…and gives a tour of his Flamingo Drive house
After a stint working for an
import-export company, Miami native Nelson Gonzalez felt a calling
toward real estate. He got his license and sold a house in his first
week. He has been the top producer for Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell, among
900 associates in 15 offices [in the Miami area] since 2004, selling
the highest-end homes in Miami Beach to clients like Yankees star Alex
Rodriguez, and Bill Roedy, chairman of MTV International. Gonzalez
closed the deal for 88 La Gorce Circle in Miami Beach, which sold for
$16 million earlier this month. Gonzalez talked to The Real Deal
about the challenges of selling high-end Miami real estate, how buyers
have changed and how the foreclosure crisis may have helped bring
luxury purchasers to Miami Beach. Gonzalez also gave The Real Deal
a tour of his 1946 art deco home designed by noted architect Robert
Collins, who also designed the Colony Theater and the Cameo Theater in
What are challenges of selling in this bracket?
just basically have to match the right person with the right house.
Once that’s done, negotiating the deal is probably the toughest part of
it, but that’s the part I love the most.
How has the high-end market been affected by the downturn?
real estate industry in Miami Beach and probably everywhere in the US
has dropped at least 25 to 30 percent of the realtors that were in the
business before. The ones that are still around, hopefully are going to
survive, and go from there. My business, personally, has thrived in the
high end, because I’m the one doing the business.
How have buyers changed?
[buyers] used to be probably 90 percent emotion, 10 percent numbers.
Now it’s probably shifted to about 50-50 emotion and numbers. In this
day and age, with the way technology is, the buyer is much more
educated. And I love that about this market, it’s much more pleasant
and easier for us to deal with an educated buyer as opposed to one that
has no idea what the market is.
Is there a high-end foreclosure market?
haven’t done a financed deal in close to two years. The foreclosure
market is very, very hush-hush in the high end, because people are not
advertising that they’re in foreclosure, or that they’re behind on
their mortgages, so you sort of hear about it on the QT. But it’s not
rampant like it is in the lower end, on the Miami side. Miami Beach in
general, there is not a ton of foreclosures. I did my first short sale,
on the Venetian Islands, earlier this year. I just feel that there are
some incredible deals out there, and in the extreme high end, the $10
million and up market, for something that’s brand new and what I call
the “leftover houses” from the boom. Those are where the developers
felt that the market was never going to end, they put the very best of
the best of all the finishes, the best hardware, the best flooring, the
best landscaping in these houses, so many of those have sold because a
developer is not going to hold a house just because he wants to.
What’s your outlook for Miami Beach, compared to Miami?
a completely different market, between Miami and Miami Beach. Because
Miami Beach is so much more an international city, The Argentines are
coming, after two devaluations in the last two decades. The Venezuelan
market, with Chavez in place, all the wealthy Venezuelans are coming to
Miami Beach. I have found that all of this negative publicity on Miami,
all the foreclosures, has brought a lot of people here that would not
have generally come to Miami to look for real estate. I’m putting a
positive twist on it, but that’s what happening, there are lot of
people that come here that would not have come here, and fall in love
with Miami Beach and end up buying for themselves and they stay here.
What will happen to these high-end homes in the next few years?
going to be a shortage of very-high-end houses, because all of these
“leftover houses” are being bought up, there’s maybe three or four
left, as far as brand new, call it for or five that are left. And
there’s no speculation. What happens when all these houses are gone?
Prices have to go up. Because there’s going to be a shortage and people
are going to go and really start knocking on the doors of the houses
that people have built for themselves and moved in. I think the bottom
already happened last year, and I feel that if you don’t buy now you’re
going to miss the boat.
Gonzalez purchased the home, which he had actually listed for a year,
in 2004. After an extensive renovation project which opened up several
areas of the house, the 1946 art deco home, designed by architect
Robert Collins, was complete. Gonzalez and his family moved in in the
summer of 2006. Flamingo Drive is notable for the several footbridges
over Indian Creek connecting its homes to the beach. From top left,
front, front side, living room, pool, kitchen, and view of Indian
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