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SkyPalace at Mary Brickell Village ads Executive Vice President of Development to its Executive Team and gears up for Construction

Kenneth A. Smuts, P.E., joined the SkyPalace at Mary Brickell Village Executive Team as Executive Vice President of Development, as the company is gearing up for construction.
Having successfully completed over $5 Billion dollars of development projects, Ken is an expert builder and real estate developer. He has over 25 years of development, design, construction management and sales and marketing experience on a wide variety of mixed-use, multi-family, hospitality, retail, commercial office, health care and industrial projects.
Starting his career as a nuclear construction engineer, he quickly advanced as a project manager, and then executive providing corporate vision, strategy, leadership and guidance for several prominent New York, Philadelphia and Miami based construction managers and developers. Ken’s most recent appointment has been with The Related Group serving as a Senior Vice President and Managing Director for the $1.5 Billion, 2,000,000 square foot St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort & Residences and for the $1.8 Billion, 2,000,000 square foot Icon Brickell in Miami, Florida. Having accepted an appointment as Executive Vice President of Development with Skyline Equities Realty, he is now responsible for the successful completion of Sky Palace at Mary Brickell Village in Miami, FL.
Ken is a licensed professional engineer and holds graduate and undergraduate degrees in civil engineering from Rutgers and Drexel Universities. He has three grown children and resides in Miami, Fl, with his wife Kathi.
We welcome Ken to the SkyPalace at Mary Brickell Village executive team and look forward to another successful luxury residential condominium development in Miami, FL.

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SkyPalace at Mary Brickell Village – Monthly Newsletter

Dear SkyPalace at Mary Brickell Village friends,

Greetings from beautiful and sunny Miami! The Skyline team has been diligently working since our last email communication to you last month – with the Miami Herald article of June 4th – to finalize the construction financing process and commence construction. We find ourselves today in the advantageous position of negotiating with several lending sources and receiving Letters of Commitment from them by the end of July and then close on the construction loan shortly thereafter.

Timing could not have been better. The Brickell area real estate market is showing clear signs of strengthening. A recent article by the National Association of Realtors emphasized that “International Interest in US Homeownership Increases,” something that we see In a recent Bloomberg article the title exclaimed: “Miami’s Downtown Comes Alive as Condos Fill with Renters.” Such headlines and market reports like the one from the Miami Downtown Development Authority developed by Goodkin Consulting regarding “Residential Closings and Occupancy Study, March 2010” show that Brickell area real estate is doing very well and will continue to do so. NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams recently aired the story “Buyers Return After Miami’s Housing Bust.” NBC’s Today Show also recently aired the story “Condo Sales Skyrocket in Miami.” CNBC & MSNBC also aired a story under the title “Housing Battles Back.” All these stories are clear evidence that the market has turned for the better and will continue to strengthen in the Brickell area of Miami.

SkyPalace at Mary Brickell will rise directly above The Shops at Mary Brickell Village and as such we have a vested interest seeing the Village succeed. The Shops at Mary Brickell Village already offer several dinning, entertainment, shopping and services options, but the list of tenants keeps getting better and better!

L.A. Fitness Signature Club opened its doors in June offering 36,000+ square feet of health club facilities and expecting to reach approximately 1,500 daily workouts very soon. This is a well known health club that has locations throughout the United States and offers every workout option possible.

Burger & Beer Joint (B&B) opened its doors in July offering three venues in one: gourmet burger spot, sports bar and lounge! B&B offers all varieties of its namesake. The décor features 120-year old Chicago brick walls, wood booths, copper ceilings, flat screen TVs, a pool table and an outdoor patio.

Fadó Irish Pub will soon open its doors offering a second Irish pub option in the prestigious Brickell area of Miami, in addition to the already well-established and very popular Brickell Irish Pub. Fadó’s decor and friendly staff evokes images of the great old pubs of Ireland, whereas its style of operating resembles the contemporary pubs and bars of modern Ireland.

Cavas Wine Bar will soon open its doors offering a comfortable and non-intimidating “tasting room” to experience and learn about the fascinating world of wine in a relaxed atmosphere. Cavas allows customers to choose from over 80 different self-service wine selections, through the use of a state-of-the-art wine dispensing machines. Cavas also offers a menu that was designed to optimize the wine pairing experience.

Amore Gelato will soon open its doors offering handmade natural gelato and avoiding the obscure chemicals, additives and preservatives common to many industrial “ice cream” brands on the market today. Unlike industrial ice-creams and gelato, Amore gelato is hand crafted and delivered fresh every day.

RazzleDazzle Barber Shop will soon open its doors offering various annual membership packages or “a la cart” options to service the grooming needs of today’s busy and demanding gentleman.

It is evident that The Shops at Mary Brickell Village offer an unprecedented level of convenience to the residents of SkyPalace at Mary Brickell Village and have positively impacted property values in the Brickell area. Come and experience the lifestyle and energy for yourself and see firsthand the major advantage of being one of the privileged few that can call SkyPalace at Mary Brickell Village their home!

Stay up to-date with the latest on SkyPalace at Mary Brickell Village in particular and the real estate market in general by visiting our blog.

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Nearly 500 new condos traded per month in Greater Downtown Miami!

According to a recent report published by Condo Vultures, a well established Miami-based market intelligence and licensed Florida real estate brokerage company, an average of nearly 500 new condos traded per month in Greater Downtown Miami between April and June 2010, representing a 105 percent increase compared to the 241 units per month average in second quarter of 2009.

Transactions for nearly 1,500 units with 1.8 million square feet of saleable space generated gross sales of $584 million, or $333 per square foot, in the second quarter of 2010. The flurry of sales activity has reduced the number of new condos under developers’ control in Greater Downtown Miami to less than 5,100 units.

The unsold new condos represent about 23 percent of the total new inventory constructed in a 60-block stretch of Greater Downtown Miami between 2003 and 2010. A year ago in July 2009 about 40 percent of the new condos in the same submarket were unsold.

“In the last year, the landscape of the Greater Downtown Miami’s new condo market has begun to take shape,” said Peter Zalewski, a principal of Condo Vultures. “Nearly 3,800 new condo units have traded in the last 12 months. Based on our early research, four-out-of-every-five condo deals are being transacted in all-cash.”

In the first six months of 2010, more than 2,200 new condo units have changed hands in the 82 new projects constructed since 2003 between the Julia Tuttle Causeway south to the Rickenbacker Causeway, Interstate 95 east to Biscayne Bay, according to the report.

Of the 82 Greater Downtown Miami projects constructed in the last seven years, 38 condominiums are completely sold out and an additional 19 projects have sold between 75 percent and 99 percent of their units. An additional four projects have sold between 50 percent and 74 percent of their inventory.

Of the remaining 21 new projects, there are still seven condominium complexes with less than five percent of the units sold. The remaining 14 new projects have sold between 10 percent and 38 percent of their respective inventory, according to the report.

Overall, nearly 17,200 new condo units have sold in Greater Downtown Miami since 2003 for $6.7 billion, or $376,500 per unit. The pricing works out to an average of more than $336 per square foot, according to CondoVultures.

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The National Association of Realtors notes that “International interest in U.S. homeownership increases”

According to the National Association of Realtors® 2010 Profile of International Home Buying Activity, “…international homebuyers are increasingly attracted to property in the U.S.”

The NAR survey explains that “…several factors, including the strength of the dollar, the value and desirability of U.S. real estate, and the emerging economic recovery, continue to drive international interest in owning a home in this country.”

“While all real estate in the U.S. is local, the same is not true for property owners,” said NAR President Vicki Cox Golder. “The U.S. continues to be a top destination for international buyers from all over the world. Foreign buyers understand the value of owning a home in this country and can rely on Realtors to help guide them through the complex process of buying property in the U.S. With expertise, knowledge and experience, Realtors have a global perspective.”

The NAR survey covers the period between April 1, 2009, and March 31, 2010. During that time foreign buyers, including those with residency outside the U.S. as well as recent immigrants and temporary visa holders, are estimated to have purchased $66 billion of U.S. residential property, or 7 percent of the residential market.

Slightly more than a quarter of Realtors, 28 percent, reported working with at least one international client in the past year, the NAR explains. This is a significant increase from the 2009 report, when 23 percent of Realtors worked with foreign clients. Eighteen percent of all Realtors were estimated to have completed at least one sale, compared to 12 percent last year.

“Several factors have contributed to an increase in international buyer interest in the U.S.,” said Golder. “A large majority of Realtors report the changes in value to the U.S. dollar have had a strong impact on the international real estate business. In addition, perceptions abroad about trends in the U.S. real estate market have led many international clients to believe purchasing a home in the U.S. is more affordable than in their country and holds more value.”

International buyers came from 53 different countries around the world. The top four countries were Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and China/Hong Kong. With 23 percent of international buyers coming from Canada, the country has remained the largest buying group in the past three years. Foreign buyers from Mexico have been steadily increasing. In 2010, Mexico replaced the U.K. as the second largest buying group with 10 percent of buyers. Buyers from the U.K. decreased from 10.5 percent in 2009 to nine percent in 2010. Eight percent of recent buyers came from China/Hong Kong.

Two factors important to international clients when purchasing property in the U.S. are proximity to their home country and the convenience of air transportation. Florida typically attracts European, Canadian and South American buyers while the East Coast draws Europeans. The West Coast brings Asian buyers and the Southwest attracts Mexicans.

International buyers were reported in 39 states in 2010, but a slight majority of the total buyers are concentrated in Florida, California, Arizona and Texas. These four states account for 53 percent of purchases and have remained the top destinations for the past three years, with Florida and California remaining the top two destinations.

On average, foreign buyers tend to purchase closer to the upper end of the market; 16 percent of the total international purchases were for homes priced at more than $500,000. According to Realtors, this was because international buyers are typically looking for a second home.

The NAR survey also shows that a majority of international buyers, 66 percent, purchased single-family detached homes. However, more international buyers purchased a condo than did their U.S. counterparts, at 23 percent and 7 percent, respectively. Only 44 percent of international buyers used a mortgage to pay for their home, compared to 92 percent of domestic buyers. Fifty-five percent of foreign buyers paid all cash. Realtors reported that a majority of international buyers use all cash because of the difficulty in establishing international credit in the U.S.

[Information and quotations contained in this blog entry were taken from an article recently published by the National Association of Realtors. © 2010 Florida Realtors]

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Use social media to market and sell real estate

A growing number of real-estate agents and homeowners are turning to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to market and sell their properties. While these methods can help expose a listing to a new audience, they do require a strategy. You can not just start tweeting and friending indiscriminately, since that is a sure-fire way to become a social-media pariah. In this brave new world, it is important to first understand the lay of the land before choosing your path. Here are some strategic steps you need to take as you fine-tune your social media presence:

  • Launch a website, if you do not have one already.
  • Launch a blog, if you do not have one already.
  • Establish Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube accounts.
  • Produce videos of the properties you are selling and upload them to your website and YouTube or Vimeo.
  • Add to your website and to all your social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) a link to your blog and links to your various YouTube or Vimeo videos.
  • Post interesting and relevant content to your blog frequently and regularly and allow readers to Subscribe to it so that they can get notified automatically each time you post a new blog entry.
  • Update your Facebook page(s) to let friends know the listings you have for sale.• Keep track when someone types in relevant terms on Twitter (e.g., “move to Miami,” “buy a condo in Miami,” etc.) and then get in touch with them.

Real-estate agents should use a Facebook page to market their company’s listings. Whenever a new listing comes in, post the photos, videos and information on Facebook. While many of your friends or fans may not be in the market for a home, they will often forward the information to friends who are. The listing gets passed from one Facebook page to another, generating a lot of exposure. This is the essence of what is known as “viral marketing.”

A New York resident had her Upper East Side apartment on the market for almost a year with no inquiries. She then developed a Twitter campaign to drum up interest by focusing on the fact that many celebrities lived in the neighborhood. Each tweet included a link to her real-estate agent’s listing. Her strategy increased the number of people at showings and she received two offers shortly after her Twitter campaign begun.

A Texas resident decided to market his San Antonio home by using LinkedIn and Twitter, but he knew he needed a lure. In early January, when temperatures around the country were brutally cold, he posted that it was 70 and sunny in San Antonio, and provided a link to the listing. The results pleasantly surprised him. Even though he has not received an offer, more people have requested details than before he started posting.

However, social media alone cannot do miracles. If your listing has not sold after a reasonable length of time because it is priced too high, needs major repairs or is in a undesirable location, all the tweets and Facebook friends in the world will not be able to help.

Also, posting too often on Facebook and Twitter can quickly turn into spam. Do not post unless there is something truly unique about the property you are listing or something really newsworthy. Each posting only stays in the stream for a few seconds for many people. If you repeat the same posts over and over, people will start to unfriend you, which is counterproductive to establishing relationships through the various social media options. Social media are a valuable tool in the arsenal of house-selling and marketing techniques that must be used wisely to be most effective.

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Modern day Brickell = Live + Work + Play

Brickell is the epicenter for the urban renaissance that Miami has been undergoing during the past few years and city living is what is drawing Miami’s young upscale professionals, empty nesters from various parts of the USA and wealthy South Americans and Europeans to the area.

What was once a ghost town after dark just a few years ago is now jumping with hot and trendy lounges such as Segafredo Brickell, Badrutt’s Place, and Blue Martini Lounge. Restaurants the likes of Oceannaire Seafood Room, Grimpa Brazilian Restaurant, Rosa Mexicano, Morton’s Steakhouse, Capital Grill, Perricone’s, “Dolores but you can call me Lolita”, B&B, Balans, Novecento and countless others offer Brickell residents a choice of world-class cuisine, virtually a couple of steps from their residences.

The Shops at Mary Brickell Village houses many of these restaurants, lounges and retail stores that have significantly improved this already vibrant and prestigious neighborhood. Located in the heart of Miami’s financial district, The Shops at Mary Brickell Village offers an eclectic mix of upscale dinning, shopping and entertainment options for the sophisticated shopper. The center, designed around a village-like setting with lush vegetation, water features and entertainment venues offers 195,000 square feet of retail space, a 800 space parking garage and two public plazas surrounded by mature oak and mahogany trees. Offering everything from Mexican to Asian, Seafood to Italian Cuisine, The Shops at Mary Brickell Village is a dinning ‘mecca’. It also offers retail shops and services that include a Publix Gourmet Supermarket, an LA Fitness Signature Club, a Mortar & Pestle Pharmacy, a Starbucks, a Toni & Guy Hairdresser, two jewelry stores, a dry cleaner, a Regions Bank, several clothing stores, just to name a few.

For those who like to bike, run, windsurf, kiteboard, fish or just lounge around, Rickenbacker Causeway and the beautiful beaches of Biscayne Bay are considered to be your backyard when you live in the Brickell area. Crandon Park and the natural beauty of Key Biscayne are also just minutes away, not to mention the world renowned South Beach.

Brickell is just minutes away from Miami’s cultural centers such as the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Miami City Ballet, New World Symphony, Florida Grand Opera and Miami Art Museum, to just name a few.

Sports enthusiasts can watch The Heat play at the American Airlines arena just a short drive away, or MetroRail – MetroMover ride away, in downtown Miami, while the Dolphins and Marlins are just a 20-minute drive north to Sun Life Stadium.

With a station in the heart of Brickell the MetroRail – MetroMover gives Brickell residents access to all of Miami, while the MetroMover’s numerous stops offers Brickell residents free and convenient transportation throughout the Brickell and downtown Miami area. For University of Miami students living in the area, getting to school is just a couple of Metro-Rail stations away. Miami International Airport is just 15 minutes away via the expressway and the world’s busiest cruise port is located 10 minutes away, in downtown Miami.

Nowhere else in South Florida will you find such a prestigious area with such an advantageous location, central to both Miami and the world, or one whose reputation as a center of commerce is rivaled only by its standard of living. Visit Brickell and discover it for yourself…

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Social Media Skills for Real Estate Professionals

1. Trustworthiness: If you make a promise to someone, keep it. Do not betray someone’s trust in you. That is the fastest way to get unfollowed or unfriended. Provide clear expectations on your blog and social profiles about the real estate services you DO provide. That’s how you become your network’s trusted advisor.

2. Caring: Reach out to others, colleagues and clients alike! And do good things without being asked like retweeting others tweets, “liking” or commenting on Facebook posts, and commenting on or praising blog articles you enjoy. Connect and befriend local clients and business owners online. This shows how much you care about the city and neighborhoods you work and live in.

3. Respect: Show respect for others, even your direct competitors in your niche. When it comes to connecting with new people on social networks like Facebook or LinkedIn, consider sending a brief authentic message explaining why you would like to connect or how you know them. Do not bombard people with spam. Social Media is NOT about hard-selling, it’s about mutual respect.

4. Active Listening: Although it’s important to share your interests, it’s even more important to pay attention to others. Learning what your network is passionate about only helps you ask better questions, provide better resources, and become a better advisor. Who’s Talkin? and SocialMention are two social search engines that make it really easy to monitor certain people and topics that are of interest to you.

5. Effort: Know your expertise and passion well enough to identify resources that may be helpful to your network. If you are not sure where to look for great resources, try a social bookmarking tool like Delicious or Digg where others share their favorite articles. Monitor your resources and share regularly, provide your own insight and strategies for implementation.

6. Diligence: Create a social media plan for your real estate business and commit to it. Schedule time daily for maintaining your social profiles and read and research time for blog articles and do it consistently.

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Real Estate and Technology

More than 9 out of 10 home buyers use the Internet as a search tool. The Internet has helped transform the real estate industry. It is one more way to bring value to home buyers, sellers and investors.

The use of mobile applications is experiencing explosive growth. In 3 or 4 years from now, more people will access the Internet with their mobile devices than with a computer. Counter intuitively, phone response will become even more important as potential clients shift more to mobile devices. 70 % of consumers who got voicemail hung up without leaving a message.

There are several strategies for reaching and communicating with consumers more effectively by building on already popular social media channels. Most real estate professionals use social networking sites, up from 35 % in 2009 and social network users are growing at an annual rate of 20 %.

Real estate agents are engaging consumers online via social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. In this culture of instant gratification, we need to not only meet the consumers where they are, but also figure out what they’re looking for, how they want to receive the information and then provide the content in a concise and visually appealing format.

With so many social media options available, real estate professionals can sometimes feel overwhelmed or think they must engage consumers across all available channels. This is however not necessary. If we engage and inform the consumers through any of the main social media options, they will respond. ”Content is king” and we must provide useful and timely content in order to get consumers to engage and become repeat visitors to our social media sites and websites.

More than anything, real estate professionals are using new technologies and social media as just several of many tools to enhance their ability to connect with clients, because nothing replaces face-to-face interaction. However, we must not overlook the fact that although buyers believe technology skills are very important in selecting a real estate agent, more than four out of five home buyers believe that characteristics such as honesty, integrity, knowledge of the purchase process, responsiveness, knowledge of the real estate market, communications, and negotiation skills were still the deciding factors in selecting a real estate professional.

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Condo Developers have sky-high dreams for Brickell area

Posted on Fri, Jun. 04, 2010


Condo developers have sky-high dreams for Brickell area

Isos Stamelos-Monroe, vice president of sales and managing broker of Skyline Equities Realty, stands on a balcony that faces the future site of a 35-story luxury condo, SkyPalace at Mary Brickell Village.
Picture a lobby adorned with Roman columns, statues and a Swarovski crystal chandelier. Eleven stories above, a pool deck offers panoramic views of Brickell Avenue skyscrapers.

Perching atop Publix at Mary Brickell Village, construction on SkyPalace, a new 35-story condominium tower, is slated to begin next month after three years of delay.

Pending financing, Miami’s overheated condo market will get its latest infusion when the Mediterranean-style building is completed at the end of 2011. As the first residential building built in the Brickell corridor since the condo glut began, its developers hope it will pump new life into the area’s real estate market.

“We want to be one of the only products available in the market upon delivery that’s new,” said Isos Stamelos-Monroe, 30, SkyPalace’s vice president of sales. To date, buyers — mostly foreign investors and second-home purchasers — have put contracts on 190 of the 369 units, priced from $249,000 to $2.5 million, he said.

That’s a positive step for both the project and the market, said real estate analyst Michael Y. Cannon. “This is a sign that if they are successful in getting presales, and the construction lender lends, hopefully the market has made its turn,” said Cannon, executive director of Integra Realty Resources-Miami.

Stamelos-Monroe is counting on existing condo inventory in the area to be absorbed and mortgages to be more readily available by the time buyers close on SkyPalace units.

A March report by Goodkin Consulting and Focus Real Estate Advisors shows that 22,079 new condos were delivered in Miami’s downtown corridor, including Brickell, from 2003 through early 2010. More than 70 percent of that inventory has now been absorbed, leaving 7,500 new condos available in the downtown corridor.


But Jack Winston, principal with Goodkin Consulting in Miami, said SkyPalace will have a “tough sell.” Since the recession began, condo sales have been sluggish and have only begun picking up this year due to bulk sales and sharp discounts. “In this kind of environment, to absorb [7,500 condo units] is certainly going to take longer than the 18 months it will take to finish the building,” Winston said, adding that mortgages for end-buyers may still be hard to find.

Key to SkyPalace’s sales, Cannon said, will be highly competitive pricing. So far, Stamelos-Monroe said, recent presales have averaged $320 per square foot. “That’s about what market prices are for the rollback of prices of existing inventory of better buildings,” Cannon said. “So it sounds like they are in the right price range.”
It has taken several years to get to this point.

Skyline Equities Realty initially bought a build-to-suit project for the tower above Publix in Mary Brickell Village from Fairfield Residential in 2004.

Due to delays in the construction of the village, Fairfield didn’t begin construction in 2007, as planned. So Skyline Equities Realty negotiated a purchase of the air rights — the rights to build above the planned Publix — for less than $9 million, said Stamelos-Monroe.

Preconstruction sales of SkyPalace had already begun in 2004, continuing through 2006. But in early 2007, as construction continued to be delayed amid problems pulling permits and troubled real estate and financial markets, Skyline “needed to buy time,” Stamelos-Monroe said.


So having added three years to the delivery date, Skyline reaffirmed 162 of its 240 sales contracts in July 2007, he said. Then it continued on hold, as the housing market tumbled.

Now, despite ongoing difficulties securing construction loans, Skyline expects to close on more than $85 million in construction financing from a Colorado-based hedge fund by the end of June. Construction will begin shortly afterward and continue for about 18 months, Stamelos-Monroe said. Since Fairfield had already started the lobby, foundation and parking garage at 2003-2004 costs, construction time and costs will be lower than they would have been had Skyline had to start from scratch, he said.

Publix spokeswoman Kim Jaeger declined to comment on the construction, saying the company is “still evaluating the possible impacts to Publix and how best to handle them.”


SkyPalace’s design is a Mediterranean village concept, with a modern twist, said Stylianos Vayanos, SkyPalace’s vice president of public relations and international marketing. Buyers have the ability to customize units with four or five bedrooms, or buy duplexes, the equivalent of two side-by-side units.

Residents will have access to concierge services. Kitchens will have Italian cabinetry, granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances. And upper floor units will have an unobstructed view of the Bay.

The location on top of Mary Brickell Village should add to its marketability, Cannon said. “It’s right in the center of everything,” he said. “You’ve got the Metrorail next door, and the synergism is occurring because you have the day and night life activity going on there. You can work, play and live all in the same area.”

© 2010 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.
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Significant capital is flowing in the U.S. from international investors. For Miami real estate this is great news!

With $2.4 trillion in foreign currency reserves, China is among the richest countries in the world. For the last decade, China has invested its massive surplus in U.S. Treasury bonds. But with the continued devaluation of the U.S. dollar, China wants to diversify its investments. The problem for China is that there are not many places it can invest $2.4 trillion in cash. But that is exactly what makes the U.S. real estate market the perfect solution.

As much as $1.4 trillion in U.S. commercial real estate loans need to be re-financed in the next 3 years. U.S. banks are unwilling to lend money to even the most credit-worthy investors. This is what China is taking advantage of and is partnering with top U.S. hedge funds for a real estate buying spree.

In addition to the institutional investing organizations, however, China has over 350,000 millionaires and they are investing over 30% of their wealth into real estate. More and more cash-rich Chinese investors are touring the United States looking for investment opportunities in high-quality homes, safe investments and luxury lifestyle.

The Chinese, however, are not the only ones that bring new capital to the U.S. in general and South Florida in particular. The Russians are returning to the international property market with Florida real estate agents reporting a definite jump in first quarter 2010 inquiries. Driven by a rising ruble, booming oil prices and greater job security, Russian overseas home buyers are searching for a safe place to invest their money outside the country and the US has always been a safe heaven for long term investments in real estate, with Miami being a very attractive location to acquire luxury condominiums at extremely attractive prices and with a tremendous upside potential for those that understand how to invest in real estate.

We have already seen that the real estate market in the Downtown and Brickell area of Miami, for example, has not only shown signs of stabilization, but it is also showing clear signs of strengthening. According to a recent study of the Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA), and based on recorded closings in new condominium buildings through December 31, 2009 and survey of occupancy in new condominiums as of February 2010, first-time sales of new units amounted to 68% of total units in completed new buildings compared to 62% reported in the initial study last year. Occupancy in new condominium buildings including owners and renters climbed 12 percentage points from 62% to 74% of completed units.

Average monthly residential sales in the Downtown Miami Area during the fourth quarter of 2009 reached over 350 units, a 200%+ increase over total sales volume during the same period in 2008.

Buyers purchased more than 700 new condo units in Greater Downtown Miami in the first quarter of this year, pushing the overall closed sales ratio for the epicenter of Florida’s condo crash to more than 70 percent, according to a new Condo Vultures® White Paper™. A year ago, buyers purchased units at half that pace, acquiring only 370 new condos between January and March of 2009. At that time, only 59 percent of the more than 22,200 new condo units constructed in Greater Downtown Miami since 2003 had been sold.

A recent front page article in the Miami Herald (May 12th) under the title “Fueled by overseas buyers, condo sales soar,” states that “…in South Florida, international buyers are scooping up property, particularly condos, at relative bargains – a reason why home sales are rising.” The article further explains that “…in Miami-Dade, sales of condos skyrocketed 46 percent during the first quarter, to 1,920, compared to the same period of 2009. […] The market reflects a real estate market where prices have generally bottomed out. […] Real estate agents say that buyers who were on the fence before are signing contracts, and renters are realizing it now makes sense to own.” The article emphasizes that Brickell, Downtown Miami and Key Biscayne is seeing a surge in international buyers including those from Italy, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Greece and China, among others.

All of this adds up to great news for Miami real estate!

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