I met Shannon at the Tampa Tango Exchange last spring when she was just starting to dip her toe into the local real estate investment waters. She hadn’t yet bought anything, in part because she wasn’t sure where to concentrate her efforts. But, she was also a little afraid. Being somewhat of an accomplished old timer, I offered to help her figure out where to find the best investment opportunities in Florida as well as how to mitigate some of her fears. After all, I remember what it was like being in her shoes back in the day. Sometimes, taking that first step is just easier when you have a strong lead. So, somewhere between polishing our sacadas and perfecting our boleos, we also talked some shop.
Some of the Best Real Estate Investment Opportunities in Florida
In many respects, Florida has always been a hotspot—and, not just for new real estate investors. It is the go-to destination for vacationers, retirees, and anyone looking for a better quality of life that includes good food and great weather. It’s easy to see why. The Sunshine State is home to attractions such as the Walt Disney World Resort, favorable tax structures for families and corporations, and multiple industries providing thousands of jobs. In fact, with so many opportunities to have fun, save money, and find work, Florida has become one of the fastest growing states in the country. That’s a far cry from the days following the housing crisis when Florida was the last place anyone wanted to be.
Florida’s turnaround in the last decade has also renewed an interest in real estate investing here. Florida ranks in the top ten states where real estate prices are rising the fastest while still remaining affordable for the average home buyer. And, if you’ve been building your real estate business by flipping houses like I have, you’ve likely experienced this first hand. As is pretty typical of most markets, however, some cities have more potential than others when it comes to the potential for solid returns. My hometown of Tampa is one of them. Shannon’s old stomping grounds—Orlando—is another. But, Jacksonville has also inched in as a favorite. Let’s take a look at what makes these cities especially attractive for investment and how you can find the best deals there.
I may be a bit biased here, but Tampa has a lot more going for it than just being the host of culturally diverse activities, like Argentine Tango workshops, that I take advantage of. Several national chains, like Outback Steakhouse, are headquartered in or around the city, collectively employing thousands of workers. Three major seaports and two international airports also serve the local economy. Tampa’s economy is so strong, in fact, that unemployment has hovered at or near 3%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for almost a year. That’s lower than the state’s unemployment rate, which is already less than the national average.
The ability of locals and transplants to confidently find work in a variety of industries shows in their willingness to buy homes. Defined as a seller’s market by Realtor.com, demand for homeownership in the area has helped to raise median home sales prices from just over $215,000 in December of 2017 to $235,000 one year later. So, if you bought houses to renovate and resell last year, it’s possible you did pretty well for yourself. And, with Tampa currently making the rounds on must-move-to and must-invest-in lists like this one, you might not do too badly this year.
The city of Orlando seems to be on everyone’s mind, and on quite a few lists over the last several years. With so much to offer, it should come as no surprise. Yes, you can go to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and Magic Kingdom all in one day if you’re crazy enough to try, but you can also find a career in retail, manufacturing, and healthcare. Job opportunities are so plentiful that Orlando’s population grew by a staggering 17.4% between 2010 and 2017. Even with the addition of more than 40,000 people, the city’s unemployment rate rivals that of Tampa’s, frequently dipping as low as 2.7% last year.
Of course, with more people comes the need for additional housing and this demand has helped to push median home sales prices up to $240,000 from $225,000 in 12 months. If you help to meet this demand, you’ll probably do pretty well for yourself. Keep in mind, however, that not everyone in Orlando takes the homeownership route. So, if you buy at a low enough price to ensure a more than decent cap rate, and you might find that Orlando is one of the best places to buy rental property, too.
Last year, Jacksonville landed in the top 15 fastest growing cities in the United States, which is partially why I like to recommend it for growing a real estate portfolio as well. After all, when industries and populations are booming, median home sales prices are usually rising. And, the city saw an 8.8% increase in prices last year. Employment is keeping pace, too, with nearly 97% of Jacksonville residents able and willing to find work. And, more than half of the locals own their own homes, likely because you can maintain a high standard of living at a much lower cost than other Florida cities. This fact helps to attract Millennials to the area who need their money to stretch further, but also to keep veterans with small business ideas local after they’ve retired from the Navy or the National Guard. So, keeping an eye towards marketing your investment properties to either one of these groups could bolster your bottom line and your sales time.
Unfortunately, despite the real estate investment opportunities available in each of these cities, finding and actually buying investment property in Florida may still pose a challenge—especially as the state’s overall popularity with investors grows. That’s why implementing a lead generating strategy that helps you build a real estate investment business in any competitive market is critical from the get-go. And, if you’ll take my lead as Shannon did, it’s also easier to do than you might think.
The Steps to Take to Find the Best Deals
I started investing in Florida real estate long before the housing crash, so I’ve seen first-hand the ups-and-downs that investors have gone through around the state. Thankfully, my career has been less tumultuous than others which is why new investors, like Shannon, often take the opportunity to pick my brain when they meet me. And, I tell every one of them the same thing: you’ve got to work hard and with integrity, but you’ve also got to have leads that can convert.
Now, I came to this business with elbow grease and principle, but it was by becoming an independently owned and operated HomeVestors® franchisee that I got qualified leads. If you’ve seen or heard any of the “We Buy Ugly Houses®” commercials, or passed by one of HomeVestors®’ billboards, you already know what I’m talking about. This nationally-known and trusted marketing campaign reaches distressed homeowners across Florida every day. And, when they reach back, it’s local HomeVestors® franchisees, like me, they get a hold of. So, not only do I get access to some of the best off-market deals, stressed homeowners get a chance to unload a home that’s become a burden. It’s a solution that works well for both parties—which is how every transaction should be.
Stop dancing around your potential to become a professional real estate investor and get the qualified leads you need to move forward. Call HomeVestors for information on franchise opportunities in Florida today!
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