Has the bottom hit the South Florida condo market? It's hard to imagine how much lower things can go. Recent research released by Bal Harbour, Fla.-based consulting firm Condo Vultures reveals that condo, townhouse, and single-family homes in the area sold for an average discount of 43 percent?or -$323,784 per residence?in 2008, compared to their highs in the years before.

Condo Vultures tracked sales of 1,717 properties in 2008, totaling nearly 2.7 million square feet of condos, townhouses, and single-family homes in coastal South Florida, in the areas east of I-95 in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach (where the firm contends most of the South Florida speculators are seeking real estate) counties. These assets traded for a combined price of $775 million, down from a historical high of $1.33 billion. That's more than $550 million off the historical high.

Condos and townhouses, which account for 69.6 percent of the database, are down an average of 38.5 percent, or $210,121 per residence. Downtown Miami had an average price drop on condos of 41.8 percent.

The 2008 declines did come as a bit of a surprise to Peter Zalewski, a principal with Condo Vultures. After seeing 1,272 properties in the same area trade for an average discount of 29 percent, or $258,818 per residence, in 2007, he thought prices would have stabilized more. But they didn't. He says the problem is financing or the lack thereof.

"[The decline] reflected the lack of financing that was available," Zalewski says. "Sellers have come to the conclusions that if they want to sell, it has to be an all-cash buyer. That all-cash buyer tends to be really savvy and has owned before. They can be patient and hold back. Those sellers are being forced to capitulate."

Others in the market see this as well. "Most of the sales in this market are distressed," says Avery R. Klann, senior vice president with Apartment Realty Advisors, a brokerage firm in Boca Raton, Fla. "The seller is in trouble, or the bank is selling it, or it's a combination of both, which is a short-sale. I think a lot of buyers in the market are cash buyers."

While both Klann and Zalewski think things are stabilizing and supply is dwindling, it will be a while before the buyers return. "People want to buy, but they're reluctant to buy because they're concerned about their job and financial situation," Klann says. "There's Freddie and Fannie in the market, but you have to put 20 percent down. In some markets, we'll continue to see a declines in prices until things have bottomed out."

Falling Off

Each of South Florida's primary counties has seen significant price declines in condo, townhouse, and single-family homes. Here are the steepest property-level declines in each county.



Price Decline


Miami Gardens


Palm Beach




Oakland Park