The Future of Condominiums in Miami

By Sunny Isles Real Estate Expert on September 1st, 2015

Porsche Sunny Isles

A couple of decades ago, having a built-in microwave, along with a dishwasher, was the epitome of living in the future when you bought a new condominium. Then came the idea of adding in swimming pools to the roof, and high-tech fitness centers, all of which were welcome additions. However, with all of the wonderful and amazing technology that’s available today, things are changing rapidly in the condo world. Let’s look at one of the premier examples of high-end technology integrating with condos to see just what is in store for people now and in the future.

The Porsche Design Tower Miami

This tower, which is still under construction and is set to open next year, has an ingenious elevator system called the Dezervator, named after the tower’s developer Gil Dezer. This is an elevator the likes of which you’ve never seen, and probably never imagined, before. It doesn’t just take you up to your floor… the glass elevator takes you and your vehicle up to your floor. The elevator then places you and your car in your elevated garage right next to your unit.

Think about just how beneficial this could be. You don’t have to leave your car in a parking garage, hoping that it will be safe. Even though most of the towers in the area have very secure garages, most people still have that little worry in the back of their minds that something could happen to their vehicle. This worry is exacerbated when they have a high-end vehicle. In addition, think about just how much easier it will be to transport everything inside after you’ve gone out shopping. It offers convenience and privacy that you simply won’t find elsewhere, at least for now.

You can be sure that this type of technology will start to make its way into more and more buildings as they go up in Miami, as well as the rest of the world. Instead of “wasting” space on additional parking, or not having parking at all, they can roll everything right into the building. This could mean they can develop more units and make much better use of the space that would have been spent on the parking facility.

Creating this design was not easy though. Dezer had to gather a number of the best elevator specialists on the planet to create this design. They also had to go through a number of different tests and safety certifications to make sure the elevator would work, was fast enough, and was safe enough for people to use. They actually built a test building (nine stories high) in Chicago to make sure that it would be functional when it went into actual use.

The addition of this technology, as well as other new types of tech is good news for buyers. People want to live in homes that are on the cutting edge of technology, and the developers are listening. Who knows what other robotic wonders are waiting for buyers just around the corner!


Will High-End Condos Be Popular in Miami’s Design District?

By Sunny Isles Real Estate Expert on August 30th, 2015

Baltus House Midtown Miami

Many areas of Miami are growing thanks to the strong economy and investment from major companies. The Design District is one of the regions that is starting to see an increase in popularity and is set to go through a transformation in the coming years. Many luxury retailers are setting up shops there, as are some large companies. This makes many wonder whether this area will also be a good location for high-end condos that we see in so many other locations around Miami.

The Changes in the Miami Design District

A large mixed use project in the area is underway that will bring some high-end shops including Prada and Louis Vuitton to the area. This project will take up multiple blocks and is set to be similar to the “feel” that people get from Rodeo Drive in California. The goal is to become the most popular destination for luxury retail in all of South Florida. The project will not likely be finished for at least another year or so, but there are a number of tantalizing details about what it will contain.

There will be more than 120 stores, mostly luxury brands, as well as a boutique hotel. The space will also house between 15 and 20 restaurants of different types. In addition, there will be galleries, art installations, and lofts and condos. This last bit has people buzzing. We know quite a bit about the different retail stores that will be in the project, but there has been very little said about the residential options.

The developers, even though they have not released much in the way of information, seem to believe that people will have an interest in living in such close proximity to these other luxury locations, and they are probably right.

Currently, there have been several condo towers planned for development in the area, all of which are just a short distance away from the Design District. However, those condos have not yet started construction, and it is not certain exactly when (or if) all of them will break ground. Only one tower – Baltus House – is in the area right now. This 15-story tower features 167 units of varying size from studios to three-bedroom and two-bath units.

Since the other condo towers are still in development, it may turn some potential buyers away who want to move soon. Consider that there are quite a few developments in the downtown area that are further along, and couple that with people not wanting to wait, and it could slow the residential development of the area further.

For most buyers that are looking for a good investment opportunity though, buying in this area seems like a very good idea. It’s a location that is only going to grow and get better and more popular with time. The amount of money, time, and effort they are putting into the redevelopment of the Design District is astounding, and this could cause the property values to rise further. Buying as soon as units are available for deposit or sale could be a smart move.

Click Here to view available properties for sale in Design District


South Florida Home Price Growth Is Slowing

By Sunny Isles Real Estate Expert on August 20th, 2015

Miami real estate

While the homes in South Florida have seen nearly continual increases over recent years, a new analysis by RealtyTrac shows that those rises are starting to slow. The analysis showed that while home prices increases grew by 20 percent year over year in 2013, they dropped to only 10% in February of this year.

While Pompano Beach and Fort Lauderdale also saw the same drop to only a 10% increase, this is actually reflected on a national level as well, with other major cities seeing the same rates of slowing appreciation. Overall, however, some experts feel that this decline is not necessarily a bad thing.

Potential Issues with Continued Increases

Ob Jacobi, who is the president of Windermere Real Estate in Seattle explained that “if homes were to continue appreciating in the double digits for too long, we could run into the same boom/boost market of years past”. Considering that the wages have not kept up with the increases in home prices, this may be a very true statement in Miami. The report also indicates that future expectations for home prices is that they will rise only single digits, rather than the double digits that realtors and investors have come to expect in the area.

Other Statistics

The report also provided other notable statistics as well. While average home prices have seen a decrease, those that have a $1 million price tag or higher have actually increased in the percentage of sales by 4.25%, which is higher than the previous year’s 3.46%.

The report also showed a few interesting changes in median home prices and foreclosed properties. As of February, the US median home price was $183,000, which is an increase of 14% over the previous year. Foreclosed property prices also increased by 17%, leading to an average price of $127,000. This jump shows that the previous savings seen on foreclosed properties after the 2013 mass distressed buying is waning, which will also help slow appreciation levels down to single digits as home buying returns to a more even market.

New Highs in Other Cities

While Miami and a majority of other major metropolitan areas saw decreases in home prices, there are others that fared much better. Denver, Colorado, San Jose, California and Austin, Texas all saw historic median home price increases over the last year.

Increase Drivers in Miami

The reason that there is not much concern over the 50% decrease in Miami is simple. The boom in Miami luxury condos and residences, many of which were purchased with foreign cash, is one of the main reasons the home prices were increasing so dramatically. As these multi-million dollar homes were moving in and being sold, it was driving the prices of single-family homes up, as well. This was since many middle-class residents started moving further inland.

Even with these on-going changes, there is little doubt that the Miami real estate market is still growing strong, and as far as luxury homes go, doesn’t show any sign of slowing in the near future.


Sunny Isles Denny’s Site Getting a Verzasca Makeover

By Sunny Isles Real Estate Expert on August 18th, 2015

Verzasca Sunny Isles

The Verasca Group is planning its third site in the US, and it will be located at the Denny’s property on Collins Avenue. The .99 acres in Sunny Isles is slated to be the new home of a 19-story tower of luxury units, and it will be the first condos that provide luxury, amenities and the quality finishing touches that buyers expect on the water, but according to the Verzasca Group executive chairman Gennady Barsky, these units will cost less. As this is one of the first new projects in that area of Collins in years, it has certainly generated some excitement.

The Sunny Isles Tower

The planned 19-story tower will have 76 units, and Revuelta Architecture International’s Luis Revuelta is designing the architecture. The current information on these luxury condos is that they will start at under $1 million, and go as high as just under $2 million, with each square foot costing less than $1,000. Each unit will have an ocean view. The development will also have a street-level restaurant and commercial retail space, as well as a pool that faces the ocean.

Other Projects

The Verzasca Group ultimately intends to invest a total of $700 million into projects in South Florida. Currently, the group has two boutique projects going in Bay Harbor Islands. The Pearl House, which is located at 101st Street, has 15 units, with sizes that start at 1,440 square feet and go up to 2,259 square feet. The apartments start at $540,000 and go as high as $972,370. The second project is Le Jardin at 102nd Street, which has 30 condos with an average cost per square foot of around $400. These units are available from $500,000 up to just under $1 million. Both of these towers are currently around 50% sold.

The group is also planning other projects, such as an iconic building that will be the tallest in Edgewater.

Collins Avenue Poised for Discovery

The Verzasca Group’s attorney, Steve Bassin, along with other developers believe that this project could be the start of a discovery period for the west side of Collins Avenue. This is due to the considerable increase in Latin American and Russian buyers that have driven property values up, and the overall scarcity of available space on the ocean side of the avenue. As interest in South Florida continues to grow, developers are expecting further expansion, which will force investors to look at other areas for building new luxury properties that can still provide the ocean views that foreign investors are looking for.

The Verzasca Group was formed in 2014 by Tim Lobanov, Darius Kasparaitis, and Gennady Barksy. The group gained development experience through public infrastructure projects and residential communities that they built in Russia.

As work gets underway on the Sunny Isles development (see all Sunny Isles pre-construction projects here), it will remain to be seen if other developers follow suit to continue attracting new buyers to the area that are looking for luxury condos with all the amenities, even though they won’t be right on the water.


Foreign Real Estate Investors in the US

By Sunny Isles Real Estate Expert on August 13th, 2015

Miami condos for sale

The top five foreign retail investors in United States real estate have invested over $17 billion as of the first quarter in 2015, but the numbers show that Singapore is overall leader.

First Quarter Investments

Real estate in the US has become a major investment for foreign countries, with Manhattan proving to be the most popular choice. The current NGKF Capital Markets report shows the breakdown of the more than $17 billion, and the results are surprising:

• Germany – $1.4 billion
• Australia – $1.7 billion
• China – $2.5 billion
• Canada – $3.6 billion
• Singapore – $8.1 billion

Singapore’s massive investment is staggering on its own, but considering they did not make it to the top five list at all in 2014, these rankings become even more impressive. At the current investment pace, and with Singapore’s stunning investment increase, 2015 could prove to be a record year for foreign real estate investment.

Manhattan Foreign Investment

Even though Singapore has seen a drastic increase in their US real estate investments, they don’t come close to any of the other major players when it comes to investing in Manhattan. A majority of the top five, as well as several other countries, spend their money in Manhattan, which made up 31.6 percent of the overall foreign investment capital. Over the past 12 months, investments in the city are as follows:

• Malaysia – 2.4%
• Germany – 3.3%
• Qatar – 3.7%
• Japan – 5.3%
• Brazil – 5.8%
• Norway – 12.3%
• Canada – 25.6%
• China – 26.6%

China and Canada are the foremost investors in Manhattan, and they have made a number of lucrative investments in premier skyscrapers in the city. January saw the Ivanhoe Cambridge investment firm spending $2.2 billion on the 3 Bryant Park office building in a deal with Blackstone. During the month of February, the Chinese Anbang Insurance Group closed a deal on the iconic Waldorf Astoria for $1.95 billion, making it the largest single Manhattan property investment for China.

Record New York Investment Levels Expected

According to the Preqin research firm, sovereign wealth funds have already shown a major increase in investments in the past year, with a staggering $6.31 billion growth. New York’s, and most importantly, Manhattan’s, popularity as an investment destination for sovereign wealth funds has already climbed to over $2 billion within the past 12 months. Those figures are expected to continue rising.

New York’s popularity as an investment destination is based on two things: its stability overall, and its ability to soak up massive sums of money quickly. Recent purchases in the Big Apple, such as the Norway-based Norges Bank Investment Management investing $1.74 billion in office buildings and the $337 million investment by Abu Dhabi Investment Authority on the Ian Schrager New York Edition Hotel, are impressive. These investments, along with others that are currently in negotiations, show that there is plenty of potential for a major increase in the amount of money that could be heading into New York in the coming year from foreign investments.


Residential Home Sales Rising

By Sunny Isles Real Estate Expert on August 8th, 2015

Miami Beach homes for sale

A new report released by the Miami Association of Realtors shows that homes sales are continuing to rise in Miami. The largest increase was in Miami single-family homes, which saw a year over year increase of 14.2% over February of last year. Condos are also still on the rise, with an increase of 1.4%.

These increases brought the total home sales in Miami in February up to 2,174, which is an improvement over last February’s sales of 2,036. So what’s behind these increases? Many realtors believe it’s a combination of buyer demand and seller confidence. (Click Here to view recent home sales in Miami)

As confidence and buyer demand continue to grow, they are creating listings that are more active, as well as driving sale prices higher in the process.

Cash Sales

Cash sales are another major part of Miami’s real estate market. While there was a decrease year over year compared to last February, the sales did increase from January to February. With all-cash sales last February making up 62.5% of all closed sales, and this February’s numbers being at 58.8%, there was a noticeable drop. However, month to month increases from January to February were 57.2% and 58.8% respectively.

While the Miami Association of Realtors believes the year decrease is due to the lack of loans from the Federal Housing Administration, Miami is still doing well. In fact, Miami all-cash home sales are over double the national average, which is a good indication that Miami is the place that buyers go when they want luxurious homes.

Other Real Estate Numbers for Miami

Considering how Miami compares to the national averages, there are also other benefits in the real estate market. The number of short sales from February of 2014 to February of 2015 saw a decline, with 35% of the total residential sales in South Florida being distressed sales. Last year, those sales were at 36%.

At this time, active listings are also up by nine percent over the year, with almost a nine-month supply of available condos, and over a five month supply of single family residential homes available. On average, the real estate market in an area is considered balanced when there is a six to nine month supply of available homes. While single family homes aren’t quite there, these numbers are expected to continue increasing based on the comparison of numbers from February 2014.

The current level of homes and condos, as well as the increased sales in Miami, have made them one of the most active in the entire United States. The demand for homes is both from local domestic buyers and overseas buyers. The number of foreign buyers continues to increase in the area, and a majority of these represent the all-cash sales as well. These buyers are coming to Miami and South Florida for investment and second homes.

While it will remain to be seen if Miami maintains year over year increases in home sales, the growing popularity with foreign buyers looking for luxury homes is still on the rise, and this provides major benefits to the SoFla economy.


The Retro Revival of MiMo – The Miami Modern Biscayne Boulevard District

By Sunny Isles Real Estate Expert on July 31st, 2015

Miami real estate

MiMo is the name given to the Miami Modern Biscayne Boulevard Historic District, but it also describes the architecture found in the area between 50th and 77th streets that were built between the late 1940s and early 1970s as well. While the motels lining this strip were once the chosen locales for prostitutes and drug dealers, it has now become one of the hippest areas in Miami’s Upper Eastside. (See properties for sale in the area – http://www.sunnyislesmiamirealestate.com/Design-District/)

Leading the Way

The force behind this once downtrodden area becoming the MiMo hotspot it is today is former Miami Beach residents who’ve decided that home ownership and a yard to call their own is a better option than a beachside condo. Along with them are plenty of boutique and shop owners, modern office spaces, trendy new restaurants and period hotels that are transforming Biscayne Boulevard.

MiMo Players

There are a number of buyers and developers snapping up spaces or putting down roots in the MiMo district who want rehabilitate these retro locations, and change the perception of Biscayne Boulevard in the process. One of the major players in Avra Jain, whose purchases and renovations started with Vagabond Hotel. Since that purchase in 2012, she has spent over $12 million on real estate in the area, as well as untold renovation costs.

Greenstreet Real Estate Partners, which is a real estate investment fund valued at $1.5 billion, is another developer making strides in the area, with over $14 million spent on office properties and retail space.

The MiMo Attraction

So why are all these developers and transplants choosing a retro-revival of the Miami Modern District? Because the current costs of buying and renting are still a relative bargain. However, with the influx of interest in the area, rent has gone up as well for retail space. With a 50% increase throughout the area over the last three years, it has left some worried that the increased prices and the costs of renovation will eventually drive rents too high, and force businesses to close that can’t charge enough to offset the increasing costs.

Others in the area disagree with this fear, as they believe that the purchases are based on actual business plans, rather than simple speculation, and a desire to return Biscayne to its former glory.

Changes from 51st Street to 77th Street

Biscayne Boulevard has become an investment retro-revival from 51st Street all the way to 77th, with investors and developers truly trying to make a difference in the area. In addition to Jain’s Vagabond Hotel, there are 16 other major properties along the Boulevard that are either in the process of being renovated, have already undergone renovation, or are slated for building to start in the near future. All of this shows that there are plenty of people and residents that are discovering MiMo, and doing their best to return it to something more than its former glory. With all the changes, and the numerous businesses and developers flocking to the area, it’s clear that this is one area that is worth watching and considering.


No Housing Bubble in Sight

By Sunny Isles Real Estate Expert on July 21st, 2015

Miami real estate

Statistically speaking, housing is on a roll. Year-to-date home sales are up 6.3 % and prices in May were 7.9% higher than a year earlier. The trends are expected to stay positive and are likely to boost business dollar volume by as much as 15% in 2015. These statistics don’t even include new home construction, which is growing at a strong clip as well.

But this rosy picture does raise concerns about affordability. After all, wages are rising by only 2% annually and renters are getting squeezed, having to endure 4% rate hikes while home prices accelerate more quickly. In addition, mortgage rates have notched their highest level of the year, reaching about 4% in June, and should continue to rise well into next year.

Some armchair analysts have suggested that we’re entering a new housing market bubble. But hard facts suggest otherwise. Underlying conditions today are fundamentally different from the bubble of a decade ago. Back then, credit was easy to obtain and home sales were running at more than 8.5 million a year (existing and new homes combined). New home construction volume topped 2 million annually.

By comparison, credit today is extremely tight, which has led to an unusually high level of all-cash sales. Home sales are barely over 5 million and new home construction is barely scratching 1 million units. Meanwhile, for the past eight years, total mortgage balances have failed. The reasons show what’s changed from 10 years ago: home owners are paying their mortgages on time and few are seeking cash-out refinances.

It’s fair to ask, though, whether at some point affordability problems will choke off home buying. That’s possible. But there’s my thinking about what could neutralize those fears. After running various scenarios, I expect home prices to rise continuously as long as mortgage rates remain under 6%. Early in the summer, the average rate was 4%. It may rise to 5.5% by the end of next year. Should mortgage rates cross the 6% mark, maybe two years down the road, then either home prices will be flat or other forces will be evident. Going forward, keep in mind that robust job creation and meaningful increases in income levels will help propel home prices. For now, though, no bubble or impending crash is in sight.

By Lawrence Yun, NAR (National Association of Realtors) chief economist.


South Florida Commercial Real Estate Looking Bright

By Sunny Isles Real Estate Expert on July 15th, 2015

Miami Brickell City Centre

The JJL’s Pulse360 2015 panel members provided predictions about South Florida’s commercial real estate (view all commercial listings), and the outlook is looking very bright. Among these predictions were:

• 2015 is looking to be a strong year for commercial real estate in Florida due to steady investments and a strengthening economy.
• Prime office spaces may see an increase rental rates from 15 to 25% over the next two years as new workplace construction slows, and absorption rates begin increasing.
• South Florida is continuing to grow in popularity thanks to the tourism boom, and world-class hotels, restaurants, and retail locations.
• Millennial entrepreneurs and their rush to the urban core, including in places such as the Design District, Miami Beach, and Wyndwood, along with the increasing popularity of shared office spaces, will cause changes in the face of work sites.
• The Miami Worldcenter, Brickell City Centre, and the Design District, which are three of the top ten retail destinations in the nation, are all currently being built in Miami.
• Currently, the only prime office tower that is slated to be built is the Brickell City Centre by Swire Properties, and it will not be completed until 2019.

All of these predictions and findings show that South Florida is poised to take advantage of the increasing demand for space required by national and international retailers who are choosing to take advantage of the tourist base in Miami. This tourist base, which includes international travelers from locations such as Brazil, arrive in Miami with empty suitcases that they plan to pack with purchases to take back home with them. Major retailers want a piece of that pie.

Land Price Increases

Another driving force behind the increase in office rental prices is the high land prices. This is causing many developers to abandon office sites, and change their focus to the popular luxury condominiums that are being bought up by foreign buyers, many of whom pay in cash.

Considering that the Swire project is the only one expected to occur between now and 2019, JJL’s Pulse360 members believe that this will result in one thing – rental rates will go sky high. These rates will be driven by the lack of additional supply of office spaces in a market that is already tight, and according to the predictions, this is going to be a major push to getting those rental rates even higher.

While there are no other projects currently under development, Nitin Motwani, who assisted with the creation of Venture Hive, a shared workplace for entrepreneurs close to downtown Miami, has said that there have been other developers who are interested in the concept, and creating sites that are similar. However, the problem with creating those sites is that financing is not as easy to secure since it is outside of the typical office space. Motwani believes that this will change as well, although it may take up to 10 years for that type of financing to become the norm.

All of these predictions show that South Florida is a prime location for retail rentals, and it is only going to get better.


International Buyers and the South Florida Real Estate Boom

By Sunny Isles Real Estate Expert on July 12th, 2015

Miami homes for sale

Over the past four years South Florida has seen record-breaking real estate sales. According to a report completed for the Miami Association of Realtors, Latin American buyers are leading the way in driving those real estate sales higher.

The Ultra-Rich Buyers

Ultra-rich buyers are snapping up luxury residences in Miami-Dade County and Broward County at a record pace. According to reports from 2014, 68% of these buyers are from Latin America. Rounding out these buyers are:

• Argentina – 12% of sales
• Brazil – 11% of sales
• Columbia – 8% of sales
• Canada – 7% of sales
• France – 5% of sales
• Mexico – 4% of sales

In addition to the foreign cash from these locations, China joined the list in Miami with 2% of the total sales, and this is the first time they have been on it. Considering that China is one of the strongest markets for new business, this can have major benefits for Miami home sales.

International Buyers Love Miami

In order to understand just how much international buyers are increasing Miami real estate sales, it’s important to understand just how much they are paying for their new luxury homes. Among these ultra-rich international buyers, 28% spent over $500,000, with 9% paying as much as $1 million or more. The average price per purchase comes in at just over $444,000, which is considerably more than the national average of only $245,000. Another important bit of information – 81% of these purchases were paid for in cash. These purchases have led to Florida leading the nation in international transactions, with a staggering 23% in 2014.

Why are so many foreign investors leaping to make purchases in Miami? Besides the gorgeous weather and beautiful surroundings, there are two other important reasons:

• Security of Assets – When these buyers invest their own fortunes in American properties and dollars, they protect themselves from the decreases in value that occur with the currency from their own countries.
• Luxuriousness – Another important factor for these increases is the extravagant luxuriousness of the homes that are available in South Florida. Developers understand that foreign buyers want the best of the best, and they are doing everything they can to provide it. By building residences that answer to the discerning tastes of the ultra-rich, they continue to drive massive sales.

Single-Family Homes in Miami

While the influx of foreign investors in Miami has driven the increases in luxury home prices, that has also had an effect on single-family homes as well. February numbers showed that the median price for a single-family home in Miami increased by 7.9% over the previous year, coming in at $245,000. Condos also saw an increase, with median prices jumping to $189,000, which is an 8.4% increase over the previous year. The increases in February marked 39 months of increases on single-family homes, and 44 months for condos.

While all of these increases are considerable benefits, major players in the Florida real estate market caution that it is important to remember that balance and discipline are still important to ensure that these increases continue, without causing major problems in the future.