Why Orlando’s housing market is so attractive to investors

ORLANDO, Fla. — As potential homebuyers wait for the bubble to burst, prices to come down, and inventory to expand, experts are warning that simply may not happen in Orlando.

9 Investigates drilled down the data showing how more than 20% of the homes sold in the Central Florida area last year were going to investors, and that had an especially profound impact on some of our predominately Black and Hispanic neighborhoods. 

READ: Are investors driving Central Florida’s housing crisis?

Investigative Reporter Karla Ray continues her coverage tonight, speaking to one of those investors about why Orlando is so hot, and what it could take to help buyers and renters avoid price-gouging in this housing crisis.

Anyone looking to buy a home in Central Florida is competing against them, and anyone looking to rent may be calling them ‘landlord’: investors are sweeping up properties in our area, faster than almost anywhere else in the country.

“Orlando, you know, it’s just getting bigger,” investor Christopher Meo said.

Meo lives in New York, but exclusively eyes Orlando-area properties to buy.

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“Right now, I have about 11 properties of my own, and managing almost 20 for other individual investors, as well,” Meo said.

9 Investigates went over data, compiled by Redfin, which found Orlando was among the top 10 metros in the country for investor purchases last year, with at least 11,740 properties in 2021.  That’s about 22% of all the homes sold.

“A perfect example is a property listed in Waterford lakes last September, we had 10 to 12 offers, we received a cash offer from a conglomerate property management company for $25,000 over list price, and was being very flexible with the seller,” real estate agent Christine Elias said.

Elias has represented buyers like Meo on investment deals, and regular homebuyers trying to compete. She says in many cases, neither stand a chance against larger, corporate investors, dominating the market.

READ: Rising interest rates pricing buyers out of the housing market, realtors say

“It really is about rental rates,” Elias said.  “We still have some of the highest rental rates, not only in our state, but in the country.”

Though the fed has taken steps to cool the market with increasing interest rates, steps to reduce massive increases to rental prices have failed.

“The market is just charging whatever it wants, because it can,” State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith said.

Representative Smith has supported rent control measures both at a state and local level, but says our Government is now a bystander in the ongoing crisis.

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“Government is supposed to protect Floridians from price gouging, from this housing crisis we are having right now,” Smith said.

We drilled down the company’s analysis and found the disparity is even worse in some of our predominantly Black communities.

In 32805, which includes Parramore and Washington Shores, the population is more than 70% Black, and last year, 45% of homes sold were purchased by investors.

32811, which includes Carver Shores and Richmond Heights and is nearly 80% Black or Hispanic, saw more than 200 homes purchased by investors in 2021, accounting for nearly 40% of homes sold.

READ: Water wars loom as Central Florida grows

And in 32839, which includes Holden Heights and Millenia, where 75% of the population is Black or Hispanic, saw 37% of homes sold to investors in 2021.

In this post-pandemic world where people no longer necessarily need to live where they work, warm-weather locations like Florida, with the added bonus of no state income tax, will continue to be hot.  That means investors aren’t going anywhere.

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Karla Ray

Karla Ray, WFTV.com

Karla Ray anchors Eyewitness News This Morning on Saturday and Sundays, and is an investigative reporter for the 9 Investigates unit.