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Tampa Bay, Gulf Coast cities lead America’s ‘emerging housing markets’

Four Gulf Coast markets rank among the nation’s top 20 for housing demand and quality of life, according to a new study.
Florida Gulf Coast communities like Madeira Beach remain top draws in America's housing market, according to The Wall Street Journal and Realtor.com.
Florida Gulf Coast communities like Madeira Beach remain top draws in America's housing market, according to The Wall Street Journal and Realtor.com. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Apr. 26|Updated Apr. 26

Four of America’s top 20 emerging housing markets — including two in Tampa Bay — sit along Florida’s Gulf Coast.

That’s according to The Wall Street Journal and Realtor.com, which on Tuesday released their Emerging Housing Markets Index for spring 2022.

The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area sits at No. 19 on the list, which looks at economic, lifestyle and real estate trends to determine which housing markets are likely to offer a high quality of life and positive returns on investment. Sarasota-Bradenton is No. 3, the Naples area is No. 5, and the Fort Myers-Cape Coral area is No. 15.

That puts four of America’s top markets along one 140-mile stretch of Florida’s Gulf Coast. Tampa Bay rose four spots from the winter index to climb into the top 20, while a fifth Gulf Coast market, Punta Gorda, dropped out. No other state had four markets in the index’s top 20.

With a population of 3.2 million, the Tampa Bay market was by far the largest market in the Top 20, topping Raleigh-Durham, N.C., (1.4 million, No. 10) and San Jose, Calif. (nearly 2 million, No. 20).

Related: Housing bubbles have hit Florida hard. Is it ready for another one?

Why did Florida perform so well? The study cites factors like “sunny days and warmer weather throughout the year” as people looking to relocate began to prioritize “beach destinations” and “locales with abundant outdoors amenities.” The lack of a state income tax also may have played a role, the study said.

Beach communities in Florida and California didn’t have a monopoly on this year’s list. Western states like South Dakota, Idaho, Colorado and Montana also scored highly.

The full top 10: Rapid City, S.D.; Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif.; North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton; Santa Rosa, Calif.; Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island; Boulder, Colo.; Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Fort Collins, Colo.; Billings, Mont.; and Raleigh, N.C.

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