U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, a Democratic candidate for governor, laid bare what he thought was at stake on the ballot for Florida voters this November: affordable housing.
Floridians “are ready for a governor that is focused on the real issues facing our state,” Crist said at a May 4 press conference. “This is the real crisis: It costs more to live in many Florida cities than New York City.”
Florida residents are struggling against the backdrop of rising rental prices, explosive demand and limited supply. But are rents as steep as Crist made it seem?
It’s a bit more complicated than his comparison suggests.
Most Florida cities are less expensive than New York City
The cost of living in Florida has risen significantly since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Rent prices have particularly skyrocketed from West Palm Beach to Miami, according to data maintained by Realtor.com.
The report examined 50 “core-based statistical areas,” meaning geographic regions drafted by the White House Office of Management and Budget that often consist of two or more socioeconomically-tied counties.
South Florida, with a median rent of $2,988 a month, outpaced New York City’s median rent of $2,750 in March, per the report. The tri-county region also experienced growth at a faster year-over-year pace than New York City.
Other large metro areas in Florida, however, lagged behind New York City in median rent. For example, the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area had a median rent of $2,114 a month, an annual increase of around 30 percent.
The median rent price in Jacksonville was $1,580, and the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford area was $1,886.
So, New York’s median rent is actually higher than most Florida cities. When looking at for-sale home prices, New York City’s median asking price is also more expensive.
“From the standpoint of actual rents and property prices, the New York metro remains one of the most expensive metros in the country,” said Ken Johnson, a real estate economist and dean of Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business.
Florida’s rental and ownership premiums outpace New York City
Crist’s characterization is more accurate from the standpoint of rental and ownership premiums, or the percentage difference between the statistically estimated prices of a metro area and its current prices.
Real estate economists measure rental and ownership premiums to assist consumers in gauging whether their current market is over or underpriced.
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Researchers from Florida Atlantic University, Florida Gulf Coast University and the University of Alabama analyzed large rental markets across the U.S. and developed a ranking of the most overpriced areas.
Of the 25 most overvalued rental markets in the nation, the highest five are all in Florida.
“Six months ago, only a couple of Florida metros could be found in the Top 25 of this ranking,” Johnson told PolitiFact. “Thus, Florida markets appear to be rising through this ranking very quickly.”
The research showed the residents living in Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Tampa, North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton and Port St. Lucie are paying rent that is overpriced.
In Miami-Fort Lauderdale, for example, renters are paying around 21 percent more than what they should be, based on the area’s long-term trends. That is the most overvalued market in Florida.
Meanwhile, New York City wasn’t featured on the list. According to another study measuring more than 100 U.S. rental markets, New York City ranked 98th.
“In terms of a premium, the New York metro is one of the least expensive metros in the country,” Johnson said.
Crist said, “It costs more to live in many Florida cities than New York City.”
PolitiFact found that the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area’s median rent exceeded New York City’s. However, while Florida cities have experienced record growth, their median rental prices still lag behind New York City.
Crist has more of a point when it comes to rental and ownership premiums. According to a study analyzing more than 100 U.S. rental markets, New York City had one of the least overpriced rents in the country.
We rate Crist’s claim Half True.