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2. It's a good time to consider a second home in Florida
If you think our state's real estate picture is cheerless, consider Florida, where speculation was rampant and builders glutted the condo market. The exception: Palm Beach, still the Sunshine State's gold standard. "There's only one Palm Beach. Our prices never go down. Never, ever," says Linda Olsson, who has her own firm, Linda R. Olsson, Inc. She maintains that the fall selling season was balanced, a good one for both buyers and sellers. "It's different down here. There's the beach and warm weather, but there's also world-class shopping, dining and everything else you need." One of Olsson's best-priced listings is a 2,300-square-foot condo with three bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms in an oceanfront building, with an oceanfront pool, listed for $685,000. At the top of the market is a lake-front home with its own guesthouse and pool, offering three-and-a-half bathrooms, listed for $8 million. If those numbers exceed your budget, consider investing—again, long term—in the Florida markets that Moody's identifies as poised to boom: the panhandle's Panama City (a new airport is scheduled to open in 2008) and Vero Beach (a more affordable alternative to Palm Beach County, its neighbor). And check out alternative selling channels, such as auctions and foreclosures. Although they aren't on the rise in our state, Florida has seen an increase in both as sellers become increasingly desperate.
3. It's a decent time to invest in a new-construction condo in Manhattan.
No, New York is not cheap, and never will be. But now that buyers have evaporated, developers are marketing their new condos with increased aggressiveness. You may not see price slashing; rather, rate cuts are given, for instance, on finishes, which allow buyers to spec amenities and materials—marble countertops, an upgrade to a steam shower or a Jacuzzi bath—without the typically massive surcharges.