You may have heard agents saying this for a few months already, but now might just be the best time to buy a home in Florida.
There are persuasive signs that both prices have really bottomed out and that a recovery is nigh.
In Orlando, prices are at their lowest level since 2007 – with a median home price of $94,950 – as sales are dominated by cheap cash deals.
What's more, tourism is also booming – helped by new theme parks such as the popular Wizarding World of Harry Potter and much-anticipated Legoland on its way.
Another green shoot of recovery might be detected in the rise in home loan applications, as US buyers rush to take advantage of a slide in mortgage rates.
Recently there have also appeared some mortgages for overseas buyers, typically requiring 30-35 deposits and with rates of 7 per cent per annum.
“Now is a great time for anyone thinking of buying a home in Florida to make that decision,” said Patricia Fitzgerald, President of the Florida Association of Realtors, who reported a 14 per cent rise in sales in January.
“Mortgage rates are historically low and conditions remain very favourable for buyers with a range of housing inventory and attractive prices.”
So on that basis, where is best to buy if you want to short-term let – or if you don't?
A Home for Holiday Lets
In Central Orlando you can only let out your home to holidaymakers if it's in the Short Term Rental (STR) zone which is south-west of Disney.
It's also known as the “Golden Triangle” or “Four Corners Area” because it's where four counties converge: Orange, Lake, Osceola and Polk.
According to www.holidaylettings.co.uk, proximity to Disney is king, but whilst there's a healthy supply of rentals in the very British oriented Davenport (best for supplies of PG Tips); and Kissimmee; there's room for more inventory in Haines City and Clermont.
Proximity to the coast (around 55 mins from Orlando city) is less of a factor for would-be renters than the theme parks, malls and golf courses.
For Howard Thorne whose Homes of America manages rentals as well as sales, Orange Tree and High Grove are the two best performing developments for STR in the Lake country area, each pulling 26-34 weeks rental a year.
At High Grove (6 mins from Disney, also golf, Cagans Crossing restaurants and shops) a 4-bed home costs $214,000; at Orange Tree (10 mins from Disney, near supermarket and restaurants) homes cost $145,000 to $269,000.
Short term rentals
Where: Haines City
Best for Residential
“It's close to Restaurant Row on Sandlake Road [a street full of high-end restaurants] as well as the prestigious Bay Hill golf course, the Millennium Mall, as well as having very good schools and 20 minutes from downtown Orlando,” says Gary Kenny.
He is selling properties from $300,000 on the leafy gated community of Turtle Creek, but really recommends Phillips Landing - gated community of around 350 homes built around a lake - if you have a budget of $500,000 plus (see box).
But Winter Garden – North-west of downtown Orlando - is an excellent “mid-range” choice for Jerry Barker, offering superb access to the Florida turnpike access for Tampa/Miami.
“It's quaint old America with homes with porches, yet it's got a fabulous new mall area, top-class schools and it's 20 minutes from Orlando city,” he says (www.jerrybarker.com).
Pharmaceutical consultant David Jakobsen and his wife Nicola recently bought in the Haines City/Davenport area of Orlando.
The couple, from Liverpool, paid $175,000 (£108K) for a four-bedroom villa in the gated community of Calabay Parc at Tower Lake. Their property, which they purchased through agent CB Feltrim, was originally priced at $300,000 (£185K).
Calabay Parc, off Highway 27 and next to a large natural lake, is a 15-minute drive from Disney, 10 minutes from golf courses and just five from the nearest supermarket and restaurants.
Words: Liz Rowlinson