Miami real estate news and information

Archive for the 'GOOD DEALS & WHAT’S SELLING' Category

PORTABILITY allows you to Transfer HOMESTEAD ASSESSMENTS to your NEW HOME in Miami!

luggage_clip_artWhen you buy a new home anywhere in Miami, you CAN transfer your HOMESTEAD ASSESSMENT DIFFERENCE to that new property.  Perhaps you’ve heard it referred to as “PORTABILITY”.

Property owners in Florida can transfer  up to $500,000.00 of their previously HOMESTEADED PROPERTY ASSESSMENT DIFFERENCE to a new  HOMESTEADED property as long as they do so within two years of the date  of sale (of that former house).

If your new home is MORE expensive than the one you’re selling  (and the MARKET VALUE  is more) your entire homestead assessment can be transferred (up to the $500,000.00 limit).

If your new home has a LOWER market value than the house you’re selling,  your “PORTABILITY” amount will be proportional to that difference. Here’s the government link to stay current on Portability updates.

Portability covers all of Florida,  so if you are moving to Miami-Dade from another county, you can certainly transfer your Homestead Assessment Difference from that county to Miami-Dade (subject to that other county’s determination as to  transferable eligibility values).

In the case of multiple owners or multiple transfer recipients,  portability cannot be ‘split’.  Homestead Assessment Difference is transferable from one residence  to another, only… and both homes must be homesteaded properties.

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Investment Visa for Foreign Buyers: GREEN CARD for Internationl Investors

Interested in an INVESTMENT TOOL  that would give you a United States GREEN CARD?                           

While less widely-known, and certainly more complex than the straightforward house and condo purchase  (through an LLC  set up by a real estate attorney… or  a purchase made directly in the buyer’s name)         THE INVESTMENT VISA  is an option for some… offering the investor  a GREEN card! klsgfx_BigPlane

In working with international investors purchasing investment property and vacation homes in Florida  (and more specifically in and around Miami)   I thought it might be helpful to share some information on the subject:

A program devised to attract foreign capital into the United States…  and commonly referred to as the  ” INVESTMENT VISA” or the “EB-5“…   is an investment tool devised to create  jobs and offer employment  opportunities for  American workers.  The INVESTMENT VISA  program has been in place for well over a decade, and has specific requirements.  It offers certain benefits to the investor… one of which is a GREEN CARD

An immigration attorney would be able to provide you with specific requirements (which are precise and quite stringent)  along with  lists outlining  the  ‘regional center projects’  in which an investment would qualify the foreign buyer for the GREEN CARD The “INVESTMENT VISA”  (more officially known as an “EB-5”)  requires an investment of anywhere between $500,000.00 to $1,000,000.00  into a United States ‘regional center project’.  Depending upon the area within the United States, these projects range from ski resorts  to urban infrastructure development…. etc.  Funds  for the investment must be lawfully obtained and must be fully documented.

Because of the specific legal nature of the investment,  the expertise of an immigration attorney and/or real estate attorney would be needed.  In the May issue of Realtor Magazine’s  H.Ronald Klasko  (Klasko,Rulon,Stock & Seltzer LLP)  goes into more detail, offering a link to information on the investment visa through   

If you’d  like to buy real estate in South Florida, whether through the investment visa program, or as a vacation home or investment property, Alexandra and Vicki Restivo will be happy to provide you  with additional contact information for immigration and real estate attorneys in the Miami area.

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Great Deal in Miami-Short Sale in Neo Vertika!

NeovertikaA charming 1 bedroom / 1 bathroom condo is available for sale! Asking $130,000 in the stunning Brickell area, this unit features 7th floor views of the Miami River. Double balcony off Living Room / Kitchen / Bedroom. Loft-like. Washer and Dryer in the unit. Upgraded. Brickell nightlife and restaurants at your footsteps. One of the lowest prices in the building…Do not miss out on this fantastic opportunity!

Click here to see a brochure and contact Vicki or Alexandra with any questions!

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As prices on Miami condos have dropped  (Miami Condo Buildings slashing prices as much as 50% ),  Miami is seeing a notable rise in the number of  condo sales!  The real estate market  in Miami appears to have turned!  MiamiSkyline 














The  New York Times  reports on July 29,2009,  “Despite a vast oversupply of new condos in downtown Miami, sales have been brisk lately… The reason?  Prices have been cut in half…”   Miami Condo Sales are  UP says New York Times writer Terry Pristin … and what she is reporting, we too are seeing first hand:  “Square Feet: As Prices Plummet, Condo Sales in Miami Perk Up”.

Condo sales are indeed up, and multiple offers on Miami real estate  are a refreshing change from what Miami has seen over the past few years!  Miami has witnessed an obvious oversupply of newly built  condos, in recent years.   Literally within the past 1/2 decade,  more than  23,000 new condo units have  sprung up, dramatically altering the skyline of downtown Miami and  Brickell.  That glut of over-development remains, at least in part, with close to 10,000 condos remaining on the market  (unsold!) at  the start of summer, 2009. 

That being said,  the feared “bulk purchases of condo units by investors” has yet to impact Miami as many thought it might.  Bulk purchases of condo units at wholesale prices have been rather “building specific”.  Although investors did swoop in from around the globe,  attempting to negotiate bulk purchases with condo developers on Miami Beach, in Brickell, Downtown Miami and Downtown Dadeland,  relatively few of those bulk negotiations were successful.   Contrary to the forecasted “hundreds” of buildings thought by many to be at risk  for bulk buy-outs, the numbers  actually succumbing to those bulk buy outs have been rather more conservative .  I’m estimating  perhaps thirty to forty buildings succumbed to discounted wholesale pricing bulk buy-outs. 

The vast majority of all condo sales are  actually selling at current market retail pricing….  Yes, current market pricing is definitely lower than condo pricing  per square foot, even a year ago.   As a result, Miami condos are moving and selling… priced at “current market prices” , and buyers still sitting on the fence may be waiting too long!  Price per square foot in  Brickell/Downtown  is now settling at slightly above $200 a square foot on  brand new construction high-rises,  providing some really good deals for buyers.  No doubt, there are  still numbers of buildings and individual units  selling for WELL over that…  particularly  the well-established older buildings …  for example  the Bristol and the Santa Maria, to name just two.  

Buyers are  literally lining up at the doors these days to own new condos in  new buildings says Vicki Restivo, Realtor with Esslinger Wooten Maxwell Realtors in Miami:  “While  it’s  by no means the “buying frenzy”  Miami saw during the pre-construction phase  of the condo growth spurt of several years back (where lines  literally went down the block and around the corner for pre-sales at 500 Brickell and The Plaza on Brickell) …   buyers  who dillydally  are missing out on contracts as other ready and willing buyers move-in and grab up contracts.   I’ve seen it first hand on several occasions.  Earlier this summer I was working with  international buyers looking for  waterview property on Brickell.   Fully aware of the  market and the value,  and going in with eyes WIDE open, those buyers were primed and ready…  and didn’t hesitate when we found the ‘right’  condo.  We submitted our offer within minutes of  having seen  a handful of units on Brickell, after selecting THE  one that worked best for them.   Another  (slower) prospective buyer and realtor saw the same unit that same morning… but they went for a quick bite  to ponder their options while we  sat down and immediately drew up an offer.   In the time-frame of a mere  hour we’d secured the condo.  ( The other realtor and his group returned after lunch to buy it, but we’d  already negotiated  it out and sealed the deal.)  That story is by no means an isolated one.  Three other times that same week (that I’m personally aware of)  one  buyer procured a condo literally  minutes ahead of another contract being presented.  Condo sales are definitely “perking up” (to use Terry Pristin’s observation !)”.

There  is unquestionabley a glut of oversupply of new condos in  Brickell and in downtown Miami.  Some  buildings are tough to get financing in, and therefore require buyers who are not reliant upon financing . Criteria  for financing hinges upon 1) the number of units sold versus unsold, 2) the number of owner occupied units (primary residences  and  second or vacation homes) versus rental units owned by investors and leased or rented out to tenants, 3)the number of owners  30 days or more  in arrears on their association fees, and 4) the number of short sales and foreclosures in the building.  

A handful of new condo buildings already have Fannie Mae approval, allowing buyers to procure lender financing.  Sales are up,  and  notably so.  Prices dropped at 500 Brickell by 30% this past spring.   One bedrooms in 500 Brickell (which, by the way, is Fannie Mae approved) can be had for as little as $200,000.00 … (or slightly less, if  having a high floor with a view isn’t a “must” for you!).   Although price per square foot is often referred to, there is a definite correlation between price and the FLOOR the unit is  on (as generally ‘height’ corresponds to ‘view’!)  Two bedrooms are selling  as low as the mid $200’s  (upward)  in some buildings… depending upon location and view.   The Plaza on Brickell has some very competitive pricing and offerings.  One tower at the Plaza on Brickell is already Fannie Mae approved, and the other  tower is expected to be so, literally any day now. 

Prices don’t seem to me to be dropping any further… at least not this week.   Condo-pricing is buyer-friendly right now, and  units are moving off the shelves at a consistent clip.  Buyers (for the most part) no longer seem to be on the fence.  They are poised and  quick to make their move as the market seems to be showing signs of recovery…. hence, condo sales are up.  According to  real estate professional Ron Shuffield, President of EWM Realtors (owned by Warren Buffet) , condo sales in newly constructed buildings  increased by over 50%  since the spring of 2009.

The NEW YORK TIMES article published  July 29,2009  by journalist Terry Pristin gives valuable insight into Miami’s current condo market.  For a link to that article , click here.  Having a pulse on the Real Estate Market gives you insight and ammunition!  Your thoughts and insights are welcomed on MiamiRealEstateCafe’s Blog.  Feel free to comment and/or ask questions.  If you,  or someone you know,  are looking to buy real estate in Miami,  Alexandra and Vicki Restivo at EWM Realtors are never too busy for any of your referrals!

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New Home Sales Spiked 11% in June: South Florida Housing Market Hits Bottom?


money treeThe buzz  IN THE NEWS  over the past couple of days:  

South Florida MAY have already seen the BOTTOM of the REAL ESTATE MARKET! 

 The  Real Estate market may now, finally,  be headed upward… At the very least it appears that we are somehow stopping the bleeding!  

Good news nationally!  The US economy may be on it’s way toward a modest recovery.  Housing signals point our way out of the recession. Great news for Miami!  

With new housing sales spiking 11% nationally in June … (the biggest gain since 2000)…  that also marks the largest margin in  9 years!  The National Association of Realtors (NAR)  reports that price declines are slowing,  and that existing home sales rose  by  3.6%   in June. reports that the June new housing  sales jump may fuel the way out of this recession.  

The glut of overdevelopment has unquestionably  been concentrated in Florida, California, Las Vegas.   Has the housing market  indeed just  ‘bottomed out’?  If so, we will  likely start to see sellers and builders less willing to make concessions.   The  housing market  traditionally drives the economy (and  until recently…  it has been driving it down).  News that we may have already touched bottom is indeed welcome!  Encouraging not only for Florida and California, but globally!   The housing market plopped  us into this recession.  Spiking sales of new homes in June may have  just marked the turning point… and …may have already begun pulling us out of the recession!

Fact is… the only REAL way we will know  WHEN we’ve hit  bottom, is with the benefit of hindsight… and only after the tide has turned.   Perhaps it has!

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BEST SELLING CONDOS on Brickell? Miami Real Estate Condo Opportunities! The Plaza on Brickell

A few condo buildings on Brickell seem to intrigue buyers more than others.   International buyers gravitate toward a handful  that epitomize the ‘dream’ of living IN MIAMI,  and  South Florida’s sunny, easygoing  lifestyle.  One that  appeals BIG TIME to foreign buyers is THE PLAZA ON BRICKELL .  The Plaza is actually two towers: 951 Brickell Avenue  and 950 Brickell Bay Drive. (The two towers are also somewhat confusingly referred to  as #851 and #901,  from  recent pre-construction days, before  the US Postal Service changed the “original” street addresses.  You’ll  occasionally  find  listings on, or through the MLS, or other websites – condos listed currently for sale or for lease –  referencing  those old street numbers. ) 

p2Brickell (literally overnight) became Miami’s  “in”  place to own a condo …  in large part due to the addition of Mary Brickell Village , which added charm and infrastructure to the area, and made Brickell come alive!   Read more about Mary Brickell Village here.

The PLAZA ON BRICKELL  has breathtaking night views (waterfront  mixed with city-lights),  spacious balconies and  sleek design.  There are (as of this date) still a handful of one-bedroom units with  striking views (water, city and pool) priced between $276,000.00 and $355,000.00 including a lovely 847 square foot unit on the 43rd floor.  Realize that you are looking at an additional 6%-12% percent below the current prices I’ve quoted above.  The developer is selling out the last of the units, and making for some interesting buyer opportunities  at below the  original preconstruction pricing.   Give us a call if you’re interested in buying one of the units in The Plaza… Contact us by email at [email protected] … or respond via our blog here at

The two  “Plaza” towers are veritable   “eye-candy” … especially for  foreign buyers …  a ‘sweet deal’.   I’m intrigued  though that  less than 20%  of the building was purchased (thus far) as income property (to be rented out) …   Buyers seem to be purchasing condos in The Plaza on Brickell as their primary residence,  or alternatively as a second home/vacation property. 

Of the 560 units in  Tower #851:   389 have closed so far, and 32 others are under contract.  There are 139 units left to be sold, as of now.    

Of the 440 condos in Tower #901,   392 have closed and 12 more are currently under contract, leaving 36 available for purchase.  

Statistics for  owner occupied units/vacation homes/ and investment property in The Plaza On Brickell are worth noting:  58% are owner occupied, and 23% are vacation or second homes, and 19%  were acquired  by investors for rental purposes.  Fannie Mae approval is expected  within the next two to three weeks.   You are invited to contact us for updates.

Please add your thoughts or insights regarding Brickell, it’s infrastructure, condo purchases or opportunities.   Your input to the MiamiRealEstateCafe Blog is MORE than  welcome!

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Florida Home for Sale “Includes Wife”? How far would YOUR Realtor go to sell YOUR Home?

Widely tauted as perhaps the most over-the-top sales scheme to sell a house (at least this summer) is Deven Traboscia’s marketing strategy to sell her own 4 bedroom Florida house.    Auctioning off her Palm Beach Gardens home on  e-Bay and Craigslist, the 42 year-old single mom and licensed Realtor added herself to the pot, to sweeten the deal.  

Bids opened at 99 cents. That, for a house, might seem too good to pass up for most homes, let alone one that included a “hot mamma”.  This particular house-for-sale  had one tiny  little catch though:  a whopping $500,000 for shipping charges.   Actually, it had another catch (for better or worse):   a wife … included in the sale.   Trabosh was selling her South Florida house…  and… looking for the fairytale ending.


Struggling to sell property in a semi-stagnant Florida real estate market…   she came up with a  plan to combine love and real estate.  Two for the price of one is catchy in America, where ‘more’ is better, and supersizing it is the order of the day.   While many Realtors rummage through the more traditional ways to make a lisitng stand out: spiffing up the interiors, and sparking up the ‘curb appeal’, and designing colorful and descriptive marketing pieces, Deven Traboscia  literally just grabbed the media.  Overnight, hers became a household name.

 Did the house sell?   “No”   … But…   She gave it a shot.   e-Bay pulled her ad: their guidelines and regulations “prohibiting the sale of human beings…  or body parts“.  Her auction ground to a halt, before a sale could be  finalized.  

ABC covered the story.  CBS  chimed in.  NBC did a piece.  

Each interviewed, quoted,  photographed, and plastered her name and her story on TV and through the internet.  

Newpapers across Florida, across the continent, and around the globe gave her instant notariety

Her house may not have sold, but she took full advantage of the media.  Before her ads were pulled from eBay, Deven Traboscia got her money’s worth… and a nibble:  An Italian gentleman expressed interest in flying over for a “viewing” …wanting apparently a  “CASA A MIAMI”  because somehow  Miami was suggested as the location for that viewing.   Miami is a tad distant from Palm Beach Gardens , and  I usually recommend that my clients see the actual house before buying…but… amazing things are possible on the internet!  Visual tours, and  Google Earth give us tools that aid in visualizing a property, and the Palm Beach Gardens house was a package deal afterall.   I  have to hand it to her for being creative.  Hers  is now literally a household name…for better or worse‘Home for sale includes Wife“… Catchy, isn’t it?   We all need to be creative in a tough market!   And using technology, and media coverage,  works!

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How to find a SOLID CONDO INVESTMENT on Brickell (Casa a Miami)

BUYERS ( …  and … REALTORS)   WANT TO KNOW:   “Which condos in  Miami’s Brickell area  are SOLID ? ”    …     “Where can we buy ?”    …    “Where SHOULD we buy ?”     …      “What do you recommend ?”   

cimg0077The short answer is:  “Depends on the buyer”.   Yes, of course there is  a longer answer too.   Finding a solid investment requires staying on top of the changing inventory and being very, very diligent.  New construction is popping up left and right… the Miami skyline changing minute by minute.  Financial stability of any given building, and desirability of a particular building or area can morph, given time, and given the ever-changing mix of buyers/renters. 

Lenders have  strict criteria which can seriously impact one’s ability to obtain a mortgage.   Miami Condos are at times “ousted”  from lender’s lists of “qualified buildings”…  based on percentages of unsold units,  investor-owned units,  owners in arrears on  condo association fees,  short sales or foreclosures in specific buildings themselves.  With the newspapers and news channels  brimming with stories about the South Florida condo ‘glut’… where do you turn for direction? Which buildings do you look at ,and which do you consider?  And Why?

There ARE solid condos scattered all across South Florida, and some exquisitely beautiful opportunities in the Brickell area.  On Brickell, I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen of  the 43 floor creation designed by Architectonica: The 500 Brickell Condo building  located between 5th and 6th Streets, with it’s breathtaking  floor-to-ceiling views of the bay. And 500 Brickell is Fannie Mae approved!  The photo above is taken from the 34th floor of 500 Brickell, which we just sold to international buyers purchasing  a second home in Miami.  

Of the  633 units in  500 Brickell’s two towers (East and West):   591  sold  … and 42 are currently available for sale.  Of those 591 units sold, 252 have actually closed.   63% are owner occupied (373 units) …  and 18%   (or 107 units)  were bought as vacation or second homes.  Only 19%  (or 112 units)  were purchased for investment purposes (and rented/leased out).

Those bits of information are helpful in knowing whether a bank will or will not provide  financing… and whether you, as a buyer,  will need cash to close.

Important to know, in any condo building,  is the percentage of occupants  in arrears on their association payments.  Those percentages can seriously impact whether a new buyer can obtain financing, and  may predict even how the building will or will not  be maintained (peering off  into the future)… and ultimately whether possible assessments are on the horizon.   Without a crystal ball in hand, facts and figures go a long way in paving the road  and helping buyers with their selection process.  

Have any questions about 500 Brickell?  Contact us anytime.  You may work 8am-6pm, but we are available after you’ve left the office, and you can always contact us through our website.  You’re always welcome to explore current listings or glean information on Miami’s eclectic and charming neighborhoods at www.MiamiRealEstateCafe.comCare to know about other intriguing opportunities in the Brickell area?  We’d love to hear from you.  Please leave your comments regarding Brickell… opportunities you’d like to share… insights, thoughts, and questions.

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South Miami Condo Near University of Miami: Bank of America SLASHING PRICE to $125,000

690b9bcb-e3c5-48d2-ae80-afb35e3f0c12_dtAre you, or someone you know, looking for a real estate deal

Perhaps this is for you:   $125,000 buys you a  one bedroom POOL VIEW in the Valencia in South Miami… as Bank of America has literally slashed the price on this short sale!

Location: The condo is conveniently located near South Miami Hospital, Larkin Hospital,  Sunset Place, local shopping and dining … with easy access to the Metro Rail … and  literally minutes from the University of Miami.   Valencia Condo: 6001 SW 70 St  #454, South Miami, Florida 33143

Amenities: *Assigned covered parking  on the same floor as the apartment itself. *Spacious balcony overlooking the pool &  sun deck… perfect for relaxing* New-ish building (2004 built) *Internet Cafe * 24 hour security* 24 hour fitness center * Outdoor grills & gazebo* Billiard Room.

#454 in The Valencia, South Miami:  One bedroom. One bath. 652 sq ft.  Condo association fees: $323.73 per month.  Listed for sale now at $125,000.

If this sounds like an opportunity for you, or someone you know, please contact Alexandra or Vicki Restivo.

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Best Place to Live in South Florida: City of Doral ranked among TOP 2 in the USA by CNNMoney.Com and

The BEST 100 cities  in America?  Two of them are in South Florida!

Tauted for it’s combination of  lifestyle and business opportunity Doral is ranked among the top two South Florida municipalities by CNN  Business opportunity, coupled with “quality of life”,   art, culture, top educational venues, and WORLD CLASS GOLF,  put the City of Doral on the map  (along with Fort Lauderdale) as one of  THE TOP 100 CITIES IN THE UNITED STATES IN WHICH TO LIVE, WORK AND PLAY .

doralisle-clubhouse named the City of Doral  Doral as one of the two best places to reside in the United States out of their 25 top choices for 2009!  Patents, venture capital funding, sole proprietorships, and start up companies (per capita) …  were among the criteria used by  in ranking their top 25 cities to live “well”  in.  Incorporated 6 years ago,  and transformed  literally overnight  from cow pastures and open expanses of  green spaces into a beckoning destination with a population of just over 35,000 Doral ranks #2  as the BEST PLACE TO LIVE WELL…by FORBES.COM.

Having become a veritable small business hot-spot, in a heartbeat, Doral is home to multitudes of  businesses catering to the Latin American Market.  With one of the highest per capita concentrations of small businesses, and home to logistics, aerospace, and telecommunications industries,  the City of Doral is headquarters for several major corporate entities as well.  Pepsi-Cola is a strong  South Florida economic influencer,  and Brightstar (specializing in telecommunications and wireless communications products)….  is one of the largest Hispanic-owned companies in the United States.

doral-waterfallResort-style communities  abound in Doral, offering  world class golf and amenities,  and options of single family homes, or townhomes and condos.

Doral Isles offers acres of community recreational facilities :  lagoon pools with cascading waterfalls, soccer fields, baseball, basketball, kayaking, sandy beaches, docks, full-service fitness centers, open air cafes and outdoor dining. Here is a beautiful two story, 3 bedroom, 3 bath townhome for sale in the community. Considering living in Doral?   Call us!

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