Against a backdrop of the Design Center of the Americas’ luxury showrooms, more than 2,000 real estate wheelers and dealers mingled at The Real Deal’s Broward Forum and Showcase Thursday afternoon in Dania.
An expo area featured more than 20 exhibitors, including developers of Broward condominiums, brokerage firms, kitchen makers and other ancillary real estate-related firms.
Panel discussions, which took place in DCOTA’s airy, three-story atrium, explored the future of foreign investment in South Florida and what is next for development in Broward County.
Amir Korangy, publisher of The Real Deal and moderator of the foreign investment panel, told attendees that the location for the event was chosen because of the increase in development in Broward County.
In fact, the current building boom includes 80 new condominiums in Broward County, said Broward panel moderator Jack McCabe, founder of McCabe Research & Consulting.
With rising land prices in Miami-Dade, many developers have turned their attention northward.
“What we have seen is a tremendous growth,” which has been brewing for 15 or 20 years, said panelist Bradley Deckelbaum, owner of Premier Developers Riva Fort Lauderdale.
Riva, a 100-unit condominium on the Middle River in Fort Lauderdale, is now 53 percent sold and just broke ground, said Grant Lundberg, sales associate.
Also in Broward, Sabbia Beach, a 72-unit waterfront condominium in Pompano Beach, is now 30 percent sold, even before a sales center has opened, said Lisa Whitaker, the project’s director of sales, from the exhibition floor.
During the last 20 years, the Related Group has built more rental units in Broward than in Miami-Dade. But now, the Miami-based company also has several condo projects in the works in Broward, said Mike Hammon, senior vice president of Related, during the Broward panel.
Scott Leventhal, co-founder of The Trillist Companies, told attendees that he is seeing strong demand from Latin American consumers who are looking for a home.
“We have just as easy a time selling to foreign buyers in Broward as we do in Miami,” said Philip Spiegelman, principal of International Sales Group, during the foreign investment panel.
Spiegelman said he also has seen buyers from throughout Latin America. “It’s not just one or two countries we are seeing all of South America, Central America and Mexico,” he said.
Panelist David Martin, president of Terra Group, said he has seen a shift toward Latin Americans moving to South Florida, rather than just vacationing here. Foreign visitors, he said, now have a greater respect for South Florida’s art and cultural offerings.
“We finally have a cultural confidence,” he told attendees.
Dora Puig, principal of Luxe Living Realty, said Russian buyers — those who are already based outside Russia — continue to buy high-end units, including a $35 million condo at Palazzo del Sol on Fisher Island.
And Chinese buyers, while still scarce, are circling South Florida, drawn to its educational opportunities, air quality and affordable prices, panelists said.
Wealthy Canadians are also showing interest in South Florida. “Real estate families in Canada that have done very well are looking to South Florida to invest,” Martin said.
Yet, the strongest trend currently, Puig said, is the growth of domestic buyers, including those from Chicago in addition to the Northeast.
“We’re back to the U.S.A.,” she said.