By Jerry Kronenberg
Sick of the cold and snow that's been slamming cities from Sacramento, Calif., to Portland, Maine, recently? Maybe it's time to consider moving to a warmer locale. "Whether they're from Chicago, Toronto, New York or Boston, lots of people move to South Florida for our warmth," says Andrew Barbar, a Keller Williams East Boca Raton broker and vice president of the Florida Realtors association. "People who come here from cold climates enjoy soaking up the sun." Warm states such as Florida have been attracting a greater and greater share of the U.S. populace for decades.
For instance, Census figures show that the Sunshine State's population nearly doubled between 1980 and 2010, while cold-weather Michigan and Ohio grew by only about 6.7% (way below the 36.3% national average). Barbar, who's lived in Florida for nearly 40 years, says his state's climate "is the primary reason people move here." The beach weather attracts not only buyers from cold U.S. and Canadian locales, but also from cooler parts of Germany, Britain and other European countries.
"Florida is attractive not only to people up North, but to people all over the world," the Realtor says. In fact, a good climate is helping lots of U.S. cities rebound from the deep housing bust that many faced during the past few years. Market tracker Realtor.com found recently that warm locales made up eight of the 10 U.S. cities that saw the greatest percentage gains in asking prices over the 12 months ended Jan. 31. (The number jumps to nine of 10 if you count Washington, D.C., as a warm-weather city.)
Barbar says out-of-state buyers have helped push Miami's inventory of unsold homes down to less than a five-month supply these days from 39 months during the worst of the bust. "All of coastal Florida has not only stabilized but is recovering," he says. "We're seeing a seller's market right now."
Here's a look at housing conditions in America's five warmest major cities. Rankings are based on each locale's mean daily temperature during the December-to-February period, as calculated by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration using 1981-2010 readings. Housing values refer to median asking prices for homes up for sale as of January on Realtor.com, the National Association of Realtors' official property-listing site.
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By Jerry Kronenberg