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Pandemic leading house hunters towards rural Florida

Matt Lincoln gets a tour of Quail Creek Plantation, a $25 million property in Okeechobee County. (WPEC)
Matt Lincoln gets a tour of Quail Creek Plantation, a $25 million property in Okeechobee County. (WPEC)
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The coronavirus has brought us record unemployment and lead people to be desperate unlike they ever have been before, just to put a meal on the plate.

Yet there are signs that the pandemic may wind up eventually being a boon for the South Florida housing market - even the homes that are worth a lot of money.

"Quail Creek is a real slice of old Florida," says Billy Nash, a luxury realtor. "31 hundred acres, a 14 hour lake - full of trophy bass, it is just a beautiful place."

Nash is talking from the deck outside the main living area of Quail Creek Plantation, located about an hour north of the Palm Beaches in rural Okeechobee County.

It's the type of place where you can really get away from it all - in a time when we're all supposed to be staying away from it all. Nash put it up for sale last week - at $25 million.

When asked if he expects it to sell quickly, he says it depends on the market, but he's seen a number people over the last few months looking to buy lots of land.

Certainly 25 million dollars is not in everyone's budget - but Nash deals with businessmen based in the northeast all the time, and he says he's seen an influx of people wanting to get out of the big cities. "There really is a concern that if we have another wave of this pandemic, people would rather be on a property with 31 hundred acres than in a building with 750 people."

And Nash believes that the gains local real estate is seeing now has a shot to last after this is over. "In Florida, we see the demand only picking up over the next 2,3,4,5 years."

As more businesses in big cities see that they can have employees work from home, many experts believe that will lead to them getting rid of their expensive downtown offices. So now, if these men and women can work anywhere, of course many of them could turn to our neighborhoods with the great weather, and no state tax.

"Over the last couple of months we have seen a demand for more rural properties - people want space, acreage. Wellington, Okeechobee, Vero Beach, Orlando. I think it will evolve so you don't have to be in the big cities anymore. People want more land."

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