TAMPA, Fla. — People may be looking to buy rather than rent in the Tampa Bay area, after another surge in leasing prices.

A brand-new study from property search website Rent.com found rent prices are surging in several Tampa neighborhoods.

In addition to downtown, areas like old Seminole Heights (+5%), neighborhoods along Gandy Boulevard (+5%), New Tampa (+6%) and North Hyde Park (+14%) have all seen substantial rent increases.

“You know, in the near future we’re hoping to buy something of our own,” said Tad Svendrys.

Svendrys and his wife just had a baby, and they need more room. But they have concerns over leasing a larger apartment in their Channelside neighborhood, where their rent has done nothing but go up.

“Oh yeah, every single year,” said Svendrys.

Tampa real estate agent Cristan Fadal says the spike has some clients coming to him asking what they can own for the same amount or even less.

“I mean, we get those calls all the time where people want to know, hey, I’m renting, we want to move into a house it’s getting expensive,” said Fadal.

Fadal says real estate prices have also gone up, but interest rates have recently come down; and in many cases, that makes owning cheaper.

“When you own a home, you control it. And so, you can build up your equity in that home, whereas a rental, you are really at the whim of the landlord,” said Fadal.

Prospective buyers should still do the math, he says, factoring in issues like down payments and how long they intend to stay in the area.

For some people, those high rents also make buying Tampa real estate an attractive investment consideration.

Lenny Sain says personally he prefers to rent. But if the right deal came his way, he’d definitely consider becoming a landlord.

“I’ve never seen the rent fluctuate downward. Even when we were in what they were calling a recession,” said Sain. “The rent never went down.”

Another big consideration is the economy, but Fadal says even a mild recession might not slow down Tampa‘s hot rental market.

If people feel less confident about buying, they still need to live somewhere, he points out, increasing the demand and possibly prices for rental properties.

“Some of it is just a personal decision,” said Fadal. “Does someone want ownership? And that’s important. Because with the rental, you don’t control it. You don’t have ownership. You don’t get equity.”

“Tampa is booming,” said Svendrys. “So, we want to be part of it. Part of the economic growth here. But it’s also important to, you know, land in a place that we can probably stay for a while.”

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