South Florida becoming buyer's market; condo market cools

Real estate experts say international sales declining in Miami

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – South Florida's real estate sellers are no longer scarce.

"Fort Lauderdale is now becoming a buyer's market," Mark Sadek, chairman of the Miami Association of Realtors, said Thursday.

The group's president agreed.

"It's definitely becoming a buyer's market, especially in the condo sector," Carlos Gutierrez, president of the Miami Association of Realtors, told Local 10 News reporter Todd Tongen.

Sadek and Gutierrez said the condo market has cooled, but single-family home sales are still sizzling. Cash is no longer king, and international sales are declining in Miami.

"The foreign buyers have pulled back a little bit because the strength of the dollar," Gutierrez said. "Cash buyers are a little bit more infrequently seen than they used to be, but you would think that would be a bigger opportunity for the everyday buyer and seller, which it is. However, we're seeing that it's still difficult to secure financing for condos."

In fact, there is such a glut of condos in Miami that some developers have suspended sales and halted construction.

"I'm surprised we haven't seen more developers put the brakes on their condo project than we're already seeing," Gutierrez said.

Even though Fort Lauderdale's condo market is considered favorable for buyers, developers are not putting the brakes on building. A 129-unit complex called the Gale Boutique Hotel & Residences is planned for Fort Lauderdale Beach. It won't be finished until the end of 2017, but it is already 70 percent sold out.

"In the Fort Lauderdale market, we're seeing a lot of new empty nesters selling their large homes west and coming east," Sadek said.

There is nearly a year's worth of condo inventory in Miami. Slightly more than half that inventory remains in Fort Lauderdale.

The good news for South Florida is that real estate experts aren't calling it a bust yet.

"I think it's a short-term correction," Gutierrez said.