New Yorkers back to buying in the Sunshine State
By Orlando Lee Rodriguez
For many a New Yorker with origins in the Mediterranean, the Caribbean or South America, the southern portion of Florida, particularly Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, have offered an opportunity to continue living in the United States while enjoying a familiar climate and community.
This, of course, is in addition to the multitudes of New York-bred retirees whose voices make places like Fort Lauderdale sound like pre-hipster Brooklyn.
Now while everybody from Flatbush to Parkchester knows at least one person who has packed up for Florida in recent years, it is those coming from chic neighborhoods of Manhattan or tony suburbs like Scarsdale, Greenwich and Bronxville who are making the second home market in South Florida sizzle.
“In the last 18 months I have never seen it stronger than this and I’ve been doing this for 23 years here,” said Randy Ely, a broker with the Corcoran Group in Palm Beach County. “I’ve never seen more of an influx of New York-Connecticut buyers coming down here and buying second homes.”
“It’s incredible how many buyers are showing up right now, he said.”
The type of buyer, brokers said, has changed from the over 55 crowd. The young and hip also want to be able to enjoy the sun after daylight savings time kicks in.
“The type of New Yorkers that used to buy in Miami were mostly retirees looking to get away from the cold weather in the wintertime,” said Jacky Teplitzky a managing director at Douglas Elliman who specializes in sales in both the New York and Miami markets. “Now, New Yorkers are looking at Miami like they are looking in the Hamptons.”
With a Miami plane trip taking nearly the same exact time as a ride to East Hampton or Amagansett, it is logical that a snowbird used to catching a Friday afternoon Jitney on Lexington Avenue would find a ride from LaGuardia to Miami International worth its weight in a second mortgage.
“Because it is more of a second home market, your amenities are usually much more extravagant than what you are going to find in New York,” said Teplitzky. “So [they will have] two swimming pools, tennis courts, a parking space or the kind of spa that you would find in a five star hotel. There is a lot of pampering going around.”
Pampering, or any versions of it, are what anyone who does business in New York may need after a few weeks of working the angles at a breakneck pace.
During the warmer months, when the days are longer, 16-hour days are a bit easier to handle. It is those winter months, with the short days and cold nights that have many a New Yorker yearning for the warmth.
“It’s more the people who are trying to escape the cold,” said Stephan Cotton broker for LXR Realty in Florida. “In Manhattan, you have a lot of companies and a lot of people with a lot of high stress, high pressure jobs. When they are looking for a break, they want the best in service because their time is the most important thing for them. It’s about having a place where they can get in the sun.”
Cotton, who handles sales at 1000 Ocean, a luxury resort community that features condos and villas on beachfront property, said that New Yorkers are by far the largest group of his customer base.
“They call it the sixth borough of New York because so many people are familiar with Boca Raton. It has a lot of people from Manhattan but also a lot of people who are looking for services and pampering,” he said.
Cotton says that buyers tend to prefer the retail services as well as the diverse population that South Florida has to offer over destinations in the Caribbean.
With an abundance of luxury shopping that has grown over the years beyond solely the Miracle Mile of Coconut Grove, New Yorkers used to the boutique stores of Madison Avenue will find, the same sort of chic fashions in the South Florida luxury malls, perfect for a night on the town on Miami Beach.
“The Caribbean is too laid back for the typical fast-paced person living and working in New York,” Cotton said. “[Here] there is the same type of shopping and the same type of people. They feel very at home when they leave Manhattan.”
Although the “ghost towers” once found along Brickell Avenue in Miami have long since filled, shoppers still in the market for a South Florida condo can find good space for their money, especially when comparing prices with what you would find in Manhattan, The Hamptons or Martha’s Vineyard.
“For a deluxe building in New York you have to pay $5,000 a square foot,” said Teplitzky. “For the most deluxe building in Miami, you are going to be at $3,000 per square foot.”
At those sort of prices, shoppers can expect to spread out in larger spaces, making them perfect for getaway jaunts during Christmas, on Valentine’s Day or just for a long winter weekend. With interest rates still at record lows and prices not yet fully recovered, it may just be the time to jump in the warm waters of Biscayne Bay a few weeks out of the year.
“You get more for your money,” said Teplitzky “Yet you are only two-and-a-half hours from New York.”
Brokers say that the perception that you can still pick up property pretty cheaply has helped to drive the market, particularly since interest rates are still low. Inventory is also beginning to get tighter than it has been in recent years, as buyers continue to line up to pick up what they can get their hands on.
Those who have been holding out have also changed their tune, Ely said, no longer waiting for the market to return to pre-2008 levels.
“Sellers have gotten to the point that they realize they are not going to get the numbers they remember from 2005 to 2006,” Ely said. “But they are going to get decent numbers and they are ready to move on. They are not holding out anymore.”