Rising costs motivate some movers, but a lot of South Floridians are maximizing profits by selling their home now and moving to an area where their housing dollar buys more real estate. Moves to Tampa, Orlando, Fort Myers, St. Lucie County and more are up 108% this quarter.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The rising cost of homes in South Florida is chasing some people to other parts of the state. Some homeowners are cashing in at a profit and moving to more affordable spots like the Gulf coast or farther north on the eastern side, according to moving companies and real estate agents.
To be sure, thousands of people are still streaming into South Florida from the Northeast, Midwest and even California. Florida is expected to gain a little over 300,000 residents a year, according to estimations from the state’s Demographic Estimating Conference.
But Joseph Sabga, president of moving company Bekins South Florida in Fort Lauderdale, said he’s recently been moving more people from South Florida to Tampa, St. Petersburg, Fort Myers, Orlando and the northern parts of St. Lucie County.
Those type of moves are up 108% this quarter compared with the same time last year, at the height of the pandemic, he said.
Forward Van Lines, also based in Fort Lauderdale, has seen in increasing number of people leave the tri-county area for Bradenton, DeLand, Orlando, Fort Myers, Jacksonville Beach and Tampa, according to managing director Guy Maman.
“There is a lot of inter-city moving, but there is also a significant amount going to places like Satellite Beach, Punta Gorda or Orlando,” he said.
Many people are seizing the opportunity to sell their homes at a profit as housing prices continue to climb. In cheaper areas, they can buy a bigger home for less money – especially with many people working remotely.
According to discount real estate brokerage RedFin, one in five home shoppers in South Florida have been searching for homes outside the metro area. The top searches are Orlando, Cape Coral, Tampa, Jacksonville, North Port and Palm Bay, according to the brokerage’s data center.
The median sale price for a home in Palm Beach County in March was $440,000, reflecting an 18% increase over the year before. Broward County sat at $445,000, a 14% increase over the same period.
In contrast, the lower prices in St. Lucie County prompted Paige Feigenbaum, an account executive at a public relations firm in Jupiter, to buy a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house in Port St. Lucie for $320,000.
She had started her search in the Boca Raton-Delray Beach area, where she co-owned a condo with her grandmother. But the mandatory country club fees in many neighborhoods made Palm Beach County too expensive, so she searched farther north and landed in the PGA Village neighborhood. Remote work and easy access to the highway made the transition easier, she said.
“It was definitely price,” Feigenbaum, 34, said of her move to Port St. Lucie. “What I was finding was, especially in the Boca-Delray area, most of the homes are in country clubs that require you to join.”
Migration patterns released by the U.S. Census Bureau show that the tri-county area’s population grew at a smaller rate than other counties in Florida in 2020. Palm Beach County’s population grew by only 0.65% last year, while Broward had an even smaller increase of 0.13%. Miami Dade actually lost population by 0.16%.
Counties like St. Lucie and Lee, including Fort Myers, grew by 2.79% and 2.4%, respectively. Manatee County grew by 2.05%, Sarasota County by 1.94% and Orange County by 0.65%.
“With all these people moving to Florida, many people are also choosing to move out because the pricing doesn’t make sense,” said Miami real estate agent Eddie Blanco of Stratwell Real Estate. Blanco recently helped an empty nester couple sell their house in Miami to move to Naples to be near their son. He’s in the process of working with a young couple to sell their home in Miami Dade County and move to the Fort Myers area.
Blanco has closed 10 transactions like that since October, and he’s gone so far as to open a real estate office in Naples in preparation for more people looking to migrate west. He recalled that a similar pattern arose during the real estate boom in 2005, when many people sold homes in South Florida and headed elsewhere in the state.
“I think this trend will continue as long as we have this migration inward from California,” Blanco said. “The underlying sentiment is that Miami is getting crazy.”
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