The dream of sophisticated urban living arrived in downtown Miami with the boom, and became affordable with the bust, didn’t it?
Maneuvering her silver Mercedes along the high-rise canyons on Brickell Avenue on a quest for a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom downtown condo on a budget, EWM broker Denise Sicuso said: “I have to warn you: Trying to get a 2/2 in this area for under $300,000 is very difficult.’’
The historic glut of new condos that came online just as the market cratered has mostly been snapped up by intrepid investors, many of them foreigners with cash who are renting them.
The area is hot. Beyond its commuting appeal for downtown professionals, there is an emerging nightlife, with a host of new restaurants.
The first three picks lined up for the Herald’s house hunting project vanished when I rescheduled my trek for a few days. There were other great options, all with water views, but many of the swankiest buildings were off limits. Most in the price range were distressed properties.
“We’re looking at the last of the low-hanging fruit,’’ said Sicuso, who manages EWM’s Brickell office. “And honestly, we wouldn’t be able to get them.” The reason: As in the days of the boom, well-priced, attractive properties are fetching multiple offers, some over the asking price. “Some people are still coming from South American countries saying, ‘Oh, I want to get a deal,’ and on their third failure, they’re asking ‘Why can’t I get a property?’ ” said Sicuso. “We’re saying, ‘Offer full price.’ ”
After looking at a great place at Courvoisier Courts at 701 Brickell Key Blvd. and a smaller unit at Wind overlooking the Miami River, my top pick was One Miami at 325 S. Biscayne Blvd.
Unit 621 in the Related Group’s twin-towers project designed by Arquitectonica was in foreclosure with a listing price of $257,500. That was the only unit in One Miami we spotted for under $300,000. It had ceramic marble floors, and 1,230 square feet of space. Add to that the building’s giant U-shaped pool, a great fitness center, a valet, the works.
Still, the unit is on a lower floor, and there were some signs of a foreclosure: A corner of the refrigerator was smashed in and the closet doors to the A/C were missing. And the place needed a makeover.
While the deal looked good, I came away with the forlorn sense one gets with Apple stock: The time to jump in was two years ago.
A lot of shoppers think otherwise: Listing agent Chad Levin of RE/MAX Advance Realty said the unit drew more than 30 offers and went under contract June 7, the day after I saw it, in a cash deal at well over the asking the price. “There are no more deals. Demand is high with a lot of buyers from South America and Europe,’’ he said. “Downtown is hot.’’