Was the WSJ Right in Predicting a Condo Bust in Miami?

By Sunny Isles Real Estate Expert on May 15th, 2016

Miami real estate for sale

Back in March, Anthony M. Graziano, MAI, CRE was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal. As he is the Senior Managing Director of IRR Miami, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the article was about real estate in South Florida. However, what surprised many was the headline that accompanied the actual piece: “Another Condo Bust Looms in Miami.”

Graziano Responds

Well, as it turns out, no one was more surprised by the headline than Mr. Graziano himself. In his own OpEd, Graziano responded, saying he was “shocked” at how “sensationalized” the headline was.

Until the reporter issues a reply, we’ll never know exactly what they were thinking. As Graziano points out in his OpEd, this definitely isn’t the first time there’s been some kind of disconnect between what a source said or meant and what the reporter put into their piece. Still, in this case, it would seem the latter wildly missed the mark.

It’s also worth noting here that reporters don’t always choose their own headlines, so an editor could actually be the one to blame.

So What’s the Truth?

As any realtor in Miami will tell you, the condo market has definitely slowed considerably. In fact, many projects have been shelved and stopped at various points in their development.
That’s hardly the same thing as predicting a bust in the condo market, though. If you look at the past 12 to 18 months of the market here, you’ll definitely see it slowing down, but there aren’t any sudden drops or any signs that one is just about to happen.

Plenty of Good News

Keep in mind, too, that this slowdown may actually be a good example of developers and investors reacting to the market instead of recklessly pressing forward. That’s how an actual bust could happen.

Instead, shelving certain projects may have had the intended effect of correcting the market’s over-enthusiasm for more condos.

Consider, for example, that 85% of condos currently under construction in the Greater Downtown area of Miami are slated to be finished in 2016 and are already sold.

Furthermore, 7,200 units that are under construction will be delivered over the course of the next three years. In 2006, before an actual bust really did occur, that number was 18,500. Click HERE to view Pre-construction condos in Miami

Over 80% of the condo sales that went through over the past three years were purchased entirely with cash. This speaks to the foreign interest that exists in buying condos here. However, this also means that there won’t be any foreclosures resulting in empty condos long after they’ve been taken off the market.

For his part, Graziano doesn’t see a bust waiting on the horizon. He did, however, advise people to exercise caution and carry out due diligence where new deals are concerned. This is good advice to take no matter what the market is doing.

Until more buyers enter the market, you can probably expect the slowdown to continue throughout Miami, but that’s hardly the same thing as ushering in the crash of an entire industry.

Home Prices in Miami-Dade Grow Yet Again

By Sunny Isles Real Estate Expert on December 14th, 2015

Miami homes for sale

The average home price in Miami-Dade County grew yet again in August, 2015, albeit at a slower pace compared last year’s growth. CoreLogic – a business and real estate analysis firm – reported that residential prices grew 7.4% in August compared to the same time last year. This number includes distressed properties. That statistic represents a slight decline from the previous month, during which home prices went up by 7.9% year-over-year.

In real numbers, the rise looks like this – the median selling price for single-family homes was $250,000 in August of 2014, and rose to $260,500 in August 2015. Condos enjoyed an even more drastic increase in median selling price, from $182,000 in 2014 to $204,000 in 2015.

In addition to price growth, sellers have been getting closer to their asking price than in 2014. The average selling price compared to list price was 96.1%, which represents a .7% increase year-over-year from 2014.

Even Slow Growth Is Good

As mortgage rates go up and single-family home inventory increases, the report predicts that the growth rate will continue its slowing trend. Experts, however, emphasize that this leveling off isn’t necessarily a negative thing.

2013 and 2014 brought with them a real estate boom that caused double-digit prices increases, which is generally regarded as unsustainable over the long-term. Part of the reason for that boom was high activity on the part of foreign investors; due to the strengthening of the U.S. dollar, their buying power has been subdued. The gradually slowing growth simply represents a shift from an extremely frenetic real estate market pace to a brisk, healthy pace.

Across Florida, home prices went up by 8.1% during August, when compared year-over-year. According to CoreLogic’s report, the national growth rate was slightly lower at 6.9%.

Only a few other areas across the nation showed stronger housing price appreciation than Miami:
• San Francisco – 10.7%
• Denver – 10.7%
• Dallas – 8.9%
• Portland, OR – 9.4%
• Seattle – 7.6%

According to CoreLogic CEO and president Anand Nallathambi, prices in these metropolitan areas “remain very strong reflecting higher demand and constrained supplies.” Adding to this, Nallathambi pointed out, “Continued gains in employment, wage growth and historically low mortgage rates are bolstering home sales and home price gains. In addition, an increasing number of major metropolitan areas are experiencing ever-more severe shortfalls in affordable housing due to supply constraints and higher rental costs. These factors will likely support continued home price appreciation in 2016 and possibly beyond.”

Sales Growth Slows Down

On the sales rate side of things growth has also slowed, partially due to an influx of new condo developments (see all Miami pre-contruction condos here) which refreshes inventory, giving buyers more choices. According to the Miami Association of Realtors, an organization boasting 38,000 members, residential sales in Miami-Dade County rose nearly 3% in August, from 2409 the year before to 2479. There was a minor 1% decrease in single-family home sales year-over-year when compared to August 2014, going from 1157 to 1145. Condo sales increased for that same month year-over-year, from 1252 to 1334.

Despite the slight decline in rate of growth, the fact remains that the Miami real estate market continues to enjoy steady growth, which is a healthy indicator for an area undergoing much construction and reshaping.

LeBron James’ Mansion Sells for $13.4 Million

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

Miami sold home James le Bron

LeBron James may not be too happy with the sale of his home as it was under $1.6 million from the last ask. The owners of Mayfair in the Grove, Timo and Nathalia Kipp, purchased the home to use as their new primary residence. They closed in August, 2015. They have purchased the property for $13.4 million.

LeBron James, the NBA superstar, originally placed the house on the market asking $17 million for it. This was in October 2014 and after one year of no real interest, James lowered the price. The Kipps had been eyeing the 12,178 square foot property for a while, but thought the price was too high.

The $13.4 Million Home

The property located at 3590 Crystal View Court in Coconut Grove boasts a 4,500 square foot guest area with a lounge and game room, an infinity pool, an outdoor kitchen, private theater, office, and wine cellar, according to The Real Deal. Most impressive is the addition of a concrete dock with space for two 60-foot yachts.

The home has 6 bedrooms and 8.5 bathrooms and private master rooftop sun deck. Glass doors open to covered terraces. The private estate offered state-of-the-art security and security quarters, according to Realtor.com. The home was built in 2010 and includes a three-car garage. The guesthouse features one bath, one bedroom, and a living room. Interior features from the main house include an elevator, walk-in closets, pantry, and a bar, not to mention the beautiful view of the bay.

James leBron sold his mansion in Coconut Grove; however, he is enjoying an even larger one built in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. This new home boasts 6 bedrooms, 8 full baths, and 6 half baths. The kitchen offers stainless steel appliances and wood paneling, pulled together by a circular island and bar stools.

Forbes describes James’ new home as “basically a castle plopped in the middle of Ohio.” This “castle” also houses a basketball court and small garden maze on its seven acres. The property is expansive.

James also built a “man cave” into his home considered larger than some actual sports bars. Forbes reports that at Thanksgiving last year, James invited his entire NBA team to hang out with him in this room. It is decorated in warm and vibrant hues of oranges and reds and features a pool table and bar.

Even the master bathroom in James’ new home speaks volumes in regards to luxury. Similar to the bathrooms at 3590 Crystal View Court in Coconut Grove, the tub is extra deep and decadent.
No matter which home LeBron James decided to live in, his choice is high-quality. This high-quality in real estate must be what caught the eye of Timo and Nathalia Kipp. Now that they are the new owners of the home in Coconut Grove, the question will be what new additions this couple will make to this already expansive property.

Miami Home Sales Break Records over the Summer

By Sunny Isles Real Estate Expert on November 24th, 2015

Miami homes for sale

This past June was a record breaker for home sales in Miami. 1,390 single-family homes were sold. This was a record-breaking month as the highest month totaled 1,310 in June 2005. The month of July 2015 closed almost as many with 1,354 homes sold.

This is exciting news in the market as the prices for these homes have continued to rise year-over-year. Currently the price for a single-family home in Miami is up 8.6% and up 2.6% for condos. A single-family home that may have sold before for $255,950 is now $278,000. Condos that sold for $190,000 will now sell for $195,000.

Miami condos this summer also saw an increase in sales growing 4.8% year-over-year. 1,471 condos sold in July compared to last year’s number of 1,403.

This rise in home sales is thought to be from the city’s improving job market and low mortgage rates. Christopher Zoller, the 2015 Residential President of Miami Association of Realtors, refers to Miami as being “a global city with the second largest financial hub in the country.”

Mortgage Loans

The interest rate is down for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. In July 2014, the rate was 4.13%. In July 2015, it had dropped to 4.05%.

The Miami Association of Realtors had this to say about mortgage loans in Miami in a recent report, “Despite the rise in sales, access to mortgage loans for existing condominium buyers remains limited. The lack of Federal Housing Administration loans for a large number of existing Miami condominium buildings is preventing further market strengthening.”

“Of the 8,523 condominium buildings in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, only 29 are approved for FHA loans, according to statistics released earlier this year from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and FHA.” The statement goes on to report that only 0.0034% of local condos are approved for FHA loans. The U.S. average is 30%.

More Affordable Condos

Although the prices have seen increase year-over-year when compared to condominiums in global cities, Miami’s condos are quite affordable. A Miami condo which sells for $149,900 is comparable to condos in London ($960,840), Hong Kong ($776,280), and New York ($1.6 million).

The homes tend to sell near asking price. The Miami Association of Realtors reports that the average amount of days on market is only 41, compared to 43 in July 2014. The original list price received was 95.6%. As for condominiums, the days on market remained at 59, the same as July 2014 and the average list price received was 93.8%.

Cash Buyers

Cash purchases accounted for 48.2% of total home sales in July 2015. The national average is 23% in comparison. Miami’s number of high cash purchases is due to the fact the city attracts international buyers that tend to purchase properties in cash, according to the report.

The outlook for the housing market continues to be bright as increases in home sales continue despite the lack of FHA and price increases.

Phil Collins Buys Jennifer Lopez’s Home in Miami Beach

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

Miami Beach property for sale

To say that Miami Beach is popular with celebrities would be a massive understatement. Songs have been written about Miami, celebrities are always enjoying the entertainment and nightlife, spending time on the beaches, and thinking about buying a home in the area. Even though they might live in Hollywood or as far away as England, having a property in Miami Beach is more than just a status symbol. It’s a place to call home when visiting one of the most vibrant cities on the planet.

Phil Collins Buys Miami Beach Home

Miami Beach homes for sale

You know Phil Collins from his work with Genesis, as well as his solo work. He’s one of the most famous and successful singer/songwriter musicians in the world with hits ranging from “Invisible Touch”, “Land of Confusion”, “Another Day in Paradise”, and “Groovy Kind of Love”. He also happens to love the United States almost as much as his homeland of England. That has led him to buy a fantastic property located in Miami Beach that once belonged to another famous face – Jennifer Lopez.

Collins bought the mansion on North Bay Road, and he paid a hefty $33 million for the property. He bought the property from Mark Gainor, a healthcare executive, who bought it from Lopez in 2005. At that time, the Gainors paid $13.9 million for the mansion. Collins closed on the sale in early June.

What Does the Property Offer?

The mansion is extremely large for starters. It is 12,153 square feet and offers seven bedrooms. In addition, it has eight full bathrooms and three half bathrooms. It also features a Jacuzzi and a pool. The home has some lovely modern features thanks to updates, even though it was built in 1929. One of the best features of the property is that it offers 200 feet of waterfront right on Biscayne Bay.

Another nice feature is that it is on enough land to provide some privacy for Collins. One of the problems with many homes bought by celebrities is that they don’t actually have enough privacy. They are willing to pay more for that added sense of security and privacy.

It’s a mansion for sure, and it takes someone with the status and money of Phil Collins to get into a property like this. The location, along with the property features, helps to make it well worth the price tag. It also shows just how strong the market is in Miami right now. When there are homes in South Florida that are routinely selling for more than tens of millions, it shows that people see just how much potential the area has. Many buyers from other countries, like Collins, love Miami and know that the property has the potential to go even higher.

In the future, you can expect to see even more celebrities purchasing homes in Miami Beach and the surrounding area. The city is only getting more popular, and that means the rich and famous will be spending more time here.

Home Prices Rise and Foreclosures Drop

By Sunny Isles Real Estate Expert on October 19th, 2015

Miami real estate for sale

Miami has been doing very well in the world of real estate over the past several years. When the market started to recover, the prices in Miami – a very popular home buying destination – rose very quickly. People wanted to snatch up properties as quickly as they could, knowing that the market was gaining strength and that they were making a great investment. Today, the prices in Miami are still on an upward trend, albeit a bit slower than it has been in over the course of the past few years.

The Price Increase Slows Slightly

In the metropolitan area of Miami, there was an overall 8% increase in prices over the past year. However, it is important to note that there was only a 0.8% growth between April and May. Still, this continues a good trend, despite some slight dips in the market in recent months. In fact, it’s actually normal. Think about the growth that the area saw over the past three years. Since the end of the downturn, the increase in prices, not to mention interest in the area, has been phenomenal, as usually happens during a market turnaround. For three years, the prices rose steadily, and now they are hitting the point where they will stabilize, and that’s certainly not a bad thing for buyers who are interested in the area.

The interest in Miami is not slowing at all, and new buildings are still being constructed, not to mention there are still a number of units readily available. The fact that the prices are stabilizing could actually mean even better news for the developers as well as area owners who are trying to sell. They should be able to find more potential homebuyers who are able to afford the properties.

Foreclosures Drop in Miami

There is some more good news coming out of Miami as well. A report from CorelLogic shows that the rate of foreclosure in Miami and other areas of Dade County are down again. This year, the number of foreclosures in the area represented only 3.68 percent of the foreclosures across the entire country. Last year at the same time, the rate of foreclosure was over 6.5%. In fact, over other parts of Florida the number of foreclosures is down as well, by around 2.43%. Even the number of delinquent accounts is down. In fact, it is down by around 4.11%. (See all Miami foreclosure condos for sale)

Why are the rates going down? It’s likely several factors coming into play. First, there are more stringent requirements when buying a property today than there were several years ago when foreclosures were unfortunately common. This means that the people who are getting into the homes today are actually able to afford the properties, reducing the risk of foreclosure. In addition, the overall economy is better than it was a few years ago, which means people are making more money and are far less likely to become delinquent on their mortgage. (See all Miami foreclosure homes for sale)

The stronger market and the stabilizing prices continue to be great news for Florida real estate, particularly in the Miami area.

Hibiscus Island Popular with European Buyers

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

Hibiscus Island homes for sale

Beautiful Hibiscus Island has been a very popular location for luxury Miami waterfront homes for years, and that popularity is now crossing the pond. European buyers have been purchasing high-end multimillion dollar properties that are right on the water recently. Even though the value of the Euro is not as high as it once was, this has not really stopped the popularity of the Miami area. Buyers from Europe are still very interested in Miami homes, and they want nothing less than the best. That’s just what they are finding on Hibiscus Island.

Why Hibiscus Island?

Well, there is a lot to love about the island. Many of the lots are very large. One home that sold recently was a 5,643-square foot house that sits on a lot that’s 13,781 square feet. Another property offers a 4,251-square foot home on 15,750 square feet of land on the waterfront. Many of these homes are large and have massive properties. Those who are looking for larger properties that can offer a greater element of privacy tend to like this option.

They also love the fact that they have an ideal location. Those who live on the island are only a short distance from both Miami Beach and downtown Miami. It really is a perfect location. Since it’s on an island, it tends to be very safe. Getting around the area can be fast and simple, and the residents love the convenience. Whether they want to find entertainment in the downtown area or spend some time relaxing on the beach, it’s all very easy.

One of the interesting things about the properties on Hibiscus Island is the fact that the Europeans who are buying are not using them as investment properties that they will rent out. While it’s possible to charge a substantial amount for rentals on the island – some can fetch more than $40,000 a month – the buyers are looking for places that they can actually call home. They buy the property and become the end user. Some may want to make changes to the property and to develop it further with the goal of creating a true dream property.

More Buyers Are Looking at the Island

The Island has seen several large sales over the past couple of months, and as soon as property goes up for sale, you can be sure that it will have plenty of eyes on it. While the Europeans are some of the most prominent buyers, there are actually buyers from plenty of other locations that are falling in love with Hibiscus Island. The homes tend to be on the higher end of the pricing scale, but given their size, the land, and the amount of things that the buyers can do to upgrade the properties, which might not be possible with condominiums, makes the price well worth it. This is certainly one of the areas that you will want to watch if you are interested in the movement of real estate in the Miami area.

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.

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.

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.