are encouraged to attend any of the many seminars hosted by Buyers Home Store, where you can learn about credit scores, loan programs, tax benefits, how to prequalify for a loan and more.

Phil recognizes that the resale housing market is inundated with distressed properties waiting for new home owners. Short sales and foreclosures also are readily available. Despite all of the deals in the market for previously owned homes, however, he says consumers shouldn’t discount the potential benefits of buying a new home. Paul and his team work closely with twelve new home builders in the Tampa Bay market, giving them intimate knowledge of what each builder has to offer a buyer — everything including price ranges and the sizes of the homes in each community, as well as the available layouts and designs, financing, incentives and warranties. And, Phil and his Buyers Home Store consultants help their clients come up with a true assessment of the overall expected expenses of each home they may be interested in buying.

He adds that the cost of customizing a new home to a buyer’s expectations, the fact new homes normally require less maintenance and fewer repairs than older ones and the advantage of new home warranties also should be part of a buyer’s decision to purchase new or old. “Green” appliances that provide more energy efficiency also are a consideration. Paul explains that new building codes were set by the International Energy Conservation Code in 2009 and resulted in greater required efficiency for any home — about 17 percent more energy efficient than in 2005. And of course, improved energy use should help decrease the utility costs that he says should be factored into the total cost of owning any home.

A Wesley Chapel resident himself, Paul has intimate knowledge of the area. He began his career in real estate after graduating from Florida State University in Tallahassee with a degree in Residential Housing Design & Property Management. He then obtained his Master’s degree in Architecture from Florida A&M University, also in Tallahassee. He moved to Tampa in 2004 and began working for Pulte Homes, where he earned numerous awards and recognitions as a Pulte sales consultant from 2004-10. He sold $15.7 million in real estate properties his first year there and, in 2005, he was named the #1 National Sales Associate for Pulte Homes of Tampa, which is affiliated with the National Association of Homebuilders.

Among the other awards he received while at Pulte include: Employee of the Quarter, Sales Associate of the Quarter (twice), Highest Customer Satisfaction Score among the Sales Team and Sales Associate of the Month (at least one month every year he was with Pulte). Phil also is active in the Tampa Bay community, volunteering with United Way of Tampa Bay, The Children’s Home, and the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay.

And, best of all, Paul says, “Buyers Home Store is essentially a free service to home buyers. All of our costs are paid by the seller in any given transaction. So, for home buyers, there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain by working with us.”

Located at 24812 S.R. 54 in Lutz, Buyers Home Store is a proud Member of the Tampa Bay Builders Association and the Greater Tampa Association of Realtors®. The firm specializes in connecting buyers with new homes throughout the Tampa Bay area, including Hernando, Pasco, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Sarasota and Manatee counties.

If you’re looking to sell, buy, or build a home, call Buyers Home Store at 235-4951. Or, visit to register for the next seminar, which is scheduled for Saturday, June 1. The website also features listings of current new and existing homes for sale in the area.


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