Real estate in Central Florida has been a story of migration. According to the One Way Migration Study released annually by U-Haul, there has been an influx of new residents in the Orlando area from places like New Jersey, New York and California, as well as the usual flow of people from outside the country from places like the Caribbean and Central and South America.

While there are a number of reasons for this exodus from their home states and countries, most people are moving to Florida for a better life — a life with plentiful sunshine, opportunity and extremely low tax rates. 

For many of us Central Florida real estate professionals who assist new residents, this means helping a variety of clients navigate the area’s new market trends.

I recently interviewed Théo Goupil, an executive chef with the popular NYC chain Financier Patisserie, who moved to Winter Park with his family in early 2020. Theo convinced the owners to open another pastry shop in the idyllic Central Florida city.

His reasons? More days of sunshine, peaceful-yet-active communities, affordability and low commercial rental rates. The pandemic has also forced the hand of many companies to allow for more work from home, leading to an exodus of families from the Northeast and other colder, northerly states to warmer climates.

Then there are the baby boomers moving to more pleasant climates who are finding the current market somewhat difficult to maneuver as they look to buy homes for vacations or permanent residence.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, home prices are continuing to rise as builders can’t keep up with demand, and inventory is already at all-time lows. However, regardless of demand, Central Florida still has major appeal as mortgage rates remain low, down from around 4.25 percent in 2019 to 2.75 percent as of January 2021.

Millennials searching for a starter home are, despite the rising costs of homeownership in the state, finding lower home prices than they would in more tech-heavy areas like the Bay Area and Seattle.

A destination for all

Being a top destination for both permanent residents and second homeowners, the region surrounding Orlando in Central Florida is booming. This has become a bit of a challenge for agents and buyers as inventory is the lowest it’s been in 15 years, and this trend appears likely to continue through 2021 as the population continues to grow.

Central Florida has seen a dramatic rise in its own tech industry as businesses also find the low tax rates enticing. As a consequence, there are more jobs and opportunities for newcomers who are ready to make Florida their home. 

According to Michael Elias, a real estate professional with Premier Sotheby’s, “The Orlando area is becoming the new tech hub in Florida and we’re seeing more and more young people moving here to take advantage of new possibilities as well as millennials looking for the laid-back lifestyle, the warm weather, and the reasonable cost of living the area provides.”

Going the extra mile

For real estate agents, as exciting as an active market is, we have to be prepared to work that much harder in the new environment. Because inventory is so low, we can’t miss a beat. Going the extra mile and being aware of the listings as they go on the market is crucial, especially for out-of-town buyers who are waiting to make travel plans to see some houses within their criteria.

This means contact with other brokers and agents. I find myself now contacting agents regularly, sometimes as much as once a week, to be in the loop should anything appear on the horizon. I also tend to go right away to the neighborhood of a house that I know may be coming on the market and create a short video of the area so they already have a feel of the community once it goes on the market.

It is also very important to have candid conversations with buyers to help them be prepared and at the ready should they find a house that’s to their liking (especially buyers who are relocating).

Buyers from out of town are often more anxious about a move, especially if they are not familiar with the area. If they’re able and willing to make an offer sight-unseen, as well as have the preapproval letter from the bank ready to go, they will increase their odds of securing a home more quickly.

I make sure to tell all my buyers that the market is moving quickly and multiple offers seem to be the order of the day. A flexible mindset is key, as well as understanding that they may not find “all features” in the perfect house they are looking for. Features can always be added. I also help them understand that if they feel they missed a house either with timing or were outbid, there will be another house. 

Sandra Cuba is a real estate professional with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty in Winter Park, Florida. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Facebook

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