What’s New in South Beach – Plus a Special Cruise with Mark Zilbert


We’re just about halfway through 2010, and the year has shown some incredible strides in real estate. I previously-reported on three separate penthouse sales that took place this year, claiming spots on the top-15 most-expensive condo sales in recorded (MLS) history. We have also seen sales at Continuum and Apogee that have enabled both buildings to hold prices at over $1250/sf. And, with all of this, there are scores of 2010 condo sales in and around Miami and Miami Beach, at admirable prices. Prices are down from their market highs and buyers are embracing the beach once again.
For people focused on South Beach, the greatest value-vs-luxury remains the Murano Grande, which happens to be where I live. Dollar for dollar, you will not find better value, and it has among the lowest maintenance fees of any similar condo. ICON South Beach has seen some dramatic price reductions in recent years, and there are some great deals there as well. For people who prefer oceanfront condos, we can always find something at Continuum, although expect to pay a premium. You can review what I consider to be the best condos in Miami Beach on my hot condos page: http://www.zilbert.com/hot_condos.asp




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Every now and then, a property owner approches me with a property that they wish to sell, but on the “hush hush”. In other words, they don’t want it advertised, but they are looking for buyers.

This week, I have two such properties to offer. I cannot give you complete details in this e-mail, but I would be happy to speak to you further about either property.
PROPERTY 1 – a 3979sf ultra-luxury condo at Murano Grande, offering 3 bedrooms. The apartment underwent a complete upgrade, with finishes that get the “Zilbert seal of approval”. Trust me when I say that you will find this condo to be extraordinary. Pricing is in the low $3Ms.
PROPERTY 2 – Just south of Coconut Grove in Miami is a very-restricted, privately-gated, not-so-publicized neighborhood called HUGHES COVE. I believe that the name is derived from Howard Hughes in some way. This is where the whos-who of Miami live. Our property is a single family home, just under 10,000sf of indoor space, with 4 bedrooms, 4 full bathrooms and 2 half bathrooms. This villa sits directly on the bay, with private pool and 4-car garage. It’s the sort of home that you see in the movies. Pricing is in the mid $7Ms.
Brokers are welcomed to contact me for any details.




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If you like to cruise, and are interested in sitting down with me to pick my brain about real estate, I may have a great opportunity for you. Join me on a 15 night cruise crossing on the Celebrity Cruises new EQUINOX (which I call, “Delano at Sea”…due to its incedible style). The ship sails from Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy on October 31, 2010, visits ports in Italy, France, Spain and the Canary Islands, then crosses over to end in Fort Lauderdale. To learn more about this sailing visit the AMAZING CRUISES home page, and click on the CELEBRITY CRUISES SPECIAL SAILING link. Ralph at Amazing Cruises has discounted pricing for this sailing, including suites. So, maybe we will see you onboard!




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You may already know that every June 1 is the official start of hurricane season. If you look at my webcam, however, you will see that we are sunny and beautiful today…as are most days. Still, we should always be prepared. I found an interesting radio at Amazon made by a company called ETON. It’s a radio that operates on solar power, hand cranking and/or batteries. It has a flashlight, a siren and even a USB port to charge your cell phone. I think every home should have one. Have a look: ETON FR600R RADIO.




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We have an inventory of about 80 great condos, priced from about $400,000 to over $5M. To see what we are selling this week visit here or http://www.zilbert.com/showcase.asp anytime.




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We add new properties for sale every day. To see the 100 most-recent property listings visit http://www.zilbert.com/100_newest_listings.asp anytime.


City Square Developer Raises Cash in Bulk Sale

June 04, 2010

By: Eric Kalis – Daily Business Review (Miami)

Maefield Development, which has been busy trying to save its massive City Square project in Miami, sold 46 residential condos and two commercial units in Capri South Beach for nearly $31 million.

Operating as MaeCapri, Indianapolis-based Maefield sold the units for $30.79 million to Capri Residential Properties, according to Miami-Dade County records.

Maefield chief executive Mark Siffin declined to discuss the bulk sale when reached for comment on Friday.

Maefield only sold 20 of 69 residential units before the bulk sale, according to Miami-Dade County records. With the sale to Capri Residential, Maefield has three unsold residential units remaining.

Capri Residential paid per-unit prices ranging from $157,398 to $1.5 million, according to Miami-Dade records. No financing was recorded with the sale.

Maefield also sold a pair of condos at The Strand on Ocean for $10 million to Capri Residential affiliate Strand Commercial Properties, according to Miami-Dade records. The two condos total 12,488 square feet.

Capri Residential obtained a $4.5 million loan from Sabadell United Bank for the Strand condos.

Miami attorney Diane Hernandez, who represented Capri Residential in the purchase, did not immediately return a call for comment.

State corporate records do not list a principal for Capri Residential. Calls to a phone number listed by state records were not immediately returned.

Maefield was a “victim of the times,” said Miami Beach broker Mark Zilbert, who was not involved with the Capri transaction.

“When Capri came to the market, people were shying away from new purchases,” Zilbert said. “There was a lull for a couple of years. Had the project premiered a year or two earlier, all the units would have sold and you would have never seen a bulk sale.”

Bulk condo sales have become the norm in South Florida as developers of stalled projects face continued pressure from lenders. Many recent bulk deals have occurred in downtown Miami and Brickell Avenue areas, not Miami Beach.

Maefield apparently did not sell the units to satisfy an antsy lender. Miami-Dade County did not record any foreclosure actions against Maefield. Fremont Investment & Loan of Brea, California, gave Maefield a $60.45 million loan in May 2005. The loan was assigned to iStar Financial in December 2008.

Maefield “was probably sitting there with a project that had not been selling well,” Zilbert said. “There’s a breaking point every developer has. The buyers we spoke to about Capri were kind of afraid about who will be there” with so few prior closings.

Zilbert predicted the wave of bulk condo deals in the region will soon pass as buyers become more comfortable with pricing.

“We won’t see many more bulk deals,” Zilbert said. “Individual buyers are regaining confidence. They are not going to overpay, but in some cases the fear of paying a premium to get something special is diminishing.”

Capri Residential should be able to support the purchase price by renting out some of the condos immediately and then selling them over a two- to five-year period, he said.

“It should be a damn good investment,” Zilbert said.


For Maefield, the Capri bulk sale generates much-needed revenue as the company attempts to close on the purchase of 10 acres next to the Miami Herald building in downtown Miami for the long-discussed City Square project.

Miami attorney and developer Pedro Martin signed a contract in March 2005 to buy the land from then-Herald owner Knight Ridder for $190 million and immediately flip it to Maefield for $230 million. The sale’s closing has been delayed numerous times since then.

Current Herald owner McClatchy has extended the purchase agreement several times, including last January when it moved the closing deadline to January 2011 in exchange for an additional $6 million deposit. Maefield and Martin would lose $23 million in two deposits and a termination fee if they fail to close on the purchase.

The most recent proposal for City Square is an eight-story parking garage topped by a pair of 200-foot video billboards. The garage and billboards, which Siffin said in May were “always part of the project,” have been pushed to center stage as a proposed retail center and twin 70-story condo towers take a back seat.

New Florida Law Protects Condo Owners

Florida Governer Crist signed the Distressed Condominium Relief Act this week.  What does this offer?  A lot of great new benefits to condo owners. 

1)  Banks that foreclose on condos will be required to pay up to 12 months of past due maintenance,

2)  Condo associations can collect rent from deliquent owners,

3)  Deliquent condo owners can have their common area and voting rights suspended and

4) Bulk investors can buy more than 6 units in a condo and not be considered the developer. 

These are just some highlights of the new act, and some of these provisions need further explanation.  Refer to the State of Florida website or general news media for more details.  But, this is very welcomed by condo associations and condo owners.

Wall Street Journal: Luxury Sales Bounce Back

Bidding wars for a $2 million house? In some markets, sales of high-end homes return to levels not seen since the boom


For years, Jennifer Metz and her husband John yearned for a bigger home in San Francisco. Three months ago, the couple started looking, figuring that in this shaky economy, their $3 million budget should provide them a pick of attractive homes and accommodating sellers. Luxury Going Fast

They were wrong. Hours after seeing a 5,000-square-foot fixer-upper in Presidio Heights with an asking price around $2.7 million, the Metzes put in a bid—and lost. Soon after, they made another offer on a four-bedroom in Russian Hill. Their bid was rejected.

Last week, the Metzes rushed over to a large, dilapidated home in Pacific Heights that needed a lot of work but was asking the (relatively) low price of $2.25 million. The Metzes put in their over-ask bid the next day, but lost that one too: There were nine offers; the winning bid was $2.56 million.

“It’s frustrating,” says Ms. Metz, a 44-year-old stay-at-home mom whose husband works in finance. “You think you put in a good offer but, no.”

After a near-disastrous 2009, the luxury market appears to be making a comeback, driven by growing buyer confidence, improved financing conditions and more-realistic seller pricing. Despite the housing downturn, attractively priced homes in some of the nation’s most coveted neighborhoods are selling, sometimes fast and sometimes with multiple offers. Nationwide, sales of homes selling for $2 million to $5 million in the first quarter totaled 2,461, up 32% from a year before, says CoreLogic.


Sotheby’s$2,146-per-square-foot is what a buyer paid for this elaborately redone San Francisco home that has a vanishing wall. 

That sales are up from last year shouldn’t come as a big surprise. The shock of the financial panic in the fall of 2008 left many potential buyers too nervous to bid, and those who were willing to wade in found it hard to get financing. But a study for The Wall Street Journal by MDA DataQuick, a real-estate data provider, found that in some areas of the country, sales of homes over $2 million in the first quarter were actually on par with the levels of 2005, the peak year for existing-home sales volume nationwide.

In San Francisco, 49 homes sold for $2 million or more in this year’s first quarter, according to the study, compared to 47 in 2005. In Manhattan, there were 402 sales of $2 million or more in the latest quarter, compared with 311 in the first quarter of 2005, according to the appraisal firm Miller Samuel Inc. Other areas with strong rebounds included New York’s Hamptons, Menlo Park, Calif., and Beverly Hills.

Even a couple of troubled housing markets experienced a strong uptick. In Las Vegas, there were 21 such sales in the first quarter, up from 15 in the first quarter of 2005, according to DataQuick. In Miami, 21 such sales of $2 million or more were recorded in the first quarter, up from 15 last year and close to the 23 that sold in that time five years earlier.

Of course, many markets including Greenwich, Conn. and parts of New Jersey are still ailing. Brokers say pricey homes in outlying suburbs are more likely to sit than sell. Miami-Dade County still has enough homes priced at $2 million or more to last 41 months at the current sales pace, though down from 116 months a year earlier, says Ron Shuffield, president of EWM Realtors, a large local brokerage.

 The recent stock market tumble could unravel the turnaround. Unlike the rest of the housing market, which is driven largely by employment trends, housing analysts say high-end buyers are much more sensitive to changes in the stock market, which for the first quarter was helping them feel even wealthier. “If the markets don’t recover soon, it will scare people” and hurt demand for high-end homes, says Kenneth Rosen, chairman of the Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics at the University of California, Berkeley.

In the meantime, some high-end renovators are making quick sales. Koby Kempel bought a colonial in Brookline, a posh suburb of Boston, last year for $1.45 million. He raised the ceilings, rebuilt the interior, expanded the home by about 50% and added a heated garage. The six-bedroom home was listed by Mona Wiener of Hammond Residential on a Friday in early May and was under contract the next day for the asking price of nearly $3.5 million.

Back in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood, a four-bedroom home on Broadway, with a spa and views of the Golden Gate Bridge, was renovated by Gregory Malin. It went on the market in late January and sold two weeks later for $13.5 million, compared with the $14 million asking price. The listing agent, Val Steele of Sotheby’s International Realty, says the sale, at $2,146 per square foot, marked the first time a home in San Francisco topped $2,000 a square foot since early September 2008.


Write to Juliet Chung at juliet.chung@wsj.com and James R. Hagerty at bob.hagerty@wsj.com