For starters, Florida doesn’t just offer beautiful sunny beaches, stunning natural wildlife, and wide-open skies. Florida also boasts a rapidly expanding job market. Everyone from renowned authors to Wall Street bankers are making the move.
However, there is one group of professionals who are populating Florida faster than nearly everyone else: the tech industry. Florida is shaping up to be the next global tech hub. Orlando is going to be the next tech metropolis. This city hosts more tech workers than any other city in Florida, according to Business Insider.
2. Warmer Weather
Florida also offers much warmer weather, making it a great place to live. In many places in Florida, it doesn’t snow at all: a very welcome change for those who are used to shoveling multiple feet of snow all winter.
So instead of dealing with months of freezing temperatures, snow, and gloomy skies, in Florida, you get temperatures that are consistently in the 70s and 80s, with enough sunshine that you can realistically hit the beach even in the middle of January.
At the same time, it’s important to keep in mind that the cost of living varies greatly around the country depending on where you’re coming from. For instance, if you’re coming from Denver, where the median price of a home was $593,000 in December of 2021, Florida prices will seem incredibly cheap.
However, if you’re coming from Kansas City, where the median price of a home was $211,600 in December 2021, Florida will seem more expensive compared to what you’re used to.
4. No State Income Taxes
When considering the cost of living in Florida, it’s also important to consider the fact that you won’t have to pay state income tax as a Florida resident. That’s right, Florida is one of nine states that don’t levy state income taxes on residents — joining Alaska, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.
Again, the personal impact of not having to pay state taxes will vary based on where you’re coming from and what the tax rate was there. For example, if you’re a high earner coming from California, which has a graduated tax rate, you could end up paying as much as 13.3%. However, if you live in a state like Pennsylvania with a flat tax rate, you end up paying just 3.07%.
At the same time, it’s important to note that state income taxes aren’t the only way that you’re taxed. Instead, there are countless different types of taxes that vary from state to state. So, hypothetically, one state with a seemingly low income tax could have higher property taxes.
5. Good Investment
And last but certainly not least, buying your first house in Florida is likely going to be a good investment due to the sheer amount of people who move to Florida on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. Nearly 900 people move to Florida every day. This adds up to over 6,000 per week, 27,000 per month, and 335,000 per year.
Not to mention, Florida is a popular vacation destination which can provide the homeowner significant short term rental potential.
These people are moving to Florida for the same reasons you are, and these reasons don’t seem to be changing anytime soon.
Where To Buy a House in Florida?
Once you’ve decided to buy your first house in Florida, you need to decide where in the state you should buy. Florida is a huge state with many metropolitan areas and smaller towns. Each of these areas come with their own distinct culture and overall vibe. They also come with their own real estate markets.
So here are some different places in Florida you may want to consider buying your first home and what you need to know about each of them:
South Florida consists of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. The median sold home price in Miami Dade is $440,000, $362,000 in Broward, and $402,000 in Palm Beach.
The markets in Broward and Palm Beach are considered seller’s markets, whereas the market in Miami-Dade is more of a balanced market. In Miami-Dade, the median sold price is lower than the median listing price.
Tampa Bay consists of Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco counties. The median sold home price in Hillsborough is $352,000, $350,100 in Pinellas, and $315,000 in Pasco. The markets in all three counties are considered seller’s markets and prices have increased rapidly over the past few years.
The Orlando area consists of Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties. The median sold home price in Orange is $365,300, $345,500 in Osceola, and $361,000 in Seminole.
The markets in all three counties are considered seller’s markets. Seminole has experienced notably significant growth in home prices.
The Jacksonville area consists of Duval county. The median sold home price in Jacksonville is $282,500, showing a substantial increase of 15.3% year-over-year. Unsurprisingly, the market in Jacksonville is also considered to be a seller’s market.
The median sold home price in Sarasota is $435,300, $330,000 in Charlotte, $363,100 in Lee, and $575,000 in Collier. The markets in Sarasota, Lee, and Collier are considered seller’s markets, whereas the market in Charlotte is more of a balanced market.
Northwest Florida consists of Escambia, Leon, and Bay counties — among others with the capital of Tallassee located in Leon, Pensacola located in Escambia, and Panama City Beach located in Bay.
The median sold home price in Escambia is $279,000, $250,000 in Leon, and $334,900 in Bay. The markets in Escambia and Leon are considered buyer’s markets, whereas the market in Bay is considered a seller’s market.
How To Buy a House in Florida?
We get it; moving to Florida as a first time home buyer is a scary yet exciting process. It’s always a good idea to go into the process with as much information and insight as possible to help the process go smoothly.
This is why we’re going to discuss the seven steps you need to follow to successfully purchase your first home in Florida:
Step 1: Decide Where You Want To Buy
Based on the information you now know about some of the different areas in Florida, you need to decide where you want to buy and live. Don’t choose an area just because it’s trendy. Instead, pick an area that works for your lifestyle and your budget.
While living in Miami certainly has its perks, it’s not for everyone. So if you want to enjoy beautiful Florida beaches for a more affordable price, you may want to consider somewhere on the Gulf Coast instead.
While living in Orlando gives you great access to theme parks, living in a large city with a lot of traffic may not be the lifestyle you’re looking for. So if you want to enjoy fun activities in a smaller city, you may want to consider the Tampa Bay area instead.
At the end of the day, there are no right or wrong decisions here. Simply do your research, check out some potential locations, and go with your gut.
Step 2: Get Pre-Approved by a Lender
Once you’ve decided where in Florida you want to buy, it’s a good idea to get pre-approved by a lender before you really begin your home search. Getting a pre-approval will show sellers and real estate agents that you’re serious about buying. It will also help you determine how much you can afford to spend on a house.
During the pre-approval process, you will be asked to provide information about your income, employment, and assets. You will then receive a pre-approval with a set interest rate.
Make sure to shop around with different lenders to see what rates you qualify for, and choose the one that offers the lowest rates that will save you the most money.
Step 3: Work With a Real Estate Agent
After you have your pre-approval in hand, it’s time to find a real estate agent to help guide you through the home buying process. Florida real estate markets are especially competitive right now, which is why finding an experienced and aggressive agent is key. They can help you put the best offer forward and negotiate on your behalf to win you your dream property.
Step 4: Find a Property
From there, you can start working with your real estate agent to find your perfect first home in Florida. In such a fast-paced market, it’s important to remain patient during your search. While it may be tempting to write up an offer on the first house you see, you need to make sure that it’s the right fit for your needs and your budget.
Also, it’s important to manage your expectations while remaining flexible. You may not be able to find a house that checks all your boxes while staying within your budget.
Step 5: Submit an Offer
Once you do find that perfect property, however, you need to submit a competitive offer. Unfortunately, now is not the time for low ball offers below the asking price unless the house has been sitting on the market for a while. In most cases, you need to be prepared to offer the full asking price or even offer a bit above the asking price to beat out other buyers.
You also may want to consider waiving all contingencies to make your offer more competitive. While a lender will require an appraisal, you may want to waive the inspection contingency to incentivize the seller to choose your offer.
Step 6: Go Through Underwriting
After your offer has been accepted, it’s time for the underwriting process. During this time, your information is verified, and the home is appraised so that the loan can be finalized. Make sure to provide all necessary documentation and information during the underwriting process so that you can close in a timely manner.
Step 7: Close and Move
Now that you’ve completed the underwriting process and have been cleared to close by your lender, it’s time to schedule the actual closing.
At closing, you will finalize your loan documents, pay your fees, and transfer ownership of the home. Finally, you get the keys and are all set to make the move to Florida.
The Final Rundown for First Time Home Buyers in Florida
Even with all this information, buying a home in Florida as a first time home buyer can be confusing and overwhelming. Thankfully, Vaster has extensive experience with the Florida real estate market and is ready and willing to answer all of your questions.