Vue at Brickell – Overpriced or Insanely Overpriced?
I’d have to go with the latter on this one. A look at the current inventory of condo units for sale at the Vue at Brickell will show that the average price per square foot that these units are currently listed for is over $550. $550 per square foot! That’s for a non-waterfront condo unit, with partial bay views at best, in a building that is, by most standards, NOT a luxury high-rise building. In fact, Vue at Brickell was formerly known as Summit Brickell View when it was a rental building. The acquisition of the Summit Brickell View was made in December 2004 and conversion of the 323 units to condos began quickly thereafter. Grant it, the Summit Brickell View had recently been completed when the acquisition was made, and almost 70% of the units had never been occupied. Either way, it had, and in most cases still has, the features of a rental building. The majority of the units currently for sale still have the ceramic tile and carpeting throughout just the way they were sold when the units were sold as condos. The pictures below will show you a typical unit at Vue at Brickell.
Keep in mind that this is a typical unit at Vue at Brickell. I realize that some units have upgraded flooring and appliances, but the majority of units listed at Vue at Brickell look like this. Some units are even listed at over $700 per square foot! Those better come with marble floors, a Sub-Zero refrigerator, a Miele dishwasher, and a butler and maid! But they don’t even come close. In fact, two of those listings priced at over $700 per square foot come with ceramic tile and carpeting throughout, just as they were when the building was known as Summit Brickell View. One of those listings says “motivated sellers”. Motivated? Maybe they’re motivated to WAIT. Even the three bank-owned listings in this building are overpriced, ranging from $436 to $510 per square foot.
The average 1 bedroom at Vue at Brickell is listed for over $413,000. That can get you one of the nicest one bedrooms in some of the newest additions to Brickell such as One Miami, Brickell on the River North, Neo Vertika and Emerald at Brickell. Not to mention, a premier one bedroom unit in the soon-to-be-completed buildings in Brickell such as Plaza on Brickell, 1060 Brickell, Latitude on the River and Brickell on the River South. In my opinion, all of the aforementioned buildings have better amenities, units and views.
So what made this building so insanely overpriced? Did everyone get together and smoke the wacky tobacky without me or is something more afoul going on here? A look at closed sales for 2007 in the building reveal that mortgage fraud may have been the culprit. Three of the eight closed sales in 2007 sold for prices much higher than the asking price. Here they are below:
- List price: $549,995
- Sales price: $720,000
- List price: $619,000
- Sales price: $770,000
- List price: $647,000
- Sales price: $830,000
These types of cash-back deals have been the focus of a recent mortgage fraud investigation throughout the country. A cash-back scam occurs when a buyer offers to pay a significant amount more than the asking price, with the difference returned to them at closing. Most banks like to keep the cash-back amount to no more than 3% of the purchase price, and almost all lenders have a ceiling of 6%. In most cases, the seller and the listing agent are not aware that anything wrong is occuring and are just happy to have finally sold the property. Lenders, on the otherhand, are unaware of these large cash-back payments because the details of the arrangement are concealed within an addendum that does not get submitted to the bank along with the rest of the sales contract. Unscrupulous appraisers are often used to justify the inflated value of the property and the bank lends based on the purchase price stated on the contract after review of the appraisal.
It is no secret that Florida is well known for the mortgage fraud that has been running rampant throughout the state. In fact, according to a report released by the Mortgage Bankers Association, Florida led the nation in mortgage fraud in 2006. Hopefully, the mortgage fraud investigation throughout the state, and the rest of the country, will put an end to this nonsense so property values can return to an equilibrium state as dictated by the law of supply and demand.
If my assumptions are correct, and previous condo owners at the Vue at Brickell did fall prey to this sort of cash-back scam, then prices there will come in for a crash landing. There’s another building in Brickell that I feel may have a similar fate but I’ll leave that for an upcoming blog entry.