Fort Lauderdale is certainly in a unique position with the housing market as it is - some have said that in 10 years, people will look back at this time as point it out as an incredible time to have bought/ or when they should have bought.
The Las Olas area is a great location, and many options are available to you. First decision would be the water - ocean views will put you on AIA - many excellent hotels are opening in the near future and bringing restaurants with them. The river will put you closer to the pedestrian area of Las Olas with its current offerings of restaurants, shops and amenities.
In the late 1990's through to the mid-2000's, the skyline of Fort Lauderdale was transformed with a large selection of condos. The only limit here is price - and you will get more for your money today than at any time before. Some buildings will look better on paper than they are - so some caution is necessary if the price seems to good to be true.
Hendricks Isle is a good go-between - midway through to the ocean from the Las Olas Shoppes district. If you have a boat, then the length of your boat and its ability to get under a fixed bridge is a determining factor to where you will be.
Its a good time to look - prices have dropped greatly, interest rates are at historical lows (try to lock in at the high fours to low fives), and the inventory is new or only a few years old.
I understand the sensibility with which you are approaching this purchase - my out-of-town buyers/clients depend on an objective eye and an ability to really look properties over closely. If I can help you in any way, let me know. The links below are Las Olas area related, and contacting me is as easy as following the Web Reference link.
Las Olas Shoppes
Fort Lauderdale Beach
Good luck with this and a Happy New Year!
I specialize in oceanfront condos in South Florida. It would be my pleasure to discuss with you the various options that fit your criteria. If you visit my blog you will be able to read about the different condos
(954) 632 3266
I would be delighted to work with you and could send you some properties that would match your criteria. Often I find that the feedback I get from people at this early stage, particularly with what they don't like, tells me more about their preferences than they realize.
I don't know when you were last here, but there are now SO many fantastic restaurants to choose from, you'll never want to eat at home!
Call or drop me a line and we can discuss this in more details, especially with regard to price and timing.
Best regards from sunny South Florida
Villa G Realty, Inc.