South African property buyers drawn by the magic of Miami

The almost surreal golden hues, glistening beaches and Art Deco ambience of Miami in South Florida seems all too familiar, having been brought to our living rooms in popular TV series of Miami Vice and more recently CSI.

Today’s Miami is dynamic and chic, yet laidback and fun. It’s a melting pot of rising skyscrapers and edgy new developments as well as luxury malls, art galleries, bistros, bars and fashion houses.

One of the fastest growing large cities in the world – thereby creating tremendous job opportunities, Miami is the second largest financial centre in the USA and home to over 180 international banks. It also has the second largest airport by passenger volume in the USA and is home to the Latin American headquarters of over 1000 companies.

 A warm climate, great beaches and a host of recreational activities are combined with excellent cuisine and a unique night life. It’s no wonder 18 million people visit each year – with the number of international visitors doubling over the past five years.

Right now, much of the action is in the downtown Miami neighbourhoods of Brickell, Edgewater and The Design District, where over 23 000 condominiums and more than 78 buildings have been constructed in the last eight years.

“Surprisingly, this rapidly growing urban centre still offers property at prices well below those of other large cosmopolitan American cities such as New York, Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles, not to mention prime global investment destinations such as London,” says Chris Immelman, MD of Pam Golding Properties International & Projects Division.

“Miami’s notable housing rebound is being propelled by the growing demand for luxury condos and upscale urban living in a vibrant city which is attracting a worldwide following. And for foreigners, investing in property here is simple,” he says. 

“For South African buyers, prices of these apartments are accessible, starting from $250 000 - or R3.055 million at current exchange rates. Return on investment is increasingly attractive. In greater downtown Miami, dramatic increases of 22 percent, 20 percent and 15 percent have been achieved on the resale of condos from 2011 to 2014. Furthermore, a buoyant rental market with high demand has seen average condo leasing prices with yields of 6.4 percent in 2014 soar to 15.6 percent in 2015.”

Pam Golding Properties has partnered with local real estate specialists, Gary Lazarus and Monte Levin, who spent a decade in Franschhoek where they ran PGP’s Winelands International office with huge success – four times being awarded National Agents of the Year for PGP, before returning to the United States – initially back to Boston. They then perceived the opportunity to market real estate in the burgeoning Miami market, capitalising on their broad international base of clients established over the years.

Says Lazarus: “Downtown Miami, with its captivating vibe, views of multi-storey cruise ships lined up along Biscayne Bay and Museum Park, is where the key investment opportunities lie, in an area undergoing major redevelopment and revival. Museum Park is an impressive 12ha bay-front space with public gardens sculpture installations and two museums.

“With an influx of corporates into the area, rental demand is very buoyant, which is a significant benefit for investors who prefer to rent out their units at returns of 4-5 percent per annum. There are no purchase restrictions for foreign buyers and local finance is available for qualified overseas investors.”

According to the Miami Association of Realtors, approximately 60 percent of home sales in South Florida involve a foreign buyer, with international buyers from Canada, Latin America and Europe comprising a large percentage. Miami condos are the most popular acquisitions for international purchasers.

Levin says Brickell is the thriving hub of the ‘new’ Miami metropolis, with the $1 billion Brickell city centre currently under construction and delivering a 500 000sqm hub of commercial and residential activity. “The uptake of residential units has been exceptional, with essentially all the inventory of the 23 000 units built over the last building cycle being sold. Prices have appreciated rapidly, with downtown units selling at $5 767 per square metre in April 2015 compared with $5 003 in April 2014 for units ranging in size from 46-185sqm. 

In the luxury development, Brickell Heights at the trendy address of 850 South Miami Avenue - in the hub of the financial district and surrounded by bustling sidewalk cafes, fashionable eateries and boutiques, apartments are being snapped up with the East Tower virtually sold out and the West Tower 60 percent sold. Perfectly positioned in what is referred to as the ‘5-minute live-work-play circle’, urban-chic units in the second phase are priced from $368 900 for one bedroom, $528 900 for two bedrooms and from $897 000 for three and four bedroom units.

In close proximity is Edgewater, which, with its spectacular views of Biscayne Bay and Miami Beach, is rapidly becoming one of Miami’s trendiest and sought after neighbourhoods. It’s also close to The Design District and Wynwood, an area renowned for its fascinating street art and galleries.

In Edgewater the price of condos has increased from $3 766 per square metre to $4 035 from May 2014 to May 2015. At Opera Tower, a 60-storey condominium provides an appealing six percent guaranteed return for three years, with prices starting at $393 000 for a designer 73.5sqm one bedroom, one-bathroom with a 13sqm balcony, to just under $900 000 for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit of 130sqm with 16sqm balcony and jaw-dropping water views.

At Hyde Midtown Suites & Residences, situated in the heart of the urban-hip soul of the Design District – considered the epicentre of avant-garde living in South Florida, one bedroom apartments start around the $300 000 mark. This striking 32-storey tower includes ground floor retail, restaurants, pool terrace, wellness centre and live entertainment at the Hyde Piano Bar Lounge topped off by impeccable condominium residences with contemporary finishes and state of the art amenities.

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