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Wealthy COVID refugees flood Palm Beach real estate market

Palm Beach’s real estate market remains hot in the pandemic, as wealthy New Yorkers flee to Florida and Wall Street firms expand operations in Florida.

‘Anyone with money is fleeing New York and coming here,’ Guy Clark, an agent with Douglas Elliman Real Estate, told Bloomberg on Tuesday. ‘It’s a seller’s market like I’ve never experienced.’ 

Palm Beach sales of ultra-luxury homes of more than $20 million doubled in 2020 from the year before, up to 20 from 10 in 2019. 

Luxury home sales of more than $1 million were up 167 percent in November from the year before, according to the MIAMI Association of Realtors.

Home transactions in Palm Beach hit a seven-year high in the third quarter. Brokers say that demand from wealthy New Yorkers is fueling a buying frenzy

Palm Beach's real estate market remains hot in the pandemic, as wealthy New Yorkers flee to Florida and Wall Street firms expand operations in Florida

Palm Beach’s real estate market remains hot in the pandemic, as wealthy New Yorkers flee to Florida and Wall Street firms expand operations in Florida

‘Remote work, home schooling, record-low mortgage rates, low inventory and purchases from tax-burdened Northeastern home buyers are some of the factors boosting Palm Beach real estate,’ JTHS-MIAMI President David Abernathy said in a statement last month.

Job relocation has driven some of the migration, as hedge funds and other Wall Street firms open or expand offices in south Florida, which has no state income tax. 

Billionaire Carl Icahn recently decided to relocate his asset-management firm from Manhattan to Florida, and Ken Griffin’s Citadel Group reportedly plans to open an office in Miami next year. 

Paul Singer is also moving the headquarters of his $41 billion hedge fund, Elliott Management, from Midtown Manhattan to West Palm.

The exodus from New York, where crime has soared and pandemic restrictions have sucked much of the joy out of big city life, is fueling the white-hot real estate market in places like Palm Beach, as well as other wealthy enclaves such as Aspen and the Hamptons.

This stately seven-bedroom mansion sold for $20.2 million last month in Palm Beach, where sales of homes more than $20 million doubled last year

This stately seven-bedroom mansion sold for $20.2 million last month in Palm Beach, where sales of homes more than $20 million doubled last year

This 10-bedroom mansion in Palm Beach sold for $13.7 million in October

This 10-bedroom mansion in Palm Beach sold for $13.7 million in October

Another seven-bedroom home sold for $11.3 million in October, nearly double what it last sold for in 2011

Another seven-bedroom home sold for $11.3 million in October, nearly double what it last sold for in 2011 

For November, total home sales in Palm Beach County jumped 32.3 percent from the year before, from 2,124 to 2,810. 

Single-family homes priced between $400,000 and $600,000 surged 45.7 percent year-over-year, to 421 transactions in November 2020. 

Existing condo sales priced in the same price range increased 72.9 percent, to 102 transactions, while luxury condo sales of more than $1 million jumped 92 percent, according to the local realty association.

The lack of new listings has driven home-seekers in Palm Beach to desperation and spurred furious bidding wars when homes do come on the market.

“We’ve gone from anxiety buying to there’s no inventory and what am I going do?” Liza Pulitzer, senior associate at Brown Harris Stevens, told Bloomberg. “We’ve even had people buy an interim house when they couldn’t find a rental.” 

Meanwhile, the Manhattan luxury real estate market has crashed as wealthy flee the city

Meanwhile, the Manhattan luxury real estate market has crashed as wealthy flee the city

Artist Camilla Webster told the outlet she has received several notes on her front door begging her to sell her first-floor condominium with outdoor space. 

As winter descended and COVID-19 cases began to soar once again, the rental market in Palm Beach also went into overdrive, flooded with Northeasterners escaping for the season.

Even the hotels are full in Palm Beach, despite the lack of travel in the pandemic, with rooms being booked by the month.

Governor Ron DeSantis said on Tuesday that people are fleeing to Florida because they are sick of ‘draconian lockdowns’ in other states. 

‘If you look at new home builds, new home starts, if you look at home sales, prices going up. I mean, it’s pretty clear that people are viewing Florida as a landing pad,’ DeSantis said in a Fox News interview. 

‘Taxes has been one thing, but I really do think these lockdowns have driven some people to Florida who just had enough with these draconian, ineffective restrictions.’  


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