They are building in Miami, a prime market that escaped the worst ravages of the downturn. The Miami Association of Realtors says the number of home sales last year set a new record.
A city reinvented
Miami was once something of a parochial backwater, a destination for retirees in search of winter sun, but the city has spent the past decade successfully reinventing itself. Now, whether it is partying in art deco South Beach, high-rise living in the business district Brickell or living by the bay in Coconut Grove, there is something for everyone.
Anyone who dismisses Miami as being culture-lite is wrong. The city has an opera and ballet company and hosts major concerts and sporting events, as well as the successful annual Art Basel South Beach.
Take the Design District: only five years ago this area, 15 minutes from South Beach, was unsafe and rundown. But after large-scale investment, partly from French luxury goods brand LVMH, its low-level warehouses have emerged as an arty, high-design centre. Marni, Prada and Hermès boutiques have opened beside hip art galleries.
Family-friendly Coconut Grove
Coconut Grove, 20 minutes south of South Beach, is the original Miami neighbourhood — green, leafy and established with top-rated schools and large family homes hidden behind solid banyan trees. It's a calm alternative to hedonistic South Beach, but only five minutes from Downtown.
Two-bedroom condos start from £230,840 and houses from £527,700, but with an average sale price at £593,650 it's an affluent area. Local developer Terra Group is selling The Grove at Grand Bay, 96 large condos in twisting towers overlooking Sailboat Bay. Built from insulated glass, it is the striking work of Danish architect Bjarke Ingels.
"Nothing was built in Coconut Grove during the boom years and it retains a sophisticated, calm atmosphere," says Brian Pearl of Terra Group. "It's about low-key living and old money, the equivalent of New York's East Side. Wealthy buyers at The Grove include second homers and locals downsizing from large family homes."
With 50 of the 58 condos in one tower sold, the second tower is newly launched with prices for three to six bedrooms over an average 4,000 square feet from a shade under £1.65 million. Completion is expected from November 2014. These are spacious, light, modern homes with 12ft ceilings. Communal facilities include pools, gym and a pet spa. For more details visit groveatgrandbay.com
Head to Miami Beach
Coconut Grove has no beaches, so if it is white sand that you want, head to Miami Beach and the achingly hip South of Fifth area of South Beach. Property prices peak in residential towers overlooking Fisher Island, America's wealthiest zip code.
Artecity on South Beach has also attracted strong British interest, says Savills. Priced from £145,000 to £560,670 the one- to three-bedroom apartments with pools, parking and gym face the beach and have views of art deco properties from a roof terrace.
A winning investment in Miami
As the MD of 19 Greek Street furniture design gallery in Soho, interior designer Marc Peridis, 32, is keenly aware of Miami's annual Art Fair. He visits two or three times a year and always for Design Miami in December. Yet that wasn't the main reason he bought his one-bedroom condo in art deco South Beach.
"I wanted to buy abroad mainly for investment and looked from Buenos Aires to Barcelona," says Marc, from Covent Garden. "I read that Florida prices were up to 45 per cent below their peak and bought in May 2011, when the market was at its lowest, for about a third of the price the previous owner had paid, and already prices have recovered."
The purchase was straightforward — opening a bank account and obtaining a tax number was easy — and with winter weather and a home that rents well, Miami is a winner.
The Grove: groveatgrandbay.com (00 1 305 929 8646)
Hamptons International: hamptons-international.com (020 7305 5792)
Savills: savills.co.uk (020 7016 3740)
Knight Frank: knightfrank.com (020 7629 8171)