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Florida, often called the Sunshine State, continues to be one of the most beautiful – and lucrative – investment destinations.
With its year-round warm weather, stunning beaches, and vibrant culture, it's no wonder that it's a dream destination the world over. The state's natural beauty, combined with its thriving economy and diverse recreational opportunities, make it not just a great place to visit, but also to live.
As such, it's no surprise that Florida's real estate market is booming, attracting investors from around the globe. Among these investors, Canadians hold a significant place and have done some for many years and are recognized as the leading Foreign National in regards to the buying and selling of real estate.
Canadians have always had a soft spot for Florida.
Have you ever heard of snowbirds? They are Canadian citizens who head down to Florida annually to live throughout the long Canadian winter. It’s been a grand tradition for generations now, and though it was interrupted during the pandemic, the snowbirds have been heading back down to the Sunshine State in massive flocks for the last two years.
Garry Walsley, a Senior Global Real Estate Advisor who has worked in the Florida real estate market for years, had this to say about Canadians who are looking to live in a place with warmer skies and bluer water:
“With an average of 3.5 million visits to Florida per year prior to COVID, Canadian snowbirds made a dramatic impact on the local culture and economy, including large annual festivals geared towards our Canadian visitors, such as Canada Fest in South Florida and Snowbird Extravaganza in Central Florida.”
As such, Florida has been for many years the leading sun-belt state for real estate investment, especially for Canadians. The solid economic data, job growth, and high level of media attention that Vacation Rental Properties or “Airbnb" properties have driven Canadian investors to take a long look at investing in properties in one area of Florida in particular: Orlando.
Orlando, Florida, globally recognized as the "Happiest Place on Earth" and the "Most Visited Vacation Destination in North America," is a dream come true for many. In 2022, Orlando welcomed 74 million visitors, a 25% increase over 2021, and achieved 98% of pre-pandemic (2019) levels.
These figures underscore Orlando's resilience and continuing appeal as a top-tier destination. The city's robust tourism industry, coupled with a strong job market and favorable price-to-rent ratios, make it an attractive market for real estate investors looking to find a home in one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
Beyond the economic factors, investing in Orlando also offers a lifestyle advantage. Owning a property in Orlando gives you access to the city's world-class amenities, from theme parks and entertainment venues to shopping centers and dining establishments. It also puts you in close proximity to Florida's stunning beaches and natural attractions.
Post-Covid, more Canadians are spending time in Florida again to enjoy the sunny weather and recreational opportunities. However, Florida, particularly Orlando, is also an excellent option for Canadian real estate investors.
Garry Walmsley got to see how COVID impacted the Orlando real estate market firsthand, but he was also witness to its remarkable recovery:
“Despite what we all experienced following the events of March 2020, Orlando continues to amaze me in terms of how it recovers from major economic events, and COVID-19 was no different. Of course, we’re all aware of the political views; however, the fact that Orlando was able to open up ahead of the majority of major destinations certainly played into the effect created. This proved that Orlando could survive as a domestic market destination without any international business. One of the main contributing factors to its recovery was the significant shift to remote work, which also led to increased demand for larger homes with offices and outdoor spaces, along with the increase of rental properties zoned for short or mid-term rental use.
In terms of what we are experiencing in August 2023, market stabilization is the best-suited term as the immediate impacts of the pandemic have subsided, despite the continued appreciation and rising interest rates. Today, we find ourselves with a limited inventory, lower than pre-pandemic, combined with a growing population of more than 1,200 people moving to Florida daily.”
Obviously, investing in Orlando real estate is not just about owning a piece of the "Happiest Place on Earth." It's also about the economic advantages that come with it. The city's strong economy, driven by its booming tourism industry and diverse business sectors, provides a stable environment for real estate investments. Property values in Orlando have steadily risen over the last few years, promising good returns for investors.
Moreover, the city's rental market is thriving. With a constant influx of tourists and a growing population, the demand for both long and short-term rental properties is high. This provides investors with a steady income stream and potential for capital appreciation, both during the summer and winter seasons.
During the spring, summer, and fall, you can count on families looking for a comfortable place to stay during their vacations at one of the many theme parks across Orlando. With Disney and Universal company-owned resort prices skyrocketing, families are looking for spacious and comfortable accommodations at more reasonable prices. This opens up a massive opportunity for those looking for an excellent return on investment for their property.
And in the winter when the vacation season cools down (along with the Canadian climate), you can count on snowbirds who want to escape the ice and cold. Many of these folks can’t afford to purchase their own property in Orlando but would be more than happy to rent one for the colder months of the year.
Together, this means that you could be looking at more or less permanent residency for your investment property. And that’s assuming that you don’t want to live there yourself, year-round!
Developers are hard at work creating comparable living experiences to Disney and Universal. One of them is the upcoming Everest Place Resort, a $1-billion project that will offer 922 condos, 900 rental apartments, a shopping village, luxury hotels, and much more. With this and other real estate opportunities on the horizon, the sky’s the limit for Canadian investors looking to put their money where the sun shines brightest!
If you follow U.S. politics, you know that several fights have broken out between the State government and the Walt Disney Company, whose interests are localized in Orlando.
irst, it’s important to note that these fights are not about the entire city of Orlando. Instead, they are regarding Disney’s self-governing status in the former Reedy Creek Improvement District. Though this district is located in Orlando, it’s a much more local dispute that likely won’t impact Orlando as a whole.
Second, remember, this is “Politics” with a capital P. Both sides are jockeying for public support, and the conversation has become incredibly heated. The reality is that, beyond all of the noise, Disney isn’t going anywhere. They have invested billions upon billions of dollars into immovable infrastructure that greatly benefits Orlando. Both sides are fighting for a better deal than the other, but in the end, cooler heads will prevail.
Regardless, none of this has much of an impact on real estate investment in Orlando. It will still be one of the biggest tourism destinations in the world, and the incredible weather will continue!
Garry Walmsley has been watching Florida politics for years, and had this to say about the current situation between Disney and the State government:
“In initial conversations with clients that I represent, I like to understand their initial motivation to consider an investment, combined with their thoughts in hold time and exit strategy. I’m pleased to say that the majority consider any real estate investment as a mid-to-long-term investment, especially those who are considering lifestyle assets. As a result, many discussions that we are seeing relating to political or “woke” views will have a minimal effect on any real estate investment. A testament to this is that visitor numbers continue to climb at new record levels. Relocation statistics show Orlando within the Top 3 destinations that people are moving to, while we also see families looking for one-of-a-kind experiences to create life-long memories. That’s combined with more 55+ folks now selling up and considering renting with a relocation to a sunbelt state. There’s no way to know for certain, but with a strong job market, improving consumer and builder sentiment, and lots of inward migration, Orlando’s housing market seems poised for strength in the coming months.As Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, is quoted as saying "Change is the only constant in life.”
In fact, this political disruption makes it arguably the perfect time to purchase Orlando property. Once Disney and the State government have resolved their differences, chances are that there will be renewed investment in the parks. This will spur further investment in their competitors' parks and, in turn, bring more money into Orlando. It’s the vacation capital of North America for a reason, after all!
The combination of Orlando's robust tourism industry, strong real estate market, and the increasing interest of Canadians in real estate investment make it an excellent option for Canadian investors. Whether for personal use or as a rental property, investing in Orlando real estate presents a promising opportunity for wealth creation and long-term financial security.
The economic and lifestyle advantages of investing in Orlando make it a compelling choice for Canadians looking to expand their investment portfolio. You just need to find the right opportunity to maximize your investment.
by Archie Sullivan on 11 August 2023
Canadian Real Estate Wealth