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Tampa Targets Prospective Home Buyers

Photo by City of Tampa Housing and Community Development
In addition to connecting residents with credit conuseling and loan assistance programs, the city is partnering with private developers to create about 140 new, affordable houses.

The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Tampa today is $1,200 a month,  meaning owning a home can be cheaper. 

Prospective home buyers at a city-sponsored event in Ybor City on Saturday spoke with banks and local non-profits providing credit counseling services and down-payment assistance programs.

Vanessa McCleary, housing and community development manager for the city of Tampa, said home ownership can also make Tampa's neighborhoods more livable.

"The rents are going up, which causes people to continuously move," she said. "Through home ownership we can stabilize our neighborhoods, because owners are more invested in their community."

South Seminole Heights resident Michael Salgat said he started considered buying a home when friends told him their mortgage payments are less than he's paying in rent.

"For a decent apartment, I'm looking at somewhere between $800 and a $1,000 a month.  And for the average person that can be out of their reach," he said.

Salgat said he got discouraged when looking for a house because he assumed he would need a lot of money up front for a down payment. After speaking with some banks about their programs for first-time home buyers Saturday, Salgat said he felt a bit more encouraged.

"It's still a tough housing market, you know, but I definitely have a lot more hope this morning," he said.

City officials also highlighted efforts to increase the number of cheaper homes for sale in Tampa. The city is partnering with private developers to create about 140 new, more affordable houses.

Juan Concheiro is a sales consultant for Domain Homes, one of the developers building homes costing $200,000 or less.

"There's money that's been out there to help people buy a home, the problem is the inventory hasn't been there," Concheiro said. "We were able to get the same quality materials we use for our $800,000 homes, but we were able to get the cost down on them and we were able to fit them into more reasonably priced homes."

For more information on mortgage assistance or counseling services available to Tampa residents, visit the Housing and Community Development website.

Roberto Roldan is a senior at the University of South Florida pursuing a degree in mass communications and a minor in international studies.
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