PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — South Florida has become quite an attraction.
One thousand people a day are coming to the state, according to real estate agents.
Everyone is looking for palm trees, beaches and quality of life unmatched anywhere else.
But try selling that vision to Sandra Lanowich.
"We're at the point that we might actually have to move out of the state because realistically we can't afford to live here," Lanawich said.
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She and her husband rent in Palm Beach Gardens. Three years of searching for a home left them priced out.
Their rent is currently stable, but for how long? Now, inflation has stretched their bottom line.
Gas prices are fueling frustration, groceries are biting into the budget, home insurance rates are through the roof and our real estate market still can't keep up with demand.
"This is definitely very different than anything we've ever seen," Compass real estate agent Katie Rawnsley said.
For 11 years, she has sold thousands of properties. Now, with fewer homes and more buyers, she said don't expect the market to change anytime soon.
"We still have very little inventory. We have less than a month of inventory, which I think normal is about three months," Rawnsley said. "So, until that starts to grow, I don't see this slowing down."
In fact, an underpriced two-bedroom house in Palm Beach Gardens with an asking price of $335,000 has already had an astonishing 31 offers, 25 of which are cash.
"We had many more people coming down, high-wealth individuals, who learned that they can work from anywhere," Rawnsley said.
Cash buyers are competing against local residents. Developers and communities like Alton in Jupiter can't build fast enough, driving many locals north.
"I found that I was getting a lot more bang for my buck if I came up in here to Martin County," Brooks Feeser, who left a high-priced rental in Jupiter, told WPTV.
After losing 12 offers on other homes to cash buyers, he closed on a three-bedroom, two-bath Hobe Sound home in February for $430,000.
"The sale price of the house is scary," he said. "You know, will I get upside down on this? I will work hard to make sure that doesn't happen."
With the security of owning a home comes the reality of paying for it. Feeser is a boat captain who is working 14-hour days, seven days a week to make ends meet.
"It was a bad time to rent. It was a bad time to buy," Feeser said. "I had to choose between two evils."
Hard choices are pending for thousands of others across South Florida who are trying to navigate a cut-throat housing market grappled with record inflation.
The sand and surf that once greeted them on arrival now leave a paralyzing view that sunshine may be dimming on paradise.
"We fell in love with South Florida, but South Florida hasn't loved us back just yet," Lanawich said.
Interest rates are over 5%, compounding the situation, especially for those financing.
Rawnsley offered a few of these tips:
- Be willing to compromise. Get yourself into something now to just get into the market. You can always replace the roof or make upgrades down the line.
- Find a seasoned agent that knows the area, knows the communities, and knows other agents. They find out about listings before they hit the market, so work with someone you trust.
- Move quickly. Get pre-approved and get your paperwork done early.
ADDITIONAL HOUSING RESOURCES
- County-by-county resources for renters facing eviction
- OUR Florida - Emergency Rental Assistance Relief Program
- Palm Beach County Department of Housing and Economic Development
- Palm Beach County Community Services
- Boca Raton
- St. Lucie County
- Martin County
- Indian River County
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