Practically everyone has an opinion about South Florida’s real estate market. Craig A. Werley supports his views with years of diverse experience.
Werley provides real estate consulting for builders, bankers, developers, and government bodies looking for a detailed assessment of South Florida markets and situations.
Before starting Coral Gables-based Focus Real Estate Advisors, Werley held senior posts at a real estate investment firm and several professional services companies. He was the director of real estate advisory services for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in Florida. He also is a commercial and residential broker with Focus Properties Group.
Business Monday interviewed Werley in his offices and he emailed responses to questions about Miami’s fast-moving real-estate scene.
Q. Data suggest South Florida still has a large inventory of residential foreclosures to work through. Do you think the sale of foreclosed homes by lenders will derail or disrupt the real estate market’s recovery?
The sale of the remaining inventory of foreclosed homes by lenders should not derail or disrupt the real estate market recovery in South Florida, assuming there is no major relapse of the general economy into another recession. The pace of new home construction may be somewhat slower than in past expansion cycles until this inventory is back down to normal historic levels.
Population in-migration and job growth have historically been the lifeblood of our real estate market and the housing market in particular. Growth in these fundamental market drivers has resumed and is expected to continue to expand in the foreseeable future. Also, recognizing the opportunity to reduce write-offs, bankers will take advantage of upward trending prices and will pace release of REO [bank-owned real estate] properties accordingly.
Additionally, published foreclosure statistics may be substantially overstated, due to the frequency of multiple lis-pendens claims on individual properties.
Q. What is driving the big interest among institutional investors and developers in building apartment projects these days? Do you think demand for apartment housing in South Florida will remain strong?
Basically demand/supply conditions and investment return potentials exceeding current opportunities in other real-estate sectors represent the driving forces. This question also makes me recall Warren Buffett speaking about his philosophy of investing in essential products and services: A place to live is about as essential as it gets!
Yes, demand for rental apartment housing in South Florida will continue to expand and remain strong for many years to come, because of the impacts of this economic cycle on the general population’s perception of home ownership, the extent of households displaced by foreclosures or suffering the financial stress of underwater mortgages.
Another factor and perhaps the most significant that is generating and will sustain rental demand is lifestyle preference and the desire for relocation flexibility among the Y-Generation and youngest segment of Echo-Boomers who represent the greatest volume of new household formations now and over the next 10 years.
Another notable factor supporting an extended period of opportunity for rental project development is the deficiency in institutional grade rental apartment properties in South Florida resulting from the massive extent of condo conversions during the last cycle.