Why is Delray Beach, Florida Attracting More Northeasterners?

It’s no surprise that many Northeasterners enjoy a respite from cold winters in the Sunshine State. But what may be surprising is that Delray Beach, Florida—not it’s higher profile neighbors West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale or Miami—has been catching the attention of many northeast snowbirds, retirees and investors of late. While Miami offers all of the glitz and glamour of a big city, from high-rise luxury hotels and condos to world-class restaurants, shopping, museums and theater, those looking for a more relaxed, small town, vacation feel with a thriving downtown are finding it in Delray Beach.

The Lifestyle

Shaking off its nickname from the 1980s, “Dull-ray Beach,” the town has come into its own as the “Village by the Sea.” Delray Beach prides itself on maintaining a local vibe and laid-back lifestyle while providing all of the comforts of a larger city. And, let’s not forget the main attraction: Delray’s pristine beaches. Just cross over the drawbridge that spans the Intracoastal Waterway and you’re there—about a 20-minute walk from downtown.


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“[Delray’s popularity is] all about the vibrant lifestyle, walkability to the beach, shopping and trendy restaurants. The area is primarily local businesses, and it’s in close proximity to everything: airports, beaches and other cities [such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach],” says Ingrid Carlos, Managing Broker of Douglas Elliman’s Delray Beach and Boca Raton offices. 

The main downtown area, Atlantic Avenue, was named among 10 great American shopping streets by USA Today for its walkability and mix of civic, residential, local and national retailers, restaurants and hospitality.

Strolling down Atlantic Avenue, meander into the plethora of local shops selling everything from home goods to clothing, take a break at one of the area’s best hotels, The Seagate and dine waterside at Deck 84.


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The arts district, known as Pineapple Grove after the town’s agricultural past, runs along NE Second Avenue extending just north of Atlantic Avenue. Here you’ll find a mix of art galleries, custom furniture stores and boutiques.

“Delray Beach is a laid-back coastal town that invites stress-free living allowing our clients from the Northeast to throw on their flip-flops and golf shirt and truly relax. Although known and loved for its relaxed, beach vibe, Delray provides many of the luxurious amenities our most discerning clients demand,” says Nick Malinosky, Executive Director of Luxury Sales, Douglas Elliman Delray Beach. 


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In an effort to maintain the charm and character of Delray Beach, new land development regulations limit building height to four stories, although, there are older high-rise buildings. In addition, pedestrians are encouraged by the small-town atmosphere to walk and bike in dedicated bike lanes throughout the town, rather than drive.

The Market

According to Douglas Elliman’s Q2 2018 market report, the year-over-year closed sales for Delray Beach are up 4.1% for condos and 0.8% for single-family homes. Median sales prices are also rising as interest in the area increases.

“Some of the largest deals Douglas Elliman has done in the area were to New Yorker’s and I’m hearing Delray mentioned by our agents in New York City and Long Island more frequently,” says Jay Phillip Parker, CEO of Douglas Elliman Florida Brokerage


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For buyers looking for oceanfront property or non-waterfront homes, Nick Malinosky says “[Delray’s] inventory is quite low and quality newer homes are hard to come by. Direct oceanfront [property] in Delray’s estate section can [go for around] $12M for a raw piece of land, up to $40M for a finished oceanfront home on a great lot. Single-family, non-waterfront homes range from $1.7M to $5M, while homes on the Intracoastal range from $3M to $12M.”

Condos are also a popular option and offer many of the same amenities as a single-family home with less maintenance. The average condo sales price for Q2 2018 was $206,365.

The Trend

The increase of Northeasterners to Delray Beach seems to be a trend that will continue to pick up steam as the area becomes more and more known among this crowd. 

According to Ingrid Carlos, serious buyers are not waiting for the winter season to start their search—they’re purchasing now in preparation for the season. In addition, builders are coming in from other states looking for new areas to develop. 


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Nick Malinosky attests to seeing an influx of non-resident buyers purchasing homes and vacant land in Delray recently, as well. “We’ve had many clients purchase homes or land now with the intent of building a new home or occupying the home within the next few years. Many of these buyers are not ready to be in Florida full time just yet; however are buying and planning now for future use when they retire, sell their company or bring their business to Florida. They realize the move is inevitable and with limited inventory, they’re taking the first step sooner rather than later.”  

With the steady popularity of South Florida among retirees and snowbirds, all signs point to a continued migration from the northeast to this area. As the Miami market has seen an influx of new developments and rising prices, the towns in Palm Beach County are a welcome alternative to big city living without compromising on lifestyle.


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“South Florida has enjoyed a cultural, culinary and lifestyle revolution and with that, we’ve seen a tremendous evolution of all aspects of Florida living in many of the Palm Beach markets. Furthermore, prices have risen dramatically in many of the Miami markets, which, when combined with the lower density of the northern South Florida markets, and the ‘pack mentality’ of many from up north, Delray, Boca, West Palm Beach and others are in the spotlight,” explains Jay Parker. 

Ready to buy? Search all Douglas Elliman’s Delray Beach, Florida listings or contact an agent to find your dream home today.

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