Florida home buyers need to be aware of the seasonal variation in prices if they want to land the best deal on their new home. Here, we'll go over what you need to know to seal a killer deal on your dream home.
Buying a house is a stressful and emotional process. You'll likely have to spend weeks touring properties, fill out hundreds of forms, and invest a large chunk of your savings to secure the right house.
One way to make buying a house easier is starting the process at the right time. In Florida, housing inventory, mortgage rates, and market trends vary from month to month.
For example, this year listing prices for homes in Florida were lowest in April. On average, homes were $42,625 less expensive. While in November — the month with the highest prices — the listing prices were $39,387 more than the annual average.
In truth, the best time to buy a house really depends on your priorities and situation. Read on to find out which time of year will give you the most options and the biggest savings when buying a house in Florida.
Best Month For
6.1% lower than average
15.2% more homes to choose from
2.90% interest for 30-year mortgage
Realtor.com data (October 2020)
Bankrate data (December 2020)
If you're interested in buying a home, the first step in the home buying journey is getting preapproved by a licensed lender. Even if you’re already pre-approved, shopping around for lower rates can pay dividends over the life of the loan.
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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.
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
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Eligible buyers get 0.5% of the purchase price back after closing.
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 matches buyers with top agents in your area. Plus, after closing, qualifying buyers receive 0.5% of the purchase price back on homes over $150,000.
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
Unless you plan to buy your home with cash, you'll need to apply for a mortgage. For most home buyers in Florida, interest rates are among the biggest factors when choosing a lender. Doing a little upfront research and comparing options to find the best rates could save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.
For example, in Florida a typical house is worth $262,000. Assuming a 20% down payment, if you took out a 30-year mortgage for 3.5%, your monthly payment would be $935. But if you shopped around and found a 3% mortgage, your monthly payment would drop to about $884.
Getting a mortgage is a big decision – and it pays to shop around! Keep shopping until you find a lender with competitive rates who also understands your goals. Don’t get pressured into taking on a bigger loan than you’re comfortable with – work with a lender who explains what you’re really signing up for.
It’s easy to start your home buying journey – answer a few questions to get instantly matched with a lender who works in your area.
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. And when you work with a Clever Partner Agent, you could be eligible for 0.5% of the purchase price back after closing (for homes worth over $150,000).
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.
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.