Renting is expensive here

Those who earn minimum wage would have to work 115 hours per week to afford to rent a home in Florida.

Florida is the 12th most expensive state in which to be a renter, according to a recent study.

The state’s minimum wage of $8.65 just about excludes minimum wage earners out of the rental market, unless they are willing to hold more than one job, or work many more hours than a 40-hour work week — some 115 hours per week, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition study.

The average Fair Market Rent in Florida for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,290. In the Punta Gorda metro area, which encompasses Charlotte County, the average rent is $1,067. However, to afford it, people have to work the equivalent of 2.4 full-time jobs paying minimum wage, or else earn $20.52 an hour by working a “normal” week.

The area median income in the Punta Gorda metro region is $66,700, so those earning that amount could afford $1,668 per month in rent. But for those earning 30% of the area median income — $20,010 — they would be able to afford just $500 per month, and in Punta Gorda, the lowest price for a two-bedroom unit in July was listed at $1,250 on apartments.com.

The situation is the same in Sarasota and DeSoto counties.

For renters in Sarasota County, they need to earn $24.52 per hour, or $51,000 annually to afford $1,275 for a two-bedroom dwelling.

For minimum wage workers, they would need to work 2.8 jobs.

The area medium income in Sarasota County is $77,200, and a person earning that amount could afford to pay $1,930 in rent. But for those earning just 30% of the AMI — $23,160 — they would be able to afford $579 per month.

In North Port, the lowest price for an available two-bedroom rental was $1,195 in July.

DeSoto County renters would have to earn $14.19 per hour, or $29,520 annually, to afford $738 rent for a two-bedroom unit.

But for those whose jobs pay the minimum wage, they would have to work 1.6 jobs, or roughly one full-time and one part-time job.

The area median income for DeSoto County is $43,200; those earning that amount would be able to pay rent or mortgage of $1,080. But for those earning just 30% of that — $12,960 — they would only afford to pay $324 in rent.

DeSoto County renters would have to earn $14.19 per hour, or $29,520 annually, to afford $738 rent for a two-bedroom unit.

But for those whose jobs pay the minimum wage, they would have to work 1.6 jobs, or roughly one full-time and one part-time job.

Apartments.com didn’t have any Arcadia two-bedroom units available in mid-July, but the website had the average price going for $659, which comes in lower than the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s stats.

Rent prices contribute to homelessness

Tina Figliuolo, director of Community Relations and Development of the Charlotte County Homeless Coalition, said a number of clients who came to the coalition’s emergency shelter in Port Charlotte wound up homeless because they just couldn’t keep up with their rent payments.

“We are seeing residents in emergency shelter because they have lost their double income, their employers decreased their hours to save their business,” she said.

Figliuolo said her agency is constantly getting calls from people asking for rent assistance. She said not only is it difficult for a minimum wage earner, or even a person earning $15 per hour, to come up with the rent, but landlords want a month’s rent, a month’s security and the last month’s rent.

“Who has $3,600?” she asked.

The Homeless Coalition relies on different sources such as the United Way and local churches, for “move-in money.”

But the problem is finding rentals in the first place.

Denise Dull, director of Landlord Engagement at Gulf Coast Partnership, called the area’s rental market “crazy.”

“It is very hard to find rentals; I spend my days trying to find rental units,” she said.


Dull said the current problem is that now that home sale prices have gone up significantly, those who owned second homes in the area are now selling.

Canadians, who have not been able to come to the states during the pandemic, have rented out their homes, which are being sold.

“I had a lady ask if I could help her 80-year-old tenant, as she was going to sell her home he was renting.”

Buy, don’t rent

Those struggling to pay rent would probably not be in a position to own a home, although if they can scrape up a down payment, their mortgage payment could be lower than renting, and with benefits as well.

A quick view of homes for sale listed on Zillow.com revealed a two-bedroom, two-bath, 1,538-square-foot home in Port Charlotte was selling for $210,000. Based on a 20% down payment, the monthly mortgage calculator showed the monthly mortgage payment would be $966 per month — less than the average rent for a two-bedroom unit.

In Punta Gorda, a two-bedroom, two bath, 1,578-square-foot home was listed for $279,000. Based on a 20% down payment, the monthly mortgage payment would be $1,261.

A two-bedroom, two-bath, 1,595-square-foot home in North Port was selling for $250,000. Based on a 20% down payment, the monthly mortgage would be $1,117.

There were several homes in that price range, and in some cases new homes were selling for similar prices.

In Arcadia, houses ran the gamut in price, and Zillow.com showed no two-bedroom houses for sale when listings were checked. However, a three-bedroom, two-bath, 1,634-square-foot home was selling for $239,000. A mortgage payment of $1,123 per month would probably be affordable to those earning the median annual income of $43,200, or above.

Minimum wage earners in all three counties would have to work more than one job, or have one or more household members contributing wages, in order to own a home.

Despite it being a seller’s market, real estate pros and mortgage lenders are saying it still pays to buy and not rent, and one loan officer said a 20% down payment is no longer required.

“Our goal for first-time buyers, is to get them into their own homes,” said Brandon Larson, a loan officer with Bay Equity Home Loans in Punta Gorda.

Larson said although the buyer’s market now is “tough,” with many home-sellers getting multiple offers, he and his fellow loan officers maintain renting is just “throwing money away.”

Also, it is easier than ever to obtain a loan. Gone are the days when “people have to save 20% of the listing price to put down on the home,” he said.

In today’s market, some may be eligible for programs requiring 0% to 3% down, and that’s for a fixed-rate mortgage, Larson said.

Bill Dryburgh, president of Realtors of Punta Gorda-Port Charlotte-North Port-DeSoto, agreed with Larson that it’s better to own a home rather than rent.

“When you buy, you are developing some equity in the home,” Dryburgh said.

He had this advice for first-time home buyers: Buy a smaller home.

“Then keep it for several years and sell it to buy a bigger home, until you get the home of your dreams,” he said.

Dryburgh said homeowners get tax breaks that renters do not.

“It just makes a lot of sense to own,” he pointed out.

Mortgage payments “go on your credit score,” so prompt payments will give you a higher score, he added.

North Port “has fairly cheap lots, and you can build a really fine starter home,” Dryburgh said.

Some lots in North Port and Port Charlotte sell in the $20,000 to $30,000 range, he added.

1
0
0
0
0

Load comments