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Condo Buyers Getting Younger, Origin Varies

By Marilyn Bowden

The profile of buyers at new condo projects varies from location to location, insiders say.

In general the average age is getting younger, said Edgardo Defortuna, president of Fortune International Realty, which today represents 27 large new condo projects.

"The size of the units and type of product being put out is geared more for the lifestyle of the younger generation," he said. "Miami in general is changing in that way. The amenities, restaurants and retail coming into the area are all for a younger crowd."

Brickell remains strongly the enclave of the professional business person who works in the area, Mr. Defortuna said.

"There is an international component," he said, "but usually it consists of people who come to Miami more for business than for pleasure."

The Biscayne corridor attracts a customer who is more price-sensitive, Mr. Defortuna said, and some projects, such as the 1800 Club on Biscayne Bay north of the Omni, are popular with those who intend to live there full time.

Projects in Coral Gables, he said, also appeal to a local clientele. But both local and foreign buyers there tend overwhelmingly to be Latin.

"Our profile is a local move-up or upgrade," said Jim Cohen, vice president of sales at Turnberry Ocean Colony, a two-tower complex in Aventura, "someone who wants to be on the ocean and can now afford a luxurious lifestyle."

"We've seen a trend of families with younger children, and also second-home purchasers."

"Our direct sales to Latin America have been very minimal."

Nearby in Sunny Isles Beach, Gil Dezer, co-developer of Trump Grand Ocean Resort and Residences, which consists of a hotel and two ultra-luxury residential towers, said sales from South America are strong and a large contingent comes from the Northeast.

"Now that the first tower is close to being delivered," he said, "we're also getting local Aventura residents, though they weren't as much in evidence during preconstruction. They're buying to move in."

"Our niche is different from the typical Brickell or South Beach building, where you see international buyers weighing in," said Frank Artiles, corporate sales manager for Terrazas River Park Village on the Miami River. "We have a lot of local middle- to upper-middle-class investors and end users."

As driving in Miami grows more congested, he said, "people want a place to call home near the employment sectors of downtown, the civic center area, Coral Gables and the airport. I would say close to 90% of our buyers are potential end users."

A sluggish South American economy and a dominant euro are changing the face of Miami Beach, said Kevin Tomlinson, an Esslinger Wooten Maxwell real estate agent.

"When Murano Grande sold a few years ago, it was sold as a Latin building," he said. "Most of the buyers were investors."

"The Icon right next door, which has the same developer, is phenomenally European, and they are not dumping their units. Over the years Miami Beach is changing from Latin to European--French, Italian, tons from London, where the pound sterling rate is even better than the euro. For many this is a third or fourth home."

Jesse Otley of Cervera Real Estate represents both the new One Miami project downtown and the older Plaza on Brickell. He says the markets for the two are noticeably different.

"One Miami attracts a somewhat pioneering buyer," Mr. Otley said, "someone willing to take a leap of faith on an undeveloped area. Though there are now nine other projects behind it, when One Miami came on the market two years ago it was just hopes, dreams and the vision of the Related Group."

On the other hand, The Plaza, he said, is attractive to "a slightly more upwardly mobile type of client tired of the commute and willing to pay more, understanding that Brickell is an established area, and demanding more in terms of services and lifestyle."


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