When buying a home, no one thinks about how soon they’ll sell it. But, judging by how long the typical Miami homeowner held onto their property, that time comes much sooner than any newly minted owner might expect. And the pandemic, despite the initial punch it delivered, didn’t change owners’ buying and selling timelines too much. After a brief period of tension, owners in one of Florida’s larges cities reverted to their pre-pandemic habits.
In reviewing how long owners waited before selling a property before and after the pandemic, Point2 analysts discovered an intriguing trend: In 2022, the median Miami homeowner spent 7.3 years in a home before selling — exactly the same amount of time as they did in 2019.
Here are some more highlights from our report:
- Compared to 2019, the median homeowner tenure increased briefly in 2021 to reach 7.7 years, only to fall back to 7.3 years in 2022.
- This might mean that the pandemic — with the unavoidable instability it injected into people’s lives — shocked some owners into holding on to their properties a little bit longer, but not for long.
- Miami owners preferred townhouses to condos and even to single-family homes: The median owner waited for 8 years before selling a townhouse, but only 6.7 years before getting rid of a single-family home.
- This preference was even more obvious before the pandemic, when owners waited for 8.6 years before selling a townhouse, compared to 6.8 years for a single-family home.
- In Miami, the older and larger the home, the longer owners held out: Homes ranging between 3,000 and 5,000 square feet, as well as 21 to 50 years old, boasted the longest tenures.
Miami Owners Have Clear Preferences
Single-family homes get no love in the city, as owners stick with townhouses and condos
In 2019, the median owner spent 7.3 years in a home before selling. Then, when the pandemic hit in 2020 and the office moved at home, many people started looking for larger, more amenity-rich homes.
Even so, overall numbers in Miami showed only a small decrease in homeowner tenure, although townhouse tenure decreased more visibly: Pandemic-hit owners started selling their townhomes after only 7.8 years, compared to 8.6 years before — a possible sign that they were looking for something more spacious or with different features.
However, no matter the year, townhouses were the most popular with Miami homeowners. Likely due to their relative affordability and easier maintenance, these properties are the perfect mix between the space a house offers and the lower price that comes with an attached property. That's why, in 2022, the median tenure for townhouses was still the highest of all of the property types available in the city, despite being slightly lower than in 2019.
Meanwhile, the biggest surprise came from condo owners: Compared to 2019, condo owners in 2021 and even 2022 really dragged their feet when it came to parting with their properties: The median owner waited eight years before selling in 2021, compared to only 7.5 years in 2019.
According to Florida Realtors, there were quite a few reasons why homeowner tenure increased in 2021, as well as why these numbers aren't expected to fall much more in the following years:
"Older Americans (are) aging in place. Long homeowner tenure is driven by older generations and the population is aging. Roughly 17% of people in the U.S. are 65 or older, up from about 13% in 2010, and the share is expected to continue increasing. [Also], typical monthly mortgage payments are near a record high, discouraging many people from moving. Roughly 85% of mortgage holders have an interest rate far below 6%, disincentivizing them from giving up their comparatively low rate and moving. Asking rents are still higher than they were before the pandemic. That’s motivating some homeowners to become landlords rather than sell. [Last but not least] the inventory of for-sale homes is near historic lows with few new listings coming on the market. Even if a homeowner was considering a move, there’s not much to choose from."
Just like condos, single-family homes also experienced an increase in popularity: Owners kept their houses longer in 2021, but then reverted to their pre-pandemic selling timeframes in 2022.
Homeowners in Miami Are Big on Big, Old Houses
Miami owners spent 7.6 years in homes 3,000-5,000 square feet in size & 9 years in homes 21-50 years old
Looking at how many years owners kept older homes versus newer ones, it was obvious that Miami homeowners preferred older properties: Homes that were 21 to 50 years old were the clear winners, with a median tenure of 9.0 years. What's more, homes in this category represented 40% of all the homes sold in 2022. Next, homes in the 11- to 20-year-old category were a close second with a median tenure of 8.9 years.
Although it's normal for newer homes to have shorter tenures, it was obvious that Miami owners were not crazy about owning new homes: At 3.7 years, homes that were less than five years old had the shortest tenure.
In this case, it's also possible that many of the newer homes are seen as the more affordable, starter properties that first-time buyers opt for. As such, it makes sense that they would upgrade as soon as possible, or as soon as a new job or family addition demanded it.
When it came to space, it was no surprise that the larger the home, the more time homeowners chose to stay put. Specifically, homes that were 3,000 to 5,000 square feet in size were sold after a median of 7.6 years.
What was surprising, though, was how little time owners spent in the largest homes. Although space is one of the most valued features in a home (especially in the post-pandemic world) owners of homes larger than 5,000 square feet waited the least amount of time before selling. In fact, with a median tenure of only 5.8 years, even homes smaller than 500 square feet had a longer tenure.
When the pandemic hit, some owners decided to wait out the storm, but others started looking for bigger and better homes. Then, when mortgage rates hit rock bottom and savings really shot up, more owners felt safer to sell and buy. Just a few months later, when inflation began to increase and mortgage rates followed suit, homeowners decided to stay put, thus increasing tenure.
This yo-yo effect of economic factors on tenure represents a fair weathervane of owners' general outlook, as well as their attitude toward buying and selling. And, although some professionals believe these numbers are stabilizing, there's no telling how long owners will hold out in the following months and years.
- Working with proprietary data from our sister company PropertyShark, we looked at all home sales in Miami from 2022, 2021, 2020 and 2019 that also had a previous sale date. Consequently, we excluded all properties that didn't have at least two reported transactions.
- We calculated the homeowner tenure as the difference (in years) between the most recent sale date (for all four years of reference, meaning 2022, 2021, 2020 or 2019) and the previous sale date.
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