Know This Before Buying in Florida

Don’t Buy a Home in Florida Until You Know This Number

This article will explain the 1 number you must know before house-hunting in Florida. As explained in the Florida Move Guide, Florida’s real estate market is like a roller coaster and it’s probably far different than the state you’re familiar with. During good economic times, Florida home prices soar rapidly, but during challenging times, Florida home values can sink drastically and fast. That’s why it’s so important to know where this all important number is, before buying or selling in Florida.

Why Buying Real Estate in Florida is Different

Balanced real estate markets are most common in non-transient states with “normal” population growth. Historical examples might be Nebraska or Alabama. Large numbers of people don’t normally move into, or out of, these states in any given year. This results in a real estate market that is more stable than in high growth states.

On the contrary, high growth states such as Florida do experience large numbers of people moving in, and out yearly. As these numbers fluctuate in Florida because of economic conditions, natural disasters, etc., they can produce wild price increases and downward spirals. In my experience, Florida rarely has a balanced real estate market except when it is changing from one market to another.

So yes, the real estate market in Florida is likely much different than where you are moving from. So if you approach real estate in Florida just like you would “back home”, you could easily make the mistake of buying or selling at the wrong time which could cost you a lot of money.

How to Know Where the Florida Real Estate Market is Right Now With This 1 Statistic

What this important statistic is and how to find it:

  1. Visit any of the major nationwide home for sale listing sites such as Realtor.com or Zillow.com
  2. After putting in the town you are interested in the search bar and hitting enter, look for the “days on market” statistic provided for that specific area. On some sites you may have to click to another page to get housing market data. Be sure it’s local data for the place you’re considering, and not state or nationwide data. All real estate is local and demand (and therefore prices) can vary wildly, even in nearby locations.
  3. Once you have the days on market number, match that number to the appropriate paragraphs below.

A balanced Florida Real Estate Market

165-195 Days on Market

When an area’s days on market is in this range, it’s considered a balanced market. This means homes that sell, will have a good chance of doing so within a “normal” 6 month listing. In a balanced market, neither the buyer nor the seller has a built in advantage. Supply and demand for homes is about equal. Sellers can expect to sell within a reasonable time frame for a reasonable price and buyers can expect to buy a home they like within a reasonable time period for a reasonable cost.

A balanced real estate market is a good time to be a buyer or seller of real estate in Florida.

Florida Sellers Market’s (Aka Buyer Beware)

135-164 Days on Market

This is considered a seller’s market. The demand for homes is clearly stronger than than the desire to sell in a given area. In a market like this, home prices rise and inventory sells down which can make it hard to find any suitable homes to buy in your price range.

In this type of market, the seller clearly has the advantage in price and terms in most cases. A possible exception may be foreclosures that need a lot of work and therefore may be difficult to finance for most buyers.

When the days on market is in this range, it’s a very good time to be a seller, but not much fun to be buyer.

134 Days on Market and Lower

florida move guide book cover and discription

This is a strong seller’s market where the seller can dictate price and terms. Even previously unsalable junk may sell at top dollar when the days on market is this low, usually to buyers (from out of state?) who are not familiar with how the Florida or local market works, but has the resources to overpay. If you are thinking of selling when the days on market is this low, do it, because markets like this in Florida are what normally happens before the market flips sharply. When the days on market is this low, sellers can usually find a buyer quickly without a real estate agents help, just by putting a for sale sign in the yard. However, a homeowners equity gains can disappear quickly in Florida if you don’t cash in your chips when the market is sizzling, and the market flips and prices drop rapidly.

A market like this can be a dangerous time to buy because you’re likely paying too much for a home, that could be worth far less in a year or two after you move in.

Florida Buyers Market’s (Aka It’s Fun Time to Go Home Shopping)

196-226 Days on Market

When the days on market is in this range, it’s a good time to to be buyer in Florida because there are more homes on the market than will sell, in a “normal” 6 month listing period. This causes the sellers who want out the most to reduce their prices. Since the market is slow, it’s these lower priced homes that will sell because they are the obvious “bargains” to buyers.

Over time, these lower prices show sellers and real estate agents where homes must be reduced to, in order to sell. These lower sale prices then provide enough “comps” and become the market. Even if a buyer unfamiliar with the market tries to buy an “overpriced” home using a mortgage, that sale will likely fall apart because it won’t appraise for the sale price.

This is a fine time to be a buyer but can it can frustrating for sellers, especially if they paid more for their home than what it’s now worth and they feel they must sell anyway.

227 Days on Market and Higher

I know, you think this will never happen again in Florida. However, it will happen again and it may be sooner than most people believe…

When the Florida real estate market is this range, there are homes for sale everywhere. If you wait until next month, prices will even be lower and there will be yet more listings to choose from. Prices can drop below what people owe on their mortgages if they just bought them during the “if you don’t buy now prices will just be higher next week/month” market (134 days on market or less).

Markets like this occur because of events that drastically slows the number of people moving to Florida. Events like recessions or multiple years in a row of bad hurricanes damage on the national news. When people in FL lose jobs during these difficult to sell markets, or just can’t take the heat, humidity, evacuations, etc. any longer but can’t sell, they may just stop paying their mortgages and walk from their homes and that’s when the foreclosure numbers can shoot up.

This is a great time to be a buyer in Florida, but you do not want to be a seller in a market like this if you can avoid it.

The Bottom Line…

Knowing where the real estate market is by using the days on market statistic can help you buy low or sell high. It can also help you avoid buying high and then later selling low if Florida doesn’t work out (ouch). It happens far more often than what most realize 
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Ron Stack

  • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.

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8 thoughts on “Know This Before Buying in Florida”

  1. Hi, Ron,

    Thanks for this latest article–very helpful, as usual!

    Quick question: Following your directions, I went to realtor.com and put in a city in the search bar. The results showed a statistic for “median days in market”. Is that the same number as you have described in this article, or is it some kind of “average” number?
    Thanks, Steve

    • Hello Steve,
      Yes, that’s the number you want. Average or median will work. Of all the homes that sell in a certain area, they of course won’t all sell in exactly the same amount of days on the market, so a standard formula is used to track how long it is taking. For example a “100 day, median days on market” means of the homes that sold (went pending and made it to closing), half were on the market for less than 100 days and half were on the market more than 100.Just like an average days on market, as homes take longer to sell, the median days on market would rise.

  2. I am from the north Delaware to be exact and I moved here 2 years ago and plan on leaving in 3 weeks to move back! I hate it here; I gave up a job up north making good money to come here and make 15,000 less and my field is saturated so finding a job is ridiculous and took me 8 months after I moved. I pay a ridiculous amount for health insurance at 850 a month which is not what I’m use to…. to top it it is so hot in summer u don’t want to be outside and bugs including flies, mosquitoes, spiders etc are terrible. So make sure u don’t get bitten by one cause that’s another bill; if your not from here you could develop health problems since my daughter got asthma soon after we moved; oh the beaches we loved when on vacation we either never go to cause traffic is sooooo crazy or we are always working cause the cost is not lower to live here a misconception ppl have. I will still vacation here but will not live here anytime soon and I recommend that if u want to move here maybe not to just saying!!!!!!

    • I agreed with you, that’s very true, moving from up north and giving up your good paying job is a big mistake especially if you are not retired yet.
      the annual income here for office work is minimum, The salary you have made in up north was a salary with a masters degree here and or with doctorate degree. Florida is good is you are retired completely and your pension is big like at least from $5,000 a month and up then you are good.

  3. Hi Ron,

    I just checked the days on market for Miami on Redfin and the average is 63. It also said that the market “is not very competitive”, meaning multiple offers are not very common. I don’t understand how these two are possible at the same time? Can you explain these conditions a bit more.
    Also, in your experience, how long can an extreme seller’s market like this last? It is so discouraging as a buyer.
    Thank you for any thoughts.

    • Hello Priscilla,
      I don’t try to explain what is written on for-profit business websites, but what people need to know and keep in mind about them, is they are in business to make money so their websites are usually advertising or selling something and should be looked at in that context.

      On the current market: I can’t draw on almost 40 years of real estate experience to use past examples, because there was never anything like this before in all of those decades. Governments around the the world never declared a pandemic, shut down businesses and prevented people from living normal lives to fight it, all while keeping interest rates at record lows and sending $1000’s directly to every adult American.

      The “extreme sellers market” that we are in today, will in my opinion come to a crashing halt in Florida soon because the best cure for high prices, is high prices. Prices can only continue to rise as long as there are more “greater fools” that come along willing to pay even more than the last one. They haven’t read the Florida Move Guide that explains why so many people that move to Florida end up moving out eventually, and what happens to the value of homes that people just paid too much for, when the flood of people moving into Florida slows to a trickle, and lots of recent Floridians experience buyers remorse. Florida has a long history of that…
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      Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy” of Zeus Press Inc

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide. Avoid expensive mistakes.

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