Both developers and buyers are taking a wait-and-see approach to the launch of new developments in Miami.
For developments that have broken ground and are moving forward, between 60% and 100% of the units have been sold, said Edgardo Defortuna, president and CEO of Fortune International Group, a real estate development, sales and brokerage firm founded by Defortuna.
At his company’s 192-unit Jade Signature development in Sunny Isles Beach, which is directly north of Miami Beach, “we sold $51 million worth of units in the first quarter,” Mr. Defortuna said. The building, which launched sales in 2013, is “95% or 96% sold out.”
But for Miami projects that have launched sales but not broken ground, “sales are slow, with few exceptions,” he said.
“They’re waiting for the rescue boat to come in and lift them out of the water,” Mr. Defortuna said.
Carlos Rosso, president of condo development at The Related Group, said that sales have slowed compared to six months to a year ago. “We were selling 30 units per week. Now we’re selling five, six or seven per week, but we’re still selling,” he said. “Things are moving.”
Both Messrs. Rossos and Defortuna said, however, that the nearby Fort Lauderdale market has become increasingly attractive.
“We’ve been surprised by the numbers we’re getting,” Mr. Defortuna said. “The Fort Lauderdale absorption rates are as good as anything in Sunny Isles.”
Fortune International and The Related Group are teaming up to build Auberge Beach Residences & Spa right on the beach in Fort Lauderdale. The first tower is 95% sold and Tower 2 is 60% sold, Mr. Defortuna said.
“The Fort Lauderdale airport is very convenient for people from New York” and other U.S. cities,“ he said.
Fort Lauderdale is also significantly less expensive than Miami. “It’s one-third the price of South Beach,” Mr. Rosso estimated.
In Fort Lauderdale, 80% to 85% of pre-construction sales have been to U.S. buyers, compared to 15% nondomestic, Mr. Defortuna said. In Miami, that flips to 75% to 80% foreign sales and around 20% domestic.
And that largely international market that’s key for Miami has been hurt by a strong dollar.
“We need the dollar to lower itself a bit compared to other currencies around the world,” Mr. Rosso said.
But there’s hope. Mr. Defortuna mentioned Argentina and Brazil as two countries whose buyers seem to be coming back. “In Brazil, there is the perception that the Miami market is really attractive and it’s time to get back in.”
He expects the Asian market to improve next year, too, with the addition of direct flights from select Asian cities to Miami.
So far this year, Turkish buyers are a visible presence in the Miami real estate market since direct flights were launched late last year from Istanbul to Miami, Mr. Defortuna said. “If you have direct flights, then you have the lifestyle and the convenience–that makes the decision to buy much easier.”