Brazil is to the Miami real estate market as LeBron James was to the Miami Heat: a supernova phenomenon that lifted us to the greatest heights, but left difficult questions and painful longing in its absence.

And as the former MVP teased a dramatic comeback to the Magic City on his Instagram in July, Brazil appears doing the same.

In 2010, Brazilians rescued Miami from the biggest housing bubble this country has seen. They arrived on our shores and purchased troves of stagnant and deeply discounted real estate all the way from Doral to Miami’s beaches, at all price levels. It was like a tidal wave of cash that quickly soaked up a huge surplus of inventory, which some experts predicted would take a decade to completely sell out.

But it only took two years for Miami real estate to recover like nothing ever happened; much like it took James two years to bring Miami its NBA championship. It was the start of a new real estate boom that brought Miami renewed global attention.

(While many other countries participated in this spectacular surge, Brazil’s sheer size had the most impact of all. According to the CIA’s World Factbook, it is the fifth-largest country in the world; with more than 207 million people, the sixth-most populous; and it claims the world’s eighth-largest economy.)

Miami being Miami, where we build and sell real estate better than anywhere else, it quickly sold out that entire older supply of inventory, and then moved on to build thousands of new apartments and homes. It’s what we do. And we felt the pain of Brazil’s downfall as sharply as the Heat felt LeBron’s heartbreaking departure.

The Fall

According to the World Bank Group’s June 2017 report “Global Economic Prospects: A Fragile Recovery,” Brazil’s real Growth Domestic Product significantly declined in 2015, by as much as 3.8 percent. The effects were felt immediately in Miami with a sudden and steady decline in the number of Brazilian real estate buyers.

The numbers were not much better in 2016, when the GDP fell again, this time by an additional 3.3 percent. The country’s unemployment rates outpaced most other Latin American countries in that same year.

“In Brazil, rising unemployment, tightening financial conditions and continued political tensions extended deep declines in private consumption and investment,” the report adds.

Brazil was neck-deep in trouble, both politically and economically. It did not help that, as the United States emerged from the Great Recession and the dollar gained significant strength, the Brazilian real took a dive and the exchange rate between the two currencies went from two Brazilian reals for one dollar to a whopping four Brazilian reals in 2016. It was devastating — imagine that condo on the ocean you might be considering for $2 million suddenly doubling in price.

The Rise

After much turmoil and soul-searching, Brazil’s economy is finally showing signs of life. Its GDP is up 0.5 percent this year, and that number is expected to accelerate to 1.8 percent in 2018 and 2.12 in 2019, according to the World Bank Group report. And right on cue, wealthy Brazilian buyers have once again renewed their love affair with Miami real estate.

The Porsche Design Tower and Residences by Armani Casa in Sunny Isles Beach, are experiencing a remarkable new surge of buyers from Brazil.

Another indication of confidence in Brazil’s improving economy, as well as its love affair with Miami, was Avianca Brasil’s recent launch of direct flights between Sao Paolo and Miami.

That company’s president was quoted in Forbes saying, “…it’s still not clear how fast the recovery will come…but at the same time Brazil is a very big country with huge potential.”

There’s an important distinction with this year’s crop of Brazilian buyers. Those who made their investments earlier in the decade were buying in Miami just to get some of their money out of the country, and to have a pied-à-terre where they could spend the holidays and shop.

Many of these buyers are looking to permanently leave their country, as they are fed up with not only the economic and political climate, but also the lack of safety and stability. They are looking to move here permanently, and also buying businesses such as restaurants, stores, shopping centers and income-generating properties. They have little faith in their home country, and are looking to build new lives in America.

The Future?

Just as the Heat did not collapse when James returned to Cleveland, Brazilian buyers never truly stopped investing in Miami altogether. Even at its lowest point, the country has remained a staple on the monthly Miami Association of Realtors list of foreign countries that search for local real estate online.

Whether Brazil can reclaim and hold the top spot for a sustained period remains to be seen, but the hope here is that the country cleans up its act politically, maintains and improves its economic stability, and becomes a steady and more predictable source of investment in Miami real estate.


Source: Miami Herald

Out-of-town buyers aren’t just snapping up Miami’s prime real estate — they’re also changing the way luxury developers build.

As more out-of-towners decide they want to put down roots in South Florida rather than simply buy investment properties for the rental market, they’re asking for bigger, better, more expensive designs. Units equipped with quarters for a nanny or maid. Guest suites for visiting relatives and friends. High-tech security with biometric identification.

Those requests come from both Latin Americans, who have driven Miami’s latest real estate boom, and wealthy Americans, who are appearing locally in greater numbers. Some developers, hoping to lure a growing pool of Chinese buyers, are even turning to “feng shui” consultants who specialize in the eastern art of balanced design.

“Foreign investment has completely changed our entire landscape from an architectural standpoint,” said Daniel de la Vega, president of One Sotheby’s International Realty. “People are bringing their families here to spend time, and that changes their needs. One Sotheby’s now advises all developer clients building units greater than 3,500 square feet to include live-in quarters for a maid or nanny,” de la Vega said.

At Paramount Miami Worldcenter, a luxury condo tower planned for downtown Miami, about 80 apartments out of a total 513 have a bedroom and bathroom — called a “lockout suite” — branching off from the main entrance near the unit’s private elevator. The studios, between 250 and 280 square feet, are envisioned as space for a maid or nanny, although they could also be used for teenage children who squawk for privacy or an elderly parent who needs quiet, said Peggy Fucci of OneWorld Properties, sales lead for the project. Units with a lockout suite start at about $1.5 million, or $650 per square foot.

In past projects, Fucci said, “we had people buying small units in addition to their main purchase because they wanted a place for the maid.” Now they expect that space to be available as part of their units.

Look To The Roofs

Families like to entertain and, in Miami, that naturally means enjoying the outdoors. Large outdoor terraces and elaborate rooftops are becoming the norm for high-end developments.

MiamiRealEstateDesign-OasisParkRoofIn single-family homes, the need for rooftop-space is partially driven by high land prices and small backyards. At Oasis Park Square, a 150-unit single-family home development marketed to Venezuelans, some backyards are large enough for a 392-square-foot pool. But the flat rooftops — tricked out with a jacuzzi and the option of a summer kitchen, as well as a bathroom — are where many homeowners will entertain. That wouldn’t be possible in Miami’s traditional Mediterranean style of building, which usually uses low-pitched tile roofs. The rooftops on these modernist homes are between 1,300 and 1,900 feet of open space. That’s more than a third of the size of many houses, which range from 3,300 to 4,000 square feet.

“The buyers find rooftop space very attractive,” said project architect Francillis Domond, who grew up in Venezuela. “Venezuelans have large extended families, and it’s very common to get together for family events at least every month.”

Oasis Park developer Masoud Shojaee of Shoma Group said when interviewed all but nine of the homes, which run from $1.15 million to more than $2 million, have already sold, with the majority going to Venezuelan buyers. “There is so much product on today’s market that you have to give the buyers exactly what they want,” Shojaee said.

Family Ties

MiamiRealEstateDesign-Aria on the Bay-PlayroomFamilies also need places for children to play.

“Kids’ rooms in condos used to be an afterthought,” said developer Carlos Melo, co-owner of the Melo Group. For a project called Aria on the Bay that will open in fall 2017, Melo plans to include a 2,360-square-foot play room for children, equipped with toys, board games, rock-climbing, pingpong, televisions — and cameras linked up to the security room to soothe nervous parents. One of the project’s four swimming pools will be a shallow “kiddie” pool.

Melo said he thinks that some younger couples accustomed to life in Miami’s downtown and other major cities may not want to give up their urban lifestyles for the suburbs. Instead, he argues, they’ll look for high-rises with enough space for kids. “We are expecting a new generation of young families who want to live in the city,” Melo said.

Down From The Northeast

Domestic buyers are also making more of an impression on Miami’s market — meaning some developers are focusing on public transit, smaller units and semi-urban projects common in other big American cities.

Statistics on where exactly those buyers are coming from aren’t precise, said Ron Shuffield, president of EWM Realty International. But he said that through the first six months of 2015, the number of luxury buyers in Miami-Dade County, home of Miami, listing a New York address is up roughly 20 percent over the same period in 2014.

Anastasia  Townhomes

Anastasia Townhomes

That’s important because the number of foreign buyers has been slowing as currency crises rock economies in Latin America and Europe. Cash sales — which often indicate international buyers — were down 12 percent in Miami-Dade in June 2015 compared with June 2014, according to the Miami Association of Realtors.

Santander Townhomes

Santander Townhomes

Townhomes are one sub-market that have appealed specifically to New York and northeast buyers, said Shojaee of Shoma Group. His firm built a 10-unit townhome project called Anastasia and has another 10-unit project called Santander scheduled to open by year’s end. The two-story walk-up homes at Santander are made from coral rock and start at $1.35 million for 3,000 square feet. Most buyers have been domestic.

New Balance

Chinese buyers also are growing in numbers, although they accounted for only 2 percent of international deals in South Florida in 2014, according to a report by the National Association of Realtors. But that’s double the number from 2012. Local brokers have visited Beijing to pitch buyers, including Ugo Colombo’s CMC Group.

And Paramount Miami Worldcenter has even hired Claudine De Bolle, a Miami-based feng shui consultant, to help make sure the condo’s common spaces have the right feel for Chinese buyers.

“It’s important for Chinese buyers to know the project was designed with feng shui because it is associated with good luck and prosperity in their culture,” De Bolle said.

De Bolle said she recommended that developers replace a lobby chandelier that was too angular in its design with one that used smoother features. “The chandelier was very beautiful, but it was very pointed coming down from the ceiling and it felt like a threat,” she said. Other recommendations included placing a fireplace in the lobby to balance the other feng shui elements of wood, earth, metal and water, and using matte tiles instead of a shinier material to slow the energy of a ninth-floor conservatory meant for reading and relaxation. Chinese buyers have accounted for about 15 percent of sales so far, according to developers.

Part of the reason South Florida has been so attractive to out-of-towners looking to buy a vacation home or relocate is because it is well-priced compared with other global cities. Urban apartments in London ($2,948 per square foot), New York ($2,024 per square foot) and Moscow ($1,243 per square foot) are all much pricier on average than Miami Beach ($760 per square foot), Miami ($475 per square foot) and Fort Lauderdale ($400 per square foot), according to research compiled by EWM in 2014.

And for developers there is a clear advantage to building and marketing buildings for end-users rather than investors. “Investor-dominated buildings face risks from fluctuations in foreign currencies,” said Jack McCabe, a housing market analyst based. But focusing on the high end of the real estate market means home prices and rental rates in Miami — already some of the nation’s highest compared with median income — won’t see any relief, he added.

“There’s very little that you would consider to be affordable that’s under construction,” McCabe said. “The developers have been targeting the sweet spot of the buyer pool, which is primarily affluent cash buyers.”

And if currency crises persist and some foreign buyers can’t close, some projects may go under or have to reduce prices.

“The upper end is almost like a separate market,” McCabe said. “The prices are so high above the rest of South Florida that we’re likely to see a correction just in the luxury end of the market if there’s not enough demand.”


Source: The Bulletin

Rodolfo Ishak, developer of Krystal Tower  PHOTO: Mark Freerks

Rodolfo Ishak, developer of Krystal Tower
PHOTO: Mark Freerks

Rodolfo Ishak has had plenty of opportunities to launch his first condo project in Miami during boom cycles of years past, but he feels now is the perfect time.

Having completed more than 40 projects in his native Brazil, Ishak is making his Miami debut with Krystal Tower, a 35-story, 153-unit project at 530 N.W. First Court. It launched sales in November, starting at $342 a square foot, with an average price of $450 a square foot. It will also include 5,500 square feet of commercial space.

The property currently has a five-story shell of a project that stalled during the recession. Ishak’s company will build atop that structure. He plans to launch construction once presales reach 50 percent, he said.

A rendering of Krystal Tower, planned for 530 N.W. First Court in Miami.

A rendering of Krystal Tower, planned for 530 N.W. First Court in Miami.

Ishak and sales director Roderyck Reiter said his company and his experience has reached a level where he feels comfortable to come to Miami, a market that’s more conductive than in Brazil. His reservations are evenly divided between Brazilians and Venezuelans. Both countries are suffering from economic problems and the weakening of their currencies against the U.S. dollar.

“It has helped us in Miami because of the instability and insecurity of the economy in both countries,” Ishak said. “People who have the capital want to take their capital to a safe market like this. … It’s like a savings account to them. If they keep it in their country, they will lose value on inflation.”

Ishak said his goal with Krystal Tower is to offer the amenities residents would expect at a luxury building at a lower price point. It helps that he paid only $3.5 million for the property, compared to the tens of millions of dollars that other developers paid to obtain land near downtown Miami.

  • $108 million – Price paid by Stiles and Prudential Real Estate Investors for New River Center. The 281,713-square-foot office tower is at 200 E. Las Olas Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale.
  • $279 – Price per square foot for KAR Properties’ $12.5 million purchase of a 1.03-acre site in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood.
  • 57,012 – Square footage of C-G of South Florida’s warehouse at 6865 N.W. 36th Ave. in Miami as it faces a $2.5 million foreclosure lawsuit from Ocean Bank.
  • $11.5 million – Price Origin Behavioral HealthCare paid for the 90-bed Hanley Center, a substance abuse facility in West Palm Beach.


Source: SFBJ