I, I, I, Want to Be a Lifeguard

Christian DeHaemer

Written By Christian DeHaemer

Posted June 24, 2024

In times past you could downsize your split foyer in Cleveland or Long Island, drive down to Florida, buy a condo on the Space Coast or Tampa, and kick up your feet on Social Security.

I spent a few days last week camping at Assateague Island National Sea Shore.  If you’ve never been there, Assateaqe is about the best camping to be had on the East Coast of the United States.  The National site has walk-in camping that is roomy, sparsely populated, and one dune off the beach.  

You go to sleep under the bright stars and the sound of the waves and wake up to the sun rising across the Atlantic Ocean.  In June the temperature is mid-70s, and the water is cold enough to be refreshing but warm enough to swim all day.  The beach itself is almost empty and the surf fishing is first-rate.

Camping on the island reminds me of going to the Outer Banks of North Carolina as a young boy when all they had was salt-shingle shacks and cinderblock houses.  Four of my children, who had told me they were done with camping after the incident with the bears, decided to come anyway.  And lo and behold these sarcastic twenty-somethings reverted to childhood.  They brought their mother shells and scared each other with horseshoe crabs.  When wild poneys invaded the camp at 2 am, deftly kicked open the horseproof box, and proceeded to eat our breakfast, the 21-year-old said, “Wow, this is so cool.”

Beware the Beach Front

Memories like these make people want to find a cheap place near the water and retire.  In times past you could downsize your split foyer in Cleveland or Long Island, drive down to Florida, buy a condo on the Space Coast or Tampa, and kick up your feet on Social Security.

But times have changed.  Florida is undergoing a housing crash not seen since 2009.  

Several things are conspiring to push up unaffordability.  Condo owners and those in 55-plus communities are getting hit the hardest.

First of all, storms, flooding the and highest rate of insurance scams in the country are forcing insurance firms to give up on Florida or jack up prices.  Home insurance is up 40% this year.  Secondly, The 2021 Surfside condo collapse that killed 98 people changed the rules.  Now condo boards have to have inspections and implement structural fixes and other large repairs.  Some of these run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars per condo.  Add to this a 70% increase in HOA fees on owners with fixed incomes and you have a recipe for a crash.

Nick Gerli a Florida Realtor recently tweeted: 

“This housing market downturn in Florida is getting crazy. There are ZIP codes where inventory has nearly tripled from its level last year.

Like this one north of Tampa, in Port Richey. 248% growth in listings YoY. That’s the sign of a major selloff. And indicates prices are likely to drop in H2 2024.”

Prices statewide haven’t started dropping yet.  The mass of people who arrived during the pandemic aren’t ready to admit they overpaid.  That said, when inventory increases and cost per month goes up – the math tells us that prices will start to come down.

Florida and Nevada saw the biggest drop in real estate prices during the Great Recession.  They also saw the biggest bounce back in home prices.  Nevada prices peaked in 2022 and have been flat ever since though they are up 7% year over year.  The number of homes sold in Nevada is down 33% from 2022.

I’m not saying it’s the end of the world.  I’m just saying that it is worth keeping an eye on.

All the best,

Christian DeHaemer