Archive for December, 2012

The Aftermath Of Sandy

Posted by ricardo on 12/20/2012 | |


Hurricane Sandy ravaged the eastern coastline a few weeks ago. It was the worst storm that New York has seen in decades. Homes were flooded, people were displaced, and even cranes snapped in two. The effect that Sandy had on real estate development was significant. Let’s look at some of the most hard hit areas and hidden opportunities.

One unexpected trend is that buyers are now asking more questions in regards to the zone that their building is in. In other words, they are weighing hurricanes into the equation of parks and schools. This line of thinking is new for Manhattan luxury properties, and also an opportunity for those sheltered from the elements.

Despite the lives lost and damage done, there was also a glimmer of hope after the Sandy hurricane disaster. City planners are now working with developers, builders and landscapers to help design a city that is more prepared for a storm of these proportions in the future. The Bloomberg administration has already spent approximately $150 million on cleanup costs after the storm. A large proportion of these funds were directed to the real estate and construction industries. Manhattan will be rebuilt, only better.

Another way that Sandy affected the Manhattan luxury properties was that sales ground to a halt, while rentals for short-term accommodations following the storm spiked to record highs. Closed sales of Manhattan property dropped from 238 per week to just 17 after the storm. The biggest factors of this was power failure and closings cancelled due to transportation shutdowns. Among the myriad of people involved in facilitating a deal, from the realtors, to the brokers, to the lawyers, buyers and sellers – it is not surprising that someone would be out of commission following the dangerous storm. As a result, the market froze for a short time. A total of 69 apartments in Zone A, the most vulnerable area in Manhattan, were pulled from the market as a temporary measure following the storm.

The dip in sales was only a postponement, however. Many realtors are now experiencing an increase of up to 60 percent as potential buyers are re-entering the market now that the storm has cleared. Pair this with a 250 percent increase in rental property inquiries after the storm, and the well-rounded realtor rebounded quite well in retrospect.

At the end of the day, buyers appreciate that Manhattan is not like the Caribbean. Hurricanes are not an annual event. They are a freak occurrence, an act of God. Smart investors will take the temporary lull and lessons learned and use it to their advantage (like focusing on non-Zone A buildings). Tentative investors will find themselves exactly where they were a few months ago: pining for property in one of the most secure and solid markets in the world.


For more reading:

Development Post Sandy

How Sandy Affected Buyers

Brokering After Sandy


South American Expectations Are Fuelling Miami’s Development

Posted by ricardo on 12/18/2012 | |


Before the bubble burst in Miami, Americans were used to mortgaging over 80 percent their apartment’s value. Properties were bought on credit, and flipped even before completion. Sometimes, this left developers in a desperate state to acquire the funding needed to complete their projects. However, Brazilians, Argentines, and other South Americans have different expectations when it comes to buying property. In their counties it is not uncommon to pay as much as 40 percent of their condo’s value as a down payment – before even setting foot inside – and up to 80 percent once it’s built.

This influx of capital kept the developers flush, and projects off the ground. With a steady stream of investment dollars coming from the Latin countries into Miami, US developers are reaping the rewards of a new system of investment, and the economy is better off for it.

Donald Trump has taken advantage of this trend, and is demanding 40 percent upfront for his residential condo development in Punta del Este. Up north this kind of arrangement is unheard of. In Uruguay, this is par the course. And realtors such as Trump are capitalizing on a system that minimizes risk. It is more than just law, it is a mindset, from countries such as Argentina that have seen overnight inflation shred their economy to pieces through massive devaluation of the peso.

This pattern has emerged in Miami as well. For instance, three new Miami luxury properties, Beachwalk, Icon Bay and One Ocean are now demanding the same 40 percent down payment upfront. And they have all almost sold out, mostly to Argentines who see Miami as a safe haven against the looming inflation of a country that has American dollar sniffing dogs at the airport.

Demand for Miami luxury properties are largely unaffected by record low interest rates. The deciding factor, instead, is an influx of foreign investment from Latin American countries determined to secure a stable future for their families regardless of the rates the banks in North America are setting. They want a reliable and safe investment and they are willing to pay for it, in cash. In fact, some Miami realtors have noted that the only reason that mortgages are being sought at all is because of their record-low rates, and it gives millionaire investors a chance to remain liquid.


For more reading:

South American Playbook

Wealthy Argentines In Miami

Dollar Sniffing Dogs in Argentina

Manhattan Miami Wins International Property Award

Posted by ricardo on 12/18/2012 | |


Manhattan Miami Real Estate has been awarded the prestigious Best Real Estate Website in the USA at the International Property Awards in London on December 7, 2012. Honors from the International Property Awards are conferred on only the best of the best. With over 50 international judges, hailing across the spectrum of real estate development and marketing disciplines, Manhattan Miami Real Estate is very proud to receive such an award from its peers.

The Manhattan Miami Real Estate website was recognized for not only its sleek design, but also the rich and thoughtful information throughout the site, such as its Buying and Selling guides, Foreign Buyer guide, Blogs, and its superior Manhattan and Miami Property Search function. To top it off, the website is now in 5 languages (French, Korean, Portuguese, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese).

If you haven’t seen much of the website other than this blog, we encourage you to discover why it won the best of the best awards.

Do You Love Art? Then We Have A Place For You

Posted by ricardo on 12/14/2012 | |


Art patrons are known for their love of aesthetics. Design is an important element of their lives, not only in what is on their walls, but also in the way those walls are built. This is why the iPod was so successful. It was more than immensely utilitarian. It ushered in an era of elegance. Miami developers have tapped into this idea and are now building condos with artistic design in mind. They are even demonstrating their properties to the public in a luxuriant manner, similar to an art exhibition.

The trend has changed the very nature of home staging. It is no longer enough to have an open house, now a showing is an event in its own right.

Miami has a distinctive angle. The weather in South Florida is consistently sunny and warm. The beaches are beautiful. The whole area holds the charm of a balmy, paradise retreat, with a market that is looking up the barrel of double-digit growth. Add to this a dash of culture, and you hold an irresistible mix of sanctuary and savvy.

Selling a suite as a piece of art makes complete sense. We wrote a few weeks ago about how Miami luxury homes can be reckoned to masterpieces, items to be held and cherished beyond their practical value. In fact, one of the few commodities unaffected by the recession was art, which continued to climb as a safe investment.

According to Bonnie Sellers, CEO of Christie’s real estate arm, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the art auction giant: “Real estate is an asset of passion, an asset of lifestyle. The same people who like to buy art also buy luxury real estate.”

Take Chateau Sunny Isles Beach, a high-end waterfront condominium high-rise at 17475 Collins Avenue. The groundbreaking coincided with Art Basel, which is frequented by wealthy art collectors from around the world. Pablo Atchugarry, a famous Uruguayan sculptor, unveiled his latest masterpiece for the event.

One Ocean also hosted not only famous art critics and patrons, but also commissioned new works of art for itself. Miami luxury homes and condos such as One Ocean take the involvement of artistry to a new level, with the involvement of developer Jorge Perez, co-founder, chairman and CEO of The Related Group and a major art collector. He has even donated $40 million to the movement, as well as assuring a penthouse apartment to himself.

Along with luxurious condos popping up at an unforeseen rate, Miami is developing a refined, artistic aesthetic. It’s amazing how much things can change in a few years, but if Perez is a believer, and Christie’s is onboard – you can bet that Miami’s artistic vibe is here to stay.

For more reading:

Targeting Art Patrons

Image Source:

A rendering of the new Miami Art Museum by Herzog & de Meuron. Courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron.

Manhattan Miami Real Estate Winner in International Property Awards

Posted by ricardo on 12/14/2012 | |


On December 7, 2012, Manhattan Miami Real Estate won the category of Best Real Estate Agency Website in the Americas at the International Property Awards at the Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London.

The International Property Awards celebrate the highest levels of achievement by companies operating in all sectors of the property and real estate industry across the world. An International Property Award is a world-renowned mark of excellence.

Participants were judged by a team of over 50 highly experienced professionals who cover the whole range of real estate disciplines, including property design, development, sales and marketing.

This year’s International Property Awards was sponsored in part by Yamaha, RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) and Gaggenau. Past sponsors have included Aston Martin, Bloomberg, CNBC, HSBC, Mercedes and Bentley Motors, to name a few.

Ricardo Mello, co-founder of Manhattan Miami Real Estate, was on site at this major event in London with agent Natalia Bartkowiak to receive the award for Best Real Estate Agency Website in the USA.

Real Life Addresses Of Boardwalk Empire

Posted by ricardo on 12/13/2012 | |


Fans of HBO’s epic crime drama, Boardwalk Empire, may be surprised to discover that many of the characters are actually based on real people. Some of them, such as Arnold Rothstein, lived in Manhattan, and many of the places he and other characters used to frequent are still landmarks today. Here are a few of the famous true-to-life Manhattan haunts from the fictionalized series.

The primary “office” Rothstein used to mediate underworld disputes was called Lindy’s Restaurant, at Broadway and 49th Street in Manhattan. He would stand outside, surrounded by bodyguards, to give orders that would determine the fates of other real-life Boardwalk characters such as George Remus, Nucky Thompson and Al Capone. Rothstein died at 345 West 50th.

There are other addresses that still ring with cinematic importance. 265 East 10th Street was the boyhood home of Charles “Lucky” Luciano. This powerful gangster’s favorite establishment until his death was the Alto Knights Social Club on 247 Mulberry Street.

Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel is another member of Rothstein’s New York gang in the series. Originally, and in the show, he goes by the name Benny, but his “crazier than a bedbug” behavior will earn him the famous nickname, “Bugsy,” in the upcoming seasons. Bugsy Siegel grew up in New York, but he made his mark in Las Vegas. In that chapter of his life he was portrayed by Warren Beatty in a film simply titled “Bugsy”.

Bugsy started his notorious career in Manhattan when he joined a gang on Lafayette Street on the Lower East Side. As he grew to prominence as a ruthless and feared hit man, he eventually became extraordinarily wealthy. Not afraid to enjoy the finer things in life, he bought a luxurious apartment in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on 301 Park Avenue in Manhattan. Frank Costello and Lucky Luciano also had apartments in the same Manhattan luxury building. Luciano lived in room 39.  The hotel still stands today. Costello has only just been introduced to Boardwalk Empire in a recent episode.

The next time you are in Manhattan, be sure to visit the Back Room (formerly Lanksy’s Lounge) at 102 Norfolk St. It was originally a speakeasy frequented by the mobster Meyer Lansky. The now legitimate bar plays tribute to its original patrons and prohibition-era roots by serving alcoholic drinks in double-handled teacups. This detail is also prominent in Boardwalk Empire.

The multiple Emmy Award-winning production has been praised for its historical accuracy. Therefore, it will not be surprising if in future episodes with the New York crew that more Manhattan luxury buildings are featured. If you are a fan of the show, it is fun to combine your hunt for an apartment in Manhattan with a peek behind the scenes of real-life drama.

For more reading:

Arnold Rothstein

List Of Boardwalk Empire Characters

Mobster Maps

Waldorf-Astoria Hotel

What’s Happening With Florida?

Posted by ricardo on 12/13/2012 | |


Here’s a recap of some of the major real estate events happening in the sunny state.

Miami residential sales grew by 24% in October, with the majority of purchases coming from foreign investors. The continued Florida boom has prompted new growth of not just condo developments, but the stores that cater to a growing affluent market as well. North Miami has seen the development of a new Whole Foods store at 123rd Street and Biscayne Boulevard. The high-end supermarket will be a luxurious addition to the already prestigious address, home to the Kardashians.

The Kardashians were recently given the keys to North Miami. They did not fare as well at Miami Crescent, however, where they were not permitted to shoot their reality show. According to Miami Beach law, you need the majority of your privacy-loving neighbors to consent to filming in their backyard and having camera crews there almost year-round. So it doesn’t look good for our divas.

And while we are on the topic of reality stars, one of the Real Housewives of Miami, Lisa Hochstein, has recently put her $10.7 million mansion up for sale. The Sunset Island mansion was listed a couple weeks ago. Her plan is to buy a massive new home nearby on Star Island designed by Kobi Karp. The opulent palace includes a five-car garage, pool, guesthouse, servants’ quarters, and gym. However, what is making the papers is that its construction necessitates the demolition of an historic estate in the process. This has locals up in arms, and despite the grandeur of her new estate, may not be the best move. After all, she has to live with these people.

So to round up the news this week, it looks as though while the prospects of owning luxury real estate in South Florida are still sunny as ever, it is always important to be mindful of your neighbors.

For more reading about Florida Real Estate:

Sales Up 24%

Upscale stores in North Miami

Keeping Up With the Kardashians

Real Housewives of Miami

Madonna’s Manhattan Apartment Is Up For Sale

Posted by ricardo on 12/13/2012 | |


Pop diva Madonna has put her Manhattan apartment that she has owned for decades on the market. The Material Girl is asking $23.5 million for her six-bedroom, eight-bathroom, 6,000 square foot palace in the Upper West Side at Harperly Hall at 41 Central Park West. Madonna bought the duplex in the 80s with her Academy Award winning husband Sean Penn. If the walls had mouths, they would certainly have some stories about goings on in this Manhattan luxury apartment. Their passionate and tumultuous relationship saw Madonna at one point being ushered off to the hospital after being hit in the head with a baseball bat by Penn.

The apartment has grown since then. Madonna divorced Penn and bought the adjacent suites, making it the size it is today. It was completely repainted and redecorated as well. The Art Deco theme of the apartment was the work of her younger brother, interior designer Christopher Ciccone. It was featured in Architectural Digest in 1991.

The apartment has 110 feet of frontage on Central Park West, ten-foot ceilings with French doors leading to Juliet balconies on the park. Her master suite features a luxurious marble bathroom with Moorish arches, a steam shower and claw-foot tub. There are five fire-burning fireplaces, a dining area overlooking the park, and for those moments of reflection, a library.  It is currently exclusively marketed by Brown Harris Stevens.

The lighting makes it perfect for hanging priceless paintings. Madonna used to keep an original Picasso above the fax machine in her office, but it’s safe to assume that she is taking that with her to her current address.

After over 30 years of inhabiting and upgrading her palace, Madonna is ready to move on, to her Georgian townhouse, where she spends most of her time. But you can tell that over the years she had put a lot of love and energy into her Manhattan luxury apartment, turning it into a work of art in its own right. It’s perfect for anyone who desires abundant space filled by the warm caress of a stylish superstar.

Madonna is one of the highest paid female entertainers in the world. She is estimated to be worth $650 million according to Forbes. But her success never came easy; she started from humble origins and danced, sang, acted, directed, wrote and produced her way to fame, wealth and international prominence. How many people can say that they’re living in the material world where a star once rose to fame?

For further reading:

Madonna’s House

Live In A Material World

Madonna’s Wealth

Foreigner Buyers No Longer Welcome in Hong Kong, Singapore and London

Posted by ricardo on 12/11/2012 | |


In an effort to keep the booming housing market under control, and within reach for the average resident, Hong Kong has introduced a new tax for foreign buyers. This new stamp duty imposes an additional tax of 15% on purchases made by non-Hong Kong residents. Hong Kong has seen property values double in the last five years. Even in 2012 the rate of change has been astounding. The price of a small apartment rose 1/5th in the first nine months of this year. Already one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world, foreign interest put homeownership squarely out of reach for most of its citizens. In 2008, non-residents bought one in seventeen newly built properties in Hong Kong. Last year, that number jumped to one in five. China, of course, is the major force, and investors from the Mainland continued to drive up housing prices, until finally, this week, Hong Kong had enough and introduced discouraging legislation.

The same thing is happening last year in Singapore. The city introduced an additional 10% stamp tax on foreign investment. Singapore already had an existing stamp tax called the Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD). It is between 3 and 10% and applicable to Singaporeans, Permanent Residents and foreigners. An additional 10% tax was placed on foreign investment of residential property. Local residents will be taxed an additional 3% on their second and third homes, but not their primary residence. According to the Ministry of Finance and National Development the BSD and the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) will “promote a sustainable residential property market where prices move in line with economic fundamentals.”

These new duties slice heavily into the profit potential for overseas investors, and, ideally, will curb non-resident speculating and stabilize the market for local buyers. Both Singapore and Hong Kong have been hot commodities in the last five years. The economic downturn, European crisis and record low interest rates have turned investors away from the stock market in search of more stable and sizable returns. The unique geography of Singapore and Hong Kong ensured a steady demand for the limited, high-density supply. There’s simply nowhere left to build. However, with the addition of these stamp duties, foreigner buyers are no longer welcome in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Even London has introduced a 15% stamp duty on residential property owned by a corporate entity that is greater than GBP 2 million, effectively, repelling foreigners who are often interested using this route to maintain privacy.

With outsized stamp duties cutting off investment opportunities in Asian cities, luxury homes in Manhattan and Miami seem more appealing than ever. In Manhattan and Miami, foreign ownership is not feared. It is encouraged.

For further reading about Foreign Buyers:

HK Anti-Foreigner Policy

Singapore Anti-Foreigner Policy

The Skinny On The Manhattan Skyline

Posted by ricardo on 12/11/2012 | |


Thin is in. The new look for Manhattan skyscrapers is tall, lean, and luxurious. Modern ‘pencil-style’ residences are popping up along the skyline as investors are growing more interested in their floor numbers, than the number of neighbors they have to share their view with. Skinny buildings, only now possible because of technological advances in their construction, have become all the rage amongst the ultra-luxury market, especially along 57th Avenue. The narrow style allows the prestigious buildings to pop up in smaller, seemingly impossible spaces.

Skinny towers have made 57th Street the hottest place to live in Manhattan. For the last few weeks we have been writing about the famously exclusive One57 Building, but it will soon have a string of ultra-thin neighbors to raise a glass to. 432 Park Avenue, a few blocks away, is the latest thin tower on the rise. With 120 residences, it will stand taller than the Empire State Building once completed, or any tower in the city for that matter. Even the renderings of what will be the United States’ tallest residential building are staggering. The penthouse is reported to be asking $85 million. Another skinny tower is slated for 107 West 57th in a spot so tiny it’s hard to believe they can fit a skyscraper there.

How thin are some of these buildings? The tower on 107 West 57th will be 43 feet across. This is roughly the size of two row houses. There will be no more than one apartment per floor, with more duplexes than simplexes. Traditionally residential towers have been at least 10,000 square feet wide. Compare this with super skinny tower, One Madison Park, where full-floor residences are as little as 3,300 square feet.

The technology is a part of what makes the skinny towers so interesting. The One Madison Park building, which is nearing completion, will stand at 597 feet. However with only 3,300 square feet of base, it seems disproportionately lean. To keep from snapping like a twig in the breeze, it employs a damper with concrete water tanks. When the wind blows, the water sloshes around to counter-sway and stabilize the tower. That’s science at work.

One drawback to the thin look is the cost to create it. Developers are marveling at the expense of building skinny towers, which keeps them firmly in the realm of the super rich. But as long as the demand for exclusivity is there, it’s difficult to imagine this trend slowing down. With private park views and floors to one’s self, it’s easy to see what makes skinny so attractive indeed.

For more reading:

Skinny Towers On The Rise

Going Thin To Build More

Skinny Towers on 57th Ave