With its temperate climate, idyllic boulevards, white sandy beaches, active coastal lifestyle and, more recently, its informal status as the 2nd-most artsy city in America, it’s no wonder Miami, FL attracts swaths of visitors every year and about 7,500 new residents to Miami-Dade County — every month. Perhaps unsurprisingly, according to the Time Out City Life Index for 2018, Miami is rated the 27th-most exciting city in the world. That may be good news for a seller looking to attract a deep pool of competition.
Jeff Miller of Harris Brown Stevens, who is in the top 1% of real estate agents in Miami Beach and ranks in the top 250 agents nationally, describes Miami as “broken up into a bunch of different micro-neighborhoods or submarkets” that offer something unique and attract various types of clientele.
Which leads us to back to sellers and the most likely clientele buying homes in Miami. Extracted from a study by Beauchamp Estates in association with Leslie J Garfield & Co, Curbed Miami reports that one major group in particular, ultra-rich overseas buyers, tend to eye waterfront properties on Palm Beach and North Bay Road in Miami Beach, islands like Fisher Island and Bay Point as well as Edgewater and Coconut Grove in mainland Miami.
What’s more, according to Real Estate Daily, is the study “reveals that the Miami property market is dominated (80 percent) by international buyers and occupiers, with just 20 percent of the market being attributed to domestic U.S. buyers.” This makes Miami one of only three areas in the United States — including Los Angeles and Manhattan — a prime target for foreign buyers.
Their top three factors for location choice? Lifestyle, security and a safe haven for capital.
“The barrier islands, — like Miami Beach and South Beach — coastal areas — like Surfside and Bell Harbor — and all of the oceanfront condos attract a lot of international buyers or second-home buyers.” This beach or vacation market, Miller describes, will sell faster than the local market, about every three to five years, because these people are “upgrading, downgrading or just moving on to a different city” as they’ve already experienced the whole second home thing.
“Areas like a Coral Gables or a Coconut Grove, where it’s primarily single-family homes, attracts domestic buyers and is more of a local market. There, you have people downsizing because they’re empty-nesters and moving from a bigger house to a smaller one, or they’re a first-time family that’s upgrading from a starter house to a bigger house,” Miller says.
This local market is more consistent because people tend to stay in their homes between ten and fifteen years to “establish themselves and their families.”
Whether your property is along the waterfront or in other areas in The Magic City, the following tips will help you meet the standards of buyers — domestic or international — so you can sell your house fast in Miami.
What are these standards? According to Miller, buyers in Miami, regardless of where they come from or their reasons for buying, are ultimately “looking for a very high-end luxurious product, whether it’s a single-family home or a new condo in a new building.” He says buyers want a quality product that looks like they designed it themselves, a house that is turn key to the extent they can move in the very next day.
In fact, that day — according to HomeLight’s proprietary transaction data collected since 2014 — would likely occur around late summer, if sellers want to maximize selling price and speed, of course. So which months are the hottest for Miami sellers? The data found August to be the best month to increase profit and September as the speediest month to close on a sale.
If you believe your Miami house needs a boost, even during prime selling season, we encourage you to apply our advice to establish a home that maximizes attraction and luxury, that draws the eye — any eye — forward and that inspires buyers to picture themselves living there instantly, so much so that upon seeing the property they’ll fall in love and say, “I’ll take it.” You’ll create a paradise within a paradise.
With guidance from Miller, who was recognized by the Wall Street Journal as “America’s Best Realtor” in 2017, here are our collective recommendations to get your house or condo tip-top shape so you can show it off in its best light, boost the selling price and sell it fast in The Magic City.
1. All Of Your Miami House Is A Stage…
…so creating a wow first impression is essential. How? Curb appeal. Miller compares curb appeal to a photoshoot where “the model is dressed up before the photographer comes in and takes the pictures. It’s the same thing. The house is the model. It needs to wow you when you see it for the first time.”
A pristine exterior to your house is incredibly important in a place like Miami, a city known for aesthetically pleasing landmarks and beaches, relaxing lifestyles and warm tropical weather that encourages frequent time outdoors.
So how do you bring that Miami spice to your curb? Miller says it’s really the low-cost simple things that go a long way: well-manicured and watered landscaping, luminous exterior at night and fresh layers of paint where needed.
Flowers, shrubs and other greenery can certainly help, too. In fact, Florida-Friendly Landscaping offers a handy quiz and database that will help you determine which plants — from flowers (annuals and perennials), shrubs, trees, palms, groundcovers, vines and grasses — will work well with your yard. The best part? You get to be hyper-specific about your region (North, Central or South Florida) as well as the conditions of your yard, including sunlight exposure levels and soil moisture, texture and tolerance. From there, the database shows you a list of plants (with images!) that will work with your yard type — which sounds a lot better than just improvising we think.
The ultimate goal, Miller says, is for anyone driving or walking in the vicinity — potential buyers or otherwise — to notice your property, have a visceral reaction and think, “I would love to live in a house like that one day.”
That said, Miami Herald suggests consulting an experienced real estate professional instead of proceeding on your own because “agents know better than homeowners what puts a gleam in a buyer’s eyes.”
Miller agrees: “A good agent, an experienced agent, is going to guide you through the process.”
2. Accentuate Your Neighborhood
Miami is more than just a major city made up of unique neighborhoods; it’s a lifestyle anchored to warm sunny skies and year-round outdoor adventures to suit any tastes: golfing, swimming, beaching, boating, sunbathing, running, walking, patio dining, rooftop drinking, promenade shopping.
So when you’re selling a house in Miami, whether your property is along a luxurious sizzling waterfront or sleepy gated community, it’s important to highlight the neighborhood’s attributes within the house.
Why? Miller argues it’s because you’re not just selling the house — you’re selling the lifestyle. Which is much easier to do by hiring an accomplished agent who knows what they’re doing. One of the benefits of a top agent is that they’re creative in finding ways to show off your house to prospective buyers — like storytelling through video.
“We’ll hire a film company to make custom videos, typically one to three minutes long, of what it would feel like to buy, own, and live in the house. We’ll drive through the main area and show popular restaurants and people sitting outside at cafes. We’ll show someone walking on the beach in the morning, swimming in the ocean in Miami Beach or going for a boat ride. We’ve even done videos showing models walking through the house and jumping on a boat or jet ski in the backyard — to give buyers a real experience of the lifestyle and what it would feel like to live inside the house,” Miller says.
They’ll have the video playing on the TV — or on any screen (iPad, anyone?) — on a continuous loop so that as buyers walk through the house in real-time, they’re able to experience the lifestyle of the neighborhood.
According to Advice by Owners.com, take advantage of your location by highlighting its offerings within and around your house — even if you think they’re unimpressive, dull or lackluster.
For instance: “If you live in one of South Florida’s quiet, southern-style neighborhoods, highlight the relaxing areas of your yard or porch by investing in a hammock or bench swing.” This is an easy low-cost way to bring character to your house while featuring the charm of your peaceful — albeit sleepy — community.
3. Texturize And Tend To The Details
Buying a house, especially for the first time, is arguably one of the most important decisions in life, so it’s no wonder that emotions can run high throughout the process. It’s a high-stakes financial transaction that transforms relationships, lifestyles and the happiness of all parties involved.
And it is also, according to Miller, very similar to dating.
“You know right away. When you meet your significant other, your husband or your wife, you know within seconds if they’re the one. It’s pretty much the same thing with a house. I see it all the time from a buyer’s perspective. They’ll pull up to the house and just look at me and say, ‘Jeff, this is the house. I just know it.’”
So what does this mean for sellers? It’s about creating an atmosphere in the house that buyers can’t resist, just as the city of Miami does, flaunting itself to visitors and residents all year round. It’s about focusing on the details — and texturizing them.
It helps to think of it in the context of the five senses, traditionally-recognized methods of perception: smell, sound, sight, taste and touch. Here are some ways Miller and his team have texturized the houses they’ve taken on, ones you can employ, to create a more pleasing atmosphere and build attraction in buyers:
- Smell: “We work with a couple of companies that infuse essential oils into the air conditioning system of the house. You can also curate your own scent, so when buyers walk into the house they instantly have an amazing feeling.”
- Sound: “You might want to have some very soft music in the background to create the ambiance.” (However, Realtor Magazine suggests sellers should be mindful of where the property is located — vibrant oceanfront condo? quiet gated single-family home? — and how that might impact music choice.)
- Sight: “We’ve worked with Feng shui specialists who’ve come in and set up the furniture to have a nice flow. You want it to be aesthetically-pleasing.” (And, according to The Spruce, you want it to be visually — and actually — clean: “Before a showing or an open house, clean all the surfaces with hot water and a gentle cleaning solution.”)
- Taste: “For some really beautiful waterfront homes we’ve listed on the market, between $10 and $30 million, we offer champagne or rosé wine to clients when they come in. The old realtor trick is to bake cookies before an open house or showing because it smells like home.”
- Touch: “You want to have nice soft materials, and an interior designer is going to help with that.” Imagine fuzzy throw pillows, lush bath mats and smooth cotton comforters.
4. Depersonalize And Simplify
While you may think you’re creating a warm atmosphere, it’s in your best interest to remove any personal items from your house before you list it on the market.
Miller argues that it’s distracting for buyers because instead of envisioning themselves living in the house, they’re fixated on your personal trinkets. He suggests removing family photos, monogram towels, monogram bed sheets — objects that represent you.
U.S. News & World Report’s Real Estate division agrees: “Your home may reflect your life, but you want new people to visualize it as their home.” They suggest removing items — especially political or religious — that might distract or turn off a buyer. This is especially important considering the diverse international clientele buying in Miami right now.
A good rule of thumb? Aim for a clean slate.
Unless the house in question leads back to a celebrity: “…then you want to keep those things there because it has that wow factor. We still have a couple of properties that were owned by celebrities and everyone is always excited to know that this was the house of so and so,” Miller says.
Of course, while sellers anywhere can apply the above tips, more successfully with the help of an experienced agent, it’s essential for Miami sellers to understand who their potential buyers are — and where they come from — when editing and preparing their house.
“We have such a diverse international clientele,” Miller says. “Over the last two years, there’ve been a lot of Brazilians buying in Miami, and we as agents have recognized this and catered to their likes and tastes.”
Miller describes how he and his team have hired Brazilian interior designers to stage houses that would attract Brazilian buyers. For example, one strategic choice was to have coffee table books about Rio de Janeiro or a Brazilian artist out in the open. This way, buyers notice and appreciate the detail, and a connection is made.
The same strategy could certainly be used for other buyers — domestic and foreign — moving into the Miami area. So who are the rest?
“There’s definitely a lot of foreign investment in Miami and it comes from all over: Mexico, and South American countries like Argentina and Venezuela — you see a lot of them investing in the Miami condo market. Then you have a lot of Europeans as well, whether they’re from France, Russia, England or Turkey. Canadians are actually the largest buyer in the whole state of Florida.”
Miller says most domestic buyers in Miami come from the northeast and midwest — areas within New York, Chicago, Atlanta, New Jersey and even Texas — “just because of the geography, the same or similar time zone and easy flights. They’re all escaping and trying to come to the beach, and Miami Beach is the most beautiful beach we have in the U.S. so everyone comes to us.”
It’s no wonder then why Miami is so attractive to people from all over the world — the lifestyle exudes escape, freedom and paradise.
Homesellers in Miami, especially those who’ve lived in the region for years and years, should remember this as they make decisions on how to stage and prepare their house to sell — and fast. Oftentimes, though, these decisions can become overwhelming. So what’s a seller to do? Remember you’re not alone.
According to Miller, “the number one mistake most sellers make is that they don’t do their due diligence when hiring a real estate agent. They hire a friend or family member and think they can just take some photos, put a property on the market and buyers are going to call them and say, ‘I’ll take it’. It doesn’t happen that way.”
Hiring a seasoned real estate agent, who’s worth their Miami real estate commission, is a no-brainer because not only do they understand the local market and buyer pool, as Miller describes, they usually work as part of a team with separate people handling different aspects of the selling process — from marketing and social media to PR and press releases to photography and videography.
It’s time to find a top real estate agent in Miami who will sell your house fast and help you with the heavy lifting, and with a smile at that.
When it comes to selling, leave it to the best of the best — leaving you more time to bask under those sunny skies, in that perpetual paradise known as The Magic City.