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24th March 2016

Insiders reveal what’s really going on in Miami’s Real real-estate market

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24th March 2016
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By Debora Lima
Miami Herald 2016

Slowing residential sales, rising sea levels and shaky foreign economies feature prominently in a new survey of top Miami real-estate professionals. The results reflect a shift in a previously red-hot international market that dismissed talk of climate change.

For the second year, Miami-based polling firm Bendixen & Amandi International partnered with the Miami Herald to interview 100 of the county’s top real-estate professionals. Participants ranged from developers and brokers to analysts and investors, with 60 percent of respondents overlapping with the previous year’s.

Participants were assured their answers would not be associated with their names.

On some questions, there was little change from 2015. But a few revealed a decided departure in habits, values and opinions.

The takeaway: Although the luxury market has definitely softened, none of these pros expect a hard landing.
In 2015, more than half of survey participants said foreign buyers dominated the high-end market. This year, only 33 percent — fewer than one-third — said the same, with others favoring local buyers and out-of-towners, primarily from New York.

“The responses fit pretty much with what the economic environment and the markets overseas are telling us,” said Tony Villamil, founder of the Coral Gables-based Washington Economics Groups. “Basically, South America is in recession, and the exchange rate has depreciated between 25 and 40 percent in most countries — major countries such as Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia and Argentina — because of low commodity prices and political problems.”

Those polled agreed nearly across the board that political and financial instability abroad have impacted Miami real estate, with only 8 percent of participants swinging the other way.

The effects of economic turmoil abroad manifest most prominently in the local condo market, in which luxury units are frequently sold for millions in all-cash deals with buyers from Latin American and European countries. (The proportion of respondents who said they dealt mostly with all-cash buyers has diminished, from 68 percent in 2015 to 58 percent in 2016.)

The exodus of foreign cash and return of domestic buyers reverberated elsewhere in the survey. In the category of neighborhood amenities worthy of premium payment, a larger number of respondents signaled interest in quality schools (34 percent, up from 29 percent in 2015) and shrinking emphasis on shopping and dining (11 percent, down from 21 percent). Experts attributed the shift to an adjustment in buyer demographics.

“Many of the international buyers wouldn’t have been concerned with schools. When you look at local buyers, there will be more focus on schools, naturally,” said Bendixen’s Anthony Williams, who also is a Realtor.

But make no mistake — foreign buyers are still very much around.

“Not in numbers like they were, say, a year ago, a year and a half ago, but foreign buyers are absolutely here,” said Nelson Gonzalez, senior vice president of EWM Realty International, who participated in the survey and also agreed to be interviewed on the record.

South Florida remains a haven for flight capital, and its real estate is a “safe financial investment,” one survey participant said. Demand lingers, too, because of Miami’s international appeal.

“People wanna be here, whether they’re coming from London, Paris or Singapore,” said Christopher Zoller, incoming chair of the Miami Association of Realtors, the nation’s largest.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/real-estate/article81971977.html

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