Text size: A- | A+
Tired of Tame, Miami Sellers Get Their Mojito Back


Tired of Tame, Miami Sellers Get Their Mojito Back


Wall Street Journal


Lavish condo-launch parties—featuring such buzz generators as live leopards and caviar bars—used to be the hottest ticket in town before the real-estate bust turned out the lights in 2006.

Now, an influx of foreign cash is revitalizing the housing market and bringing back the fetes, though they have toned down the big cats and scantily clad Champagne servers.

"We have all sobered a bit," said David Edelstein, owner of the W South Beach hotel and condos, who threw a party for brokers in July. "A lot of the flashiness has been dialed back."

This being Miami, that isn't saying much.

At an April launch party for 1100 Millecento Residences in Miami's Brickell neighborhood, some 600 guests crowded onto a gravel lot where a 42-story tower will soon rise. Guests sipped wine and nibbled empanadas as images of condo interiors flashed on a screen and a DJ spun electronic dance music.

Then a roar of engines pierced the din, and a column of Maseratis and Ferraris streamed in—a nod to Italian car-design firm Pininfarina SpA, which is designing the building's common areas. Models in black, skintight outfits got out and posed beside the cars, as onlookers snapped photos.

"Miami is back!" Jorge Perez, the developer behind the project, yelled to the crowd.

Early figures suggest Mr. Perez may be right. In the Miami area, home prices increased 11.3% in August, compared with a year earlier, according to CoreLogic Inc., a Santa Ana, Calif., data firm. A July report by the Miami Downtown Development Authority found the volume of residential sales in the downtown area increased 24% in the first half of the year, compared with the same period in 2011.

After more than four years of inactivity, nine new condo projects in Miami-Dade County broke ground in the past year, and at least two more are scheduled to begin construction by year end, said Peter Zalewski, principal at real-estate consultancy Condo Vultures LLC.

Most of the buyers these days are wealthy Brazilians, Argentines and other foreign clients looking for second homes or investment properties to rent out, he said. Their tendency to pay in cash makes them attractive to developers.

Because banks are still reluctant to provide construction loans, developers are relying on buyers to finance condo projects, requiring that they put down as much as 80% before closing, Mr. Zalewski said. The vast majority of projects in the area are now using that model, he added.

With so much of the buyers' money on the table, developers are wary of going overboard on the festivities.

"The last message you want to send is that whatever money you have, you're spending on a huge party," said Tadd Schwartz, a marketing consultant who has represented developers.

A February launch party he organized for the BrickellHouse condo project was bare-boned: a smattering of food trucks and a bar serving run-of-the-mill spirits.

That is a far cry from the bashes of the boom era. "The money was flowing, the profitability was in the hundreds of millions," Mr. Perez said. "Spending a half-million on a party was nothing."

Many people who attended those events snapped up properties on the spot. The only problem: Too many were speculators intent on flipping the units before they were even completed, Mr. Perez said. When the market swooned, they bailed out.

Today's buyers are more serious, and their appetite appears strong, real-estate executives say. At 1100 Millecento, 90% of the units are under contract, according to Related Group, the developer.

While the mood may be more subdued, there are occasional flashes of the former opulence, such as the bash for 1100 Millecento.

At a March launch party for the Mansions at Acqualina—a luxury tower going up in Sunny Isles Beach, north of Miami—developers Jules and Eddie Trump (no relation to Donald) erected a huge tent on the beach lighted by chandeliers. Attendees feasted on filet mignon and risotto, while a DJ played Brazilian music and dancers in beige body suits performed on a stage. Capping off the evening was a performance by Il Volo, a trio of Italian pop-opera tenors.

A December party planned for a new South Beach project called One Ocean promises to be high end. It is set to take place during the Art Basel contemporary-art fair and is aimed at the major collectors flying into town, says developer Related Group.

If the Miami market continues to perk up, count on the revelry ratcheting up as well. "At the end of the day," Mr. Zalewski said, "Miami is a party place."



"PRIVACY POLICY": Newgard Development Group respects the privacy of visitors to its website and does not generally seek to identify its visitors or to collect information regardingtheir use of this website. Although Newgard Development Group may track thenumber of visits to each of the pages of its website, no Personal Information is collected in the process. The type of information that is automatically collected by Newgard Development Group can include date and time of access of the website, the Internet protocol address of the computer that you are using, the domain and host from which you access the Internet, your browser software and operating system, and the specific activities you are engaged in while visiting the website. This aggregate tracking information is used to help Newgard Development Group improve and enhance the website experience for all of itsvisitors. Newgard Development Group will collect some limited Personal Information that you voluntarily provide such as your name, address, telephone number and/or email address, if you communicate with us via email in response to any prompts on this website. Additionally, any information collected about you from this website may be associated with other information that NewgardDevelopment Group has collected from other sources about you. Under California law, California residents who have provided personally identifiable information to a company may have the right to request a list of all third parties to whom that company had disclosed such information for the third parties' direct marketing purposes during the preceding calendar year, along with a list of the categories of Personal Information that had been so disclosed. However, Newgard Development Group policy, as disclosed on this website, does not currently permit Newgard Development Group to share the Personal Information collected at this website about you with non-affiliated third parties for such third parties' direct marketing purposes. Moreover, even if Newgard Development Group policy permitted the disclosure of Personal Information to third parties for such third parties' direct marketing purposes, because Newgard Development Group provides you with an opportunity to opt out of such disclosure, Newgard Development Group does not have to provide you with such lists. If you are a California resident who would like information on how to exercise your rights concerning third party disclosures, you may send an email to or contact us via postal mail at: NEWGARD DEVELOPMENT GROUP MAKES NO WARRANTY OR REPRESENTATION REGARDING OF CONFIDENTIALITY OF ANY COMMUNICATION OR INFORMATION TRANSMITTED ON THIS SITE OR ANY WEB SITE LINKED TO THIS SITE. YOU AGREE THAT NEITHER NEWGARD DEVELOPMENT GROUP, NOR ANY OTHER PROVIDERS OF PRODUCTS OR SERVICES RELATED TO THIS SITE, ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONFIDENTIALITY OF ANY INFORMATION, (INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION, PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE INFORMATION, EMAIL ADDRESS, PHONE NUMBER, ETC.), AND NEITHER NEWGARD DEVELOPMENT GROUP, NOR ANY OTHER PROVIDERS OF PRODUCTS OR SERVICES RELATED TO THIS SITE, ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGES THAT MAY ARISE FROM DISCLOSURE OF SUCH INFORMATION.

Links to Other Websites From time to time, the Newgard Development Group website may contain links to other websites that are not controlled and/or maintained by Newgard Development Group. Please be aware that these other websites may have different privacy policies which may subject you to different privacy practices. Please review the privacy policies of such other websites for information concerning what information is collected on such websites and how it is used.

Changes in Policy This Privacy Policy applies to current and former visitors to the Newgard Development Group website. From time to time, Newgard Development Group's Privacy Policy may change. Newgard Development Group will post changes to the Privacy Policy on this website. Please review this Privacy Policy often so that you will remain abreast of Newgard Development Group's current policies, including its policies concerning the gathering and use of information that may be collected on our website. You are responsible for making sure you are aware of the provisions of Newgard Development Group's most current policy (see date below).

Terms and Conditions of Use Disclaimer None of the information or materials contained on or accessible through this website, including any information or materials accessible in any password protected areas, should be construed as providing any type of investment or other advice to you, nor should you consider it as a solicitation, recommendation, endorsement or offer to you to purchase or sell any investment vehicle, financial security or other financial instrument.

Use of Materials All material on this website, including but not limited to images, logos, trademarks, appearance, graphics and any documentation (collectively referred to as the"Material"), is protected under various intellectual property laws and (except where otherwise stated) owned or controlled by Newgard Development Group, or used with permission of the owner(s) of such Material. Except as otherwise indicated on this website, copying, reproduction, uploading, downloading, transmitting or any other use of this website or of any of theMaterial, in whole or part, without the express permission of Newgard Development Group, is prohibited. You may, however, copy, reproduce, download, transmit and/or print individual pages contained on this website for the purpose of accessing this website under these Terms and Conditions and/or your personal, non-commercial use, provided you agree not to conceal, remove or alter any trademark, copyright or other notice contained on: (i) this website; (ii) any of the Material; or (iii) any such individual pages so copied, reproduced, downloaded, transmitted or printed. Any unauthorized use of this website and/or the Materials may subject the user to criminal prosecution and/or civil liability under applicable law. Limitation of Liability and Use of Disclaimer Newgard Development Group is not responsible for any damages or loss related to the use of this website. THIS WEBSITE, ALL MATERIAL CONTAINED ONTHIS WEBSITE, AND ALL LINKS OR OTHER ITEMS RELATED THERETO ARE TRANSMITTED AND DISTRIBUTED "AS IS" AND WITHOUT WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, THAT THE WEBSITE, ITS FEATURES AND FUNCTIONS WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR USE OR FUNCTION AS DESCRIBED. THERE ARE NO WARRANTIES REGARDING MERCHANTABILITY, ACCURACY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, TITLE, SECURITY, OR MERCHANTABILITY WITH RESPECT TO THEWEBSITE OR THE MATERIALS CONTAINED HEREON. ANY INFORMATION CONTAINED WITHINTHIS WEBSITE IS SUBJECT TO AMENDMENT, REVISION OR UPDATING. NEWGARD DEVELOPMENT GROUP RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SUSPEND OR WITHDRAW ACCESS TO THE PAGES OF THISWEBSITE WITHOUT NOTICE AT ANY TIME AND ACCEPTS NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR THESE PAGES NOT BEING AVAILABLE AT ALL TIMES. NEWGARD DEVELOPMENT GROUP SHALL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY ALLEGED DAMAGE OR INJURY, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO ANY COMPENSATORY, CONSEQUENTIAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT AND/OR SPECIAL DAMAGES, THAT RESULT FROM YOUR USE OR INABILITY TO USE OR ACCESS THIS WEBSITE OR ANY MATERIALS CONTAINED HEREON OR FROM ANY COMPUTER VIRUS, MALFUNCTION OR OTHERFAILURE.