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.

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.

Deposit Requirements Dropping for Some Developers

By Sunny Isles Real Estate Expert on June 6th, 2015

Brickell City Centre

Swire Properties and Property Markets Group are making changes to some of their deposit requirements in South Florida. While some believe this is an indication that the luxury condo boom may be hitting its peak after a four-year cycle, others insist this just isn’t true.

Swire Properties

Swire Properties, the developer of the Reach and Rise residential towers in Brickell City Centre has announced that their down payment requirement for the condos is dropping from the average 50% down to 35%. While some insist that this change to presale terms is a sign that the condo boom is finally slowing, the president of ONE Sotheby’s International Realty, which is the exclusive broker for the Swire Properties, explained that Swire’s decision was based on the fact that closings for remaining units in the towers are coming up quickly at year end.

Property Markets Group

Another developer that is making changes is Property Markets Group (PMG). They are not lowering their down payments on units in Sage Beach in Hollywood, Echo Aventura, Echo Brickell, and Muse in Sunny Isles, but they are making deals with some foreign buyers that allow for payments on the required 50% deposits.

A spokesperson of International Sales Group, which markets the PMG properties, explained that the move is mainly for Argentinian and Venezuelan buyers, who are having more difficulty with moving money out their accounts. For these buyers, the deposit is broken down into 40% being required down, with the additional 10% being sent as installment payments that have to be paid before closing.

Are Condo Sales Waning?

While the number of condos was down by 15% in January, they did increase by 1.4% in February over last year’s sales in the same month. The cycle of condo sales started in 2011, and since that time, 20,000 units have been announced. The reason PMG and Swire’s lowering their down payment requirements is making waves is because only four months prior to these decisions, the Crimson condominium developer began allowing 15 to 35% for some local buyers, using a Fannie Mae program.

The important thing to understand about both Swire’s and PMG is that neither developer relies on the deposits in order to carry out construction on their projects. Instead, they rely on equity that is already available. For these companies, that means there is essentially no risk for them in lowering the deposit requirements.

These down payment requirement changes do raise some questions about the future. The first is whether these lower requirements will carry over to other of the developers’ future properties, and second, whether other companies will follow suit.

The International Sales Group spokesperson, Craig Studnicky, believes that other developers may choose to lower their requirements as well, but that it will only be others like Property Markets Group and Swire’s that can depend on their current equity that will do so.

It will remain to be seen whether these decisions actually mark a downturn in the condo boom, or whether it is just two companies making a move that won’t risk their bottom lines.

Brazilians Lead the Pack for Interest in Miami

By Sunny Isles Real Estate Expert on May 11th, 2015

Bal Harbour home for sale

Homebuyers in foreign countries are interested in Miami real estate, and the Miami Association of Realtors reports that Brazil is currently leading the pack of those looking for second or investment homes.

The association compared the number of foreign visitors to their website between January 2014 and 2015. Topping the list of visitors was Brazil, followed by Columbia. Both of these locations surpassed Venezuela, who went down three spots on the list for their number of website visitors. A new addition also made the list this year with Russia breaking into the top ten.

Foreign Interest in Miami

The number of people looking for property in Miami increased nearly 40% since last January with potential buyers from Europe, South America, and other countries all over the world. One that is gaining attention, even though they were not included on the list, is China. There has been quite a bit of discussion about the interest that Chinese buyers are showing in South Florida, and Dr. Shanjie Li, the businessman behind American Da Tang Realty, is hoping not only to drive China onto the list but up it, as well. See all Miami Downtown properties for sale here:

American Da Tang Realty

Li’s firm is focused on working with the American Da Tang Group, which is a service that is geared towards the Chinese elite, and provides high-end concierge services for those coming to United States. The combined efforts of this team is to assist Chinese buyers with finding and acquiring luxury Miami properties. It is important to note, however, that the firm will also assist non-Chinese buyers as well.

Reasons for Growing Foreign Interest

There is no denying that foreign interest in Miami and throughout the South Florida continues to grow, and the reasons for this are rather diverse. They include:

• Affordability – When compared to the luxurious condos and properties in global, world-class cities, Miami is still much more affordable.
• Amenities and Benefits – Miami also provides a wealth of benefits, including the year-round temperatures and a strategic location. Additionally, the opportunity to take part in the exciting lifestyle that the city offers, as well as the multicultural environment that already exists in the area are also major draws.
• Currency Value – Another major factor behind the interest in Miami, and one that goes with the affordability factor, is the value of the currency in foreign countries. Buyers can invest in properties in the US and preserve and protect their fortunes from the decreasing value of their home currencies. The monies invested are in American dollars, which means there is little threat of significant losses, which can be a big problem in other countries.

There have already been numerous foreign buyers in the city over the past few years, and many of them pay cash for their new properties. This trend is still going strong, with increases in cash sales remaining high. It is also not expected that this will change in the near future, which means Miami’s title as a hot spot will continue to grow.

High Priced Housing Leads to Big Money

By Sunny Isles Real Estate Expert on April 22nd, 2015

Miami real estate for sale

Over the course of the past few years, some people were able to take the rough real estate market and make the most out of it. A great example of this is Jeff Greene, who became a billionaire during the recession. He was able to foresee that a number of homeowners would not be able to make their payments and would eventually default on their mortgages. This allowed him to know which homes to buy and then resell. While it was a dark time for real estate during the economic downturn, things are different now, and Greene has a very different take on the field. He believes things will continue to get better, and that the area will be able to sustain the higher prices for homes today.

Greene’s Road to Wealth

Greene owns a number of luxury hotels, including the Tideline Ocean Resort and Spa, and is working on developing even more, including two 30-story towers in downtown Miami. They would be hotels as well as condos, and he feels that the influx of wealth to the area will certainly be able to support the continued real estate growth.

Mr. Greene is not only investing in the Miami area though – see Miami real estate here. He also has property in other prime parts of the country, including a 25-acre property in Beverly Hills, CA. He’s been working on improving the opulent home and making it something truly special. It is 35,000 square feet and has 12 bedrooms, 23 bathrooms, and two kitchens. In addition, it is in a prime location and has some great views of Los Angeles. It offers even more including a garage that can hold up to 24 cars, a bowling alley, a rotating dance floor, and a vineyard. This is appropriate, since the wine cellar is able to hold up to 1,000 bottles.

He’s been building the estate for seven years, and he finally put it on the market. The asking price for the property is $195 million. This makes it potentially the most expensive public listing in the nation right now. Mr. Greene feels that the price is reasonable though, considering what the buyer will be getting, as well as the location.

Last year, there were only three properties in the US that sold for greater than $100 million, so selling the $195 million property in Beverly Hills may seem as though it will be a bit difficult. Greene feels that the property will sell though, and he believes that the probable buyer would be a sheikh or a Russian oligarch. It could also be a billionaire from China who wants a property in the United States. Greene believes that new wealth is coming to the US, and that the house will surely sell.

If his history is any indicator, then he’s probably right. He’s known as a very crafty investor, and he never spends his money unwisely. He looks toward the future and tries to predict the outcomes of the real estate market –, and it has served him well thus far.

Differing Opinions on the State of Real Estate in Miami

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

Downtown Miami condos for sale

There’s a rather large and impressive real estate boom in Miami –, and it doesn’t show signs of slowing anytime soon. Many buyers from out of town, and from out of the country, are buying in the area, and this interest is only growing as the number of excellent luxury properties in the area continues to grow. However, some still have a bit of a healthy fear about what could happen with the sales.

Opinions Vary About Real Estate

The drop in sales in November is causing some to worry that the cycle is starting to slow down once again. Some fear that the fact that the economies in some foreign nations are weakening could mean that fewer foreign buyers will want to own property in Miami. These real estate experts and developers are taking a cautious and “wait and see” approach to see just what the coming year might hold for the real estate field.

While they do not feel as though it is necessarily the end of sales in the area, they simply worry that it will not be quite as robust as it has been over the past couple of years. There is certainly nothing wrong with being cautious. Yet, others do not have these same trepidations. Richard LeFrak, a developer, feels that the current sales cycle in Miami will not slow down. He feels that the interest rates are still good, and that there is still a substantial amount of consumer confidence. The economy is stronger than it has been in years, and the stock market is doing well.

Even as there has been a slight drop off seen by some developers by foreign buyers, there is an increase in domestic buyers. The main influx of buyers is coming from the northeastern part of the US. Those who live in the expensive city of NY, for example, see the prices in Miami to be more than reasonable. In fact, compared to some of the prices of homes in NYC, they see them as relatively cheap. They also know that when they buy in Miami, they tend to get more for their money. The cost of living is cheaper as well. Many are moving their families down from the northeast to take advantage of everything that Miami can offer, including the great housing opportunities.

What’s happening in the other countries that is causing a slowdown in foreign buyers? The dollar is increasing in value, and this is making it more difficult for some foreign buyers, such as those from Brazil and Argentina, to afford homes in Miami. The low oil prices are devastating many in Russia, and this is causing some potential foreign buyers to rethink their decision to purchase in Miami.

One thing is certain. Everyone has his or her own opinion about the state of real estate in Miami. It’s important to make up your own mind and to watch the changes in the market to get a better sense of everything that’s happening.

Amazing Amenity Appeals to Latin American Buyers

By Sunny Isles Real Estate Expert on March 28th, 2015

Paramount Worldcenter Condos for sale

When you generally think about the features and amenities that someone might want in a luxury home, what typically enters the mind? You generally think about large windows, a spa and fitness center, and perhaps an onsite restaurant. However, here’s something a bit different that’s sure to get some attention, particularly from buyers from Latin America. At Paramount Miami Worldcenter, designed by Daniel Kodsi, there will actually be an outdoor soccer field!

What Does the Tower Offer?

The project is already quite ambitious. It’s a 60-story luxury tower that will feature pools, a running course, tennis course, and more in the outdoor sports complex on the ninth floor. On the same floor will be twelve two-story villas in a Balinese style, as well as water features and additional pools. There will also be a boxing studio and fitness center, and even a “jam room”. In this room, residents can play drums, guitar, piano, and even use the recording studio.

These amenities, especially when you include the soccer field, are unlike what you will find in most condominium complexes across the country, including other luxury complexes in the Miami area. The roof will feature a multistory resort area that includes an indoor lounge. Above this will be a yoga deck and fire pit, along with an outdoor pool. All of these features are unique, and that’s something that the designer is hoping will really bring in the buyers from Latin American and from elsewhere around the world.

The building is not underway quite yet, but sales are starting very soon. The sales center, which will be just as opulent and interesting as the building, will be at 1010 Northeast Second Ave. It’s already a popular building, and has received reservations for more than 10% of the 472 units that will be in the building. The sales team has been working hard to ensure sales, and will continue marketing in areas such as Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, and China in the coming months. They will also market to domestic buyers who are looking for something that’s a bit different.

The development of the tower should be complete sometime in 2018. They are working hard to make sure that the residences are just as interesting as the features in the building. They will have private elevators, access to the mall, which will occupy the third floor, and more. They will have 10-foot high ceilings, outdoor living areas, convertible dens and laundry rooms.

The size of the units varies. They have one-bedroom units with a den and two bathrooms, up to three-bedroom units with a den and four bathrooms. They range in size from 1,300 square feet up to 2,300 square feet. The prices start at just $700,000 and go up to $1.5 million. The villas and the penthouses will go for up to $5 million. It is a great opportunity to buy a property in a truly unique tower that is sure to get quite a bit of attention in the coming years.

For more information or to reserve your unit please visit the site –

98 Percent of BrickellHouse Sells in 90 Days

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

Brickell condos for sale

Developers always want to make sure that their units are selling, and they often set up certain benchmarks to help give them an idea of how well they are doing, and to determine what else they might need to do as a means to market their properties better. Reaching 50% sold is considered good and impressive for most. However, there are occasionally condo projects that are able to sell even faster. Look at the newly completed BrickellHouse in Downtown Miami as an example of a property that is selling remarkably well. They’ve actually sold 98% of the 374 units in the 46-story tower.

The developer, Harvey Hernandez, has successful transactions for 366 units, and has been able to bring in more than $157 million. This makes the current average purchase price around $489 per square foot, which is quite impressive. The units in the building varied greatly in price. Some were selling for as little as $150,000, while others were selling for as high as $4.9 million. Currently, there are only eight properties left in the building.

Resale and Renting

Despite the fact that the units are nearly all sold by the developer, there are actually a number of owners in the building who are already looking to sell. Most know that they got their condos at a good price and are seeing the values rise. They are asking for an average of approximately $615 per square foot for the units.

Currently, there are about 60 units on the resale market. This is good news for buyers who are looking for a property in the area, although they may also want to check the prices with the developer to ensure they are getting the best possible deal. In addition to the properties that are up for resale, there are about 20 units available for rent at BrickellHouse. The median rental price for these units is $2,850 per month.

The Success Was Not Certain

While it is easy to say that the building is a success now, that was not always what people thought might happen with BrickellHouse. In the early stages of development, they had some financial issues, including a foreclosure lawsuit for $15.8 million, which they eventually resolved. After the financial troubles were in the past, the developers were able to concentrate on what they do best – building great units.

Will Other Towers Have the Same Success?

One of the big questions on the minds of many in Miami, and those who are considering buying in the area, is whether other towers will have the same success. There are a number of new towers being developed across Miami right now, and this will add thousands of new units to the market. One such example is Brickell City Center – Some fear that they will not be able to sell all of these units. However, the market still looks to be quite strong, and there seems to be no lack of interest when it comes to new properties in the area. It’s not certain how long this will last, but there doesn’t seem to be any stopping the love for properties in the Miami area right now.

Brickell Site Bought by Chinese Company

By Sunny Isles Real Estate Expert on March 10th, 2015

Fendi Chateau Surfside

Everyone has an interest in the real estate renaissance that is happening in the South Florida region today website here. This is true for buyers who are looking for great units in the area, as well as companies looking to get into development. Individuals and companies from South America, Russia, Europe, and China have great interest in the development of the area. Look at the recent purchase of a Brickell development site by a Beijing company as a perfect example of this. The company paid $74.7 million in cash for the site, and it promises to be an interesting move as we wait to see what they do with the site.

The company, an affiliate of China City Construction and America Da Tang Group from New York bought the site at 1430 South Miami Avenue. While it is unclear exactly what they will be doing with the 2.39-acre site, chances are that it will be a residential tower or a hotel. The chief executive of American Da Tang Group, Dr. Shanjie Li, said that he felt Miami was a beautiful city that also had a very impressive economy. He was excited by the possibilities that if offers.

This sale was a long time in coming. The former property owners, Cabi, were holding up the sale due to a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Now that the sale is through and final, it’s only a matter of time to see just what the new investors will be doing with the property.

More Opportunities for Chinese Investors

One of the big reasons that Miami is seeing more Chinese investors is the change to the immigration restrictions. They are now allowing some Chinese individuals to apply for 10-year visas for creating businesses in Miami. Since the construction that will take place at the site will create jobs for the local community, it certainly falls under this purview.

You can expect to see quite a bit more foreign investment in the area, and it covers more than just those who are investing in single properties. Many larger companies are likely to start getting in on the action when it comes to real estate development in the area, both for residential and commercial applications.

This has some great potential for the city, and it could help to improve the overall economy even more. With more buildings and properties going up in the area, it means that there will be greater employment opportunities. It brings in more money to the city and makes it a better place overall.

Keep an Eye Out

While it’s still too early to know exactly what the Chinese affiliate will be doing with the property at 1430 South Miami Avenue, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on what’s happening. It may present some good investment opportunities. If they are building a residential complex, buying property early can sometimes offer some nice savings. Keeping abreast of the changes in the real estate market in Miami is always a good idea.

SkyRise Miami Gets the Green Light

By Sunny Isles Real Estate Expert on December 11th, 2014

SkyRise Miami Condo For Sale

Miami’s skyline constantly changes as new buildings are added, and old ones torn down. There’s a new addition officially on the way now – Skyline Miami. It will tower 1,000 feet over the South Florida metropolis, commanding stunning views over the city as well as out over Biscayne Bay and the ocean. Construction of the tower wasn’t always a sure thing, though. (VIEW all Miami Preconstruction Projects Here)

The Ayes Have It

Before SkyRise Miami got the green light for construction, creation of the tower had to be approved. However, it wasn’t just city commissioners that had to sign off on the project. The residents of Miami themselves were given the chance to vote yes or no. Thankfully, the project received overwhelming support with more than 70% of early and absentee voters marking the “aye” column. The victory was celebrated later that night at a private party thrown by Jeffrey Berkowitz at Bayside Marketplace. Incidentally, the tower will be constructed beside the market.

Up, Up and Away

Construction on SkyRise Miami has already begun, with utility reconfiguring starting in early September, 2014. Once utilities have been reconfigured, construction can begin on the tower’s base, which will take an estimated nine months to complete. That’s just the beginning, though. Once the foundation is finished, the developers have to tackle the bulk of the project – the 1,000-foot high observation tower and all the niceties that will go along with it. Completion of the project is estimated hopefully in early 2018, so it will be another four years or so before Miamians actually have the chance to ascend the tower and enjoy the view.

About the Location

Developers chose an ideal location for the tower. Located directly beside Bayside Marketplace, the tower will be in a prime position to draw visitors. Bayside Marketplace is located almost at the edge of Biscayne Bay, sandwiched between Bayfront Park to the south and the Miami Heat Arena (American Airlines Arena) to the north. West of the marketplace is Highway 41 and the greater city of Miami. Eastward lie the sparkling waters of the bay. Promising the “best shopping, dining and entertainment in Miami and Miami Beach,” the marketplace draws tens of thousands of visitors annually.

Not the Only Project in the Works

Of course, SkyRise Miami is not the only project kicking off in Miami, it’s just the only one that gave residents a chance to vote. Other projects are currently underway, all approved by city commissioners. One of those is the massive