All posts by cindymize

Doing what you love, when you're good at it, makes everything else fall into place. I love real estate and I love making good, profitable deals. That's why I am a Realtor! Coming from the technology business, I am I intrinsically understand how to use the latest technology to serve my client base. But, I also understand how sometimes a hand-written note is just the thing someone needs to see. We are on the cusp of a new age, and I like to keep aert to both sides. Now. About me, personally. My husband and I live in Key Biscayne, Florida. He is from Argentina, I am from Georgia. Both of us are bi-lingual and bi-cultural. We are dog people! We truly LOVE the South Florida lifestyle. We have a boat and we fish, and take full advantage of living in a little piece of paradise. Community service has always been a part of my life and on Key Biscayne, it's no different. I love to get involved in the community and am a member and officer of a number of organizations. The American Legion Auxiliary is probably my most favorite. We help veterans and active duty military and their families. I am also a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Daughters of the Confederacy, The Key Biscayne Woman's Club and am active in local, state and national politics. Another of my passions is the Arthritis Foundation. Eight women and I have a team, A2A4A (America To Anywhere For Arthritis) and we run marathons all over the world to raise money to help the millions of Americans suffering with this disease. So far, we have raised over $200,000. When I have free time, you usually see me clomping around with my digital camera. Photography is my art and I relish the time I spend taking photos and looking at other people's work. And, I like to write. So. Here goes my blog!

Once Empty Downtown Miami Condos Reach 93% Occupancy

No vacancy in Miami’s condo canyon

The latest report card on downtown Miami’s condo market shows almost all of the units built during the housing boom are full. That’s thanks to renters, who would be priced out if not for all of the cash purchase deals.

BY DOUGLAS HANKS

DHANKS@MIAMIHERALD.COM

Miami’s infamous condo canyon is almost full, thanks largely to a steady flow of cash from Latin America.

The latest survey of downtown high-rises built during the housing boom shows more than 90 percent of the condos are occupied. After Latin American investors snapped up condos at distressed prices amid a wave of bankrupt high-rises, they turned to local renters to fill them. Four years into the buying spree, vacant units have almost disappeared.

“I always encourage my clients to bring their checkbook for the first month’s rent,’’ said Lauren Popham, an agent with Jeanne Baker Realty who specializes in rental units. “There is a lot more demand than there is supply.”

The study by Miami’s Downtown Development Authority found 93 percent of the nearly 23,000 condominiums built in downtown Miami after 2002 are occupied. Of that, only about a third are occupied by full-time by owners, with the majority serving as rental apartments.

Behind the statistics are a fundamental shift in real estate math allowing for downtown Miami to become one of South Florida’s hottest rental markets.

The boom prices, where top condos were selling for $600 or more a square foot, would require rents too pricey for all but the most affluent residents. Instead, investors who bought then hoped to flip their units for even more money to future buyers.

Even at the sharply discounted $200-a-foot purchase prices in the depths of the housing bust, many of the condos would be too expensive to generate enough rent to cover association fees and mortgages on the units, said Craig Werley, of Focus Real Estate Advisors and author of the DDA study. But with the vast majority of investors paying cash for their downtown condos, they require far less rental revenue each month to make the deals “pencil out” as reasonable investments, Werley said.

“Traditional financing wouldn’t have made these rentals viable,’’ said Werley, who conducted the study in a partnership with Goodkin Consulting. “If you had a mortgage on a half-million-dollar condo, the monthly costs would be way out of line with any reasonable rent you could generate.”

Not all condos being rented in Miami’s urban core depend on cash investments, and the DDA study only covers units built during the last decade. Other indicators point to a downtown that is an increasingly popular place to be. The bust didn’t stop a wave of new retail complexes from opening, including the Midtown Miami mall on northern side of downtown and the Mary Brickell Village mall to the south. Restaurant taxes have surged 77 percent within Miami city limits since 2005 compared to a 35 percent gain countywide.

Tyler Tejeda commutes almost an hour each way in order to spend weekends in Miami. The 24-year-old recruiter for a Fort Lauderdale firm moved into a Brickell Avenue apartment in August, despite having a job nearly an hour away. “I could move to Fort Lauderdale if I really wanted to,’’ Tejeda said. “But I’d rather be in Brickell on the weekends. It bothers me less to have to commute on weekdays than have to come down to Miami on the weekends.”

Paul Riemer could afford to buy a condo of his own, but the young insurance executive instead pays upwards of $2,000 a month for a one-bedroom apartment at the Icon, a posh condo complex on Brickell Avenue.

“I’m not ready to make a big purchase yet,’’ the 23-year-old said. He cites a gap in what he can afford to rent and what he can afford to buy. Why move out of a luxury apartment to purchase his own condo somewhere else with a large mortgage?

“I have the money to comfortably rent,’’ Riemer said. “I don’t know if I’d be able to comfortably buy.”

The 93 percent occupancy rate in the latest DDA condo survey identifies little more than 1,000 vacants units in a condo market that came to symbolize the excess of Florida real estate. And it marks a big improvement over the 65 percent occupancy rate in the first DDA survey taken four years ago — a number that at the time seemed surprisingly high.

That was in 2008, at a time when South Florida real estate sales were just beginning to show a rebound. But prices were heading the other way, accelerating into a decline that has so far last five years, according to the Case-Shiller housing index. At the time, the DDA wasn’t sure it wanted to know how many people were living downtown.

“We were hearing from everybody driving down the road: Hey the condos are empty,’’ said DDA director Alyce Robertson. “You never know what the numbers are going to say. What if they really were all empty?”

With a hot rental market, downtown Miami has become a more expensive place to live. Mark McCann, owner of the Miami Apartment Locators brokerage, said a one-bedroom apartment in the downtown area went for about $1,300 a month several years ago. “Now that’s almost impossible,’’ he said. “Now it’s closer to $1,500 or $1,600. There is a lot of competition for the units. There was more supply before the recession.”

The rental market has helped usher in a new crop of condo projects downtown, a revival many thought might have to wait at least a decade after the big crash. Harvey Hernandez runs the company selling units in Brickell House, a 46-story building planned for 1300 Brickell Bay Drive. His sales staff runs weekly reports on the rental market — statistics that can help close a sale for a $400-per-square-foot unit at Brickell House.

“The rental market influences the buyer a lot. It is a great option,’’ Hernandez said. Miami “has about half the inventory available for rent we had four months ago. And four months ago, it was at least half of what it was four months prior.”

Commercial Investors Eye Single-Family Homes

Commercial Investors Eye Single-Family Homes

Published on: Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Written by: David Bodamer

 U.S. federal agencies are casting about for ways to pull the country’s housing market from the brink as reports from the Case-Schiller National Index indicate housing price falls for the eighth straight month. The Federal Housing and Finance Agency has announced a pilot program that will allow commercial investors to buy foreclosed single-family homes in bulk. The plan has several high-profile backers who are anxious for the opportunity to bid on these properties. Once purchased, the properties could be rented out or resold. For more on this continue reading the following article from National Real Estate Investor

With the latest data from the Case-Shiller National index showing that housing prices have fallen for the eighth straight month and are now back to January 2003 levels, the housing crisis appears no closer to its end.

But might there be an unlikely savior on the horizon for the single-family sector in the form of commercial real estate investors? On Monday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced a pilot program through which it would take bids from investors to buy foreclosed residential properties in bulk for the purpose of turning them into rentals.

The pilot program is the result of an effort launched last summer by the FHFA, along with the Treasury Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, to solicit outside input on how the government could deal with its millions of real estate owned (REO) residential assets and help turn the housing market around. The first pool of assets is a group of 2,490 properties, including 2,849 units in some of the hardest-hit residential markets: Atlanta, Chicago, Florida, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Phoenix. There are 1,743 single-family homes, 527 condos, seven manufactured homes, one co-op, 118 duplexes, 36 three-unit buildings and 58 four-unit buildings.

To date, investors have purchased homes in foreclosure auctions and rented them out. But investors can only buy one or two assets at a time this way. The idea here is to enable investors to buy larger pools of foreclosed homes in order to get them on the market as rentals and deal with the glut of troubled assets more quickly.

“This is another important milestone in our initiative designed to reduce taxpayer losses, stabilize neighborhoods and home values, shift to more private management of properties and reduce the supply of REO properties in the marketplace,” FHFA Acting Director Edward J. DeMarco said in a statement.

Investors must fill out a qualifying form on the FHFA’s REO Asset Disposition page, post a security deposit and sign a confidentiality agreement to access detailed information about the properties. According to the FHFA, only investors who qualified through this process will be eligible to bid.

INITIATIVE’S BACKERS

The concept of involving the private sector to help solve the foreclosure problem has some high-profile backers.

REO Loan Count

Lew Ranieri, who helped pioneer mortgage-backed securities in the 1970s, and Kenneth Rosen, chairman of real estate market research firm Rosen Consulting Group, are the main authors on a policy paper issued this monthlaying out how the private sector’s involvement could help turn around the housing market and deliver attractive returns to investors.

“Without question, this is an opportunistic place to make investments,” Rosen says. “It’s similar to what opportunity funds have done with commercial real estate. There are more than one million units to be auctioned. Instead of having small players buy the assets, this would allow for bulk acquisitions.”

Overall, 453,266 residential units are currently classified as REO. Of those, the federal government holds nearly 50 percent of the inventory through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and another 9 percent with the Federal Housing Administration. In addition, private label securities hold 33.3 percent of the REO inventory and banks hold 17.5 percent.

But gaining control of those assets is a time-consuming process. In existing auctions, properties are sold one at a time. Private equity investors have gotten involved in converting vacant homes into rental properties, according to Rosen. But creating bulk programs could increase interest by making it easier for large investors to amass portfolios.

Investors then have several strategies for how to handle the assets. According to the policy paper, “Homes can be purchased for three potential outcomes, depending on a range of factors: the micro-conditions of the home, employment and income of potential tenant/owners and the macro-conditions of the neighborhood and market.” Specifically, investors could choose to offer the units in rent-to-own, rent-to-rent or resale arrangements.

In a rent-to-own scenario, an investor would enter a long-term relationship with a tenant who would offer the renter a right-of-refusal to buy the home. The lease could also be structured to give the tenant a share of any upside in a property’s sale. According to the policy paper, “This share can be structured to be payable regardless of whether or not the tenant purchases the home or be restricted to only if the tenant converts to ownership. This share can be pro-rated down or eliminated if a tenant leaves before the ?ve-year term.”

REO Investor Options

In a rent-to-rent scenario, the investor operates the asset as a straight rental property. And a resale would simply involve moving the asset to an owner-occupier.

“The private sector has a lot of solutions to the mortgage problem,” Rosen says. “They are engaged and want to be involved. I think this is something that has to be pushed as fast as it can.”

One caveat Rosen notes is that the government needs to ensure that the participants in the program are legitimate players. For example, the policy paper notes, “Programs that we deem to be unscrupulous are requiring tenants to pay a down-payment when signing a lease. We believe ?rst and last month’s rent and/or a security deposit in keeping with state law is acceptable, but do not believe additional advance payments are warranted.”

If all goes well, Rosen thinks the pilot program could be expanded “full scale” within a year with the government offering its inventory in bulk sales as well as banks and private-label securities conducting similar programs.

This article was republished with permission from National Real Estate Investor.

Most of Swire’s Brickell CitiCentre to finish by 2015

Most of Swire’s Brickell CitiCentre to finish by 2015

South Florida Business Journal by Oscar Pedro Musibay, Reporter

Date: Thursday, March 8, 2012, 7:04am EST

Most of the Brickell CitiCentre project is scheduled to be completed by 2015.
As work crews continue testing and prepping the site in Miami where Swire Properties is planning Brickell CitiCentre, the developer announced it has received a $140 million credit facility to fund operations and the initial development cost.

HSBC Bank USA is providing the credit facility, which Swire said would allow the developer to do more design, development and cover the initial construction costs, according to a statement released Tuesday.

The six-building project is planned for 9.1 acres between Brickell Avenue and South Miami Avenue, from Southeast Sixth Street to Southwest Eighth Street.

Located in the center of Miami’s financial district, Brickell CitiCentre will include 520,000 square feet of shopping and dining, three office buildings, two residential towers and a 243-room hotel with 93 apartments.

The project will be developed in two phases, with all elements of the first phase, except for one office tower, scheduled for completion in 2015.

The first phase will have about 4.3 million square feet, including 520,000 square feet of retail shops, 800 condominium units, 243 hotel rooms, 93 serviced apartments, two office towers of 110,000 square feet each and 3,100 parking spaces.

A Feb. 15 news release said the third office tower would be completed by 2018, but the Tuesday release said market conditions would determine when the 750,000-square-foot structure would be built.

“Miami’s economy is benefiting from investments by its neighbors from South America, and we see strong growth potential for the city,” Swire Properties CEO Martin Cubbon said in the Tuesday release. “The location of Brickell CitiCentre offers an excellent opportunity to draw market share from local businesses and residents as well as visitors.”

Swire Properties is the U.S. subsidiary of the Hong Kong-based Swire Properties Ltd.

In September, the Business Journal reported that the developer planned to dedicate 95,000 square feet of the project to medical offices and a wellness center.

Oceana Key Biscayne Breaks Ground at the Former Site of the Sonesta Hotel

From: World Property Channel
By: Michael Gerrity
February 15, 2012

(MIAMI, FL) — Despite a national U.S. housing crisis still in play, the Miami condo boom is back with a vengeance On February 14, 2012,  another groundbreaking ceremony was held for the newly announced Oceana, the first U.S. real estate development of Argentina-based developer Consultatio.

Marcos Corti-Maderna of Consultatio Key Biscayne, LLC, Key Biscayne Mayor Frank Caplan and Eduardo Constantini of Consultatio Key Biscayne, LLC at the groundbreaking ceremony for Oceana Key Biscayne.

Oceana will be an exclusive 142 condominium development with 12 luxury Villas adjacent, located on the last oceanfront site available on Key Biscayne. This will be a state of the art project; Units will range from 1800 SF to 7500 SF, with a very low density (154 units on a 10.3 acres site).

Oceana Key Biscayne as seen from the Ocean

The new twin-tower Key Biscayne condo project is being touted by some local real estate brokers as the most exclusive new residential project in Miami since the condo boom five years prior.

Oceana is going to be built on the site of the former Sonesta Hotel, which was one of the first hotels in Key Biscayne. The 10.3 acre oceanfront site was acquired by Consultatio in September 2009 for $80 million, and the estimated total project cost will be over $250 million USD.

Due to the lack of land availability on Key Biscayne, there has not been any new real state development in the past 12 years.

Consultatio has hired Coastal Construction as their contractor, and continues working with their architectural firm Arquitectonica on finalizing project construction drawings. The developer plans to start selling the 154 condo units in the months ahead and is currently working on setting up their in-house sales team.

Key Biscayne is considered one of the most exclusive areas in Miami and has one of the highest incomes per capita in the United States.

Key Biscayne is also home to many internationally prominent residents, including A-list actor Andy Garcia, Miami Dolphin football great Nick Buoniconti and Latin American television celebrity El Gordo of El Gordo y La Flaca.

Eduardo Costantini, President of Consultatio said, “We are very excited with the excellent reception that Oceana has within the Key Biscayne community. The fact that we have government and community support is a very important reinforcement and also a commitment for the project to have the highest quality standards, respecting Consultatio’s philosophy.”

Consultatio is an experienced real estate developer from Argentina, with 30 years of experience developing large-scale master planned communities, commercial properties, and residential towers in high end international markets like Nordelta, Puertos del Lago, Las Garzas (Uruguay). The company is under the direction of its’ major share holder, president and CEO Eduardo F. Costantini, a prominent Argentinean businessman.

Swire Properties Plans $1Billion Development in Miami

Swire Properties plans $1 bln development in Miami

Dark clouds pass over the downtown of Miami, July 8, 2005. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

By Alex Frew McMillan

HONG KONG | Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:53am EST

(Reuters) – Newly listed developer Swire Properties Ltd said on Thursday that it plans to build a 2.9 million square foot project in Miami’s financial district.

The Hong Kong-based company had previously said in a filing that the development, Brickell CitiCentre, would cost about $1.05 billion.

It said the project would include three office towers, two residential blocks, 500,000 square feet of shopping and dining space, and a hotel, with construction expected to start in the second quarter.

Swire (1972.HK) bought four plots of land for project in 2008 and 2011, and through to September 2011 had spent $72.8 million on advance preparation of the site, including $69.4 million for the land.

Although Swire focuses on the core markets of China and Hong Kong, it has a 30-year track record in Miami, where it has been developing on an island called Brickell Key. It has hired Miami-based architects Arquitectonica to design the project.

Chairman Christopher Pratt said when Swire Properties listed in mid-January that the company had no immediate plans to raise capital, with the sale of its Festival Walk asset in Hong Kong providing adequate capital for its immediate plans .

One fund manager, who runs a $5 billion portfolio of actively managed property stocks in Asia, told Reuters this week that he expected Swire Properties to go to the equity or debt markets soon to fund expansion.

“Probably one year from now, they’ll raise money,” he said, declining to be identified as he was not authorised to talk to the media.

Swire Properties shares pared earlier losses on Thursday afternoon to trade down 0.8 percent compared with a 0.6 percent decline on the benchmark Hang Seng Index .HSI.

Tibor Hollo evicting Venezuelan Consulate

South Florida Business Journal

by Brian Bandell, Senior Reporter

Date: Friday, February 17, 2012, 1:47pm EST
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has directed his government to stop paying the rent on its Miami office.

It’s not often a landlord gets to evict a nation, but Tibor Hollo is doing just that to Venezuela and its consulate in Miami.

TWJ 1101 LLC, which owns the office building at 1101 Brickell Ave., filed an eviction lawsuit against the government of Venezuela, its economic development bank and its consulate office on Feb. 7. The building is owned by Florida East Coast Realty ,  led by Hollo, its president.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavezannounced in January that he would close its consulate in Miami after Livia Acosta Noguera, its Miami consul general, was expelled from the U.S. She was subject to an FBI investigation over allegations that she was involved in a potential cyber-attack on the U.S. government – news unveiled by Univision.

Hollo said the Venezuelan officials have cleared out of his building and he hasn’t been able to contact them.

“Since January they haven’t paid rent, so I want to evict them,” he said. “The office is there. Nobody is in the office. All the furniture is there, but they aren’t there. I want my money or my space back.”

Hollo noted that Banco Industrial de Venezuela, a state-owned bank, is current on its lease payments for another suite in that building.

Having a bank office in Miami helps Venezuelans in South Florida with some financial transactions, but the loss of its consulate makes it harder for them to get documentation such as passports.

Given the eviction lawsuit, it looks like a Venezuelan Consulate in Miami won’t be reopened anytime soon.

Miami CitiCentre’s Solution to Urban Parking….Innovative!

Swire’s deep freeze puts icing on mega-project CitiCentre

By Scott Blake     

Miami Today      February 9, 2012

    With its massive Brickell CitiCentre project, Hong Kong-based Swire Properties is bringing a different twist to downtown Miami development — underground parking — that also will involve a first for the city: groundwater freezing, a project official told Miami Today.
   “It’s never been done in Miami,” said Steve Krysowaty, president of CBP Construction Consultants in Miami.
   Currently, preparatory work is being done for the freezing around the perimeter of the site, he said.
   Using rods or tubes containing super-cold liquid nitrogen, groundwater freezing is needed while building a barrier to prevent more groundwater from entering the site. Eventually, the water will be defrosted and sucked out of the ground to make way for the complex’s foundation and two levels of underground parking, he said.
   Overall, plans call for a six-story shopping mall, two office towers, two condominium towers, a large hotel, and plethora of amenities such as restaurants, nightclubs, a movie theater and a bowling alley.
   Construction is expected to start before the end of the year with completion hopefully sometime in 2015, Mr. Krysowaty said.
   Project officials at Swire’s Miami office did not return calls for comment.
   Until now, developers have avoided going underground for parking in Miami because of the extensive groundwater here. Likewise, groundwater is spread throughout the CitiCentre site, Mr. Krysowaty said, adding that the complex’s foundation will be anchored to bedrock some 50 feet or so below the surface.
   The underground parking is necessary because Swire wants CitiCentre to be a “street level” development immediately accessible to both residents and visitors on the ground, according to people familiar with the project.
   That’s a unique feature in Miami, where large developments typically have multi-level parking garages on the bottom floors, with the featured development on top.
   In addition, pile testing has been done on the site to determine the ground’s capability in various spots to support the weight of the structures, Mr. Krysowaty said.
   The CitiCentre site involved in the freezing is divided by Miami Avenue and located primarily along Southeast Eighth and Seventh streets. The parcels are boxed in on the west by Southwest First Avenue and go just east of the Eighth Street Metromover Station.

Setai and Other Luxury South Beach Condos Headed to Foreclosure Auction

South Beach condo units set for auction

January 26, 2012 12:00PM

The Setai

A total of 48 condominium units in South Beach will be heading to auction in the next 30 days, with a number from high-profile projects like the Setai, Portofino and the Murano Grande, according to a report from Condo Vultures. The units hold a total of $14.5 million in final foreclosure judgements. A unit at the Setai is the highest-priced foreclosure judgment set for auction, at $2.5 million. The next-highest foreclosure judgment is on a unit at the Bentley Bay condo complex in South Beach. In December, a unit at the Setai sold for $21.5 million, one of the largest sales of 2011.  — Alexander Britell

South Florida’s Crisis in One Chart

The Miami Herald

South Florida’s real estate crisis in one chart

By DOUGLAS HANKS
dhanks@MiamiHerald.com

South Florida’s housing crash may be old news, but recent data offer some valuable perspective.The Federal Housing Finance Agency maintains appreciation indices for metropolitan areas, which are similar to the famous Case-Shiller index but more local. By stacking up Broward and Miami-Dade’s indices to the nation’s, the warning signs are hard to miss.

The chart anchors all three indices to the first quarter of 2000, so the numbers show appreciation since then. Real estate got out of hand across the country, with appreciation peaking nationally at 166 percent in 2007. But in Broward, values soared 272 percent. Miami-Dade did even better, up 283 percent.

It’s easy to see how quickly values collapsed, but the chart also points out something that tends to be overlooked amid the wreckage of real estate. Home values are still ahead of where they were in 2003.

But perhaps more surprising, local property has actually held its value better than the average home in the United States. According to the FHFA, the average U.S. home is worth about 40 percent more than it was at the start of 2000. In Broward, the average home is worth 49 percent more. In Miami-Dade, it’s 56 percent more valuable.

A sign of resiliency, or a hint that South Florida still has some dropping to do? We’ll probably find out this year.

The Miami Herald’s Economic Time Machine charts South Florida’s recovery from the Great Recession by comparing current conditions to levels set before the downturn.

The ETM crunches 60 local indicators to measure the economic activity, then finds when each indicator was at that level before the 2007-2009 recession. At the moment, the current economy most resembles where it was in June 2002. Visit miamiherald.com/economic-time-machine for updates and analysis of the latest economic data.