Updated July 29th, 2019
Home buyers are often surprised to learn just how much of an impact the time of year during which they purchase a house can have on its closing price. The median sales price in Florida fluctuates by approximately $20,000, or 7-8%, depending on the time of year.
If you're interested in buying a home, it's crucial that you work with an experienced real estate agent who can help you time your local market and land a killer deal on your new home.
Get in touch with us to learn how our top-rated real estate agents can help you buy your dream house for less.
In this guide, we'll tell you the best time to buy a house in Florida, some markets to monitor, and the steps you must go through to buy your new home.
Timing the Market: When to Buy a House in Florida
When attempting to time the market, you need to balance two things: inventory and price. In the winter, you're more likely to be able to buy a house on the cheap, but there may not be as many houses on the market to choose from. That's because the median sale price is higher during the summer, so most sellers will wait until then to list their homes.
Those who sell in the winter are more likely to be doing so out of financial desperation or immediate need. Sellers in this situation won't usually put any work into the house before selling, so you're more likely to find “as-is” listings and fixer-uppers during the winter. That said, there will be some great houses on the market for a low price.
According to Redfin, the median sales price in Florida in the winter is $241,000. In the summer, that rises to $251,667 — over $10,000 more! Clearly, there are significant savings to be had by planning to buy your home in the winter.
Here are the median sale prices for every season in Florida:
|Season||Median Sale Price|
Here are the median sale prices by month in Florida:
|Month||Median Sale Price||Month||Median Sale Price|
To get a bit more insight into this data, let's view it visually:
As you can see from Redfin's data, sale prices hit their lowest point in January and then steadily climb up to their maximum in June. Using this chart, you can get a better sense of when you should plan to buy a home.
For example, if it's December and you want to get the lowest price on your home, hold out a month or two longer and buy in January or February. However, if it's June, you might decide to wait until prices start cooling down in July, August, and September.
However, it's important to note that price trends can vary from city to city — state-level data can only give you so much insight. To get a better idea of when to buy a home in your target market, speak with a local realtor. They'll be able to advise you based on data for your specific town, city, or region.
5 Best Places to Buy a Home in Florida
Florida is an exciting real estate market. Here are five established and up-and-coming cities you should keep your eye on.
Melbourne, Florida is known for its high-performing schools: out of the 125 most populous metro areas, Melbourne's high school students were ranked second for college readiness by U.S. News & World Report. According to Zillow, the median home value in Melbourne is $192,000 in 2019, and that's expected to increase by 1.5% over the next year.
Melbourne at a glance:
Median home value: $192,000
Expected 1-year growth: 1.5%
Standout feature: High-performing schools
The real estate market in Lakeland has been heating up recently, seeing 5.6% growth in 2018. As of 2019, the median home value is $162,900, and it's expected to increase by another 2.1% in the coming year. Lakeland is a pleasant suburban area with good public schools and lots of parks.
Lakeland at a glance:
Median Home value: $162,000
Expected 1-year growth: 2.1%
Standout feature: Good public schools and lots of green space
Sarasota is popular among retirees. The median resident age is 51.6 years old, which reflects the fairly high cost of housing compared to the rest of the state — the residents here are fairly financially secure, not just starting their careers. The median home value in Sarasota is $261,900, which is about $25,000 more than the state's median.
Sarasota at a glance:
Median home value: $261,900
Expected 1-year growth: 1.0%
Standout feature: Well-suited for retirees
Tampa is a West Florida city best known for its museums, Busch Gardens, and baseball. It's a great city for young professionals due to its exciting nightlife and many bars, restaurants, and cafes. The median home value is $218,900, but it's expected to decrease by 0.6% in 2019. Those who are attracted to the city life but don't want to be directly in the center of it all may want to consider St. Petersburg, a smaller city situated to the west of Tampa.
Tampa at a glance:
Median home value: $218,900
Expected 1-year growth: -0.6%
Standout feature: Culture and nightlife
5. Fort Myers
If you're a retiree, Fort Myers is an excellent city to buy a house in. The median home value is $210,800, and it's currently a buyer's market. The city ranks second on U.S. News & World Report's list of best places to retire.
Fort Myers at a glance:
Median home value: $210,800
Expected 1-year growth: 0.1%
Standout feature: Large and growing retiree community
How to Buy a House in Florida: A Step-By-Step Guide
Ready to move forward with your home purchase? Here's how to buy a house in Florida in eight easy steps.
1. Decide Where You Want to Live
Before anything else, you need to decide where you want to live. Start by thinking about what you want to get out of your new home — do you want something by the beach? A retirement community? Someplace in the city? A place to raise a family?
Next, look at some city-level stats for cities that fit the bill. Look into the median home values to see what areas will fit your budget and check out the expected short and long-term growth to see which cities are a good investment. Research any other features that may influence your decision, such as crime rates, school rankings, etc.
2. Find a Great Florida Real Estate Agent
Finding a great local real estate agent is the most important step in the home buying process. Your real estate agent will be your partner over the coming months, guiding you through the often complex real estate transaction process and listening to your needs to help you find the right home for you.
A good real estate agent will draw upon their years of experience to help you negotiate better deals, find properties that suit your needs, and time the market.
Clever Partner Agents provide Florida buyers with a pre-negotiated $1,000 Home Buyer Rebate and offer on-demand showings.
3. Assess Your Needs and Set a Budget
Look into your finances to set a maximum amount that you can budget for a house. Assess your income, assets, and savings. It can be a good idea to consult a financial advisor at this point in the home buying process.
Once you have a budget set, speak with your real estate agent to get an idea for what areas and what types of properties you can realistically afford. Be realistic: don't set your sights on a mansion when you have a bungalow budget.
4. Start House Hunting
Look through local listings and ask your realtor for property recommendations. Once you've found a few houses that you like, ask your real estate agent to set up showings for you.
Be sure to attend open houses, even for houses you're not particularly interested in. Sometimes it can be equally valuable to find out what you don't like.
Learn more: Free House-Hunting Checklist
5. Make an Offer
Consult your real estate agent and draft up an offer. Your realtor can advise you on how to make a competitive offer based on your local market conditions.
When you make an offer, you'll need to provide a good faith deposit. This is usually 1-3% of the purchase price but can be more in competitive markets. The higher your good faith deposit, the more competitive your offer will be.
If your offer is accepted, you will enter into a purchase agreement. You must discuss what contingencies to include with your realtor.
Learn more: How to Make an Offer On A House
6. Secure Financing
The next step is to get approved for a mortgage. Usually, buyers either get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before making an offer. This helps them stay competitive as sellers prefer buyers with mortgage a pre-qualification or pre-approval.
Overall, pre-approval is preferred. If you're pre-approved for a mortgage, it means your lender has already approved you to take out a loan up to a certain amount. If you've been pre-approved, all you need to do is get the home appraised and finish up the paperwork for the loan after making your offer.
7. Negotiate for the Best Possible Price
The average person doesn't have the negotiation experience necessary to successfully negotiate a real estate deal, so your realtor will be invaluable at this point in the process. They will draw upon their years of experience in the markets to help negotiate a great price for you.
When negotiating, make sure you understand the seller, know the market, and negotiate after the inspection. This will give you the best chances for success.
8. Close the Deal
Before the closing takes place, you will often do a final walkthrough, and the title company will perform a title search. If everything comes up clear, and the walkthrough is satisfactory, you'll sit down at the closing table with the seller to sign the final paperwork.
You'll pay the remainder of your down payment, the title company representative or attorney will record the transaction with the municipality, and you'll receive the keys. Congratulations — the house is now yours!
Learn more: The Real Estate Closing Process for Buyers
The home buying process can be complex and difficult to navigate. If you're planning to buy a house in Florida, an experienced local real estate can help you get the best deal on your new home.
Clever partners with top-rated full-service real estate agents from major brands like Keller Williams, Century 21, and RE/MAX who will help guide buyers through the difficult home buying process. Clever Partner Agents offer on-demand showings and a pre-negotiated$1,000 Home Buyer Rebate to buyers in Florida, which can be used to help cover closing costs.
Want to learn more? Fill out our form to get in touch with a top-notch Florida real estate and set up a free, no-obligation consultation.
Top FAQs About Buying a Home in Florida
Is buying a house in Florida a good investment?
In general, real estate is considered a safe investment. The housing market in Florida has been experiencing considerable growth over the past few years, and this is expected to continue. Currently, the median housing value in Florida is expected to increase by 2.0%, making Florida a great place to invest.
However, it's important to keep in mind that real estate is highly regionalized, so some cities provide great investment opportunities, but others won't. Do your research and speak with your real estate agent before making a purchase.
How much is a down payment in Florida?
Generally, a conventional mortgage requires a down payment that's 20% of the closing price. However, there are other options: FHA loans only require a 3.5% down payment, and some lenders will allow you to put down less money as long as you pay a higher interest rate.
If you're unable to afford a down payment, you may benefit from Florida's down payment assistance programs. If you're moving to a designated rural area, you may be able to secure a USDA loan, which has a 0% minimum down payment.
How long does it take to close on a house in Florida?
Across the United States, the amount of time it takes between signing a purchase agreement and closing remains standard. In most cases, it takes 30 days to close on a house after a contract has been signed. This is true for Florida.
Do you need a lawyer to buy a house in Florida?
Buyers do not need to hire a lawyer to buy a house in Florida. However, it's a good idea to work with a real estate agent who can help guide you through the necessary paperwork. Working with a real estate agent isn't legally required, but unless you're a seasoned real estate professional yourself, you will likely find the help of a realtor invaluable.