Texas and Florida provide dealers many benefits.
In addition to affordable real estate, Florida and Texas have a reputation for having far less consumer and employee litigation compared with other states, especially California. Unlike some other states, neither Texas nor Florida levies a state income tax on after-tax proceeds, Haig noted. Both states have dealer-friendly franchise laws. And they are not overdealered, so dealers can book more sales per store, said Ben Hicks, CEO of buy-sell advisory Hicks Management & Consulting in Arlington, Texas.
But foremost on dealers' minds is the potential for volume. Florida and Texas trail only California in new light-vehicle sales.
In 2014, California led all states with 1.8 million new-vehicle registrations, up 8 percent from 2013, according to IHS Automotive. Texas was second with 1.6 million, up 11 percent, followed by Florida with 1.2 million, also up 11 percent.
New York lagged at No. 4 with about 967,000, up 4.2 percent.
And with relatively few stores for those volumes, Florida ranks No. 4 among all states in average revenue per dealership, at $72.72 million in 2014, and Texas No. 5, at $72.65 million, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association.
The leader is Arizona, at $79.74 million, against the national average of $49.17 million.
The booming markets have prompted automakers to open new dealership points in Texas and Florida.
For example, Audi awarded a new point in Fort Lauderdale to Qvale Auto Group, which now is building a four-story, 158,000-square-foot Audi dealership there, to be completed in August. The West Palm Beach, Fla., group owns 18 dealerships in California, Texas and Florida.
But Johnson and others said the buyer-seller imbalance in Texas and Florida may be short-lived.
On the buyers' side, Johnson said, "We have never seen" newcomers to the market, such as private-equity investors and Warren Buffett, "start a buying spree at the apex." And the ranks of sellers, Chaconas predicted, will swell in the next 12 to 18 months as many of the "old timers" decide to sell rather than acquiesce to another round of store renovation demands from automakers.
"My argument to these old guys is 'Take the money now, pay the tax and diversify it wisely,'" said Chaconas. "But dealers don't listen to me."
Amy Wilson contributed to this report.