Alicia Cervera Lamadrid has known real estate virtually all her life.
“I really learned this business from the ground up,” says Cervera, who is managing partner of Cervera Real Estate, a Miami-based brokerage firm. “It has been the dialogue in my family since I was growing up.”
The family-owned real-estate brokerage — which is best known for exclusively marketing more than 85 new condominium projects around South Florida — was founded in 1969 by her mother, Alicia Cervera, who remains the chairman.
The elder Cervera, born in Peru, is the daughter of a Peruvian diplomat who became the ambassador to Cuba. While in Cuba, Alicia Sr., as she is known, married a Cuban, Javier Cervera, and lived there until Fidel Castro seized power, spurring the couple and their daughters — Veronica Cervera Goeseke (now CEO of the firm) and Alicia Jr. — to take exile in the United States. The Cerveras started from scratch in Miami, and Alicia Sr., a natural saleswoman, soon gravitated to real estate.
Today the firm has 261 agents, 11 general real estate offices in South Florida and six project sales offices — five in South Florida and one in Panama. Plans call for more to open soon; Cervera says the company is hiring.
Alicia Jr.’s daughter — Alicia Lamadrid — also works at the firm, which is at the center of Miami’s latest condominium boom.
Among its current marketing projects are The Grove at Grand Bay, Ocean House, and St. Regis Bal Harbour. The firm is doing its first project in Panama, Trump Ocean Club Panama.
The Miami Herald sat down with Alicia Jr. to hear her views on Miami’s residential market and she later responded to emailed questions.
Q: What is it like to have three generations working together at Cervera?
It’s a huge privilege to work with my mother every day. Not only is she a forward thinker and leader in the industry, she’s an amazing mentor. It’s nothing short of wonderful to see my daughter and niece work alongside Mom – in fact, it’s a gift.
It’s also a tremendous help to have Alicia Lamadrid, my daughter, and Alex Goeseke, my niece, as a part of our team. Both graduated from college with degree majors pertaining to the real estate industry and provide a different perspective/insights in things that will keep our company moving forward.
Q: What is the outlook for new condominium construction in Miami? A lot of projects have been proposed. Will many go forward?
The outlook is positive. We are building on a very strong economic base due to the new financing model that has been introduced and accepted for pre-construction development sales in Miami. Buyers are now required to put down 50 percent to 70 percent in tiered deposits in order to close on the unit.
As a result, we do not have a speculative market but rather a very real market in which buyers are putting their money where their mouth is. Simply put: The buildings that don’t sell will not get built.
Q: What are some key things your firm does to market internationally? Is Asia the next big foreign market for Miami?
Our firm and sales team are endlessly traveling. We always remain in constant contact with our global relationships, whether by email, social media, or phone.
In addition, we are in touch with writers in key markets, because there is a large interest internationally in the Miami market due to its reputation as a gateway city. When the writers reach out to us, we strategically provide information and work alongside the different media to promote property sales.
In terms of Asia, with the construction of CityCentre and the proposed construction from Genting (which purchased The Miami Herald property with plans for a major resort), we are seeing top-level capital being invested into our city. Both CityCentre and Genting stem from the Far East, and will be PR drivers that will attract other brands and capital to our city. I also feel investments from Asia will follow along after these groups once [there are] more direct flights and increased import-export trade, due to the Panama Canal [and] Miami Tunnel expansion.
Q: Do you expect banks will begin lending again on condominium construction?
Already at some of the projects we are currently selling, lenders are offering financing, yet they are being extremely conservative. Banks are seeking opportunities to participate in the new wave of development, especially due to the deposit structures, requiring up to 70 percent down to close.
As the economy continues to stabilize, we will see more activity from lenders.
Q: What do you think Miami will be like in five years?
Hopefully, we will be hosting the Olympics! I think Miami is going to be a beautiful, exciting city — especially due to the large number of improvements currently underway, such as the Miami Science Museum and the Art Museum. Retail locations will also catch up in a lot of the residential buildings.
Major developments like CityCentre will help Miami mature — similar to an adult who becomes more comfortable in his or her own skin as one ages. Certainly the city is going to be more pedestrian and mass-transit friendly, and I am counting on an influx of sustainable development and dedicated green spaces.
Q: What are the biggest risks to Miami’s recovering housing market?
The global economy is our largest risk. Miami is often insulated from our domestic economic shifts when compared to other metropolitan cities in the United States. Miami is greatly interdependent on economies throughout the world, especially Latin American countries.