If you’re dreading another winter up north and are ready to relocate to a warmer climate, hit the road and start shopping for a house in Florida. Think you can’t afford it? You might be wrong. The average price of a condo in Florida is hovering around $97,000, and single-family homes are listing at an average of about $132,000 according to Zillow.com. Of course, houses come in all shapes, sizes and neighborhoods that influence price. All of the details aside, real estate prices in many parts of Florida are at a 10-year-low, and deals abound in every price category. You may have heard about many foreclosure houses listing in Florida, but you can also find deals on other properties, including new houses.
Even though there continue to be slight month-over-month losses, now is a great time to start looking before competition heats up and the Florida real estate market heads north again. In case you need further convincing, here are five great reasons to buy a house in Florida.
1. Get 50 Percent Off!
Rents in Florida are up 20 percent this year over last year, but home sales are coming in at a choice discount – 50 percent off in many cases. That’s right, many home prices are half of what they were just a few years ago. The average price for a single-family home in Florida is $132,000 or literally half of what it was in 2006. This is more or less true across most major real estate markets in the state. Prices in Miami–Fort Lauderdale are down 51 percent. In the Tampa metro area, prices are down 48 percent, and in Orlando prices have dipped 52 percent since 2006.
2. Sweet New Home Incentives
Some homebuilders are offering incentives including energy efficient upgrades and home warranties. Neal Communities in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. Offers a 30 day “move-in punch list” for new owners to catalogue any issues with their home. Their warranty team schedules appointments and handles any requests. All new properties come with a one-year construction defects warranty and a 10-year structural warranty. Toll Brothers, a Florida homebuilder with new developments in places like Palm Beach, Naples and Orlando, recently offered free trips to Florida for anyone who wants to visit one of their housing developments. Start looking and you’ll be amazed what you find.
3. Feast on Florida Foreclosure Houses
In June of 2011 there were 23,769 new foreclosure houses listing in Florida, making a total of nearly 123,000 filings year-to-date, according to RealtyTrac. Foreclosures abound, and these special situation sales may mean an extra good deal if you’re patient, flexible and willing to put in some DIY hours.
4. Get a Great Interest Rate
In late July 2011, interest rates were hovering around 4.27 percent for a 30-year fixed and 3.4 percent for a 15-year fixed mortgage. The catch: You need to be able to put at least 20 percent down in most Florida markets and 30 percent down in some of the more distressed communities where property values have tumbled dramatically. It can be tricky to qualify for a mortgage if you don’t have near-perfect credit or can’t come up with the down payment.
5. Treat Yourself to the Lifestyle You Deserve
With the economic downturn, country club and yacht club lifestyles have become newly affordable. Look for reduced or waived initiation fees and lower deposits at tony Florida clubs. Not only can you get into a home at a peachy price, now you can join the country club lifestyle for a fraction of what it cost just a few years ago.
If you’re ready for a change, hop on a plane and check out your options. If the history of volatility in Florida real estate prices is predictive of the future, these kinds of deals won’t last forever. Waiting for the market to hit rock bottom sounds like a good idea, but it’s hard to hit that moment with a bulls eye. If you start your process now and invest time and effort in researching your options, you have the opportunity to get a fantastic deal. To start your search for the perfect home, take a look at the current RealEstate.com Florida listings.