The Real Deal Miami

Miami residential market stays strong, with help from foreigners at Art Basel

By Alexander Britell | December 23, 2011 03:52PM

The Miami residential market is riding a high into 2012, led by continued demand from foreign buyers and helped in part by an Art Basel bounce.

Sales of single-family homes in the Miami metro area rose 11 percent in November, with a 2 percent rise for condominiums, according to a report from the Miami Association of Realtors.

Now, prices are also beginning to show signs of life, particularly in the condominium market, which saw its median sales price jump 18 percent last month.

In fact, November was the fourth month in a row in which Miami saw a price increase.

“I think we’re going into the season in a very nice place,” said Alicia Cervera Lamadrid, chairman of Cervera Real Estate. “We’ve send tremendous absorption of existing inventory — so much so that we’ve even seen a couple of new projects launch.”

Those new projects, like BrickellHouse, which Cervera is marketing, and Related’s My Brickell, have been spurred by Miami’s residential rebound, which has largely been the result of Latin American and other foreign buyers.

It’s also come from the drastic inventory decline, which Cervera noted, to the tune of a 40 percent drop in residential inventory since 2010, according to MAR.

It was the foreign demographic that was out in full force at this year’s Art Basel festival, from Dec. 1 to Dec. 3, the unofficial kickoff for the winter real estate season.

“We were crazy here. The whole office was pretty busy,” said Diane Lieberman broker and founder of South Beach Investment Realty. “People come down for Art Basel, they feel the energy, the excitement, and they say, ‘why not just have a place here?’”

Lieberman said she signed five contracts on properties in the area during Basel, including a property at Williams Island’s Residence Du Cap. and Canyon Ranch Miami Beach.

“We got some great leads,” said One Sotheby’s broker/managing partner Daniel de La Vega, whose firm sponsored an event at Art Miami in Midtown. “We also had a lot of agents from other companies come by. [Basel] is a great place to network.”

De La Vega said he saw particular interest from European buyers, who accounted for a number of his potential clients during Basel.
While 2011 has been the year of the foreign buyer in Miami, their dominance is not likely to change, according to Related ISG’s Philip Spiegelman — with one large exception.

“Latin America will continue to play a very significant role in all real estate development and activity in South Florida,” he said. “But the new wrinkle to that is we have an anticipation that we’ll start to see renewed activity from New York, the Northeast and Canada as we go through the winter season.”