Home Builders Bet Big on South Florida Sprawl

Major players acquiring large tracts to the north, south of Miami-Dade.

Home builders who are betting that Miami-Dade County's surging demand for housing will continue to expand beyond the county's borders are acquiring large tracts to the north and the south for residential developments.

Sunrise, FL-based GL Homes paid $34M to acquire 421 acres north of Palm Beach in western St. Lucie County, where the company is planning to seek approval from the county to build 1,100 homes on the site, CoStar reported.

GL Homes also acquired 57 acres for $23.5M in a separate transaction west of Palm Beach Gardens, where it is planning to add 225 homes to the master-planned Avenir community.

"We remain bullish on these markets as destinations for discerning homebuyers seeking the quintessential Florida lifestyle and abundant business opportunities in one of the country's strongest job markets," Misha Ezratti, GL Homes president, said in a statement.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metropolitan area as of May 2024 added 66,600 jobs in a year-over-year comparison with May 2023. The local rate of job growth in South Florida of 2.3% outpaced the national average of 1.8%.

South Florida residents relocating out of Miami and Fort Lauderdale have increasingly been moving to St. Lucie County and other areas of what is known as the Treasure Coast.

The land GL Homes purchased is in proximity to its rapidly growing master-planned Riverland community in Port St. Lucie, a 4,000-acre development where GL is approved to build a total of 11,700 homes.

Home-building giants also are buying up undeveloped tracts south of Miami.

Arlington, TX-based home builder D.R. Horton paid $65M for 97 acres of farmland in Homestead for a planned mixed-use community. The development, known as Sandero Landing, will include 1,170 residential units and 216K SF of commercial space.

According to a report from Vizzda, the residential component of Sandero Landing will include 417 apartments, 691 townhomes and 62 live-work units. The development will include a grocery store, fitness center and an urgent care facility.

A 2024-2025 Southeast Florida Housing Outlook issued last month by Miami Realtors is projecting that falling mortgage rates, rising job growth and improving affordability conditions will expand home sales by 4% in the region in 2025.

"The sales growth will be driven by a 7.8% increase in single-family sales as condominium or townhome sales remain flat as potentially higher condo fees and assessments arising from the implementation of the Building Safety Act stalls demand," the report said.

Under the Building Safety Act, condos that are more than 30 years old must create reserve funds for structural improvements. According to an analysis from the University of Florida, 74% of the condominium buildings in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties were built in or before 1993.

Source: GlobeSt/ALM