Archive for Blog’ Category

5

Apr
2011

Greater Downtown Miami Market Update

300 Leases Signed Monthly In Greater Downtown Miami In 2011

Published 4/3/2011 by CondoVultures.com

Nearly 750 condos are available for rent in the Greater Downtown Miami area at an average asking price of more than $2,750 per month, according to a new report from CondoVultures, a real estate consultancy and marketing company based Bal Harbour, Florida.

As of April 4, nearly 600 units are under contract and waiting to be leased. The average asking price of these pending deals is $1,900 per month.

In the first three months of 2011, tenants have leased nearly 915 condos in Greater Downtown Miami at an average price of about $2,190 per month, according to the analysis based on Florida Realtors association data.

Compare this to the same three-month period in previous years.

In 2010, tenants leased 850 condos in Greater Downtown Miami at an average price of nearly $1,820 per month. In 2009, tenants rented nearly 770 condos at an average monthly rent of $1,750 per month. A year earlier in 2008, tenants rented about 600 units at an average monthly rent of nearly $1,850, according to the report.

Of the Greater Downtown Miami condos available for rent, nearly 260 of the units have one bedroom with an average asking price of $1,855 per month. An additional 380 units have two bedrooms at an average asking price of $2,800 per month.

There are about 75 units with three bedrooms that are available at an average asking price of $4,100 per month.   Some 15 units have four bedrooms, or more, with an average asking price of $11,900 per month.  Another 15 studios are for rent at an average asking price of $1,500 per month, according to the data.

Foreign buyers and institutional investors have focused their attention on acquiring more than 80 percent of the nearly 22,250 units that were constructed in the area during the real estate boom.

At the end of 2010, some 3,600 new condos were still unsold, according to the Condo Vultures® Official Condo Buyers Guide To Miami™.

Greater Downtown Miami is a 60-block stretch from the Julia Tuttle Causeway south to the Rickenbacker Causeway, and Interstate 95 east to Biscayne Bay. The market is comprised of the neighborhoods of the Brickell Avenue Area, Downtown Miami, and the Biscayne Boulevard Corridor.

http://www.condovultures.com/News/ViewArticle/tabid/77/ArticleId/23912/300-Leases-Signed-Monthly-In-Greater-Downtown-Miami-In-2011.aspx
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30

Mar
2011

The New Wealthy

The New Wealthy

By Mark Ellwood, Plum Magazine

Miami Leads The Country In A Return To The Good Life

It’s undeniable:  Miami means money.  It takes deep pockets and a thirst for attention to win the bottle wars in this town: In the South Beach clubs, just one jeroboam of Perrier-Jouet’s Fleur de Champagne Rose can cost $15,250 (the sparklers are thrown in for free).  Where else but at Prime One Twelve would purists shell out $30 an ounce for a Japanese-bred Kobe steak?  The Setai stakes its claim as America’s most luxurious hotel by offering South Beach’s priciest penthouse suite: $28,000 for one night.  And even those who have spent just a little time here feel the need to indulge: Chris Bosh powered forward in his new gig with the Miami Heat by dropping $12.5 million on a 12,000-square-foot North Bay Road hideout.

McKinsey & Co.’s Lisa Sun is one of the consulting firm’s most highly regarded luxury gurus, and she says there’s no better place to understand what five-star living really means than in Miami, a home for old and new money alike, whether from the U.S. or overseas.  “I describe it as a melting pot of different types of wealth coming together, all of whom have a desire for luxury,” Sun says.  But though the platinum-plated lifestyle today might be a pricey as ever , there has been a distinct shift in tone since the economic meltdown two years ago: Flash is out, true wealth is in.

“I’d call the mood today one of responsible, rather than conspicuous, consumption,” Sun continues.  “People are thinking, The things I buy must have longevity or a story behind them in the way they’re made or why – a uniqueness that makes me feel justified in spending.”  Translation: It’s ok to be seen splashing out as long as it’s on the right things and for the right reasons.  But who are these New Wealthy, and how have they changed in the last two or three years in Miami?

One major, and welcome, shift is the drive towards value at any price point.  In the Magic City, it’s in real estate where this is most evident.  The New Wealthy here still won’t blanch at a $20 million price tag: They’ll just want to know exactly why a penthouse is worth that much.  “No one is an emotional buyer in this marketplace.  Everyone is interested in value,” says Michael Valdes, one of Sotheby’s key players in the real estate market in Miami.  “There was a lot of emotion back in the heyday.  People would come in and fall in love with these houses, but that has completely changed,” agrees EWM’s Nelson Gonzalez.  A few years ago, he recalls selling a North Bay Road house to Billy Joel on spec.  “We canceled the next three appointments, and he bought it then and there,” Gonzalez says.

He points out that such casual splurging is rare now: “Emotion used to be 90 percent of the decision, but now it’s flipped, and it’s probably only 25 percent.  The rest is numbers, comparables and ‘What did the neighbors sell for?’”  In many ways, it’s a welcome change – less hot air or hype and more hard investment.  But this new, smarter mindset doesn’t hinder major transactions.  Gonzalez was part of the team behind the recent $16 million sale of 88 La Gorce Circle, the highest local purchase since the seismic economic shifts.  It sold because it adhered to luxury’s new rules.  “There was a lot of value in that purchase,” Gonzalez says.  “There was more than 260 feet of waterfront and a 45,000-square-foot lot.”

Like an art collector might research provenance on a must-have piece, home buyers in the new luxury landscape are reading up to become real-estate connoisseurs – and still making compromises in the process.  “The oversupply of information has turned people into very, very sophisticated buyers,” notes Michael Valdes, citing a client he worked with recently whose exact specs included a wine cellar.  “We had a penthouse on the market for $16 million, and someone came in to do a lease option for $60,000 a month,” he says.  “What was important to them, since they are very avid wine collectors and enthusiasts, was that it had a 5,000 – bottle wine cellar.  It was the deciding factor, even though it had one less bedroom than they were looking for.”

Of course, in Miami, the other industry where luxury’s new rules are most evident is hospitality.   When it comes to good life in 2011, it’s all about flexibility and a more casual approach, rather than a one-size-fits-all, platinum-priced experience.  It’s an echo of McKinsey’s emphasis on unique, rather than simply expensive, experiences.  The recently opened JW Marriott Marquis downtown has a Daniel Boulud-branded in-house restaurant – but it’s the more casual db Bistro Moderne rather than an uptight, time-intensive fine dining spot.  When iconic restaurateur Shareef Malnik made over The Forge, he tweaked his set-up in a similar way, offering small plates for grazing alongside full means and installing high-tech, self-serve wine-dispensing machines with 80 different varieties, available in as small as one-ounce servings.

Malnik’s casual approach wasn’t about turning tables fast, but rather emphasizing how accessible his restaurant really is.  “Our table dining times have increased, because we want people to feel comfortable,” Malnik says.  “Let’s not get the last dollar today, but create demand that will last a long time.”  Malnik even believes that one symptom of the less bling-driven market is that his restaurant is buzzier throughout the week.  “The New Wealthy don’t need to be there on the weekend,” he continues.  “They’re preferring the nights that aren’t so spectacular and conspicuous.”

Prime One Twelve’s Myles Chefetz agrees; his business has boomed despite the downturn.  “The rich are more cautious with real estate, but there’s no devaluation in good,” Chefetz explains.  “They may have lost some money on the stock market, but they still eat out.”  Nonetheless, he has seen how splurge-like excess has been reined-in.  “People don’t act as flamboyantly as they used to, and that’s good,” Chefetz stresses.  “Two or three years ago, I had two guys come in for lunch and spend $20,000, including three $5,000 of wine.  But this year, the same guys came in and bought one bottle.”

And in South Beach’s signature industry, nightlife, luxury has shifted too.  It has returned to its service-driven roots, again emphasizing a good experience over a grand bar tab.  Velvet-rope burn is just so, well, 2000s.  “We’re in the business of trying to satisfy the customer,” says nightlife veteran Eric Milon.  “And we’re appreciative of the fact that they do come out and are willing to spend money on the table.  We would not enforce certain rules that we had before, for example.”

Dave Grutman of LIV agrees.  He welcomes the higher expectations he sees from the more sophisticated, wealthy customers who are now a mainstay.  “Clubs have to be upping their game when clients are spending money again,” he says.  “You can’t open your doors and put some local bumpkin DJ on, and your service had better be right up to par.  All these people have gone to Vegas or Saint-Tropez and gotten great service, so the operation here can’t be like the old days.”   It’s the same sense of in-the-know connoisseurship that’s ribboned through the real-estate market today.

The new mood among the New Wealthy is due to not only the global economic shift but also the arrival of some fresh figureheads who’ve shown Miamians a new way of thinking – specifically Bosh and LeBron James.  Both are regularly cites as icons by the luxury industry here.  “Chris Bosh is such a down-to-earth, intelligent, wise decision maker.  He’s a great role model for the New Wealthy,” Malnik says.  The basketball star, whose home on North Bay Road is a few doors away from the lot where Alex Rodriguez plans to build a manse, was reportedly a low-key, well-informed buyer, like so many of Miami’s New Wealthy.

The city’s obsession with professional sports is part of the reason its luxury landscape has been reshaped.  “What insulates this area from the recession is the concentration here of professional celebrity athletes,” Chefetz adds.  “They’re not feeling a recession in the NFL or the NBA.  They have contracts worth $150 million and make $4 to $10 million a year.”  And nowhere is a better symbol of how sports now steers the luxury market than Club LIV at Sun Life Stadium, home of the Dolphins, which includes an 800-person strong VIP section, complete with club banquettes and bucket seats.

But it’s Malnik who best sums up the mood of the New Wealthy in Miami: generous but smart with money, keen to enjoy themselves on their own terms, and looking for products or experiences that are customized and unique.  “In my industry, people used to dictate to the consumer what their experience was going to be and much it was going to cost,” he says.  “It was the tail wagging the dog.  Now the dog will wag the tail.  In the 1990s, it was about excess – now it’s all about access.”  Lessons From The Front Lines Of Luxury (click to watch the video)

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11

Mar
2011

Florida Statewide Open House

Picture this: On March 26-27, 2011, more than 50,000 blue balloons featuring the Realtor® logo will be flying above mailboxes at open houses from the Panhandle to Key West. It’s all part of the second annual statewide open house weekend! From the east coast to the west coast, the signature blue balloons will showcase thousands of open houses in the Sunshine State. It’s a buyer’s dream!

The timing couldn’t be better for buyers. Interest rates are low. There’s a supply of homes at all price points. And the Florida Open House Weekend happens at the height of the spring home selling season.

Skyline Realty International will participate to this exciting event and invites you to visit its sales center located within The Shops at Mary Brickell Village, 901 South Miami Avenue, Suite 211, at the epicenter of Miami’s prestigious Brickell area. Come and find out what the buzz is all about!

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4

Mar
2011

Downtown Miami Condos – Spanish

For our Spanish-speaking subscribers, this is a video that explains the current state of Greater Downtown Miami’s real estate market.

Downtown Miami, once viewed as the epicenter of the historic real estate boom-turned-bust, is now emerging as one of the country’s fastest growing urban centers, the product of significant increases in population growth and commercial activity over the past two years. An independent Residential Closings & Occupancy study commissioned by the Miami Downtown Development Authority reveals that 85% of the 23,628 condo and apartment units constructed since 2003 are now occupied, reflecting a 31% increase since June 2009. According to real estate analyst Lewis Goodkin, Downtown Miami now leads as the healthiest residential condo market in the country.

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1

Mar
2011

85% Dwntwn Miami Condos Occupied

Miami Herald

85% Of Downtown Miami Condos Occupied, Study Says

Posted on Saturday, February 19, 2011

By TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA

Developers have sold 85 percent of the condos built in South Florida during the building boom beginning in 2002, according to a report released this week by Bal Harbour-based consultancy Condo Vultures.

The report, which studies condo markets from South Beach to West Palm Beach, found that developers have sold 41,258 condos in the last eight years, with the largest chunk of sales taking place in downtown Miami.

“People are certainly taking advantage of the fact that [condos] are affordable and available both to live in and also to invest in,” said Leo Zabezhinsky, manager of business development and real estate for the Miami Downtown Development Authority.

While many of the boom-time buyers were speculators , many of today’s buyers are investors and vultures, hoping to capitalize on the troubled market by renting out the units.

That explains much of the shift in sales activity taking place between South Beach and downtown Miami, as rental demand is up in places like Brickell and purchase prices are lower in the city than by the ocean, said Peter Zalewski, principal at Condo Vultures.

“An investor comes in, they look in South Beach, and they get sticker shock,” he said.  “If they want to be on the sand, they go up to Sunny Isles Beach. If they’re looking for investment value, new construction, they go to downtown Miami.”

Spurred by bulk buyers and lender takeovers, condo sales in downtown Miami reached 3,675 in 2010, up 57 percent from 2009, according to the report, based on county records. Condo sales in South Beach totaled only 123 last year, up from 107 in 2009. At the current sales pace, it would take about a year to sell out the remaining developer inventory in downtown, and more than a decade to sellthe 1,300 new condos in South Beach.

Areas like downtown Fort Lauderdale benefitted from good timing, as developers completed most of their condo projects before their housing market crashed. There are only 160 new condos yet-to-sell in downtown Fort Lauderdale, where more than 5,000 units were built during the boom.

Condo Vultures focused its report on seven housing markets in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, concentrating on areas east of I-95 and near bodies of water. During the 8-year span covered in the report, 244 new condo projects were created in those markets, for a total of nearly 50,000 units.

The epicenter of the building, sales and developer default activity has been in downtown Miami and Brickell, where more condo units were built in the 2000s than in the previous four decades combined.

About 18,675 new condos have sold in the downtown area in the last 8 years, totaling about 84 percent of the inventory, according to the report, based on county records.

Developers “…built 23,000 condos, and when over 80 percent have been sold and occupied, clearly it tells you that this is where people want to live and invest,” said Zabezhinsky.  “The condos have single handedly helped lead the transformation of downtown Miami into a 24/7 global city.”

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/01/27/v-print/2036345/condo-inventory-detailed-in-new.html#ixzz1FO1CkF6S

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25

Feb
2011

For The Wealthy, Luxury Is Back!

Affluent Americans are spending again, on everything from fancy cars to second homes.

“Personal embracement of luxury is now back to (pre-recession) 2007 levels,” marketing specialist Jim Taylor, author of “Selling to the New Elite,” told USA Today. “We’re seeing that in cars, private jet usage and finally, in high-end real estate. There’s a real change in the way people feel about money.  They’re making purchases they put off during the recession.”

For example, second-home markets are on the rise: Vacation homes in Cape Cod, Mass., for example, increased 9 percent in 2010.  In Palm Beach, Fla., home sales increased nearly 40 percent, and in Hilton Head, S.C., home sales were up nearly 14 percent. Luxury home sales in Southern California are also beginning to pick up, analysts say.

“We’re starting to see movement,” says Madison Hildebrand, a real estate professional who specializes in selling homes in Southern California, and also star of the Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing” reality show. “People are more confident.”

Analysts also note that when the wealthy start buying, it often has a trickle down effect among middle and upper-income shoppers too.

Source: “For the wealthy, luxury is back,” USA Today (Feb. 20, 2011)

Read entire article at: http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/2011-02-21-1Aluxury21_CV_N.htm#

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21

Feb
2011

Residential Closings & Occupancy Study

Residential Closings & Occupancy Study – 2011 Annual Update

Downtown Development Authority District and Adjacent Areas of Influence

Prepared by: Goodkin Consulting & Focus Real Estate Advisors

Prepared for: Miami Downtown Development Authority

MAJOR FINDINGS

As of December 31, 78% of total units in completed new buildings were sold (first-time sales), up 10 percentage points from 68% one year ago. Occupancy in new condominium buildings including owners and renters climbed 11 percentage points from 74% to 85% of completed units. Completed buildings studied include 76 condominium buildings representing a total of 22,439 units.  Only one major building (346-units) remains in the active pipeline of new condominium inventory expected to be brought on line and begin closing sales in the downtown area in the near-term.

Closed sales recorded in new downtown area condominiums through December 2010 totaled approximately 17,500 units, representing 78% of the 22,439 total residential condominium units in the 76 completed condominium buildings included in this market update.

The inventory of unsold new condominium units in the Downtown Miami area declined nearly 30% over the past twelve months.

Occupancy of new condominium units in the Downtown Miami Area as of December 31, 2010 is at 85%, up from 74% in February 2010.

Total condominium sales (new and resale) in the Downtown Miami Area in 2010 were up approximately 36% from 2009. Monthly residential sales averaged 315 units per month in 2010 compared to 232 per month in 2009.

Average unit sales price in 2010 was $347,729, representing a 15% increase from the average unit sales price of $302,254 in 2009.

Average condominium sales price per square foot in 2010 was up 10% to $300 per square foot from $273 per square foot in 2009.

Average monthly residential leasing velocity in the downtown area during the past twelve months averaged 370 units per month, up 7% from the 2009 average of 345 units per month.

Renters account for approximately 56% of occupied units in completed condominiums, up from 52% a year ago.

The unsold inventory of new condominium units in the downtown area declined to 4,960 units at year-end 2010, down from over 7,000 units a year ago.

There are 4,960 unsold units in new and recently completed condominiums in the downtown area as of year-end 2010.

The acquisition in Q4 2010 by Rockwood Capital Partners of the remaining units at Everglades on the Bay represents continued stabilization of condominium projects sold out of distress in the Downtown Miami Area.

Assuming continuation of the new condominium sales pace evidenced in 2010, the remaining unsold inventory of new condominium product could theoretically be sold-out over a ±26-month period.

While the state of the Miami condominium market has caused hardship for many developers and lenders, the continued availability of good rental and for-sale housing values enhances potential for attracting business investment to the downtown area and supports demand growth for locally available goods and services.

Residential sales in the Downtown Miami Area in the 4th quarter of 2010 averaged 342 unit sales per month, which was up 25% from the 3rd quarter 2010 average of 274 sales per month. Total sales in 2010 were up about 36% (3,780) from 2,787 unit sales in 2009.

The inventory of unsold new condominium units in the Downtown Miami area declined nearly 30% over the past twelve months. Robust rental market demand drove the occupancy level in new downtown area condominium units up from 74% in February 2010 up to 85% as of December 31, 2010. The influx of population and households in the downtown area evidenced by these statistics supports expanding interest and opportunities for retail, services and restaurants. In addition to downtown residential growth, new hotels such as the JW Marriott Marquis Miami and EPIC Hotel are supporting an expansion of tourism volume in the downtown area and reinforcing opportunities for retail, dining and entertainment.

A number of factors continue to distinguish Downtown Miami from most other U.S. urban centers, resulting in positive implications for the future viability and economic health of the downtown area:

1. The City and downtown area’s established image and function as an international banking, business and commerce center.

2. Rebounding domestic and international tourism in Miami and the downtown area, having experienced notable gains in visitors and overnight stays.

3. Expanded housing capacity and affordability including opportunities for ownership as well as rental housing alternatives.

4. Condominium inventory and discounted trading prices continue to enhance the attractiveness and affordability of the urban lifestyle in the downtown area.

Occupancy is expected to continue to increase in the downtown area subject to the availability of remaining vacant condominium units for rent. As noted previously, an average of 370 units were leased per month in 2010. The estimated current remaining inventory of 3,417 vacant units could be fully absorbed by the fourth quarter of 2011 assuming continuation of the leasing velocity experienced in 2010.

Assuming continuation of the new condominium unit sales pace evidenced in 2010, which averaged 190 sales per month, the remaining unsold inventory of new condominium product (4,960 units) could theoretically be sold-out over a + 26-month period, which would extend into early 2013.

You can read the entire report at: http://www.miamidda.com/occupancy_rate_feb2011.asp
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15

Feb
2011

The Brazilian Stampede

Miami Herald

BRAZILIANS MAKING AN ECONOMIC MARK

Posted on Monday, February 14, 2011

By MIMI WHITEFIELD

Suddenly, everything seems to be coming up Brazilian.  President Barack Obama will visit Brazil during his first South American trip in March and Brazil is Florida’s top trading partner.  But Brazilians are also snapping up beachfront luxury properties and downtown Miami condos, investing in everything from real estate to Burger King, and shopping voraciously.  It’s as if a “swarm of grasshoppers” has descended on South Florida, chomping through bargains from Dadeland to Sawgrass Mills, one tour operator says. “The trend now is everybody comes to shop, shop, shop,” said Claudia Menezes, of Pegasus Transportation, which operates a fleet of buses for conventional tours as well as the shopping excursions that are so popular with Brazilians. “They’re buying up everything from $10 creams at Victoria’s Secret to Luis Vuitton and Prada.”  Testimony to Brazilian consumerism: When Pegasus buses return Brazilians to the airport for their flights home, Menezes says, they have to put on extra trailers behind to haul the loot.

To keep the Brazilian visitors coming, American Airlines now offers 52 flights a week to Brazil from Miami International Airport.  “Brazil is breaking all sorts of records,” said Rolando Aedo, senior vice president of marketing for the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It has been our rock-star market.”  When all the numbers are tallied for 2010, Miami-Dade expects to have rolled out the welcome mat for more than 500,000 Brazilian visitors who spent more than $1 billion.  That would move Brazil into the top spot for international visitors, dethroning Canada, the perennial leader.  During the oil boom years, Venezuelans were legendary for their dame-dos (give me two) ways and Latin Americans have long loved South Florida shopping.

But what sets the Brazilians apart is there are so many more of them and they’re really big spenders.  To cater to the Brazilian crowd, the tourism bureau has published shopping guides, maps and other materials in Portuguese.  Even though Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport has no direct Brazilian flights, the number of Brazilian visitors to Broward County has increased by 50 percent to 300,000 annually in the past year.  Brazil now ranks as Broward’s second most important foreign market after Canada.  “They may enter though Miami, but they go to Sawgrass Mills,” said Francine Mason, a spokeswoman for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.  And they also visit their relatives. Broward County, especially the Pompano Beach/Lighthouse Point area, is home to the largest contingent of resident Brazilians in the state.  The Brazilian Consulate in Miami estimates that there are 250,000 to 300,000 Brazilians living in Florida with the largest populations in Broward and Miami-Dade counties and Orlando.

What’s spurring the Brazilian stampede?  Brazil’s economy is booming and expected to become the world’s fifth largest by 2016. Unemployment is at record lows. And perhaps most important, Brazil’s currency — the real — is extremely strong against the dollar, making Florida trips and shopping sprees affordable for Brazilians.  Coming to South Florida for a week is often cheaper for a Sao Paulo resident than a vacation in Northeast Brazil.  “Real estate is extremely high in Brazil right now — untouchable for many people,” said Claudia Bacelar, a Brazilian who works as a Realtor at the Esslinger-Wooten office in Coral Gables.  Edgardo Defortuna, president and chief executive of Fortune International, says, for example, that an apartment equivalent to a three-bedroom unit at Jade Ocean in Sunny Isles Beach that goes for $1.6 million might cost $2.5 million in Belo Horizonte, a state capital in southeastern Brazil.

And there’s another reason so many Brazilians are visiting: They just like it here.  “Florida has always been a favorite – the warm tropical weather and the beaches with the benefit of the shopping and now, of course, it’s so much more affordable,” Bacelar said. “When Brazilians come here and I see how they shop, I’m in shock.”  At Dolphin Mall near Miami International Airport, for example, Brazilians are the top international tourists, urging past Venezuelans for the first time last year, said Madelyn Bello Calvar, director of sponsorship and marketing.  And they typically spend about three times what local customers do, she said.  At Sawgrass Mills, Marcos Freire, the assistant general manager, has watched with satisfaction as shoppers speaking Portuguese flood the mall and buses full of Brazilian tourists in matching T-shirts pull in.  Mall surveys show that Brazilians are the most numerous international shoppers, followed by Colombians and Canadians. But Freire says, “The Brazilians are way ahead.”  As shoppers, he says, they are extremely brand-conscious, loading down their carts with Nike, Adidas and Tommy Hilfiger plus high fashion, televisions, video games, and the latest technology.  They know their way around American retail, said Freire, who is originally from Rio de Janeiro. “They’ve done their homework and they know where they’re going.”  Menezes, whose company often runs shopping tours that stop at Sawgrass, said the trend used to be that  Brazilian groups would ask for some time at the beach, Orlando or the Everglades and maybe a day of shopping.  “Now we have some groups that are coming four or five days just to shop,” she said. “This year for the first time we even had shopping tours for Black Friday.”

It’s not just hotels and stores that are benefiting from Brazilians planting their green and yellow flag around South Florida.  Real Estate — Real estate sales to Brazilians also are booming.  “Today, they’re the most important foreign sector of the South Florida market,” Defortuna said. “During the past 12 months, they have come in very strongly.”  So strongly that late last year, Fortune International opened an office in Sao Paulo to market its own luxury developments such as Jade Ocean as well as other projects it handles such as Icon Brickell and Trump Hollywood .  “I have never seen anything like this — such demand. I get calls and e-mails every single day with a new Brazilian contact or lead,” said Fabiana Pimenta, a top Brazilian Realtor at Fortune.  About a quarter of all new Fortune sales are now to Brazilians, Defortuna said.  They basically fall into two categories, he says: high-end buyers who are buying for themselves — although it may be their second, third or fourth home — and investors who tend to gravitate toward properties in the Brickell and downtown Miami areas.  If they’re buying for themselves, they like beachfront properties in Miami Beach and the Sunny Isles Beach area, real estate agents say.

The apartment-buying spree also is having a positive impact on other businesses.  Five years ago, Ornare, a high-end Brazilian kitchen, bath and closet store, opened its first U.S. branch in Miami’s Design District. And while the local housing market has slumped, Ornare’s business hasn’t.  Its closets with leather doors, sculpted bath fixtures and sleek, sophisticated kitchens have found a ready market here. Increasingly, it’s Brazilians who are doing the buying.  Sales are up nearly 40 percent since last year and now Ornare is planning showrooms in five other U.S. cities, says Claudio Faria, director of Ornare Miami, which imports nearly everything in its showroom from Sao Paulo.  In 2009, Brazilians accounted for just 5 percent of Ornare’s local sales. Now, it’s about 25 percent, Faria said.  Brazilian interior designer Mirtha Arriaran, who has run a Miami interior design business since 1995, says that one of her jet-setting clients recently purchased a Miami apartment as a 12th residence.  “These Brazilians are very, very rich,” she said. “They are not looking for bargains. They are the type of people who will pick out an apartment they like and then ask the price.”  About 85 percent of Arriaran’s clients are Brazilians, and these days with all their new condo purchases, she’s so busy that her firm, MAS Interior Design, is not taking on new business.

But not all the Brazilian real estate buyers fall into the ultra-rich category.  “Now Brickell is very affordable for the middle class,” says Bacelar. She recently sold several smaller apartments there for just under $200,000 — with low maintenance fees, too.

Two years ago, American Airlines served just two Brazilian cities – Rio and Sao Paulo – from Miami. Now it’s added four more: Brasilia, Belo Horizonte and Salvador with continuing service to Recife.  “This is huge for us — to be in six cities in one country,” said Martha Pantin, an American spokeswoman. “American Airlines is very bullish on Brazil.”  TAM , a Brazilian airline, also recently added direct service several times a week from MIA to Brasilia and Belo Horizonte to complement its daily flights to Sao Paulo, Rio and Manaus.  But the best may be yet to come. With the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, American is now negotiating to add extra flights to Brazil before and after the World Cup.  American believes Miami will be a transit point for many people from around the world as they head to the sporting events, says Pantin. “The World Cup,” she said, “also will introduce Americans to new destinations in Brazil.”

The Florida/Brazil trade and business connection — Brazil ranks as South Florida’s top trading partner as well as the Sunshine State’s top trading partner. Florida’s merchandise trade with Brazil during the first 11 months of 2010, the most recent statistics available, topped $14.4 billion, a 27 percent increase over 2009 figures.  Enterprise Florida recently reopened an office in Brazil. Its purpose is to not only promote Florida products and services but also to attract Brazilian investors to Florida.  Brazilian companies Embraer, an aircraft manufacturer, and Odebrecht, a construction firm, already have extensive operations in South Florida, and last fall 3G Capital, a private investment firm with Brazilian backing, acquired Burger King in a $4 billion deal.  “We think with the emergence of Brazil as a world economic power, it will become very fertile ground to recruit companies to Florida,” said Manny Mencia., vice president of international development for Enterprise Florida. “There’s no market going forward that offers Florida the opportunities that Brazil does.”

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/02/13/v-print/2065059/the-brazilian-stampede.html#ixzz1E2oXv2Bi

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10

Feb
2011

Lux market on the rebound

South Florida Luxury Real Estate Market On The Rebound

South Florida Business Journal – by Angie Francalancia

Friday, February 4, 2011

The stock market is rising.  There’s money in the bank. And the real estate deals are just too good to pass up.  All those factors have meant a rebound in South Florida’s luxury real estate market – one of the top markets worldwid

e for wealthy buyers to pick up a second, third or fourth new home.  But, they’re buying bargains – unless they’re buying trophies.  It’s a double-sided picture that shows volume increases in wealthy playgrounds includ

ing Palm Beach and Miami Beach, alongside some spectacular sales prices that have tended to skew the market, brokers say.  “We really saw recovery in Miami Beach.  Condos over $1 million at the W and the Setai – those have sold particularly well,” said Beth Butler, president of Miami Beach-based One Sotheby’s International.  “The better, more sought-after areas are quicker to come back.  And I think price was the most significant factor.”

The luxury market (over $1 million) has lost about 30 percent of its value from the peak of the market, compared with a drop of abou

t 50 percent in the overall market.  But, data on the number of $1 million single-family homes and condos from the Multiple Listing Service shows that South Florida’s volume is up.   In Miami Dade County, brokers and agents saw the first increase in volume since the 2005 peak.   The volume was up 18 percent for single family homes and 25 percent for condos.   Broward County’s 2010 numbers were nearly equal to that of 2009, missing out on the increases seen in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.  In Palm Beach County, the volume was about 20 percent higher than in 2009.   “We definitely saw an uptick in  activity,” said Chappy Adams, president of Palm Beach-based Illustrated Properties.  “Deals and the steals,” “luxury Wal-Mart prices” and “fire sales” are how some brokers describe the transactions taking place.  These buyers have cash, are ready to buy with the stock market healthy, and they want deals.

“People are definitely picking up deals,” said Ron Shuffield, president of Miami-based Esslinger Wooten Maxwell Realtors.  “The second home buyer is one of the reasons we’re seeing the increase in the market.  The affluent buyer recognizes these prices won’t be around too much longer.”  The challenge, he said, is that new inventory, coupled with foreclosures and short sales, continues to keep pressure on prices.  “Most buyers don’t have an appetite to purchase unless the prices are back to 2004, 2005 prices,” said Bill Yahn, Corcoran Group’s regional senior VP for South Florida.  “People want to go back to what they perceive to be a real value.  If we wouldn’t have had the crazy run-up, I think prices would be a little ahead of what they are today.”  But, in South Florida’s luxury home market, where most buyers own homes in multiples, there are enough buyers seeking the rare, the waterfront and the trophy properties to make for some spectacular individual sales.

“A very large percentage of the people who are looking at the double-digit millions price range own multiple homes,” said Audrey Ross of EWM.  “Which one they’re calling primary on any given day would vary.”   Late last year, Ross closed a deal on the most expensive condo ever sold in Coral Gables – the $9 million penthouse at The Gables Club.  It was the owner’s third home in South Florida alone.   “It’s a two-story condo with a high-drama ‘wow’ view of Miami and Biscayne Bay,” Ross said.  “It’s got a full-scale movie theater, billiard room, lavish master bedroom and bath.”   There’s a similar story at One Thousand Ocean, the luxury condo built adjacent to the Boca Raton Resort & Club where 32 of the 52 units have been sold for an average price of $4.5 million, or $1,100 a square foot.

“There was an immediate pent-up demand with the Boca Resort membership base,” said Jamie Telchin, president of development for LXR Luxury Resorts.  “Activity has been very good for the past several months, but the reality is this is a trophy property, and the people buying are primarily cash buyers.”

“If you want to talk luxury, we can talk farms,” said Ron Neal, a real estate agent at Palm Beach Polo Realty in Wellington.  For the equestrian set, the farm is “a necessity,” Neal said. And a location adjacent to the Wellington show grounds is, like oceanfront, limited.   “Certain farm properties in and around the horse show sell for around $1 million an acre,” he said. “It’s where you want to be. There’ve been some very good sales. People are feeling a little more hopeful, there’s more consumer confidence.”

EWM’s Shuffield said statistics showed the luxury market actually began to recover in 2009.  “This rebound really started in the summer of 2009, but we were in such a deep, dark hole it didn’t seem like we were making much progress,” he said.  “But, we’ve had some remarkable sales.”

From the South Florida Business Journal: http://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/print-edition/2011/02/04/south-florida-luxury-market-on-the.html

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Feb
2011

Condo Inventory

Led by sales activity in downtown Miami, about 85 percent of the 50,000 condos built during South Florida’s historic housing boom have sold

Developers have sold 85 percent of the condos built in South Florida during the building boom beginning in 2002, according to a report released this week by Bal Harbour-based consultancy Condo Vultures.

The report, which studies condo markets from South Beach to West Palm Beach, found that developers have sold 41,258 condos in the last eight years, with the largest chunk of sales taking place in downtown Miami.

“People are certainly taking advantage of the fact that [condos] are affordable and available both to live in and also to invest in,” said Leo Zabezhinsky, manager of business development and real estate for the Miami Downtown Development Authority.

While many of the boom-time buyers were speculators, many of today’s buyers are investors and vultures, hoping to capitalize on the troubled market by renting out the units.

That explains much of the shift in sales activity taking place between South Beach and downtown Miami, as rental demand is up in places like Brickell and purchase prices are lower in the city than by the ocean, said Peter Zalewski, principal at Condo Vultures.

“An investor comes in, they look in South Beach, and they get sticker shock,” he said. “If they want to be on the sand, they go up to Sunny Isles Beach. If they’re looking for investment value, new construction, they go to downtown Miami.”

Spurred by bulk buyers and lender takeovers, condo sales in downtown Miami reached 3,675 in 2010, up 57 percent from 2009, according to the report, based on county records. Condo sales in South Beach totaled only 123 last year, up from 107 in 2009. At the current sales pace, it would take about a year to sell out the remaining developer inventory in downtown, and more than a decade to sellthe 1,300 new condos in South Beach.

Areas like downtown Fort Lauderdale benefitted from good timing, as developers completed most of their condo projects before their housing market crashed. There are only 160 new condos yet-to-sell in downtown Fort Lauderdale, where more than 5,000 units were built during the boom.

Condo Vultures focused its report on seven housing markets in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, concentrating on areas east of I-95 and near bodies of water. During the 8-year span covered in the report, 244 new condo projects were created in those markets, for a total of nearly 50,000 units.

The epicenter of the building, sales and developer default activity has been in downtown Miami and Brickell, where more condo units were built in the 2000s than in the previous four decades combined.

About 18,675 new condos have sold in the downtown area in the last 8 years, totaling about 84 percent of the inventory, according to the report, based on county records.

Developers “built 23,000 condos, and when over 80 percent have been sold and occupied, clearly it tells you that this is where people want to live and invest,” said Zabezhinsky. “The condos have single handedly helped lead the transformation of downtown Miami into a 24/7 global city.”

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/01/27/2036345/condo-inventory-detailed-in-new.html#ixzz1CdHTGCUs

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