22 January 2019

High Times on Miami Beach?

Modern Florida beachfront homes, by real estate broker Tobias Kaiser

On January 2, 2018, in an article entitled “Florida Could Be Close to a Real Estate Reckoning,” the Insurance Journal suggested that “one of the great mysteries of climate change isn’t scientific but psychological: When will the growing risks associated with rising seas and more severe storms begin to affect home values in otherwise desirable coastal markets?”

The article continued: “Nowhere is that question more pressing than South Florida, which has some of the country’s priciest properties—and some of the most vulnerable. A state built on real estate speculation, whose chief attribute was proximity to the water, now faces a whole new problem: There’s not enough land, high enough above the water, for its residents to pull back from the rising seas. By the end of the [21st] century, database company Zillow Group estimates, almost a half-million Miami homes could be—literally—underwater. That’s more than anywhere else in the country.”

Fast forward to December 21, when The Real Deal newsletter reported that home buyers and builders in Miami Beach have seized upon one immediate, if not visionary, solution to rising sea levels and the growing threat of flooding:

Higher stilts.

Elevated living quarters already a building requirement in the Florida Keys and on Key Biscayne, in July last year Miami Beach eased its restrictions on the height limit beneath single-family homes, which was set at seven feet (2.31 m). With approval from the city’s Design Review Board, owners and builders can now use pilings, or stilts, to raise the first floors of their homes up to 15 feet (4.95 m) – as architect Rene Gonzalez is proposing for his own house in the Venetian Islands.

“For now, Miami Beach’s elevated home designs mostly cater to luxury construction because of prohibitively high costs,” The Real Deal article states. “But in the future, industry experts said, those projects will become more common as designs are modified, prices drop and flood insurance rates rise.”

Patrick Dwyer, a wealth advisor with Merrill-Lynch, hired the renowned Miami firm Arquitectonica to design his two-story, $5 million house, which will sit high above Lucerne Avenue. Asked about the elevation he required, Dwyer said, “This seemed like a no-brainer. If you’re in Miami Beach and you’re not thinking about sea level rise, then you don’t really understand what’s to come.”

Difficult subject? Certainly. Can we – owners, buyers, Realtors, the public – close our eyes and make it go away? Most certainly not.

My question to Florida home owners and buyers: does this subject influence your purchase or ownership decisions, and if so how?

Looking forward to hear from you, here in the comment section or at tobias@modernsouthflorida.com.

Photo: Modern beachfront/waterfront home by architect Toshiki Mori on North Casey Key, Florida, with 7,100+ sf, six bedrooms, nine bathrooms, den and bonus room on the interior, swimming pool and guest house. Off-market.

01 January 2019

Re-Introduction, The List

It's that time of the year again – time to greet the New Year, but also time take a moment to introduce myself to new readers and add a bit of background.

Proper Introduction

I'm a passionate fan of modern(ist) homes since I was quite young. According to my mum, as baby I was parked in my little crib in my parents' dining room, jazz playing in the background, while they discussed with their architect friend the modern house they were going to build, in which I would grow up in (modern vs. modernist is another post I regularly schedule, as it is a bit confusing. But there is a correct answer).

Unfortunately never having studied architecture, I snuggled up to it by opening my own office (now located in Boca Raton, Florida) as an independent real estate broker and consultant for modern architecture in 1990, approximately covering the area between Vero Beach and South Miami on the Atlantic coast.

It took me a bit to find my focus in real estate, and that in a market flooded with real estate agents. After being licensed I worked several years in all sorts of residential and commercial real estate: a generalist. But I found my calling over 15 years ago: modern homes, from mid-century to today's modernism. My real estate background is commercial, so I also know something about NNN-investment properties and still work in that field as well.

The List

One of my most important tools and part of my secret sauce is The List.

For many years, I have been documenting modernist properties in South-East Florida: observed, accidentally found, searched out, or through our Realtor property database MLS, they all end up in my Master List of contemporary and mid-century modernist properties - mostly single family homes, with a condo building, a supermarket or even a car dealership included for good measure.

Our MLS database is a bit tricky; since there is no “Modern” filter I devised my own. Consequently, I have as many as nine special searches running parallel, handpicking modernist properties for my list several times a week.

Over the course of the years, this list has grown to more than 4,500 unique modernist properties in Southeast Florida, covering roughly the area between South Miami and Vero Beach.

It is a labour of love and real work to keep the list updated, including sales prices. However, it's not only an excellent educational tool but truly invaluable when it comes to finding modern houses for buyers who know what they want, or for sellers who need an expert to properly evaluate and market their modern home.

My Invitation to You

I warmly invite your comments, questions and inquiries, independent of you being a seller, a buyer or a simply a fan of modernist architecture.