Evolution has been key in Miami’s economic history — from tourism to a financial center for Latin America to a high-profile hub for financial and tech companies. Today, the evolution of the real estate profile has a starring role.
Earlier this month, the Hollo School of Real Estate at FIU Business brought together 200-plus attendees at “REact 2022 - Miami: A Real Estate and Technology Powerhouse,” its second annual real estate conference.
Keynote speaker Miami Mayor Francis Suarez recalled the area’s progress from the days of Ninja loans and double-digit losses in real estate values in 2008 and 2009. Although he was nowhere near being elected, Suarez sees it as a valuable lesson.
“We have to compete,” said Suarez. “We just can’t sit back and hope we survive the competition.”
He pointed out that during the last 24 months $2.5 trillion in assets have relocated to or made a significant footprint in Miami, including Blackstone, Citadel and Millennium. In real estate, prices are up 12% on purchases as well as 30% on rentals.
“There isn’t a city that has a brighter future, that’s better positioned for the next 10 years, than Miami,” Suarez insisted. “Our focus is to keep taxes low, keep people safe and drive innovation. We’re No. 1 in the United States in tech job growth.”
An in-depth look at the local real estate and business landscape - “Miami: Still a Boom or Bust City!” – kicked off the conference. Industry experts discussed some factors that have driven South Florida’s real estate demand and economic base.
“The bust in other cities, countries and economies proved a boom in our city,” said Veronica Cervera Goeseke, chief executive officer of Cervera Real Estate. “Miami comes out of difficult times faster than others.”
Financial crises in Miami, like in other cities, create opportunities to develop more significant projects and to get more creative, explained Jeffrey Ardizon, principal at The Estate Cos, which has 13 apartment building deals in its pipeline.
Panelists agreed the city’s cultural diversity, global investments, smart development, talented workforce, supportive government and innovations in public transportation are key to the continued, long-term growth and stability.
“When you’re looking at Miami, there’s a lot of permanence and ability to perform,” said Aly khan Merali, chief financial officer of Turnberry. “The horizon is quite limitless.”
Land prices, commercial properties and supply chain issues continue to command attention in the real estate industry, including corporate and retail. Several conference presenters forecast corrections in land and construction prices. Others said caution is a must, but don’t see significant distress in the marketplace.
In one session, panelists discussed the lack of rental properties and whether enough of them were being built. “Will the current development satisfy the need or are we going to overbuild?” asked moderator Adam Tiktin, managing director of Franklin Street.
“It can’t keep growing in the same place and call it growth,” said Cassie Resnick, managing director of Mast Capital.
Jakub Hejl, president of Westside Capital, added that new housing growth will come in areas away from the city center, but near mass transit options.
FIU professors Eli Beracha, director of Hollo School of Real Estate; Zhonghua Wu, professor at the Hollo School of Real Estate; and Clay Dickinson, adjunct lecturer at the Hollo School, presented research on real estate, hospitality and technology and discussed how academia is partnering with industry practitioners to prepare the next generation of investors.
In the day’s final panel, experts discussed the leading role that bitcoin, blockchain, cryptocurrency, NFTs and tokenization will take in real estate transactions. Panelists agreed that from a nearly non-existent role 20 years ago, technology’s activity in real estate is mind-blowing.
“For investors, technology offers fewer barriers to entry,” said Juan Alvarez, president of Blokhaus Real Estate Tokenization. “Cryptocurrency can be used for transactions — security tokens for smart contracts.”
One of the trending topics right now is non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – digital assets that include collectibles, artwork, and video game characters. Its feasibility for real estate transactions is being explored. “Right now, it’s a bit of a novelty,” Sami Ahmed, counsel at PAG LAW.
Today, technology is also making vacations or events easier to plan, execute and purchase, noted Greg Pesik, senior management advisor of Provision Partners.
“It allows you to create identical twins, an experience for guests who want to go to those places. You can see the room in a virtual world and how it can be set up for an event,” he said. “The use of cryptocurrency on booking engines for travel has grown 200%.”
Save the date: Next year's REact Real Estate Conference will be held on Nov. 3.