Apartment renters in three Southwest Florida cities are saving a little money.
Englewood, North Port and Sarasota posted declines in annual rents last month, though not in big numbers, according to a report from online rental marketplace Apartment List.
Apartment rents in Englewood fell a median 1.5 percent over the year, while North Port showed a 0.2 percent decline and Sarasota was off by 0.1 percent.
Renters in Venice paid for a median 1.1 percent gain in January, which was close to the 1.0 percent increase nationwide but under the 1.5 percent for Florida, the report said.
Rents in Bradenton cost 2.5 percent more, the highest in the region. Palmetto was next at 1.8 percent, with Longboat Key reporting apartment leases rising 1.5 percent.
The median monthly rent of $1,391 for a two-bedroom Sarasota apartment was $184 more than the Florida median and $220 higher than nationwide.
"Compared to most large cities across the country, Sarasota is less affordable for renters," the report said. "Renters will generally find more expensive prices in Sarasota than most large cities."
Monthly rents in the region ranged from $558 for a one-bedroom unit in Englewood to $1,867 for a two-bedroom apartment in Longboat Key.
Among the highest annual rent hikes recorded in Florida were found in Orlando, at 3.1 percent, and Tampa, at 3.0 percent
Pembroke Pines, north of Miami, was again the most expensive of Florida’s major cities, with a median two-bedroom rent of $2,420.
Synovus closing downtown branch
Synovus plans to close a downtown Sarasota branch it took over after acquiring Florida Community Bank last month.
That's no surprise. That FCB branch at 1790 Main St. is several blocks east of the larger office that Synovus has occupied since 2015 in the Ellis Building at Main and Orange Avenue.
Customers of the FCB office were just sent notices that their branch will close on May 3, according to Synovus spokesman Lee Underwood.
The closest Synovus branches for those customers are at 1605 Main or 4775 S. Tamiami Trail.
The Columbus, Georgia-based company closed its $2.9 billion stock purchase of FCB Financial Holdings Inc. on Jan. 1. It was the second largest bank deal announced in 2018.
Customers with safe deposit boxes at the closing office will be notified about options to transfer to another location.
Venice credit scores glow
Residents of Venice can again boast of owning the highest overall credit scores in Southwest Florida.
They posted a median credit score of 762 -- 10 points higher than last year -- in a new study by personal finance web site WalletHub. That score was good enough to tie for 70th among the 2,572 metro areas covered in the report.
Residents of Englewood were the local runners-up with a median credit score of 744.
Credit scores are key factors when consumers apply for car loans, credit cards and other borrowing. Those scores measure how consumers manage their debts and provide a snapshot of their financial habits.
The median credit scores in other local cities: Punta Gorda, 743; Sarasota, 722; Port Charlotte, 713; North Port, 699; and Bradenton, 689.
The Villages in central Florida led the nation with a median score at 806. Camden, New Jersey, was lowest at 543.