When the coronavirus shutdown began in March, Vanessa Antonelli and Jordan Epstein of Manalapan, N.J., rented a home in Orlando for a 10-day hiatus with their 5-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son.
"We were quarantined and stayed for three months," said Ms. Antonelli, 38, an interior designer. “The pandemic has led us to reassess our way of life. It gave us time to think. "
In June they bought a home in Boca Raton despite refusing to move away from their close-knit New Jersey family. This new development is planned like a country club without golf.
And you are not alone.
New contracts for single-family homes and condominiums in five counties on Florida's south and central-west coasts continued to rise – after doubling in July, according to an August report by Douglas Elliman. In Palm Beach County, new single-family and condominium contracts were well above last year’s levels. The number of single-family contracts rose 268 percent to over $ 1 million. In Miami-Dade, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, much of the annual profit came from higher prices. Realtors say many of those moving to Florida are from northern cities.
For those on the fence, the pandemic "forced the issue, recognition of benefits not previously fully appreciated," and accelerated migration from high-tax areas like New York, Chicago, Boston and California to the Sunshine State said Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel, the real estate appraisal and accounting firm that produced the report.
The sale at Boca Bridges, the development where Ms. Antonelli and Mr. Epstein bought a house, was brisk. As of May 1, usually off-season Florida real estate, 102 homes have sold there for an average of $ 1.7 million, said Jill DiDonna, senior vice president of sales and marketing at GL Homes, the developer. When the church is ready it will have 504 houses.
"We saw unprecedented demand from across the country, but certainly from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut," said Ms. DiDonna. Buyers were looking for home offices, larger kitchens for more in-home dining, home gyms, and private pools. "The customer's changing product needs, as well as the desire to escape urban areas and tax breaks, created the perfect storm."
Florida residents pay no state income or estate taxes and receive tax exemptions of up to $ 50,000 for a primary residence and a 3 percent annual limit on home valuations, Ms. DiDonna said. According to worldpopulationreview.com, the state's population grew by around 343,000 to around 22 million last year.
Ms. Antonelli said she viewed the Florida lack of state income taxes as "a free gift with purchase." Even with a $ 800 homeowner club fee to cover lawn and sprinkler services and the clubhouse, "Florida life wouldn't get any more expensive for us," she said. She and her husband bought a five-bedroom, 5,900-square-meter “Veneto” model on “dream property” with a lake view for $ 1.4 million, 20 percent for a pool and other upgrades.
Ms. Antonelli and her family have temporarily moved to New Jersey, but plan to move to Florida this coming June if school is down and will rent a house there until their new home is ready in spring 2022. "Many of us the final decisions will depend on how everything goes with this school year and Covid in New Jersey," Ms. Antonelli said.
Florida has long been a favorite destination for northerners who have run out of taxes and cold weather. The appeal rose when the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 limited the total amount of state and local taxes that can be deducted on a federal income tax return to $ 10,000.
Despite a surge in coronavirus cases in Florida earlier this summer, the pandemic has increased the state's pull. Demand on the wealthier end of the market has increased. "Tampa and St. Pete are equally active in South Florida's major markets," said Jay Phillip Parker, executive director of Douglas Ellimans Florida Brokerage, with multi-million dollar sales in Snowball's Palm Beach and Miami.
Beyond zoom calls and virtual tours, shoppers who fled urban centers have driven south or even chartered planes to view real estate. Some who hibernated in Florida when the pandemic broke out stayed. Many rented units "have been sold to tenants," Parker said, noting that some statistics may be skewed because activity was at a normally quiet time.
"The pandemic is one of the many elements that has contributed to natural migration," added Parker. "We were called the 'sixth district'."
In Boca Raton, about 50 miles north of Miami, inventory is low and "the demand is outrageous," said Jared Ringel, an agent at Compass Florida. "There are now several listings for houses." Neighboring Delray Beach, as well as Parkland and Coral Springs, which sell condominium homes for $ 600,000 to $ 700,000, are also popular with out-of-state buyers looking for good schools and restaurants, said Chris Franciosa, another Compass agent .
Of the roughly 950 people who move to Florida every day, 45 percent travel to South Florida, said Craig Studnicky, executive director of ISG World, editor of the 2020 Miami Report. During the pandemic, shoppers are moving "a lot more toward sustainable living" than in vacation homes. Many northeastern buyers went looking in August because they were concerned about “Covid might return during the flu season. When they are quarantined, they want to be in fine weather. "
Single-family houses are “the soup du jour”, said Studnicky and made up 80 percent of transactions in residential areas in the first six months of 2020. "It's easier to create social distance in a house." However, interest in condominiums, which are currently a buyers' market, is increasing with population growth. Every third sale is near the coast between Coconut Grove and Fort Lauderdale.
Deena and Andrew Cromer moved to South Miami about a year ago. Though they loved living on Manhattan's Upper West Side, their 850-square-foot one-bedroom cooperative was cramped.
"Our apartment seemed to be shrinking," said Ms. Cromer, 34, with her daughter's cot in a bedroom alcove and a son on the way. "A two-bedroom apartment wouldn't solve our problem," she said. "Taxes ate up our paychecks."
Last August, the Cromers sold their cooperative for $ 900,000 and headed south. In December, they bought a five-bedroom, four-bath Mediterranean Sea on 4 acres near Coral Gables for $ 1.1 million. Mr. Cromer, a lawyer who grew up nearby, got a job with a local company. Ms. Cromer switched from fashion to real estate.
"You get a lot more for your money here," said Ms. Cromer, including enough space for the New York family to visit. “I was very happy to be here in warm weather during Covid. We're out all the time. "
It turned out that Mr. Epstein and Mrs. Antonelli didn't have to worry about leaving their New Jersey relatives. In July, Sue and Nick Antonelli, Ms. Antonelli's parents, paid $ 1.36 million to build a one-story contemporary building next door in Boca Bridges. Ms. Antonelli's sister and brother-in-law Alexis and Wes Hanas chose a five-bedroom home with a four-car garage in Lotus, a neighboring GL Homes project where homes cost an average of $ 970,000.
The entire clan plans to move when the new houses are ready. "If the quarantine had not taken place, we would not have done it," said Ms. Antonelli.
The coronavirus also significantly changed Tufan Uzan's life plans. In March, when a member of Mr. Uzan's software engineering group signed Covid-19, Uzan, 35, started working from his home in Medford, NY. After his salary was subsequently cut, he sold his three-bedroom home for $ 365,000.
In July, on a FaceTime tour with a leasing agent, Mr. Uzan rented a 1,000-square-foot bedroom for $ 3,050 a month in Society Las Olas, a new high-rise with a huge equipment deck in Fort Lauderdale. He plans to find a new job this fall, and he also plans to buy a home in Boca Raton, Del Ray, or Parkland until his 12 month lease expires.
"Everything is more attractive here," said Uzan. “I wanted to move here when I retired. Covid brought it up by 20 years. "
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