It’s always a pleasure to speak with Ron Shuffield. A true gentleman in the business, he is the President and CEO of Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell Realtors®, which has been active in the South Florida real estate market since 1964.
That was the year Anna Mae Esslinger, Doty Wooten, Arlene Maxwell set up EWM and ran the show until they sold to Shuffield and Al Harper in 1984.
They, in turn, sold to Berkshire Hathaway – yes, THAT Berkshire Hathaway – in 2003.
The rest, as they say, is history. When all of the totals for 2017 come in, EWM is likely to be the largest real estate company in the U.S., Shuffield said, in terms of transactions and dollar volume.
With agents and staff numbering about 950 worldwide, EWM has 10 offices in Dade and Broward counties and is the No. 1 broker in the $1 million+ residential market in South Florida.
So Shuffield is not just a gentleman. He’s an expert, and he said 2018 is likely to be the best year since 2015 for South Florida residential real estate sales.
The pent-up demand for luxury housing in South Florida is high, and the mood of the economy is better, Shuffield said.
Beginning in August 2015, the high-end residential market started to trend downward due to domestic and international political concerns and a strengthening U.S. dollar, he said.
Things seemed to have stabilized now, and showings have increased markedly in just the last 30 days.
Personally, I think the new tax laws that are on the table in Washington should increase South Florida domestic demand from the usual places – New York, Philly, Boston.
Shuffield said that is exactly the case, and it was under way even before the new tax laws were proposed. Remember, he said, Florida is one of only seven states that have no state income tax.
“Now we see a lot of people interested in making the move to Florida,” he said.
There is a great selection of properties in the South Florida luxury residential market, Shuffield said, with nearly 4,400 properties in the Multiple Listing Service priced at more than $1 million. More than half of those are condos.
Multifamily sales in Downtown, Brickell, Wynwood and Edgewater reflect a new interest in urban living, Shuffield said. They offer what he calls the two C’s – community and convenience.
Here’s a good example: When EWM was pre-selling condos in the Met 1 building on South Biscayne Boulevard in Miami, the announcement that a Whole Foods would be built nearby brought 40 sales the next week, he said.
Mass transit is also a major factor in urban residential sales, Shuffield said. It’s a little-known fact that now you can get on any of the Metrorail stops and go straight to Miami International Airport.
And soon, the Brightline will extend all the way to Palm Beach County.
For all of these reasons and more, I expect steady growth in the South Florida real estate market. The cycles that we’ve normally experienced are beginning to smooth out, especially as the cranes come down and new units start to be delivered.
The closings will happen, Shuffield said. Most buyers these days are putting down 50% deposits. That’s serious. Especially when you consider that, since 2011, the median price for single-family homes and condos has nearly doubled.
“It’s all about the numbers and the population. Florida is growing at a very rapid rate. We’re one of the fastest-growing states in the country,” he said.
At more than 20 million people, Florida is the third-largest state in the nation behind California and Texas, and it’s getting about 1,000 net new residents per day, he added.
All told, the South Florida residential real estate market is very healthy, Shuffield said, and should remain that way for a long time to come.