Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read July 2021 — With over 100 years in the market, the Miami Association of Realtors is the largest local realtor association in the country. Chairwoman of the Board Jennifer Wollmann spoke with Invest: and discussed the current state of the sector in Miami-Dade, offering her insights into pricing and what to expect as the next year unfolds.
What is the state of the real estate market in Miami-Dade County?
It’s on fire. It’s great that so many people are coming here. Luckily, we were able to get real estate deemed an essential service early in the pandemic. If we hadn’t, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Our agents never stopped showing properties, whether in person or virtually. As things start to loosen up or open up it’s going to slow down, but we haven’t seen that yet. Properties in the commercial sector across every asset class are selling well. Like most residential properties, many are being sold as soon as they’re put on the market, assuming prices are remotely reasonable. In residential, people are waiving appraisals across the board but if they’re within the ballpark, especially with houses that don’t need any work, they’re selling rapidly.
Do you think that double-digit price increases across Florida are sustainable?
I think we’re probably going to continue seeing double-digit increases for the near future, especially in certain areas. We don’t have inventory at the moment but the building cranes have started to come out and homebuilders, such as Lennar, have started building large residential areas. We can go off on a tangent there because a lot of those are being built as rental housing for the first time ever. There’s a lot of institutional investment money going into residential housing but for the near term, we just don’t see builders being able to build the inventory fast enough to meet the demand. I do think we’re going to see a leveling off just because the higher prices go, the more you cut into who can afford it.
How is condo financing shaping up in South Florida?
Florida is treated differently than the rest of the country when it comes to condo financing. The association has been working on condo financing for years, and we are working with cities and our state and national associations to get full transparency on condo financials. This will facilitate the acquisition of all the information regarding reserves and budget upfront so that we can help start qualifying those buildings. Most of our affordable housing stock is in condos.
What other advocacy efforts are on your radar?
We worked with the state on the commercial sales tax, which was chopped from 5.5 to 2.5%. This will save commercial tenants about $1.23 billion every year. We also were able to work with great organizations like the Florida Everglades Foundation to help get over $900 million for the environment. On a local level, we are still working on housing affordability, sustainability and condo reform.
How is the association working to ensure sustainability in the market?
We’ve been working with local leaders to find funding for infrastructure that addresses the sustainability issue. Sustainability is important and the leaders on that front include architects, developers and contractors, as well as our government officials. The Miami Association of Realtors is working with CARTO, an insurance risk company to simplify flood insurance for buyers. Insurance fraud drives our prices up significantly so we have been working with Florida realtors and our state legislators to address those issues to curb rising insurance costs.
How have commercial property owners repurposed or repositioned their assets in the changing market?
Everybody says that retail and office are dead. However, I think those statements are lacking in creativity. Realtors and real estate owners are creative; the old use might be dead, but the way in which we use our spaces is changing. Now, retail is an experience. Even with the pandemic, people still want that experience – just think of all of that adaptive reuse that has been happening naturally based on market demand. Some of the older warehouses that don’t work for e-commerce are being repurposed to house wonderful distilleries, bars and event spaces.
What is your take on the next year for the local housing market?
I think everything will be the same in terms of Miami’s momentum. People and businesses are going to keep moving here because of our friendly business environment and our wonderful quality of life. More inventory will start to come on the market as we get back to post-pandemic life so the level of activity should start to stabilize. People are getting more comfortable gathering in person. Offices are starting to open up as more people get vaccinated.
There are business opportunities everywhere in Miami-Dade County. It just takes the right people to see the potential and the power of a community to get together to change a place and solve its problems. As we come out of this pandemic and we start meeting in person more, we will propel Miami forward significantly faster. I’m excited about Miami in the future. Our leaders not only in government but in our industries across the board are in the right place at the right time. By the end of 2022, we are going to be in such a different place.