For the first time, a city in the Volusia-Flagler area has made SmartAsset.com's list of the top 10 "Healthiest Housing Markets" for Florida: Port Orange at No. 7.

"The study measures market health by the average number of years residents spend in homes, home values, ease of sale and the costs associated with ownership," said Steve Sabato, a spokesman for the New York-based financial technology firm which has been publishing its annual "Healthiest Housing Markets" rankings since 2015.

Longtime Port Orange Realtor Andrea Davis said she is not surprised by her city's high ranking.

"I noticed a big change in Port Orange the minute The Pavilion (shopping center) opened (in March 2010)," the owner/broker of Gaff's Realty on Dunlawton Avenue said.

"All of a sudden, it became fashionable to buy (a home) in Port Orange, the 'it' place to be in Volusia County," she said.

The popular open-air lifestyle retail center at 5501 S. Williamson Blvd., along the west side of Interstate 95, has helped draw more restaurants and shops to the area, especially along Dunlawton Avenue, which has become a thriving commercial corridor, Davis said.

In addition to boosting sales of existing homes, Port Orange has also seen a big increase in new home construction activity.

"It's exciting to live here, we have everything now," Davis said.

According to SmartAsset, Port Orange residents have been living in their current home an average of 12.7 years, with 6.9 percent of all homes in the city with "negative equity," 6.4 percent experiencing a decrease in value, home costs accounting for 21.1 percent of the homeowners' income.

Port Orange's 80.98 "healthiest markets index" grade beat out Largo (80.40), Mims (80.15) and Neptune Beach (80.15) on the list.

West Melbourne was ranked No. 1 with an 85.73 index grade, followed by Fort Meade (85.69), Dade City (82.12), Melbourne (81.34), Brandon (81.07) and Belle Glade (81.00), according to the report.

Nationally, SmartAsset ranked Port Orange the 305th most healthiest housing market.

MARGARITAVILLE STILL NO. 1

For the second time this year, a national website has found Latitude Margaritaville in Daytona Beach to be the most popular active-adult community in the country.

Chicago-based 55places.com this past week ranked the planned 6,650-home Jimmy Buffett-themed development No. 1 on its latest list of the "Most Popular Active Adult Communities" based on which communities generated the most visits on its website between Oct. 1 and Oct. 31.

"It's no surprise to see Latitude Margaritaville top the list," the website stated. "Not only is it always among the most popular communities on the (55places.com) site, but it was featured in the final week of October on 'Wheel of Fortune,' which gave away a free home in the community. It also helps that developer Minto recently released a new round of (available) homesites. The impending arrival of many amenities inside the community and a shopping center just outside of it will likely keep interest high."

The latter statement was a reference to the first phase of the residents-only town center within the Latitude Margaritaville community that's on track to open in April 2019 and the planned Publix-anchored Latitude Landings shopping center at the community's entrance at the intersection of LPGA Boulevard and the new south extension of Tymber Creek Road. Site work recently began on the shopping center which is being developed by Sutton Properties.

The other active-adult communities to make the top 10 list included five other developments in Florida: On Top of the World in Ocala at No. 2; The Villages at No. 3; Solivita in Kissimmee at No. 5, Sun City Center at No. 7, and Oak Run in Ocala at No. 8.

55places.com in May named Latitude Margaritaville Daytona Beach No. 1 in its list of the country's "100 Most Popular Active Adult Communities" for 2018.

FORECAST: LOCAL HIRING TO PICK UP

Global staffing firm Manpower has issued its latest quarterly "Employment Outlook" forecast and the "Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach" area tied for seventh best in the nation, tops among the nine metro areas in Florida included in the top 100 list.

According to a survey Manpower conducted of employers in the Volusia-Flagler area, 34 percent said they expect to add jobs in the fourth quarter, while 7 percent anticipate staff cuts. The 27 percent "net employment outlook" is up from 25 percent the previous quarter.

"Employers in the Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach (area) anticipate a steady hiring pace," said Lisa Hancock, Manpower executive vice president for Central Florida, in a news release.

Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach tied for 19th highest in the country for the third quarter, 44th highest for the second quarter and eighth highest for the first quarter, according to Manpower.

The rankings by Manpower on based on "net employment outlook" scores: the percentage of employers planning staff increases minus the percentage expecting to make layoffs.