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Should I Start My New Business in Tampa?

By Christina Sturgis

Birthing a business takes brains, determination and luck. Does the Tampa Bay region have the atmosphere to nurture an enterprise in its formative years?

Wallet Hub issued a report recently ranking Tampa 32nd of 150 cities for starting a business, but nearby St. Petersburg ranked much lower, 61st. The analysts favored regions with low costs for office space, employee salaries, real estate and general living expenses.

Other factors are the corporate tax structure, employee availability, length of workday, existing entrepreneurial activity, the five-year business survival rate, the proportion of businesses to population, the variety of industries and the overall welcoming attitude toward small business.

The Sunshine State is very well represented on the list. Cape Coral is 9th, Tallahassee is 3rd, Orlando is 37th, Miami is 57th, Fort Lauderdale is 86th and Hialeah is 108th on the list of 150 cities, which begins with top-ranked Jacksonville and ends with Newark, N.J.

Paul Mason, professor of economics at the University of North Florida, said Jacksonville has a lot to offer those wanting to start a new business. …

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Celebrity Real Estate: Jane Fonda, Walt Disney


By Laura Vecsey

Jane Fonda Parting with Santa Fe Ranch


Actress and activist Jane Fonda is ready to part with her 2,000-acre New Mexico spread called Forked Lightning Ranch outside of Santa Fe. She has listed the home for sale for $19.5 million.

Fonda bought the ranch in 2000, around the time she separated for good from her ex-husband and CNN founder Ted Turner. He is the largest private owner of land in the nation, so it’s apparent that Turner’s love of Western lands rubbed off on Fonda. But now Fonda says she doesn’t have time to visit anymore, even though it was her sanctuary.

Before choosing the location for the house she built on the land, Fonda said she spent two years fly-fishing, hiking, camping and horseback riding to learn everything about the property and its sunrises, sunsets, views and weather patterns.

The main home is almost 10,000 square feet, and there’s also a guesthouse and stable.


Former Disney Estate Sells

The Carolwood estate in L.A.’s coveted Holmby Hills neighborhood once owned by Walt Disney has sold for $74 million.

The home was once listed for as much by $90 million and offered by the high-end brokerage to the stars, The Agency. But even at the final sale price, it was still the fourth most expensive home sale in the United States so far this year.

Carolwood measures 35,000 square feet and has 8 bedrooms and 17 bathrooms. The seller was investor Gabriel Brener, who co-owns the Houston Dynamo soccer club.


Sinatra’s New York, New York Pad For Sale

Frank Sinatra’s “glittering grotto” in the sky is for sale in New York City. Of course, it has been completely renovated since they days when the place served as party central for Sinatra & company.

Located in The Edgewater, a white-glove building on a cul-de-sac overlooking the East River at 530 East 72nd Street in the Lenox Hill section of Manhattan, the apartment was a party pad for the Rat Pack and other high-society figures, including regulars like Mia Farrow, President Kennedy and Sammy Davis, Jr.

The residence – nicknamed the “glittering grotto” by Andy Warhol –
had been listed for as high as $5.595 million, but its current list price is now $4.995 million.

The 3,200-square-foot residence has 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, floor-to-ceiling windows and two wraparound terraces. The master suite upstairs includes a wet bar, and the master bedroom is elevated.


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Mortgage Rates Dip Slightly

Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages fell this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace at 4.03 percent, down from 4.06 percent at this same time last week.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate hovered around 4.08 percent for the majority of the week, before dropping modestly to the current rate on Tuesday morning.

“Last week, mortgage rates remained stable as the Federal Open Market Committee’s policy statement contained few surprises,” said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. “With little anticipated economic news this week, we expect rates will remain steady, similar to the pattern they’ve held for the past few weeks.”

Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate this morning was 3.0 percent, and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.79 percent.

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Report Names Best Cities for Public Transit

By Natalie Wise

When finding the right place to live and work, the availability of public transportation can play a major role in the decision-making process. Commute times and stress can be reduced substantially when public transit is available, and with the rising costs of gas, it can be economical as well.

Walk Score ranked the best cities for public transit on a scale of 100, with 100 being a perfect score, based on availability, usefulness and the scope of public transportation available within a city.

The Transit Score aims to “help home shoppers and apartment hunters find places to live with better commutes and more transportation choices.” …

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Celebrity Real Estate: Whitney Houston, Charlie Sheen

By Laura Vecsey

Fan Buys Whitney Houston’s NJ Estate …

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Celebrity Real Estate: Mitt Romney, Dolly Parton

By Laura Vecsey

Former Gov. Romney Sells Massachusetts Condo

So long, Massachusetts?

Mitt Romney, the former governor of the Bay State, and his wife, Ann, have parted company with their adopted home state. According to reports, the couple has sold their Belmont condo for $1.2 million.

The home served as the couple’s home base during Romney’s failed presidential run in 2012, and with much larger compounds in New Hampshire, Utah and California, it’s not as if the Romneys needed another place to hang their hats.

According to the Boston Globe, the Romneys bought Unit 65 in the Woodlands at Belmont Hill development about four years ago for $895,000. They had owned another Boston area home for 20 years before selling that place for $3.5 million several years ago. …

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Prospects Brighten for First-Time Homebuyers in Tampa

By Paul Tooher

There is finally some good news for first-time homebuyers coming out of Washington.

Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Melvin Watt, the regulator who oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, announced that he is reversing plans to reduce the agency’s role in the mortgage market.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, organizations that buy loans and package them into securities, were created to increase liquidity in the housing market. But the institutions were also at the heart of the housing crisis in 2007 and received $187.5 billion in taxpayer funds to stay afloat. But the recent rebound in the housing market led to the two agencies recently recording record profits.

Today, the two companies back about two-thirds of new U.S. home loan originations, giving them a broad influence on lending and credit availability.

In remarks delivered before a Congressional committee on May 13, Watt said, “Our overriding objective is to ensure that there is broad liquidity in the housing-finance market and to do so in a way that is safe and sound.”

Earlier this year, Watt announced he was delaying a planned increase in the fee the companies charge banks to guarantee loans. The fees, which are usually passed on to borrowers by lenders, were expected to increase rates on 30-year fixed rate loans.

The move should be good news to the millions of current renters who say they want to buy a home.

According to the Zillow Housing Confidence Index, millions of current renters nationwide aspire to buy a home in the next year, suggesting strong demand among potential first-time homebuyers if market conditions are favorable.

In Tampa, 58.2 percent of renters said they aspire to buy a home while 13 percent said they expected to buy a home within a year. While the housing inventory in Tampa increased 15.4 percent in 2013, higher mortgage rates may have held back some potential buyers.

Zillow reported that its Housing Confidence Index stood at 62.6 percent in Tampa, slightly below the national average of 63.7 percent.

Related:
Learn About Federal Housing Administration Loans
Find Out About Mortgage Insurance
Explore the Types of Homeowners Insurance
Discover How to Improve Credit to Get a Home Loan

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How 'Stressed Out' is Tampa?

By Christina Sturgis

Movoto.com recently compiled a list of the top 10 "most stressed" cities starting with the nation's capital. What can this list, which includes Miami, tell us about keeping our cool in Tampa?

The editors crunched the numbers: hours worked, unemployment, commuting time, cost of living and the crime rate for the nation's major cities and came up a list that starts with Washington, D.C., and follows with New York City, Miami, San Francisco, Jersey City, Oakland, Calif., Chicago, Newark, N.J., Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

The analysis begins with a look at economic indicators, “usual hours worked” as compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau, a measure of whether businesses have more or less demand for labor, and unemployment. Tampa’s hours fell from 39.6 to 39.1 in the years of the study, due to involuntary part-time work and decreased overtime.

The unemployment rate for the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metropolitan statistical area is 6.3 percent, implying a bit less stress than in the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island metropolitan statistical area, where the rate is 5.9 percent. …

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Area Rental Rates Slightly Below US Average

By Christina Sturgis

The Tampa metropolitan area rental market is a bit more affordable than the Sunshine State or the nation as a whole, according to Zillow, but that does not mean making rent is easy for all households.

The rent list price is $1,150, up 15 percent from last year, and the Zillow rent index is $1,213, while the prices are $1,409 for Florida and $1,311 for the United States.

A household is considered “burdened” rental costs if their monthly housing costs equal or exceed 35 percent of their income, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. A federal study released in April 2013 found that 49.33 percent of Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater households were burdened by housing costs, higher than the national percentage of 44.32.

The dubious honor of highest percentage of rent-burdened households went to the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Pompano Beach at 55.67 percent, exceeding the 45.75 percent of struggling households in the New York-Northern, N.J.-Long Island area, known for its high cost of living. …

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Celebrity Real Estate: JFK, Steven Spielberg

By Laura Vecsey

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Tampa Among Top 10 ‘Oldest Cities’

By Sally Deneen

Living in Tampa makes you age faster and feel old before your time. That's according to analysis of completed RealAge Tests, a test created by TV celeb Dr. Oz and other experts. The rankings place Memphis among the nation's top 10 "Oldest Cities."

Tampa fell five spots in the past year to reach the rank of the nation's 3rd "oldest city," according to the rankings. Louisville is No. 1, trailed by Greensboro, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Jacksonville, Greenville, Las Vegas, Memphis and St. Louis.

By contrast, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Boston and Denver round out the nation's top five "Youngest Cities," meaning residents of those areas are feeling comparatively young for their age.

"It’s a report card of the healthy lifestyles, or lack of them, in that metro area," explained Cleveland Clinic Chief Wellness Officer Mike Roizen, who co-created the RealAge Test, an online test at Sharecare.com that anyone can take to assess how his or her body is aging. Dr. Oz, for example, is 53, but he's aging so well, according to his RealAge Test, that it's as if he is eight years younger. …

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Celebrity Real Estate: Dr. Dre, January Jones, 'Scarface' Mansion

By Laura Vecsey


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Celebrity Real Estate: Nicole Richie, Selena Gomez

By Laura Vecsey

Changes for Nicole Richie

Nicole Richie and her musician husband Joel Madden have listed the Spanish colonial owned by Madden since before their wedding in 2010. The couple’s restored 1930s home in Glendale, Calif., is listed for $1.875 million.

The 4-bedroom, 4-bath is almost 5,000 square feet and is replete with thick crown moldings, beamed ceilings, an arched entryway and a custom-tiled fireplace.

With two kids and busy schedules (he’s the front man for pop-punk band Good Charlotte; she’s got a show called #CandidlyNicole) the couple is taking some time to make a move.


She’s a ‘Belieber’: Selena Gomez Thinks Her Home Will Fetch $3.495M

Selena Gomez, the singer-actress and off-and-on girlfriend of Justin Bieber, has listed her 6,000-plus square-foot home in Tarzana, Calif.

Completely redecorated, Gomez stripped out the plaid and farmhouse décor and instead tricked the place out in a very modern modality. The six-bedroom, eight-bath gated home sits on a full acre, with lots of outdoor amenities, including a pool, full basketball court, Bocce Ball court, pergola and even an orchard.

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Mortgage Rates Dip Briefly Below 4 Percent

Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages fell this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace at 4.05 percent, down from 4.10 percent at this same time last week.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate declined early last week to 4.03 percent, where rates hovered for the majority of the week before rising slightly to the current rate on Monday.

“Rates dropped last week, and briefly dipped below 4 percent for the first time since October, as expectations rose that the European Central Bank will ease monetary policy to stimulate growth,” said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. “With little domestic news scheduled for release this week, market observers will look abroad for news that could push rates back into the 3 percent range.”

Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate this morning was 3.06 percent, and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.77 percent.

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Gulf Coast Metro Areas Among Fastest-Growing

By Nora Tooher

Two Gulf Coast metro areas recently made the U.S. Census Bureau’s top 10 list of high-growth communities. Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, Ala., grew 2.6 percent and Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., grew 2.5 percent since the last year.

The nation's fastest-growing metro area between 2012 and 2013 was The Villages, Fla. Its population rose by 5.2 percent over the period. Home values there are about $197,900, according to Zillow. Values have risen 12.1 percent over the past year and are predicted to rise 8.2 percent within the next year.

Sumter, Fla.; St. Bernard Parish, La.; and Fort Bend, Texas, were also among the 10 fastest-growing counties in the vicinity of the Gulf Coast.

Other fast-growing metros were Odessa and Midland, both in Texas; Fargo and Bismarck, both in North Dakota; Casper, Wyo.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; and Austin, Texas.

Many older industrial metros in the Northeast are struggling to retain their populations. Rochester, N.Y., for example, once a major manufacturing hub and now a center of higher education and technology, eked out only a 0.1 percent population increase last year. …

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