Comprehensive Guide to Buying a Pre-construction Property or Condo in Miami

Comprehensive Guide to Buying a Pre-construction Property or Condo in Miami

Feb 20, 2024 February 20, 2024

So, you are thinking about buying a condo in Miami, either as an investment, a place to call home, or a pied-a-terre for you and your family to visit whenever you wish. Regardless of the reason, buying a Miami condo should be a pleasurable experience that you can enjoy both financially and for your lifestyle.

If you are going to buy a pre-construction condo in Miami, here at CondoBlackbook, we want to make sure you understand the process and have a successful transaction. Seriously. Our anything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about buying a preconstruction condo guide will give you all the knowledge you need about what buying pre-construction means, how it’s different from buying an already built property, and more, so you end up in a great condo that’s right for you in every way. 

Here’s what you can expect:

  1. Why You Need to Read This Miami Pre-Construction Condo Guide
  2. What is a Pre-Construction or New Construction Condo?
  3. Why Buy Pre-Construction?
  4. Phases of the Pre-Construction Process and Contract
  5. How to Negotiate the Best Miami Pre-Construction Deal
  6. What Can You Negotiate in a Pre-Construction Condo Purchase?
  7. How to Finance a Pre-Construction Condo Property
  8. Closing Costs for Pre-Construction Properties
  9. Tips on How to Cancel or Get Out of a Pre-Construction Contract
  10. Choosing the Right Miami Neighborhood and Project for Your Pre-Construction Purchase
  11. List of Miami Pre-Construction and New Construction Properties
  12. Miami Pre-Construction & New Construction Condo Buying - Frequently Asked Questions



— Why You Need to Read This Miami Pre-Construction Condo Guide

Now, this guide is meant to be a comprehensive starting point for you to get an initial understanding of Miami condo pre-construction development and buying. It should not be used as a replacement for legal or other professional advice. Every condo and situation is different, and unless we are privy to the exact pre-construction contract and condo you intend to buy and we are the ones signing as your realtor on the dotted line, we can’t make any guarantees.

But, if we can save you a few dollars or a few headaches with any of these pre-construction buying tips, that’s what we want to do! Do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions. You can find us via text, email, or phone, and we will ensure that your questions are answered.

Now, let’s get started!


Perigon - Mid-Beach
Perigon - Mid-Beach


— What is a Pre-Construction or New Construction Condo?

Basically, a pre-construction condo property is one that you buy before or while it is being built. You purchase your unit based on the permitted plans, specifications, and renderings of the building, and depending on the stage of the construction process, possibly a partially constructed unit. 

The development of a property has several stages, including planning and permitting, the construction and building process, and finally, the completion and move-in period. In a larger project like a high-rise condominium building, these stages are more specific given the scope of the project. 


The Four General Stages of Construction Are:

  1. Feasibility & Planning Stage: This involves a lot of design planning and budgeting work by the developer. This will include feasibility studies and discussions with architects, engineers, land use attorneys, and government agencies to make sure that the desired size and scope of the project are possible for the zoned use, budget and expected profit. 
  2. Pre-Construction Stage: Once a project has passed a feasibility analysis, formal architectural planning and documentation begins, including the creation of construction documents. These documents will be used for securing building permits to begin construction. During this stage, developer’s may announce the plans for the project, begin marketing campaigns, and start offering units for sale with a minimal deposit, with future payments timed at key stages of construction, called milestones. This is how the term “pre-construction condo” or property came into use. 
  3. Construction Stage: Once building permits have been approved, construction can begin. This process can take one to two years for a condo building. During this time, the developer is continuing to sell units and place them under contract. A preconstruction building has a better chance of getting construction funding and being completed on time when more units are under contract in the early stages of construction. 
  4. Close-Out/Certificate of Occupancy Stage: Upon construction completion or the “topping off” of a building, and all construction has been approved and finaled, the Close-Out Stage has begun. This is the stage where sales contracts are finalized, all monies are due for each unit, and residents can start moving into their new units once a Certificate of Occupancy has been issued by the building department.

Solemar - Pompano BeachSolemar - Pompano Beach
Solemar - Pompano Beach


— Why Buy a Pre-Construction Property?

There are several reasons why you might be interested in buying a condo property during the early development period, or pre-construction period.

  • Price: Oftentimes, developers offer early-bird pricing and certain incentives during the pre-construction period so you’re likely to get a better deal, especially for a brand new residence. Also, you want to lock in a beautiful condo at a lower price so you can benefit from rising real estate prices, while not having to worry about maintaining the property while it is being built.
  • Pride: You love knowing you are the first owner and no one has lived in the unit before. Believe it or not, being the first to own a brand-new residence in a prestigious building is important for many buyers. If this is you, you are not alone and have much to be proud of.
  • Preference: Similar to be the first to live in a property, buying pre-construction also allows you more opportunities to customize your unit, or get the exact materials, floor, views, and floor plans you prefer; options only pre-construction can offer.

Alana - Bay Harbor IslandsAlana - Bay Harbor Islands
Alana - Bay Harbor Islands


— Buying a Condo During Different Pre-Construction Phases

When you are starting your search for available pre-construction and new construction properties, you will find condo projects at different stages in their development. You’ll definitely want to know about what is required to purchase a pre-construction condo depending on its stage of development. 

In general, most pre-construction projects follow a deposit structure that requires different amounts of payments at different stages of development. 


1. Reservation Stage

This is one of the earliest stages to buy into a pre-construction project. As mentioned above, this is typically during the middle of the planning stage. Typically, the developer has all the floor plans and initial design of the building available. They usually have selected initial or final finishes, appliances, etc., so you will have a very strong idea of how your final unit will look. The building plans are still in the approval stages with the city, and the developer has also submitted for approval to officially register the condominium with the State of Florida. However, no construction has started. 

In this phase, the developer typically offers deep discounts for buyers willing to jump onto the project early on to help the developer create buzz and get a strong pre-launch for the project, as well as secure reservation sales that show lenders the building is likely to sell its inventory. During this phase, the buyer is requested to sign a non-binding Reservation Agreement to secure their selected unit and typically needs to pay a 10-20% deposit to secure it. 

Pros: 

  • Low deposit requirement
  • A wider selection of units to choose from
  • Lowest, “early-bird” prices
  • No penalty to cancel at any time

Cons: 

  • Some details about the building may change, some unknowns remain
  • Occasionally, the project may not be built (although your deposit will be returned)
  • May take longer than expected to be built


2. Contract Stage

At this point, the developer has received approval on its plans from the city and also has received official approval for its Declaration of Condominium with the State of Florida. This typically happens 3-6 months after the beginning of the reservation phase. Now the developer can officially go under contract for its pre-construction units. You will receive a developer contract and also the full condominium documents. At this time, the developer will typically require a total of an additional 20%, so that your total is now at about 30-40%.

Pros

  • What you see is what you get
  • More certainty that the condo will be built
  • Below-market prices

Cons: 

  • Larger deposit required (typically 20%+)
  • Read your contract; You may only have a certain amount of day to cancel and then you are obligated to move forward or lose your deposit
  • You may have fewer units to choose from


3. Construction

Construction begins with “groundbreaking”, where the developer starts building the foundation of the project. At this point, the developer typically requests an additional 10% deposit. Then, at certain milestones of construction, such as when the building “tops off” (i.e., when they pour the concrete at the top of the building), they will request deposits until they reach a 50% total deposit.

Pros:

  • 2 years or less away from Closing
  • Building plans and finishes are almost certain
  • Below-market prices

Cons:

  • Less selection of inventory
  • The deposit requirement will likely be 30-50% depending on the time of entry
  • Pricing may higher than in the Reservation phase


4. Completion/Closing

After a building has topped off, the construction is nearing completion. What is now left are final finishes, interiors, landscaping, and final approvals. This is the period that “Close-Outs” or “Closings” will begin. “Closing” is the day that the contracts to sell are fully completed, and the total monies for the unit are exchanged between the seller/developer and the buyer. Now the buyer becomes the official owner of the property. Once the developer receives the Certificate of Occupancy (CO) from the County, which permits people to start residing in the property, the developer will send out letters requesting closing within 30 days. As soon as you have closed on your unit, you can schedule your move-in date. 

Pros: 

  • See much more the finished product before buying
  • Have a fairly accurate date to move in 

Cons:

  • Close-to-market prices
  • Less selection of condo inventory
  • Less choice of customized finishes or fixtures


5. New Construction Re-Sales

After pre-construction buyers begin to close, some original buyers may want to resell their units. Depending on the overall market in that area, sometimes this still creates an opportunity to get  a discount on market price for the new buyers, and other times it provides a convenient opportunity to buy a unit that has already had the final finishes and interior design completed by the first owner. Also, in this case you are buying from an individual seller and not the developer.

Pros

  • Move-in ready residence 
  • You can see the finished product before buying
  • May already have the final interior design, finishes and upgrades
  • More flexible move-in options
  • Traditional financing and mortgage options available
  • No fees to the developer at all 

Cons

  • More likely buying at or close to current market prices
  • May pay a premium to pre-construction price depending on market demand
  • Less selection of condo inventory


Search All Miami Area Pre-Construction Properties



— How to Negotiate the Best Miami Pre-Construction Deal

Buying during the construction process of a new development has more steps than buying a completed product. Because of this, and because developers often want to sell as many units before completing construction as possible, there are several ways to negotiate the best deals if you know how. We always recommend having an experienced real estate agent on your side if you have not purchased and negotiated a pre-construction purchase before, however, here are some key points to consider when negotiating a pre-construction condo property:


Timing 

We find that developers are most flexible in negotiations at or near these inflection points:

  • When the market is soft. Consult your real estate broker on the latest market statistics.
  • When they are close to 50% sales.
  • Right after the developers have secured their construction loan.
  • When they have their last remaining units left. Often, the developer is ready to sell and move on to close out the deal, and hand the building over to the new condo board of owners.


Your Real Estate Agent

As we’ve mentioned however, it is much easier to negotiate a pre-construction deal with a real estate agent who has pre-construction experience. Many agents are more hungry for the sale in front of them than for the long-term relationship they can have with you. Hire a pro who will negotiate on your behalf and who looks out for the fine details that put you in the best position. Negotiating with developers is not easy. Sometimes it takes weeks, and many times you have to know who to talk to up the ladder to get the deal done. 

If you’re considering buying a Miami pre-construction condo, here at CondoBlackbook we have specialized agents who have worked extensively with pre-construction projects, know the drill, and can help you get the best deal. Moreover, it will not cost you anything, as the commission is paid by the developer.


Search All Miami Area Pre-Construction Properties



— What Can You Negotiate in a Pre-Construction Condo Purchase? 

Depending on the geographic location, market conditions and the developer, we’ve found there are some aspects of your purchase that may be negotiable. 

  • Parking: In big cities, parking can be a big deal. City governments often require a certain number of parking spots per unit, but that is changing as more and more cities prioritize public transportation. So if parking is important to you and your family, pay attention. Sometimes you can get an extra parking space thrown into the deal for little or no cost. 
  • Developer Fees: Developer fees are built-in fees, similar to a commission, to help offset the cost of developing the entire project. They are usually calculated as a percentage of the selling price and typically run between 1.5 - 2.7%. However, these fees can be negotiated down or sometimes eliminated.
  • Finishes: Depending on when in the construction process you decide to purchase a unit, interior finishes, and fixtures can sometimes be negotiated. In particular, upgrades like flooring, countertops, cabinets, and furniture packages are the kinds of upgrades and “bonuses” that can be negotiated if you enter your deal at the right time.

42 Pine - Mid-Beach42 Pine - Mid-Beach
42 Pine - Mid-Beach


— How to Finance a Pre-Construction Condo Property

Pre-construction properties are almost always cash contracts. This doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t get a loan or financing for your pre-construction property. It simply means that if you can’t get a loan to close on the condo unit, you likely won’t be able to get your deposit back. For each project, some lenders are able to offer pre-construction financing. 

An experienced real estate agent will know the best lenders for you to work with if you are considering financing your pre-construction purchase.


Rivage - Bal Harbour
Rivage - Bal Harbour


— Closing Costs for Pre-Construction Properties

It is easy to get surprised at Closing when you get your closing or settlement statement. Here are the things you will need to look out for:

  1. Developer Fee. Usually 1.5 - 2.7% of the price of the unit. Sometimes you can negotiate this out.
  2. Title Insurance. This could be included in the developer fee, so be sure to check for this.
  3. Association Fees. Most closing statements for pre-construction and new construction condos will require that you pay one month in advance of the stipulated Condo Board Association fee, sometimes known as the HOA fee (Homeowners Association). 
  4. Operating Account or Reserves. You will always be asked to pay two months' worth of HOA fees to help build the initial operating account, and possibly the accounts the association will need for replacement reserves (savings for when major items in the building need to be replaced).
  5. Lender Closing Fees. If you are financing your pre-construction property, your lender will have a number of closing fees including origination fees, lender title insurance, appraisal fees, and others.

We definitely recommend reading a full comprehensive guide about HOA fees, especially the part about the Miami ones and how they compare to other regions.


Waldorf Astoria - Pampano Beach
Waldorf Astoria - Pampano Beach


— Tips on How to Cancel or Get Out of a Pre-Construction Contract

You will likely be best off with a lawyer if you need to cancel your pre-construction contract. Some things your lawyer will likely look through to find a way out are:

  1. Condo docs: If there were any amendments to the condo docs from when you first saw them.
  2. Construction timelines: If the developer promised certain condo construction timelines in the contract but didn’t deliver.
  3. Defects/Variations: If there were any material defects or differences in what you were promised and what was delivered.

Five Park - South Beach
Five Park - South Beach


— Choosing the Right Miami Neighborhood and Project for Your Pre-Construction Purchase

Choosing the right neighborhood and project comes down to lifestyle and budget. Each neighborhood and condo building has its benefits. On our website, you can find comprehensive neighborhood guides to help you get a sense of each area, and you’ll also encounter all the pre-construction projects available.

We also have several neighborhood comparison guides if you are stuck between a few. Our most popular Miami neighborhood comparisons are:

Also, you may be interested in finding out about the lowest property taxes in Miami-Dade county.


Nexo Residences - North Miami Beach
Nexo Residences - North Miami Beach

Search All Miami Area Pre-Construction Properties



— Miami Pre-Construction & New Construction Condo Buying - Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Why Do Developers Offer Pre-Construction Sales?

A: Developers essentially make you, the pre-construction buyer, their construction and financing partner in the project when they allow you to make a pre-construction purchase. In exchange for you splitting the risk with them on the project, they offer discounts off of the expected market price at the time of completion, as well as a refund if the building doesn’t get built. 

The discount you receive mostly is based on the time you sign up for your unit. The sooner you get in on the project, the bigger the discount you will receive. This is because the developer needs early sales to create significant momentum at the initial sales launch, as sales will be crucial to the viability of their project.


Q: How Much of My Money Does the Developer Use During Construction?

A: By law, the developer must hold 10% of the buyer’s purchase price in escrow for the entirety of the project.


Q: Is It a Good Time to Purchase a Condo in Miami?

A: Although the Miami real estate market has seen prices going up for the last few years and mortgage rates might be higher than in previous years, properties in South Florida are only expected to get more valuable in the coming years. This means that unless you can travel back in time, now is a great time to purchase a condo in Miami.


Q: Is My Money Safe?

A: As with any investment, you have the risk of a project not going the way it was intended, however, this seldom occurs and if you go with a reputable developer you will significantly minimize your risks. Also, if you work with a real estate agent who is a pre-construction expert, he or she will guide you on the local and international reputations of the developers so that you can make an informed decision.  

On another note, during the latest Great Recession in the U.S. when the Miami real estate market was heavily hit, even though many projects were halted and many developers were foreclosed on or resulted in bankruptcy, we did not hear of a single instance where a buyer was unable to close on the ultimately completed product and with all of the deposit being applied. In other words, the only people that we know who lost were those who did not or could not close when the project was ultimately finished.


Q: What Are the Penalties If I Decide to Cancel my Pre-Construction Contract?

A: During the reservation phase, the agreements allow the buyer to cancel at any time for any reason. Once the buyer signs the actual purchase contract during the contract phase and receives the condominium documents, there is a 15-day rescission period governed by Florida law that allows the buyer to back out for any reason. After those 15 days, the contract does not leave any wiggle room to cancel without penalty of losing the deposit as long as the developer abides by his written promises concerning the property.


Q: How Much Is the Fee to Have a Knowledgeable and Licensed Miami Real Estate Broker Help Me Buy the Right Property?

A: In South Florida, the costs of having an agent help you with your purchase are completely free. However, selecting an agent that is not knowledgeable about your options, the pre-construction process, and does not have experience in smart real estate investing can lead to a very costly result for you. That is why, at CondoBlackbook, we can partner you with a highly trusted and experienced agent to ensure that you get the best service and have all the information to make the best pre-construction purchase decision.


Q: Do I Get to Inspect the Property Before Closing?

A: Yes, before closing you will be allowed to complete a walkthrough inspection, during which your assigned agent and a developer representative will review the property carefully for any defects. They will be documented, and the developer will have a ”reasonable” time to correct them, typically around 30 days after closing to address all the defects. In our experience, this typically is a smooth process as reputable developers have dedicated customer service lines to ensure the checklist items are taken care of. 


Q: Is There a Warranty on the Finishes and Appliances in My Unit? 

A: Appliances have a warranty between 6 months and one year. Typically, developers will warranty their work for the building and unit for a reasonable period. We have seen them be gracious enough to make repairs even many months after closing on a unit. This may vary from developer to developer, and developers are typically more gracious if they are still doing lots of closings and still have repair crews and open master permits on-site. 


Q: Why Should I Buy a Pre-Construction Property When I Can Buy a Ready-To-Go Condo?

A: Historically, buying pre-construction provides an excellent opportunity for a buyer to get a solid discount off market prices for a brand-new property. The exchange is that for your discount, you’re waiting for a finished product and are essentially helping to fund some of the construction costs. Additionally, in a strong market, your pre-construction property will likely increase in value while it is being built. 

Many buyers also buy pre-construction as a way to partake in the growth momentum of a city without having to manage the property the first couple years of the investment (i.e. while it is still under construction). Many end-users who will live in the finished product love being the first to live in a brand-new property with all of the most modern features and amenities.

Already-built condos are excellent opportunities for buyers who plan on using their property right away, need immediate living arrangements, or prefer to have full visual certainty on what they are purchasing. Already-built properties offer the visual and spatial clarity some buyers are looking for.


Q: Can I See What the Finished Condo Will Look Like Before I Make My Purchase?

A: You will certainly know your floor plan, unit location, and the majority of the expected finishes of your unit before signing the purchase contract, and you will have the opportunity to visually inspect the property before closing day.


Q: How Do I Know That the Preconstruction Renderings and Model Being Shown is What Will Ultimately Be Delivered?

A: By going with a developer with a good track record and reputation you can be more certain that you will receive what you have been promised. A good pre-construction real estate broker can guide you on the history of each developer, and you can factor that into your final decision on which project is right for you. It’s likely that you could also see finished properties by the developer to have a sense of their work. Since a pre-construction real estate broker does not work for any particular condo developer and only has the incentive to find you the project that suits your needs best, they should be able to offer their honest opinion on which projects will be more likely to deliver than others.


Q: Will My Unit Be Delivered in Ready-to-Move In Condition?

A: Some projects are delivered 100% complete and ready to move in. Others offer optional finishes and design services at an additional cost. Most projects are delivered “designer-ready”, which means that they are delivered fully functional with complete kitchens, appliances, and bathrooms, but floors, wall paint, light fixtures, and other finishing touches are left to the buyers to complete. We have trusted local vendors that we can refer to you as needed, and we are always happy to help our customers complete design and renovation projects here locally if it is not convenient or possible for you to be in town to oversee.


Q: What Will My Association Fees Be?

A: Association fees are around $0.70/square foot per month on average, however, projects can start as low as $0.60/square foot and up to $1.30/square foot per month, depending on the level of services, luxury, and exclusivity of the property.


Q: What Are Typical Closing Costs?

A: Developers usually charge a 1.7 - 2% fee at closing to cover the sales taxes and other administrative and closing costs. In addition to that, you will be required to pay the first month of your association fees, plus the equivalent of two months of association fees into the reserve account of the condominium association for a fund for future common area repairs and replacements.


Q: How Much Down Payment is Needed for a Condo Under Construction?

A: When buying pre-construction there isn’t technically a down payment like with a regular mortgage because the financing is different. What you have to pay as a deposit to secure a unit in a pre-construction project depends on when in the construction process you decide to make the purchase. Deposit requirements start as low as 5%, but are typically 10% of the purchase price. Some developers will set a fixed deposit structure based on the type of unit, e.g., $50,000 for a one-bedroom, etc. Depending on the phase of development, however, the deposit requirement can be up to 50% of the purchase price. Please see Miami Pre-Construction Phases for more detailed explanations.


Q: Can I Invest in and Flip a Pre-Construction Condo?

A: Most developers strongly discourage condo flipping and have created various clauses in their contracts and sales processes to prevent it. Many also require that if you want to find a buyer before closing, you have to get their approval and even possibly sell through their official resale service and pay a predetermined real estate commission for their resale services. That said, it is definitely possible and can be lucrative in the right situations. 


Q: Can I Buy a Pre-Construction Condo in the Name of a Company?

A: Yes, you can buy in any type of entity. The developer may require certain documentation of the entity for their records.


Q: Can I Resell My Pre-Construction Condo Unit Before or After Closing?

A: We can certainly help you find buyers who are ready and willing to purchase your property at a great price. Depending on the developers' rules, we can either sell the property before closing, complete a “simultaneous closing”, or prepare your newly finished condo for maximum appeal and put it on the market to sell directly after you close on the property. A simultaneous closing is when the prospective purchaser of your condo purchases the property on the same day of your closing.


Q: When Is the Best Time to Resell My Pre-Construction Condo?

A: Typically, you will get maximum return on your investment 1-2 years after the project is complete, as that is usually when overall available inventory in a property has decreased, other owners have completed and upgraded their units which makes the property more valuable, and the condo association and amenities will be most organized and at maximum efficiency. However, depending on the market and specific condo building, the best-selling times may vary.


Q: Why Do I Need a Real Estate Agent to Help Me Buy a Pre-Construction Condo?

A: There are a large number of options for pre-construction properties in Miami, and each developer is eager to convince you that theirs is the best. In fact, the developer representatives are professionally trained to convince you to buy their project over all others. Making the wrong decision can be a costly mistake for you as a buyer. 

At Condoblackbook.com and Blackbook Properties, we do not represent any one developer, and we have significant pre-construction sales experience. We’ve even bought into some pre-construction condos ourselves. We know the reputation of each developer, understand the benefits and risks of certain locations, and we also understand what products and features will offer you the safest investment in terms of rentability, resale, and overall enjoyment. As they say, “It’s the details that count”, and we can provide the details you need to make the right decision.


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Real Estate News April 2024: Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach Pre-Construction Condo News Update
Billionaire and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross grabbed headlines this month as he broke ground on West Palm Beach’s South Flagler House and proposed a brand-new, two-tower condo community in the neighborhood. In what’s an emerging trend, developers across South Florida, including Ross’ Related Companies (not Related Group), are proposing condo towers in partnership with religious bodies to create communities with a deeper sense of belonging. Further, with developers staying bullish on beachfront development sites due to consistent buyer demand, a pair of Canadian developers purchased a 1-acre lot that is pre-approved to build a condo-hotel in Pompano Beach. Read below to find details on these and more updates in our April 2024 pre-construction condo market round-up for Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach: Broke Ground South Flagler House by Stephen Ross’ Related – West Palm Beach Planned/Proposed Ocean Park Residences – Fort Lauderdale Related Cos. and Frisbie Group’s...