Exhibit A in DeSantis’s campaign for president: the forces driving Florida’s real estate resilience

by | May 25, 2023

  • Florida’s housing sector remains strong and attracts attention despite a national decline in the housing market, thanks to population and business growth in the state.
  • Florida’s population and economic activity have experienced significant growth, contributing to a thriving housing market and resilient home prices.
  • DeSantis is likely to make the underlying factors driving the Florida economy and real estate market a central theme in his campaign for president.
  • While Florida’s housing market is currently thriving, there is a concern about finding a balance between high values and affordability in the future.

In the face of a slowing housing market across the United States, Florida’s housing sector remains buoyant, attracting significant attention from potential buyers and investors. This resilience is, in part, due to the considerable growth in both population and businesses in the state.

New data shows a national decline in the prices of existing-home sales, with a sharp annual drop of 1.7 percent in April. Some regions, like Seattle, Austin, and Silicon Valley, have seen a decline in home prices of about 12 percent in the past year. But Florida is bucking the gloomy national trend, with rising prices, even though high interest rates are forcing buyers out of the market, slowing sales.

Between 2020 and 2022, Florida’s population surged by nearly one million people, with growth rates five times that of the rest of the nation. Much of this surge is due to the influx of white-collar professionals opting to work remotely from beach-side locations. But there are also whole businesses, including Citadel, Windstar Cruises, JP Morgan, ARK Invest, and InnovaCare Health, among many others, that have expanded or moved their operations or headquarters to Florida, significantly contributing to the state’s thriving economy – and to a gravity-defying real estate market.

It’s a feather in the cap of the nation’s newest presidential candidate, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who was among the first to buck the national lockdown and reopen Florida for business just months into the pandemic. It was a huge political gamble, but one that paid off for him politically, because it has quite clearly paid off for Florida economically.

This continuous growth in population and economic activity has fostered a thriving housing market and home prices that have remained resilient, particularly in cities like Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Pensacola, Naples, Tallahassee, and Sebastian, where home prices rose between February and March.

Florida’s housing market strength is also supported by wealthy buyers who view Florida real estate as an investment opportunity. With a spike in all-cash offers from foreign investors from Latin America, Asia, and Europe, prices have remained high, particularly along the coastal areas.

But the Sunshine State’s real estate resilience should not be mistaken for immunity. For now, the rapid growth in Florida’s population and business sector continues to fuel a strong housing market, making it a key discussion point in the forthcoming presidential campaign. But like a rubber band that could snap back if stretched too thin, Florida’s economy has to find some balance between high values and affordability. Home buyers see both rising interest rates and sky-high prices that at some point will mean Florida is rapidly becoming too expensive a place to live.

As DeSantis begins to criss-cross the nation to make his case to lead it, he can point to Florida’s economy as one of the prime reasons to vote for him – just as long as things keep humming along.


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