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Miami condo king Jorge Perez bets big on Fisher Island

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Jorge Perez bets on Fisher Island with the sale of new luxury condominiums

Off the coast of Miami Beach, on the ultra-exclusive Fisher Island, there is a crane at a construction site. It is the last land available for urbanization and an unlikely bet on luxury properties at a time when the real estate market seems to be in free fall.

Jorge Perez, aka “the king of Miami’s condominiums,” and his Related Group are behind the 10-story, 50-unit project that boasts an asking price of $1.2 billion. They paid $122.6 million for the land, at the top end of the market.

Units start at $15 million. The project includes a $90 million penthouse, 15,000 square feet, and a $55 million ground-floor villa with a half-acre backyard. The building will also have its own ramp for mega yachts. Sales started last month.

“Almost 30% of the units are spoken,” Perez said. “Contracts worth more than $300 million have been made and we haven’t done any marketing. However, if the market slows down a bit, we are in a prime position.”

Buyers must make a 50% non-refundable deposit for pre-construction sales.

Perez said initial buyers come from Brazil, New York, Canada, Mexico and Israel. He said he is seeing much more domestic interest than in the past, as Miami has traditionally been a haven for foreign investors. This seems to be echoing across the city.

The view from south Florida

“Miami is an internationally focused market – 80-90% international – but it has changed during the pandemic,” said Danny Hertzberg, luxury realtor at Coldwell Banker and the Jills Zeder Group. “We will continue to have this domestic demand for fiscal reasons, but at some point political instability or a weaker dollar will pull [international] people in.”

Miami has been an outlier in the recent decline in home sales and prices, with prices still quite strong in the city. The high end, however, hasn’t been quite as resilient. Pending sales of homes priced above $5 million fell 89% year-over-year in December, according to Miller Samuel, a real estate valuation firm.

“But the one thing to keep in mind in terms of Miami is that inventory is down 60% since pre-pandemic, so the difference is that inventory is extremely limited,” noted Jonathan Miller, CEO of the company. “It throws out a lot of conventional wisdom about pricing.”

Miller added that the Fisher Island project “may not sell in five minutes, but it’s not out of the question, even in this market.”

The property and its location are unique. Fisher Island is an ultra-exclusive 216-acre community, accessible only by ferry or yacht and open only to residents, their guests and guests of the small luxury hotel there. The last condo sold on the island last year fetched $40 million, according to a Related Group representative.

Hertzberg said Perez’s new building “checks a lot of boxes” for wealthier buyers who have had a new mindset since the start of the pandemic.

“They want amenities, privacy and security. That’s a big factor there. They want convenience. There’s a private school there. Their own restaurants, their own grocery stores. A private beach,” Herzberg said.

He also noted that instant entry to the golf club for residents is a big draw. He said there is a five to seven year waiting list in greater Miami to join a golf club.

“I’m pretty sure they’re going to sell. The question of when is what happens in the economy and how aggressive they are on pricing,” Hertzberg said. “If I was betting they would be at the top of the list. It just has the right elements for the economy and the world we’re in.”

What the future may bring

Perez, who developed hundreds of properties in South Florida and weathered the massive condo bust during the Great Recession, didn’t seem the least bit worried about the future of his new project.

“Yes, the market across the country has dropped, particularly in luxury units, but we’re finding that in the enclaves we have, like Fisher Island, we still see a great level of interest from people who can afford the best,” Pérez said.

He does, however, care about the economy in general and the real estate market in general.

“Of course it bothers me. It bothers me every day. I wake up every day thinking about what is going to happen in the economy,” said Perez. “We’re thinking that interest rates and inflation have pretty much peaked. We’re going to struggle, in my opinion, for a year to a year and a half, two years. And we’re ready to weather that storm if it happens. It happens.”

If Perez gets $90 million for the penthouse, it will be the most expensive condo to sell in all of South Florida.