Often celebrated for its tropical climate, notable sunsets, and sizzling food and nightlife scene, the South Florida region has long been a go-to vacation destination. But for people looking to live — or acquire an additional property — in Miami or one of its neighboring cities, agents are a guiding light through a real estate market that has recently seen spiking interest rates and an increase in condominiums in contrast to single-family homes.
Six 35-and-under agents who have already achieved great success and show the promise of even more — Spencer Schlager, Jordan Karp, Karen Elmir, Dovi Ettedgui, Scott Shuffield, and Shakira Sanchez — shared their expert analysis of what’s trending in the South Florida real estate market, the secret to selling to A-listers, and what makes Miami and Palm Beach such alluring locations for buyers.
Douglas Elliman’s Spencer Schlager says the most important factor when it comes to working with clients, particularly bold-faced names, is trust. “Clients like to work with people that they can trust, and to know that they’re in good hands when they’re making a very important decision,” he says. “It’s not just a financial decision, but it’s also an emotional one.” On Palm Beach Island, Schlager sold a waterfront property formerly owned by casino tycoon Steve Wynn; the 7,273-square-foot house, located at 235 Via Vizcaya, reportedly features six bedrooms, five-and-a-half bathrooms, a wine cellar, elevator and 155 feet of water frontage with a dock.
For 2023, Schlager predicts that real estate trends will lean toward sales of “more land, larger-sized lots, nice spacious backyards with more outdoor entertaining space,” he says, adding: “I think COVID [caused] more of a trend toward outdoor dining areas and covered loggias. And places to hang out with friends, whether it be by the pool or off the kitchen. Outdoor kitchens are definitely a big trend right now.”
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices EWM Realty’s Scott Shuffield has seen larger condominiums of “5,000 to 10,000 square feet” grow in popularity. “During COVID you have a lot of buyers still buying single family, but the sellers of those single-family homes are in many cases choosing to kind of simplify their life and move to a large condo or, in some cases, combine multiple units.” In one of his deals, Shuffield negotiated the sale of three units at the Four Seasons separately, which the buyer has chosen to combine to make one 6,000-square-foot unit.
Among other trends, Shakira Sanchez of Douglas Elliman says she is seeing more instances of the “end user” moving to Miami to purchase real estate. “[We’ve seen] a lot of people migrating from within the states — New York, Chicago, California — that’s never been something new for Miami. But the fact that they are coming here, staying, and settling in with their roots, I think is the biggest trend,” she says. “We weren’t just talking to the investor. We were talking to the end user, the primary or secondary homeowner. That’s a completely different approach, and it’s good, because I think there was a lot of conversation about [Miami] being a temporary space just for the moment until COVID [is over] and everywhere reopens, but I think the general crowd that came down was actually surprised with what Miami could offer.”
Sanchez credits the finance and tech communities with being “the bread and butter” of her client business: “We have three different types of software programs that we [use] in-house, but one in particular is called ‘Condo Geeks.’ Essentially, it has tracked the economic performance of every single building in South Florida for the last 17 years. Everyone has their own language and ways they like to share and receive information. And I think generally speaking, this has been the best form of communicating what we know with people who are used to seeing the same insights, so that’s been the general part of our network.”
Karen Elmir, an agent with ONE Sotheby’s International Realty, says buyers across the country “have had eyes on Miami for two years now” but that rising interest rates and a slowing South Florida market at the end of 2022 resulted in “an increase in inventory which helped stabilize prices and the craziness of buyers overpaying for properties started to dissipate.”
In 2023, Elmir hopes to see improvements in the areas of affordability and rent stability. “It’s great to have so many new people wanting to live in our city, but the demand has also made it difficult for current residents to stay. Floridians are getting priced out of the market with unrealistic rent hikes, and finding they may not be able to stay in the place they call home,” she says, adding: “We are now known as so much more than a vacation destination. We are building a huge tech hub, have beautiful neighborhoods with arts, top-rated restaurants, entertainment options, and one of the top nightclub scenes in the world.”
Elmir first started selling new developments 14 years ago and sold a bulk sale of 21 units at The Epic Residences in Downtown Miami in 2009, before joining the developer team at Grove at Grand Bay in 2011. (Derek Jeter reportedly rented a unit there.) Recently, she sold a house in Coconut Grove for $3.4 million — almost double the price from the year prior. Her secret to exceeding expectations? “Give every client the same attention, whether it’s a $3,000 rental or a $10 million sale,” she says. “I always make myself available, this is not a 9-to-5 job for me, and I think that really stands out. There are so many real estate agents out there and if I don’t take the call at 10 p.m. someone else will. To be successful at this job, that is the mindset you need to have.”
For Dovi Ettedgui of Corcoran Group, perseverance and the foresight to come up with new strategies to keep interest in properties high has worked as his business model. Pre-COVID, when he was first starting out in real estate working with a New York-based auction company before joining Corcoran, Ettedgui says homes were often sitting on the market for six-to-eight months, so he decided to find a way to engage sellers differently.
“I was calling people pitching an alternative marketing approach with their property and telling them, instead of listing your property for 15 million and then reducing it to 7 million and selling it for basically a fraction of what we sold before, we’ll list it for a more attractive, competitive number to get the buyers in the door and then drive up the market through competitive bidding wars and create a market for their property that they haven’t seen with a conventional brokerage,” he says.
Jordan Karp, an independent agent in the region, says it’s a “dynamic market” where interest rates and construction costs are high with limited inventory. “[During COVID], the real estate values really increased obviously due to demand, but even more so due to the limited inventory, especially in the luxury market in these premier neighborhoods within Miami. Florida as a whole went through a renaissance … more restaurants, brands, hotel operators and CEOs started to move here permanently.”
Working with this client base, Karp says, is about “delivering the value to the client.” Last year, Karp represented the music star Future in the purchase of a waterfront Miami Beach property for $16.3 million, and repped music manager Austin Rosen of Electric Feel (whose clients include Post Malone) in a $12.5 million off-market deal.
“A lot of the time when you are dealing with different clients, it’s really interesting to learn about their primary businesses because a lot of the people that I meet or work with have other companies or businesses aside from real estate,” he says. “Whether I’m working with a business music executive to a finance private equity buyer or investor person, you learn so much about their company — understanding what they do and how they think and who they are. That adds a lot of color to their perspective and why they’re buying [a property].”
A version of this story first appeared in the Jan. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.