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Agents selling SoFla real estate via luxury cars

Rolls-Royce Phantom in South Beach

South Florida’s luxury car rental market is revving up as real estate agents give tourists a spin around the region’s priciest penthouses on $400,000 wheels, Hispanic Business reported.

Broker Patricia Delinois picked up client Robert Kiger in a black Rolls-Royce Phantom to show him multimillion-dollar properties on Fisher Island.

“It was fanastic,” Kiger told the magazine. “I felt like a king.”

“What we are trying to create is a fun, trendy, different experience that they will only get in Miami,” said Delinois, broker-owner of Century 21 Premier Elite Realty.

Fancy cars add to the opulent ambience, and distinguish Miami from other world cities, John Temerian, co-owner and president of Lou La Vie, a luxury car rental agency in Miami, told the magazine.

“You can’t drive a Ferrari convertible through the streets of Brazil,” Temerian said. “So people are coming here to enjoy themselves. And how synonymous is a convertible with Miami Beach?”

Leonardo DiCaprio was seen zipping around in Bentley on a recent trip, while rapper T.I. opted for an Escalade. Jamie Foxx regularly sports a red Ferrari when he visits Miami while a few months ago, a Saudi prince asked for 200 Escalades for his family and friends when they landed on a private Boeing 747. Partnering together, local businesses were able to assemble 70. [Hispanic Business]Emily Schmall

Young New Yorkers pick South Florida for second homes

One Thousand Ocean in Boca Raton

Many New Yorkers have found their second homes in South Florida. And they’re younger than ever before, several brokers told Real Estate Weekly.

Replacing a buyer clientele of mostly retirees are a hipper crowd that is “looking at Miami like they are looking in the Hamptons,” said Jacky Teplitzky, a managing director at Douglas Elliman who specializes in sales in both the New York and Miami markets.

People in Manhattan, as well as New York City suburbs, such as Scarsdale, N.Y., Bronxville, N.Y. and Greenwich, Conn., are looking for Sunshine State properties, where the amenities of a second home are more extravagant, Teplitzky said.

The features of homes include two swimming pools, tennis courts, a parking space or a spa, Teplitzky told Real Estate Weekly.

Stephan Cotton, who handles sales at One Thousand Ocean in Boca Raton for LXR Realty, said that New Yorkers make up the largest percentage of his customer base. They prefer the retail services in Florida to the Caribbean, specifically the luxury shopping that has blossomed beyond the Miracle Mile of Coral Gables, the newspaper said. [REW]Mark Maurer

Former Versace mansion listing reduced to $75M

Casa Casuarina, the former 1930s Versace mansion in South Beach, had its offer price reduced from $100 million to $75 million, according to Coldwell Banker’s listing agents Jill Hertzberg and Jill Eber, otherwise known as the Jills.

The 25-percent price cut comes on the heels of a lawsuit by current tenant, star Miami chef Barton Weiss, for an emergency injunction to remove his boutique hotel and event space without further ado, as The Real Deal reported last week.

The home of Italian couturier Gianni Versace from 1992 until he was slain outside the front entrance in 1997, current owner Peter Loftin bought the home in 2000.

Weiss, aka Barton G, filed a complaint alleging that Loftin knew of the property’s foreclosure threat before leasing it in 2009. Weiss said the property’s tenuous finances deterred business.

The 10-bedroom, 11-bathroom gated home on Ocean Drive boasts a 54-foot-long mosaic pool lined in 24-karat gold, numerous frescoes and statues, arched doorways and an open-air courtyard. –Emily Schmall

Faena’s Argentine aesthetic in South Beach

Faena District Miami Beach

Argentine fashion designer-turned-developer Alan Faena hopes to replicate the success of Buenos Aires’ Puerto Madero restoration on a four-block strip of South Beach.

Faena converted Puerto Madero, a decrepit, overgrown port never used as such, into some of the city’s priciest real estate and a haven for Argentina’s political and business elite, adding a high sheen to the banks of the murky Río de la Plata with towers by Phillipe Starck and Lord Norman Foster.

In Miami Beach, Faena and his partner, Russian billionaire Leonard Blavatnik, bought about four blocks of development space on Collins Avenue, including the late Art Deco-era Saxony Hotel, and commissioned star architects to construct a new Faena district, the Journal said.

Foster is designing a condo tower while Rem Koolhaas’s firm, OMA, will oversee the design of a complex that includes retail, a roboticized parking garage and an arts center.

The Saxony, to be renamed Faena Hotel, will be refurbished by Roman and Williams, whose projects include New York’s The Standard and the Ace Hotel.

“It’s the first time that a voice is arriving from the south to North America — and it’s not only my voice, but the voice of the entire region. So we feel responsible for that flag — all the messages, the feelings, our mentality, our music, our dancing, our way of living,” Faena was quoted as saying. [WSJ]Emily Schmall

S. Florida home prices soar for fifth straight month

Seller’s market

South Florida home prices gained for a fifth consecutive month by more than 20 percent in April as bidding wars break out over a shrinking pool of inventory, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

In six months, the region’s housing market has done a complete turn-around after six years in decline.

Palm Beach County’s median home price rose to $265,000 last month, a 26 percent increase from a year ago, the Sentinel reported, citing figures from the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches. Broward County’s median home price increased by 22 percent to $250,000, according to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors.

South Florida is a seller’s market, preferring cash offers and asking that buyers shorten inspection periods and waive appraisal contingencies, the newspaper said.

As prices rise and the housing shortage worsens, buyers are offering premiums on homes’ appraised value.

“People tend not to be rational in these frenzies,” Stan Humphries, chief economist for real estate website Zillow.com, told the paper. “They may buy at whatever the cost.” [Sun-Sentinel]Emily Schmall

Fla. attorney general considering New York’s mortgage settlement banks complaint

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi

Florida’s attorney general Pam Bondi said her office is considering claims that Wells Fargo and Bank of America are violating the terms of last year’s nationwide, five-bank mortgage settlement.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has notified a national oversight commission created to enforce the agreement, which requires banks to respond to mortgage modification requests within 30 days, and pledged to sue if the group took no action.

Bondi said in a news release this morning that her office is considering the attorney general’s complaint.

“As one of the hardest hit states in the foreclosure crisis, we have been closely monitoring compliance with the national mortgage settlement, and we are in regular contact with several banks on behalf of complainants,” Bondi said. “We look forward to reviewing the information New York has provided.”

The $25 billion settlement between the government and the nation’s five largest mortgage lenders has gone to some 102,000 distressed Florida homeowners with an average of $75,949 in relief, according to a February report of the Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight.