Archive for September, 2012

Nowhere To Go But Up

Posted by ricardo on 9/26/2012 | |


Investors looking at Miami real estate are seeing a positive change in the American housing market. The signs of a potential upswing are prevalent in home pricing, market availability and mortgage/debt management. With the price of real estate continuing to rise, now may be the time to invest. There is an influx of foreign capital, as well as the opportunity to sell to first time buyers looking to capitalize on record low mortgage rates. What does this mean for the wealthy investor? There is a healthy seller’s market on the horizon.

Polls comparing nationwide home prices to median household incomes show that we are currently below historic averages. Unlike the last ten years, families are now in a position to invest. All the signs are there that the market in the US has bottomed. With the worst of the recession behind us, there is nowhere for the market to go but up. And with a resurgence of buyers, comes a new echelon of interest in top shelf estates as well.

30-year mortgage rates are hovering at 3.6%, and low housing prices, in most metropolitan regions have crossed the ‘it’s cheaper to own than rent’ threshold. This helps set the stage for a potential surge of new buyers. For investors looking to buy and divide townhouses, this continues to be a good sign.

But still, home ownership is down. And so is new home construction. The average real estate investor has being sitting on his capital, waiting for the signs of a bottomed market. But they are everywhere and have been for a while.

One of the most positive trends is the decrease in default mortgages. A more mature homebuyer is now entering the marketplace. Those people who shouldn’t have owned homes in the first place, now don’t and the people who can afford to own home, are now looking to invest.

There are areas in the country where the cost of real estate has already started to rise. Miami has already show that it is the in a major upswing.

Miami real estate has begun to heat up faster than LeBron in the fourth quarter. In fact, Miami real estate has already turned the corner and it happened very quickly (in the last year), but Miami has much more room to improve seeing that property prices had declined by 40% to 50% from peak. Don’t wait for more signs that the general housing market has bottomed before getting in the game, otherwise, you might be priced out of the Miami market.


For more information:

Housing Has Bottomed In The United States

Europeans Eye Real Estate in Miami

Posted by ricardo on 9/24/2012 | |


We recently discussed Asian interest in the Miami luxury real estate market. However, another continent has moved its sites to the balmy south as well: Europeans. Let’s take a closer look at this market, and discuss how one can maximize the sale of a Miami property by catering to the tastes of this demographic.

The major reason for the spike in European interest in the Miami luxury real estate market is the failing economic climate in Europe. The euro was diving (although bouncing back now that the US has entered QE3), but even with the de-valued exchange rate, Europeans are looking to invest their money in markets they deem to be growing.

The Greek crisis, France’s new taxation policies on the rich, and the collapse of Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Iceland and Italy’s financial systems have many well-heeled Europeans looking for safer places to store their wealth. Some experts see a ‘perfect storm’ of conditions brewing that could lead to total devaluation of the euro, and a decimation of wealth not reinvested in a practical safe haven, such as Miami luxury real estate.

This spells out good news for Americans.

Europeans also see the value in getting more square footage for their invested capital. Centers like London or Paris do not offer luxury properties equivalent to the size of the properties being offered in Miami. Space is at a premium in Europe, so the opportunity to spread out in a three or four-bedroom “mansion” is all the more attractive, especially at low prices.

The majority of the properties purchased by this demographic are well over a million dollars. In a sense, the Europeans are helping to keep the Miami luxury real estate market afloat.

The largest spender is by far the Russians. The Russians seem attracted to the Miami lifestyle, the hot climate and the accumulated wealth of the region. It probably doesn’t hurt that there are a number of active and retired Russian sports stars living in the Miami area.

While the Russians tend to purchase luxury homes for their own use, the Germans and Scandinavians seem to gravitate to multi-unit properties for investment purposes. Apartment complexes and multiplexes can be used as retirement investment plans for independently wealthy Europeans.

Unfortunately for Europe, its problems are far away from being solved. Perhaps, there are some band-aides that will just kick the can down the road.  As a result, we expect this continued uncertainly to sustain Europe’s taste for Miami real estate.


For more reading on Miami Luxury Real Estate

Analysts warn of perfect storm

Europeans investors In Miami

Search Manhattan Properties with Buyfolio

Posted by ricardo on 9/23/2012 | |


Apartment hunting is rarely done in isolation. It’s a collaborative process between husband and wife, partners, and sometimes even the kids get a chance to add some input. As opposed to having one party do all the searching, note taking, and bookmarking, only to rehash the details to their partner later, BuyFolio is a convenient way to share the search information in one place.

Manhattan Miami makes use of the BuyFolio system. Its clients have found that this easy-to-use hub makes house hunting in New York more convenient when multiple interests are involved. You can save and track properties, and leave notes as you go along. Instead of multiple tabs, you can organize your properties simply by dragging and dropping them into your portfolio. BuyFolio comes equipped with a powerful and an intuitive search engine that makes finding exactly the right fit that much easier. It helps that BuyFolio contains the largest database of properties in Manhattan. The map-based search makes it possible to look by location, price, or size, without having to constantly cross-reference.

Being able to keep track of properties, make notes, and ‘discuss’ with partners online helps to streamline the process when buyers are considering multiple options and working in conjunction with an agent. Nothing is dependent on the memory of one person, and there are no scribbled bits of paper to lose. Even the New York Times has lauded the practicality of the BuyFolio system when searching New York Real Estate.

The intuitive interface is part of what makes BuyFolio so attractive to buyers. After reviewing a property listing suggested by an agent, simply drag and drop the listing from to the To See section below or delete the listing. After viewings of the physical property, simply drag and drop the listing to the Saw and Liked Section or delete it. Buyers and agents can share their opinions or ask questions directly in BuyFolio. Even if searching on a different real estate site, BuyFolio allows you to incorporate the new listing you find by copying the URL into your folio.

For those looking for properties in Manhattan, feel free to use the BuyFolio on Manhattan Miami’s website. If you are reading this on your iPad or Smartphone, you can start right away, as the BuyFolio app is compatible with all devices.


Search All New York Real Estate for Sale with BuyFolio


Online Tool Helps Buyers Track Properties


What Billionaires Don’t Want You To Know About One57

Posted by ricardo on 9/20/2012 | |


One57 at 157 w. 57th Street in New York has been dubbed the “Billionaire Building” and it’s not even built yet.

So why are the richest men in the world cherry-picking $90 million apartments? Why are aristocrats buying suites for $25 to  $45 million, and requesting their names be withheld from the public? Rumors have it that a number of secretive A-listers have already reserved their spots.  While there have been whispers, none of these A-listers have yet to talk about One 57.

Why? The red ribbon cutting is slated for 2013. Yet over 52 of the 92 spaces are already accounted for. Billionaires have so far laid claim to the top nine floors. Over two $90 million suites on the top floors have sold so far. According to the developer, the Extell Development Company, several of the new buyers are ‘significant Forbes billionaires.’

What do these billionaire business moguls know what mere millionaires don’t?

Certainly the 90-story, 1,004-foot, $1.5 billion investment will feature unrivaled views of Central Park, the Hudson River as well as the East Rivers. There is no surprise that it will showcase state-of-the-art interiors, high ceilings, lacquered floors, high def TVs in the bathrooms, and double-wide fridges.

But a staggering 90th floor view of the city below and all of the modern fixings is not quite enough justify price tags quadruple last year’s rich list, especially in a floundering economy. So what is really happening?

It is a global phenomenon. It is a signifier that the Manhattan brand is untarnished. Billionaires are flocking in from all over the world to capitalize on limited space in the glamorous epicenter of real estate. Extell has reported buyers from China, Russia, Brazil and even Canada – but no one is giving any names. The media is billing it as the “global billionaire’s club.”

Manhattan, once again, is king.

One57 holds prestige in its title. It’s ultra-exclusive. It’s unsurpassed. But with apartments available at $50 million, the merely rich seem to have been priced out of the market, and maybe that is just the point these billionaires are trying to make.

One57 is currency, plain and simple. Where other foreign monies are hinged on gold, or worse, imaginary figures, One57 will hold its value. We bet another newcomer will be a currency of similar value.  432 Park Avenue will soon dethrone One57 as the tallest residential tower by close to 400 feet.  We have high hopes (pun intended) for this building and it will be interesting to see how many more billionaires will pony up similar prices for 432 Park Avenue.

While the billionaires of the world have taken notice of Manhattan, maybe it is time for the millionaires of the world to take notice, and capitalize on a secret that’s beyond speculation. After all, isn’t that how empires are built?

For More Information:


A Video Tour of One 57 Sales Center

Rising Tower Emerges as a Billionaires’ Haven

New Development Highlight: 432 Park Avenue

Tech Firms Choose Big Cities

Posted by ricardo on 9/20/2012 | |


Some of the newer startups in Silicon Valley have migrated to the more urban, denser, and cosmopolitan areas of San Francisco and Palo Alto. Pinterest, Zynga and Yelp, for instance, have eschewed wide-open spaces for busy downtown living. What is the reason for this sudden change of pace? Even if Silicon Valley is 40 miles of large green utopia, that is still 40 miles of sprawl, and a significant distance from the amenities of the city. Sometimes for business to flourish, one needs to rub shoulders with the hustle and bustle of other industries, such as finance, advertising, publishing and law. Given the grass is greener in the big city mentality, it’s not surprising that tech would eventually set its sites on the greatest concrete jungle of them all – Manhattan.

In New York City, there is a huge tech boom going on right now. Tech giants once relegated to Silicon Valley and the West Coast are now luring talent into a the urban sophistication of the Big Apple, where architecture, culture, and international restaurants have replaced miles of bike lanes and sunshine. Dubbed ‘Silicon Alley’, it has started to affect the growth of its West coast counterpart.

Mayor Bloomberg was a big proponent of diversifying industry in New York City. Take for example, the land that the city has donated to Cornell to build their future tech campus on Roosevelt Island. The Applied Sciences NYC initiative has been working since 2005 to capture the growth in science and technology research fields in New York.

A part of the reason for the diversification push is that Wall Street has shown itself to be vulnerable. This revives interest in technology, and opens another door for opportunity. Before the dot-com bust in 2000, New York was actually booming in the technology sector. After the bust, it was hit much harder than Silicon Valley in terms of investment dollars coming in.

Today, twelve years after the bust, New York has begun to attract deals and investment dollars once again – now accounting for 10 percent of the investment and 11 percent of the deals. More than 500 new startups, including Tumblr and Kickstarter call Manhattan their home.

Recently, two Silicon Valley heavyweights have made the move to Manhattan. On November 2011, eBay acquired Hunch, a NYC-based recommendations engine, for about $80 million. This will expand eBay’s offices to New York City, where it is expected to grow to more than 200 employees.

Meanwhile, social mega-site Facebook will open its first New York engineering office in 2012. COO Cheryl Sandburg of Facebook has been quoted as saying it will “hire as much talent as it can. [The New York office] isn’t a satellite office, it will be a core piece to its engineering stack.”

Will Manhattan see the same spike in real estate prices experienced by Silicon Valley in the 90s? One could only hope. For New York real estate owners, this could be the boom of a lifetime, although such landlords have been treated pretty good by the market over the last 20 years.

For more information:

Silicon Alley Soaring

Tech Giants Eye Manhattan

Image Source: Applied Sciences NYC

Manhattan Market Update

Posted by ricardo on 9/7/2012 | |


The combination of sustained new contract activity, declining inventory levels and price improvement has made 2012 (so far), the best year for Manhattan real estate since 2007.

The first 6 months of Manhattan residential real estate have been Red Hot, with March through May deals far exceeding previous sales volume in each of the same periods going back to 2007. Most of these deals are still pending or closed but not yet reported.

On a price per square foot basis, the second quarter price improvement was modest, ranging from 2% for all condos to 5% for new developments and 7% for luxury properties. These price increases, however, reflect prices of those transactions entered into in the 1st quarter. Since then, the market has expanded with a high level of activity, we expect 2nd quarter property prices to do much better. The higher sales levels and price improvement will soon populate brokerages’ third-quarter reports.

A consistent theme in Manhattan has been the shrinking of inventory available for sale. While quite evident over the last 9 months, this theme has really been a sustained trend of less units coming on the market for over 3 years now with no end in sight.


For further reading please visit Urban Digs.

Miami Market Update

Posted by ricardo on 9/7/2012 | |

Miami is Hot – the property market, that is.

In the second quarter 2012, the Miami Real Estate market demonstrated very strong performance, with significant price increases, as inventory plummeted (by 29%) over the same prior year quarter.

Compared to the same prior year quarter, on a price per square foot basis, condo prices increased by 16%, single-family home prices increased by 10%, luxury condo prices increased by 13%, and luxury single-family home prices increased by 14%. South Beach condo activity remained steady, as prices increased 18%. Downtown Miami activity fell 5% while prices increased 20%.

Distressed sales fell sharply and days on the market had the fastest rate in more than six years at 68 days. At the end of July, pending sales were up 24% compared to the same prior year period suggesting demand will continue to yield strong price appreciation.

With the lack of inventory and strong demand (both national and international), Miami developers introduced new projects on a weekly basis. One new project is Icon Bay, following Icon South Beach and Icon Brickell. Three other luxury projects, Porsche Design Tower, Regalia, and Grove at Grand Bay, follow the recent success in the luxury segment which has shown strong performance and record setting prices for both luxury condos and luxury homes.

The Return of the Single Family Mansion

Posted by ricardo on 9/6/2012 | |


Investors are buying up apartment buildings in Manhattan and converting them back into single-family homes. Townhouse sales, in particular, are becoming increasingly popular. In the last three years more single to triple family units have been bought than in the previous three years combined. But why is this happening? It appears that luxury real estate changing hands amongst wealthy investors is more profitable than dealing with smaller sales from the ordinary homeowner, who is buying property for completely different reasons.

Long-term buyers are finding it so difficult to find a single-family home in Manhattan that they are creating their own. Ironically, many of these townhouses were initially single-family homes to begin with. Now, buyers are investing millions to renovate and re-build them back to their original layouts from their current multi-family state. This often involves redoing the plumbing, wiring and tearing out walls placed in after the fact.

Manhattan realtors estimate that the average complete townhouse in the Upper West Side costs approximately $10 million. Renovations to revert the building to its initial layout can set them back an additional $3 million to $5 million.

On the flip side, multi-family rentals are becoming more popular in the city. The post 2008 employment environment is still uncertain, meaning that more and more people are renting, sometimes with several other families. It is not the ideal scenario for an owner. With every new member on the contract, the odds of rent being missed, or problems arising increases. In light of a tenuous rental market, the idea of renting out individual suites in one’s townhouse becomes less appealing, perhaps indicating why more owners are opting to convert multi-family townhouses into single dwellings, and catering exclusively to the luxury market in Manhattan, as opposed to the general population.

It is one thing to own a residence for your family to put down roots, and another to analyze the current status of the housing market in terms of the rental potential and ease of resale down the road. With multi-family rentals becoming more popular, it looks like the renovations to convert to a single-family home may be well worth the investment.


For further reading:

New York City Townhouses & Brownstones

Single Family Homes

Multi-family rentals

Miami’s Sizzling Flips

Posted by ricardo on 9/6/2012 | |


Money has been changing hands at a rapid rate in Florida. Miami luxury real estate, especially, has exploded recently, with multi-million dollar estates being listed for over double what they were initially bought for only a few years prior. And buyers are getting their asking price. The market is hot for luxury real estate. And tuned-in investors are riding the wave, and making six and seven-digit flips in the process. Here is some background to help you get onboard.

The Apogee Penthouse at 800 S. Pointe Drive has just been listed at an incredible $25 million. What makes this number even more amazing is that it was bought one year ago for $11.5 million. With the potential of a $13.5 million profit in just one year, the Miami luxury real estate market has captured the attention of the world, including several well-to-do celebrities.

New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez has recently put his 9-bedroom, 11-bath beachfront estate on the market. The asking price? $38 million. He is looking to make a $12 million dollar profit in only two years. The 20,000 square foot mansion has 275 ft. of private beach, a pool, a home theater system, a gym, an elevator and even its own batting cage.

Remember the Indian Creek property we wrote about this past week? It sold for its asking price of $47 million five days ago. Meanwhile former King of Queens star Kevin James has put down $18.5 million for a property appraised at just $4.9 million only seven years ago.

Rosie O’Donnell has also listed her 11,000 square foot home in Miami for $19.5 million. This is almost $13 million more than for what she bought it for 13 years ago. The home is located on 43 Star Island Drive. Her neighbors have seen at least three other properties sell for $8 million plus in the last few months.

Morgan’s Hotel Group has recently put its Luxury Delano Hotel on the market. The 195-room hotel is located in South Beach, Miami Beach. $10.8 million in renovations have been put into the hotel over the last few years, but the asking price is still much more than what was originally paid. It is currently being listed at $200 million, which is approximately $1 million per room.

Luxury buyers are investing in multi-million dollar properties, and then flipping them a few short years later for massive profits. It’s a trend that is not showing any signs of slowing down.


For more reading about Miami Luxury Real Estate:

Alex Rodriguez’s Miami Mansion

Delano Hotel

Kevin James’ $18.5 million new home

Apogee Penthouse

Rosie O’Donnell Estate

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