PERSPECTIVES: South Florida Sees A Lifestyle Shift Among Affluent Buyers

South Florida continues to see an uptick in high-end home sales and more and ultra-high-net-worth individuals move to the area. (The Keyes Company)

This report is part of PERSPECTIVES, a comprehensive look into the world of prime residential real estate. Access the full report here to discover the latest trends and dynamics shaping the market.

The past year witnessed an uptick in luxury real estate values within the Miami area, a trend primarily fueled by the steady stream of affluent and ultra-affluent individuals flocking to South Florida. This influx has consistently elevated the market for high-end properties, underscoring the area’s appeal as a haven for upscale living.

“Five years ago, there were less than 100 sales over $10 million,” says Mike Pappas, CEO of Florida real estate firm Keyes Co. “Last year, there were close to 600.”

He noted a lifestyle shift among high-end buyers. Now the wealthy aren’t just investing in South Florida, he says, they’re making their homes there.

“We’ve seen the real wealthy play here,” Pappas says, “but we’ve never seen them move here and put down roots and make an impact on the market until recently.”

Several big luxury houses along a river in Florida.

2929 Marys Way, Palm Beach Gardens. Presented by The Keyes Company

One example: Citadel, the hedge fund run by billionaire Ken Griffin, moved its headquarters from Chicago to Miami in 2022. The Citadel migration shook the high-end luxury market and transformed the city, a playground for the wealthy, into a burgeoning financial center. “We used to be about hospitality,” Pappas says. “but now we’re building a new base and a new foundation of real business.”

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who went to high school in Miami, bought two properties—priced at $79 million and $68 million—on ultra-luxurious Indian Creek Island. The transactions were the third and fifth most-expensive purchases in South Florida in 2023.

A purchase by businessman Michael Cantanucci of New Country Motor Cars took the top spot. He paid $170 million for a 20,200-square-foot oceanfront home on 1.7 acres on Palm Beach island, making it the most expensive sale of the year.

Historically, buyers from the Northeast bought a second or third home in South Florida to escape the snow. Buyers also came from Central and South America, feeder markets that declined during Covid but recently have begun to pick up. Pappas says he’s starting to see Californians in the area too.

2929 Marys Way
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Presented by The Keyes Company

“We saw an acceleration of decision-making,” Pappas says of buyers who jumped into the market during the early years of the pandemic.

As buyers continue to make their South Florida homes more permanent residences, the sun and fun hospitality hub has turned into a financial and business hub. “The dream of South Florida is coming true,” says Pappas, who has been selling homes in the area for decades. “Those original pioneers would be smiling if they looked down to see what they started to create has now blossomed into an international city.”

Overall, greater Miami showed an 8.1% year-over-year rise in the median sales price ($1.67 million) of single-family homes in the fourth quarter of 2023. Sales increased 17.6% after overcoming a sharp 21% first-quarter drop.

Condos and townhomes showed a 16.9% dip in fourth-quarter sales, largely due to scant inventory, but posted a median price increase of 4.8% to $1.65 million. In upscale Palm Beach, condo sales were up 50%, with the median price rising 6.6% to $1.8 million.


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