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Florida Marketwatch

By Rachel Bosworth - August 22, 2017

We hate to say it, but summer is almost over. While we’re soaking up every last ray, we’re also thinking of Florida. We’ve got good news about the aptly named Sunshine State, it isn’t just for snowbirds and retirees anymore. The Southern Florida real estate market has been trending up, attracting many of our own Hamptons and New York City residents to trade in apples for oranges with second (and third) homes down south. Industry pros are sharing their insights to what’s heating up this year. First stop: Palm Beach.

“Palm Beach is an island that is very different than any other community in Florida,” says Corcoran Group Sales Associate Dana Koch. “The aesthetic is so magnificent that people fall in love when they come here and never want to leave. A special enclave, it is meticulously maintained with many options to choose from including new and historic single-family homes, townhomes, and condominiums. Right now, the market is very healthy.”

A main attraction for first time Florida buyers, as many agents will tell you, is that there is no state income tax in Florida. For those with a high net worth, Mr. Koch says there’s a big tax savings, which allows a homeowner to fund their “cost to carry their home.” It’s a benefit New Yorkers can understand all too well.

As to what Hamptons and New York City homeowners are looking for when considering a purchase in Palm Beach, the lifestyle is a big draw. “Many Hamptons and NYC buyers are looking for quality new construction, manageable homes with greenspace and gardens, and large pieces of land to build,” Mr. Koch shares. “We have the most amazing weather, beaches, restaurants, and cultural activities available to our residents. Also, it is a quick 10-minute drive to Palm Beach International Airport. Living here is very convenient and safe!”

Candace Friis, Broker Associate with the Corcoran Group’s Delray Beach office, agrees that the Palm Beach market is strong, stating the area has edged out other markets like Miami, where it’s been slower thanks to a stronger US dollar and Miami’s dependence on foreign investment. With a healthy inventory available, Ms. Friis says now is a great time to buy in Florida.

“When looking to purchase a home in South Florida, buyers from NYC and the Hamptons are looking for a home and location that allows them to enjoy an ideal tropical lifestyle be it on the ocean, the Intracoastal or just near shops and fine dining; each dream is different,” Ms. Friis shares. “New York residents are seeking a getaway in a warm tropical climate reminiscent of the Caribbean yet with all of the conveniences of still being in the US.”

A large influx of year-round people in South Florida has been trending as well with homeowners making the area their primary hub. “South Florida has evolved considerably in the last 25 years,” says Christian Angle, Broker and Owner of Christian Angle Real Estate in Palm Beach. “It’s not just a winter getaway. There are thriving year-round businesses, school systems are establishing themselves, and you’ll quickly find Palm Beach has the same activities as the northeast.”

Mr. Angle goes on to describe the similarities of Palm Beach and the Hamptons, and how the two beach communities complement one another’s buyers. There’s a small town feel with a far reach, attracting visitors from around the globe, restaurants, phenomenal beaches, the arts and shopping embodied in that island lifestyle. For buyers looking to move to the Sunshine State, Mr. Angle says there’s always that conversation about relocating your life.

“Any time someone is going to relocate, they’re going to look at certain aspects,” explains Mr. Angle. “Will I enjoy the same lifestyle? Is there an ability to commute? You have to look at the broader spectrum, it’s not just about having fun. If you’re looking at it from a seasonal perspective, you look at it differently. We have all of those components in place.”

A driving factor behind such a move is convenience. The airport is just 10 minutes from town, making the journey from New York to Florida faster than a trip to the Hamptons in the summer, and a nearby hospital and other emergency services offering peace of mind when it comes to safety. Younger people and families are making the move to Palm Beach as well.

“You come to Palm Beach and fall in love with it because it is just so pretty,” says Cristina Condon, Senior Sales Associate with Sotheby’s International Realty. “It has developed a wonderful reputation for restaurants. We have the Kravis Center where there is ballet, opera, and Broadway shows. It’s very cosmopolitan and has a great community. It’s like a gated community without any gates.”

Ms. Condon shares that while in election years the real estate market is very slow, the following year often picks up right away. Though in 2017, there was a slower start until the second quarter began when there was a significant increase. “The total dollar volume is 65% higher compared to last year,” she says. “Not only did we sell a lot, but the prices increased as well.” This includes both residences and condominiums units, which has seen a 30% increase so far.

Further north of Palm Beach in the Jupiter Island area, Broker and Owner of Fenton & Lang, Adrian Reed, says the market has been steady for the past several years, though there is currently a low inventory. “Buyers actively looking for properties that are not currently available – not the worst problem in the world and encouraging for the future,” the broker says. “One thing is certain; the appeal of Jupiter Island is growing as Palm Beach County continues to urbanize. Jupiter Island is a unique community and its quality of life cannot be found anywhere else in south Florida.”

New Yorkers have a unique mindset when it comes to where they live, almost like it’s the center of the universe, though that has changed over the years. The connection with Florida for many families that summer in the Hamptons and winter in Florida often goes back for generations. Today, Mr. Fenton has noticed that in the modern day, it’s easier to become a Floridian regardless of where your business is located.

“More than any other factor, and there are some interesting ones including the modern ability to do business in real time but remotely, estate planning is driving this tectonic shift in thinking,” Mr. Fenton says. “When comparing estate and corporate tax rates between the two states one inevitably comes to the conclusion; how soon can we become Florida residents and move the company headquarters down too?”

For New Yorkers looking to move to Florida, education is essential. “The only difference between Florida residents and New Yorkers looking to buy in Palm Beach is that Floridians have a little more knowledge of the area,” Ms. Condon says. “Just about everyone is from New York now. You drive them around, show them different properties, and educate them. Everything you could want, they have. It’s been an amazing year, and things continue to pick up.”

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