Watch The Real Deal’s 2023 Miami Panels – The Real Deal

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The Real Deal’s South Florida Forum was bigger than ever before this year, with seven panel conversations about the state of the industry. 

The over 5,000 attendees showed up for more than the networking and Cipriani bellinis – they were there to tune into insights about every sector, from luxury residential to multifamily development to rescue capital and more. 

Buy/sell, rent/lease residential &
commercials real estate properties.

This year, TRD kicked off the event with a short talk from Teddy Sagi, the Israeli tech billionaire who’s pumped tens of millions of dollars into projects by BH Group, Related Group and more. 

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But Teddy is “only the investor,” he said. So TRD also brought BH Group’s Isaac Toledano, the once-quiet developer with a fast growing portfolio, to the stage alongside well-known names who included developers Gil Dezer and Michael Shvo. 

Uniting these developers is their desire to make Miami the next global city. Shvo cited the “high-profile buyers” at his Miami Beach projects, saying they hail from countries like Qatar and Turkey. And Dezer was the first to seal a deal with soccer superstar Lionel Messi, who bought a unit at the Porsche Design Tower in 2019. Messi’s move to Miami this year has made headlines around the world. 

The group cited corporate movement into South Florida as a booster for the market, and of course touted the beauty of the Miami lifestyle. 

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That lifestyle has always been a selling point for South Florida’s top brokers. But it’s a tricky time for the residential industry, with a landmark ruling against NAR sending some brokers into a tailspin, and a tougher market keeping everyone working overtime. 

The brokers – Dora Puig, Senada Adžem and Miami newcomer Fredrik Eklund – said deals are taking longer and are more difficult to close. But a shortage of inventory is keeping prices high. 

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Prices aside, there’s no overstating the importance of investing in real estate. For Marcus Lemonis, investing in real estate is “that single tool that can change somebody’s life.” Lemonis, star of CNBC’s “The Profit” and “The Renovator,” which previously aired on HGTV, discussed his approach to real estate investing and leveraging it to create opportunities for people with lesser means than him in a one-on-one with TRD Publisher Amir Korangy. 

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Challenges abound in the multifamily world, too. Multifamily developer Lissette Calderon’s insurance costs have surged 30 percent — all while she is dealing with higher interest rates on construction debt and skittish lenders. 

Calderon and co-panelist Jenny Bernell touched on South Florida’s varying multifamily landscape, including calmer rental growth compared with 2021 and early last year; a hefty apartment development pipeline; and the tri-county region’s pressing issue of affordable housing. 

“There are a lot of moving parts to it,” Calderon said. But “I mean who doesn’t want to be in Miami?”

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While resi deals and multifamily developments keep chugging along, retail is actually picking up speed – at least, in places where it can improve the experience at office and apartment buildings.

“Employers have come to the realization that the only way to get their employees back to the office is to put their headquarters or offices in places where the employees want to go to work,” said Todd Rosenberg, founder and managing principal of Pebb Capital. “We’re seeing the proof that this is the shift in the trend.”

In a retail discussion with top retail broker Tony Arellano and LifeTime Inc. Chairman and CEO Bahram Akradi, panelists emphasized the importance of “thinking holistically about the experience you’re developing,” as Akradi put it.

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And finally, as the day wrapped up, experts in the finance world confirmed office has replaced retail as the step-child of commercial real estate lending. In fact, neighborhood shopping centers and industrial buildings are the safest bets for commercial lenders, panelists Holly MacDonald-Korth, Alex Horn and David Moret said. 

The rising cost of insurance and soaring interest rates are also creating opportunities to recapitalize commercial buildings, said Moret, whose firm recently raised $175 million for a  distressed fund. 

But commercial real estate in Florida is still strong compared to the rest of the country, Horn said. He noted that his firm, BridgeInvest, has transacted $40 billion in commercial real estate loans this year, with 40 percent originating in the state. 

“Where we have seen a pause in transactions nationwide, Florida has maintained its activity,” he said. “We are seeing an increase in acquisitions and refinancings.” 

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