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Mondo Condos

Condo markets in Broward and Palm counties aren’t as international as in Miami-Dade, and there are fewer cash buyers, Miller Samuel prez Jonathan Miller tells us. But he adds they’re every bit as vibrant. (Matching Miami in vibrancy is always something to write home about. Speaking of which, your mother in Miami wants you to write home more.)

The traditional buyer from the Northeast is still the mainstay of non-Miami South Florida condo markets, Jonathan says, though buyers from Latin America and other places are active. Also, in Broward and Palm counties cash buyers represent 50% to 60% of the total, while in parts of Miami it’s as much as 75%. (Attention caddies and bartenders: There is a lot of cash in this area so start flocking!) “Underwriting standards aren’t any looser than they’ve been since the housing crash, but traditional borrowers have become more adept at securing mortgages,” Jonathan says. “That fact has helped drive the condo markets outside of Miami over the last year or so.”

Douglas Elliman’s reports on the Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach condo markets, which Jonathan prepared, were released today. In all three markets, prices were up sharply year-over-year, sales trended higher, and the time it takes to sell a unit is down. In Boca, median sales prices jumped 28.2% since last year, while in Fort Lauderdale prices gained 19.4%, and in Palm Beach they were up 23.9%. If it’s luxury you’re after (a unit in the top 10% of pricing), it now costs more in all of the markets, indicating increasing demand for even the highest-price residencies outside Miami-Dade.

In Miami-Dade, condo development has moved beyond the high-rises downtown into other markets. This week, the Astor Cos unveiled plans for 180 units in 10 stores in Coral Gables, the first new development there since the last time condos boomed in SoFla. Merrick Manor, at 301 Altara Ave and adjacent to the Village of Merrick Park, is slated for a 2014 completion. The condo market has bounced back a lot faster than anyone predicted, Astor Cos’ VP Peter Torres explains, so now is the time to capture upscale demand in markets outside downtown.

What kind of condo do you get in Miami Beach for $27M? This 7,100 SF penthouse, the entire 40th floor of Setai Resort, that’s what. It’s the latest record-breaking price for a condo in greater Miami, according to Zilbert International Realty’s Jeff Miller, who repped the anonymous but deep-pocked buyer. The “unit” includes four bedrooms, four-and-a-half bathrooms, and an outdoor rooftop terrace with private pool and hot tub. (Presumably the buyer has a private zeppelin and will need to install a place to moor it.)