Foreigners toting cash make 70% or more of new Brickell condo buys
By Yudislaidy Fernandez
Foreign buyers with cash in hand are still playing a protagonist role in Brickell's condo market, as they are aggressively competing with local investors and buyers for available units.
Oliver Ruiz, managing broker for Fortune International Realty's Brickell offices, says 70% of today's condo buyers in Brickell are foreigners, with locals representing about 30%.
Among international groups most active are Venezuelans as well as some Italians, Peruvians and Mexicans, Mr. Ruiz said.
Most are buying units as an investment with the intention to sell at a profit years from now, when values in the residential market rise again.
For some condo towers, the foreign buyer segment is carrying their sales.
At Icon Brickell's Towers 1 and 2, where Fortune is handling sales, about 75% of condos sold have been to international buyers, with locals and out-of-state buyers representing the remaining 25%.
"We've been very fortunate with some end-users over at the Icon Brickell. It has gotten very hot," Mr. Ruiz said. "Investors are buying too because they can get a better return for their money, but end-users buy because they like the building and the facility."
The same at Jade Residences at Brickell Bay, home to buyers from 22 nationalities, where foreigners represent 70% of buyers.
The strategy is "aggressive marketing with foreign buyers, who are the majority of the market today," Fortune President Edgardo Defortuna has said, "the ones who have the capability of paying cash."
The countries aggressively buying, he says, also include Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela.
At the 459-condo Infinity at Brickell at 1300 S Miami Ave., where Fortune was recently named sales agent, Mr. Ruiz said more investors than locals are buying units because they are attractively priced at about $240 per square foot.
These condos, which range from 600 to 2,000 square feet, are listed from $200,000 to close to $1 million — about half the original price tags. A unit selling in the $200s per square foot today was initially priced in the high $400s.
To market the property, Fortune is working with its 700 sales associates, affiliate offices and an international broker network to attract international buyers to this Brickell condo.
Although the reasons they buy differ for local and international buyers, they appear to agree on why they chose Brickell over other desirable neighborhoods.
"They want to be in that vibrant atmosphere," Mr. Ruiz said. "Some older folks like myself want to sell their homes and move to the condos..."
If plans move forward to open a proposed K-12 charter school in the neighborhood, he noted, that could also attract more families to move there.
Many foreigners scooping up Brickell condos use them part-time, while others choose to rent them for a couple of years until they can resell at a profit.
This is drawing a mix of international residents and local renters, who are defining Brickell as a melting pot of cultures and a playground for adults with its expanding selection of fine dining and lounges.
Randy Olen, president of the Brickell Area Association, says in the past year and a half, association members have been discussing how Brickell is becoming the vibrant, 24-hour community many envisioned.
This transformation is attracting new upscale restaurants like Truluck's Seafood Steak and Crabhouse that opened for dinner a few weeks ago at 777 Brickell Ave., where it occupies 8,895 square feet.
Brickell Avenue is to undergo a facelift next year, Mr. Olen said, as the popular street is getting repaved.
Residents also await arrival of a trolley system in the works that is expected to provide service from Key Biscayne's entrance to the Omni area.
Today, Brickell has earned that brand recognition, Mr. Olen said. "It's one of the most exciting areas to live, work and play right now, with all the condominiums selling and leasing."