Buying Below the Cost of Construction in Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale Cost of Construction

There are lots of ways to find value in real estate.  Some theories are complex, others deal with financial models, what I'm going to talk about today is about as basic as I can get.  Nothing frilly, no future value predictions or wild theories will be found in this post.  What I'm going to do is tell you why I feel a number of properties in Fort Lauderdale, specifically Downtown condo's are currently undervalued.  If you're buying below the cost of construction, or replacement cost, I believe you're getting a nice deal.  That's the idea behind this post.  Told you it was basic!

I'm going to throw some numbers at you.  You can absolutely argue with me about some of these figures.  I'm going to discuss costs to construct currently, based on projects I'm working on.  Where the argument comes in is that you may think you can construct for less than what I'm going to say.  It's likely you'll be able to, but I always push my builders and developers to go with the best materials available so my cost to construct is going to be higher than the guy putting in Formica counter tops and carpeted flooring.

While these number are applicable to single family homes (and especially to townhomes), I'd rather focus on condo's, specifically those located close to Downtown Fort Lauderdale.  There are three components of costs that you can break a build into; land acquisition, hard construction costs, soft construction costs.

Land Acquisition Costs

I'm going to stay away from waterfront lots for purposes of this discussion.  I'd rather focus on dry lots because the comparison I'm going to draw will be tied to existing projects which are located on dry lots.  Further, I'd like to stick to the Downtown Fort Lauderdale area.  If I want to buy a piece of land in Flagler Village or Victoria Park I'm going to end up paying between $40 and $50 per square foot just for the land.

Hard Construction Costs

Your hard construction costs are going to include: materials and labor needed to construct the building, utilities and other site related items, and landscaping, as a short list.  The brick and mortar items if you will.  Condo's are going to run you between $170-$200 per square foot.  Keep in mind those costs have been rising over the course of this year.

Soft Construction Costs

These are your indirect construction costs.  Architect, engineer, finance fees, legal fees, and such.  These will run you between $30 and $50 per square foot.


What this means is that if I wanted to go out and build a condo complex today I'm likely going to spend between $240 and $300 per square foot just to complete the project.  So what in the world does all of this mean to a buyer, more specifically to a buyer looking in Downtown Fort Lauderdale?  Let's assume I want to go out and build a condo complex, I'm doing so in order to turn a profit.  If my all in costs are $270 per square foot I've got a lot of money at risk and I want to be rewarded.  For sake of argument let's say I wanted to make a 25% return.  That means I need to sell for at least $338 per square foot.

Would you agree that if you're buying for below the cost of construction, or below replacement value, you're getting a good deal?  I would say yes, absolutely.  Let's take profit out of it and say if you could buy for $300 per square foot or below is a very attractive proposition.  If you scroll through active listings that means: Avenue Lofts, Las Olas by the River, Nola Lofts, Nu River Landing, Sole, Strada 315, and The Waverly Las Olas all have properties for sale listed for prices below replacement cost!  To me that sounds like these buildings are poised for a move up in pricing as new developments come to market in the Downtown Fort Lauderdale area.

By the way, you can apply this whether you're spending $200k or $2 million.  It's just a way to find properties undervalued relative to a metric that I believe is important.

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I work as a Realtor in Southeast Fort Lauderdale. If you’re interested in buying or selling a home, condominium, or townhouse (townhome) in: Rio Vista, Victoria Park, Downtown Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale Beach, Sailboat Bend, Tarpon River, Croissant Park, Collee Hammock, Wilton Manors, Oakland Park, Poinsettia Heights, Coral Ridge, or Las Olas Isles, please feel free to contact me at (786)443-7203 or through my email I am a Realtor that works on Saturdays in order to accommodate those with busy schedules. is a trusted source for real estate trends, statistics, and data, as well as aesthetics.

Written By Casey Prindle