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South Florida Market…is HOT

By Dawn Watson - August 18, 2020

A popular destination for sun worshippers and second homeowners, the Florida real estate market continues to hold steady, despite COVID-19. Offering a respite from the coming cold weather up north, and healthy tax benefits for residents, the Sunshine State is literally and figuratively a hot spot for buyers, according to Florida Realtors. The organization, which tracks market data across the state, shows increasing sales prices and closings year to date, up through the end of June, compared to the same time period in 2019.

Broad Strokes
Across the state, the median sales price, year to date for the first six months of 2020, is up 5.8 percent — from $270,000 in June 2019 to $275,000 in 2020. The average sales price, again across the state through the end of June, is $367,369 — a 5.7-percent rise from the same period in 2019, which posted an average sale price of $353,435.
And though the year-to-date dollar volume is slightly down overall, the numbers look promising, as June 2020 alone brought in $10.6 billion compared to $9.6 billion in June 2019 — a billion-dollar, 10.2-percent rise. Additionally, the month saw 962 closed sales over a million dollars across the state, a 17.5-percent gain year over year.
But perhaps the most interesting numbers to pay attention to are the pending sales — which point to positive signs of recovery, showing a 23.2-percent increase year over year in June 2020, from 34,779 this year from 28,221 in June 2019. Especially so as the inventory is down by a quarter — from 90,193 homes on the market at the end of June 2019 to only 65,663 statewide in June 2020 — all very positive signs of recovery.

Luxury Market Snapshots
Despite the current challenges that the pandemic has presented, the top level of the real estate marketplace continues to thrive, reports Fortune International Group President and CEO, Edgardo Defortuna, who is currently marketing the new Ritz-Carlton Residences development in Sunny Isles Beach. Buyers in the luxury price range have already been transacting, and are poised to acquire more, he says, adding that Miami, in particular, consistently generates global interest.
“It is clear that the South Florida real estate market is one of the most attractive in the country and provides a great value for the buyer/investor,” he says, adding that the area’s natural beauty and excellent climate — combined with the great tax benefits of living in Florida — have been key drivers. “Savvy buyers have been very active over the course of the past few months because they know there are opportunities today that will not be available in the near future.”

Palm Beach
One of the more popular destinations for luxury is Palm Beach, says Gary Pohrer of Douglas Elliman, who reports that buyers have been flocking to the state from all over the country.
“The Florida real estate market has never been hotter,” he says. “We have a lot of people from various parts of the country looking and buying not only for the traditional reasons of a better tax situation and lifestyle, but as an escape from city life in case the pandemic is more long term.”
Luxury sales have skyrocketed at this exclusive enclave, skewing average prices higher than they’ve been in half a dozen years, according to data collected by The Corcoran Group. The number of single-family closed transactions rose by 21 percent and the median price increased to $7 million, a 36-percent jump.
Dana Koch at Corcoran Group Palm Beach reports that the pandemic plays a part in the strong demand, as buyers are interested in security and serenity right now.
“What is going on here is unprecedented. Palm Beach is one of the most in demand real estate markets in the country,” he says. “People are prioritizing their safety, security, and mental/physical health above anything else which makes Palm Beach the perfect match.”
Busy agents at brokerages across the board are noting the strong interest and brisk sales, including Keith Vanderlaan of Sotheby’s International Realty in Palm Beach. He adds that there are a multitude of reasons why buyers want to be here — any time.
“The Florida real estate market is very strong for a variety of reasons, including, the very favorable tax laws for Florida residents,” he says. “Those who are looking for outdoor space and activities will find it all in Florida. Palm Beach, in particular, offers a buyer everything that they could wish for with beautiful weather, magnificent beaches, boating, golf, surfing, water sports, fine dining and shopping and some spectacular cultural offerings.
For the higher end, the Elliman Report reports a median price of $14 million for luxury sales, a 69.5-percent year over year increase. The average luxury price was up as well, to $16.2 million — a 51.7-percent leap from the same period in 2019.
One such major purchase is that of the $51.4 million waterfront at 1744 South Ocean Boulevard, represented by Ashley McIntosh, Chris Leavitt and Gary Pohrer of Douglas Elliman. The 2-acre property, which sold for only about $8 million less than ask, includes an 18,432-square-foot custom mansion built in 2012 with seven bedrooms and 14 baths, frontage with a 200-foot dock, pool, tennis and expansive grounds.
Another set of headline makers for Palm Beach includes a single-day $43 million oceanfront buy in July at 1075 North Ocean Boulevard by rocker Jon Bon Jovi and his shedding of another, 230 North Ocean Boulevard in Palm Beach, for $19.8 million.
The musician purchased his new 10,232-square-foot oceanfront Mediterranean-style Florida home, which comes with seven bedrooms, plus “rich finishes, beautiful marble and hardwood floors, stunning limed cypress coffered ceiling details, and intricate millwork throughout,” through Christian Angle of Angle Real Estate. The broker also handled the sale of the rocker’s property 3 miles down the shore, which features a courtyard, pool, cabana, temperature controlled-wine cellar, two elevators a library and ocean views from most rooms.

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Wellington
Median sale prices have leapt here year over year for the fifteenth straight quarter, as did luxury listing inventory, according to Douglas Elliman.
Adding to the stable, a new luxury condo development is coming to town. The Coach House has recently launched pre-construction sales for a four-story, 34-unit building at 3410 South Shore Boulevard.
Sited at the old Players Club and adjacent to the Equestrian Preserve, the 5.5-acre property is aimed at the horsey set, particularly high profile polo players and equestrians who are looking to downsize. Rumored buyers include polo players Ignacio “Nacho” Figueras and Grant Ganzi.
The project, which is backed by BlackWatch Polo Team owner Neil Hirsch, offers condos ranging from $2.5 million up to $6.5 million and is represented by Douglas Elliman’s CMG Group.

Miami and Miami Beach
Prices are on the rise even as the number of transactions has declined and inventory has disappeared. According to the Elliman Report for the second quarter, the region saw a year over year median price increase — now $2.85 million, an 11.8-percent uptick. But, the same report noted that the number of actual closed transactions fell dramatically — to only 43 closed luxury deals in the entire quarter, a 50.6 percent decrease since the same time period in 2019, as owners held onto property during the early months of the pandemic.
One of the more notable bigger-ticket recent sales is that of the foreclosure purchase of rapper Bryan “Birdman” Williams’ Miami Beach home by entrepreneur/investor Teddy Truchot. The Palm Island waterfront property, formerly owned by Rockstar Energy Drinks founder Russell Weiner, is replete with many of Birdman’s own style touches including a glitzy golden toilet and onyx bar. The $10.85 million sale, brokered by Lourdes Alatriste of Engel & Völkers, included a 20,000-square-foot mansion and two pools.

Coral Gables
The market has paused a bit in this nearby resort area, but that hasn’t stopped power couple Lee Scott Millstein and Sylvie Millstein from buying their dream home. Said to be relocating from New York, the Cerberus Global Investments President and Hellessy founding fashion designer recently plunked down $22 million for a waterfront mansion in Gables Estates.
Located at 90 Leucadendra Drive, the property includes 255 feet of ocean frontage, a 160-foot dock, pool and a 10,346-square-foot Balinese-inspired manse with rooftop deck, wine cellar, home theater, game room and more. Listed by Michael Martinez of One Sotheby’s International Realty and seller Adriana De Castro, the buyers were represented by Angel Nicolas and Seth Feuer of Compass.

Naples
On the west coast, a record-busting $54 million compound has hit the market in this up-and-coming area. The property, which comprises 2.5 acres and two bay front lots in the Port Royal neighborhood, features private access to Naples Beach.
Represented by William Raveis, the exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate, the beach-to-bay compound at 4444 and 4455 Gordon Drive comes with all the regular luxury trimmings and then some. Included are a four-bedroom main house, three-bedroom spare bungalow, a two-bedroom carriage house, a one-bedroom guesthouse, a 60-foot deep-water dock, heated pool, koi ponds, extraordinary Gulf of Mexico views and eligibility for Port Royal Club membership.

Ch-Ch-Changes
Ericka Wifkowski, formerly of Cushman & Wakefield, has launched the Witko Group in Miami. The commercial real estate brokerage will specialize in representing owners, landlords and tenants across South Florida. Offering a cloud-based technology platform, the firm will assist clients in accessing real-time reports, updates and contracts while providing safe distances and a touch-free environment.
James Schnars has been appointed to the position of Vice President of Marketing for John R. Wood Properties. His new leadership responsibilities include oversight of marketing, public relations, brand management, communications and event planning. The brokerage boasts 650 associates in 17 real estate offices from Marco Island to Sanibel/Captiva Islands.

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