Housing gloom hits from all angles
Florida leads the nation in renters breaking the 30 percent rule.
By CHRISTINA REXRODE, Times Staff Writer
Published December 27, 2007
It's tough being a Florida homeowner, beset by the triple threat of high property taxes, high insurance premiums and falling property values.
But it's not easy being a renter, either.
Florida has the largest percentage of renters spending 30 percent or more of their income on rent and utilities, according to the American Community Survey, which is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. Financial advisers and the federal government advise against breaking the "30 percent rule."
But 52 percent of Florida's 2.1-million renter households are doing just that, compared with 46 percent of renters nationally. In this somewhat dubious distinction, Florida is trailed by California, Massachusetts, Nevada and New York.
- "It's just the mismatch between the housing costs and income in Florida," said Marvin Rose, a housing analyst in Tarpon Springs.
What he means is this: Though they're down this year, Florida's housing costs - including rental costs - have risen astronomically over the past five years. Wages haven't.
Median wages in Florida are $28,570, or about $3,000 less than the national average, according to the state Agency for Workforce Innovation. But the median price of a home, $222,100, is about $14,000 more than the national median.
- Because rental homes are ineligible for the state's homestead tax exemption, they've been hit especially hard by rising property taxes.
- The condo-conversion frenzy, which lasted into 2006, slashed the number of available rental properties, which increased rental costs, according to the 2007 report "The State of the Nation's Housing" by Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies.
- People on fixed incomes and low incomes are hardest hit by rising rental costs, and Florida is home to many seniors on fixed incomes. Also, the homeownership boom that ruled the middle of the decade lured many moderate-income renters out of the rental market and into home buying, according to the Harvard report. That created a larger share of lower-income people in the rental market.
Moises Loza, executive director of the Housing Assistance Council in Washington, points out that the 30 percent rule affects more than just the renters who are breaking it. It also has a trickle-down impact on the businesses that serve the renters.
"The more that people spend on housing, the less they have left for other necessities," Loza said. "They'll cut back on buying meals, they'll cut back on buying clothing."
Christina Rexrode can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8318.
Florida renters: Who pays most?
Percentage of residents paying 30 percent or more of household income on rent.
Boca Raton 44.0 percent
Boynton Beach 63.1 percent
Brandon 50.7 percent
Cape Coral 49.0 percent
Clearwater 57.2 percent
Coral Springs 58.1 percent
Davie 50.8 percent
Deerfield Beach 50.0 percent
Deltona 70.6 percent
Fort Lauderdale 51.7 percent
Gainesville 55.1 percent
Hialeah 73.5 percent
Hollywood 56.7 percent
Jacksonville 43.6 percent
Kendall 55.7 percent
Lakeland 46.0 percent
Largo 51.0 percent
Lehigh Acres 52.8 percent
Melbourne 66.1 percente_SClBMiami 64.4 percent
Miami Beach 56.1 percent
Miami Gardens 58.9 percent
Miramar 59.4 percent
Orlando 54.6 percent
Palm Bay 53.0 percent
Pembroke Pines 59.3 percent
Plantation 57.7 percent
Pompano Beach 53.4 percent
Port St. Lucie 55.1 percent
St. Petersburg 52.9 percent
Spring Hill 51.4 percent
Sunrise 53.6 percent
Tallahassee 60.3 percent
Tampa 50.7 percent
Town 'N Country 53.4 percent
Weston 38.5 percent
West Palm Beach 56.0 percente_SClBSources: 2006 American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau
Median rents in the Tampa Bay area, including utilities:
Percent of renter-occupied units spending 30 percent or more of household income on rent and utilities in 2006:
1. Florida 52.0 percent
2. California 51.9 percent
3. Massachusetts 48.6 percent
4. Nevada 48.1 percent
(tie) 4. New York 48.1 percent
1. Wyoming 30.0 percent
2. South Dakota 34.0 percent
3. North Dakota 36.0 percent
4. Alaska 37.8 percent
5. Idaho 38.7 percent
Sources: 2006 American Commu-nity Survey, U.S. Census Bureau