The Real Deal Miami

Resi brokers talk Irma, sensible pricing and sexual harassment

"There's no doubt the third quarter was traumatic for all of us": Jay Parker, CEO of Douglas Elliman Florida

From left: Stuart Elliot, Jay Parker, Ron Shuffield, Alicia Cervera, Nancy Klock Corey and Andres Asion

South Florida’s top residential brokers discussed the state of the market, the impact of Hurricane Irma and sexual harassment in the industry at The Real Deal‘s Miami Real Estate Showcase & Forum in Wynwood on Thursday.

Making sure sellers are educated is key to closing a deal in a slow market. “It disappoints me when we put all this work in over six months but we don’t educate our sellers,” said Ron Shuffield, CEO of EWM Realty International.

Coldwell Banker’s Southeast regional vice president, Nancy Klock Corey, joked about lingering listings. “We call active listings ‘active.’ There’s nothing active about them.”

Panelists also spoke candidly about sexual harassment in the industry in the Harvey Weinstein firestorm. Alicia Cervera Lamadrid, managing partner and principal of Cervera Real Estate, said she wasn’t surprised when harassed early on in her career, but is taken aback that it still happens to her. Shuffield and others spoke of the importance of responsive leadership.

“You have to report. Anything you need to do to protect yourself,” Corey added.

Residential brokerages in South Florida saw a sharp September slowdown in home sales due to Hurricane Irma. But Irma did little lasting damage to business conditions, panelists said.

“We took a hit in September,” Corey said. But “those who didn’t buy in September, they’re coming back in.”

Andres Asion, founder and head of Miami Real Estate Group, said social media images of flooded streets in Miami’s Brickell area belied the limited property damage in South Florida due to Hurricane Irma.

Shuffield agreed that Irma “was more disruptive than destructive.” EWM saw a sharp drop in closings and pending sales in September. “It was a couple of weeks where we didn’t do much of anything,” Shuffield said.

But “every day, it’s looking better and better,” he said. “We probably have more pent-up demand in the luxury market than we’ve ever had,” even though many sellers have cut their asking prices.

Shuffield also said asking prices for homes listed for sale should be 5 or 6 percent above the likely selling price. Too often, he said, “we’re afraid to tell our sellers, ‘You’re overpriced by 20 percent.’ ”

The low end of the market is really where the pressure is, as opposed to the weaker high-end of the market, he added.

“There’s no doubt the third quarter was traumatic for all of us,” said Jay Parker, CEO of Douglas Elliman Florida.

But Parker said inquiries from prospective buyers just before and immediately after Sept. 10, the day Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys, showed the resilience of the South Florida market.

“We also proved to the world we have the gold standard for construction,” he said.

Parker also said some sale prices for luxury residences are topping $2,500 per square foot, including units at Monad Terrace in Miami Beach.

Lamadrid said the emergency response to the hurricane in South Florida was “a very positive message that went out from Irma.”

She said South Florida is likely to see a surge in home-buying because Irma was more destructive in other areas: “I think we’re going to see a big bounce in the [winter] season.”