TAMPA: With lower-than-average rents and utilities, Tampa Bay is one of the most affordable areas of its size in the nation. At least, according to new data released this week.  

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TAMPA has been named the second-best large college city, and seventh best overall, according to recently released rankings from personal finance website WalletHub.

The website, which styles itself as a "personal finance social network," took a look at more than 400 small (fewer than 125,00 people), mid-size (1250,000 to 300,000 people) and large (more than 300,000 people) cities for its 2019 Best College Towns & Cities in America report. WalletHub examined the cities using three key factors — wallet friendliness, social environment and academic and economic opportunities — then evaluated those key factors using 30 metrics with varying weights. Job growth rate, unemployment rate and even cost of pizza and number of breweries per capita were among metrics used to rank cities.

This sunset shot of the downtown Tampa skyline by Ron Bovarnick is on the cover of "One Day Tampa Bay 2012." The book is for sale at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts. FMoPA

This sunset shot of the downtown Tampa skyline by Ron Bovarnick is on the cover of "One Day Tampa Bay 2012." The book is for sale at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts. FMoPA

According to WalletHub, "experts have argued that a school’s geographical location is just as important as a strong curriculum and supportive school environment to a student’s academic success and personal development."

In overall rankings, Tampa placed seventh, coming in behind Austin; Orlando; Ann Arbor, Mich.; Provo, Utah; Rexburg, Idaho; and Stevens Point, Wis. Orlando and Tampa are the only Florida cities to make it to the top 10. St. Petersburg is listed at 209 for best overall.

Tampa really shines in the large city category, where it comes in behind Austin. Orlando takes the crown for mid-size cities, while St. Petersburg sits at 66.

WalletHub has become known for its publication of articles ranking American cities based on everything from retirement potential to best city for coffee.

By Daniel Figueroa IV

Published December 11, 2018

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TAMPA: Buying versus renting a home is a conundrum many of us have faced.

Do you want to spend your weekends fixing stuff and sweating about whether the insurance is paid up or would you rather leave that to a landlord?

On the flip side, owning means not getting booted when the lease runs out. The boost in equity that comes with a rising market is a nice perk, too.

To help, SmartAsset is out with its latest look at how quickly buying pays off. The financial technology company calculated that it would take 4.1 years for a buyer in Tampa to break even. In other words, all things being equal, you should rent if you don’t plan to stick around for at least four years.

Among major cities, four years was a fairly quick pay off. Tampa benefited from relatively low home prices — SmartAsset pegged the average at $191,536 — which makes it easier to pay down. Tampa also had higher average rents ($1,349 a month) compared to similar cities.

Topping the list in the time it takes to break even: Detroit (2.6 years) and Philadelphia (2.9 years), two cities with shrinking populations.

"The result is a housing supply far larger than demand, and, in turn, bargain basement prices," the report found.

In New York City, it takes 18.3 years to break even, the longest of the major cities. San Jose (16.7) and Seattle (14.9) rounded out the top three.

You can find SmartAsset’s report here.

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  • ••
  • You seem to be interested in new ways to buy and sell a home, given how my email inbox lit up last week after writing about Opendoor coming to the Tampa Bay market.

    The company, like its main competitor Offerpad, makes cash offers at competitive prices to buy homes that are in good shape. They then quickly clean them up and put them back on the market, making most of their money from a 5 to 7 percent service fee they collect from the seller.

    To answer some of your questions:

    No, I haven’t tried it myself, but I’d consider it.

    Yes, they actually buy homes, but they won’t buy every home.

    No, it’s not a fly-by night scam. Both have been in business for several years and have deep-pocketed backers. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee survival, and like all companies, they are sure to have disagreements with clients.

    Yes, both companies plan to expand to other parts of Florida.

    As of this week, Offerpad has about 120 homes for sales in the Tampa Bay area, with more near Lakeland, Ocala and Sarasota. Opendoor has about 50, though it hasn’t officially opened in Pinellas County.

    So far, that’s just a blip among the more than 9,500 single-family homes for sale in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties, according to the Realtors’ multiple listing service.

    By Graham Brink




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    Tampa Bay sounds like a home seller’s dream market — even compared to other locales statewide. According to a recent study by SmartAsset, four of the top 10 easiest places to sell a home in Florida are in the bay area. Northern Hillsborough County accounts for the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 10 spots, while Largo takes the No. 7 spot. The top spot was claimed by the area directly around the University of South Florida, averaging 3.3 days on the market; just 6.8 percent of homes decreased in value in that area.  

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    TAMPA: The Tampa metro area scored the lowest ever on a cost of living index since the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. began tracking it in 2000. The cost of living in Tampa is nearly 12 percent lower than the national average, according to the index.

    The region scored an 88.3 out of 100 on this year’s second quarter index. Cost of living is down nearly two points over the first quarter of 2018 and down more than six points over the same quarter last year when the index was 94.7.

    “Not only does the Tampa market provide an excellent quality of life, but once again it proves to be one of the most cost-friendly places to live compared to competing markets throughout Florida and across the country,” said Robin DiSalvo, marketing research analyst for the Tampa Hillsborough EDC and author of the report. “Tampa had the lowest housing index and utility index among Florida metros, which really sets us apart when attracting top talent and outside companies to the area.”

    Raleigh, North Carolina and Jacksonville tied for second for overall lowest cost of living, with 91.7.

    The index is based on individual scores on household items and expenses like groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods and services.

    The cost of groceries is higher than the national average in the Tampa area. The metro area scored 103 in that area. Housing is Tampa’s lowest cost of those measured at nearly 30 percent lower than the national average.

    By Janelle Irwin
    – Reporter, Tampa Bay Business Journal


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    TAMPA: According to Florida Realtors, the second-quarter of 2018 saw increased sales, higher median prices and more new listings across a number of Florida's housing markets. Many local markets continued to report a lack of for-sale inventory, which impacts sales and puts pressure on rising median prices. Closed sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 80,711 in 2Q 2018, up 1 percent from the 2Q 2017 figure.

    "During the second quarter of 2018, Florida's economy and jobs sector continued to grow," said 2018 Florida Realtors President Christine Hansen. "In June, the state's unemployment rate was 3.8 percent while the U.S. unemployment rate was 4.0 percent. On another positive note, Florida's 2Q 2018 homeownership rate was 65.1 percent.

    "Despite tight inventory levels, it's encouraging to see that new listings for single-family homes over the quarter rose 4.9 percent year-over-year, while new condo-townhouse listings rose 3.9 percent. If that trend continues, it will hopefully help ease buyer demand and slow the pace of rising prices."

    The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in 2Q 2018 was $256,150, up 6.7 percent from the same time a year ago, according to data from Florida Realtors Research department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. The statewide median price for condo-townhouse properties during the quarter was $189,900, up 8.5 percent over the year-ago figure. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

    Looking at Florida's condo-townhouse market, statewide closed sales totaled 34,376 during 2Q 2018, up 4.7 percent compared to 2Q 2017. The closed sales data reflected fewer short sales - and rising traditional sales - over the three-month period: Short sales for condo-townhouse properties declined 41.4 percent while short sales for single-family homes dropped 45.2 percent. Meanwhile, traditional sales for condo-townhouse units rose 6.8 percent and traditional sales for single-family homes increased 4.3 percent year-over-year. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

    "Through the second quarter, low inventory levels kept the number of single-family sales just barely ahead of last year's pace, whereas a greater selection of condos and townhouses on the market allowed for a nearly 5 percent increase in sales versus last year," said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. Brad O'Connor. "Competition for existing homes remains fierce, with over half of successful single-family home sellers in the second quarter getting above 96 percent of their initial listing prices."

    He added that the median time to a contract (the midpoint of the number of days it took for a property to receive a sales contract during that time) dropped during the three-month-period.

    "Half of the single-family homes that sold in the second quarter were only on the market for 35 days or less, compared to 39 days or less in the same quarter last year," O'Connor said. "Among condo and townhouse sales, there was a similar-sized drop in this regard, from 50 to 44 days."

    Inventory was at a 3.9-months' supply in the second quarter for single-family homes and at a 5.5-months' supply for condo-townhouse properties, according to Florida Realtors.

    According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.54 percent for 2Q 2018, up from the 3.99 percent recorded during the same quarter a year earlier.

    Residential News » Tampa Edition | By Michael Gerrity | August 14, 2018 8:10 AM ET



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    APOLLO BEACH — Every weekend, scores of prospective buyers stream through the dazzling model homes at Waterset, admiring the high-end lighting, the glass-tile backsplashes, the plank-tile floors  

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