Welcome to the year of Miami’s real estate comeback: Sales are on the rise and prices are dipping on every block. Here, three South Beach real estate specialists dish on the ups, downs and deals around town.
LIPE MEDEIROS AND ANCA MIRESCU, THE SOFI PROPERTY GROUP
Tell me about some of your company’s hottest deals, past and present.
Anca Mirescu: In May of 2009, we were able to secure a unit at the Continuum for one of our clients for $2 million below what the seller had paid for it, and almost $2.6 million below the original asking price of $5.5 million. Right now, there’s a unit at Il Villaggio for between $1.5 and $2 million less than what all the other available, comparable units are listed for.
Is it still very hard to get a mortgage?
Lipe Medeiros: Absolutely. The change from two years ago is huge. One used to be able to get a $1 million property with 10 percent down. Today, there’s much more scrutiny over which buildings banks will finance. In some cases, the condo associations are experiencing trouble collecting their dues due to foreclosures and short sales inherited from the flipping years. But even when it comes to something harder to get financing for, banks will still consider it with a bigger down payment: That’s where the best deals are.
What is the most sought-after building in town?
AM: Apogee, because it affords its owners the highest level of privacy of any building in South Beach. There are only 67 units in the building: four units per floor, and each has its own elevator foyer. The corner units are 4,154 square feet with 2,400 square feet of terrace, while the middle units are 3,103 with 1,000 square feet of terrace. No Apogee condo has ever sold for less than $1,000 per square foot.
Who are today’s buyers?
LM: We’ve seen a surge in interest from Brazilians and Italians. With the price correction of the past year—and the current weakness of the dollar versus other currencies— this is the perfect time for international clients to purchase homes here. These are generally cash buyers who had been sitting on the sidelines, waiting for the right moment. That moment has arrived.
Daniela Pellicciotti: If you compare the 2008 sales of major condos in South Beach to 2009, you’ll notice the average prices per square feet decreased 16 percent. In 2008, high-end properties were not as affected as low-end, but in 2009, they got hit as well. The good news is the volume of sales has drastically increased in some condo buildings. Sales at the Floridian increased by 60 percent last year; however, despite this raise, the inventory of condos on the market is way over what we will sell in a year. This means that even if the market is already strengthening, it won’t be before the end of 2010—or even the start of 2011—that prices will rebound.
Tell me about miamicondoideas.com. We list properties for sale by neighborhood. It’s updated all the time, so customers can check out the drop or increase in prices on a daily basis. We’ve just added a new tool called Condo Shark which tracks the best deals per neighborhood. Instead of searching for a unit by the number of bedrooms or square footage, for example, you can look for it by its price decrease since it was placed on the market. This helps you immediately get a feel for the seller’s motivation.
Give an example of a killer deal you recently landed for a client. This was a deal compared to the 2006 market: a 1,650-square-foot unit at the Murano Grande for $695,000. That averaged $421 per square foot for one of the top-rated buildings in South Beach—and it was a corner unit with ocean views. The same units sold for way more than a million dollars two years ago.
IMAGES FROM TOP: The pool at Apogee, Lipe Medeiros, Daniela Pellicciotti