Villa 6 at The Bath Club

  Diane Lieberman
  The pool deck at Icon Brickell

As a broker, developer, hotelier and founder of South Beach Investment Realty, Diane Lieberman has more than two decades of real estate experience. She specializes in luxury properties— both homes and high-rise condos—from South Pointe to Aventura. We asked for her take on the market heading into summer 2011.

How do you define the high-end condo market?
DIANE LIEBERMAN: The barometer is about $1,000 a square foot. But that’s just an average. Miami Beach is still demanding the highest numbers. There are units at the Apogee that are $1,500, and $1,000 at Il Villaggio. The St. Regis Bal Harbour is still getting up to $1,200.

Are some areas of Miami Beach hotter than others?
DL: South of Fifth is the most exclusive area of South Beach. The only thing that’s not so hot is condo conversions. They were way overvalued for something like an apartment building. You could live in a brand-new building with major amenities on, say, Brickell, rather than an old building with no amenities and old facilities.

Which would you rather buy? What about Aventura versus downtown Miami?
DL: Aventura is closer to $500 a foot, depending on the type of unit. Downtown is soft, but even those units are being bought up. If it’s a new building like the Icon Brickell, and there’s still a large inventory, you’re going to be able to make a deal. But even when it comes to buildings that aren’t directly on the ocean, like Terra [at 6000 Collins Ave.], when you put units on the market, the building sells out. It doesn’t really matter where it is; if the price is right, people are buying it.

Are buyers taking out mortgages or paying cash?
DL: One, they can’t get a mortgage, and two, the purpose is to put their money into something secure. We sold out The Caribbean [at 3737 Collins Ave.] in six months. Ninety-five percent of the people who bought there paid cash. Nobody owes anything.

Do these buyers know the Miami market, or do they need an education?
DL: Everybody needs an education. They think they’re going to come here and scoop something up at rock-bottom prices, but the objects they’re looking at never went to a rock-bottom price. Buyers still feel they have the upper hand. But I do see the tide turning. I think by the end of the year it may be a seller’s market.

As we head into summer, what are some of the listings you’re excited about?
DL: Villa Stella is a unique architectural masterpiece on more than an acre of land on Star Island. There’s also Villa 6 at The Bath Club. It’s the only freestanding oceanfront home on Miami Beach with four levels and panoramic views of the ocean from every room, plus all of the amenities of The Bath Club property. I’m also keen on 56 Bal Bay in Bal Harbour. It’s one of the only contemporary homes available that’s more than 12,000 square feet with 100 feet of water frontage on the Intracoastal.

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