Sunny South Beach

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Readers of the Guide have been at a loss for a few weeks as I have been in South Beach, Miami, and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  I should have posted regular updates as I often do from vacation destinations, but was completely burned out and neglected the Windy City Guide for too long.

Of course besides enjoying the sights and sunshine I could not resist checking out the real estate scene.

First, there are no outstanding brokerages that do as much as @properties does here in Chicago for marketing homes.  Signs are a hodgepodge of quality, size and construction.  I never saw any web domains.  And all the brokerage websites are several generations behind what customers are used to here in Chicago. 

Prices in South Florida seem to have suffered more than prices in Chicago.  The flip side is that pricing may have stabilized in South Florida while Chicago is still settling a little bit more.  Of course a premium is paid to be on the water.  Interestingly, quality condos and homes with water views have not suffered, while property away from the water in both Miami and Ft. Lauderdale have suffered declines of 50% – give or take. 

IMG_0098Living in Ft. Lauderdale is much less expensive than living in Miami.  Typical of older cities (though Miami can’t really be considered old) the housing stock is older.  Lots of 1950’s and 1960’s buildings with apartments and condos.  Homes and townhomes located farther from the Ocean, and a few clusters of modern High Rises as you travel north out of Miami into North Miami and filling in on Highway 1 up towards Ft. Lauderdale.  There’s a neighborhood off the beach on the mainland clustered around Margaret Pace Park called the Miami Arts District that reminds me of Chicago’s New East Side.  Most of the inventory in this neighborhood seems to be in modern new high-rises, and the park was vibrant and filled with residents out playing basketball, walking dogs or running along the Biscayne Bay.

Ft. Lauderdale has more houses and townhomes in desirable close-to-water locations.  And an amazing system of canals and waterways so boat owners can keep their yachts tied up right outside their doors!  The system of canals, and the homes that inhabit them are spectacular.

IMG_0109Budget shoppers in Ft. Lauderdale can select from a large inventory of modest homes a bit farther from the water.  A friend in Ft. Lauderdale purchased a perfectly charming two-bedroom, one-bath home in a clean subdivision for $40,000 and spent less than that renovating the home into a comfortable, if tidy, place to call home!