Andy and Ryan Zuckerman spent a day driving around the Bay area. The father and son are looking for their next big investment. They say it's time to build and they say the place to do it is right here in Tampa Bay.
"We believe that 2013 is gonna be a great year," Andy said, "We think that Tampa is a fantastic market, it's growing tremendously, it has been growing tremendously."
The Zuckermans said proof is in the numbers. In Tampa, housing sales soared 18 percent in January from a year ago. In Pinellas, the numbers were up by 14 percent.
When asked how today's market compares to four years ago, Andy said, "Oh my goodness, that's kinda like day and night."
This family has seen a lot of ups and downs. The Zuckerman business started in New York back in 1929 -- the same year the stock market crashed, triggering the Great Depression.
Then the family survived the oil embargo days of the 70s, the banking crisis of the 80s and most recently, the Great Recession ignited when the the real estate bubble burst.
"We would have 30 homes that we were trying to sell and we would have 300 people show up to try and buy their home and literally, we would put our names in the hat and my grandma was pulling them out and giving you the opportunity to buy, and we said to each other, 'this is crazy!' " Ryan exclaimed.
Andy added, "We realized at that time that things had just gotten too overheated."
So, the Zuckermans pulled back, like many investors.
"We got very lucky. We decided at that time, we're gonna stop buying," said Andy.
However, for the past year, they've gotten back into the game.
"The bottom line is, we're definitely off the bottom and had been talking about the bottom a year ago, actually," Andy explained.
One sign of the upswing is the inventory. What used to be a six-month supply is down to a four-month supply, and experts say that means if you like something, you need to jump on it.
"My one word answer would be, 'Hurry!' " Ryan said.
Following their own advice, they're rushing to buy properties in southwest Florida too, with recent purchases in Naples, Sarasota and Fort Myers.
Their decisions aren't hasty, but they are certainly hungry to get in on what they say is the best market they've seen since the real estate crash.
"We're gonna have to go back on the other side of Tampa and keep looking over in the Brandon area, where we've seen a couple of things that we really like," Andy said, as he finished looking at a property in St. Pete that wasn't the right fit for them.
Big money investors are back in the game.
"We have a lot of confidence in the Tampa Bay market. We think it'll be really good throughout all of '13 and into '14."
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