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 www.southfloridahome.com 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
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
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.