A Beginner's Guide to Buying a Home in West Palm Beach

First Republic Bank
August 17, 2015

With its subtropical climate, crystal blue waters, and a vibrant urban lifestyle, the West Palm Beach area has been attracting more and more home buyers over the past several years. Values are rising – but they remain low when compared to the major metropolitan areas from which many new residents relocate.

The Everglades are to the west and ocean to the east and south, which creates a shortage of developable land in the South Florida area. At the same time, more families, snow birds, and even businesses are flocking to the area. Consequently, home values are expected to climb even further.

As you search for a new home, you’ll want to make sure you know how to find the best community that will suit your lifestyle and preferences. Here’s what you might consider when starting your search:

Location is Imperative

In West Palm Beach, areas that offer proximity to the water tend to be the most desirable. While luxury living can be found in the downtown waterfront areas, adjacency to the Intracoastal Waterway offers increased choice.

At the south end of the county lies Delray Beach, a young, vibrant community with a bustling restaurant and art scene, a quintessential main street (Atlantic Avenue), and a lively night life.

Within the city of West Palm Beach itself, there are many desirable neighborhoods, each with its own unique personality. El Cid is an historic, established, affluent neighborhood where homeowners can have easy access to both the downtown area and the beach. Then there’s family-orientated SoSo, the area south of Southern Boulevard, which is close to the airport but also offers easy access to downtown restaurants and waterfront activities. Finally there’s Northwood, where future development is in the works.

Just north of the city are suburbs like Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, and Juno. These tend to have a more leisurely feel and good school districts, but they also come with 20-30 minute daily commute into the city itself should you find yourself working there.

Expect a Rising Market

Home buyers can expect the residential real estate market to continue to heat up as local business developers continue to court currently out-of-state financial services and healthcare organizations to the area. There’s no state-level income tax in Florida, which makes Florida an attractive place to live and do business.

Despite rising values over the past few years, the area real estate market is still quite reasonable when compared to other resort communities and major cities across the nation. The number one driver of real estate values in the area is relocation. Many northern families, retirees, and even young singles are attracted to the climate and relaxed lifestyle, but they also like the financial advantages of lower taxes and a decreased cost of living.

Research Weather Regulations

Building codes have changed over the years as a result of weather-related damages. Today, insurers in the West Palm Beach area require homes to have hurricane strapping, which connects the home’s frame to the roof and concrete foundation to protect it during inclement weather, as well as hurricane-grade windows and glass doors, and waterproofing features. Depending on the renovations required and the size of the home, weatherproofing upgrades can cost upwards of several hundred thousand dollars to install.

The good news is that an experienced real estate agent may be able to identify hurricane-resistant housing features during a typical walkthrough, so there are likely to be few surprises come settlement.

When buying a home in the West Palm Beach area, it’s important to understand the area and be prepared for the unique real estate challenges that come with living in one of the most beautiful and temperate areas of the nation.

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©First Republic Bank, 2015