Buying a home in South Florida is easier now than in recent years — sort of. To aide you in your search, we updated our interactive tool that enables you to search for ZIP Codes where median home values match your budget, then easily review school ratings and safety statistics.
Still, the data doesn’t match the on-the-ground reality in every case, and that means attractive pockets can get lost. We’ve highlighted seven lesser-known neighborhoods in our "How to Buy a Home" guide that appeal to different types of buyers. Here is one of them:
Those looking for an antidote to South Florida’s glitz find it in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, an oceanfront stretch in North Broward with “sleepy beachfront appeal,” says Realtor Billy Brown of One Sotheby’s. “It’s a cute and quaint beach town” — with an abundance of condos ranging from beachfront high-rises to smaller scale buildings with docks right on the Intracoastal.
With its town square positioned around Anglin’s Fishing Pier, the streets of Commercial Boulevard are closed to traffic on Friday nights to make room for a live band in a street festival atmosphere. Plazas are lined with pastel Adirondack chairs and the predominant architecture is mid-century modern for a laid-back, retro Florida beach town aesthetic.
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A barrier reef located just 100 yards offshore has earned the town of 6,500 its nickname of Florida’s Beach Diving Capital, and it’s common to see snorkelers and free divers on the sand preparing for a swim.
While the area is home to plenty of hotels and motels housing long-term, seasonal snowbirds, it’s a far cry from the towering luxury resorts of Fort Lauderdale beach farther south. Most of the hotels and condos are no more than four stories high, many of them built during the 1940s through the ’60s.
The Sea Ranch Lakes condominium development was built in 1971 in the center of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea and is immediately recognizable for its 16 story towers. One of the most desirable new condominiums is the just-completed oceanfront Villas by the Sea, an enclave of four-story Mediterranean-style buildings with 117 units and a private beach club.
Many residents are retired — according to the U.S. Census, about 40 percent are 65 or older — which explains why the town has no public schools.
Among them is Glenn Collins, a retired teacher from Saskatchewan, Canada. He bought his first condominium at Sea Ranch Lakes North in 2000 in order to be closer to his brother, an elderly Franciscan priest convalescing “in the twilight of his years.” Since then, Collins has made a business out of renovating units and putting them back on the market, with two currently for sale.
Brown describes Broward’s real estate market as “more like the tortoise, not the hare. Our growth is low and slow.” Between 2015 and 2016, condominium property value in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea increased by 10 percent, according to his analysis. He and Collins have both watched property values edge upward, with non-renovated condominiums averaging around $350,000 and renovated units upwards of $640,000.
Location: Oceanfront community in North Broward County between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal roughly bordered by Northeast 42nd Street to the south and Pompano Beach to the north.
Zip code: 33308
Median value: $278,000
Market increase: 8.1 percent (over the last year)
Best for: Condo dwellers, retirees, couples without children
School ratings: No public schools