Click the play button above and listen to this segment from WLRN's hour-long episode, "The Sunshine Economy: Brazil & South Florida," with host Tom Hudson. The episode is part of an ongoing series examining key industries of the South Florida economy. Shows air Mondays at 9:00 a.m. on 91.3 FM.
The years 2009 and 2010 were dark days for Miami real estate. Home prices plummeted. Mortgages imploded. Foreclosures soared.
And buyers flooded in from Brazil.
Since that time, Brazilians have become the top foreign buyers of homes and especially condominiums in South Florida. As recently as June, the largest number of foreign-based online visitors to the Miami Association of Realtors website came from Brazil. In 2011 and 2012, most international buyers of residential real estate in the Miami area came from Brazil.
On July 15, 1997 Gianni Versace left for the morning paper at just before 9 a.m. Nearly everyone in Miami and a great deal of people across the world know the story.
The mentally unhinged Andrew Cunanan then tragically shot Versace to death on the doorsteps of his world famous mansion. Cunanan, who had already killed four other people, set off a manhunt and houseboat siege that captivated the morbid attention of the world.
Thus the unknown fate of those world famous doorsteps and the building behind it was set in motion.
New homes are back in a big way — literally. This summer, a typical new house in Phoenix was more than 20 percent larger than a resale home as builders across the country added more space to accommodate post-recession lifestyles.
Take Jacque Ruggles' family, for example. Four women from three generations live under one roof.
The General Motors Building in Manhattan is a majestic 50-story, white marble structure that takes up one full city block. This is prime New York City real estate. A flagship Apple store sits on the ground floor, across the street is the Plaza Hotel, and on another corner is an entrance to Central Park.
The GM building is considered one of the most valuable office towers in the U.S. In May, a large piece of it was purchased by a Chinese real estate developer.
In the last year, over $57 million in illegal assets relating to federal cases in South Florida have been seized by the United States government, according to data provided by the U.S. Attorney’s office in South Florida.
The former Versace mansion fetched a top bid of $41.5 million from a group that included New York’s Nakash family, which controls Jordache Enterprises, at a court-ordered bankruptcy auction Tuesday.
After the auction, Joe Nakash, the winning bidder and owner of the Victory Hotel next door, said he plans to ask for the right to use the Versace name and operate the mansion as a hotel in conjunction with the Victor.
Lamar P. Fisher of Fisher Auction Co. conducted the auction Tuesday morning inside the ornate 10-bedroom, 11-bath mansion.
Homeowners covered by Citizens Property Insurance Corp. will see an average rate increase of 6.3 percent next year.
The increase, approved Monday by the Office of Insurance Regulation, is down from a 7.9 percent hike requested on the combined personal-lines and coastal accounts. Citizens officials previously said a 7.9 percent increase wouldn't be enough to cover the projected costs for next year.
GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: I'm Greg Allen, in Miami. To gauge the impact of Brazilians here, you only need to go downtown and look up.
(SOUNDBITE OF MACHINERY)
ALLEN: Just a few years after the housing downturn, in Miami, once again, cranes and construction crews are hard at work building high-rise condominiums. Thousands of units are going up all over town, and many are being built for Brazilians.
Some of Miami Beach's quietest and most historic neighborhoods can be found in a chain of small islands connected by a causeway. On Di Lido Island, a community of homes built 50 and 60 years ago is being torn down and replaced, lot by lot. On one street alone, five houses currently are slated for demolition.
Daniel Ciraldo stands across the street from two '60s-era houses that will soon be demolished and replaced by a new home nearly double their combined size.
At the end of June, mortgage interest rates moved into the fours. Psychologically, the jump has given buyers an itch. Rates have surged since the U.S. Federal Reserve began to slow its purchases of U.S. government bonds on which market rates are based. Those purchases have kept interest rates at record lows. What does this mean if you're buying or selling in the local market?