Sarasota #2 Top-Ranked Market in US Housing Market

By Nicole Friedman and Inti Pacheco, The Wall Street Journal

Florida’s West Coast Cities Top WSJ/Realtor.com’s Housing Index

Naples led the fourth-quarter rankings, as the Sunshine State attracted home buyers looking to work remotely near the beach

Cities on Florida’s west coast climbed to the top of The Wall Street Journal/Realtor.com Emerging Housing Markets Index, boosted by the growth of remote work and warm weather in the Sunshine State.

High-end markets and vacation spots dominated the ranking in the fourth quarter. Luxury-home sales have climbed in the past year as wealthy households benefited from stock-market gains and low borrowing costs. Warmer markets are also typically active in the winter months, when home sales slow in colder states.

Naples, Fla., was the top-ranked market for the quarter, followed by North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla.; Kahului, Hawaii; San Luis Obispo, Calif.; and San Jose, Calif.

Three other Florida markets — Cape Coral, Punta Gorda and Sebastian, a city on the state’s east coast — also made the top 20.

U.S. home sales rose to a 15-year high in 2021 as home-buyer demand surged because of low mortgage interest rates. As more employees opted to work remotely, they were willing to move farther from their jobs in search of a lower cost of living or different lifestyle.

Florida has been a major beneficiary of this migration, and economists expect home-buying demand in the state to remain strong. Zillow Group Inc. named Tampa its hottest housing market for 2022, and Redfin Corp.’s list of the 10 hottest neighborhoods for 2022 included eight in Florida.

The Wall Street Journal/Realtor.com Emerging Housing Markets Index identifies the top metro areas for home buyers seeking an appreciating housing market and appealing lifestyle amenities.

The top-ranked markets in the fourth quarter had faster home sales and more shopping interest from international buyers than the market as a whole, said Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com. News Corp, parent of The Wall Street Journal, operates Realtor.com.

The Wall Street Journal/Realtor.com Emerging Housing Markets Index ranks the 300 biggest metro areas in the U.S. In addition to housing-market indicators, the index incorporates economic and lifestyle data, including real estate taxes, unemployment, wages, commute time and small-business loans.

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