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Downtown Miami: More Than a Gateway to the Beach


From a tourism perspective, the city of Miami has long been a gateway to Miami Beach, the sand-fringed barrier island lined in glamorous resorts. But in the past several years, downtown Miami has been undergoing renovation, first as a cultural destination – its acclaimed Perez Art Museum Miami opened in 2013 – and more recently as a leisure destination with the recent opening of new hotels such as the SLS BrickellLangford and East, Miami, restaurants led by the Uruguayan import Quinto La Huella and bars including the rooftop Pawn Broker.

Set to deliver more visitors directly to downtown, the new Brightlinetrain connecting Miami to Palm Beach is scheduled to open by year’s end. The privately funded, high-speed line will run from MiamiCentral Station, an 11-acre downtown development that will include offices, with a market-style food hall and shops to follow in 2018. Brightline’s streamlined express trains, offering free Wi-Fi and extra wide aisles to accommodate strollers, are designed to reach Fort Lauderdale in 30 minutes and Palm Beach in an hour. Construction of an extension to Orlando expected to begin next year.

“Everyone depends on cars here, so we have to make it attractive,” said AnneMarie Mathews, a former spokeswoman for Brightline. “On the other hand, everyone is frustrated by traffic.”

Collectively, these developments make for a lively urban core with many attractions — except for the beach — within walking distance.


Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, with free Metromover electric train passing by.CreditRolando Diaz for The New York Times

Downtown Miami is already manageable without a car, as I discovered on a recent stay at the 126-room Langford Hotel. Just a few blocks from the new train station, the hotel opened in a 1925 former bank last year with a rooftop bar, Pawn Broker, serving daiquiris along with views of the expanding skyline.

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“To know Miami is to know downtown,” said Paul George, the resident historian at the HistoryMiami Museum, who leads downtown tours. He pointed out the 1926 Moorish-influenced Olympia Theater and 1920s skyscrapers such as the Dupont Building. “There’s more history and more archaeology downtown than anywhere in metro Miami.”

Much of downtown’s redevelopment lies south across the Miami River in an area known as Brickell, accessible on foot or via the free Metromover electric train operated by the county transportation authority. Brickell’s new anchor, opened last November, is the $1.05-billion Brickell City Center, which includes a 500,000-square-foot luxury mall. Spread over three city blocks, the center puts a tropical spin on new urbanism, with doorless entryways at ground level to encourage pedestrian flow and bridges built above the streets to maintain public access.

“We used to joke that Miami was a suburban city. Today it’s a real city,” said Bernardo Fort-Brescia, a founder of the architectural firm Arquitectonica that designed the Brickell City Center. “Everything is new and new is good here. People are open to new ideas.”


Dishes at Bazaar Mar, one of two restaurants at the SLS Brickell hotel. CreditRolando Diaz for The New York Times

Global brands such as OndadeMar beachwear from Colombia and Giuseppe Zanotti shoes from Italy are mall tenants. Even some of the restaurants are imports, including Big Easy Winebar & Grill from the South African golfer Ernie Els.

The complex also houses the luxury hotel East, Miami, the first North American venture from Hong Kong-based Swire Properties. Its 5th-floor restaurant Quinto La Huella is a spinoff of the original bohemian beachfront grill in stylish José Ignacio, Uruguay, with an umbrella-shaded terrace and an authentic Uruguayan grill crisping everything from squash to grass-fed beef.

Among other newcomers, the SLS Brickell hotel features interiors by the French designer Philippe Starck and an Italian restaurant from the popular Miami chef Michael Schwartz. The W Miami opened last summer with a cocktail lounge on the 50th floor overlooking Biscayne Bay.


Much of the recent redevelopment is related to a 2009 master plan developed by the Miami Downtown Development Authority, a quasi-governmental agency financed by property taxes, to capitalize on the waterfront setting, promote the city as an international business center and remodel its major streets. It released a demographic report last fall counting close to 90,000 downtown residents, up 150 percent since 2000.

Many projects are yet to come — the master plan runs to 2025 — including a redesign of Biscayne Boulevard to feature a grand promenade similar to Las Ramblas in Barcelona.

As Mr. George, the historian, puts it: “Downtown is coming back and still has its best days of comeback ahead of it.”

Home sales drop, prices rise in South Florida prior to Hurricane Irma’s landfal

Total resi sales fell in all three counties last month, with some showing double-digit declines in condo sales

Prior to the arrival of Hurricane Irma, South Florida’s residential markets continued posting declines in home sales and increases in prices, according to August figures from the Florida Realtors.


In Miami-Dade County, residential sales fell by 9.7 percent to 2,158 from 2,389 the year before. Single-family homes fared even worse, with a 13.4 percent drop in sales to 1,073 from 1,239, according to the Miami Association of Realtors. Existing condo sales, which excludes the preconstruction market, saw a 5.7 percent annual drop to 1,085 from 1,150 closings.

But home prices continued rising, now for nearly six years. The median price of a single-family home in Miami-Dade was $337,500 in August, up 12.5 percent from $300,000 a year ago. For condos, the median price rose to $225,000 from $215,000, up 4.7 percent from the previous year.


Broward County’s housing market sang a similar tune as Miami’s last month. Residential sales declined 9.3 percent to 2,884 from 3,180 in August 2016, according to the Realtors of the Palm Beaches and Greater Fort Lauderdale. Single-family home sales fell 8.1 percent to 1,524 from 1,658; while condo and townhouse sales dropped 10.6 percent annually to 1,360 from 1,522.

The median prices of homes, condos and townhomes also rose. For single-family homes, prices increased 7.7 percent to $350,000 from $325,000. The median price of a condo or townhouse jumped 7.8 percent to $156,000 from $144,755 a year ago.

Palm Beach

Palm Beach also sold fewer residential properties in August, although the declines were less dramatic than in Miami-Dade and Broward.

Residential sales fell by 2.9 percent to 2,715 from 2,796 the year before. Sales of single-family houses dropped 7.9 percent to 1,550 from 1,683, while condo and townhouse sales increased 4.7 percent to 1,165 from 1,113, according to the Florida Realtors.

The median price of a single-family home increased by 7.9 percent to $340,000, while it rose 9.4 percent to $174,000 for condos and townhouses.

Read More:

An earlier version of this story provided the incorrect number of sales of single-family homes in Miami-Dade.

Miami luxury condo sales surged in July


AUGUST 24, 2017 6:18 PM

Sales of existing luxury condos (priced over $1 million) in Miami-Dade jumped 51.1 percent year-over-year in July, with the number of sales rising from 45 to 68, according to the latest monthly report by the Miami Association of Realtors released Thursday.

“Sellers are becoming more realistic with their prices, especially at the top of the market,” said Christopher Zoller, the 2017 Miami Association of Realtors chairman, in a statement. “The recent run-up of the stock market and the potential for interest rate hikes are also encouraging more buyers to come off the sidelines and purchase Miami real estate.”

But buyers with tighter budgets again faced higher prices, as the county median jumped 12 percent from July 2016, from $299,000 to $335,000. That may explain why sales for single-family homes decreased by 1 percent, from 1,128 to 1,117.

The drop in single-family home sales mirrored the national trend. Existing home sales in the U.S. fell 0.8 percent from June to 4.84 million, according to the National Association of Realtors. Overall sales are still 1.7 percent higher year-over-year.

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Cover Story: Surprising number of South Florida condos flipping at a loss

The majority of condo buyers in Miami-Dade County’s recent building boom were investors seeking to capitalize on rising value, but a surprising number of unit flips in new buildings have been for a loss.

“There are just a lot more units for sale than there are buyers,” said Andrew Stearns, CEO of Miami-based StatFunding, explaining the discounted sales.

Condo experts have witnessed declining values in condos sales in recent months, especially in Miami neighborhoods with the most development. And that weaker pricing has slowed plans for condo developers, which has major ramifications for the building industry as condo projects yield the most lucrative jobs.

Dodge Data & Analytics also reported that multifamily construction declined 43 percent in South Florida in the first six months of 2017.

Meanwhile, the huge overhang of existing condo inventory in Miami-Dade – 13.6 months at the current sales pace as of June – plus the pipeline of units under construction could force condo investors to lower their prices if they are truly serious about selling. That may be an opportunity for buyers, but it threatens to undercut developer pricing.

For example, Miami-based financing and real estate investment firm StatFunding looked at the IconBay condo completed in Edgewater in 2015. Of the 21 units that have been flipped, 12 sold for less than what the investors originally paid to developer Related Group.

The last profitable flip at IconBay was in April 2016, with the 12 sales since then all at a loss, ranging from 2 to 16 percent below the original purchase price, according to numbers verified by the Business Journal using county records.

StatFunding also found that nearly one-third of the 66 units listed for resale at IconBay are asking for discounts to their original purchase prices.

The market for condos in new buildings is generally slow and when they do sell, it’s generally for 5 to 10 percent below asking price, said StatFunding’s Stearns.

“Part of what is driving the overhang in inventory is the new construction is competing with the legacy stuff,” he added.

Average condo resale pricing in Greater Downtown Miami was down 5.4 percent through June 2017, but sales activity is increasing, said Anthony Graziano, senior managing director of Integra Realty Resources, which analyzes the market for the Downtown Miami Development Authority.

Many developers with less than 60 percent of their projects sold are offering incentives to boost sales, while it has been difficult for early-stage projects to get off the ground, he added.

This trend is unique to Miami-Dade, as Broward and Palm Beach counties where the luxury condo markets are smaller have had fewer international investors willing to flip.

Carlos Rosso, president of the condo division at the Related Group, said he hasn’t lowered prices, but he has boosted broker commissions and offered some concessions for buyers. Related Group is focusing on selling out the projects it has under construction, while holding off on launching sales at future condo sites.

“The market is slower than it was before,” Rosso said. “We don’t characterize it as a crisis problem. Some people will wait and some people will want their money out and sell at a discount.”

No flashback to recession

While red ink has been showing up in more condo sales, this is nothing like the housing crisis of the last decade. In 2007, new condos were often purchased with low down payments and high levels of debt and bank loans funded the majority of condo development costs. When banks seized units or whole projects, massive selloffs caused prices to plunge more than 50 percent.

Now, there’s little leverage in the condo market. Most buyers closed with cash, so there’s no rush to sell at a loss. Depositors usually put down 50 percent, so that’s a strong reason to close even if the market has a modest decline in value. Construction financing has been on more conservative terms, with developers depending more on equity and deposits.

“The reason you aren’t feeling that this time around is you don’t have foreclosure headlines,” said Ron Shuffield, CEO of EWM Realty International. “Some developers with expensive sales centers may not go forward. Some people took a $50,000 loss and took their capital back to their country.”

There are still many buyers in the market, perhaps more than ever, but most are waiting for lower pricing, Shuffield said. The problem is that not enough sellers are realistic about today’s prices. Once sellers lower their prices, units will move, but the discounts won’t be anything like the last recession, he added.

The only condo project that stalled in mid-construction was the H3 Hollywood, which was seized in foreclosure in April by the general contractor. At least two proposed condo sites in Miami-Dade are facing foreclosure, although they haven’t broken ground. Nearly 6,700 units that had originally been planned as condos in coastal Miami-Dade have been scrapped for various reasons, according to

Most condo buyers won’t get hurt if they can wait for values to recover, but developers sitting on leveraged land could have trouble, Graziano said.

“The guys who bought land for $800 to $1,000 per square foot and, unless condos come back to peak pricing, which is not likely for 24 to 36 months, will be in the land deal for a long time,” Graziano said. “The good news is no federally-chartered banks are lending on land. They were private lenders and a host of convertible equity lenders. They don’t go through traditional foreclosure.”

New units compete with resales

For the developers with recently completed buildings, discounted resales have created tough competition.

In the 390-unit Brickell City Centre Reach, seven units have flipped so far since it was completed in 2016. Three sold at a loss, one broke even, and three sold for gains of 6 percent or less. In most cases, condo sellers pay a 6 percent commission, in addition to closing costs, developer fees and carrying expenses, so a price gain of no more than 6 percent probably isn’t a profit at the end of the day.

While some units in Brickell City Centre, a massive project with a mall, hotel and office building, have been listed and sold for below their original prices, developer Swire Properties still has 5 percent of Reach and about 50 percent of the neighboring condo Rise to sell.

Maile Aguila, senior VP of residential sales for Swire Properties, said it won’t lower new unit prices to compete with resales and it hasn’t raised broker commissions. Sales are better this year than last year, she said.

“We have never lowered prices to move units,” said Aguila, who has been with Swire for 20 years. “We don’t react to the market the way everyone else does. This is first phase of a very large project, so if we don’t establish a market now we won’t build towards the future phases.”

Some developers took a different path. Property Markets Group CEO Kevin Maloney said he recently executed a discounted bulk sale of the final 10 units at Echo Aventura, which opened in January 2016.

“I will make $50 per square foot less but I would have had 10 or 12 units to sell over 12 months, so for me I would rather have the cash than the vacant units,” Maloney said. “If I had to reduce them by 30 percent, I wouldn’t do it.”

Maloney said he’d already turned a profit on Echo Aventura, so that just reduced his profits a bit.

While it works to complete two other condo projects in Miami-Dade, PMG has apartment projects under construction in both Miami and Fort Lauderdale and it recently bought another downtown Miami apartment development site from a church. Maloney could seek approval for hundreds more condos on the downtown Miami properties, but said he’ll wait until the market comes back.

“If you go in the condo world and set out a sales office it is expensive. You have one shot and you don’t want to fail,” Maloney said. “You better make sure you will get the momentum. I don’t think the absorption is there at the price point.”

Miami-based Fortune International Group is already representing 14 condo projects and is being selective about taking on new launches, said Jim Cohen, senior VP of development sales. The time isn’t right for another condo in Sunny Isles Beach, where it’s currently building the Ritz-Carlton Residences and the Jade Signature, but it took over sales for the proposed Missoni Baia in Edgewater.

Fortune International had the developer reduce the size of units in Missoni Baia to better meet market demand while keeping the price per square foot the same, Cohen said. The building is about 30 percent pre-sold.

Prices in Missoni Baia average around $900 per square foot, which is considerably more than resale listings of recently-completed units in Edgewater.

“I wouldn’t say sales are better this year than last year,” Cohen said. “We are seeing more people visit our sales centers though.”

Daniel Kodsi said he isn’t worried about discounted resales impacting his Paramount Miami Worldcenter, under construction with about 65 percent of its 522 units pre-sold. Not all buildings have seen discounts and, in fact, some buyers have flipped for considerable profits. Kodsi said it’s the high-quality buildings that have performed better and he believes Paramount will prove valuable in the long term because of its larger unit sizes and unique amenities.

“Not all cars are created equal and neither are condos,” Kodsi said. “We can’t throw the entire condo market into one bucket.”

With completion of Paramount slated for the first quarter of 2019, Kodsi is confident he has plenty of time to sell. By that time, many of the other condos under construction in Miami will have been completed and his buildings will be among the few options for buyers who prefer new units.

Meanwhile, the market further north was strong enough for Paramount Residences Fort Lauderdale to raise prices during construction, Kodsi said. It is 92 percent pre-sold with completion expected in October, but Fort Lauderdale condo buyers are mostly domestic, he said.

Frustrations for flippers

In Miami-Dade, thousands of condo owners have a difficult decision to make. The county has about 1,800 units in buildings completed since 2015 listed for resale, according to StatFunding. found 9,083 units under construction and another 16,111 planned or proposed.

Jack McCabe, head of Deerfield Beach-based McCabe Research and Consulting, said 30 percent to 40 percent of units in new Miami buildings are typically listed for resale within 60 days after being sold by developers. The more buildings that get completed, that will saturate the market with inventory and put further downward pressure on prices, he said.

“We will see inventory really skyrocket between the end of this year and the end of 2019,” McCabe said.

Many people who reserved a pre-construction condo in Miami six or seven years ago would need to sell at a discount today, said Jay Parker, CEO of Douglas Elliman Florida Brokerage. The more important trend than pricing is increased sales volume this year, which will bring the swell of inventory down. Parker said prices will slowly come back.

“If everyone would relax on their prices, then we would sell them, but it’s hard to talk to people about losing money,” Shuffield said.

The question for flippers who get stuck holding is what to do in the meantime.

For many investors, the strategy is to rent the condos out. They will have more competition, though, as there are about 4,900 conventional apartments under construction in Greater Downtown Miami, according to Graziano.

The condos are at a disadvantage because they have considerable association fees and higher deposit requirements for renters, usually two months of security plus the first and last month’s rent, Graziano said. In some units, that could be $10,000. Plus, condo owners usually pay broker commission on the rent.

“When you are competing with professionally-managed, ‘Class A’ apartment projects, it is hard,” Graziano said. “Even if they have to sell at a loss today, they would rather do that than not have a renter.”

A SLOWING MARKET: Flippers hit and miss on Miami condos

Condo flipping is a fickle pursuit. Sometimes it hits big and other times it doesn’t work out.

In March 2017, Unit 901 in 400 Sunny Isles sold for $888,000. When it was bought new from the developer in February 2016, the price was $1.155 million.

Yet, the first flip just occurred in Palazzo Del Sol on wealthy Fisher Island. A unit that went for $5 million in 2014 closed for $5.8 million, said broker Dora Puig. “As the island approaches build out, values are bound to continue to increase,” she said.

Here is a look at flips in some other new condos based on county and MLS records. Keep in mind that gains of less than 6 percent were probably wiped out by broker commissions.

• Marina Palms North Tower in North Miami Beach: Of 21 flips since the building was completed in 2015, seven were at a loss, one broke even, and four were for gains of less than 6 percent.

• Millecento in Brickell: Of 19 flips since the building was completed in 2015, six were at a loss and four had gains of less than 6 percent.

• 400 Sunny Isles: Of 15 flips since the building was completed in 2015, six were for a loss and one was for a gain below 5 percent.

• Paseo in Downtown Doral: Of 11 flips since the building was completed in 2016, four were at a loss, plus four of the gains were below 2 percent.

• Bay House in Edgewater: Of nine flips since the building was completed in 2015, four were at a loss. So far in 2017, two units resold, both for a profit.

• Baltus House in Miami: Of six flips since the building was completed in 2015, four were at a loss and the two gains were less than 6 percent.

• Mansions of Acqualina in Sunny Isles Beach: Of six flips since the building was completed in 2015, only one was for a loss and most were very profitable.

BY THE NUMBERS: Condo values in South Florida in Q2

South Beach
Average price per square foot: $770
Annual change: +6.4%

Sunny Isles Beach
Average price per square foot: $537
Annual change: -4.3%

Average price per square foot: $408
Annual change: -7.5%

Fort Lauderdale
Average price per square foot: $291
Annual change: +5.1%

Average price per square foot: $265
Annual change: -5%

Downtown Miami
Average price per square foot: $209
Annual change: +4%

Boca Raton
Average price per square foot: $185
Annual change: -13.6%

Source: Douglas Elliman second quarter report

Brian Bandell covers real estate, foreclosures and health care. Get the latest news with our free daily newsletter. Click here to subscribe.

Home sales rise in Miami-Dade but dip in Broward


Real estate in Miami-Dade continues to boom, with the total sales volume in the second quarter of 2017 reaching $3.3 billion — a 3.1 percent jump from $3.2 billion mark a year ago.

According to figures released by the Miami Association of Realtors on Wednesday, the volume of sales transactions of existing single-family homes and condos rose 1.45 percent in the second quarter of 2017 over the same period in 2016. The total number of transactions grew from 7,590 transactions to 7,700.

In Broward County, the story wasn’t as rosy. The Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors reported the number of single-family home sales dipped 6.7 percent in the second quarter of 2017, with 4,672 transactions. Condo sales were down 1.3 percent (4,738 transactions).

The median home sales price in Miami-Dade rose to $328,300 — the 22nd consecutive month of growth. Sales of existing condos dipped 2.6 percent, from 3,921 to 3,818. But the median condo sales price went up to $229,000, a 6.5 percent increase over last year.


“It’s a very good time to be buying and selling,” said Christopher Zoller, a Coral Gables broker and current chairman of the Miami Association of Realtors. “In the past two months alone, we’ve seen an incredible increase in traffic, thus the overall number of sales. June is usually the time of year when people are thinking about vacations, not buying a home.”

In Broward, the median home sales price shot up to $340,000, a 7.9 percent increase. Condo median sales prices also climbed to $155,000, a 9.2 percent rise.

Statewide, the median home sales price stands at $240,000.

Cash sales made up 38.6 percent of all closed transactions in Miami-Dade, which is more than double the national average of 18 percent and is an indicator of continued foreign investment in South Florida (out-of-town and foreign buyers often pay cash). More than half of existing condo sales (53.5 percent) and 23.9 percent of single-family home sales were paid in cash.

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Keyes Picks Up Another Award!

A big two weeks for the Keyes Company making two acquisitions and now winning a second award.

Keyes makes second brokerage acquisition in two weeks

Another week, another brokerage acquisition for Keyes Co.

Platinum Properties, a subsidiary of Keyes, acquired Jupiter-based Bluffs Real Estate and Investment Properties for an undisclosed sum. The deal added 25 agents and the office at 4050 South U.S. Highway 1 to Keyes.

The brokerage said that Bluffs generated $25 million in sales in 2016. It has listings in coastal Palm Beach and Martin counties, mostly from Juno Beach north.

“We know that the Bluffs team is filled with dedicated professionals, and we are eager to begin working alongside their experienced sales associates,” Keyes CEO Mike Pappas said. “This significantly strengthens our Platinum Properties brand.”

Bluffs was founded in 1985 and has been owned by Gail Lamborn since 2002.

This deal comes after Keyes acquired the Florida offices of Shorewood Real Estate on July 26. Keyes has more than 3,000 associates and nearly $6 billion in annual real estate sales and services, the company said.

“We plan to continue growing through strategic acquisitions over the rest of 2017 and beyond,” said Pappas. “Profit margins are tightening in the brokerage industry, so we’re seeing more and more consolidation of firms that do not have the size and scale to withstand the new reality.

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8 things homesellers risk when they sell without a real estate agent

A seller has to consider the amount of time and endless follow-up devoted to selling a home


  • Poor and incomplete presentation of a listing when selling is setting the stage for a home to be incorrectly perceived and potentially undervalued in the marketplace.
  • Ultimately, unguided decision making when handling the single largest transaction someone makes can result in a rocky real estate process with issues that could have been avoided.

Selling a home without a real estate agent is like handling your own legal matter. You may only know enough to be dangerous, and worse yet, you don’t know what you don’t know.

In that situation, one risks costing themselves time, money and, most importantly, an advantageous outcome.

The same goes when sellers sell their home without an agent.

Here are eight things sellers risk when they forego representation:

1. Knowledge

What you don’t know can absolutely hurt you, and it can come back to bite you even worse.

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Agents know what the internet doesn’t tell consumers, and they can provide insight that consumers can’t get online.

Agents know how to make sense of the data and the entire selling process so that sellers and their home are fully prepared before hitting the market.

2. Time

Everyone’s time is valuable, but do sellers truly have time to attempt to play the real estate agent role?

Are sellers available to show their home in a safe manner, and is it accessible on a moment’s notice?

How will sellers handle showings when they are on vacation for a week and there are cash buyers in town? Can you say lost opportunity?

Do sellers have the time to devote to scheduling and managing showing appointments? What about feedback? Do sellers know what questions to ask and the best way to reach agents to elicit a response?

Are they able to aptly respond to agent and buyer questions, concerns and objections in a manner that will help overcome the hesitation to move forward?

Are sellers able to offer solutions to buyer-perceived obstacles with the property? Can they furnish expert resources such as architects, contractors, designers, engineers or other experts?

3. Presentation

Image is everything when it comes to real estate. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and the same goes for putting a property up for sale.

Do sellers know how to properly prepare their home for sale, and do they know what it needs or doesn’t need?

Are they able to stage it or bring in someone who can? What about professional photography, drone, video and 3-D? Are they able to orchestrate photo and video shoots with ease and know who to contact? What about photostyling and having an eye for how a space will translate on camera?

4. Marketing

How are sellers going to market their property? Do they know who the buyer demographic is for their home and/or neighborhood? How do sellers reach buyers?

Do sellers have access to predictive analytics or know how to strategically promote the listing to other agents in the community and on social media?

What kind of print media is appropriate for the property, and how will sellers have that created and printed? What agents are most likely to have buyers for the home?

Are they local or regional, or must sellers reach out nationally or internationally?

In real estate, the world doesn’t seem so vast as agent networks are strong, and six degrees of separation often ensues when an agent in New York City reaches out to his or her agent contact in China about a buyer for a property.

5. Negotiation experience

So the sellers received an offer. Now what? How do they respond? What do they look for in that purchase agreement?

What terms and conditions could be disadvantageous to the sellers? What costs should or shouldn’t they incur? Do they know how to negotiate to keep the buyer in the game versus walking away?

How do they strike a delicate balance between protecting their interests as a seller and working with the buyer toward the goal of putting an agreement together?

Here’s where what sellers don’t know can hurt them the most.

6. Inspection and repair know-how 

This is one of the most difficult parts of a real estate transaction, even for real estate professionals. Do sellers know what inspections they should expect?

How should they handle items that are flagged as needing repair or replacement by an inspector? What kinds of repairs are usually done by a seller?

Do they have a roster of repair people at the ready who can come out on a moment’s notice?

Hint: It’s typically not who you find in the Yellow Pages or by doing a Google search.

If sellers don’t know better, they could find themselves making an improvement, not a repair on their home for a new buyer.

7. Transaction management

So the home is under contract with a buyer. What do sellers do next? Do they know who they need to be in contact with?

Who is going to be handling the closing? What items should they be following up on? How will they handle challenges like the property not appraising for the contract sales price or the deal potentially derailing due to home inspection issues?

What happens if the buyer’s financing is shaky?

8. Closing finesse

Do sellers know what the closing protocol is in their market and what the expectations are? When do sellers have to be completely moved out of the house?

In some markets, that means by the day of closing, and in others, the seller has possession for a few days after closing.

What condition are sellers expected to leave the home in? How do they handle unexpected, last-minute issues that may arise: the movers damage the home when moving belongings out, the air conditioner is on the fritz, or worse yet, the moving crew doesn’t show up when they are supposed to.

Selling a home without an agent is like throwing caution to the wind along with the commission.

The perceived savings can come back to bite sellers in terms of uninformed decisions and costly mistakes that — in the long run — end up costing sellers more money than if they would have used an agent to protect their interests and help them justify their home’s value in the first place.

Cara Ameer is a broker associate and Realtor with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. You can follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Email Cara Ameer.

South Beach’s quieter cousin gets a development plan, and it could be big

Go To The Original article



JULY 29, 2017 7:45 AM


The long-awaited redevelopment plan for a moribund stretch of beachfront properties along Miami Beach’s north shore has finally been revealed.

After more than a year of planning, a new vision for Ocean Terrace includes restored historic facades lining the seaside street and Collins Avenue, a 58-room residential tower set back from both streets, the restoration of two historic hotels that would be connected to form one 76-room operation, and 18,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space on the ground floors.

Ocean Terrace is a smaller and quieter counterpart to South Beach’s Ocean Drive that many hope will represent a cornerstone in the imminent redevelopment of North Beach.


Claro Development’s Sandor Scher, who recently finished assembling the properties he needs between 74th and 75th streets, wants to add lush landscaping, connecting courtyards on the back ends of retail spaces, sidewalk seating for new restaurants, and a mid-block pedestrian breezeway that would connect Collins and Ocean Terrace. In the center of the block, a 235-foot condo tower would rise from behind the low-slung historic facades.

Parking would be contained within the new development in a new building at the corner of 75th and Collins, masked by a masonry screen pocked with a pattern inspired by Miami Modern architecture. Walls dressed with vegetation would separate the historic storefronts from the deck of the hotel.

The plan is expected be considered by the city’s historic preservation board in October after the development team submitted plans July 24.

In an interview Friday with the Miami Herald, the development team described a project that is a largely faithful restoration of historic buildings that are unique to North Beach coupled with a creative design for the new condominium that is an homage to Miami Beach and its architectural traditions.

“If you do it right, you’re allowing someone to faithfully experience that building as it was,” Scher said.

The Broadmoor and Ocean Surf hotels, shown here as they look today, would be restored and connected to form one hotel operation as part of developer Sandor Scher’s plan to redevelop the block of Ocean Terrace between 74th and 75th streets.
Miami Herald file


Ocean Terrace’s saga, which has played out publicly over the last two years, ignited a community and helped set the stage for a surge in public interest in the future of North Beach.

Scher’s first vision was defeated at the ballot box in November 2015. About 55 percent of voters rejected an increase for Ocean Terrace’s floor-area ratio, a formula that determines the maximum square footage of a building. Several residents decried the concept because it called for the demolition of 11 of 13 historic buildings along Ocean Terrace to make way for a 150-foot hotel, 250-foot condo tower and several retail shops along Collins Avenue

Resident groups that campaigned for or against the 2015 plan have remained active in the development of a wide-ranging master plan for all of North Beach. Elements of that plan, including the creation of new historic protections for swaths of Miami Modern apartment buildings, are already in motion.

Meanwhile, Scher regrouped and assembled a new team to develop plans that would be sensitive to residents’ concerns about keeping Ocean Terrace within the low-slung scale and character of the neighborhood. Those who voted against the previous plan clamored for a design that would preserve storefronts and keep a low-scale feel from street level.

Working with Richard Heisenbottle, an architect and historic preservation expert; architect Luis Revuelta; and planner Cesar Garcia-Pons, the team crafted the plan that was submitted to the Beach’s Historic Preservation Board a week ago.


The most notable difference this time: Eleven historic structures will not be demolished.

Designs do call for two buildings, one of which already has a demolition order from the county, to be knocked down. The dilapidated Ocean Horizon building at 7420 Ocean Terrace would come down. In its stead, a translucent glass facade styled as an homage to the original building would be erected, serving as a gateway to a courtyard and the entrance to the condo.

On the north end of Ocean Terrace, two side-by-side hotels, gems from the late era of Art Deco, would be restored and connected to form one hotel. The front sides of the Broadmoor, currently a Days Inn, and the Ocean Surf hotels would be spruced up with historically accurate windows and railings. Behind these buildings, a new motor court would allow cars to pull up to renovated rear facades.

For the former hotels that would be converted to storefronts, the theme would be stripping away non-historic additions while extending eye-level windows to the ground to create inviting views into stores.

On Collins, awnings would be streamlined and storefronts would be given a clean, tidy appearance that would recall their original looks. The facade of the once lauded but now shuttered Curry’s Steak House at 7433 Collins Ave. would be brought back to life by the original glass blocks, bricks and even the font of the lettering on the sign.

“It was a really sweet design,” said Heisenbottle, who called the Curry’s restoration one of his favorite parts of the project..
Heisenbottle Architects
North of the Curry’s building, part of the adjacent structure would be cut out to create a breezeway that would connect to an internal courtyard, the hotel’s motor court and, on the other end, Ocean Terrace.

At the corner of 75th Street and Collins, a two-story building that has changed drastically through the years would be demolished to make way for a curved storefront. Above these shops, a landscaped wall would separate the historic storefronts from a concrete wall with geometric cutouts to provide ventilation for the parking garage above.

Perhaps the most striking addition is the thin 235-foot condo tower that would rise from the center of the block, emerging from behind the MiMo facades like two winged pillars joined at a slim core . Designs show an oceanside facade highlighted by windows and curved balconies inspired by the shapes waves leave behind when they recede from the sand. From the west, the building would look more solid and concrete — a nod to the ocean-sand theme.

Revuelta said he is trying to honor Deco and MiMo architecture by marrying elements of both in a tower that would not look like an imposing obelisk.

“It’s a very comfortable visual statement,” he said.


It was made clear two years ago that the community is heavily invested in the success of Ocean Terrace. After the 2015 referendum, Scher met with several North Beach residents who influenced his new approach to the project.

On Friday, he called the process rewarding.

“Everybody gets to know each other, and you realize you have a lot in common with each other,” he said.

In the thick of the design work, prominent North Beach preservationists helped Scher brainstorm ideas, including the translucent glass recreation of the rundown facade that will be demolished.

He said he has already presented the designs to multiple members of the historic board, and he plans to meet with North Beach residents to show them the plans before they go to the preservation board in October.



South Florida home sellers enjoy hefty profits, report says

Paul OwersContact Reporter
Sun Sentinel

Reluctant home sellers, take note. There may be big profits for those brave enough to test the market.

Sellers in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties realized an average price gain of 45 percent, or $77,900, in the second quarter, according to the ATTOM Data Solutions research firm.

It’s the highest percentage in 10 years, the highest return of any metropolitan area in Florida and well above the national average of 26 percent.

ATTOM, of Irvine, Calif., compared sale prices of the 29,665 single-family homes and condominiums in South Florida from April through June to what those sellers paid when they bought the homes, whenever that was. The profits don’t factor in the costs of any renovations the owners made.

A year ago, sellers gained an average profit of 34 percent, or $57,900.

The report also showed that sellers in the tri-county region stayed in their homes an average of 7.6 years — the longest period on records that go back to 2000.

Owners are staying put longer in part because they can’t find other suitable homes to buy, said Daren Blomquist, a vice president of ATTOM. The shortage of listings is pushing up prices, which is leading to higher profits for sellers.

“These are important pieces of the puzzle and explain why the market is behaving as it is,” Blomquist said.

San Jose, Calif., had the biggest profit for sellers at 75 percent, followed by San Francisco at 65 percent and Seattle at 63.

South Florida sellers realizing the biggest returns likely have owned modest homes for two or more decades, Blomquist said. Those who scooped up bargains after the market collapsed also are doing well.

But sellers who bought near the peak of the housing boom from 2004 to 2007 are seeing only small returns, if any at all, because many of those properties are still worth less than what the owners paid, according to Blomquist.

Cathy Prenner, a real estate agent for Campbell & Rosemurgy in Broward County, cautioned sellers in South Florida to keep their expectations in check. Higher-priced homes in particular are a tough sell these days, she said.

“There are a lot of people still not getting their money back,” she said.

Even so, the market favors sellers because listings have been scarce in recent years, especially in lower price ranges. Home supplies declined in all three counties in June compared to a year earlier, according to figures this week from local Realtor boards.

Single-family inventory fell 2 percent in Broward and Palm Beach counties and 4 percent in Miami-Dade.

During the early stages of the housing recovery, in 2013 and 2014, the competition was so fierce that some buyers were writing letters to sellers, hoping to make favorable impressions so the sellers would select their offers.

The letter-writing campaigns have become less common in recent years, but some agents are again suggesting potential buyers put their thoughts down on paper as a way to deal with the shortage of listings.

“I’m recommending that buyers definitely do that,” said Judy Trudel, an agent in Broward and Palm Beach counties. “In today’s market, a seller can expect multiple offers. The more the buyer can do to stand out, the better.” Read More:, 561-243-6529 or Twitter @PaulOwers

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