Cities nationwide are seeing capital investments to elevate their amenities and transform their brands. I’m seeing the signs of this kind of transformation firsthand in my home base of Fort Lauderdale, where billions of dollars have rebranded the city and bolstered its status as a truly global destination, capturing the attention of real estate agents and buyers of all demographics and income levels.
If you’re looking to relocate or even within any city or region, or you represent those who are, how can you discover the big-ticket improvements that will help ensure any investment of money or emotion yields the highest possible return?
One way is to become a sleuth intent on looking at your prospective new hometown from the eyes of an outsider. A deliberate effort to see the destination with a discerning eye can help you in several critical ways. It will help visualize the returns on your decision before you pull the trigger. It also can ensure you discover the key attributes that make the destination worth living in and improve chances for long-term returns. Finally, it just heightens the fun factor you or your clients will find living there.
As you read on, ask yourself how any city’s improvements will impact your life, lifestyle and investment.
Improvements Lending Access
The capital investments being made in your target city are a strong indicator of the community and whether the community is investing in itself.
How can you find where the money’s being spent in a given market? Local business development organizations track region-wide development. In most metro markets, the local office of the Urban Land Institute follows area-wide trends, capital markets and development, design and planning news affecting — and ideally, improving — the local market.
The question to ask is, “How are people getting to and around the area?” Here in Fort Lauderdale, for example, highways and surface roads are being improved for greater traffic flow and over $1 billion has been spent on regional transportation enhancements. These include the airport, the seaport and Richard Branson’s Virgin Trains USA, which will connect South Florida’s major cities and soon link our region to Orlando and beyond.
In some markets vulnerable to climate change, real estate agents should ask businesses and development organizations, or even area universities, about efforts to mitigate environmental impacts. Some agents see this conversation as thorny or off-limits. As a trusted agent or investor, ask now to inform your answers when clients ask the tough questions. Who will be your go-to resource for insights on how transportation options, global access and mitigation position your team as the must-know partner for prospective buyers?
As a buyer, ask yourself: How will the transportation options and global access my prospective relocation destination offers impact my lifestyle?
Culinary And Cultural Allure
From corner coffee shops to four-star restaurants, from museums to art galleries and performing arts theaters, do you know how your region is touched by “culture”?
Look for signs of a growing economy — in particular, investments in entertainment, dining and cultural properties certain to infuse “world-class” into the conversation. How can you discover whether your target city is becoming a sophisticated, multicultural home that is welcoming to all with thriving ethnic and LGBTQ communities with cosmopolitan appeal? For some, the best way is to become a patron yourself. I like to highlight the Broward Cultural Division and the Arts Guild in Greater Fort Lauderdale as a destination and key resource. Cultural centers, arts guilds and websites dedicated to dining, the arts and entertainment open the doors to the trends that have shaped or are shaping a community’s culture.
Ask yourself: What cultural offerings in this city will heighten my family’s or my client’s quality of life?
A Region For All Ages
My home city is a prime example of how a community can shed a one-note reputation, as the retirement haven image has given way to planned senior-living communities among a thriving downtown that baby boomers and millennials alike can call home.
Looking at your desired destination or sales market, consider what communities are emerging or available for a young family or retirement-age adults. Call the district school board, local houses of worship or educational centers to inquire about school availability, performance or athletic or artistic offerings by zone or district. Look for signs of construction that point to a skyline transformation and assess the availability and quality of local senior living.
Ask yourself: Given today’s family dynamic, how does this city meet my family’s or my client’s changing needs?
Any market you seek to call your own almost should sell itself. But it often won’t do so without you asking the right questions of the right organizations — and doing a little exploring for yourself.