Extensive beachfront property and sunshine makes the Florida real estate market one of the most popular and volatile in the U.S. While Florida is only the 22nd largest state in terms of land mass, it is the 4th most populated state in the U.S. The temperate weather, combined with dozens of popular attractions such as Walt Disney World, Busch Gardens, the Kennedy Space Center and Daytona Beach to name only a handful, have made it one of the most popular tourist destination in the world.
The popularity of Florida’s many tourist attractions translates into high demand for its real estate. A recent survey showed that the Florida cities of Miramar, Port St. Lucie and Cape Coral have all ranked among the top ten in percentage growth over a four year period, growing by 39.5%, 33.4% and 25.1%, respectively. In the November 2006 edition of Business 2.0 Magazine, three Florida cities were named among the top 5 for hot cities in which to buy property, Panama City ranked #1, Vero Beach ranked #2 and Lakeland ranked #4. It’s projected that property values in those cities will increase more than 50% over a five year period.
There are over 67 counties within the Sunshine State, with almost 1,200 miles of coastline. While the majority of buyers want property near the shore or close to the tourist destinations, the property prices in those areas have appreciated beyond the reach of many. Buying property inland, and away from the larger cities such as Jacksonville, Miami and Boca Raton, will give the best opportunity for future appreciation.
It’s important to be aware that Florida, each year, bears the brunt of tropical storms and hurricanes that originate in the Atlantic Ocean. These storms can be devastating to life and property, and there is no one “safe” place in Florida that will be sheltered from a potential storm, since historically the eastern coastlines as well as the western panhandle have all been hit by hurricanes.
Individuals considering the purchase of real estate in Florida need to be mindful of the need for more than sufficient homeowners insurance, as well as flood insurance. A potential buyer should consider as well the hurricane preparedness levels of the city or town the property is located in. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew caused more than $24 billion in property damage.