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YOU ARE HERE:  HOME > Miami > News

December 14, 2006

Your Miami cheat sheet

The frenzy is over � here’s what to know before you buy

By ANDY WANG

MIAMI real estate is an overbuilt, hyper-caffeinated, chaotic marketplace that’s recovering from a bout of irrational exuberance, but it’s also an extension of New York City � and a place where New Yorkers can still find hot deals.

Many of you seem to already know that.

Top Miami broker Mark Zilbert of Brown Harris Stevens | Zilbert - Zilbert International Realty - Zilbert Realty Group and Condoflip.com says that New Yorkers make up about half of his customer base. Brands we know well in Manhattan are shaking up much of Miami. The Four Seasons Residences in downtown Miami, in fact, is currently the tallest residential building (794 feet) south of New York City. The Related Group of Florida (responsible for many of South Beach’s prime properties, including Icon South Beach and Apogee) is developing the St. Regis Residences in Bal Harbour. And the Cipriani Ocean Resort and Club Residences, with about 200 hotel condos and � of course � a Cipriani restaurant, is coming to the northern part of South Beach.

But these ultra-high-end properties are just a small part of what you should know about before diving into this market. Here’s your quick cheat sheet.

THE PRECONSTRUCTION MANIA IS DEAD

The days of buying units you could quickly flip are over, and the market is catching its breath.

�There’s a lot of inventory, a lot of speculator units, that need to be absorbed,� says developer Ugo Colombo, whose numerous Miami projects include the Cipriani Ocean Resort and Club Residences and downtown’s Epic Residences & Hotels. �In the past couple of years, real estate was being traded like stocks. People weren’t buying apartments; they were buying paper. I’m glad it stopped. It was a scary proposition.�

Zilbert says he’s noticed �a lot of people getting very, very nervous. The expectation they had for reselling their properties just never happened.�

Spend even a little time in this market and you can feel the tension. On recent trips to Miami, we found many industry insiders were eager to ask a New Yorker what they thought would happen to the South Florida market.

BUYERS CAN WAIT FOR FINISHED PRODUCTS


With so many move-in-ready units on the market, many buyers are now unwilling to purchase in an unfinished building. Why deal with preconstruction uncertainty when you can move in next week?

�I tell buyers, �Let’s find a quality building that has a lot of inventory and go through all the units,’� Zilbert says. �Buyers are pitting sellers against each other, and they’re winning.�

Zilbert’s noticed speculators forfeiting portions of their deposits, offering other concessions, renting out units and basically doing anything they can to recover part of their investment.

The bottom line is, if you’re trying to buy something to flip, this is neither the place nor the time. If you’re buying a place to live, you can afford to be picky.

That said, things are heating up again after a serious slowdown.

�In the last four months of this year, I did more business than the whole 14 months prior,� Zilbert says. �Suddenly, everything is moving. The buyers are looking for bargains.�

DOWNTOWN MIAMI = WATERFRONT FOR LESS

OK, the Miami River and this part of Biscayne Bay aren’t South Beach, but that can be really good for your bank account. While the highly regarded Epic is going for about $600 per square foot, and the ultra-fancy Paramount Bay is selling for about $700 per square foot, this still seems like a half-price sale compared to many of South Beach’s luxe condos.

And despite the unclear fate of thousands of under-construction units, downtown continues to boom.

Zilbert says �the building everyone is watching is One Miami,� because that Related Group development is the first relatively affordable luxury project to open in the downtown area some are calling the Biscayne Corridor. One Miami is near Epic, 50 Biscayne, Metropolitan Miami, 10 Museum Park, Marquis, Marina Blue and numerous other hotly tipped developments, but unlike all those buildings, buyers can move into One Miami now if they purchase a resale unit for $450 to $500 a square foot.

Units in the building are indeed selling in that range, which is good news for the lucky early buyers who paid less than $300 per square foot three years ago, not to mention good news for nearby buildings with more luxurious amenities that hope to raise the price bar for the area. So there you go: Here’s an actual preconstruction success story for you.

The day Zilbert took us for a tour of Miami buildings, we were also supposed to meet up with Miami based NYP Home contributor Suzy Buckley. But then she sent us a text message. She’s selling her unit at One Miami and had a broker coming over, so could we reschedule?
 


 

 

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