The mission: Four bedrooms, three baths and garage under $600,000 in the upscale areas of Coral Gables, South Coconut Grove, South Miami, High Pines or Pinecrest.
Unlikely, was the verdict from broker Carole Smith, a long-time Grove resident and top producer with EWM, who was my tour guide to the current complexities of the Gables and the Grove.
“It’s the magic thing everyone wants, and it’s almost nonexistent in the market,’’ she said. Also on the must-have list: hurricane proofing — a make or break factor given the current explosion in Citizens’ insurance rates – and high-end updates.
When we checked a week ago, the Gables had only 55 homes for sale for $650,000 or less; only 44 of those had at least three bedrooms. The Grove was even tighter.
We heard the same thing from Mauricio Barba of Coldwell Banker and Rex Hamilton, who has his own agency.
“We had a buyer [from Dallas] ask yesterday what you can buy in Miami for $500,000 with four bedrooms and a swimming pool,’’ said Hamilton. “We told them to look in Broward.’’
Our choices: Head west of U.S. 1 in the South Miami area, go further south to Palmetto Bay, or raise our price limit — up to $800,000 or more, Smith suggested — and loosen up on requirements.
So we bumped to $650,000, dropped to three bedrooms and gave up on the garage.
We saw plenty we loved. All were sold. Most had gone within days, said Smith; some had multiple offers and were in bidding wars above asking price.
Our first choice, shown above: A 1925 three bedroom, two-bathroom in the South Grove with pool and kitchen opening to the dining room, all spectacularly updated. In five days it had received six offers — several above the asking price of $599,000.
Another three-bedroom beauty a few blocks away in the South Grove didn’t event have central AC and only a single bathroom — but was a stunning mid-century open design with screened pool, lush lot and a long screened balcony; it also sold in days just shy of the full asking price of $549,000.
Also gone: two surprising snug houses in the South Gables within walking distance of Sunset Elementary — again, with multiple offers, and at or near asking price just under $650,000 each.
Still available: a nicely updated 2,404-square foot house, 4/4 with small pool in central Coral Gables on a busy street (near a busier street) for $625,000. We couldn’t get in to see a 4/2 in the South Gables priced at $599,000 that’s been on the market for months — a sign that it doesn’t live up to the competition.
The going rate in the neighborhood: about $320 per square foot — still around 30 percent below the peak. As for the idea of a great deal on a foreclosure or short sale in this neighborhood, said Smith, “I call them folklore.’’
Good thing I’ve already got a house.