Luxury Miami condo buildings make even bigger waves

All of the aforementioned Miami condo developments are fetching prices that might have seemed unfathomable even a summer ago.

While much of downtown — including the new Bond at 1080 Brickell, which secured 130 deposits in four hours after launching sales in May — trades for about $500 per square foot, 1000 Museum has deposits for two 9,900-square-foot condos priced at more than $10 million each.

And in Miami Beach, exclusive condos “used to be $1,200 to $1,500 per foot,” Schrager points out. “We’ve doubled that.

“We based [the pricing] on what we would do in New York. There’s always room in the market for doing something special. People will respond.”


Source: NY Post

EDITIONIan Schrager, the man behind Studio 54, the Delano and 40 Bond, is working on the Residences at the Miami Beach Edition — where two penthouses sold for a record $34 million.

EDITIONIan Schrager, the man behind Studio 54, the Delano and 40 Bond, is working on the Residences at the Miami Beach Edition — where two penthouses sold for a record $34 million.
FAENA HOUSEDeveloper Alan Faena has sold more than half of his new development’s 47 apartments, designed by Foster + Partners. An arts center by Rem Koolhaas is also in the works.

Faena Group
FAENA HOUSEDeveloper Alan Faena has sold more than half of his new development’s 47 apartments, designed by Foster + Partners. An arts center by Rem Koolhaas is also in the works.

As The Post previously reported, “As Seen on TV” creator Ajit Khubani bought the record-breaking Edition penthouses, which Cantor Fitzgerald CEO Howard Lutnick had his eye on.

Up on Collins Avenue in Sunny Isles Beach, where buildings like Regalia, Chateau Beach Residences, the Mansions at Acqualina and Jade Signature have briskly sold condos for upward — sometimes well upward — of $1,000 per square foot, developer Gil Dezer broke ground in April on his Porsche Design Tower and its “sky garages” that allow buyers to park cars next to their apartments. The 132 units are about two-thirds sold, with a 9,000-square-foot penthouse featuring two swimming pools on different levels and a six-car garage selling for $22.5 million.

“Our main business comes from South America,” says Dezer, who aims to sell out Porsche Design by September/October and plans to launch another luxury Sunny Isles development in the coming months. “Our summer is their winter.”

In fact, Dezer, who also developed Sunny Isles’ Trump Towers, has noticed more South Americans buying in the summer than any other time in recent years.

Down in South Beach’s always sizzling South of Fifth area — where Jorge Perez of the Related Group has resurfaced with One Ocean, offering units starting at about 3,000 square feet and more than $5 million — the demand at the top end of the market remains high. De la Vega is marketing Glass, a new 18-story condo building on Ocean Drive with 10 residences that start at 3,500 square feet and between $8 million and $9 million. The building was getting bids even before sales officially launched last month and has already sold seven units, with buyers coming from New York, Boston and London, says David Martin, president and COO of Terra Group, the developer of Glass.

“Miami Beach is big on historic preservation, so there’s a high barrier of entry in South of Fifth,” Martin says. “There was a pent-up demand by the time we launched.”

A demand for something that’s not just a vacation home.

“There are very few residential buildings in areas that are not so touristy,” Martin says. “South of Fifth has become a place where people can live year-round.”

Investors betting on a widespread housing recovery

Investors betting on a widespread housing recovery

NEW YORK – May 30, 2013 – Investors are picking up shares of appliances, building materials and even pickup trucks in betting on a widening housing recovery, The Wall Street Journal reports. Investors say that the increase in residential construction and home renovation represents a big opportunity on Wall Street.

The recovery is in “the very early innings,” Russell Croft, a portfolio manager at Croft Leominster Inc., told The Wall Street Journal. “[I’m trying] to find the secondary or tertiary stocks that might be influenced by housing.”

Following a run-up in shares of homebuilder stocks – like Lennar, KB Home and Toll Brothers – investors are now diversifying, looking at such companies like appliance maker Whirlpool (which has surged more than 170 percent since the end of 2011) and Ford Motor Co. for pickup trucks. Investors are looking for anything housing-related, including companies that manufacture related items from roofing and floorboards to drywall and faucets.

Home improvement retailers Lowe’s and Home Depot have each soared by about 60 percent over the last 12 months.

With home prices still below about 28 percent from their 2006 peak, investors are seeing plenty of opportunity ahead for the housing market.

“The housing market is one of the best investible themes out there for 2013 and for 2014 as well,” says analyst Kevin O’Keefe with Brown Advisory, which oversees $33 billion in assets.

Source: “Investors Spread Their Housing Bets,” The Wall Street Journal (May 27, 2013)

© Copyright 2013 INFORMATION, INC.

Pending home sales edge up in April

WASHINGTON – May 30, 2013 – Pending home sales improved slightly in April and continue to be well above a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). Gains in the Northeast and Midwest were offset largely by declines in the West and South.

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 0.3 percent to 106.0 in April from 105.7 in March, and is 10.3 percent above April 2012 when it was 96.1; the data reflect contracts but not closings.

It’s the highest pending index in three years – since it hit 110.9 in April 2010, immediately before the deadline for the homebuyer tax credit. Pending sales have been above year-ago levels for the past 24 months.

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said a familiar pattern has developed. “The housing market continues to squeak out gains from already very positive conditions,” he said. “Pending contracts so far this year easily correspond to higher closed home sales in 2013.” Total existing-home sales are expected to rise just over 7 percent to about 5 million this year.

“Because of inventory shortages, higher home sales will push up home values to the highest level in five years,” Yun said. The national median existing-home price should increase close to 8 percent and exceed $190,000 in 2013.

The PHSI in the Northeast jumped 11.5 percent to 92.3 in April and is 17.7 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest, the index rose 3.2 percent to 107.1 in April and is 15.1 percent higher than April 2012. Pending home sales in the South slipped 1.1 percent to an index of 119.2 in April but are 12.3 percent above a year ago. With pronounced inventory constraints, the index in the West fell 7.6 percent in April to 94.6 and is 2.6 percent below April 2012.

© 2013 Florida Realtors®

Trulia economist rebuts talk of housing bubble

Even though prices are now rising as fast as in the bubble years, national home prices today are 7% undervalued – compared with 39% overvalued at the height of the bubble in 2006 Q1.In only 8 of the 100 largest metros are prices overvalued. Orange County, Calif., and Austin, Texas, are the most overvalued, but only by 9% and 7%, respectively.”To see a bubble, you first need to know what you’re looking for,” explains Trulia chief economist Jed Kolko.

Source Trulia

Finding the right home can be easy

MIAMI – April 18, 2013 – Marianne Cusato is sitting on top of the world. Well, not really. But she likes to think so.

Cusato lives on the 15th floor of a 57-story condo building in Miami’s swanky Brickell neighborhood. She has views of the city and the Miami River, where fishing boats and sailboats glide by daily en route to the sea and back.

“It’s all very Miami,” says Cusato, author of The Just Right Home: Buying, Renting, Moving – or Just Dreaming – Find Your Perfect Match (Workman).

It’s also very her. She’d like to find a similar perfect fit for you.

Cusato, 38, an award-winning architect who designed the Katrina Cottages as housing in New Orleans after the hurricane of the same name, acknowledges it’s not easy finding the perfect home.

It’s easy to mess up a move

About 37 million Americans move every year, and many of them make mistakes in the process. She’s out to correct that with her no-nonsense book filled with lists, questions and quizzes to help determine what you really want in a home.

As a single woman, she wanted safety, for instance. “I didn’t want to be alone in a house at the end of some cul-de-sac,” she says. She also wanted to be able to walk to restaurants, shops, ball games and cultural events, something she can easily do.

She found her one-bedroom condo three years ago when “great deals were to be had” in South Florida. “It was a no-brainer,” she says. And yes, she rents. In fact she calls herself a “proud renter. At this point in my life mobility is important.”

But enough about her and her floor-to-ceiling glass view of the world. What about us? What’s wrong with us when we go house hunting?

“We don’t always think about what we actually want. We make decisions on what we’re told we should do,” she says. “We don’t take the time to look at what works for us.”

With the real estate market coming back strong, Cusato says, there has never been a more important time to take a moment and reflect on what works best. Her mantra: Maximize your investment and minimize surprises.

That doesn’t mean your gut instincts should be ignored. Her high-ceilinged condo “spoke to me” the moment she walked in, she says. (It also helped that a cafe and pool are on the same floor.)

She says problems arise when buyers accept things – too many bathrooms, too many amenities – for resale value “but you don’t really want them. So we end up living in homes that don’t meet our needs. What we need to do now is live in a home that works for us.” Simply put, a home’s live-in value is greater than its resale value.

Architect and author Sarah Susanka agrees. She was early to the smaller-is-better trend with her groundbreaking “Not So Big House” series of books back in the late ‘90s. She has followed Cusato’s career and is happy to see she and others are now on her once lonely bandwagon.

“It’s a whole new world today,” she says. “I go to conferences now and they’re all singing my old song. ‘Smaller is better.’ It’s amazing, really.”

Many of Cusato’s questions revolve around the less-is-more theory. Do you want to take care of a lawn? How much time do you want to spend commuting to work? And are you budgeting those costs into your monthly household bills?

As for the car question, Cusato says, the more important rule today is “proximity, proximity, proximity” rather than the old “location, location, location” adage.

Where to land can be tricky, too. “Some people just know where they want to live,’ says Cusato, who grew up in Alaska but now says she loves being from Alaska. She lived in Manhattan for eight years but was looking for a change. Miami gave her the urban feel, but with a much different flair to it – and at half the cost.

Bigger is not better

And then there’s the size question. Cusato likes to say small is the new big. Out, out, damn McMansions.

“We’re in a swing-back place now,” she says of the trend to smaller and more efficient homes. And where did those McMansions come from?

Huge houses were built in communities where a car was a necessity. “There wasn’t anything to walk to, so everything had to be at the house. You weren’t going to leave once you got there, once you got home,” she says. Think huge kitchens and home theaters.

She says builders then got into “building wars. They were going to raise you two gables and a turret.”

That’s why the return of the front porch makes so much sense to her. It pleases her, too. According to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders, a front porch is an outdoor feature now most likely to be included in the average new home in 2015.

“Millennials are getting ready to buy now, and they don’t want a house with those turrets. We want to walk to things,” Cusato says. “They, like me, want everything in their house to make sense. They want to connect to their neighborhood. Where we live is so important. That’s why we can’t jump into the old patterns. What’s the community we’re connected to? What’s that experience? What do we want that to be? You have to be a savvy consumer to ask those questions.”

Brian DiSabatino, a co-founder of The Town of Whitehall in New Castle County, Del., says Cusato’s book makes perfect sense. He has been working with state and local officials for years to prepare for the shift away from suburbia. His Whitehall project, which begins next year, is a mixed-use development featuring a walkable community of 10,000 residents.

Like Cusato, DiSabatino says savvy buyers need to understand that instead of “location, location, location,” they need to think “simple, convenient and vibrant.”

“Our advice?” he asks. “Choose a place to live, in addition to a house to live in.”

Copyright © USA TODAY 2013, Eliot J. Schechter.

Lenders loosen up on home loans

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – April 17, 2013 – Lenders are warming up to home shoppers lacking big downpayments as the housing market improves, new data show.

In the first quarter of this year, 19 percent of conventional loan offers made by lenders on the LendingTree online exchange were for loans with downpayments between 5 percent and 10 percent, LendingTree says.

That was up from 6 percent of offers the same time last year and just 1 percent of offers two years ago, LendingTree says.

Meanwhile, the number of lenders quoting non-Federal Housing Administration loans with 5 percent to 10 percent downpayments on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace is almost double what it was two years ago, Zillow says.

The growth of the availability of low-downpayment loans is notable in that, following the housing bust, those consumers had little choice outside of generally higher-cost loans from the FHA. “For years, it’s been FHA or nothing,” for the low-downpayment borrower, says Guy Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance. “This shift is a sign that mortgage origination is loosening up.”

But the industry is still a long way from the easy-lending standards that caused the housing bust. Borrowers now must show a strong credit history and documented income to get loans, Cecala says.

Several factors are driving more low-downpayment loans outside of the FHA, including:

• Higher FHA costs. While the FHA requires just 3.5 percent down, its annual insurance premiums have more than doubled in the past two years. The last increase took hold April 1.

The higher costs are “causing a shift back toward conventional loans,” says Cameron Findlay, chief economist at Discover Home Loans.

Following the latest rate increase, FHA applications for home loans fell by almost 14 percent for the week ended April 5 while applications for conventional loans rose more than 5 percent, the Mortgage Bankers Association says.

• A rebounding private mortgage insurance industry. Lenders generally don’t make loans that they can’t resell to mortgage giants Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. While Fannie Mae will buy a loan with as little as 3 percent down, and Freddie Mac at 5 percent, loans with less than 20 percent down require borrowers to also get private mortgage insurance.

When the housing market crashed, the private mortgage industry lost billions and such insurance was tough to get. Now, the industry is on the rebound and the cost for insurance for borrowers with higher credit scores has dropped. As such, more home loan borrowers are finding it a better financial move not to put 20 percent down and instead pay for the insurance, says Matt Johnson, loan officer at Sterling Bank in Seattle.

Rising home prices have also helped lenders get more comfortable with low-downpayment loans.

The growth of lower downpayments is also reflected in Fannie Mae’s portfolio. In the first quarter of 2012, downpayments between 3 percent and 10 percent accounted for 15 percent of Fannie’s home purchase loan business. That rose to 18 percent in the third quarter.

The borrowers are still high quality. Last year, home loans acquired by Fannie Mae with less than 20 percent downpayments originated from borrowers with an average FICO score of 755, Fannie Mae says. Scores of 740 or higher are generally needed to get the best pricing on home loans.

Copyright © USA TODAY 2013