Miami and Palm Beach’s Top 25 Real Estate Agents And How They Cater to Joe Jonas, Future, Sylvester Stallone and MoreFebruary 1, 2023
The Hollywood Reporter reveals its inaugural list of the Hollywood-loved brokers to know in the hot market of South Florida, home to the biggest U.S. house sale of 2022, Larry Ellison’s $173 million purchase.
This oceanfront estate on more than eight acres in Palm Beach is owned by billionaire Larry Ellison and on the market for $145 million. It’s listed with Adam McPherson, Chris Leavitt and Ashley McIntosh of the Leavitt/McIntosh Team at Douglas Elliman.
The hurricane of cash that flooded South Florida during the pandemic may have slowed, but the real estate brokers who rule its pimped-out properties say the market is still flying high. Miami-Dade County brokers had a record year in 2021 and already had posted their fourth-best year ever by November 2021, according to the Miami Association of Realtors. Better still, South Florida had three out of the nation’s top 10 most expensive home sales of 2022. Celebrities who have bought or rented in the area in the last couple years include Sylvester Stallone (who paid $35 million for a Palm Beach estate in late 2020), Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez (who briefly rented a $130k a month waterfront mansion in Miami Beach last year via Corcoran) and Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber (who spent $9.6 million on a Miami Beach home in 2021). And designer Tom Ford was recently revealed as the buyer of a $51 million property in Palm Beach in a deal that closed last month.
“In the past year and a half, people started moving not only their families down, they started moving their companies down,” says Joseph Liguori, co-owner of Premier Estate Properties. “So whether it’s from California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut or Chicago, they’re moving hundreds or thousands of employees down to this marketplace.”
As cheap debt dries up and a recession looms, it’s not hard to understand why: “Taxes,” says Dora Puig of Luxe Living Realty. “We’re very attractive to high-net-worth individuals because we don’t have a state income tax — and our weather is absolutely stunning right now.” And looking toward 2023, some Florida brokers are expecting increased sales due to the recently passed Measure ULA (United to House L.A.) that increases taxes on $5 million-plus properties in Los Angeles.
But if anything is putting the brakes on the market, it’s inventory. Across Miami, the supply of luxury single-family homes was down roughly 50 percent in the third quarter from pre-pandemic levels, according to Douglas Elliman reports. Meanwhile, the number of luxury condos on the market declined for the ninth straight quarter.
The bright side of a supply crunch? Surging prices. The average price per square foot of a luxury single-family home hit a record high in the third quarter, and two deals in 2022 topped $100 million. (Here’s looking at you Ken Griffin and Larry Ellison.)
“I don’t think we are going back to 2021 when there was that sense of urgency,” says Jill Eber of the Jills Zeder Group at Coldwell Banker. “But it’s a healthy market. People love the Miami lifestyle.”
THR scoured celebrity sales, crunched numbers and peeped into the biggest waterfront listings to anoint Miami’s and Palm Beach’s top brokers.
Senada Adzem, who escaped war-torn Bosnia to become one of South Florida’s most visible brokers, is set to close 2022 with more than $350 million in sales. To get numbers like that, “Buyers have to know that you are authentic,” says Adzem, who regularly appears on CNBC and Fox Business and focuses on Fort Lauderdale, Delray Beach and Boca Raton. “You have to have great media and lifestyle connections, too.” That means forging relationships with the world’s top jewelers, yacht brokers and exotic car dealers to ease the transition to Florida for her super-rich clientele. “Our clients move from New York or California, and they don’t have the perfect contacts here,” says Adzem. “So if they want a $2 million car, having the ability to facilitate an introduction is important.” It’s a winning strategy. In October, she set a record in the town of Weston when she sold Chicago White Sox outfielder Luis Robert Moirán a $12.3 million waterfront mansion. “Every time that you set the market, you’re doing something extraordinary that no one has ever accomplished before,” she says.
“I just closed a deal right this minute,” says an exuberant Lourdes Alatriste. “It was one of my babies, a penthouse at the Zaha Hadid building [One Thousand Museum] that I’ve been marketing for a year and a half.” That deal was “only” $18.25 million, she says. Alatriste banked around $210 million in deals last year, with transactions that include co-brokering the sale of a $34 million Coral Gables mansion bought by the parents of Jeff Bezos, according to public records. Her favorite deal of 2022? Selling a four-acre waterfront Coral Gables estate for $38 million. “To be number one, you have to have knowledge,” she says, noting that she started her career in the title business. “And you have to have timing. You have to be available. Your clients have to know you’re working for them and giving them the service and the privacy they deserve.”
Oren and Tal Alexander
The mega-selling Alexander brothers — who exceed $5 billion in career sales and operate in both New York (where Tal lives) and Florida (Oren’s home base) — rocked the industry in June when they decamped from Douglas Elliman after a decade to launch their own brokerage, Official. (In 2021, their deals accounted for an estimated 3 percent of Elliman’s total sales.) Oren’s big transactions in Florida in 2021 (while still at Elliman) included repping the buyer of a $36 million condo sold by Kayak CEO Steve Hafner and selling billionaire Shari Arison’s Bal Harbour estate for $41.5 million. “The key to our success in Miami is knowing the intricacies of the market,” says Oren, who notes his work includes helping transition new residents to a different lifestyle. “I’m introducing them to board members at schools, getting them everything from their masseuses to personal trainers to tennis pros, taking them spear fishing. I help them feel comfortable. I want them to feel a part of the community and really enjoy themselves.” Oren also shares that Official plans to next expand to Aspen and Los Angeles.
CHRISTIAN ANGLE REAL ESTATE
Palm Beach isn’t the seasonal market for suntanned socialites it used to be. Today, it’s a polestar for primary residences. “Buyers are asking me, ‘Where can we put our children in school?’ ‘Where can I get office space?’ ” says Christian Angle. Currently, he’s looking for a buyer for 10 Tarpon Isle, Palm Beach’s only private island, where a 21,406-square-foot mansion is under construction and is asking an incredible $218 million. “People are spending $200 million for one-of-a-kind artworks. People are spending $100 million for a one-of-a-kind Mercedes. This is a one-of-a-kind island. Once it’s sold, it’s gone,” he says. Angle, who repped Sylvester Stallone in his purchase of a $35 million mansion in Palm Beach in 2020, banked more than $850 million in closed or pending sales last year. Those deals include a $50 million spec mansion near Mar-a-Lago; a $23.85 million mansion at 101 Gulfstream Road sold by hedge funder Mark Massey; and a $56 million off-market mansion at 325 Via Linda. “We know about properties before anybody else knows about them,” Angle says of his success since launching his firm in 2006. “We bring a service that’s second to none.”
Billy Joel’s nine-bedroom oceanfront and lakefront home in Manalapan went on the market in November, listed with Christian Angle. DANNY PETRONI OF DANNY PETRONI PHOTOGRAPHY
A mainstay on THR‘s top 30 agents in Hollywood list, Santiago Arana — who has done deals with such celebrities as Lady Gaga and LeBron James — led The Agency’s expansion into the Miami market last year, launching the brokerage’s 34th franchise in Bal Harbour. “We had partners and agents from around the world come to attend our launch and tour some amazing real estate,” says Arana, who stars on Netflix’s new real-estate reality show Buying Beverly Hills. Arana has found a strong Miami market where streamlined, turn-key real estate in exclusive communities is at a premium for folks around the globe. “Buyers and renters from around the U.S., Canada and Latin America,” he says, “are seeking a relaxed oceanside lifestyle-coastal contemporary-style homes, ample outdoor space, amenity-rich offerings and the state’s famously low property tax rates.”
In 2022, Nancy Batchelor, whose career sales top $1 billion, represented the sellers of a $4.3 million Palm Island home to Major Food Group co-founder Mario Carbone and sold a four-bedroom oceanfront condo at Four Seasons Surf Club for $21 million. “Real estate has become all about concierge-style white glove service; you must have a well-equipped ‘black book’ of top designers, contractors, art experts, legal advisers, accountants, etc., all accustomed to dealing with high-net-worth individuals. Having solid vendor relationships that can support their luxe lifestyle is essential,” says Batchelor, who also is known for her philanthropic work via The Batchelor Foundation, run by her husband, Jon, which focuses on grants to support children, animals and the natural environment in South Florida.
Compass’ Nancy Batchelor repped the seller of this 1925 Palm Island residence, purchased by restaurateur Mario Carbone in September. COURTESY OF ZOLTAN PRESENTS LUXHUNTERS
ONE SOTHEBY’S INTERNATIONAL REALTY
Sky-high interest rates don’t have Elena Bluntzer worried. The CEOs and business executives she specializes in servicing don’t finance the $15 million-plus properties they snap up. “I haven’t had financing contingencies in my contracts for many, many years,” says Bluntzer, who started her career in private banking. “If you want to negotiate the best deal you can, be a cash buyer.” Those cash deals tallied up to $90 million in sales in 2022, including a penthouse at the Four Seasons Residences Miami that included $2 million in artwork. That $15.9 million deal set the record for the Brickell Financial District. She’s currently listing an eight-bedroom estate in Coconut Grove for $48 million — $20 million more than it was asking just three years ago. “We’ve had two offers very close to asking,” she says. “My motto in Miami is work like a New Yorker.”
One Sotheby’s International Realty’s Elena Bluntzer sold this penthouse at the Four Seasons Residences Miami for $15.9 million. MIAMI REAL ESTATE PHOTOGRAPHERS