This grand property on Ponte Vedra Boulevard in Ponte Vedra Beach offers direct oceanfront views and unobstructed views to the west of the 18th fairway of the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club’s Ocean Course. It is listed at $14,995,000.
By Robin Jovanovich
South Florida real estate is having more than its moment in the sun; it’s undergoing a dizzying transformation as people from across the country migrate, invest, build, and rebuild lives there. It’s no longer just a second-home seasonal hub for older, wealthy individuals from the Northeast and the Midwest escaping winter; it’s where young families are flocking and staying.
For a professional perspective on what’s happening in South Florida, we reached out to Jay Parker, CEO of Douglas Elliman’s Florida brokerage, which is Number 1 in total sales in Miami Beach and Palm Beach County.
“When Californians are moving here, you know this is a desirable destination,” said Parker amusedly.
“The migration started long before the pandemic,” he continued. “Florida is a magnet for people wanting better lifestyles, and they find them here.”
He noted, that in recent years, pockets like Vero Beach, Boca Raton, Delray, Coconut Grove, Pompano Beach, and Naples have evolved at their own pace and become their own markets. “We’re excited to report that Fort Lauderdale has gone from spring break destination to an attractive, luxury town.”
Artist’s rendering of The Alina in downtown Boca Raton
Parker grew up in Toronto and followed his father into real estate law. It was Howard Lorber, Executive Chairman of Douglas Elliman, who asked him to come to the firm nine years ago, five years after they’d opened their first office in Florida. Parker’s task? Change the business, starting by connecting all the dots: streamlining the process for clients, offering unmatchable service, helping with lending, title searches, whatever is needed. “Howard is a visionary, and he was my mentor and he wanted to raise the bar, and we have.”
Douglas Elliman, which was founded in 1911, went from a Prudential franchise to a subsidiary of the Vector Group, which Lorber heads as CEO and President. Last fall, Vector spun the real estate company off and it’s now a publicly traded company. “We’re the market leader in Florida today,” noted Parker proudly.
There is nothing secret about their success. “We’re an agent-centric company and we believe it’s important for our clients, whether buyers or sellers, to have someone who can act as their ‘consultant’. All of us also understand that selling a $1,000,000 home doesn’t require much more work than selling a $200,000 home. We find out what is important to our clients in terms of lifestyle, and we match them with communities that offer what they’re looking for — walkability, recreation and sports, culture.” Parker added, “In South Florida, you’d be hard-pressed to find an area that doesn’t have the lifestyle and amenities you’re looking for.”
The Alba offers waterfront boutique luxury in the heart of Palm Beach.
Working with developers, Douglas Elliman is also setting the bench for new sales. Parker is excited about the luxury project they represent in downtown Boca Raton, the Alina Residences. One of the two nine-story buildings is completed, and they’ve started construction on the second, which is set to open in 2024.
With home prices soaring in South Florida, Parker has one word for those seeking entry-level homes: Condominiums. “They will escalate in price, and they offer built-in lifestyle.”
While Parker travels a great deal for work, it’s mostly back and forth in the state, and he said the challenge of a surge in demand is a good problem to have.
“It comes down to resources and talent, and we have both,” he offered. “Governor DeSantis is focused on enhancing the public schools, and we already have a deep private school system. Our hospitals and health system are first-rate. And we’re fast-becoming a financial and tech leader.” He added, “Florida, especially South Florida, is where people of all backgrounds want to invest. We’re the present and the future.”