Realty Check

Florida's "Non" Flipper: His Maserati Is In The Shop


I'm on day two of my shoot for "Business Nation," focussing on just what caused the Miami condo market to rise and fall so fast. Today, I met Mark Zilbert, founder of, which he has of course renamed Forget flipping. It's all about the discounts. I don't want to tell you everything he said (for one thing I'm blogging by BlackBerry and my thumbs are starting to ache), but I was struck by a comment toward the end of the interview.

Mr. Zilbert is trying to put an optimistic face on the market, although he admits we've yet to see what could be a huge wave of condo foreclosures. He claims that prices here have basically hit bottom. They'll stay flat for a while, he projects, and then start to climb back in 2009. He admits there"s a clear and present glut of units, but he's confident there is enough international interest in this city to eventually soak it up.

Now here's the kicker: When I asked if he personally lost money flipping, he replied "Oh no, I never bought a property to flip!" He said this with great pride, explaining that he always, even during the headiest times, considered the Miami condo flip far too risky. So here's a guy who offered the canvas for investors to paint themselves into a corner, but he himself never raised a brush. Gotta hand it to him. He made the deals and reaped the commissions, and now he drives a Maserati.

Of course it's always in the shop. I guess every investment has its risks. (I'll be taking up a collection for the orthopedist who will be seeing my thumbs next week).

FYI: Here's a blog of interest on real estate: bubble meter.

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