Interest in Key Biscayne properties - big and small, new and old - remains high
By Sherri C. Ranta
Investors continue to pump millions into Key Biscayne properties, driving prices to new highs and creating shortages of condominiums priced under $300,000, real estate agents say.
"Anything under $250,000 is selling extremely fast. We've been short of inventory since January. There is continued demand for properties under $300,000," said Angela Ocampo, vice president/broker, Keyes Key Biscayne.
The demand is driving the cost of one-bedroom condo units to almost $200,000, she said, and two-bedroom units to more than $350,000.
Paradise Realty International President Bill Cole agreed.
"Prices, particularly in Key Colony, have improved substantially over the past few years. In the Botanica Building, we've seen 15% to 20% increases in the past year."
Recent listings, Mr. Cole said, show two bedrooms in Key Colony, a four-building enclave on Crandon Boulevard built in the 1980s, starting at $340,000 minimum. The same type of unit listed at about $290,000 a year ago, he said.
Historically, condo units have held their value on the island. A two-bedroom unit in Key Colony that sold for $136,000 in 1980 now lists for $355,000. Another sold in 1981 for $170,000, he said, now lists for $369,000.
"The market has slowed somewhat, a lot of people are trying to get top dollar, and when they do that, the units tend to stay on market a lot longer," Mr. Cole said.
As a result of all the investments on the island, condominium rentals are plentiful, Ms. Ocampo said.
"I don't think I've seen as many properties for rent as right now."
Investors, she said, continue to be Latin Americans looking for safe investments, Europeans, and Northeasterners bailing out of the stock markets by buying second homes and investment properties.
"I have clients that come here from all over the world," Ms. Ocampo said. "Once people have to leave or be transferred, they come back here for vacation. The laid-back style of life, the location 7 miles from the city... it's a little paradise."
The locals are buying now too, Ms. Ocampo said. "We have a lot of young people that grew up here. Now the second and third generations are growing up here."
New construction on the island is being snapped up, Mr. Cole said. "At the Grand Bay, the condos are sold out. Investors are reselling them now at pretty hefty profits."
While condominium sales are strong, homes sales have slowed in the past few months. The least expensive single-family home on the Key is about $650,000 minimum, Mr. Cole said. "The average is much higher."
Small, 1,300-square-foot, beach-style homes the Mackle Brothers built in the 1950s, Mr. Cole said, are being purchased for their land. Investors buy the lot, demolish the house and build bigger, more expensive houses, he said.
At this point, Ms. Ocampo said, the lowest-priced Mackle home on the market is about $670,000 - "this is just the land value." About three years ago, the same property was priced at about $300,000, she said.
"Lot values in Key Biscayne have skyrocketed," Ms. Ocampo said. "I think they will continue to grow."