Florida! Palm Beach, Miami, Jupiter Island, Coconut Grove: to this day, a whiff of glamour clings to those names. And for winter-weary New Yorkers, Florida is a perennially popular spot for a vacation or permanent home. If you’re interested in buying your own piece of the Sunshine State, read on for a snapshot of the market.
Are you a buyer considering perennially popular Miami-Dade? Jill Hertzberg, one of the well-known “Jills” of Coldwell Banker, approves. She says, “Miami is the best place you could ever be. We have the excitement of New York City combined with gorgeous warm weather. It’s a magical city.” And if you want to buy a piece of the magic, Jill has good news for you. She says, “Our current inventory is very strong. Sales have slowed down here. From 2011 on, into 2015-16 we had a very strong market, but prices are starting to plateau.” According to Jill, the hottest area is Miami Beach. Young people are looking in Midtown, while Coconut Grove’s new construction is considered very cool, and Aventura is taking off. She expects prices in the next year to plateau in Miami-Dade.
Most of Jill’s customers come from the Northeast, the New York corridor, but there are also many foreigners snapping up spots. Jill says as Florida is the gateway for South America, most of her foreign buyers come from Colombia or Brazil.
What about Jupiter Island? Adrian Reed of Fenton Lang Bruner & Associates says that “Jupiter Island is consistently referred to as unique. The lifestyle here may not appeal to everyone, but if it appeals to you, then you are not likely to find an acceptable alternative anywhere else in the state. Palm Beach County (to our south) is urbanizing at a rapid pace and the price paid is often in loss of intangibles like quality of life. Because of this, more people are interested to come and see what makes Jupiter Island unique. I always say: Jupiter Island is not better than any other community, it is just different.”
How is the market on Jupiter Island? Adrian says, “Inventory has been low in all categories of Jupiter Island real estate since the winter of 2014-2015. The high-end had most of the attention before and during this period, but our most affordable properties have also largely sold out since then.
“There has only been one sale north of $5M since the start of the year (our firm had both sides of the transaction) and this is a big change from past seasons. We are hearing very similar things from our peers in Palm Beach. My associates and I are working with qualified buyers but the prevailing attitude seems to be ‘wait and see.’ Some say they are concerned about an overvalued market and others say the presidential elections must get resolved before they move ahead. Without a major disruption of the general economy in the meantime, I believe our sales will take off again, possibly even at a frenzied pace as we have seen in the past after similar periods.”
As with Jill, most of Adrian’s out-of-town buyers are from the Northeast. He says, “Of course our connection to New York City and the Hamptons is a very strong one. We have a private jetport close by as well as the international airport down in West Palm Beach so connections are easy these days.”
Hamptons stalwart Farrell Building Company is bullish on Florida. Joe and Kristen Farrell started building a house for themselves down there and basically just kept going. Kristen Farrell says that they’re concentrating on Manalapan, which is between Delray Beach and Palm Beach, for now. “It’s a niche market, popular with younger buyers. Value is our specialty.” Farrell has a number of houses for sale in the area, ranging from $30 million (oceanfront, with views of the Intracoastal to the west) to $4 million. “It serves us well to be at all price points,” comments Kristen. And if you like the Farrell style in the Hamptons, you’ll feel right at home in one of their Florida houses. “In our Florida homes, we bring our signature Hamptons style and distinctive architectural flow,” says Kristen.
For those interested in Boca Raton, Carmen N. D’Angelo, Jr. of Premier Estate Properties is your man. Carmen is bullish on Boca. After all, it’s lower priced than Miami and centrally located with proximity to three major airports. He says, “Boca Raton is one of the top luxury marketplaces in the US, but inventory is low. We’re lacking new construction at luxury waterfront estates. However, the luxury market in Boca Raton is stable.”
Carmen thinks the hottest markets are in waterfront, luxury condos and country clubs. The most undervalued neighborhood, according to him, is Lighthouse Point, just south of Boca Raton. If he were in the market for a single family home, he would buy on the Intracoastal waterway. If you’re interested in condo living, Carmen recommends the 327 Royal Palm Building in Boca Raton.
Where do Carmen’s out of town buyers come from? All over, but mostly the Northeast. He says, “People buy in Boca from New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C, New England, Connecticut, Boston, Chicago. Approximately 10% are foreigners; mostly wealthy families looking for great private schools.”
And what does Carmen expect to happen to prices in the area? “Residential home values in Boca Raton will appreciate. Boca Raton has a great infrastructure zoning and beautifully maintained landscaping.”
To sum up real estate in general, noted real estate appraiser Jonathan Miller, of Miller Samuel, says, “The South Florida housing market has enjoyed a development boom over the past five years as it re-branded itself from distressed housing to luxury housing. Miami Beach continues to be dominated by cash buyers as development skews towards luxury product. Concerns about growing supply at the high end have slowed the pace of the market to a more sustainable level of growth. Over the past five years, the Palm Beach market is becoming competition for the Hamptons housing market. New Yorkers comprise a growing share of the high end market.”
Well, there you have it. While of course concerns about climate change and the economy remain important in Florida real estate, those in the industry aren’t worried. They know that Florida offers benefits unique in the United States, including beauty, warmth, and good transportation links. With prices remaining stable, now is a great time to buy.