Florida housing market: Everything you need to know
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The housing market in Florida has been making headlines as loads of people pack their bags and head south. Florida has led the country in net migration — people moving there from another state — for more than five years in a row, and the pandemic accelerated that population growth.
The state’s warm weather and relatively low cost of living makes it attractive for retirees, but it’s also a great spot for those still in their prime working years, whether they’re searching for an office environment or looking to log on from the beach.
While the state is clearly an appealing place to live, buying or selling a home here in 2023 looks much different than it did in the past couple of years. Mortgage rates have skyrocketed, and real estate doesn’t look quite as sunny anymore as homes stay on the market for longer. Read on for everything you need to know about the Florida housing market.
Florida housing market overview
Florida is big, covering more than 65,000 square miles. To get a sense of the pulse of buying and selling activity across the state, it’s important to remember that real estate is a hyper-local industry. What’s happening in Miami, where loads of wealthy out-of-staters have relocated, is much different than what’s going on in, say, Tallahassee.
And while the best places to live in Florida naturally include easy access to the beach, they also include inherent downsides and dangers, as evidenced by the horrific damage of Hurricane Ian along the Gulf Coast. Climate change could cause major long-term challenges for the Florida housing market: A recent report from McKinsey projected that some coastal homes could lose 35 percent of their value by 2050 due to rising sea levels.
Florida housing market trends and stats
Whether you’re looking to buy or sell a house here, here’s some helpful data from Florida Realtors to consider.
- Median sale price: In April 2023, the state’s median sale price was $410,000. That’s the same figure as the year before and slightly above the national median.
- Sale-to-list price: Back in April 2022, buyers typically paid the full 100 percent of a home’s list price. But in April 2023, buyers paid around 96.7 percent of the original list price — an indication that buyers are gaining more leverage in the market.
- Days on market: The median time to contract for a single-family home was 31 days in April, significantly longer than the typical 8-day timeframe of the year before.
- All-cash deals: Many Florida buyers do not need to secure financing for the deal. Of the 23,334 single-family homes sold in April, nearly 7,000 were purchased in cash.
- Closing costs: The state’s average closing costs total 2.3 percent of the purchase price, according to research from ClosingCorp. So, on a $400,000 sale, that’s an additional $9,200 in costs like title insurance, transfer taxes, appraisal fees and more.
Buyers and sellers in the Florida housing market
Is it a buyer’s or seller’s market in the Sunshine State right now? Well, kind of neither. A shortage of available inventory puts the power in the hands of the seller here, but rising mortgage rates mean fewer qualified buyers, and more closings for under asking price mean buyers do have some leverage. Here’s what to know, depending on which side of the table you’re on.
Selling a home in Florida
Florida sellers still have the upper hand in Florida, simply because there aren’t enough homes available to meet demand. In April, there was just a 2.6-month supply of single-family homes; 5 or 6 months is considered a balanced market.
However, there are warning signals that sellers should consider. For example, it’s taking nearly four times longer for homes to sell now than it did last year, and overall sales dropped by 17.2 percent, according to Florida Realtors. With that in mind, don’t get greedy with your pricing strategy right now — an elevated list price might scare off buyers, who are already feeling the pinch of higher mortgage rates.
Before you list, take steps to figure out what your house is worth, and price it competitively. You might even be able to attract an all-cash offer, which is common in Florida. West Palm Beach, Jacksonville and Fort Lauderdale are all in the top five cities in the entire country for all-cash offers, according to a Redfin report.
Buying a home in Florida
First, the good news: Prices here have held relatively steady in recent months. With inflation, that means that prices have fallen in real terms. Now, the bad news: They’re still pretty high. With a median price tag of $410,000, a 20 percent down payment for a typical Florida buyer would come to more than $80,000. However, if you have excellent credit, you might be able to put down a much lower percentage.
Many buyers have retreated in the current market conditions, so this may be a great time to avoid dealing with the high level of competition that shaped much of the past two years. If you go house hunting in Florida, keep these tips in mind:
- Compare cost of living: Keep in mind how much you’ll need to spend on other life essentials. The cost of living varies across Florida. For example, Bankrate’s calculator shows that life in Jacksonville is nearly 15 percent cheaper than in Fort Myers or Cape Coral.
- Get preapproved: Getting preapproved for a mortgage is a simple step that gives you a good idea of how much house you can afford. And having a preapproval letter means sellers will take you more seriously.
- Negotiate: The days of buyers waiving contingencies, engaging in bidding wars and doing basically anything to secure a home are gone. You aren’t at the full mercy of the market anymore — or at least not as much. Work with your real estate agent to make sure you aren’t offering more than you need to, and ask for concessions if your home inspection uncovers problems.
Florida housing market predictions: Will it crash?
Rising mortgage rates and persistent inflation have fueled worries of a housing market crash. But expert predictions for the country’s housing market, including Florida, do not foresee a crash. A cataclysmic drop in prices similar to the housing crisis of 2007 and 2008, when clouds of foreclosures hung over the Sunshine State, is very unlikely. Instead, the Florida housing market seems poised for a cooldown with a soft landing.
Different locations in Florida may also have very different market forecasts. South Florida and major cities like Miami and Orlando are in high demand and may be more recession-resistant than northern and more rural portions of the state. Median prices in particular metro areas can give you a good idea of what to expect: For example, per Florida Realtors, the April median in Sebring, right in the center of the peninsula, was just $266,000, and in the panhandle metro of Tallahassee it was $322,950. Whereas the Miami–Fort Lauderdale area saw median prices of $585,000, and in Naples, on the Gulf Coast, prices stretched beyond $900,000.
Find a Florida real estate agent
Whether you’re buying or selling in Florida, you shouldn’t try to navigate the market alone. Having an experienced real estate agent on your side can help you avoid mistakes ease the stress of negotiations and paperwork. Before you sign a contract with a Realtor, whether you’re looking in much-visited cities like Miami or Orlando or in less touristy parts of the state, interview several candidates to make sure you’re adding the right member to your team.
- The home insurance market in Florida is in crisis. Since 2017, many insurance carriers have left the state, gone insolvent or tightened their underwriting restrictions, making it difficult for homeowners to find coverage. Many of the companies that remain have chosen not to renew existing policies, leaving owners in the lurch.
- Fraudulent roofing claims are mostly to blame, and the devastating effects of Hurricane Ian in September 2022 complicated the issue further. According to a report from the governor’s office, Florida accounts for 79 percent of the country’s home insurance lawsuits.
- New insurance-reform laws went into effect in 2022 to try to stabilize the situation, but it may be some time before these laws produce meaningful results, and homeowners could see premiums that exceed several thousand dollars a year. Before you buy a Florida home, consult closely with your real estate agent, and possibly a local attorney, to determine whether the property will be insurable at a cost you can afford.
Over the past few years, home prices in Florida have skyrocketed. Per Redfin data, in the middle of 2020, the median sale price was $275,600 — by April 2023, that figure had jumped to $400,800. The state remains one of the top markets people move to, and its increasing population will likely keep the market robust.
There are both encouraging and discouraging signs on both sides. Migration to the state is high and prices have held steady despite rising rates, plus there is still a low supply of homes, all of which give sellers more power. However, homes have started to go for less than their list price, and they’re spending a much longer time on the market, which are positive signs for buyers.