For years, Chaya Krinsky, 36, and her husband Bruce, 38, have dreamt about moving from New York to Miami with their three young daughters. But it wasn’t until Covid-19 forced them to work from home that they realised it was a viable option.
“We had always been nervous about how the company would be impacted,” says Bruce, who runs a furniture manufacturing and import business based in Brooklyn with his wife.
“But working remotely was so efficient and so easy, we realised that we didn’t need to have physical meetings or be surrounded by colleagues,” he says. “And that meant we don’t need to be in New York.”
Six weeks ago, after a single in-person viewing by Chaya — with Bruce having only seen the home over FaceTime — they went under contract on a six-bedroom home on a half-acre plot on Pine Tree Drive in Miami Beach, for $3m.
Estate agents report that since June 8, when New York began to ease restrictions on commercial and social life, buyers have been flocking to Miami. Many go to Miami Beach, which has some of the area’s finest waterfront houses and apartment blocks.
In July and August, home sales in Miami Beach reached $980m, more than double the $433m spent in the same period in 2019, according to GS Data Services, a property data provider. With the activity concentrated at the priciest homes, the mean sale price jumped 78 per cent to $1.77m in August, up from $996,000 in August last year.
“It’s about bigger homes, better facilities and outdoor space,” says Mendel Fellig of Compass, who found the Krinskys their new home.
New Yorkers cooped up in small homes during lockdown are desperate to avoid repeating the experience, says Bryan Sereny of Douglas Elliman, a high-end estate agent. “Residents haven’t been able to enjoy the cultural advantages that drew them to the city.”
“Our busy social life, the vibrancy of New York, it just wasn’t possible. We fell out of love with our city,” says Chaya.
Buyers do not seem to have been put off by the restrictions Miami brought in following a jump in coronavirus infections from late June, which saw indoor dining banned in most parts of the local county for most of July and August.
“Even when Miami is closed, it is less dense and more open than Manhattan,” says Sereny. “And the beaches help.”
The secluded gated communities in Coral Gables and Key Biscayne, an island off Miami Beach’s southern tip, are where many of the 29 sales this year above $10m have occurred. Their $631m combined value has already surpassed that of 2019 sales in this price bracket, according to Douglas Elliman.
Florida’s zero-income tax law has looked especially appealing to New Yorkers since January 2018, when federal tax changes meant many had to start paying higher income and housing taxes.
“Many [New Yorkers] had been toying with the move in the next year or three,” says Dina Goldentayer of Douglas Elliman. “Covid has accelerated the decision: they [want] a beautiful back yard, a pool to sit by and a boat to jump on.”
Unlike previous Miami booms, this has been an all-American affair. In the past, more than half of those buying condos for more than $500,000 in Miami Beach have come from Latin America, particularly Brazil and Venezuela, says Eli Beracha, a real estate professor at Florida International University.
Demand had already dwindled due to a downturn in the Brazilian economy. Covid and the accompanying travel restrictions saw it dry up completely, says Sereny. “Since May, thanks to lockdown and the scarcity of flights, international buyers went to zero.”
For the Krinskys, the move to Miami Beach has uncovered some surprising neighbours. Two friends who lived on an adjacent block in New York have bought a home around the corner from their new home on Pine Tree Drive, says Chaya. “We have met so many others who have come from New York in recent months. So many of our friends have left: it’s almost been a race to leave.”
The total value of Miami Beach homes sold for more than $1m in the year to August was $3.5bn, exceeding the $2.9bn worth sold in all of 2019, according to estate agents Douglas Elliman.
Direct flights connect New York with Miami in about 3 hours.
What you can buy for
$499,000 A one-bedroom flat in the South Beach area.
$2.39m A two-bedroom apartment in a condo building on Alton Road, with an 800 sq ft wraparound terrace.
$34m A six-bedroom detached waterfront house on North Venetian Way.
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