3 Florida cities and counties real-estate investors should target in 2021

  • Demand for Florida real estate has skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic. 
  • While Miami and Palm Beach are hot spots, other under-the-radar locales are ripe for investment.
  • Port St. Lucie is one of three markets to watch, said real-estate tech firm founder Dawn Pfaff.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Real-estate investors are always on the hunt for the next big thing.

Add hot spots in Florida to that list — just not the cities, like Miami and Palm Beach, that people always hear about, according to Dawn Pfaff, president of real-estate tech firm State Listings, Inc.

The 15-year industry veteran told Insider that certain under-the-radar parts of the Sunshine State have emerged as buzzy markets ripe for investment in 2021.

Looking for up-and-coming locations is essential for investors, Pfaff said, adding that the key to practices like home flipping is finding the market’s next hot zone, not limiting focus to current ones. If an investor is unfamiliar with a new market, Pfaff said, it’s critical to work with a well-connected real-estate agent with on-the-ground expertise.

Here, Pfaff spotlighted three Florida locations for investment, where demand is expected to remain robust through the pandemic and beyond.

1. Port St. Lucie

“When looking at hot markets specifically for upside, I have been watching Port St. Lucie,” Pfaff said. “Port St. Lucie is affordable and is having a huge surge in new construction of planned unit developments.”

Prices are up 14.3% over last year and there are about 1,200 homes for sale, with over 3,100 sales in the past three months, Pfaff told Insider.

The city, perched on Florida’s Atlantic Coast about an hour’s drive north of West Palm Beach, is home to nearly 200,000 residents. 

“Large corporate developers are investing heavily in this market and are attracting buyers from the areas further south, who can sell their home for more money and buy a new home much cheaper than they can in Palm Beach, Broward, or Dade County,” she said.   

Broward and Dade counties are home to major Florida cities like Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

The area also has a lot of upside for home flippers, she added, because the housing stock is stacked with older properties.

Just south of Port St. Lucie, Pfaff added, is a lesser-known city, Stuart, that is also fertile ground for flipping.

2. Collier County

The pandemic has boosted interest in Florida’s Gulf coast, Pfaff said, pointing to heightened interest in areas like Collier County, which is home to nearly 400,000 residents.

Its cities, including Naples, appeal to buyers looking to escape the crowds on the state’s east coast along the Atlantic.

“Collier County has approximately 3,500 active listings and over 5,400 sales in three months,” Pfaff said. “That is extremely low inventory. Meanwhile, prices are up 21% over last year.” 

Pfaff added that better handling of the coronavirus has been a boon to Collier County.

“The west coast of Florida is also booming,” she said, “in part due to a much lower incidence of COVID-19 cases than the southeast part of Florida.”

 

3. Sarasota County

In Sarasota County, sandwiched between Tampa to the north and Fort Myers to the south on Florida’s Gulf coast, home prices are up 15% over last year, Pfaff told Insider.

There are about 3,200 active listings with over 5,600 sales in three months, she added. The county’s population stands at around 430,000. 

“The Collier and Sarasota county areas have seen the largest increase in price appreciation year over year,” Pfaff said, which she added is even further evidence of the heightened demand for Florida’s Gulf coast. 

“The west coast is hot,” she said. “It is attracting buyers from both other northern states and the southeast part of Florida, which is much more crowded than the west.”  

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