If you’re looking for a cross-section of the housing market in the Southeast, Miami, Louisville and Atlanta are in varying stages of recovery, and each seems to be playing out a different style of rebound from the housing market’s colossal bust.
Miami is characteristically on the go once more, Atlanta has perhaps just recently awoken from the dead, and Louisville’s recovery is, like the city itself, steady and calm.
Let’s start with Miami, through the eyes of one of its foremost real estate watchers, Alex Sanchez, CEO of the Florida Bankers Association.
For four decades, Sanchez has watched the Miami real estate market go from boom and bust and back again. Now, after his hometown has survived a deep and long real estate collapse, Sanchez shows relief and perspective.
“Once again Miami will be saved,” he says. “It’s the story of Miami for the past 100 years. People from all over the Western Hemisphere come to Miami. The U.S. is stable, and they know that no matter what, they can invest here and never lose their investment. That’s why Miami is Miami.”
In fact, the Miami Association of Realtors says the city had a strong 2011, thanks mainly to these cash-rich international buyers, who choose South Florida over any other market.
The association notes foreign-born buyers pay more than their domestic counterparts, with a median home price of $222,500; what's more, 90 percent of international buyers purchase properties with cash.
Total sales for condos and single-family homes in 2011 at 24,929 units were 46 percent higher than in 2010. Equally important is that the number of transactions was actually 4 percent more than in 2005, the peak of Miami's housing bubble.
Sales of luxury homes rebounded crisply; Some 1,160 were sold in 2011, according to the Realtors association, versus 928 the year before. The median sales price tipped $1.6 million, up slightly from 2010, and the homes sat on the market fewer days (207 vs. 224).