Interest in Florida properties surges among Windsorites

A combination of buyer fatigue and COVID-19 fatigue has led to a spike in demand for Florida real estate from Windsorites, according to an Orlando-based realtor.

“In terms of the interest level from Windsor-Essex, it has by far doubled, if not tripled from last year,” explained Dawood Bedrosian, a former Windsorite who has been working in Florida real estate for the last 20 years.

He added that inquiries he gets from Canadians in general has more than quadrupled. Bedrosian, who also hosts a real estate radio show called Real Sense Now, particularly saw an incline in May 2020 when the state allowed for vacation rentals to go ahead once more, after a halt when the pandemic hit.

“The latest trend happened during COVID. People were sitting at home, and I think a lot of people started to look around and say, you know, I don’t know if I’m really enjoying my living space and I can work from home. And I think I need a pool or a larger backyard or I want a place in the sun,” Bedrosian said.

That’s a trend also noted by Windsor real estate investor Dario Silvaggi. 

“Everybody’s shifting into the warmer states and it’s happening more and more.”

He’s been investing in Florida for years, but recently invested in two more properties in the last couple of years leasing them out as short-term rentals capitalizing on the draw to the south.

A different pandemic response

Both Bedrosian and Silvaggi point to Florida’s drastically different approach to COVID-19 compared to Canada as a major factor. 

The Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World is seen at the theme park, Aug. 30, 2021, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

“Even up to a year ago, it was like there’s no pandemic there. I mean, no mask wearing. It was just free for all,” Silvaggi said.

“And once people start getting a taste of that, they’re like, let’s go to Florida.”

The other push is the wild west of the current real estate climate in Windsor-Essex and throughout Ontario, which has clients and local realtors looking for other opportunities to either buy a second home or an investment property in a market that’s more stable.

“Windsor is — it’s tough to find something here right now,” he said, explaining that in some cases it’s better to build rather than buy.

WATCH | Dawood Bedrosian on why Canadians and Windsorites are looking at second homes or investment properties in Florida:

Why buy real estate Florida?

Former Windsorite and Florida realtor Dawood Bedrosian explains why Florida is an attractive place to buy real estate. 0:45

In March, the average price of a residential home in Windsor-Essex climbed up to $723,739. That’s nearly $100K more than the average price back in January, which was $636,422. 

Compare that to the average price of a home in the Orlando region: $401,232 US ($506,776.08 CAD) for February 2022, according to the Orlando Regional Realtor Association.

“It’s a lot more affordable to buy a property over here,” Bedrosian said.

‘An attractive market’

It’s a fruitful investment too, he explained, adding that central Florida has experienced about 20 per cent appreciation year-over-year.

Windsor real estate investor has recently invested in two properties in Florida. (CBC)

“Plus, we’re still expecting another 8 to 10% for the year to come, as well as we’ve seen rental prices go up by 30%. So it’s definitely an attractive market to be in,” he said.

Silvaggi explained that beyond the draw of a lockdown-free life, warm weather, Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort, the city has also become a major destination for conventions and sports tournaments. 

“So, when you start adding all that together, it is unbelievable what’s happening there,” Silvaggi said.