Property sales and prices are soaring in Florida, according to new figures, as the state's real estate values rise faster than the national average, attracting buyers from home and from overseas.
Pending sales jumped 17.6 per cent in Florida last year, according to the Florida Association of Realtors, while closed sales also rose 11.8 per cent year-on-year. At the same time, the state-wide median sale price jumped 15.9 per cent to $168,000.
Florida's success joins an improving picture across the US, with the National Association of Realtors recording an overall increase of 11.5 per cent in the median sale price for single-family homes compared to 2012, reaching $197,100.
The gap between Florida and the US shows just how far the state's housing market has to climb before it catches up with the rest of the country, which, combined with its fast rate of price growth, makes it an attractive location for investors. Indeed, foreign investment in Florida now accounts for 23 per cent of sales, according to NAR, the largest share of foreign real estate investment in 2013 of any state in the US. Non-resident foreigners accounted for $6.4 billion of investment in the state in 2013.
Orlando is one of Florida's most popular areas when it comes to foreign real estate investment. The city saw house prices surge 24 per cent in the last year, even higher than the statewide rate of growth.
The picture "continues to improve", says Philip Button, Managing Director of Brookes & Co, who are bringing high-end villas at The Fountains in ChampionsGate to the market.
Despite that increase, though, prices in the Orlando area remain well below their 2007 peak of $264,000, leaving investors excited about how much further prices may be expected to rise. Their confidence has strong foundations: according to a recent report from BMO Economics, Florida's GDP is expected to increase by 3 per cent during 2014, while the state's job growth rate was up 2.6 per cent year on year in December 2013 (against a national rate of 1.7 per cent) and housing starts rose by 35 per cent.
"Orlando has everything - a fantastic climate, world-class theme and water parks and some of the best golf courses in Florida," adds Button.
"It's an extremely exciting time for those looking to invest in Florida's real estate market."