As Miami’s construction boom continues to swallow up the city’s prime, oceanfront lots, investment dollars are spilling over into nearby beach cities, including Fort Lauderdale. Located 48 kilometres to the north, the city of 172,000 residents has long been viewed as a stepsister to its flashier southern neighbour, but possesses its own, quieter charm and is popular among boating enthusiasts for its 266 kilometres of navigable waterways.“Fort Lauderdale is the Venice of the Americas,” says
“Fort Lauderdale is the Venice of the Americas,” says One Sotheby’s president, Daniel de la Vega. “It’s a yacht-mans paradise and offers a little more of a relaxed lifestyle as opposed to Miami without compromising on service and amenities.” The city has the feel of a smaller beach town, de la Vega says, with dining, shopping and entertainment venues that are easily accessible.
Real estate brokers also say the city has strong economic fundamentals, including robust job growth and an influx of new residents. The unemployment rate in Broward County, which includes Fort Lauderdale, was 4.8 percent in November 2014 according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, compared with the national rate of 5.8 percent. Moreover, agents say domestic and foreign property investors are seeking alternatives to high prices in primary real estate markets such as New York, San Francisco and, now, Miami. Beachfront lots are still available in Fort Lauderdale and the land is cheaper, which makes for relatively good deals—at least for now. “We believe that condominiums in Broward County are undervalued in price when compared to Miami-Dade (County),” says Matthew J. Allen, COO at Related Group. His company recently launched Auberge Beach Residences and Spa, a 171-unit oceanfront condominium complex. “The average price per square foot on Miami Beach is over US$2,000 compared to Fort Lauderdale, which is around US$850, thus making Fort Lauderdale truly an incredible value to buyers.”
Prices at Auberge Beach Residences and Spa range from US$1.5 to US$8 million. The project’s 22-storey south structure will feature 115 units, while the 17-storey north structure will feature a curved façade of cascading terraces and 56 larger residences, some with private pools. Developers also plan to create a resort-like ambience with an indoor-outdoor lounge and restaurant, a spa, swimming pools and gardens at the ground level connecting to the beach.
A number of other beachfront projects are also in the pipeline, including a 23-storey Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences, the Paramount Fort Lauderdale Beach and the Gale Boutique Hotel and Residences, which will boast 128 condominiums, 96 hotel rooms and suites and pre-construction prices from the low US$400,000s to over US$1.2 million. Daniel de la Vega says new build luxury condominiums in Fort Lauderdale generally start at around US$1 million, while single-family homes range depending on the seaside and city neighbourhood from about US$1.3 million to US$32 million.
• In the second quarter of 2015, luxury condo price indicators posted sharp gains. The median sales price of luxury condo sales jumped 18.2 percent to US$1,288,500 from the prior year quarter.
• Luxury single-family median sales price declined 21.5 percent to US$1,649,000 as average square footage fell 28.1 percent to US$3,735 over the same period.
• Second quarter listing inventory continued to rise as sellers have been pulled into the market by rising prices. Condo inventory climbed 12.6 percent to 1,250 listings and single-family inventory rose 7.1 percent to 968 listing respectively from the prior year quarter.
As a popular vacation destination, the second home market is strong and demand Fort Lauderdale’s most coveted neighbourhoods include Harbour Beach, Rio Vista, Coral Ridge Country Club and Las Olas Isles. The upscale area of East Las Olas has experienced a particularly large bump in prices this year. In the second quarter of 2015 the price per square foot of condos grew from US$442 to US$574, up 23 percent from the previous year. Fort Lauderdale’s condo market as a whole also experienced a seven percent bump for the average price per square foot of a unit during the first half of this year, from US$512 to US$550. In the single-family home market, neighbourhoods like Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Hillsboro Beach and Southwest Ranches are seeing double-digit growth in prices per square foot for waterfront homes. One Sotheby’s is currently listing 1600 Ponce De Leon Dr, a sprawling Georgina-style home in Rio Vista. The property boasts over 16,000sf of living space with eight bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, two kitchens, 500 feet of water frontage with deep-water dockage and is listed for US$32 million. Fort Lauderdale may not have the same urban appeal as Miami in terms of the art and design district, the international flair and the growing downtown core; but for a second-home destination that offers great beaches, boating and good value, it might be the next best thing. “Prices are still very favourable in Fort Lauderdale,” says de la Vega. “It’s the same beach, it’s the same developers, it’s the same finishes at a fraction of the price.”
Ft Lauderdale at a Glance
Fort Lauderdale is known as the ‘yachting capital of the world’. The area is home to over 40,000 yachts and more than 483 kilometres of navigable inland waterways that wind through a variety of neighbourhoods. The 56th fort Lauderdale international boat show will take place on 5 to 9 November 2015
This story was first published in Palace Magazine