Which party dominates South Florida and Miami

Austrians looking for accommodation in Miami

An estimated 100 to 150 Austrians shop at Wolfgang Herz every year. And the native Austrian, a real estate entrepreneur in Miami, assumes that far more compatriots in Florida will look for accommodation in the future. Herz, Managing Director of Fortune International Realty, recently teamed up with the Viennese company Chalupa Immobilien, which now wants to make Miami more attractive to Viennese customers.

Interested parties can take a 360-degree tour of the future apartment from Vienna, seek advice and have Skype calls with the experts in Miami. There are also live video cameras on the construction sites. The aim is to find out in advance what is being sought - and what customers can afford, emphasizes Herz. This is supposed to save time: "Most customers only have one week in Miami."

Selling off plan

Herz does not believe that the apartment in the USA will be bought without visiting Vienna: he only met "two to three" Austrians who signed the purchase contract directly in Vienna. Internationally, sales have long since gone off plan - "but in the end the customer comes anyway and looks at the project on site".

According to Gerda Chalupa from Chalupa Immobilien, Austrians are often looking for a second or third home in Miami: "Of course, customers are also interested in America." Sometimes they are looking for an apartment because the children want to study in Florida one day. "And Miami is well-known in Austria. The weather is always nice and the city pulsates," says Chalupa.

But not all of them see Miami as positive: In view of the brisk construction activity on the coast, there is talk of an "overproduction" of condominiums in the luxury segment in various market reports. Some fear that the high price level will cause a bubble like the one that last burst ten years ago.

High operating costs

The market in Miami is dominated by South Americans, a market observer recently reported at the real estate fair Expo Real: If the political situation in one of these countries is not stable and exchange rates fluctuate, the high operating costs for the apartment in Miami are quickly no longer affordable and the apartment has to be sold - often under time pressure and at a discount. "I would wait and see in Miami at the moment," said the investment expert, who does not want to read her name in the newspaper.

Real estate agent Herz sees the situation differently: "We can see that this property is needed, otherwise we wouldn't be building," he says. The rental of the investor apartments would generally take less than four weeks. In contrast to the situation ten years ago, the proportion of debt financing is lower today.

Of course, affordable housing is not the focus of investors. Instead, the run on luxury is blooming: the Porsche Design Tower was completed a few months ago. Its residents no longer have to part with their luxury cars in their apartments: they can take their bodies upstairs using their own car lifts. Several apartments are currently still available.

Living according to phase of life

Despite the capricious weather, Herz is not worried about his company's location: "We have hurricanes just like our neighboring countries," he says. "But our buildings are built for that." In addition, Miami is a hub to Latin America. "And America is still politically stable," says Herz. Even if some foreign buyers would currently prefer to wait a bit to see how the US develops under President Donald Trump, says Chalupa.

For real estate agents, the differences between the USA and Austria lie in the mentality: In Austria you buy an apartment for a few generations. In the USA the attitude is different: "There you look for an apartment depending on your stage of life" Life in apartment towers is also much more widespread in Miami than in Vienna and the brokerage system with the principle of ordering is different. The price-performance ratio is almost the same in the upscale segment, says Chalupa.

Compatriot Stephan Gietl from the McKafka Development Group is also active in Miami: His project "The Crimson - Residences on the Bay", a 19-story residential tower with 90 apartments, was completed in early 2016. According to media reports, a good third of the tower was still empty, at least this spring. (Franziska Zoidl, October 15, 2017)