Where are your buyers coming from these days?
Because I am Brazilian and a former race car driver in Brazil, most of my clients are from there, looking for second homes and vacation properties in Miami. Today’s market conditions have made the city a great buying opportunity; in fact, it’s less expensive right now to find waterfront properties here than in comparable locations in Brazil.
Which neighborhoods and buildings are showing well?
Because of its large units, top-quality construction and style, I see some of the best deals today downtown at 900 Biscayne Bay. Only 20 percent of the units remain, and will likely sell out in the next six months. I also like the Mondrian South Beach because of its high style and good location—within walking distance to everything in South Beach. Each unit is delivered fully furnished and can be rented out through the hotel program when you’re not there, which can generate income to offset your investment. And with unit prices starting in the mid $200s, they’re an incredible value. I take buyers looking for larger units to Sunny Isles, where apartments in newer buildings on the sand start at around $400 per square foot—almost half the price of similar, newer waterfront buildings in South Beach. At the Trump Towers in Sunny Isles, you can get a 1,000-square-foot apartment now for $400,000.
Ines Flax Realtor, South Beach Investment Realty inesflax.com
What neighborhoods are your clients looking at lately?
I’m showing oceanfront neighborhoods from South of Fifth to the Michael Graves building at 1500 Ocean, all the way up to Sunny Isles. Most of my customers are coming from Boston, Chicago, New York and DC, and they’re predominantly looking for second, third or fourth homes to use as vacation properties for themselves, friends and family.
What kinds of deals do potential buyers look at, and what can they expect to find?
A wonderful gentleman from Michigan called and asked me to find him a luxury waterfront condo foreclosure deal in the heart of South Beach. He wanted 2,000 square feet and great ocean views for around $600,000. “Impossible,” I told him. I had to explain that the kind of unit he was describing—three bedrooms and a spacious, open floor plan—would need to be at least 3,000 square feet. While these beautiful units exist, they’re going to run upward of $2.5 million; any foreclosure deals of this kind were already snapped up last year. We’re still working together.
What makes Miami properties world-class real estate investments?
Miami is the only truly bilingual city in the world with a subtropical climate and an American government. If you look at a map of the United States, even northern Florida is south of Southern California. Our climate and government give us a unique position. I’m originally from Nicaragua and have traveled to more than 100 countries. Every time I come home to Miami, I know I am returning to someplace special.