Last year, Caren Kamlet misjudged South Floridas appetite for pricey homes. The big question facing her now: Has she done it again?
Kamlet had listed her waterfront Miami Beach bungalow for $585,000. Buyers pounced on the 1953 house with a broad view of the bay off Biscayne Point. I had so many offers, I took it off the market, she said. Its back on now, at a higher price: $695,000.
Kamlets back-and-forth on the value of her longtime home captures the conditions we saw as we hunted for a house on the water for less than $1 million. The search put us in the middle of a shifting landscape, where optimism about the spending power of the wealthy collides daily with the reality of South Floridas depressed housing market.
Though South Floridas luxury real estate has gotten some national press lately for eye-popping prices, brokers and agents said the best of the regions real estate market remains battered and bruised, with values off about 30 percent from the peak. Buyers need significant cash cushions to compensate for appraisals that continue coming in lower than negotiated prices. That makes all-cash sales a common occurrence, even with seven-figure prices.
Off the 94th block of Bayshore Drive in Miami Shores, Ivory Cooks stands outside one potential find. A 1971 four-bedroom house with more than 4,000 square feet of living space. The asking price of $999,000 reflects the missed opportunity for owners who opted not to sell during the peak of the market.
In 2006, it would have sold for $1.4 million, said Cooks, a Coldwell Banker agent who is also part of the Masters Brokers Forum. They would have asked for $1.7 million.
The houses we saw had mostly ducked the renovation boom that swept much of South Floridas prime waterfront real estate before the recession began. Thats a teardown, agent Jill Hertzberg told us as we toured the back lawn of a shuttered, one-story house off a Miami Beach canal a short drive from Kamlets home. But it has a nice seawall.
Hertzberg showed us one tidy waterfront townhouse on a wide turn of a canal near 85th Street and Collins in Miami Beach.
The two bedrooms upstairs were small enough that the seller made one into a sitting room. The narrow shotgun layout made good use of the space: marble floors, a European-style shower in the powder room downstairs, and one bookshelf in the living room pulls back on a hidden hinge to reveal a full washer and dryer. It reminds me of something in New York City, Hertzberg said.
The seller bought it three months ago for $550,000, and quickly placed it on the market. The new price for the 1,385-square-foot house: $795,000. With luxury real estate, sellers are getting braver by the day.