The ‘New-Now’ Real Estate Business on the Upswing in South Florida

By Ana Cecilia Velasco….

Katy Stroka, Perci Pietro

Real Estate professionals are pulling together to work in this fluctuating economy with new and innovative strategies, as presented at a panel discussion held September 21st.  Two hundred and twenty professionals in Real Estate and related fields came to the luncheon, which was sponsored by and held at The W Hotel South Beach, and organized by the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce with the Miami Association of Realtors. Attendees were guided through The W Hotel Residences by One Sotheby’s for a preview of the luxury properties.  Jorge Estevez, CBS4 News reporter and well known for his “Good 4 You” reports, moderated the question and answer panel.

David Edelstein began the panel with an overview of the development of The W Hotel and the attention to detail in order to maintain value over time. The outcome is that The W Hotel and Residences are over their initial projections for occupancy and sales are on the incline.  Edelstein noted the direct impact from New York stating that Miami Beach is New York City’s sixth borough.  He began his real estate career in the 1980s as a real estate broker and soon thereafter began to acquire Manhattan properties for his own account.  Since that time, Mr. Edelstein has been partners with several Wall Street investment banks as well as publicly traded REITs, including Lehman Brothers, Credit Suisse First Boston, Investcorp, UBS, Goldman Sachs and Vornado Realty Trust. His extensive and deeply rooted relationships within the real estate and banking community are key to the strength and success of TriStar Capital.  His hands-on construction expertise comes from ground up high-rise development in Manhattan as well as many large-scale gut renovations throughout the New York Metropolitan area.

Peter Zalewski founded Condo Vultures® in March 2006, based on the premise of using public records and proprietary research to better assess the South Florida real estate market at a time of uncertainty.
Under Zalewski’s direction the last five years, the Condo Vultures® concept has developed into three companies working independently, but in unison to capitalize on the condo correction in South Florida. Optimistically for the South Florida market, Miami is no longer his market as real estate is on the upswing and his concept of bulk buying only functions in the most distressed property areas.  Zalewski supported gaining knowledge from primary sources, such as public records, and doing substantial research to avoid unfounded speculation.

As a member of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce Board of Governors and Chairman of the Chamber’s newly formed Real Estate Council, Melissa Rubin gave her insights as Vice President/Broker of Platinum Properties International regarding the inventory of short sale properties as a new market.  The short sale made it necessary for the real estate sales agent to reinvent their approach to the seller and the buyer as an opportunity and not a hindrance to the sale.  Rubin most recently became a CDPE: Certified Distressed Property expert to ensure that those people experiencing financial changes will be given the best and most up-to-date guidance. Understanding financial implications and the ability to educate clients has contributed to Rubin’s success.

Teresa King Kinney, CEO of the Miami Association of Realtors, emphasized the strength and impact of international buyers in the Miami Beach and South Florida real estate markets, as reflected by the latest National Association of Realtors research.

The local market has an important advantage over other markets in the U.S., and offers endless opportunities for local real estate professionals and the local business community.
Florida by far is consistently ranked the top state in the nation for foreign real estate buying activity.  The Miami-Miami Beach-Fort Lauderdale area is the top area for Latin American and Eastern European buyers.  South Florida residents also benefit from foreign buyers who help boost the local economy while paying higher taxes without adding further stress to the local infrastructure.
Steven Hayworth, founding Chairman, President and CEO of Gibraltar Private Bank & Trust, balanced the panel and weighed in from the aspect of financial institutions.  The past economy saw financial institutions over-lending and compromising borrowers.  Hayworth states that in these challenging times, financially sound banks are still lending to borrowers with strong credit and stable income sources.  Established by Hayworth in 1994, Gibraltar Private is an integrated private banking and wealth management company dedicated to enhancing the wealth and well-being of its clients and their families. Gibraltar Private Bank & Trust recently opened a new relationship office in Miami Beach, located in the Sheridan Center, 400 Arthur Godfrey Road.

The promise of a healthier Real Estate market, coupled with new strategies and innovative approaches has led the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce to develop a Real Estate Council to support industry professionals in the evolving market.  The Real Estate Luncheon will be an annual event of the Council.

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