Fort Lauderdale leads Broward, Palm Beach metros in price growth

Miami has been pacing South Florida’s residential market for much of the past two years. But as Miami’s inventory tightens and prices go up, buyers are increasingly looking north for homes and investments. Fort Lauderdale seems to be the biggest beneficiary of that trend, with significant increases in the average sales prices of both condominiums and single-family homes, according to a report from Douglas Elliman Florida.

In Fort Lauderdale, the condo market and single-family market both performed well, with a 20.7 percent increase in the average sales price of a condo, and a 30.8 percent increase in the average sales price of a single-family home, both compared to the second quarter of 2011.

The city’s luxury market also performed well, seeing an 18.7 percent increase year-over-year for condos and a 30 percent jump for single-family homes.

“We clearly saw [improvement] in Fort Lauderdale across the board,” said Jonathan Miller, whose firm, Miller Samuel, prepared the report. “It seemed to be evenly distributed.”

But in all three metro areas: Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach, one common trend emerged: the condo market is showing the most strength — the result of several factors, Miller said.

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“I think it’s a heavy dose of foreign buyer influence,” he told The Real Deal. “People in higher-end demographics are looking at these locations, whether it’s Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton or Palm Beach.”

In Palm Beach, condos saw an 11.9 percent increase in their average sales price compared to the second quarter of 2011. But the single-family home sector saw a 29.4 percent drop in average sales prices, to $4.57 million. That may have been a reflection of increased activity in the low and mid-range sector. The discrepancy was even more pronounced in the luxury market (the upper 10 percent of sales), which saw a 42.1 percent decrease in average sales prices.

Boca Raton also saw marked improvement in its condo market, with a 10.8 percent increase in average sales prices, while average single-family home sales prices rose by 1.5 percent.

Boca, which has been working to improve the downtown area where most of its new condos are located, has been buoyed by retirees and second-home buyers, said Douglas Elliman Florida CEO Vanessa Grout.

The move toward condo purchases, particularly by foreigners in South America and Europe, is driven largely by convenience. “You move to a condo and you want to simplify your life,” she said. “So there’s certainly an attraction to living in a condo — it’s a more efficient lifestyle.”