Now might be the time to move to Florida as inventory levels surge and sellers slash prices – Fortune

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Florida used to be the place for wealthy retirees to move to enjoy the state’s healthy dose of sunshine—and a massive break on taxes. But now that the housing supply on the west coast of Florida is surging, sellers are cutting asking prices, and the time a home is on the market is soaring, according to a Redfin report released Thursday. It could be the time for less well-to-do folks to become year-round snowbirds. 

Indeed, these three factors are rising at a faster rate in western Florida than anywhere else in the U.S., the Redfin report shows. For example, the number of homes for sale in Cape Coral and North Port surged about 50% year over year in March, according to Redfin. 

But these figures only tell part of the story of what’s really happening in Florida’s housing market. While housing supply is increasing because the state has had an influx of new homes, there’s also an insurance crisis that’s “throwing a wrench into deals,” writes Lily Katz, a Redfin data journalist. Indeed, homeowners insurance in Florida increased about 40% year over year in 2023—and a whopping 102% during the past three years, according to the Insurance Information Institute.  

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Rising insurance costs, along with higher-than-expected property taxes, condo assessments, and general cost of living have all led to a “swift increase in inventory in the Sunshine State,” Erin Sykes, chief economist with Nest Seekers International, tells Fortune

“The tax savings from lack of state income tax really only benefits the top earners because the other cost-of-living factors are so high,” she says. “Thus, most [are] motivated for other benefits—political, business-friendly—for moving to Florida at this time.”

It’s a buyers’ market in Florida

Still, if there was going to be a time to move to Florida—considering inventory levels and home prices alone—it would be now. Plus, there’s just not as much competition to buy a house in Florida as many “out-of-town homebuyers no longer see Florida as a place to get amazing value,” Eric Auciello, a Redfin sales manager, told Redfin’s Lily Katz. 

Now, sellers are forced to slash prices to compete with builders who are offering concessions, and homes are sitting on the market for longer because they were priced too high to begin with, he said.

That means that prices are more negotiable in parts of Florida, especially if they’ve been sitting on the market for at least 180 days, Sykes says. But sellers are hesitant to drop publicly listed prices since “aggressive buyers are the only ones active in the market right now,” she says. Still, these buyers are submitting offers that are about 10% below the asking price.

“It’s a buyer’s market due to low transaction volume, despite list prices holding stable,” Sykes says. “Now is the time to get a deal.”

While that may be true for certain housing markets in Florida—and for particular housing types—Desiree Avila, a board-certified South Florida realtor with nearly a decade of experience, tells Fortune that she sees the state as having two housing markets: single-family homes and condos. And they’re on two very different paths, she says. 

Single-family home prices in Florida are still up 3.9% year over year, according to Florida Realtors, despite some sellers cutting prices later in the process. However, inventory levels are now at 4.1 months compared to 2.7 months a year ago, she says, which is a “sign we are leaving a seller’s market and entering a neutral market.” It would only be a true buyers’ market if inventory reaches six or seven months, she says. 

Condos, on other hand, are “definitely in a buyer’s market,” since inventory is at 6.6 months. Across Florida, condo sellers have had to slash prices due to rising insurance and homeowners association costs. Condo prices in Jacksonville dropped nearly 7% year over year, while Miami’s decreased almost 3%. Meanwhile, average U.S. condo list prices are up over 8%, according to another Redfin report released in February.

So, all things considered, is now really the best time to move to Florida?

“It all depends on where a person wants to move in Florida and what kind of property they want to buy,” Avila says. “For example, South Florida’s market is very different from other parts of the state. Speaking as someone who lives and works in South Florida, the demand is always very high and competition [is] stiff.”

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