Friday, September 14, 2012

Who are the Richest Real Estate Buyers in South Florida?

Southeast Florida offers some of the worlds most luxurious real estate. A boat ride along the waterways of Fort Lauderdale offers a dazzling view of billions of dollars of waterfront mansions. The market for very high end condominiums in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties is stronger than ever. Who are the people who can afford these properties and where are they coming from?

As the worlds economies continue to shift, and a wider gap between the uber-rich and the rest of us gets bigger by the day. The super rich seek not just the best of the best in real estate, but seek safe havens, not just for their money, but for their lives.

Miami has always been a haven for rich South Americans seeking stability and security in an envelope of luxury.

More recently, South Florida has become a magnet for newly rich Russians, particularly in coastal areas of northern Dade County.

Europeans, particularly the British and French who may have once gone to the coast of Spain, are now buying in South Florida where again, stability and security is key.

If you look at some of my vintage postcards of Fort Lauderdale from the 1940's, at  the marinas show what was then luxury yachts, usually owned by captains of industry at the time. Today these look like toy boats compared to the mega-yachts docked cheek to jowl along every suitable waterway in the city.

Manned with an iphone, I recently took clients on my boat and googled the names of jaw dropping yachts we saw. The co-founder of Microsoft, Steven Spielberg, and Dr. Ruth were among the lucky owners of yachts that were close to cruise ship size. 

While waterfront homes on the Las Olas Isles are pricey by most standards, often the yacht in back is valued many times higher than the real estate. Owners of many of these homes are rarely seen, because they are rarely in town. They may spend a few weeks, but otherwise it is the yacht crew using the house during provisioning stops between the Northeast and the Caribbean.

Palm Beach has always been the home of old money, and still is. Quite, dignified money.

Fort lauderdale, because of it's 144 miles of waterways and Port Everglades, is home to new money yacht owners. One house on the Las Olas Isles has a 14 car garage and a 4 million yacht in back, and is the Consulate of Mali. Mali, by the way, is one of the poorest countries in Africa. I question why they would need a Consulate in Fort Lauderdale?

Growing up in Fort Lauderdale, of course I was exposed to what were then, very rich people. A family friend married a man who inherited Gieco Insurance. They had probably the largest house around with an indoor pool, a grand entry staircase, and all built of pink brick. For the time, that was rich. By todays standards? Charming.

There are plenty of successful plumbers living in waterfront McMansions in Fort Lauderdale living the good life. There are also plenty of outrageously rich people. Sort of hard to tell who is who really.

This has always been a town where if you had enough money, it didn't matter how you got it, you could be a socialite. As archaic as that term may sound, being one was a very big deal for a long time in Fort Lauderdale. I could write a book about the rising stars of the newly rich who came to town and became not who they were, but who they wanted to be, and no one questioned it.

While I would like to say that I cater to the ultra-rich in my real estate business, the truth is, I don't. Which is not to say that if you are one, that I wouldn't like to sell you some major real estate.

It is more likely I find myself working with people whose wherewithal I can relate to. I think my feet are just to firmly planted on terra firma to appeal to that stratosphere.

But, if you want buy some real estate in the same town as some if the richest folk on earth, I will take you on my boat and show you how more than a few of them are living. No Reason why you shouldn't be among them. 

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