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What we know: Will Lionel Messi playing in Miami boost Florida real estate, tourism?

By Antonio Fins, Palm Beach Post,


Will South Florida real estate, tourism and business also get a Lionel Messi boost?

The trend lines have been clear. The post-pandemic housing surge has eased , whether because prices just got too high, interest rates made buying too costly or employers are recalling employers back to their offices and cubicles.

Now, though, we get word that the Argentine soccer sta r, arguably among if not the greatest futbolistas ever, is moving to Florida to play for Inter Miami of Major League Soccer.

Messi, who is reportedly worth $600 million, won't have a problem affording even boom-eras prices. And he is likely to lift the Inter Miami to championship level.

But can he be a magnet for another real estate rush? More record-breaking tourism numbers?

The real estate analysis firm RentCafe says it's possible Messi's stardom could "impact" the real estate market even in a place like South Florida that "has long been a magnet for celebrities." Most likely, RentCafe stated, a property purchase by Messi in a particular neighborhood "could drive up the prices in that area."

"The arrival of a high-profile figure like Lionel Messi in South Florida could generate increased attention and interest, potentially impacting the real estate market," a RentCafe spokeswoman wrote in an email to the Palm Beach Post. "His international popularity could also increase tourism to Miami, potentially impacting the demand for short-term rentals. However, it is too early to tell if there will be a “Messi effect.”

It is early, but so far, here is what we know.

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From Madonna to LeBron James: Celebrities have long shined a spotlight on Miami real estate

Florida, and South Florida, have long been in the celebrity spotlight, dating back to television icon Jackie Gleason airing his show from Miami Beach in the earliest days of the small screen.

In the 1980s, Miami, labeled "Paradise Lost" by Time magazine, saw an economic and real estate rebound when the TV series "Miami Vice" aired and lead actor Don Johnson became a fixture as did the colorful high-rises and scenery that served as backdrops.

That continued into the 1990s when Madonna bought a mansion for $4.9 million in 1992. In the 2000s, a bigtime buyer was performer Ricky Martin. In the 2010s, LeBron James brought his talents to South Beach when he joined the Miami Heat, dubbed the Heatles for its star power.

That celebrity magnet extended to Palm Beach County, with plenty of big names coming here, including singer Billy Joel , but no one has arguably shown a brighter light on the county than Donald Trump . His Mar-a-Lago club and two golf courses were already well-know before Trump became the 45th president.

Did you know? Here are 38 celebrities that lived in the Jupiter area

Analysts have said Trump's 33 trips to Palm Beach during his one tumultuous term in the White House, assisted by a 2017 tax law he signed and which gutted state income tax deductions from federal returns, fueled more migration to Florida. That people flow became a wave — Republicans would say a red wave — when the pandemic made work-from-home a staple of American life for many millions of U.S. workers.

After a post-pandemic shutdown real estate boom, Florida market has been slowing

Palm Beach County, the Broward, Palm Beaches and St. Lucie Realtors Group noted in its report on April home sales, saw a 3% slide in the median price for a single-family house. A minimal drop, but real estate analysts say it marked the first time since early 2020 that year-over-year prices have retreated and likely signaled the pandemic-fueled spending spree has passed.

A survey by the rental apartment listing site RentCafe suggests the boom in built-to-rent construction in Miami has also stagnated. RentCafe said Miami has the largest inventory of built-to-rent residences in Florida with 1,877 units, but added that the "outlook for BTR developments in the Miami metro area appears bleak, with no BTR projects in the pipeline here."

Still, a review of overall Florida real estate, based on data from Zillow, has the Sunshine State posting the highest percentage increase in property prices between 2021 and this year.

The average price, said New Jersey Real Estate Network , of a home in Florida stands at $385,157, up just over 35% in the past two years. Among the state's 67 counties, Collier in Southwest Florida ranked first with 50.35% increase and Washington in the Panhandle was at the bottom with just a 21.95% gain. Palm Beach County has seen a 37.02% hike.

So ... what about soccer star Messi? Will there be a Lionel Messi effect?

Fútbol is the world's most popular sport. And Messi is arguably its most popular player.

Florida, and especially South Florida, is also synonymous with immigration.

This week, the Pensacola News-Journal reported that as of 2021 there were 4,608,653 foreign-born immigrants living in the state, a sum that accounts for one-fifth of its residents. Moreover, the immigrant population exploded by 72.6% between 2000 and 2021.

The vast majority of immigrants — 75.6% — relocated to the state from the Americas. That's not surprising given the geographical proximity to South and Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Will Messi draw more people here? Unclear. But we're willing to bet he fills Inter Miami's stadium, and probably will boost tourism to the state, which will likely draw about 140 million visitors here this year.

Antonio Fins is a politics and business editor at the Palm Beach Post , part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach him at . Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: What we know: Will Lionel Messi playing in Miami boost Florida real estate, tourism?

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