A panel of prominent real estate brokers tamped down concern about the depth of the slowdown in Miami’s residential market and keyed in on their current strategies, offering hope for realtors.
“With the exception of high-end condos, Miami is on fire,” said Craig Studnicky, co-founder and principal of ISG. “Don’t turn your back on Miami. She won’t let you down. She always comes back.”
The panel, “Post peak planning: Analyzing the future of South Florida’s residential market,” at The Real Deal’s South Florida Showcase & Forum on Thursday, featured Studnicky; Mark Zilbert, president and CEO of Brown Harris Stevens | Zilbert; Mayi de La Vega, founder and CEO of One Sotheby’s International; Andres Asion, founder of Miami Real Estate Group; and Jay Parker, CEO of Douglas Elliman’s Florida brokerage. It was moderated by TRD South Florida’s managing editor Ina Cordle.
Zilbert acknowledged that prices have declined, but not to the point that sellers are losing money. “[Units] are still selling at record highs, just not at artificial record highs,” he said. “When we talk to buyers, they still want to buy. They just want to wait a little bit.”
De la Vega said the Miami residential market was in need of a slowdown, but that it remains strong. As demand from international buyers has subsided in the last 18 months, One Sotheby’s has increased its marketing efforts to the continental United States. “We have turned more to the domestic market,” she said. “This week alone, we’ve been meeting with our partners in Dallas, Chicago, New York and Washington.”
Parker said Douglas Elliman’s Florida office has taken a similar approach in New York City and Boston. The firm has recently opened an office on Madison Avenue that is exclusively marketing Florida properties. “We are now able to sell our products in New York with a New York realtor in a way we couldn’t before,” Parker said.
Recently, a Douglas Elliman team flew to Boston to pitch the firm’s brokers in Beantown, as well as to hold one-on-one meetings with the marketing director about projects the Florida office is engaged in, Parker said. “This is an opportunity that we can perform in each and every one of our markets across the country,” he added.
According to Asion, the slowdown has forced real estate brokers to hone their research to show buyers where the good deals are, especially in the resale market. “There are great deals on Brickell that you can still buy for $300 a square foot that are next to the newest, greatest building,” Asion said. “If you do your homework and your research, you will be able to educate your buyers.”
Nevertheless, Asion and the other panelists acknowledged international buyers, especially those from South America, are playing the waiting game until economies in their home countries and their currency values against the U.S. dollar begin to recover. “Brazil traffic to Miami went from two million people to one million people last year,” Asion said. “That is a big hit.”
“Those of you specializing in South American sales know perfectly well sales declined 15 to 18 months ago when the dollar rose,” Studnicky said. “[South Americans] still love Miami real estate. They want it badly, but these assets are too expensive, so they are playing the waiting game.”