South Florida Forum and Showcase: Dreams on Display

By Sunny Isles Real Estate Expert on January 4th, 2016

Miami real estate

SoFla is becoming a hotbed of luxury condo projects, hotels, offices, and other mixed-use developments. This is positive growth, but does raise specific challenges for the future, according to developers who presented during the 2nd Annual South Florida Forum and Showcase held by The Real Deal, a real estate publication that monitors the market.

Big names in the real estate development game brought their projects to the forum and participated in panels, discussing the South Florida market at the Moore Building in Miami. The forum and showcase boasted developers like Jeffrey Soffer, Richard LeFrak, Gil Dezer, and Craig Robins, all of whom indicated that they are sticking to their bullish stance on the market. These property hotshots are banking on the popularity of the area, which is a leading tourist and luxury shopping region.

Working Together

LeFrak, who is in the process of developing a $4 billion complex called SoLē Mia Miami, slated to be situated between Northeast 139th and Northeast 151st, had this to say regarding his push to complete major projects: “There are a lot of people who want to come here. Let’s face it — it’s fun.”

SoLē Mia will not only house 4400 residential units but will also offer a dine-in movie theater, an upscale bowling and entertainment venue, and 37 acres of high-end dining, shopping, community parks and recreation, and commercial offices.

LeFrak is teaming up on the project with Turnberry Associates. Turnberry’s co-chair, Jeffrey Soffer, is involved with several other projects as well as SoLē Mia and compared the complex to a city his own father, Don Soffer, developed in the ‘70s, called Aventura. The two view the project as the building of a lifestyle rather than just a neighborhood.

Forum panelists pointed out that each city has its own identity. Dezer, whose family helped redevelop Sunny Isles, said that the city has been called “the Dubai of Miami”. Dezer is the president of Dezer Development. The family firm teamed up with Donald Trump in the construction of six towers in Sunny Isles (see website here). Dezer is also gearing up to finish work on the city’s Porsche Design Tower. In addition, he is partnered with Related Group in the development of Hyde Midtown, on which construction just began.

A New Kind of Neighborhood

Craig Robins – CEO and president of Dacra – began his career with South Beach revitalization efforts, and is now on a mission to transform Miami’s Design District into a prominent luxury dining, shopping, and arts and culture mecca. Thus far there are 20 completed buildings housing flagship luxury retail stores. Robins jumped right into the development of 20 additional buildings, as well as a boutique hotel. 500-1000 units are yet in store, and Robins has a vision for even more residences and hotels.

Michael Simkins, CEO/president of Innovate Development Group, has equally vibrant aspirations for Miami’s future. In regard to his planned nine-tower combination residential/office/retail space, Simkins had this to say: “Our mixed-use development is live-work-play, you don’t need a car…Miami is going to be one of the great metropolises of this century.”

Sunny Isles and the Future of Luxury in Miami According to Jules Trump

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

Sunny Isles Beach real estate

Jules Trump, a developer from South Africa whose parents were clothing store owners in Johannesburg, was a key player in turning Sunny Isles Beach from a run-down motel haven to a collection of some of the most valuable SoFla real estate available.

When Trump moved to the United States in the ‘70’s, he started out in NYC and jumped on the real estate train almost immediately. Soon, however, Miami was calling his name and before long he was involved in an 80-acre luxury development in Aventura, that his family had begun work on in 1980.

Sunny Isles came next, with a luxury hotel and condo project. Acqualina Resort & Spa (see site here) and Mansions at Acqualina (this website) were predecessors to Trump’s current project – the Estates at Acqualina – see the website here. The newest component of the complex is slated for completion in 2019 and will be host to 264 ultra-luxurious homes, costing between $3.9 and $40 million.

What Sets Acqualina Apart?

When asked by The Miami Herald what makes the Estates unique, Trump pointed out that the gated community will be like a private park on the ocean, offering amenities found almost nowhere else in a residential setting – bowling, indoor ice skating, a wave pool, multiple sports facilities, an arcade, and a real-time Wall Street trading room.

Estates at Acqualina

TMH also asked something that’s probably on a lot of people’s minds – with the real estate market having an ever-so-slight cooldown, isn’t it a bit worrisome to embark on such an extravagant project? Trump responded by saying that his development firm pays close attention to a multitude of factors, but that the demand for their very unique venture is the metric they use to assess potential success. And according to Jules, demand is high.

Trump is involved in a variety of projects in multiple locations. When asked about the nature of buyers in Sunny Isles vs. Brickell or South Beach, he replied that Sunny Isles buyers are attracted to the location because while it provides easy access to SoFla destinations, it isn’t as congested as other regions.

Protective Measures

And what about sea-level rise? According to Trump, his teams spend a lot of time and energy making sure the construction fits the site. By building above sea level and using the latest technology to deal with any potential issues, they assure buyers that the quality level of the construction and landscaping will protect them from problems.

The Future of Miami

As for continuing to grow Miami as one of the leading luxury destinations in the world, the developer points to infrastructure upkeep and public transit. Fashion, arts, and culture also play a major role in the relevance of Miami as a unique, attractive location. In addition, new business is vital, according to Trump. Tax credits and new jobs keep industry thriving, which attracts people to the area.

Trump believes the incredible luxury offered by Miami is what keeps global customers interested in investing their time and money in the city, and that developers need to work hard to continue that momentum.

Renting in Pure Luxury in Miami

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

Mansions at Acqualina unit for rent

Maybe you aren’t yet interested in buying in Miami, but you happen to be very wealthy and are looking for a rental that you can try to see how you like the city. Let us stress that to rent the property we’ll be talking about here, you need to be extremely wealthy, as it will cost you $40,000 a month. Of course, once you see everything that the place offers, you’ll see why that price tag is not quite outrageous as you might believe at first.

What Can $40,000 a Month Get You?

The Mansions at Acqualina unit 3002 is located in Sunny Isles Beach and is now on the market, offered for $40,000 a month. It actually gets you quite a bit for your money. It’s located on the 30th floor, so you will naturally have a world-class ocean, Intracoastal and downtown Miami views that you simply can’t get anywhere else in the world. You will be able to see pretty much entire Miami including the famous Miami skyline you see in the movies.

In addition, it is fully furnished with some of the finest quality pieces you could want, and there are a number of designer features that the owners put in over the past five years. Some of the furniture is actually from Fendi Casa and some was custom-built. If privacy is a concern, don’t worry. Each room was designed with impeccable taste. It is an elegant property that feels like home when you walk inside. The white marble floors in the living room are beautiful, and the floor to ceiling windows ensures an uninterrupted view. Oh, and since Mansions at Acqualina is brand new, no one had ever lived in this unit, so you’ll be the first one!

It has all of the modern conveniences you could want as well. You will find the most advanced kitchen with top-of-the-line appliances. It also has a smart home system built in so you can automate things such as the window shades, the lights, and the thermostat so you can actually program your home to your liking. It’s a home that is meant to be lived in and enjoyed, and that’s just what the owners want their renters to do.

Does the $40,000 still seem outrageous for this unit? Consider some of the other rentals in the area that are smaller and that don’t have elements such as a pool or a terrace. They are charging between $40,000 and $50,000 a month and they are able to rent out the space without too much trouble. Given the additional features that this unit offers, and the fact that it’s brand new, it looks as though it has a very good chance of getting rented. It might seem high until you compare it with all of the other units in the area and what you get. Keep in mind that renters will also be able to have access to all of the other features and amenities that are available at the Mansions at Acqualina.

Will the Sunny Isles Beach Tax Rate Get Lower?

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

Sunny Isles Beach condos for sale

Taxes are the bane of most people in the country. Whenever the word tax is mentioned, most people bristle. They might be necessary, but no one likes them. Many times, when city policy makers convene to talk about taxes, they discuss ways that they can raise them. However, that’s not the case in Sunny Isles Beach. In fact, this is the fourth year in a rose that the city of Sunny Isles Beach is trying to lower the property tax rate.

The commission is proposing that they lower the tax rate to $2.50 for every $1,000 of taxable property value. This does not translate into a huge savings. Let’s look at some simple numbers to see how it would work. If a homeowner had a property that cost just $100,000, they would pay around $250 in property taxes. This is lower than what they would have paid a year ago, but only by a few dollars. It also depends on whether the owner qualifies for the homestead exemption, and how much the home’s value increased over the course of the previous year.

The city doesn’t want to raise the tax, which is nice, and most feel that the city will either lower them or keep them the same as they are currently. They are actually quite low compared to some other areas of the country.

Of course, many are also wondering what other effects this might have. When you lower taxes in one area, it often means that services will be affected in some way. In this case, some worry that the services the city offers would have less money and that this could cause issues with how the city operates. They administration says that this should not be a concern though, as the growth in other areas of the tax revenue has made it possible to keep the level and quality of services the same. They have enough coming in through taxes that they will not have to use any of their reserve funds either.

The city manager has also said that not only will the services remain the same, but they will actually be working to improve the quality of their services. This includes a large number of projects for the city in the upcoming years. Some examples include the Intracoastal Park system, Gateway Park, Sunny Isles Beach Civic and Senior Center, and a new school.

The city is very lucky compared with other towns across the country since they have the money needed to take care of projects that actually help to improve the city and the way of life in the community without overtaxing their residents.

Of course, everyone in the city may not agree with the assessments. To address this and to let the public know what’s happening, they are having a public hearing – September 24 at the City Hall. Those who live in the area and who are interested in what’s happening will want to attend.

The Beautiful Estates at Acqualina in Sunny Isles Beach

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

Estates At Acqualina Sunny Isles Beach

Many different towers are currently undergoing construction in the South Florida area right now, and it is an exciting time to be a potential buyer. There are a wide range of different properties and areas from which you can choose. One of the first things that you will notice is that you are in complete luxury at many of these units. They really want the buyers and residents to feel special. Some of the most impressive towers and units going up right now are the Estates at Acqualina (View Estates at Acqualina site here). The towers will feature some truly stunning amenities that will provide the residents with a one of a kind lifestyle. Let’s look at what the Estates at Acqualina will offer.

The Experience at the Towers

Each of the two towers that will make up the Estates will be 51 stories high and will each include 90 units. These units will vary in size and measure between 2,800 square feet to a little more than 13,000 square feet. Naturally, the prices for the units vary greatly as well. The preconstruction prices are from $3.9 million to $40 million. You can choose from three, four, five, and six-bedroom units based on your needs. The towers will be just a short distance from the Acqualina Resort and Spa and The Mansions at Acqualina. It is a perfect addition to the Sunny Isles Beach area. The units will have great terraces as well, which will provide residents with great views of the surrounding area.

The gatehouse offers security and the lush landscaping offers beauty from the moment you arrive at the Estates. The area will feature an array of infinity pools, and even a FlowRider for surfers. There will be plenty of other things to keep everyone happy and busy at the towers as well, including a basketball court, and a beachfront bar and restaurant. Residents will also love the fact that they can walk right out of the towers and onto 502 feet of beautiful beachfront that’s just for them. It’s nice and private, and just what so many buyers are trying to find in a South Florida property.

Estates At Acqualina Restaurant

The towers will also have more than 45,000 square feet of facilities to make the lives of the residents even better. They will have access to a great spa and a fitness center that features all manner of equipment for working out and keeping in great shape. Grab a bite to eat a Circus Maximus and take in some of the other unique amenities that will make Acqualina the best place to call home. These include bowling lanes, an ice skating rink, a Wall Street Trader’s Club, and even a movie theater. Everyone will find something to love at the Estates at Acqualina.

Make It Your Home

Each of the towers offers just 90 residences, and this means that the units will have more privacy than you might expect with some of the properties in the area. Those who are looking to live in the lap of luxury, and who want a great place to call home will enjoy plenty at the Estates at Acqualina.

New Tower in Sunny Isles

By Sunny Isles Real Estate Expert on September 4th, 2015

Ritz Carlton Sunny Isles Beach

There’s a brand new tower that will be going up in beautiful Sunny Isles Beach very soon. The tower will include 250-feet of beachfront, and will be at the southern end of Sunny Isles very close to Haulover Beach Park. This is a 99-acre urban park located in metropolitan Miami just a short distance north of popular Bal Harbour. The name of this new tower is the Ritz-Carlton Residences Sunny Isles, which is a name that should be familiar to many. Quite a few buyers are already scrambling and trying to get in on the action. The residences promise to be quite beautiful, and they will have excellent views of the ocean, Miami Beach, and Downtown Miami.

Preconstruction Underway

The preconstruction for the condos is already underway, and they’ve already started to sell. The price of the units varies based on a number of factors, including size. The condos with two bedrooms are starting at $2.2 million, while the ones with four bedrooms are selling for $5.4 million. In addition, the tower will be home to five large penthouses, and the price for these will be substantially higher.

The demand for these units, particularly internationally, is great, and they are being sold in waves. The first phase prices are actually between 5% and 10% less than the final listing price which will be announced when the sales center opens. This gives more incentive for those buyers who have the inside track to make their purchase as early as possible.

Who Is Buying?

People from many different countries are buying up property in the area. Many of the buyers in Sunny Isles are actually from South America, Europe, and Asia. Quite a few are actually from China. However, that’s not to say that the domestic sales are slow at all. In fact, Sunny Isles has a large number of buyers who are from the New York area and who are looking for some great property right on the beach. New Yorkers are finding that even though the Miami prices are getting higher, they are still a very good deal compared with the prices in NYC. In addition, you get more for your money in Miami.

Preconstruction investment is a good idea for many buyers who have an interest in the property. Not only will they find that the prices are cheaper, they will also find that they have equity in the property instantly, and that they can receive more incentives from the developer. Ultimately, it can lead to the creation of a better building.

Quite a few different preconstruction developments in the area are getting attention as well. Some other examples of hot properties include Turnberry Ocean Club and the Estates at Acqualina. With so many choices, it’s time that potential buyers started to look at all of the different options in the area to see what might be available for them. These properties in Sunny Isles are luxury through and through, and could make wonderful homes for those looking for permanent residences, as well as those who are looking for investment properties.

The Future of Condominiums in Miami

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

Porsche Sunny Isles

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

The Porsche Design Tower Miami

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

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

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

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

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

Sunny Isles Denny’s Site Getting a Verzasca Makeover

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

Verzasca Sunny Isles

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

The Sunny Isles Tower

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

Other Projects

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

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

Collins Avenue Poised for Discovery

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

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

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

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.

Forget the Ocean View – Miami Global Buyers Want Designer Labels

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

Armani Casa Sunny Isles

There was once a time when a gorgeous view of the Atlantic was all it took to generate interest and purchases in Miami’s exclusive beachfront skyscraper condos. The stunning beauty and beachside access were hallmarks that enticed many a buyer to decide to hang their hat in a second or third home. However, for the ultra-rich international jet set, the newest selling point is all about labels.

Luxe Designer Labels Are the New Trend

It’s no secret that clothing, jewelry, handbags, and cars that carry labels such as Armani, Porsche, or Fendi are more in-demand and have higher price tags. The new trend in Miami, however, takes those labels to new heights by using them to brand luxury hotels and homes to net greater profits.

While it may seem unlikely that simply adding a designer brand could drive premiums to staggering levels, there is plenty of proof available. Wealthy home buyers from locations such as Argentina, Brazil, China, France, and Russia are snapping up these new digs, and they are spending millions to do it. While many pursue high-dollar purchases to protect their fortunes from the decreasing
values of their currency, the designer logos are also a major factor.

The Proof Is in the Purchases

Even if the idea of haute logos commanding higher prices seems questionable, there is plenty of evidence available that proves otherwise. The following luxury Miami condos feature designer labels and prices to match, but buyers are snapping them.

Porsche Design Tower

This 132-condo location developed by Gil Dezer is scheduled for construction to be completed in 2016. However, it is already almost completely sold out – despite prices ranging from $4 million to $30 billion. The luxury condos inside this glass and concrete piston-shaped marvel feature stunning panoramic views of the Atlantic, but a major draw for some buyers is the three car elevators that take homeowners and their cars directly to their own personal garages.

Juan Pablo Verdiquio, an Argentinian native that moved to Miami and started his own construction business, took “a leap of faith” with his purchase, based solely on his ownership of a Porsche 911 4S. For him, living in a condo with the same name was nothing short of a perfect fit.

Armani Casa

Another designer condo skyscraper from Dezer is the Fendi Chateau. With its location near major boutiques that include Tiffany’s, Gucci, and Chanel, these apartments are also going fast. Verdiquio, who purchased one of the staggering Porsche condos, was shown blueprints of units available at the Armani, which start at $1.5 million. After seeing them, he purchased a unit in that building as well.

Luxury and designer labels are having a major impact on Miami Beach real estate, with prices for the top homes in the area leaping 66% in the past year. At the current rate, and as more of these branded condos emerge, these prices are expected to continue rising as more international buyers flock to the area. This will continue forcing Miami locals farther in-land for more affordable housing.