Real Estate Love Story

Andy Tobias's Belle Meade selloff does not imply a Miami housing crash

"Nobody expected this game to move this fast," Pleban adds. "In the last year, [there has been] dramatic change. There are people who actually want to live on the west side [of the boulevard]." West, meaning more blighted and crime-ridden.

For example, houses that Tobias bought for $60,000 to $80,000 in the late Eighties and early Nineties are now going for $160,000 to $200,000, Pleban says. Some have topped $400,000. He estimates Tobias made "a few million" from the sales, but maintains he hadn't been keeping a precise count.

"About a year ago my telephone started ringing a lot," Pleban confides. "'I want to buy a duplex! I want to buy real estate!' It was the same story over and over. People that never had rental properties before were going into it. 'I want a fixer-upper. I want to flip.' I never heard 'flip' so many times. I think a lot of people are a little late to the party."

Pleban thinks Miami's burgeoning luxury condo market is heading for a glut, and hence a nice price fall. But values of single-family homes, a Belle Meade staple, are not likely to implode because they're in relatively short supply, especially in neighborhoods close to downtown. So people who got a good deal on a Belle Meade house are probably in good shape. And that includes Tobias, when he gets a break from his ceaseless and daunting DNC fundraising mission.

"I'm still high on the Upper East Side, which only looks to be getting better and better," Tobias assures. "And hey, I still own Belle Meade Studios and a vacant lot across the boulevard, and an investment condo in the Palm Bay [Club] -- and my HOME!"

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