WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
South Florida new homes aren’t immune to the outrageous demand of the housing market. Buyers are discovering that it all comes down to what you’re willing to sacrifice.
Owning a new home had always been Terrance Diaz’s dream, but he never anticipated the challenges he would face in a market with little inventory, high demand and rising prices.
“It all depends on your will. How badly do you want it? Diaz said.
Turns out you must mean it badly.
“It’s definitely a lot harder than ever with new construction,” said realtor Karen Moody.
Moody said she doesn’t always jump on new construction these days. The competition has nothing to do with it.
“Some of these buyers have to bid at the outlets, and they don’t know what they’re going to get,” she said. “You exceed $100,000, are you competing with the sales center? Or are you competing with another buyer? »
Bidding wars are a new part of the insatiable demand for new homes.
“There’s no shortage of buyers,” said Tonia Abrahamsson, vice president of sales at Minto Communities, a known developer in the area that is building a masterplan neighborhood in western Palm Beach County.
At the Minto Communities construction site located in Westlake near Seminole Pratt Whitney Road, developers are building a city within the city.
Even with a plan to build 4,500 homes over the next 10 years, there are more buyers than land available.
“We limit the number of home sites we publish at a time just to control what’s happening in the market,” Abrahamsson said.
With supply chain issues and labor shortages, Abrahamsson said it’s all new territory for builders who have to order materials six months in advance instead of 60 days.
“Initially, when someone came in, in the beginning, before the pandemic, and what’s happening, our build time was six to eight months,” Abrahamsson said. “Now what we’re looking at, around 11 months.”
So what should buyers do if they want that new home?
“Me, I’m always aiming for the stars,” Diaz said.
Diaz and his wife, Veronica, live in Broward County and are keen on a brand new home for their growing family in Westlake.
“They have a pool complex, a living-style water park. Let’s start with that, for the family,” he said. “And I’m more excited because I’m back in my hometown of, you know, Palm Beach County.”
Ken H. Johnson, a real estate economist and associate dean of graduate programs at Florida Atlantic University, said a higher percentage of people move to Palm Beach County than move south to Miami-Dade.
“Palm Beach County, for example, over the next 10 years is expecting a population increase of just over 14 percent,” Johnson said. “All of this is creating a strong demand for homes in Palm Beach County.”
For Diaz, that meant getting her dream home wasn’t going to be easy.
“We slept in the back of his SUV, and it was all night, all morning,” Diaz said.
He and his wife learned the system for buying into Sky Cove homes in Westlake. A few batches are released every two weeks, but only for those who want to be first in line.
“You think, how many times am I going to have to do this?” said Veronica Nieto-Diaz, Terrance’s wife.
Twice the Diaz waited outside the sales center on release days, hours before the office opened, but it was too late. Other buyers arrived before them and obtained first choice for the only three lots released.
The third time, he arrived 20 hours before the lot’s release time, spending the night in his car.
“When you got there, you took your picture, you logged in,” Diaz said. “The hardest part is that you couldn’t leave, you had to stay.”
Not all new developments in Westlake have the same system.
Minto Communities has a confidential electronic system where buyers on the waitlist receive an email to submit a form when lots are released.
The first buyers to submit the form have the possibility of obtaining the very rare lots released. For many buyers, this process can take months to get to the front line.
Diazs nighttime adventure took them to second out of three. They got a lot, but it’s going to cost more.
On each release date, buildable lots increase at different increments. Sometimes these increases are $10,000, $20,000 or even up to $40,000.
“Don’t trust the signs you see on the road,” Moody said of homes that no longer sell from $300.
Market challenges and demand drive up the cost of new construction.
“If you keep waiting, extending it, it’s only going to increase,” Diaz said.
With demand not slowing down, the Diaz are finally in the home stretch.
“A story we need to tell behind this house,” said Veronica Nieto-Diaz.
“Maybe this is our ‘Happy New Year’ present. By January next year at the latest, we should be moving in,” Diaz said. “And it’s brand new, from the ground up. Yes, the American dream.”
Realtors say that if you’ve got your heart set on a brand new home, there are a few things that can help you outshine the competition in this market:
- Make sure you are pre-approved for your home loan before you start looking
- Hiring a real estate agent, even with new construction, can help you manage sales centers and the construction process
- If you really like a specific developer and the location is flexible, check out what other communities are built by the same company