For the next two editions of the Light, we will highlight various regions of the US and showcase the opportunities (and some risks) for each as we continue to navigate the pandemic.
We start with Florida vs. the Southeast. While both Florida and the Southeast offer affordability, sunshine, and strong population growth, these two regions offer distinctively different investment potential.
The Housing Market
Florida’s housing markets are booming. 82% of builders in Northern Florida are raising prices, and 85% of builders in Southern Florida are raising prices. Nearly all Florida markets are benefiting from in-migration from the Northeast and Midwest, fueled largely by retirees and first-time buyers seeking more space.
The Southeast housing markets are rated Strong to Very Strong, as builders report above average home sales (4 to 5 per community per month), steady home price appreciation, and high traffic on their websites and through their sales offices. Resale price appreciation in the Southeast is above the national average. The Southeast benefits from in-migration from the Northeast, retiree growth, and young professionals and families looking for more space, especially during the pandemic.
The Rental Market
The apartment markets in Florida and the Southeast are holding on as occupancies and rents remain stable due to fiscal stimulus and an eviction moratorium through 2020. Apartment concessions are rising in both regions, as most markets are still absorbing a high level of new construction.
The build-for-rent industry is growing in both Florida and the Southeast. Increased interest in this asset class is coming from newly formed companies, apartment developers, home builders, private equity, and investors. The communities under construction vary by region. Florida is attracting horizontal apartment and townhome developers, Atlanta is attracting a large number of single-family detached homes for rent, and Charleston, Charlotte, and Raleigh have a mix of product types.
Florida’s economy is recovering, although some markets are at risk. While Tampa, Orlando, and Sarasota job bases are starting to improve, markets like Orlando, Miami, and Jacksonville have large exposure to COVID-related industries, which may prolong local recovery.
The economy of the Southeast is recovering. Raleigh is benefiting from a large biotechnology sector, Charlotte has a banking industry, and Charleston is aided by a large number of manufacturing jobs. Atlanta’s industrial distribution sector is expanding rapidly. The entire Southeast region benefits from corporate relocations and consolidations.
We aren’t going to declare a winner in this debate. Instead, we will revert to our children’s soccer games where “everyone is a winner.” Both Florida and the Southeast offer opportunities in residential construction and have a strong runway for growth. Next week we will debate the western regions of the US and see if they can stack up against the Southeast/Florida housing juggernaut. Those of us from Florida are pretty partial to this region of the country, but we suspect our friends in the West may have some counterpoints.