When the world’s wealthiest 1 percent look for third, fourth or fifth homes, Miami and New York are the only U.S. cities with both the cosmopolitan lifestyle and the real estate to satisfy them. Offerings in the Los Angeles, Aspen, Houston, Chicago and San Francisco markets are rarely large or lavish enough for clientele seeking trophy properties with exceptional amenities and personal services.
My 24 years in luxury real estate sales have given me a global viewpoint, supported by extensive travels, an MBA and a business background. Understanding what wealthy international and domestic buyers do, and where they go, is the key to matching them with the right purchase decisions.
Miami affords the ultra-wealthy luxury along with the financial stability of living in the United States. These attributes give buyers, especially those from colder climates, a double incentive to purchase real estate here. They can enjoy a superior home and tropical surroundings, their kids can go to incredible private schools, and they can do their banking, as well as shopping, on par with the best in New York and Paris. Besides the weather and the beach, they enjoy the activities that draw many to South Florida — golf, tennis, yachting and big game fishing, to name a few. Another attractive facet is Miami’s arts scene, known for its hyper-global scale propelled by staple events and establishments, such as Art Basel, Pérez Art Museum Miami and the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.
Also, the absence of a state income tax also prompts U.S. citizens to establish legal residency here.
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New Yorkers and others from the Northeast make up a large segment of Miami’s buyers, but anyone who thinks Latin Americans are about to be surpassed by any other group is mistaken. Buyers in the top 1 percent of the world’s wealth often put their money here because of volatile economies in their home countries. And Miami is considered inexpensive compared to the options in Monaco, Cannes, Hong Kong and São Paolo.
Buyers at Fisher Island, a longtime haunt for the rich and famous, hail from Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Canada, Russia, Spain, France, UK, Turkey and Australia. Fisher Island is the best example of the world’s deepest pockets of wealth coming to Miami, attracting more young families and year-round residents because it is a haven of privacy and security. Only residents and invited guests can even set foot on the island, which has everything needed for everyday living, including a Pre K-5 Montessori school.
At Palazzo del Sol, the first new construction on Fisher Island in nearly a decade, all floor plans have three to seven bedrooms. This positions it squarely in today’s market for luxury boutique buildings with expanded living space for families. In February, a Russian buyer paid $3,602 per square foot for the building’s trophy penthouse. At $35 million, the deal is more than 2.5 times the highest sale previously recorded in Fisher Island history.
During the last five years, South Florida developers have started offering larger luxury residences, like those at The Four Seasons, Palazzo del Sol, Faena House and Edition. With studio apartments nearly a thing of the past, these new buildings are designed with fewer residences per floor, direct private elevator entry and high ceilings.
Buyers at Fisher Island, who are at the highest-end of this international and domestic demographic, seek cutting-edge design and architecture, high-end finishes, sophisticated lighting systems, and top-of-the-line European fixtures and appliances. Private outdoor living spaces are also in high demand, so Palazzo del Sol developers engaged Swiss landscape architect Enzo Enea to add cachet to the gardens and outdoor entertaining spaces for its three penthouses, in addition to the projects’ outdoor common areas such as the pool terrace, wood-wrapped cabanas and central park.
Dora Puig is the principal broker and owner of Luxe Living Realty and also serves as the director of sales and marketing at Palazzo del Sol. Puig directed the sales success of Bristol Tower and Santa Maria as well as that of The Residences at The Bath Club.
Top cities for the world’s wealthy
The top most important cities to ultra high net worth individuals in 2015
2. New York
3. Hong Kong
The most important cities to UHNWIs in 2025
1. New York
3. Hong Kong
Source: THE WEALTH REPORT/ KNIGHT FRANK