Community focus: Cocoplum

One of the most iconic gated communities in Coral Gables is Cocoplum. It was initially purchased by George Merrick, the founder of the City of Coral Gables, to give his beloved city a beach. Tahiti Beach, now a gated community within the gated community of Cocoplum, was formerly the public beach for Coral Gables residents.

All of Cocoplum, including Tahiti Beach, was purchased for $8M in the 1970s from the City of Coral Gables by the Arvida Corporation. Arvida was headed by Ambassador Charles Cobbs, who is now called the founder of the Cocoplum gated community (NOTE: Ambassador Cobbs was a Stanford MBA, like the author of this blog. While I disagree with what he did, I recognize the fantastic negotiating skills evidenced in this real estate transaction. I hope to put mine at the service of the reader.).

Arvida developed Cocoplum in three phases: Phase 1, Islands of Cocoplum (Phase 2), and Tahiti Beach.

Cocoplum Phase 1 is comprised of larger lots than the Islands of Cocoplum, but more importantly, the owners of these homes are NOT members of the HOA (Cocoplum homeowners association).

Cocoplum Phase 2, better known as the Islands of Cocoplum, was established in 1979. It has a mandatory HOA. There is a $35,000 application for membership and a quarterly fee of $1200. The benefits of the HOA include a clubhouse with a soon-to-be renovated gym, basketball, volleyball, and tennis courts. The residents of the Islands of Cocoplum can also purchase or lease a boat or yacht slip (40 ft to 120 ft.) at the Cocoplum Yacht Club. There are other membership benefits as well. The islands of Cocoplum boasts of the most extended list of amenities of any community outside of Fisher Island.

Moreover, finally, there is Tahiti Beach, with its gorgeous, pristine private beach. Only the residents of the 25 homes in Tahiti Beach can get through that last gate…. Ambassador Cobbs became one of its longtime residents.

Today the homes in Cocoplum sell from $2.5M to $29M. For an in-depth analysis of the real estate market in this community, contact Maria Murdock at 305.815.9425.

Community focus: Gables by the Sea

The City of Coral Gables has many diverse communities and neighborhoods. The southernmost gated community is Gables by the Sea, which is a boater’s or yachtsman’s dream community because of its unobstructed ocean access. Some call Gables by the Sea the maritime center of Miami because of its easy access to both the Brickell area and the Florida Keys.

Membership in the homeowner’s association is optional, and the fee is nominal. The community is simple. It has a sculpture at the entrance and a children’s park. There is an annual boat/yacht parade. The atmosphere is down to earth, very relaxed, and informal. The closest shopping district is in Pinecrest.

Gables by the Sea saw a massive resurgence in real estate prices in 2018. For the previous two years before that, the sale price per foot square declined steeply, from $508 in 2015 down to $435 in 2017. In 2018 it climbed to about $540 per square foot. Buyers who wanted waterfront properties at bargain prices purchased properties in all price ranges and remodeled the homes, with some of them going back on the market at $700+ per square ft.

A property that tells the narrative: A house on Lerida Street is currently listed for $3.4M. A Vice-President of FedEx purchased the property for about $1.8M in 2014, gutted it and poured well over $1M to modernize it and just as he finished the renovation… was transferred to a different location. The house sold in April 2018 for $3M to its current owners. They now have to move and have listed it for $3.4M. Call or text Maria Murdock at 305.815.9425 if you would like a viewing appointment.

Great news! 7000 Old Cutler Road Fire Station voted down and off the agenda for Wednesday 11/14

Today, the Coral Gables City Commission met and discussed the proposed purchase for $4M of land on 7000 Old Cutler Road to build a fire station. The measure needed a 4/5 supermajority to pass.

Fortunately, Commissioners Mena and Lago voted against the measure and the measure failed. As a result, the topic has been removed from the agenda of tomorrow’s (Wednesday 11/14) Zoning Board meeting.

Both Commissioner Mena and Commmissioner Lago were a voice of reason during the discussion. They recognized the desire to improve emergency response times. They simply questioned whether the city and fire department had done a thorough evaluation as to the most cost effective way to achieve that goal. Clearly building a fire station with fire truck is not necessary to have an ambulance in a better location.

Instead, they recommended that we consider alternatives and even had a couple of very interesting suggestions: 1) Positioning an ambulance on Cocoplum Circle during rush hour (where the Uber drivers park) or 2) Renting a space for an ambulance at the Riviera Health Resort or a local church.

We thank Commissioners Mena and Lago for being good stewards of our city’s resources.

Breaking news: rumor of fire station scuttles home sale

Last week, an offer was made on a property for sale on Sunset Drive. When the buyer was informed of rumors that a fire station might be built on Cocoplum Circle, the buyer withdrew their offer.

Note: they did not reduce their price by 20% or more, they simply were no longer interested in the property at any price. This is the worst possible outcome.

The fire station has already hurt prices.

What's the value of a home in Coral Gables?

One of the most common questions we are asked is, “What is the value of a home in Coral Gables?” The short answer is $444/sq.ft. The better answer starts with a question – What is your home’s market segment?

The price per square foot ranges from $359/sq.ft. for homes worth under $1M to $743/sq.ft. for homes worth over $3.5M – a factor of more than 2X. Homes worth between $1M and $1.5M are worth $399/sq.ft. while homes worth between $1.5M and $3.5M are worth $469/sq.ft.

Coral Gables is a Beautiful community and there is much to offer to a very wide spectrum of buyers. We have a full range of homes, from smaller homes in North Gables to the most exclusive large estates on the water in Gables Estates and many options in between. We have identified a dozen different market segments and each segment has its own pricing dynamics. When buying or selling a home, it is important to understand the market position of the home and of its market segment.

We can help you better understand the market dynamics in your target market segment. We will update pricing information in this Coral Gables blog on a regular basis. You may also call 305.815.9425 to discuss the pricing of your particular home.

The Story of Coral Gables: Part 2

(Note: To read the beginning of the story, go to the first episode at the bottom of the blog.)

The pioneer life of the Merrick Family in what is now Coral Gables was especially difficult for George. Despite his great intellect, he was not allowed to have any formal schooling from age thirteen until age twenty because he had to work to help support his family.

He worked side by side during this time with men from the Bahamas who were hired to help as laborers on the Merrick plantation. These men became his friends, and for the rest of his life, George became an advocate for the disadvantaged.

The harshness of his adolescence did not prevent him from furthering his education by reading everything he could get his hands on. These enormous challenges did not dampen his spirit. He continued to dream. George had to sell the produce of the plantation in Coconut Grove and Miami. He said once in an interview that it was during this time that he imagined that his cart, filled with produce, was moving in the mist of Beautiful homes. The seed of the City of Coral Gables had been planted in the heart and mind of a young poet.

It's a buyer's market in Coral Gables

We are in a buyer’s market in Coral Gables. More houses dropped prices than were sold this past month of September 2018, which means we have turned a point and we are now in a buyer’s market. Expect prices to continue to drop. This is great news for buyers, since the lower prices are making up for the fact that interest rates have been rising.

If you wish to sell your home in Coral Gables, it is now more important than ever to price your home for sale correctly to have any chance of selling anytime soon. Do not get saddled with carrying costs, which can be very substantial in our community. MMG at EWM Realty International has the most competent pricing experts in the real estate industry to help you price your home correctly so that it can sell.

Read about pricing in our blog titled “What is the value of a home in Coral Gables?”

Welcome to the Coral Gables Blog

We believe that it is fitting to begin the Coral Gables blog with the history of our City Beautiful, but there is so much important information to share with you regarding market trends and life here that we have decided to share our history over time in short episodes.

Coral Gables was founded in 1925, but its history began in October 1899 when George Edgar Merrick arrived in Florida with his Yale-educated father, Solomon, to prepare their newly purchased property for the arrival of the rest of the family.

George was thirteen years old.  A youth of great intellect who had attended a New England prep school, he seemed to be destined for an ivy league education.  He was a poet at heart and wanted to become a writer.

Their new home was a 160 acre property (in what is now Coral Gables) that Solomon purchased without seeing.  It was wild pine land with a shack, a mule, and a barn.  The family had spent all it had to purchase this most unwelcoming place.  They had no income and knew upon their arrival that it would take years of hard labor and sacrifice to make this land a productive plantation.