South Florida Real Estate News & Market Trends

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Florida Lifestyle and reall estate


June 8, 2023

Live Local Act is signed into law to help with a housing shortage in SE Florida

Live Local Act is signed into law to help with a housing shortage in SE Florida

Live Local Act

Throughout Florida, developers scramble to meet with zoning attorneys, lobbyists, architects, accountants and contractors – all in preparation for July 1.

That’s the day developers can pursue enhanced building rights for residential projects on land that is zoned commercial, industrial or mixed use.

But there’s a catch. Forty percent of these projects’ units need to be reserved for housing that is at least somewhat affordable for the workforce for the next three decades, in a real estate market known for its high-end and luxury housing.

The change stems from the Live Local Act, signed into law March 29. Supporters say it will provide the additional affordable housing the region desperately needs. Others say it overrides zoning rules of municipalities and counties, could lead to projects that overtax roads and sewage systems, and invite a slew of litigation.

“Obviously there is a major affordability issue throughout the state, but this is a pretty radical approach: the state stepping in and doing this, which is not typical at all,” said Carter McDowell, a partner at Miami-based Bilzin Sumberg.

The Live Local Act has garnered plenty of attention.

“I am fielding eight to 10 phone calls per week from developers wanting to know more, and asking for an analysis on how the law can potentially help them develop their properties,” said Javier Vazquez, a partner specializing in zoning and land use at Berger Singerman LLP in Miami.A

And for good reason. The law, previously known as Senate Bill 102, is the most comprehensive housing legislation in Florida’s history, said Albert Milo Jr., president of Related Urban Development Group, the affordable and workforce housing division of Miami-based Related Group.

“This is a product of trying to address the [housing] shortage in the marketplace … in all the counties in the state of Florida,” he said.

Addressing that shortage could help alleviate the massive rent hikes that threaten the low- and middle-income employees who support South Florida’s economy, experts say.


Ken H. Johnson, a real estate expert and finance professor at Florida Atlantic University, said rents climbed 20% to 30% year over year in South Florida because there was limited rental inventory to meet the demand from existing residents and well-paid professional transplants from other parts of the U.S. With more housing units, rent increases will moderate – or even dip, he added.


“This goes further toward helping our rental crisis than most people [realize],” Johnson said. “We still have some of the most overpriced rents in the U.S. and the only way to get around it is to build more units.”

The legislation

SB 102 includes several incentives to encourage the creation of more affordable housing: $771 million for affordable housing programs; property and sales tax breaks; and a mandate for cities to reduce parking requirements for projects built within a half-mile of a major transit stop.

“We really tried to cast a wide net and offer as many incentives as possible,” said state Sen. Alexis Calatayud, R-Kendall, who co-sponsored the law with Senate President Kathleen Passidomo.

A large part of the incentives grants density and height increases for developers who reserve 40% of their units for affordable housing for the next 30 years. They will have the right to build the maximum number of residential units allowed in that city or, if unincorporated, county. And they will be entitled to build as tall as a local jurisdiction allows within a mile of the project.



Developers of mixed-use projects can use Live Local’s building rights, as well, if they include affordable units – but only if 65% of the development is residential.


Another feature of the law: developers can eschew public hearings before an elected or appointed body and just have their plans approved administratively.


Milo said bypassing the public hearing requirements will save developers time and money.


“It is intended to really promote and ignite the power of the private sector to use private capital to produce more affordable housing,” said Milo, who advised on the law’s creation.


The affordable apartments won’t have to be cheap, either.


The legislation defines an affordable apartment as a unit set aside for households that earn up to 120% of an area’s median income. That means an apartment can be affordable for an individual who makes about $86,760 a year in Miami-Dade, $80,640 a year in Broward, and $81,840 a year in Palm Beach County, according to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development guidelines. As such, the maximum rents allowed by HUD for those apartments can range from $2,016 a month for a studio in Broward to $3,964 a month for a five-bedroom unit in Miami-Dade.


Milo said the legislation addresses households that make too much to qualify for subsidized housing units, but who still have trouble paying South Florida’s higher rents – also known as the “missing middle.”


“Municipal officials have been asking what can be done for the workforce, from teachers to nurses to first responders to the majority of the professions that fall into that middle workforce category,” he said.


Besides zoning perks, the law also provides property tax abatements as high as 100% for projects where substantial portions of the units are set aside for low- and medium-income housing.



The incentives in the law won’t last forever, though. The zoning bonuses expire Oct. 1, 2033, and property tax abatements end Dec. 31, 2059.




The Live Local Act has generated “pent-up excitement” within the development community, Milo said. It’s easy to see why, as the law will enable developers to leverage tax abatements for additional financing and allow them to build taller projects with more units – without being bogged down in public hearings.


Related Urban is already prepared to submit four or five Live Local Act projects in areas such as Tampa, Collier County and central Miami-Dade County.


Within South Florida, developers may target places including failed shopping centers, public transportation stops in suburbia, and sites near the downtown areas of Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, land use attorneys told the Business Journal.


Industrial-zoned areas, especially those located within cities with generous unit-per-acre zoning such as Hialeah and Miami, are also likely to attract developers, said Alfredo Riascos, founder and principal of Miami-based brokerage Gridline Properties.


“A neighborhood like [Miami’s] Allapattah that is industrial zoned, but close to job growth areas such as Brickell, downtown and the Hospital District, is ripe for developers,” he said.


Uncertain impact


Still, Keith Poliakoff, managing partner of Fort Lauderdale-based Government Law Group, said the new law will likely generate a great deal of litigation.


“On the downside, there are still nuances to this bill that are confusing and open to interpretation and subject to legal challenges from municipalities, which concerns me going forward,” he said.

Poliakoff added that he’s heard from clients already preparing maximum height and density projects that they’ve yet to receive feedback from city staffers on how to move forward.


Another problem with the law is that it doesn’t say how cities should deal with concurrency issues such as water and traffic.


“There is nothing in the law to require verifying that [a city] has enough water and sewer capacity for intensive development,” Poliakoff said.


Edward “Ned” Murray, associate director of the Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center at Florida International University, said the state Legislature should have offered some financial assistance for cities to accommodate large projects with affordable and workforce housing, instead of just running roughshod over their zoning codes.


“If this is going to be done right, it needs to be done with local government being equal partners,” he said. “The incentives should not be given to developers. There should be incentives to local governments. Ultimately, they are the ones who control ordinances and permitting.”


Kenia Fallat, a spokeswoman for the city of Miami, said it already has systems in place to expedite affordable housing development projects, and is ready to hire more staff if needed.


They may very well need it.


An analysis from the city’s planning department showed that, under Live Local, developers would have the right to build up to 1,000 units per acre in nearly half of Miami if 40% of their projects’ units are affordable.


Officials from the city of Hollywood are still assessing the possible impacts of the Live Local Act, spokeswoman Joann Hussey said.


“We do not have plans to contest this law. We are taking the time now to fully understand what it will mean for our city, both in the near term and future,” she said, adding that Hollywood supports building more affordable housing.



Calatayud said it will be city planners, not state officials, who will determine the infrastructure concurrency needs of a project before issuing a permit.


Municipalities also retain most of their sovereignty when it comes to land use. For example, developers still must comply with a city’s historic preservation regulations, setbacks, parking regulations and floor-area ratio, Bilzin Sumberg’s McDowell said. Those regulations may limit how much a developer can build in some cities, such as Miami Beach.


“I think everybody is still learning, if you will,” McDowell said. “And I think there is some likelihood that some local governments will try to challenge the statute.”


Ultimately, no one will know how a city will react until they receive their first Live Local development application, the Metropolitan Center’s Murray said.


“I think it is going to be interesting and will play out differently in different submarkets,” he said. “But until we see projects come forward, we don’t really know.” 


Live Local Act highlights


Besides granting greater density to projects that are at least partially affordable, the Live Local Act:


Grants property tax exemptions for affordable units for buildings constructed or substantially rehabilitated in the past five years if more than 70 of those apartments are reserved for affordable housing. If those units are for households that earn between 80% and 120% of an annual area's median income, then the tax exemption is 75%. If the units are for households at or below 80% AMI, then the units are exempt from ad valorem property taxes.

Allows municipalities and counties to provide tax exemptions for buildings with more than 50 units that provide affordable housing for households that earn at or below 60% AMI.

Includes an exemption on taxes assessed on land owned by a nonprofit that is leased for a minimum of 99 years that will be used for affordable housing.

Offers sales tax refunds of up to $5,000 for building materials and appliances used in an affordable housing unit.

Requires municipalities and counties to publish a list of city-owned properties suitable for use as affordable housing.

Requires local governments to maintain on their websites a policy listing procedures and expectations for expedited processing of building permits.

Forbids any local rent control regulations.

Provides interest-free loans to buy a home of up to $35,000 to members of the state's workforce who earn up to 150% AMI under the Florida Hometown Hero program.


June 7, 2023


With low housing inventory, home construction has been ramping up to fill in the gaps  in some places. But, what cities have been leading the charge on development?

StorageCafe’s latest report looked at new construction over the last 10 years (2013 – 2022) in the 100 largest cities to see which areas experienced the most notable changes in inventory expansion across the major real estate sectors. The analysis considered building permits for single-family homes and multifamily units, and new deliveries of square footage in the industrial, office, retail and self storage sectors.

The report found that overall multifamily construction has picked up pace, with 47% more building permits issued compared to the previous decade. Nationally, more than 8.3M building permits were issued for single-family homes and almost 5M for multifamily units in the last 10 years.

As for regionally, the Sun Belt region takes the lead with 15 of the Top 20 cities with the highest volumes of real estate construction from 2013 to 2022 being Southern or Southwestern urban hotspots. Texas is also high in the rankings, with five cities in the Top 20.

The Top 10 cities for real estate development:

Houston, Texas: 55,601 single-family permits and 89,448 multifamily permits

San Antonio, Texas: 33,978 single-family permits and 38,526 multifamily permits

Austin, Texas: 37,029 single-family permits and 98,764 multifamily permits

Fort Worth, Texas: 50,591 single-family permits and 36,686 multifamily permits

Dallas, Texas: 17,332 single-family permits and 68,927 multifamily permits

Phoenix, Arizona: 32,359 single-family permits and 49,019 multifamily permits

Jacksonville, Florida: 36,976 single-family permits and 27,803 multifamily permits

Las Vegas, Nevada: 18,938 single-family permits and 5,556 multifamily permits

Denver, Colorado: 17,925 single-family permits and 58,751 multifamily permits

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: 33,192 single-family permits and 3,393 multifamily permits

Major takeaway:

When asked what factors contribute to the regional differences in real estate development in the United States, experts commented the following:

“Employment and migration patterns, which are the result of lifestyle choices, tax rates (personal and business), overall cost of living and doing business. Employment typically drives population growth (or decline), and in some areas, retirement migration is a factor—for example in Florida (No. 1) and Arizona (No. 2). There is not as much retirement population growth in Texas, but very high population growth due to employment,” said Mark Stapp, Fred E. Taylor Professor of Real Estate, W. P. Carey School of Business.

“We have had for decades, and continue to have, a general migration of the population to the south and west of the U.S. In fact, in the New England states, populations will soon be declining. Our population growth rate without immigration is approaching 0.1%—that is 1/10th of 1% per year, the lowest ever. Most of the population increase is coming from elderly whites and Hispanics. Immigration as a source of labor has been reduced in the past six years, and it is not evenly distributed.” 

Top 20 Cities for Real Estate Development Over the Last Decade added Norm Miller, PhD, Ernest Hahn Chair and Emeritus Professor of Real-Estate Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate University of San Diego, Knauss School of Business.

20 top US New Construction Cities

Three Floridian locations make it into the 20 best cities list for new construction

Florida is well represented in the top 20 best cities for real estate development with three star locations: Jacksonville, ranking 7th, Orlando in 11th position, and Tampa on 15th.

Jacksonville, FL, a hub for shipping and logistics and home to one of the busiest seaports in the United States, added important amounts of new industrial space to its inventory over the past decade, about 18.7M square feet. Residential construction also picked up steam as the city is trying to accommodate the housing needs of one of the nation’s boomtowns. Almost 37K permits for single family homes were issued here from 2013 to 2022, the fourth highest among the 100 biggest urban hubs. Approximately 28K multifamily units were permitted in Jacksonville over the same period.


Orlando, FL, the smallest city in terms of population among the top 20, manages to outperform the likes of NYC, Chicago and LA for real estate development. With its bustling economy rooted not only in tourism and services but also in advanced manufacturing, bio tech and aerospace, Orlando is a roaring success in commercial real estate construction. Almost 22M square feet of new industrial space and 8.8M square feet of new retail space were added to the local inventories over the past decade. Self storage construction in Orlando also thrived, delivering almost 3.3M square feet of new space from 2013 to 2022, with 2019 the best year of the past 10, seeing 935K square feet of new space. The decade also saw 9K building permits for single family homes and over 20K permits for new apartments.


Tampa, FL, is another city punching above its weight as it manages to walk alongside Los Angeles and New York City in terms of new construction. Tampa managed to land 15th place nationally for real estate development, registering significant volumes of new construction across the board, both commercial and residential. Tampa built over 10M square feet of industrial space, 3.7M of office space and almost 2.1M square feet of self storage space over the past decade. During the same period, building permits for more than 10K single family homes and 21.5K multifamily units were issued in Tampa.


5 Top Florida Cities for new Construction



June 6, 2023

New Florida Renter Fee Bill gives an option to not pay security deposit

Attention, Florida renters! DeSantis Signs Renter Fee Bill: Starting July 1, renters may get the option to pay a monthly fee instead of a security deposit. However, fee money cannot be used to cover any damage costs.


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – On Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a heavily debated bill that can enable landlords to charge renters monthly fees instead of security deposits. The bill (HB 133), which passed the Florida Legislature in April, was one of 12 measures DeSantis signed Friday.


Under the bill, landlords would be able to offer monthly fees to tenants instead of security deposits, though landlords are not required to do so. Renters would decide whether to pay the fees or a deposit. The new law goes into effect on July 1, 2023.


In the face of Florida’s rising rental costs, the bill’s supporters say it provides an option to help renters get into apartments without having to come up with potentially thousands of dollars in upfront money.


In turn, opponents say the fees would not be capped, and that renters can’t eventually recoup the money, like they might with security deposits. The monthly fee also isn’t insurance, and also note that renters can still be forced to pay for damages after they move out.


For details on the new lease system, consult the bill itself. It outlines the conditions a landlord must follow in order to offer this type of payment option.



June 5, 2023

Delray Beach is Changing Parking Fees

Delray Beach Florida is Changing It's Parking Fees - Expect to Pay More. 


Delray's new 4-3-2 Parking Plan: What is it and how does it work?

The new plan is meant to create a uniform parking structure like surrounding cities have, and to encourage people to use the city's empty parking garages.

 Parking in downtown Delray Beach will now cost more, but not in the way some residents may fear.


On May 17, a new pricing structure for the coveted spots along Atlantic Avenue was introduced. Parking prices along the beach on State Road A1A changed, too, under the new 4-3-2 Plan. 


The updated rates are meant to create a uniform parking system like the ones surrounding cities have. It also is expected to encourage people to use the city's parking garages, which typically remain below capacity.  The 4-3-2 Plan, explained.

The new pricing system, as its name implies, will break parking rates into three categories. They’ll be based on the location where one is parking downtown:

$4 per hour along East Atlantic Avenue between State Road A1A and Swinton Avenue.

$3 per hour along the beach on A1A.

$2 per hour everywhere else. 

Public parking garage rates will remain the same with a $5 flat rate. And the private Delray Beach Market Garage on Southeast First Street will cost $3.50 per hour Monday through Thursday and $4.50 per hour on weekends.

Motorists can either pay by phone using the free ParkMobile application, or by license plate using the closest parking kiosk.



June 5, 2023

West Palm to change zoning for Ritz-Carlton Residences condo, plus a tower at Temple Israel

New Developments: West Palm to change zoning for Ritz-Carlton Residences condo, plus a tower at Temple Israel

A year ago, plans were afoot to build a Ritz-Carlton Residences along the Intracoastal Waterway in West Palm Beach.


But the project's developer, Related Group of Miami, ran into a major hurdle. A zoning change was needed to build a high-rise tower on land owned by Related Group. And the city didn't seem eager to make a change.

But that was then.


This summer, the city will weigh zoning changes that could allow construction of a tower rising to 303 feet, or up to 27 stories, on land now zoned for only about 40 feet in height.

If approved, the Ritz-Carlton plan could be back as soon as early next year, according to real estate sources.

The company behind some of Miami's glittering condo skyscrapers is setting its sights on Palm Beach County.


The Related Group of Miami is angling to build residential projects throughout the county, including a Ritz-Carlton Residences in West Palm Beach, where financial companies and their well-paid executives flocked during the coronavirus pandemic.

Out of land, but not out of imagination, real estate developers are pushing north along the coast to build tall residential towers on old properties.


Sleepy apartment buildings and shopping centers, as well as vacant plots of land, are being assembled by top development companies north of downtown West Palm Beach. The plan is to raze these old properties to make way for modern condominiums and apartment towers. 

Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach Gardens

The redevelopment isn't limited to West Palm Beach. In Riviera Beach, a group hopes to build Waterway, a 281-unit apartment tower on the water, the first new residential high-rise in the city since the Marina Grande condominium was built in 2006.

NORA West Palm Beach New Development worth $1B


In West Palm Beach, where land is both scarce and pricey, expect to see Related Group seek city permission to build tall residential towers property it owns on both the east and west side of downtown. 

A neglected area just north of downtown West Palm Beach is set to be transformed into a Palm Beach County version of Wynwood, the Miami district home to  hip restaurants, bars, shops, and apartments.

NORA West Palm Beach New Development

Since 2019, a local investment group has amassed 72 parcels consisting of warehouses, boarded-up buildings, and vacant land.



The group calls its 12-acre land assemblage Nora, short for North Railroad Avenue, reflecting the area's western boundary along North Railroad Avenue, from Seventh Street north to Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard.


Nov. 29, 2022

$726,200 is The New Loan Limit for 2023; High-Cost Counties Now Over $1m

Some positive mortgage news:


$726,200 is The New Loan Limit for 2023; High-Cost Counties Now Over $1m

Mortgage limits

If you're just here for the conforming loan limit news, $726,200 is the number for 2023.  


Does this mean no one can get a mortgage for more than $726,200?  No.  The conforming loan limit is the maximum amount that can be guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the government-sponsored enterprises or GSEs).  That guarantee has advantages in terms of the loan approval process and interest rates.  There are plenty of mortgage options for higher amounts or that are not guaranteed by the GSEs, but conforming loans account for a vast majority of new mortgages.


$726,200 is the base amount.  Higher cost areas have access to higher limits based on the average home prices in that area.  The county by county limits are listed separately, HERE. The highest tier is $1,089,300 (base loan limit x 1.5).    


Where do these numbers come from?


The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is the regulator of the GSEs.  It publishes various home price data.  Once the data is in for the 3rd quarter (typically by late November), it is compared to the 3rd quarter of the previous year and home prices are adjusted by the corresponding amount.   


In situations where home prices fall, the limit does not fall, but it will not rise again until home prices move back above the levels associated with the previous limit.  For instance, let's imagine the loan limit was $700k, but prices fell enough to drop it to $600k.  The limit would remain at $700k year after year (even if prices were rising) until prices got back above $700k.


All that having been said, we're clearly not dealing with falling home prices in year-over-year terms right now.  The months of July and August did show slight declines in monthly terms for the FHFA price index, but September bounced back.  The Case-Shiller price index, which is typically very similar to FHFA when it comes to monthly movement, continued to decline in September.


In annual terms, both are still well into positive territory.


The blue line in the charts above is from FHFA's monthly home price index.  The conforming loan limit is based on an expanded quarterly index which varies slightly.  Interestingly enough, the monthly data showed a decline of 1.2% during Q3 whereas the quarterly data showed an increase of 0.2%.  NOTE: that's an increase from the end of Q2 to the end of Q3.  If we're looking at Q3 2022 vs Q3 2021, the gain is 12.2% (which is why the new loan limit is 12.2% higher for 2023).

Want even more detail?  

The final index value for Q3's quarterly data was 369.50 versus last year's Q3 value of 329.3.  The loan limit increase the percent change between the two of those numbers.  

369.5  divided by  329.3  = 1.122077133

2022 loan limit of 647,200  x  1.122077133 = $726,208.32, rounded to the nearest $50 = $726,200.


The limit goes into effect for loans acquired by the GSEs in 2023.  That typically means lenders can apply the limits immediately since it takes at least a month for a new loan to be 'delivered' to the GSEs.  Lenders tend to adopt the new limits at slightly different paces.  Frontrunners will likely announce them today.  Laggards may take a few weeks.


How about FHA loan limits?  These have yet to be announced.  Last year it happened on the same day as FHFA.  In any event, the calculation is known.  FHA will be 65% of the FHFA Conforming Loan Limit or $472,030.


Any questions?  DM Me or call!

Nov. 11, 2022

The Most Expensive Palm Beach Island Homes for sale

Palm Beach Island Homes on a private Island go on sale for $353M

A Palm Beach developer is putting four homes, including one on a private island, up for sale for a combined $353 million in one of South Florida's ritziest enclaves.


Todd Michael Glaser and his partners are seeking to sell 10 Tarpon Isle, a man-made private island with a newly renovated mansion, for $218 million. Glaser is also listing three other properties, including a 10,000-square-foot (929-square-meter) house that comes with approved plans to double its size for $79 million, a newly constructed house for $32 million, and a penthouse condo for $24 million.

Palm Beach Island Homes For Sale Fir $353M

Nov. 11, 2022

2023 Guide to the best 25 places to retire in Florida

Check out the best 25 Towns to retire in Florida in 2023

Nov. 11, 2022

How Much Does It Cost To Buy a Home in Broward County Florida

How much does it cost to buy a home in Broward County Florida? Check out the short video 

Nov. 10, 2022

Florida After Hurricane Ian

Florida Building Code Allowed Homes to Stay Undamaged Even After Hurricane Ian