Miami luxury real estate opportunities abound in both downtown and Miami Beach locations. Our clients often ask us many important questions about Miami's real estate market. How to make the best decisions? What to buy? And Where to buy? Here are answers to some of their most frequently-asked questions.
Miami pre construction condos, often called off plan, are purchased directly from the developer in the planning or early construction phase. Developers use the purchase contracts to show their financiers that it is a sound investment for them to fund construction. This is very popular in Miami. Current pre-construction condos for sale include Una Residences, Reach and Rise at Brickell City Center, 1000 Museum and Elysee, Park Grove and Arbor in Coconut Grove. Miami Beach pre-construction condos currently for sale include 87 Park by Renzo Piano, Palazzo Della Luna in Fisher Island (sister of already constructed Palazzo Del Sol), Muse in Sunny Isles and Monad Terrace by architect Jean Nouvel. And, a bit further north, the Four Seasons Private Residences Fort Lauderdale.
Existing or resale condos are properties, usually condos, that have been built and are now being resold by the owner. These units are resale properties, which were bought, lived in, and are now on the market by the private owner. Some are pretty new, having had only one owner thus far, such as Four Seasons Surf Club and St. Regis Bal Harbour which offers hotel services in addition to condo. Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club. Others are a bit older but in the best locations, such as 900 Biscayne, Icon Brickell, Icon South Beach and Faena. These include many prestigious buildings in perhaps the best locations in Miami Beach and Downtown Miami, including Continuum Miami Beach North Tower and Continuum South Tower, Murano Grande.
The third category is free standing homes, which you can find throughout Miami, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, and even a bit further north in places like Boca Raton and Palm Beach. Let us begin with the question that is often at the top of our clients' minds.
Real estate is a market and is subject to the same sort of local, national, and global forces that impact all markets. Local market forces usually have the most immediate impact, so that is where we will focus on the answer.
The Miami real estate market has experienced specific phases in the past. It was once seen as a retirement community, then a market where investors sought to buy and sell to make a fast profit, then Miami was seen as more of a market for ownership of luxury apartments. The forces acting on these phases did result in price surges, price drops, and price surges again and again. This is typical for a developing city and economy, and Miami is one of the cities in the US that has the most potential to become a global city. It is on its way. Developers and speculative investors have sought to capitalize on this trend.
Miami is now much more of a balanced community with a focus on infrastructure and services. Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel, Inc, summed it up well when he said, "Miami has become a market with a long-term view." That long-term view is delivering both stability and growth. Both are good for real estate investment.
Miami is America's fastest-growing metro area, economically, and is ranked #9 by FDI Intelligence against other "cities of the future." In 20 to 30 years from now, Miami will have seen the most significant growth than any other major city in the USA.
Logistics, financial services, and tourism are three of its four most powerful economic drivers. Technology jobs are becoming more prevalent as well. It has more foreign bank offices than any other city, as well as a huge number of other foreign corporate head offices. Metro area GDP is on a continuing growth curve; its population is rising and forecast to grow by another 20% in the next three years, the job market is expanding, and unemployment rates are below national averages. In addition, Class A office space vacancy rates are 2% below the national average.
Significant indicators of future economic growth are, for example, the huge investment being made in public transportation to serve the whole metro area, and the Miami Worldcenter described as "a city within a city" which will be the most connected development in South Florida. Its retail office space is already 75% leased and includes tenants such as Ernst and Young, and Cisneros Group. Other major commercial building continues, suggesting developers are looking to serve the community, rather than just building to sell.
Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA) in mid 2017 reported that rent prices were stable (and are now rising). Development was balancing supply with demand, and that lenders had raised their borrower requirements, adding needed stability to a market that has historically seen large swings in property prices. As of mid-2018, 80% of the 10,000 new condo units for this last real estate cycle have been completed, 70% of which have been pre-sold. The DDA noted that waterfront luxury properties look to have "bottomed out" as far as a lowering of prices is concerned as new construction has come to a halt. New condo supply is expected to become "a dry pipeline" by 2020, making it a good time to buy in Miami before scarcity, and accompanying price increases, arises.
For investors looking to buy a luxury Miami apartment in Downtown or on Miami Beach the drivers all point to now being the right time to buy. To get the most bang for your buck, we suggest targeting a purchase within the next 18 months before scarcity becomes a real issue in Miami.
We will introduce you to attorneys, mortgage brokers, and tax accountants, as well as provide contacts for schooling, domestic staff, and property management companies if required. We are used to working with translators and have Chinese, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian and Korean language-speaking agents to draw from to make the process seamless.
Finally, you, as the buyer, won’t pay us anything for our First-Class service, as the Seller always pays the sales commission in the US.
The answer to that question rests on the reason for your investment. If you want a primary residence or one where you and your family will spend a lot of time, then lifestyle may control the decision. If you want to merge lifestyle and budget, then Downtown Miami is lower cost option than say the South of Fifth neighborhood on Miami Beach, for example. The more exclusive neighborhoods include the islands such as Fisher Island, Alisson Island, Indian Creek, Venetian Islands, and Star Island and Hibiscus Island. These neighborhoods tend to attract primary residents.
If you are looking to maximize rental income, then buy where the rental market is strong. Renters look for high-quality apartments and are prepared to pay a premium to live in a neighborhood that enhances their lifestyle. Downtown renters, for example, spend 47% of their income on rent (compared to 65% in New York City) and family households are forecast to increase by 42% according to DDA.
Miami, in general, is becoming a family-friendly locale. Walkscore, for example, ranked the city #6 out of 15 cities and focused its assessment on Wynwood, Edgewater, and Downtown. The new Biscayne Line is a planned three-mile walkway linking Edgewater to Downtown and Brickell. Brickell itself is very walkable as it has become a 24/7 work, play, live neighborhood.
Short term investors who want to liquidate their profit in the next couple of years should consider pre-construction developments since buying pre-construction often enables post-construction profit-taking. For the same reason, focusing on luxury real estate in exclusive neighborhoods like Miami Beach is a very sensible route because the highest tier of any product, in this case, real estate, is always in comparatively short supply and high demand. Neighborhoods to consider for investment returns and for lifestyle when looking for luxury apartments Miami include the following:
Brickell is the financial capital of the city, is part of Downtown, and home to a rising number of affluent professionals. It is an ideal location for anyone seeking a business environment for their permanent home or a city pied-à-Terre. Mary Brickell Village and Brickell City Center offer bars, high-end shopping, and fine-dining restaurants. Brickell is well populated and has some prestigious condos such as Brickell Flatiron and Una Brickell Condos.
Brickell Key is an ultra-luxury man-made island just east of Brickell. It was created by the same international company developing Brickell City Center. As well as a luxury Mandarin Oriental Hotel and commercial buildings, Brickell Key has 11 beautiful waterfront condo buildings. Surrounding the condos is a jogging trail, and the island's center has appropriate retail establishments and a children's playground.
Coconut Grove is Miami's original community. It is in central Miami and fronts onto Biscayne Bay. It is desired for its history and serene lifestyle. It offers activities for every family, has a well-respected school district and some of Miami's best private schools. It boasts everything from museums, art galleries, gourmet dining, relaxed sidewalk cafés along its pedestrian-friendly streets, and lush waterfront parks. One of its luxury condo developments is Arbor Coconut Grove offering condos, penthouse apartments, and townhomes.
Miami Beach has several uniquely special neighborhoods. It has an affluent population, so the public and private school systems are excellent. Mid Beach is very family-friendly and quieter than some other neighborhoods.
South of Fifth (SoFi) is considered by many to be the best beach town in the whole area. It is, in effect, an ultra-luxury neighborhood of South Beach. It's surrounded by water, and so offers undreamed of waterfront views in every direction. It is a peaceful locale, yet close enough to the high-energy areas a little to the north. It has direct access to the beach of course and a 17-acre pet-friendly and child-friendly waterfront park. As well as the luxury apartment buildings mentioned in the introduction, there is the immensely prestigious Continuum South Beach.
South Beach (SoBe) is, of course, Miami Beach's world-famous neighborhood. Its art deco architecture draws visitors and longer-term tenants from all over the world. It is also famous for its fabulous shopping, restaurants, and its vibrant nightlife. An added benefit to living here is it is 10 minutes from Downtown proper, 15 from Brickell, and about 25 from Miami International Airport.
Coral Gables, southwest of Downtown, and about four miles from Miami International Airport (MIA). It is home to the University of Miami and to several foreign consular offices and, s has an excellent reputation for public and private schools. It has a good public transport system and is pedestrian-friendly, so children find it easy to get around. It has a definite Mediterranean feel to it because of its architecture.
Miami's neighborhoods are as diverse as its people. They all have their unique charm, populations, and lifestyle. Some are more commercial, such as Downtown and Brickell but are experiencing more people buying residences and renting. Some neighborhoods are more serene, like Coconut Grove, and some are more on the world stage like South Beach. They offer different lifestyles and will attract investors to meet their own specific goals. All provide first-class buying and rental opportunities. By sharing your own goals with us we will be able to direct you to neighborhoods that will match your personal and investment goals.
If you want to use the property immediately or to see an immediate return on your rental investment, then the existing property market is the only way to go. A cash buyer or a buyer with financing already in place can close on the condo of their choice and take ownership in approximately 30 to 60 days.
Another reason for buying an existing apartment is that the buyer does not need any imagination. Everything about the apartment, its finished condition, the functionality of everything in the apartment and in the communal facilities, etc., the views, the management company's approach to owner satisfaction, and the association's accounts, reserves, etc. are all known. The development will also have a known history of rentals and vacancy rates if you want to own an income-generating apartment.
It is also easier to arrange financing on an existing apartment since the lender has equal access to the same facts, some of which it will use to determine whether it will lend to a prospective buyer.
This is a longer-term process and may require more cash. The developer's reputation and their own financial backers influence the residential lender as far as providing a pre-construction loan. The loan may be subject to a larger deposit than when buying an existing property. Once approved, the loan is then paid according to predetermined stages in the construction process.
It is valid to note that some developers will prefer a cash buyer for its pre-construction sales. This is because it is cheaper and quicker for them to sell to a cash buyer than to one who brings their own lender into the contract. Paying cash may also play a part in price negotiations.
An advantage of buying pre-construction in Miami is that developers want the cash intake to help fund the construction work. In return, the preconstruction price should be less than the finished price, especially if the project takes two or four years before completion. This provides an opportunity for the preconstruction buyer to make an early and substantial profit. This is especially true as the economic indicators point to a long-term positive real estate market.
Buying pre-construction has another benefit. The buyer will be getting a brand new apartment that has never been lived in. This is very important for many of our clients. The final finish can be customized to suit your own tastes. It is more complicated to upgrade an existing apartment.
A downside to buying pre-construction is that the developer will not permit any "mortgage contingencies." If at closing, the buyer can’t get a mortgage or come up with the cash to close, they will lose their deposit. Lenders of the developer don’t want to get to the closing table with a buyer only to find out that they don’t have the capacity to close!
A buyer's agent has two primary roles. The first is to use their detailed knowledge of Miami, its neighborhoods, and the properties available to give you detailed and valuable information. By doing this, you, the buyer will be fully equipped to make the highest quality decisions about what to buy, where to buy, how much to pay, and on what terms. You have your goals and preferences, your must-have, want-to-have, don't-want-to have, and must-avoid list. Armed with your list, your buyer agent will be able to help you evaluate every aspect of your decision-making. Every neighborhood, development, and apartment will be tested against your list. Only an experienced Realtor can do that effectively for you and your family.
Each developer has their image, their brand, and their reputation. Your buyer's agent will be fully conversant with all three. You know your investment and lifestyle goals; your agent is your walking encyclopedia.
Developers will sometimes offer incentives to enable them to complete a phase or to start a new one. These may not be made public, but good buyer agents keep their ears to the ground and know what may be in the pipeline. This knowledge enables you to make the right decisions at the right time.
Another reason for working with a buyer agent instead of working directly with a developer's representative is that the representative's goal is to achieve what is best for the developer, you are simply the path to their goals. You want the focus to be on your goals.
We have already covered Steps #1 and #2, so Step 3 is:
A condo hotel is a development that usually has condo-style apartments, but which operates as a hotel. Owners of an apartment have a deeded property which is theirs to live in but which may be rented out to hotel guests when it would otherwise be vacant. Some premium developers are merging private apartments with hotel suites to deliver a luxury lifestyle, high quality amenities, supported by a strong brand image and good management.
By looking on their apartment as a vacation home rather than a full-time primary residence, owners have a home with full management maid service and housekeeping, and with first class public facilities such as pool, spa, fine dining, a business center, possibly upscale shops, etc.
The owner and hotel management agree on how much time they are likely to be in residence, and how often it can be rented out. Owners receive a portion of the rental income.
Firstly, they are not always considered proven investments by some lenders. Some earlier developments were known to sell the property to a different branded hotel group after some years. This can have a negative impact on guest rental income. Having your attorney go through the small print to clarify what the developer or management company may and may not do in the future is a safe way to proceed.
Owner occupancy availability is limited, unless you own in a development that has totally separate hotel suites because the hotel wants to capitalize on its guest income.
Guest income is dependent on the hotel's marketing and reputation and how well other hotels compete for the market share. There is, therefore, no control over income. Neither can owners control the expense side of the ledger.
Maintenance fees and property taxes tend to be higher than for a regular apartment building because of the high number of short-term guest visits, and the built-in management fee.
Because of their history, banks tend not to provide mortgages to investors.
More people traditionally want to own an apartment in a condo development so the potential resale market may be limited should an owner decide to sell their apartment, again, unless your condo apartment is separate from the hotel suites.
Condo hotels do exist in Miami. W Hotel and Residences South Beach is a perfect example of a modern condo hotel development. But, most most miami beach condos are not condohotels. Should you want to explore this redesigned condo hotel concept we will be delighted to tell you more and to represent you as your buyer agent.
It is a transparent market, so determining market value is straightforward. Resale properties are listed for sale in the Miami MLS (Multiple Listing Service) managed by the Realtor Association of Greater Miami and the Beaches. This gives us not only details about each property currently on the market, but how long it has been listed, what price changes it may have had, etc. The MLS also gives us ready access to properties that are under contract but not closed, and all recently closed properties with the actual price they sold for. County records can take a month to update their records. Armed with this, and the accompanying details about each apartment we can calculate accurate market valuations, and advise our clients what a sensible offer price would be when buying apartments for sale in Miami.
We also have direct contact with the listing agent who is marketing each property so we can learn whatever they can pass on to us and pass that on to our clients.
Some new developments are listed on the MLS in the same way. If not, then we will know what price changes there may have been as each phase was completed and sold. Buying as soon a phase is available usually means our clients get a better price.
Another reason to engage us as soon as you begin to think about an investment means we can be of more use to you. The sooner we know your goals and timescale, the more we can keep you in the loop on what is happening in developments you may be interested in.
We have excellent network contacts, so we learn what may be in a developer's marketing and pricing plans before they are officially made public. The sooner we know, the sooner you know. The more you know, the more profitable your decisions.
For both new development and resale properties, we will know the backstory about how well established the developer is, how financially stable the management company is, how well-funded the reserves are, how well the property is built, how well the property is maintained. We use all this detail to assess the market value, what a good opening offer price might be, and what the ultimate closing price might be. We also assess the terms and conditions, which may be more important than the actual purchase price itself. We always use your attorney include in your offer.
While we act as your buyer agent, we always recommend our clients have the final contract drawn up by a specialist real estate attorney. Multi-million-dollar investments are important transactions, and so we want an attorney to protect our client's interests once we get to the contract stage.
Our overseas clients often ask this question. Firstly, it is good to know that the US views foreign property owners in the same way it does domestic investors. There are, therefore, no restrictions such as extra stamp duty as there are in many other countries.
The real estate broker's fee is covered by the seller, so our services are as free to you as they are to all our domestic clients.
Some lenders have additional borrowing conditions such as a lower loan to value amount, but we will happily connect you with a US-based bank. The majority of our clients choose to work with HSBC or Citi Private.
We manage the entire process and liaise with lenders, sellers' agents, title agents, attorneys, etc. Many of our clients are out of town or out f country, so we are used to this part of client service. It also helps that we transact business in several languages. Hablamos español, y falamos portuguese, e noi parliamo italiano.
Firstly, foreign owners are treated the same as domestic owners as far as most taxes are concerned. Florida does not have a state income tax, so property taxes tend to be a little higher in terms of tax property rate than in some other states. That said, prices in Miami are a third or half of that of New York City which mitigates the total cost. Also with all the tax write-offs available for investor-owners, many pay no income tax at all on their rental income for 10 to 15 years after taking ownership.
Primary residential property owners may "homestead" their home. Homesteading has three benefits. Up to $50,000 of the property's taxable value will not be subject to property tax, there is a limit as to how much property tax rates can increase in any given year. This cumulative limit can have a substantial benefit over the years. The third benefit is that the homestead accumulated limit can be transferred to another primary residence should you decide to sell and buy elsewhere in Florida
As a minor point, Florida discounts the property tax due by up to 4% for paying "next year's" amount by the November of "this year." A dollar saved is a dollar earned.
Many foreign investors ask their attorney to set up an overseas corporation in an appropriate country, so the income on the property, etc. can be avoided. We advise our clients to seek advice from their own country's tax specialists, so they minimize all tax liabilities.
Condo sales are subject to Federal capital gains tax (CGT) on the sale profit. Federal law does, however, enable sellers to fully defer any CGT by using the 1031 Exchange process and buying another approved property in a pre-determined timeframe. 1031 Exchanges have a specific set of steps to follow, and your attorney will ensure all is completed accordingly, and the CGT will be deferred until there is a final sale, should you decide to liquidate and not buy another property.
A foreign owner who sells will have 15% of the sale price withheld until the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is satisfied that all due taxes are paid. The remaining amount is then refunded.
This is often one of the later questions our clients ask as we begin the search for their new high-end condo. So many of our clients live out of state that they want to know their investment is in safe hands throughout the year.
We have a "light property management service." We also have a full property management service via a local Miami partners. We will:
Market your property, comprehensively, to find you the right tenant on the right terms and at the right rent amount for your property. We fully screen tenants (not simply run a credit check) then prepare the lease documents. We also handle lease renewals and terminations.
Condo associations also screen tenants, so we assist with the condo board application package, to make sure everything goes smoothly and quickly, so you have minimum vacancy time.
Repairs and maintenance are important, so we have an approved team of contractors to handle any eventuality. We also have an effective system to deal with emergencies.
From start to finish, we keep both our clients and their tenants fully in the loop, so no one ever needs to wonder what is happening or what may happen next.