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'Snowbirds' are raising Florida property values in unlikely areas

South Florida has long been a winter destination for "snowbirds" from points north who prefer to bask in our sun and warmth rather than dodge snow drifts, icy sidewalks and sub-zero temperatures at home. According to a recently-released report by Realtor.com, that trend shows no signs of slowing down, and it's having a positive effect on real estate values.

Besides the beautiful weather, Florida offers lower tax rates than states like Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts and New York. According to Realtor.com, "This upward pressure on luxury prices in certain parts of Florida appears to have started last November" -- shortly before the new tax plan was passed by Congress and signed into law.

People with the money to purchase upscale homes aren't just "flocking" to cities like Palm Beach and Miami. The study found that they're purchasing real estate in smaller Florida cities. That's causing prices of luxury homes (defined as those in the top 5 percent of the real estate market) to rise. Sarasota has seen a 19 percent increase in average price as of March of this year. Collier County was close behind at 14 percent. Broward County saw prices rise by 9 percent.

Florida isn't the only state seeing real estate prices rise thanks to a larger demand for homes by Americans and Canadians looking for a warmer climate to put some roots down. Northern California (specifically San Francisco, wine country and Silicon Valley) have seen the average cost of homes rise.

Purchasing a home in one state while you're living in another one can be stressful and confusing. Laws and regulations vary significantly from one state to another. If you're buying a second home in Florida or relocating here to the Sunshine State, an experienced Florida real estate attorney may be able to make things go more smoothly.

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