Two powerhouse, record-breaking luxury real estate agents discuss what's changed in the Miami market since last year's Art Basel.
Nancy Batchelor and Niki Higgins on the balcony of Apartment 1402 at the Continuum.
Art Basel serves as a benchmark for the health of Miami’s cultural and economic states. Last year’s acclaimed event—along with several infrastructure developments in the past 12 months—added to Miami’s allure as an international landmark for high-end living. Nancy Batchelor, of The Nancy Batchelor Team at EWM Realty International, and Niki Higgins, director of luxury sales at the Seaside Properties Group at Douglas Elliman, take a look at how Miami’s real estate market has grown since the 2013 fair, and why last year’s buyers are here to stay.
Nancy Batchelor: We’ve got three buyers: The millennials who went to college [and] came back. They’ve got baby-boomer parents [who] are buying big stuff. We’ve got the hedge-fund market, which is not just New York; it’s California, Europe, India. They fall in love with [Miami], they get a taste during Basel, and then they come back for a long weekend, go deeper and figure out what part of South Florida works for them. Then there’s your international buyer. When people look into moving here permanently, it becomes different. People put their toe in and come for holidays and it’s a second-home market, but then they like it here, [their kids] can go to college [here]. Now we have world-class medical [facilities] and universities. All the pieces of the puzzle are here.
Niki Higgins: The Knight Frank Wealth Report 2014 says that Miami is the number-two [top global city in the] US [region]. And as far as cities in the world that ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWI) want to be in, it’s number eight. And 20 percent of them are considering buying a new home this year.
Potential buyers are drawn to the luxury oceanfront lifestyle the Continuum offers (here, the living room).
NB: Just like the art world has exploded in the last 12 months, so has the ultra-luxury market. [The Nancy Batchelor Team has] had more sales in the last 12 months of $1 million, $5 million, $10 million and higher than in the past few years.
NH: The UHNWI wants to come to cities that are ranked on economic activity, quality of life, knowledge and influence and political power, so the US is very appealing. These individuals are moving and reallocating their assets around the world, and they want to be in their top cities, and Miami’s arrived. We are feeling, in Miami all the way up to Palm Beach, the increase of the global reallocation.
NB: What’s happened is Miami is year round. We had a lot of people who had a great time at Basel, then maybe came for the Miami International Boat Show, President’s Weekend, and they love it during this time. But everyone says it’s so hot in the summer. Our team had such a busy August because people wanted to come in the worst month and see if it’s really that bad. We had some big sales that month, and they are going to come back to Basel to buy the art.
NH: Art Basel is kind of the mixer in the mixing bowl. The art comes together with the real estate. The buyers [aren’t] buying real estate during Art Basel—they are here to buy art—but they certainly enjoy the excitement and vibrancy of the city.
ON THE MARKET: Penthouse 4 at Bellaria in Palm Beach, represented by the Seaside Properties Group at Douglas Elliman, and the Miami Beach estate at 2830 Lucerne Avenue (below) in gated Sunset Island, listed by Nancy Batchelor.
NB: Realtors, during that period, [are] connectors. “What’s happening? What’s the good place to be? What restaurant? How do we get there?” It’s more of that we’re doing.
NH: We do entertaining, eating, talking, meeting maybe at one of the art fairs. It is a time to connect with people and show them what a beautiful place we live in.
NB: Speaking of art, [in] all these brand-new buildings, the architecture [and] art are really selling the condominiums. It’s one thing to know floor plans, price points…. and then it’s, “Oh, by the way, who is the architect?” It has become very high-end. It’s like, “Is that a Prada bag or not?” It’s branding with the architects, the designers, and the art that’s there.
NH: Miami is still a great buy. It’s only the 14th-most-expensive city in the world. 2014/2015 is a good time to buy before Miami prices catch up with the other leading cities of the world. The Nancy Batchelor Team, EWM Realty International, 419 Arthur Godfrey Road, Miami Beach, 305-903-2850; Niki Higgins, Seaside Properties Group at Douglas Elliman, multiple locations, 305-728-2448