Make us your home page
(Un)Real Estate

Where are the vultures for Tampa Bay's real estate roadkill?

The condo vultures are swooping on downtown Miami, taking advantage of inexpensive high-rise roadkill.

Stories this week reported that hundreds of buyers inundated Miami condos when owners lopped $100,000 off already depreciated list prices.

The way one TV station described it, the high-rise hawkers can barely cash the deposit checks before another stack forms in the sales center.

Developers even mention — bless their recession-proof souls — selling out units in half the time they'd expected.

"It's just a wave. The investors are swarming from one building to another to another and all of it has to do with price point which is roughly $200 a square foot. That's really the magic number," Peter Zalewski of told Miami's news Channel 4.

You'll have to forgive my initial reaction: ARE YOU PEOPLE CRAZY? Last I'd heard, Miami was sitting on tens of thousands of vacant condos built by speculators. Its housing price declines are some of the worst in the nation. I figured the sales surge represented another chapter in How-To-Kill-The-Mortgage-Market-In-Twelve-Easy-Steps.

But after studying the feeding frenzy further, I've concluded maybe these vultures are pecking in the right places. All the discount condos are perched on the eastern edge of downtown on and near Brickell Avenue, where the Miami River meets Biscayne Bay.

And these are fire sale prices: Compare $200 per square foot with St. Petersburg's new Signature Place condo tower, which charges about $350 per square foot. That's after a recent 25 percent price cut.

Miamians insist many of the buyers are Latin Americans toting cash pulled from troubled Venezuelan and Argentinian bank accounts. You can thank anticapitalist rabble rousers like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. Kick a man in Caracas and he'll land somewhere on Brickell.

Then you've got Germans, Brits and Spaniards flush with money from the lopsided euro-to-dollar exchange rate. These buyers have spotted a bargain. If they won't live in the buildings for much of the year, they can rent the condos at cost until the market improves in five to 10 years.

What can Tampa Bay take away from the Miami lesson? For starters, it's hard to pass up well-placed real estate at bargain prices. Our glut of condos is vast, but nowhere near Miami's. With the right price concessions, we could erase our surplus much faster than our rival to the south.

It's also unwise to shun foreigners bearing gifts. Market the heck out of the overseas crowd. If Juan and Fritz like your building, by all means usher them into the lobby.

You might say that Tampa Bay has been cast as the stodgy, blue-collar shadow of energetic, ritzy Miami. But if we can't match Miami for topless models and South Beach hipsters, neither do we suffer Miami's quasi-Third World dysfunction.

Here's a sales slogan for our times: Our Roadkill's Better Than Your Roadkill.

Where are the vultures for Tampa Bay's real estate roadkill? 08/20/09 [Last modified: Thursday, August 20, 2009 9:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. City Council approves $5 million for Clearwater Marine Aquarium expansion


    CLEARWATER — The City Council on Thursday approved contributing $5 million to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium for its massive expansion project.

    Clearwater has agreed to contributed $5 million to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium 
's $66 million expansion project.. [ Clearwater Marine Aquarium] 

  2. Trigaux: Florida, Tampa Bay lagging in growth of their startups

    Economic Development

    The annual assessment of how entrepreneurs are doing across the country is out from the Kauffman Foundation — among the best watchers of the nation's startup scene. How do Florida and Tampa Bay fare?

    Lured by financial incentives, startup GeniusCentral relocated from Manatee County in 2015 to St. Petersburg, promising to creatye 40 new jobs. It took downtown space in an appropriately creative workpace for entrepreneurs. It did not last there, later moving back to less expensive space in Manatee. A new Kauffman Index report on entrepreneurship found that Florida is a good place to launch startups but a tougher place to grow them.
  3. Pleasant dreams: sleep travel site gives high marks to Tampa airport


    TAMPA — Traveling might be considered closer to a nightmare than a dream for many. But that might be different for those who travel through Tampa International Airport. It was ranked the No. 3 overall best airport in North America by Sleeping in Airports, a travel site that tracks the best airports to catch some …

    Tampa International Airport was ranked as the No. 3 best overall airport by travel site Sleeping in Airports. | [Times file photo]
  4. Google parent leads $1B Lyft investment, deepening Uber rift


    SAN FRANCISCO — Google's parent company is throwing its financial support behind ride-hailing service Lyft, deepening its rift with market leader Uber.

    This  file photo shows a smartphone displaying the Lyft app.Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc., is throwing its financial support behind ride-hailing service Lyft, deepening its rift with market leader Uber. [Associated Press, 2016]
  5. ReliaQuest opens storefront in mock city of JA Biztown

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — ReliaQuest, a Tampa-based cybersecurity company, opened a "storefront" Wednesday at JA Biztown. The storefront is part of a mock city where students learn economic concepts and run businesses. About 20 real-life Tampa Bay companies sponsor storefronts that local students get to run for a day as part of a …

    ReliaQuest, a Tampa-based cybersecurity company, opened a "storefront" Wednesday at JA Biztown, a mock city where students learn to run businesses. | [MALENA CAROLLO, Times]