After Surfside, Realtors’ Phones Went Silent. It’s Different Now

After Surfside, Realtors’ Phones Went Silent. It’s Different Now

  • Kimberly Rodstein
  • 08/22/21

After a softening in the wake of the Surfside collapse, interest in Miami’s coastal residential market is back to where it usually is during the summer months — and poised for a healthy comeback for the rest of the year. Potential buyers for condos and single-family homes throughout Miami Beach, Surfside, Bal Harbour, Sunny Isles Beach and Golden Beach are as plentiful as in any past summer, according to more than a half dozen Realtors® interviewed by the Miami Herald.

Two months after the Surfside collapse on June 24th, the outlook differs from what some had predicted to be a “jarring” effect on the condo market. But population growth, limited housing options due to record-breaking sales volume and the enduring appeal of waterfront living are leading some Realtors® to say the housing market has come back relatively unscathed. After a couple of weeks in late June and early July when their phones went dead, Realtors® say they are now receiving about five to 15 inquiries per week regarding coastal communities.

“I don’t think that the collapse is going to effect demand at all,” said Jeff Rose, single-family home developer in Surfside and co-founder of the brokerage firm Rose and Rose Realty. “Our bigger driver is the limited supply.” Some Realtors®, however, say they have continued to see a small number of closing cancellations and holds from buyers because of ongoing concerns about building safety. “Some people rethought if they wanted to buy,” said Kim Rodstein, a Realtor® with Keller Williams. “For the most part, you still see people moving forward with their purchases.” Any dip in interest is largely attributed to what usually happens to the market during the summer months in South Florida. “On a daily basis, I would typically receive about two calls a day, maybe three. Now, it’s every other day,” Rodstein said. “It’s 50% down, but it’s also because of summer. People are traveling, they are doing things with their family.”

Filiz Kayali, a Realtor® with Elite Sales Group, said that after a drop-off she has seen interest in her Bal Harbour listings begin to tick up starting in mid-July. “Whereas I was having three showings a week, I had two showings for that entire month [in June] for condos in Bal Harbour,” she told the Miami Herald. “Residential showings have started to pick up.” Vivian Fernandez from RE/MAX Advance Realty said she had no calls or showings for about two weeks after the collapse and two buyers backed out of making formal offers on condos in Mid-Beach buildings that were more than 40 years old. Fernandez is back to about a half dozen showings a month after the catastrophe, mostly to international buyers from Argentina and Chile. “People are reaching out to me again,” Fernandez said. “They are being more cautious, but the interest is still ramping up.” While some potential buyers are still turning to 40-year-old buildings for waterfront living and hoping to find a bargain, others are willing to pay the listing price or more to live in buildings constructed in 2000 or later.

Surfside draws local families and some from California, the Northeast and Canada for its public schools, walkability and proximity to the beach. Condo buyers typically land in Surfside by accident, said Luxe Properties Realtor® Wesley Ulloa, when they search for a place either in or near Bal Harbour. “Surfside is a small market,” Ulloa said. “People don’t call to be in Surfside. A lot of people from the Northeast say they want to be on the beaches and they want to be near Bal Harbour.” In Surfside, Rose has four single-family homes under construction for two families in Canada and two relocating from the Northeast. He has plans to launch construction on another four houses for two local families and two New Yorkers looking to relocate to the neighborhood. Along with a countywide trend, more buyers are bidding offers beyond the listing price to live in Surfside and nearby communities, Rodstein said. “People that are looking at single-family homes under $1 million are having a hard time,” he said. “The prices are just surging because you have no inventory and buyers are going into above-asking status.”

Meanwhile, some condo owners who would like to sell in Surfside are hesitant to list for a variety of reasons, Realtors® said. “If you were waiting to put your home on the market, you’ll probably wait a little longer,” said Alberto Carrillo, district sales manager for the Keyes Company’s Miami Beach office. But many homeowners living along the coast are determined to stay put, accustomed to their lifestyle and discouraged by limited supply across the county. “With one kid going to college, I thought of putting the house on the market,” said John Elizabeth Alemán, a Mid-Beach resident and former commissioner for the city of Miami Beach. “Forget it. You get half the house for twice the amount of money.”

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