The Real Deal Miami

Snowbirds have started flying down to buy

By Alexander Britell | November 15, 2010 03:59PM

It’s that time of year again, when the temperature falls and the northern snowbirds come down South to roost.

Brokers say they’re seeing increased movement in the snowbird sector early on in the season especially from Canadian buyers, with the season already a few weeks underway.

“We’re certainly seeing increased activity, with more buyers coming through,” said Bill Yahn, the Corcoran Group’s regional senior vice president for South Florida. “It’s manifesting itself in all the markets we serve.”

While snowbirds — Northerners who have second homes or long-term vacations in Florida for the winter — tend to look for homes in a fairly broad range of prices, right now it’s the higher end that’s seeing the most interest.

The Snowbird season typically lasts from the end of October through the beginning of spring. This year, brokers say, the activity is up from where it was at the same point last year.

Yahn said the sweet spot for snowbirds so far this year was between $2 million and $5 million.

Betsey Hall, an associate with Fite Shavell in Palm Beach, said she was mostly seeing buyers in the $5 million range and above.

“There’s a lot of snowbird activity,” said Lloyd Feinberg, an associate with Coldwell Banker who handles transactions in a snowbird stronghold, Hollywood.

Feinberg said that one demographic that has been particularly strong is Canadian buyers, who wield a strong Canadian dollar and are drawn to the significantly warmer climate.

“I’m in Southern Broward, where we have a [traditionally] large Canadian influence, and the Canadian dollar is strong again and bringing activity.”

Hall agreed.

“Their dollar is strong, and they think they can pick up some big opportunities,” she said.

While most brokers say their clients come from all over the northeastern United States, like New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, leading firms like Corcoran to use special measures to incentivize sales for prospective buyers everywhere.

Yahn said that when an agent in New York sends a buyer down to Florida, the referral fee he or she earns is 100 percent theirs, meaning the company does not take any percentage of the fee.

According to Feinberg, they are looking to the condo market as opposed to single-family homes.