Florida’s real estate market is one of the hottest in the country right now as people clamor to call the Sunshine State home. From July 2020 to July 2021, more than 211,000 people moved to Florida from other states, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The state saw the second-highest population in the country, only falling behind Texas when it came to population growth.
And this trend is only expected to continue, as three Florida cities made Zillow’s list of 10 hottest housing markets for 2022. Tampa’s fast-growing market sits at the top of that list, with Orlando and Jacksonville not far behind.
Tampa Trends as Top-Ranking Market
With home prices on the rise and an inventory crunch, this report comes as no surprise to Tabi Deas, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Tampa Central. She expects Tampa’s appeal to home buyers to continue in the new year.
“It’s one of the areas that has seen the most growth in recent years,” she says. “From an overall standpoint, the draw to Tampa, I think, is that there’s a lot to do there, and people just want to move to Florida.”
The state’s popularity grew during the COVID-19 pandemic “with our flexibility with masks and when people learned they can work from home and still make their incomes from their jobs while living in Florida with no income tax,” Deas said. “They can sell their home for much more wherever they’re from, buy a really nice home here and keep their incomes from wherever they’re from.”
But even before the pandemic, Tampa “was already a hot market,” said Deas. “COVID just put fuel on the flame.”
Tampa and its surrounding cities also have a lot to offer residents. “Tampa has everything people want,” Deas added. “It has the beach, sports, and culture, with Ruth Eckerd Hall and the Straz Center, and several different types of neighborhoods.”
The Tampa Bay area is also seeing a technology boom with a number of national corporations bringing their headquarters to the city over the past two years, she said.
This includes companies like Genesis Systems, Fast, OPSWAT, TrustLayer, Celsius Network and International Data Corp., according to Patch. In August, Forbes magazine even ranked Tampa in the No. 1 spot on its “Emerging Tech Cities in the U.S.” list, nodding to the more than 50 tech and IT companies that call the city home.
The growth in the city’s technology sector means more higher-paying jobs, driving up home prices, Deas said.
The LGBTQ Appeal to Tampa
It’s also one of the more liberal areas of the state, Deas added. “It’s one of the more progressive areas of Florida, but it’s not Miami. Everybody already knows Miami as overbuilt and overcrowded. And Orlando is really a service-industry city.”
Tampa’s progressive nature means a lot of LGBTQ+ home buyers are drawn to the region, she added.
St. Petersburg is the most obvious neighborhood to show LGBTQ+ clients, Deas said. “St. Pete Pride is obviously very well known internationally. St. Pete is like our Fort Lauderdale. Central Avenue and (the) Grand Central (District) are like our Wilton Manors. It’s very gay-friendly.”
Then, there’s Gulfport and the beach communities to consider. “I’d say all of Pinellas County is very gay-friendly – Dunedin, Tarpon Springs, Safety Harbor, Seminole. There’s no part of Pinellas County I wouldn’t feel comfortable in, and I’m a lifetime gay and I look it.”
Inventory is tight in Pinellas County and parts of Tampa, though, Deas said. This means there’s a lot of new construction happening east, south and north of Tampa.
Home buyers will be surprised to learn that many of these communities further from the city center are gay friendly, too, she said.
Deas mentioned that Wesley Chapel in Pasco County, bordering Hillsborough County, has been LGBTQ-friendly for years. “Pasco is a ‘red’ county, but Wesley Chapel is ‘blue.’”
Nearby, Odessa, another Pasco County city, “is getting to be that same way” as new home communities are built, she said.
In Hillsborough County, communities seeing an influx of new residential construction – and a more progressive mindset – include Apollo Beach, Lithia and Land O’Lakes.
And of course the City of Tampa and Ybor City are both LGBTQ-welcoming, as can be seen by Tampa’s lesbian Mayor, Jane Castor.
Heading south a bit, Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch are also LGBTQ+ inclusive areas, Deas said. “You can live there comfortably. Older gays prefer Sarasota. It feels a little less city and a little more calmed down, and there’s culture and relaxing on the beach. And people who enjoy golf, dig Lakewood Ranch and all the amenities.”
What it comes down to is “different strokes for different folks,” she added. “Simply because people are gay doesn’t mean they’re going to flock to a downtown location and live there…Not everyone wants to live in downtown or a gay city.”
Cash Isn’t Always King
Tracie Mayo, owner of Savvy Mortgage in St Petersburg agrees with the Zillow report. “Just over the last year, the median price has gone up about 19 percent,” Mayo said. “They’re actually estimating a 24 to 25 percent increase in 2022. I think that’s a good number. Values have definitely been going up. (Interest) rates have also been increasing.”
It may come as no surprise that cash is king in Tampa. “We have seen an increase in buyers making cash offers. This can make it more challenging for buyers who want to finance,” said Mayo. While “cash is king” has been the theme in this market, creative thinking is often more effective.
“Fortunately, there are financing strategies to make offers more enticing than cash offers,” she added. “We work with realtors and our clients on strategies to put them and their offer in the best position possible. Our strategies have been successful for clients and we have seen their offers get accepted by sellers ahead of cash offers. Working with a realtor, certified mortgage planning specialist, and financing expert is so important when competing in this real estate market.”
Plan Your Move to Tampa
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