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Broward County seeing a rise in codo demand and development

Broward county condos 2014

More than 4,000 coastal condo units are coming to Broward County as developers trying to capitalize on an upbeat housing market, new data show

The number of units completed, under construction or planned has nearly doubled over the past year, according to figures from the CraneSpotters.com database created by the CondoVultures consulting firm in Bal Harbour.

Some analysts wonder whether that’s even enough to satisfy demand from wealthy empty-nesters, retirees from the Northeast and opportunistic foreign investors.

Projects stretch from the beaches in Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood to the chic neighborhoods off Las Olas Boulevard.

The former Howard Johnson hotel was demolished this year to make way for the Paramount Fort Lauderdale Beach, a 95-unit building where prices start at about $1 million. The Related Group of Miami last year completed Apogee Beach, a 49-unit oceanfront building in Hollywood that’s now sold out.

“People don’t want the hassle of mowing the lawn or maintaining the roof,” said Dennis Eisinger, co-developer of a handful of boutique condos in Las Olas Isles, east of downtown. “And right now it makes much more sense to buy than rent.”

To be sure, Broward is no Miami-Dade County, where more than 27,000 units are completed or in the pipeline, prompting some market watchers to wonder whether Miami-Dade is destined for another downturn like the one that devastated the area from 2006 through 2011.

Wealthy foreigners, mostly from South America, have fueled South Florida’s condo resurgence, helping to dissolve the glut of units from the housing crash.

Many South Florida developers are requiring condo buyers to make large down payments — up to 50 percent in some cases. That discourages buyers from walking away from the contracts and gives the developers money to build without having to take out a construction loan.

CondoVultures principal Peter Zalewski said developers are slower to enter Broward because it doesn’t have the cache with international buyers that Miami-Dade has.

But he expects more foreigners to move north into Broward as Miami-Dade prices rise. That could prompt another wave of rentals being converted to condos, he said.

“The number of units could get ratched up very quickly,” Zalewski said.