Cold weather and changed tax laws could do wonders for Florida real estate.
Just ask the developers of the 19-story VistaBlue Singer Island condominium, now under construction and nearing completion.
The boutique, 58-unit condo has sold 34 units, and the winter selling season is just beginning. “There’s a sense of urgency. There’s only 24 units left,” said Randall Tuller of developer Third Palm Capital in Texas.
The project has clocked $90 million in sales with an aggressive sales effort that continued even during the summer months, a time when most developers pause their marketing campaigns as they await seasonal visitors and more enticing weather.
But Douglas Elliman’s Florida Brokerage, led by Jay Phillip Parker, never put on the brakes. The promise of an oceanfront condominium in Palm Beach County ready in the new year helped goose sales and push VistaBlue to 60 percent sold, Tuller said.
Now, the condominium is poised to take advantage of some fortuitous timing: Extremely cold weather in the Northeast and changes in the tax law.
The new tax law limits deductions in states where there are state and local taxes. That’s likely to drive more buyers to Florida, which has no state income tax, Parker said. “I fully expect a slow but steady growth in our Northeast buyer pool based on the tax reform,” he said.
Parker said the aging population creates a steady supply of people who will sell their homes in other parts of the country and move to Florida, “traditionally the last stop before heaven.”
But with the growth of recreational and cultural activities, Florida in general and Palm Beach County in particular are luring more residents. “And when you layer in the tax plan implications, that will shift more people over the finish line and drive them to the South Florida market,” Parker said.
Being the first out of the gate is always a help, which is another reason why the folks behind VistaBlue are feeling good about 2018. The building is nearly completed and interior work is underway.
VistaBlue, which started construction in late 2015, is the first luxury condominium built on Singer Island in a decade. Construction started with only a handful of pre-construction buyers.
With 2017’s brisk sales volume on units ranging from $1.4 million to nearly $8 million, it looks like being first out of the gate paid off. Tuller said two buyers are vying for the last available 19th floor penthouse, priced at $7.646 million.
Meanwhile, planned hikes have boosted prices on various units. So a base unit that used to sell for $1.4 million now goes for $1.6 million, while a more desirable unit priced at $2.882 million now sells for $2.968 million.
The condominium, once set for completion by the end of January, won’t be finished until March. Blame Hurricane Irma for that one, Tuller said. FPL got backed up on hurricane restoration after the September storm and wasn’t able to hook up the building as planned.
The delay cost the project 11 weeks, but it also showed buyers that there was indeed, a condominium still standing after the storm swiped the area. That’s important because the unsexy features of VistaBlue, or any new construction these days, suddenly are very interesting to property buyers.
At VistaBlue, hurricane resistant features include waterproof stucco and mold-resistant drywall. The exterior is reinforced with galvanized steel to prevent corrosion from the ocean air. Also, the condos’ interior cabling, called the bus duct, is waterproofed. The windows feature 150-mph hurricane impact glass.
There are also luxury touches, of course, including regular units with 10-foot high ceilings, and penthouses with 12-foot high ceilings; imported Italian porcelain tile flooring indoors and out; Miele kitchen appliances; and wrap-around terraces. The building has an elevated pool terrace and sundeck overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, plus a club room, social lounge and fitness center, with his-and-hers saunas.
Tuller said he’s so optimistic about the future of real estate in Palm Beach County, he’s scouting a location for another beachfront condominium. Stay tuned.
Alexandra Clough writes about real estate, law and the economy.