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House Hunting in Fort Lauderdale

May 27th 09
By Matt Gomez

If you are among the fortunate and thrifty crew with cash on hand, this may be a great time to invest in real estate in the U.S., according to many real estate analysts. With the housing market, especially in Florida, still reeling from foreclosures, banking bailouts and credit crises, there are real estate deals to be found in and around the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area.

Crew from countries all over the world have long been active in real estate markets near bustling superyacht marinas. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale area typically holds a special attraction because of the mix of terrific weather, waterfront property and a reputation as the superyacht capital of the U.S. Captains and crew searching for long-term investment opportunities are sure to discover a surplus of available homes at attractive prices in the area.

According to the National Association of Realtors, the median home price in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area in 2008 was US $285,100. Median home prices are down 22 percent so far in 2009.

"Interest rates and property values are at all-time lows,” says Sergio Contreras, president of Hometerra Real Estate in Plantation, Fla. “This is a really great time to make an investment in real estate. There are unbelievable deals right now.”

The U.S. housing market peaked in 2005 and has been in decline ever since with record numbers of housing foreclosures and loan defaults by over-extended home buyers. But where there are challenges, there also are opportunities. The sheer number of homes for sale makes this a buyer’s market, either for investment or immediate occupancy. Crewmembers with cash on hand can buy into the market when the prices are low and, if they are patient, reap the benefits when the Florida real estate market bounces back.

“I don’t see property prices rising any time soon,” he says, “but I do see the real estate market stabilizing by the end of the year. Prices will stop going down, so we may be seeing the bottom right now. The market will recuperate. There’s nowhere to go but up as an investment.”

Still, Contreras cautions against anyone blindly investing in real estate. After all, that’s what happened before the real estate bubble burst.

Instead, he and other real estate investors recommend researching the best deals. Though glitzy condos with waterfront views may seem sexy, they also come with hefty condo association fees that can run up to $1,600 a month on top of the monthly mortgage payment, according to, a Florida-based aggregator of financial rate information. It may be tough to earn a profit from renters due to these additional out-of-pocket expenses. As a result, single-family homes in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area may ultimately provide a better investment.

“Foreclosures offer the best deals,” Contreras says. “Though crew may like the amenities that come with community living, it is tough to get financing for condos. Fort Lauderdale has plenty of condos, but those communities are struggling. Lenders do not want to extend loans within communities that have more than 15-percent delinquency, and that’s nearly all of them at the moment.”

Real estate investors also suggest that single-family homes, even ones without water views, will have higher value when the market rebounds. As the global economy improves – whenever that happens – these homes will be in demand.

Contented crew, if they are wise and patient investors, can find themselves sitting pretty on board a superyacht as they reap the benefits of a rebounding housing market on shore.

Do you think this is a good time for real estate investment or just wishful thinking? Let us know.

Related Topics:

5 Tips for Buying Investment Property (14/08/2008)

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  • Hi, it's Matt. You'll find my full name just below the headline of this article. This is a news story about the current situation in the south Florida housing market. It applies to yachties and non-yachties alike or all nationalities. As the article implies, you may do what you wish with your investments, but the "buy low, sell high" theory that has historically served the real estate markets well certainly applies here. Buy while the prices are down. They will likely go up in the future. So if you are looking for investments or simply a place to live, this would be the time to seriously look into real estate. If you are looking for illegal activities, I'm sure you can find them elsewhere if you look hard enough. I appreciate the discussion and look forward to more of it. Enjoy.
    Posted by Matt Gomez 01/06/2009 21:35:59

  • Gaining employment illegally and buying properties as a foreign investor are two very differnt issues. I also was unaware that most "yachties" were non-American. Furthermore, "American dreams" were dashed by greed and inappropriate buying and lending practices. We should invite everyone to scoop up this distressed inventory (short sales/foreclosures/REOs). The sooner the housing market gets back on track the sooner everyone benefits.

    Excellent point on choosing a good Realtor who will assist you in making sound purchases. Making money (positive cash flow) on renters may not be realistic presently but having a renter pick up most of the tab is possible. And yes very true, values have dropped but it was false valuation created by 2 to 4 years of 20 to 40% a year increase in the boom years.
    Anyway, I commend Dockwalk for informing its community of the opportunities that are out there for everyone.
    Posted by Wendy_7 01/06/2009 19:15:55

  • [Nick, I'm not giving up!]
    [Nope. Nada. Not Gonna Do it!]

    I'll say it this way since it seems that some of the DW mods are too sensitive to handle commentaries/opinions that differ from their own.

    Here we have an article basically advertising to yachties, most of them who are non-American, to tap into the housing market in the States.
    It's bad enough that this biz is engulfed with immigration/employment fraud year after year, decade after decade. Should I even bring up tax issues? But to read an article such as this one that attempts to influence yachties from other parts of the world, many if not most who did gain work illegally, to buy American homes from Americans who lost their dreams, I think is classless and another slap in the face towards Americans and American yachties.

    Shame on you Dockwalk.
    And what? I don't have the right to disagree with any of your articles and advertisments? Here in America, we're allowed to do that. What is this, Nick, the BBC?
    Posted by Debbie_3 31/05/2009 06:33:38

  • Caution is advised with waterfront or near waterfront properties all over Florida, whether foreclosures or not; values have dropped 22% on average, it's true, and in some cases more, but at the same time Flood & Hurricane Insurance has gone up big time, and Property Taxes are prohibitive in some areas - do your homework and chose your realtor with care. Right now in many areas there is absolutely no market for making money with renters, even to pay some of your mortgage,so purchase should be made as if you were personally going to live there - flipping after a couple of years doesn't work anymore, so would agree with minimum occupancy of 5 or more years! Buyer beware!
    Posted by stgeorge 30/05/2009 15:44:34

  • HMMMMMMMM, long term investment historically no good??? You are dead wrong. Where are you reading your Real Estate history??!! I believe long term as opposed to short term (5 years or less) is an excellent idea. The smart thing to do is buy, rent it out (let someone else pay for your investment) and when the market is good, sell. Even if you choose to live in it, as long as you stay for 5 plus years you will be fine. I can not imagine buying anywhere in the world that if you owned for 10 plus years you would not see a return. Short term and flipping is risky and only folks who really know what they are doing should a good day trader! My approach is conservative but sound and is all about long term.
    But hey, I DO know because I am doing it and not just making unfounded comments!
    Posted by Wendy_7 30/05/2009 14:48:09

  • Historically real estate (residential) is not such a great investment and this hold true in the US as well as abroad. There have been brief periods where this has been true, but over the long term, no.

    Buy a house if you are looking for a place to live, not as an "investment."

    But, hey, what do I know?
    Posted by ablonde 28/05/2009 02:26:25

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