West Palm Beach is now among the top 10 destinations in the U.S. for millionaires looking for a second home. We asked area real estate brokers: What percentage of your clients are second-home buyers? How long does the “season” last for them? And where are their primary residences?
“Prior to the pandemic, most of my clients were seasonal. Today, about 50% of my clients are seasonal residents, often intending to make West Palm Beach or Palm Beach their primary residence in the future. Typically, it depends on if they are retired or still working. The explosion of ‘Wall Street South’ has accelerated younger families moving here as primary residents. However, many are now ‘marking their spot’ in anticipation of moving here when their offices are completed and schools have room. For clients using Palm Beach as a winter escape, the season typically begins just before Thanksgiving or Christmas and runs through Easter and/or Passover. If buyers are still working, they frequently commute back and forth to New York City and the suburbs (including Connecticut and New Jersey), many from Washington, D.C., Boston and Philadelphia for a 3- to 4-day work week and a 4-day Palm Beach weekend. In fact, my most expensive West Palm Beach sales have been Florida seasonal residents hailing from New York, Connecticut and Washington, D.C. In the summer they all escape to the Hamptons, Litchfield, Greenwich, the Jersey Shore, Aspen and, of course, Europe. That’s when the traffic dies down and you can get into restaurants.”
The Corcoran Group
“Over half of our clients are second-home buyers in Palm Beach. They spend roughly three to six months here during the season to enjoy the South Florida lifestyle and to get away from the cold weather. Many of these buyers come from the northeast and have the best of all worlds as they move between Palm Beach in the winter and places like the Hamptons, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod, Maine and Aspen in the summer. Their primary residences are normally in high-tax states like New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, California and Illinois. People are being proactive and thinking ahead because they know that eventually, they want to make Palm Beach their primary residence.”
One Sotheby’s International Realty
“Palm Beach has evolved away from being primarily a resort vacation destination. The relocation of corporate offices to our area and remote work have dramatically changed ownership from vacation homes to full-time and/or primary residency. Most of my clients are seasonal homeowners coming in from the northeast, Mid-Atlantic Coast, Chicago and California. However, given the tax benefits of being a Florida resident, 95% end up designating their Florida property as their primary residence, and in many cases and depending on their income, the house almost pays for itself in income tax savings. Historically our ‘season’ was Thanksgiving to Easter, but in recent years I have seen an influx of snowbirds arrive after the first hint of cold up north and leave when it starts to get hot — many staying longer than six months due to the recent extended mild spring seasons.”
“Palm Beach has experienced an incredible boom and influx of wealthy buyers attracted by our lifestyle and tax benefits. About 60% of the buyers I am working with are purchasing their home as a primary residence. However, that is not to say it is their only residence but rather that they are migrating to the area from out of state including New York and California. Our typical season is from November to May, but many buyers are now coming in for the school year starting in August and staying nine months. Buyers who are not relocating are generally an older demographic who are here for two to three months out of the year, typically January to March, many from Canada and states with a colder winter climate.”
“About 70% of my clients are buying their second (or third home) in the area as a pied-àterre, or West Palm Beach/ Palm Beach crash pad. Historically the ‘season’ runs from Thanksgiving through the end of April, but I find that my clients are usually spending the holidays with their families near their primary residences in the Tri-State area (New York City, southern Connecticut and northern New Jersey). They really start arriving in droves around the first of the new year and throughout January. The two-hour-and-15-minute direct flights between LaGuardia, Westchester, Islip airports and Palm Beach International Airport have created a lot of flexibility for both traditional “full season” snowbirds, as well as the newfound group of weekend warriors.”
The Carroll Group
“Once known as a secondary home market, Palm Beach has transformed into one of the most sought-after areas in the country for wealthy end users. Real estate has skyrocketed and about 75% of my clients coming in from New York and California are now searching for primary residences due to favorable tax implications, lifestyle and the migration of businesses to the area spurred by COVID. While snowbird season still and will always exist, the time frame has shifted slightly and people are staying for longer periods of time. Typically, the height of the season begins around October and ends in April but more recently we are seeing visitors stay through May, sometimes even not leaving at all. Palm Beach is a top 10 national destination for a reason. The landscape of the city is anchored by its incredible lifestyle options from beach living and equestrian neighborhoods to golf communities and boating. Whether billionaires, retirees, new families or young entrepreneurs — there are living options for buyers in every stage in life.”
This article appeared in the March/April edition of Behind The Hedges Palm Beach. Read the full digital magazine here. For more on Palm Beach real estate, click here.