Related Cervera Realty Services (RCRS) recently completed closings at Apogee, an ultra luxury 67-residence condominium located at 800 South Point Drive.
Much of the success is attributed to Sildy Cervera, sales director at RCRS, who sold $170 million of the total $288 million of inventory at the new development.
Cervera’s international focus might have given her an advantage. Throughout her 13-year career in real estate, Cervera has lived and studied in Italy, London, Spain, and Tokyo. She traveled extensively throughout Europe, South and Central America to promote numerous development projects. Those experiences, coupled with her fluency in three languages, have helped make her a recognizable figure in Miami Beach’s South of Fifth real estate market.
The Real Deal caught up with Cervera to discuss her international broker strategy and how it helped her in the Apogee close out.
The Real Deal: You sold out about 60 percent of the inventory at Apogee. What strategies did you use to successfully sell out so much of this project?
Sildy Cervera: I marketed the product to international buyers. I capitalized on my knowledge of that niche, having traveled and lived in other parts of the world. Many Europeans are coming to the U.S. for political or religious reasons. The taxes in Europe are high. So, many Europeans looking for homes are also looking for business opportunities. I am able to offer them meetings and presentations to help on the business side.
TRD: Are you reaching out to Europeans or are they reaching out to you? How are you making the connection?
SC: I reach out to a lot of international brokers. I focus more on Italy because I speak Italian, but I also work with brokers in France. We organize events focused around international venues like Art Basel.
This month, we are going to Milan, Monte Carlo, Rome, Paris, London and perhaps even Athens with one of my Greek colleagues that’s very well connected there. We reach out not only to brokers but also to past buyers that put groups of people together for us so we can introduce them to U.S. real estate product and get them enthusiastic enough about the opportunities to come over and do their shopping.
At the same time, I am not only focusing on high-end because I certainly will not turn down anything at this point in this market.
TRD: What was the most unique experience you had with the Apogee sales?
SC: The most unique aspect of the Apogee project sales was that we hit a new threshold for pricing – from $1,400 to $1,700 per square foot. So although today’s market is more of a buyer’s market, the sellers at Apogee were not as affected by this. The closing rates are indicative of the fact that there is still a significant demand among this audience.
TRD: What were the biggest challenges you faced in selling out this building?
SC: The biggest challenge was the negative press the real estate market in general is getting. So there were two sides to the sales at Apogee. When the product was introduced, the market was rolling. I sold these units at the top of the market at a very different price point than the market was used to. It was successful because people were looking for that very high end, exclusive, private condo community. Apogee buyers aren’t part of a 200-unit project. There are only 67 units. So it’s a small building.
But then we saw the market turn down. That’s when I started doing more of the resale of the foreclosures. The people who can afford these units aren’t as affected by the market, but they still want to understand why they are reading so many horror stories in the press. The units no longer sell themselves. No one is running in writing a check. When buyers are sitting in Europe reading newspaper reports and watching CNN broadcasts about the crashing market in the United States, you have to educate them and make them understand that where they are buying, Miami Beach, Biscayne and Brickell, isn’t the same market.