Ms. Antonelli said she considered the lack of state income taxes in Florida “a free gift with purchase.” Even with an $800 homeowner’s association fee to cover lawn and sprinkler service and the clubhouse, “life wasn’t going to be any more expensive for us in Florida,” she said. She and her husband bought a five-bedroom, 5,900-square-foot “Veneto” model on a “dream lot” with a lake view for $1.4 million, adding 20 percent for a pool and other upgrades.
Ms. Antonelli and her family have temporarily moved back to New Jersey, but plan to move to Florida next June when school lets out, and will rent a home there until their new house is ready in the spring of 2022. “A lot of our final decisions will depend on how everything goes with this school year and Covid in New Jersey,” Ms. Antonelli said.
Long a destination of choice for northerners weary of taxes and cold weather, Florida’s appeal rose when the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 limited to $10,000 the amount of total state and local taxes that can be deducted on a federal income tax return.
Despite a spike in coronavirus cases in Florida earlier this summer, the pandemic has increased the state’s allure. Demand at the wealthier end of the market has swelled “across the major markets of South Florida — Tampa and St. Pete are seeing the same amount of activity,” said Jay Phillip Parker, chief executive of Douglas Elliman’s Florida brokerage, with multimillion dollar sales snowballing in Palm Beach and Miami.
Beyond Zoom calls and virtual tours, buyers fleeing urban centers have driven south or even chartered planes to view properties. Some who were wintering in Florida when the pandemic struck stayed. Many rented units “were sold to the tenants,” Mr. Parker said, noting that some statistics may be skewed because the activity was at a normally quiet time.
“The pandemic is one of the many elements that have contributed toward what we have always known to be a natural migration,” Mr. Parker added. “We’ve been referred to as the ‘sixth borough’.”