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CLEARWATER — Looking for cheap flights? Domestic airfares at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport average $126.14, the eighth least expensive among U.S. 416 airports during the first quarter of 2019. 

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TAMPA TIMES Pinellas County showed its strongest growth in home sales in more than two years in May as prices rose in all four Tampa Bay counties.  

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WASHINGTON:  U.S. consumers had a blue Christmas in 2018: Mortgage rates were the highest in seven years, the stock market was sliding, and prospective homebuyers worried that they couldn't pay for the houses they wanted.

 

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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

TAMPA TIMES
 
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.

A GROWING THREAT: Corporate debt hits all-time highs. Could it trigger the next recession?

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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

    BUSINESS COLUMNIST
    TAMPA BAY TIMES

     

     

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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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