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Buy a home in Florida and Florida Suburbs

Ah, Florida. The land of sand, snowbirds — and real estate speculation.

Ever since the 1920s, when the first real estate boom officially arrived at the doorstep of the Sunshine State, the idea that you too could own a sunny slice of Miami or Tampa has taken root within the American dream.

But, as with any investment, the risk of loss is real and timing is everything. Florida housing prices, which hit a peak in December 2006, are slowly recovering after the Great Recession nosedive — the state’s fall was among the harshest in the nation — but recently, the trend is positive, stoking renewed interest in real estate.

According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Index, considered one of the more reliable indicators of local real estate market trends, home prices in the Miami area have been on an uninterrupted march up since November 2011. Recently, in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, a community just north of Fort Lauderdale, buyers camped out overnight for a chance to snap up new condos selling for $500,000 to $1 million.

Investors will find real estate prices vary widely across Florida. In NerdWallet’s study of 227 places, the cheapest average sale price was $37.36 per square foot in Kenneth City in Pinellas County. The most expensive was Key Biscayne at $546.77 per square foot, a difference of over $500.

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