About Selling a Home in Florida
The third most populous state in the country, Florida is home to legendary beaches, world-famous theme parks, the LPGA and the aerospace industry. Florida has much more to offer residents though, with unique, vibrant cities and land that is surrounded by the bountiful Gulf of Mexico, the Straits of Florida and the Atlantic Ocean. It is home to some of the United States’ most captivating natural resources and wildlife, from the marshy Everglades and abundant lakes to the American alligator and beloved manatees.
Florida has a long and fascinating history, an excellent education system and strong business sectors. Much of the state’s long history can be explored in places like St. Augustine, the oldest, continuously inhabited city in the United States. In northern Florida, locals enjoy opportunities in big, diverse cities like Jacksonville and Tallahassee and pursue educational experiences at State University System of Florida campuses. In central Florida, residents find hundreds of lakes and a thriving tourism industry, while the southern region is blessed with cosmopolitan cities like Miami. To top it all off, Florida has a higher-than-average rate of homeownership, according to the United States Census.
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Buying a Home in Florida
Many consider Florida to be a seller’s market, with the number of home sales increasing by 8.8 percent and with new listings declining 1.7 percent. The median home price is fairly affordable at $199,900, but that’s an increase of more than 11 percent over last year. Similarly, the average sales price climbed slightly this year, reaching $266,689. With overall house inventory down nearly 8 percent, the properties are selling more rapidly, too, staying on the market just 45 days. Foreclosures and short sales are down by 14 percent and 36 percent respectively.
A large number of international buyers and private equity firms are driving the price of Florida real estate up, particularly in southern sections of the state. Even so, there are still many cities that offer affordable pricing and less competition. The Palm Bay Metro area, for instance, offers median home prices of $127,500, and home prices in the Gainesville and Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin areas have actually dropped slightly. While all other metropolitan areas in the state have experienced price increases in 2015, many of the state’s regions offer median home prices that are below the state average, including Tampa-St. Petersburg, Punta Gorda, Pensacola, Ocala and Deltona-Daytona Beach.
Popular Neighborhoods in Florida
Southern and central regions of Florida have nearly always been popular places to live, and for good reason. South Florida offers sunny beaches, exciting big cities and a many job opportunities. Central Florida is more suburban, but just as filled with business and job prospects. Still, Jacksonville in the north is the state’s biggest city and some of its western neighbors are gaining in popularity. Panama City, Fort Walton Beach, St. Joe, Pensacola and other cities along the northwest Gulf Coast are attractive for their laid-back atmosphere and affordable houses that range from a median price of $161,000 to $190,000.
In Jacksonville, the country’s biggest city by land mass, there are a variety of appealing neighborhoods, including Avondale, Ortega and Southside. In the state capital of Tallahassee, popular neighborhoods include the master-planned community of Southwood and the trendier options of Midtown. In central cities like Orlando, favorite areas include Lake Nova and College Park, and in St. Petersburg, Kenwood and Greater Pinellas Point are attractive options. Southern Florida cities of Ft. Lauderdale and Miami have many popular neighborhoods, too, with historic neighborhoods like Lauderdale’s Colee Hammock and Miami’s Edgewater.
Buying vs. Rent to Own Homes
In a strong real estate market like Florida’s, renting to own a home offers a variety of benefits to buyers. First, buyers can lock in home prices at today’s value, but delay final payment for one to three years. Second, with rent-to-own options, buyers can move into the property immediately instead of waiting for escrow to close. Third, the one-to-three-year contract period gives homebuyers extra time to build a downpayment, coordinate financing and improve credit ratings. Rent-to-own homebuyers also have an opportunity to try out the home, get a feel for the neighborhood first-hand and settle in without going through the initial stress of a conventional home purchase.
Cost of Living in Florida
Florida residents enjoy a slightly lower-than-average cost of living in the state, paying about 99 cents for every dollar most Americans spend on living expenses. While housing throughout the state is increasing in cost, it is still affordable at 8 percent below the national average. Utilities are also affordable here, costing locals 3 percent less than most of the rest of the nation. Other expenses are the same or marginally higher than the national average, including transportation and groceries which are each 4 percent higher here.
Dunedin, Tavares, Edgewater and Tarpon Springs are among some of the state’s most affordable cities that are close to major metropolitan areas. On Florida’s West Coast, Dunedin and Tarpon Springs’ cost of living is 4 to 5 percent below the national average, and Central Florida’s Tavares costs about 7 percent less than in most parts of the country. Residents of the Space Coast city of Edgewater enjoy even greater affordability with average living expenses that are 10 percent below the national average.
On the other end of the spectrum, Florida has several cities with higher-than-average living expenses. These include mostly seaside enclaves like Jupiter Island, Golden Beach, Manalapan, Boca Grande and Palm Beach. Cost of living in these exclusive communities is up to eight times more expensive than the national average.
Treasured as the country’s Sunshine State, beautiful Florida has plenty to offer its residents, from bountiful beaches to bustling cities. The state boasts the third largest economy in the country and the 19th largest in the world, supporting 19.9 million residents and attracting nearly 99 million visitors a year. Florida residents pay no state income tax, adding to the state’s affordable cost of living that is 1 percent lower than the national average.
With a variety of attractive, thriving cities, ample public universities and a low cost of living, it’s no wonder that Florida is a popular place to live, work and learn. Neighborhoods here range from laid-back coastal regions and quiet rural communities to bustling downtowns and historic districts. These appealing neighborhoods and cities are becoming increasingly popular to locals and foreign investors, though, so housing prices throughout the state are on the rise.