Study shows Florida homes overpriced by more than 20%

Florida homes keep fetching more money than they’re worth, a disturbing development that eventually could put buyers in a bind, according to researchers at Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University.

As of June 30, homes throughout the Sunshine State were selling for 21.76% above their long-term pricing trend, an increase from 19.24% in May and 17.17% in April.

Tampa Bay is the most concerning of the state’s major metropolitan areas, the data shows. Homes around Tampa sold in June for a 32% premium, up from 28.53% in May and 26.14% in April.

The degree of overpricing as of June 30 also continued to escalate across Florida’s other major markets: Jacksonville (23.07%, up from 20.48% in May and 18.22% in April); Orlando (21.19%, up from 19.79% and 18.45%); Miami (16.89%, compared to 14.88% and 13.18%); and Tallahassee (14.38%, an increase from 12.95% and 10.48%).

Citing a shortage of homes for sale, a steady influx of out-of-state buyers and mortgage rates near historic lows, the researchers are not predicting a housing crash like the one that occurred more than a decade ago, when Florida homes were overvalued by 60% or more.

“Property appreciation eventually will taper off, and recent buyers who paid top prices risk being stuck for a significant amount of time before they can realize solid returns on their investments,” said real estate economist and associate dean Ken H. Johnson at FAU’s College of Business in a release.

“The across-the-board increase in the premiums paid for housing throughout the state is very worrisome,” said Johnson. “Trees do not grow to the sky and neither do home prices. We’re nowhere near where we were at the peak of the last housing cycle, but we do need to be careful. Walking away from an obviously overvalued home may be the best thing buyers can do in this kind of market.”

As a broker for 15 years before his academic pursuits, Johnson expects agents will get back to the normal sales cycle once the market flattens.

Given the level of overpricing, Johnson and Eli Beracha at FIU’s Hollo School of Real Estate, said Florida consumers almost certainly would be better off renting a home and reinvesting the money they would have spent on ownership. While rents also are increasing, it is at a much slower pace than home prices.

“Our research on buy vs. rent indicates that, on average right now, renting and reinvesting is a particularly good wealth creation strategy,” Beracha said. “More people who rent and reinvest would help alleviate current pricing pressure, which is a good thing.”

In conducting their monthly analysis, Johnson and Beracha reviewed more than 25 years of home prices from Zillow, the online real estate portal. The data includes single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops.

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