Israeli buyers continue Miami residential push, mostly targeting investment properties

Miami /
Mar.March 19, 2012 09:45 AM

Largely overshadowed in the recent Miami condominium boom driven by Latin American buyers, Israelis have been a quiet mainstay of the area’s residential market.

Israeli interest in Miami came relatively early on, mostly in the form of bulk purchases.

That trend was highlighted by a 26-unit purchase by Gamla-Cedron’s Shaoul Mishal in 2009 — one of the first bulk buys after the bust.

And the trend of Israeli interest has continued in the years since, although large bulk deals have made way for smaller purchases, brokers say.

“Probably 90 percent of my clients are Israelis that do not live [in Miami],” said Dean Bloch, a Realtor at Douglas Elliman Florida in Miami Beach.

A significant portion of these are buyers looking to for condominium properties as investments, particularly in downtown Miami, he told The Real Deal.

“Everyone has their own vision,” he said.

Some have themselves moved from bulk buys to smaller deals. Bloch said one of his clients had started out with a bulk purchase in Hollywood, and had made his way to downtown Miami’s condo market.

“Now he likes that and he’s only looking at that,” he said.

The firm of Hezy Solomon, an Israeli developer/investor, bought the note on the mixed-use residential and commercial building last year at 1607 Ponce de Leon Boulevard in Coral Gables on behalf of a group of Israeli investors.

He said that Israelis’ interest in the Miami area has only gotten stronger.

“Because of the comparative[ly] [high] prices in Israel to the prices in Miami, they are very interested,” he said. “It’s very active. There is a feeling that prices are not as low as they used to be anymore, so they don’t want to miss the train. Second, the opportunity over there is very limited, so they’re really coming to the U.S.”

And most are, as Bloch said, looking for investments.

“Most of them are not living here,” Solomon said. “Most of them are buying as investment properties.”

Not every Israeli is looking for an investment property, however, according to One Sotheby’s agent Adriana Faerman, who said she had seen increased Israeli activity in recent months, particularly from those with longer-term ambitions.

“You have Israeli families who are looking for a place to raise their kids [in Miami],” she said. “I see a little bit more activity there, looking for single-family homes in areas close to good public schools.”

These buyers tend to look a bit further than downtown, in areas like South Beach and Aventura, she said.

Interest is strong enough that one Israeli client who bought in Aventura became so enthused about the market he was spurred to seek his own real estate license to sell Miami properties, according to Bloch.

“I convinced him to move here, and he was so enthused by the activity that he’s getting his own license right now.”

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