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Luxury Home Purchasers Lead Migration to Florida

Posted by Bill True on

Buyers of upscale mansions and luxury homes for sale led the growing wave of those moving to Florida as 2013 began.

In Sarasota County alone, 47 homes and condominiums sold for over $1,000,000 in December 2012, a higher sales figure than any other month last year. Luxury-home purchasers aren’t the only group moving to Florida, either. After a significant slump in the worst recession years, 2008-2010, migration to Florida is accelerating again, and that migration is projected to create new jobs and bolster the ongoing recovery. Migration has always been a key factor in Florida’s economic development, and particularly in the Sarasota area, known everywhere as a haven for retirees.


Retiring baby boomers will be a huge part of the new migration wave. Almost 1.5 million Americans reach age 65 each year, significantly increasing that age group’s numbers and economic clout. Thousands of seniors, of course, will retire to Florida; the state’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research estimates that more than 170,000 boomer-retirees will move to Florida in 2013 and over 200,000 in 2014.


That many retirees, of course, will bring consumer demands, which in turn bring new businesses and new job seekers. But the 65-plus boomers are still only part of the new, post-recession wave of migration to Florida. Canadians and others from outside the U.S. are another important part of the Florida migration picture. Canadians, of course, have always loved Florida, and Canadian currency remains strong against the dollar. New Floridians from Europe, Japan, China, India, and Latin America are also arriving in huge numbers. A study published by Inman News in 2012 ranked the Sarasota-Bradenton market as the 4th most popular market in the U.S. for international real estate investors.


The state’s demographic researchers aren’t the only ones who expect swelling Florida migration. Hopeful retailers are wagering that migration into the Sarasota area will enhance the economic recovery – and a number of new local retail venues – for years to come. Hundreds turned out on September 7th for the opening of Trader Joe's new Sarasota location. In August, Costco's opening was also attended by swarms of shoppers. This spring, P. F. Chang's will open a 270-seat restaurant in Sarasota. And in 2014 the now-under-construction University Town Center, with Macy's, Dillards, Saks, Cartier, and more than 100 additional retailers, is set to open in the University Parkway region between Bradenton and Sarasota.


Homebuilders are also optimistic about newcomers to Florida. Neal Communities launched Grand Palm, a 2,000 home master-planned community, in September. It’s the largest project in the region since Lakewood Ranch’s development began in the 1990s.


Sarasota, of course, has always been popular with Florida’s new arrivals, thanks to a temperate climate and the always-popular beaches. That popularity can only grow as Sarasota adds more luxury homes and communities, more upscale retailers, and more recreational options. The local recovery will partially reflect the national recovery, but Sarasota’s many advantages are certain to bolster migration, increase home sales, and draw newcomers to the area in 2013 and beyond.

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