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Corona Fuels Widening Wealth Gap in South Florida Real Estate

The corona virus is acting as an accelerator of trends. Among them is America's ever widening wealth gap.

The gap between wall street and main street is widening as the Fed continues to take unprecedented actions, all benefiting the investor class.

In Q2 2020, the divide between wall street and mains street is on clear display in the South Florida real estate market.

In a region full of 50%+ transaction volume drops, some $1M+ single-family home markets saw record high sales volume in June. The $1M+ single-family submarket caters to the investor class. In contrast, previously healthy submarkets with homes in the $300K range, are suffering.

South Florida real estate saw a sharp transaction volume decline in Q2 2020.
The table below shows county-level, single-family home quarterly transaction volume.

Visit the Corona Score Card for a complete list of condo and single-family home transaction volume in South Florida >

wdt_ID County / City Q2 2019 Q2 2020 % Change $1M+ Q2 2019 $1M+ Q2 2020 % Change
1 Miami-Dade County 4,169 2,717 -34.8% 293 208 -29.0%
3 Broward County 5,027 3,172 -36.9% 210 167 -20.5%
4 Palm Beach County 4,968 3,356 -32.4% 451 327 -27.5%

While we are seeing broad declines, when we dig deeper, interesting patterns emerge.

$1M+ single family homes

Palm Beach County and Fort Lauderdale posted record high sales volume in June for $1M+ single-family homes. This asset class fulfills two important criteria: it is purchased out of necessity and it caters to the investor class.

Price attainable homes in the $300K range

Sales volume in price-attainable neighborhoods, such as Miramar, remained depressed in June. Miramar was down almost 30% in June, and was down 40% in Q2. The buyer of a ~$300K house has not benefitted from recent monetary & fiscal policy. These price-attainable single-family house markets were the healthiest leading into Corona, and they are no suffering the most.

The Wealth Gap In Action

Why are $1M+ single-family homes benefitting?

Corona has been an accelerator of pre-existing trends, and this applies to South Florida Real Estate.

The two major Corona-driven trends affecting the South Florida real estate market thus far:
1) The widening wealth gap
2) The reversion to need-based spending versus

$1M+ single family homes check both boxes

1) They cater to those with financial assets, to people may have benefitted from the Fed’s recent actions to juice the markets.

2) in the current pandemic environment, single family homes can be seen as need based.

June 2020: record transaction volume, $1M+ single-family homes in South Florida

Palm Beach County $1M+ SFH Sales, pre and post Corona

Palm Beach County, $1M+ SFH Transaction Volume: Q2 2019 vs Q2 2020
Source: Miami MLS.
Record High Sales Volume in June 2020
June 2019: 116 sales
June 2020: 143 sales, 23% increase
Palm Beach County, $1M+ SFH Transaction Volume: June Data
Source: Miami MLS.


Fort Lauderdale $1M+ SFH Sales, pre and post Corona

Fort Lauderdale, $1M+ SFH Transaction Volume: Q2 2019 vs Q2 2020
Source: Miami MLS.
Tie for Record High Sales Volume in June 2020
June 2019: 30 sales
June 2020: 34 sales, 13% increase
Fort Lauderdale, $1M+ SFH Transaction Volume: June Data
Source: Miami MLS.


Meanwhile, price attainable neighborhoods are suffering

One of the healthiest markets coming into the Corona pandemic were end-user, price attainable areas such as Miramar and Pembroke Pines.

In 2019, houses in Miramar sold for an average of $319K. Houses were flying off the shelves before Corona, with many listings paying out a 5% commission instead of 6% and a 98% close-price to list-price ratio.

Year-over-year, Miramar sales volume dropped 60% in May and was still down 27% in June. Miramara was down 40% for the quarter.

Miramar, SFH Transaction Volume: Q2 2019 vs Q2 2020
Source: Miami MLS.
Transaction Volume Drop
June 2019: 102 sales
June 2020: 74 sales, -27%

Why is this happening?

Job losses felt at the bottom of the economic spectrum

Actions of the Fed have boosted financial markets, benefiting those with financial assets

40% of low income Americans lost their jobs >

As unemployment benefits run out, and as it becomes clear that many of those jobs are not returning, I see only further acceleration of this unfortunate trend.

A few charts that reveal the reality of our disconnected economy:

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