The pandemic shuffle sees influx of Florida Gold Coast agents in The Thousand top 20

Lower taxes, rational pandemic policy and a higher quality of life are bringing a huge influx of wealthy buyers into Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami area, moving more Florida agents into the top 20 of RealTrends The Thousand.

Christian Angle turned the COVID-19 pandemic into a remarkably successful sales year.

“Luxury buyers from New York, New England and California [many who were previously] on the sidelines made the move to Florida last year,” says Angle, broker-president of Christian Angle Real Estate in Palm Beach, Florida. “Sales went through the roof, as the pandemic opened a floodgate of buyers.”

In 2020, Angle posted 89 transactions totaling $738.9 million to rank No. 2 by sales volume in 2021 RealTrends + Tom Ferry The Thousand, the annual, national awards ranking sponsored by RealTrends—the Trusted Source—and Tom Ferry International coaching, advertised in The Wall Street Journal. Designees are recognized as the top .07% of more than 1.4 million licensed Realtors® nationwide.

Angle was far from the only top producer on Florida’s Gold Coast, which stretches from northern Palm Beach County south to Miami and the Florida Keys. Seven of The Thousand top agents by sales volume serve the coastal metropolitan area, compared with only two the prior year.

Dana Koch, sales associate with Corcoran Group Palm Beach, handled 48 transactions totaling $450 million last year, and ranked No. 9 by sales volume on The Thousand “We’re seeing insatiable demand for luxury homes from the Northeast, Illinois, Michigan and California,” says Koch. “The pandemic has created a boom for homes in Palm Beach County, from Jupiter to Boca Raton.  The key drivers in the migration to South Florida are lower taxes and a higher quality of life.”

In the Town of Palm Beach, homes that previously sold in the $2 to $3 million range, have risen to $5 to $6 million, says Koch. “Very few places in Florida have the appeal of Palm Beach, a pristine, manicured oceanfront community fine restaurants, high-end shopping on Worth Avenue and cultural amenities.”

Drawing affluent executives

In recent years, South Florida has become a magnet for affluent executives and professionals in financial services, technology and other fields.  For instance, billionaire Carl Icahn moved his firm’s headquarters from New York to Sunny Isles Beach. Paul Singer, founder of hedge fund Elliott Management, relocated the firm’s headquarters from Manhattan to West Palm Beach last year, and Daniel Loeb, CEO of hedge fund Third Point, recently purchased a $20 million home in Miami Beach.

“Palm Beach County is luring a steady stream of financial service firms out of Boston, Connecticut, New York and several cities in California – a trend that has accelerated in the past year,” said Kelly Smallridge, president and CEO, Business Development Board (BDB) of Palm Beach County. “At a time when talented financial professionals can work from anywhere, moving to ‘Wall Street South’ is a natural choice.”

Several years ago, the BDB launched “Behind the Gates” to approach CEOs who have second homes in Palm Beach County. “We’ve had remarkable success in connecting with these executives, resulting in a number of new job-creating relocations and expansions,” Smallridge said.  

In 2020, Palm Beach County welcomed 11,000 people with a new net income gain flow of $3.4 billion — far exceeding the gains of any other U.S. county studied by location analytics company Unacast.  The company’s March 2021 report found 41% of inbound moves were from the New York City area, including 70,000 high-net-worth individuals. “Southeast Florida is unlike any other region we have studied in the COVID era,” said the report. “Population growth and new wealth is the new norm.”

Moving to Miami Beach

Moving south on Florida’s Gold Coast, Miami Beach was another red-hot market for luxury homes last year. “When COVID hit, we were expecting a slow year, but sales really took off,” said Dora Puig, founder and principal broker, Luxe Living Realty, Miami Beach. In 2020, she compiled 47 transactions totaling $387 million, ranking No. 13 by sales volume on The Thousand.

“First, everyone wanted single-family homes on the water, but now that inventory has dwindled, waterfront boutique condos are in demand,” said Puig.  Buyers are coming from New York, New Jersey and Chicago.  “Although South Florida traditionally is a global market, we’ve seen very few international sales in recent years,” she added.  “Most buyers are purchasing primary homes now, rather than vacation residences.”

Puig said sellers who own multiple properties are cashing out to maximize returns. “Prices are 25% to 50% higher than before the pandemic, and much of the residential luxury market in Miami-Dade County has been absorbed.”

Along with Puig and Koch, Angle expects 2021 to be another strong sales year for South Florida. “Although waterfront inventory in Palm Beach County is the lowest in more than 20 years, resourceful brokers can uncover new opportunities for buyers. We continue to see a strong stream of inquiries about living in our wonderful communities.”

Check out the entire RealTrends + Tom Ferry The Thousand and America’s Best Real Estate Professionals.