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 –

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.

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.

S&P Case-Shiller Indices Show Miami Had Highest Gains

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

Sunny Isles Oceanfront condos

According to the S&P Case-Shiller Home Prices Indices for January 2015, Miami real estate – view website had the second highest gain year over year in the last 12 months, with an 8.3% increase in home prices. Additionally, the city tied with San Diego and Charlotte for month-over-month increases, with .7% rises.

Year over Year Increases

S&P Case-Shiller provides both 10-City and 20-City Composites for year over year prices, and both saw increases for year over year numbers over December’s totals, with the 10-City showing an increase of 4.4% compared to December’s 4.3%. The 20-City Composite shows an increase to 4.6% compared to the previous 4.4% increase.

Month over Month Indices

The month over month indices, however, showed a decline of .1% with a majority of the cities showing no change. The report explained that the noticeable decline in cities such as San Francisco, which has a .9% decrease, and Washington, D.C., which had a .5% decrease, could have been due to the weather that was unseasonably wet and cold during the period.

Overall, there continue to be price gains across the housing market. While this is a major benefit that is likely led by an increase in consumer confidence, low inflation, cheap oil, and low interest rates, there are some difficulties in the housing market, as well.

Market Difficulties

The housing market still faces difficulties for a few different reasons, which include:

• Wage Deficit – While home prices are increasing, wages are not seeing the same growth. In fact, the home prices are rising at nearly twice the rate of average wages. This means that if the home prices continue on the same pace, without the wages catching up, would-be homebuyers will not meet the median income requirements to qualify for homes that meet their needs.
• Interest Rates – While the interest rates are currently low, the differences between wage and home price increases could cause problems. If the interest rates increase the slightest bit, it could result in a major setback as homebuyers are put under even more pressure.
• Residential Construction – New residential home construction has still not made it back to the pre-crisis peak, and the current level of one million is not comforting. Historically, any time prior to 2008 when these numbers were that low, the economy was suffering from a recession. Due to this, the new home sector is still considered weak, and this can present its own problems if there are changes in the future.

Miami developers are still seeing increases, which is a major bonus for them and the South Florida economy. However, one area that has shown some decreases is the sale of condos. While these numbers are still higher than previous years, there are some that believe that this sector may be reaching its peak. Time and future indices will tell, but for many in the Miami housing market, the future is still looking bright, and the area is expected to continue growing due to interest from foreign buyers.

Faena Miami Beach Developments Expanding

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

Faena Miami Beach

Hotelier Alan Faena has announced that there will be two more additions to his Faena Miami Beach, bringing the total up to three condominium towers, a retail and event complex and a hotel that are all being pitched by Faena as an arts hub. Each tower will be designed around its own concept, providing additional luxury that meets varying tastes.

Faena Contemporary

Faena Contemporary, which is expected for occupancy in 2017, will feature 41 units. The luxury residences will be from 1,111 square feet up to as large as 5,469 square feet. The units will be available with one to five bedrooms. There will also be two different penthouses that will be more than 8,000 square feet. One of the penthouses will also include a rooftop deck of 6,600 square feet, and an infinity pool that is 2,097 square feet.

Faena Versailles Classic

The second of these two towers is the Faena Versailles Classic, which is located at 35th and Collins Avenue in the former Versailles Hotel. This tower was designed by William Sofield, and will feature 22 units.

Each unit provides a wealth of amenities, with gorgeous ocean views in every unit. The condos will also feature customized bathrooms and kitchens. Each unit will range from 1,034 to 2,743 square feet, with one to four bedrooms. There will also be two duplex penthouses with a square footage of up to 7,300.

Even with the renovations, the 1940s-era façade, custom chandeliers, terrazzo flooring and the grand lobby are all being preserved to add to the classic feel.

The Faena Contemporary and the Versailles Classic will also have a range of amenities, including gardens designed by Raymond Jungles, two gyms, valet parking, storage space, and a preferred status to of areas of the Faena district.

The units will only be available through the Douglas Elliman sales and marketing firm, with prices that will range from a minimum of $3 million up to over $50 million.

Faena’s Vision

Faena’s vision is to do the same in Miami that he did in Buenas Aires, which was to create a neighborhood that was a mix of art, architecture, taste and, of course, food. The Miami Beach project is Faena’s dream to take the area from a sleepy one into an epicenter for the city, with efforts towards its art hub development.

Interestingly, the normally difficult to deal with historic preservationists and planners are all behind Faena’s dream as well. His goals of combining the contemporary designs of his buildings with a MiMo design that pays homage to the roots of the architecture in Miami Beach.

In all, this dream and project that Faena is creating in Collins will cost an estimated $750 million by the time it is all completed. With a focus on art, and a family friendly walking environment that will replace the currently traffic-choked area, Faena hopes to recreate Puerto Madero magic in Miami. They imagine a neighborhood which will combine art, luxuriousness, old and new architecture, and a touch of old world glamour all into a single neighborhood.

South Florida Still Remains One of the Top Areas for Cash Sales

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

miami homes for sale

South Florida real estate sellers have much to feel confident about, despite the on-going drops in cash home sales across the nation. Miami-Dade is one of the top locations with the most cash home sales. See Miami sold homes history here:

A Look at the Numbers

Miami-Dade landed a spot in the list of the top five locations with the highest percentages of cash sales. As of January 2015 they had a 59% share, beat out only by Detroit, which had 65.5% of the cash sale share. Florida’s numbers don’t stop there though, as Fort Lauderdale has 58.4%, and West Palm Beach made the list with 57.6%. Together, these areas helped Florida as a whole to become the nationwide leader in cash sales, with their 56.3% of the share.

Even though the area is seeing a high percentage of cash sales, the February numbers, which were 58.8% in Miami-Dade in 2015, are lower than the 62.5% of the previous year. While there is a slight decrease over the one-year period, Miami’s cash sales are still over double the national average.

Home Sales in Miami Continue to Rise

While the high percentage of cash sales in the area is a considerable benefit, it should come as no surprise that the sales of single-family homes, in general, are on the rise as well. As of a report released by the Miami Association of Realtors, February saw the most increase in year over year sales, with a 14.2%. Additionally, condos also saw an increase in sales as well, with a 1.4% increase that took February sales up to 2,174, versus the previous February’s total of only 2,036. For most brokers, those numbers are certainly worth bragging about.

Driving Forces

With the large number of cash sales percentages in the South Florida area, it’s worth taking the time to consider the driving forces behind those numbers. The most important factor overall can be narrowed down to world money. Foreign investors are snapping up condos and other luxury homes in SoFla as a means of protecting their fortunes with the strong American dollar. By investing in multi-million dollar luxury homes, they protect themselves from the decreasing currency values of their own countries. However, while the protection is a considerable motivating factor, the fact that the Miami region is popular due to the weather and luxury lifestyle it can provide are also major drivers of cash sales.

Many foreign investors are flocking to the Miami area to take advantage of the luxurious designer label condos that are designed to provide unbelievable luxury that caters to the ultra-wealthy. With developers joining forces with brands such as Porsche and Armani, these homes are designed specifically to attract ultra-rich buyers that want a bit of prestige and comfort while protecting their assets.

Regardless of the driving forces behind South Florida’s cash sale percentages, the fact remains that this is great news for realtors in the area, and experts agree that this is not expected to change in the near future.

Palazzo del Sol Penthouse Sells for Record-Breaking $35 Million

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

fisher island condo for sale

Exclusive Fisher Island real estate, which is home to a number of CEOs, athletes, billionaires, and stars from over 45 different countries that make up its 675 families, ranks as one of the highest per capita income zip codes in the US. It is to be expected that there are going to be some pricey homes in the area. However, even the residents who are accustomed to luxe homes and posh surroundings were impressed by the Palazzo del Sol penthouse that recently sold for a record-breaking $35 million.

Highest Island Sale Ever Recorded

The Palazzo del Sol, which is scheduled to be completed in early 2016, is a 47-unit tower and the first new construction in the area in over 7 years. The units are currently 47% under contract, and the buyers are from locations all over the world including Spain, London, Mexico, New York, Turkey, Venezuela, and Brazil. Penthouse 2 was purchased by a Russian buyer, who paid $3,602 for each square foot of the 9,715 square foot space. This is more than 2.5 times higher than previously recorded record sale, which was $13.5 million for a 6,170-square foot penthouse that had been built in 1992 and owned by Oprah Winfrey.

The $35 million penthouse #2 is one of three available in the space, and has many amenities, including:

• A private elevator
• 18-foot windows that provide panoramic views that include South Beach, the skyline of Miami, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Biscayne Bay
• An open floor plan
• Seven bedrooms
• Seven and a half bathrooms
• A theater
• An exercise room
• A bar and lounge
• Separate family and dining rooms
• Four terraces
• A zero-edge swimming pool
• Outdoor entertaining areas and a summer kitchen designed by Enea

The kitchen and bathrooms are Boffi, and include SubZero, Duravit, Dornbracht, and Gaggenau fixtures. Together, the combined indoor and outdoor spaces total 8,595 square feet.
The Palazzo del Sol itself is also designed to provide luxury and amenities that are meant to impress. These include a The Wright Fit fitness center, a hair and makeup salon, cinema style theater, professional fur storage, two lobbies, an aperitivo bar, private massage rooms, Kidville playroom, and integrated media meeting rooms.

Fisher Island itself has undergone $60 million in renovations to locations such as the Vanderbilt Mansion, the oceanfront Beach Club, and a wealth of additional amenities that include a championship P.B. Dye professional golf course, marinas, and a Spa Internazionale, which have all gone to attract even more of the international spotlight.

However, the addition of the Palazzo del Sol is adding to that international appeal and according to the leader of pre-construction sales for the development, Dora Puig, it is also “reasserting its position at the top of South Florida’s trophy real estate market”.

While the $35 million penthouse is in a class of its own, the rest of the units in the tower start at $5 million, which is none too shabby for the Fisher Island locale. With these prices, the island just might be making its comeback. See all condos on Fisher Island currently available for sale here:

Miami – Ranked Number Four of Top Ten Healthiest Cities

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

Miami Beach apartments for sale

If the sun, sand and amazingly luxurious homes weren’t enough to make everyone love Miami, there is one more thing to add to the list. According to Livability, a research site dedicated using research to explore cities throughout the country to determine what’s great about them, Miami ranked number four on the top ten list of healthiest cities.

What Goes Into the Rankings?

The rankings on this list were determined by several different factors in order to come up with a complete picture of the overall healthiness. These factors include:

• Access, affordability and quality of healthcare
• Obesity rates in adults
• Access to healthy eating options
• Doctor to patient ratios and number of hospitals
• Whether the city promotes healthy lifestyles with walking paths, parks, and farmer’s markets
• Cleanliness of the water and air

Miami’s Results

Miami’s number four ranking was based on a few different things, beyond its overall beauty that most associate with it. The most important considerations for their healthy living ranking were:

• Number One Ranking in Florida – As far as healthiest lifestyle options, this county ranked the highest in all of Florida! This is due to most residents exercising at least three times per week, an obesity rate of less than 23 percent and a lack of residents that partake in smoking and drinking.
• Many Beaches, Parks, and Recreation Areas – Miami offers numerous areas and locations that promote healthy exercise and activity, including playing in the surf, visiting parks, deep-sea fishing, golf, and tennis.
• Everglades National Park – This factored into the ranking due to the miles of biking and hiking trials, as well as kayak and canoe opportunities.
• Healthcare – Miami offers a high doctor to patient ratio, high-ranking doctor’s offices and hospitals in the healthcare community and most residents report that they make annual health screenings a priority.
• Access to Healthy Eating – Miami also offers numerous co-ops and farmer’s markets that provide organically grown produce, as well as juice bars, smoothie shops and many different vegan and vegetarian restaurant options.
• Clean Air and Water – When compared to the rest of Florida, both the air quality and drinking water quality are considered clean.

All of these reasons landed Miami in their fourth place finish. However, there are other locations that were just a bit better. Minneapolis, Minnesota ranked as number one due to 17% of the city being part of the park system, a high number of insured residents and a low number of smokers.

On the other end of the spectrum, Yonkers, New York ranked 10th due to its high number of walkable areas and parks, and a recently unveiled Green City initiative and a high doctor to patient ratio.
When comparing Miami to some of those other cities, there is no denying that the city has plenty to offer residents. After all, a beach bod doesn’t happen by itself! With all these benefits thrown into the mix, it only makes Miami an even better place to live, work and play. To see Miami Beach properties for sale please click this link: