Miami Beach Pawn Ad

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Developers are increasingly worried that buyers may be trying to cancel their contracts for either legitimate or frivolous reasons. Over the last four years or so, the Miami area has enjoyed a renaissance and real estate boom. During that time, reports claimed that 60,000 to 70,000 condos were planned or under construction. In spite of the recent “bust,” the reality today is that most of these projects have survived and will be delivered in the next 18 months. Many people are realizing, to their horror, that they can’t afford to close or don’t want to.

Under state law, a buyer can cancel a contract if a “material” amendment is made to the condominium documents that “adversely” affects the buyer.

The two most important words in the above sentence are, you guessed it, “material” and “adversely.” What may be “material” or “adverse” to you may not be so to a judge or jury.

The reason why this is Miami’s touchiest subject right now is because developers are concerned that buyers in general don’t want
to close because of the South Florida housing downturn. Since real estate is governed by the law of supply and demand, one can just look up at the Miami skyline and deduce that supply totally exceeds demand and that the majority of the buyers in these towers are speculators. “Oversupply” and the “new South Florida condo market” are the flies in the ointment here that no one counted on changing, and changing so rapidly.

I find that this is really about the speculators who don’t want to keep their units. When these buyers made their initial purchases, they were likely sold a pretty picture on how they wouldn’t have to close, and that the project was going to start a “re-sale” office to help speculators off-load their condos. The developer’s reps projected a enormous gains;basically, a scenario of all of the benefits with none of the risks!

I know a project that had material changes to their docs, which automatically gave buyers the chance to get their money back and rescind the contract. This development basically lost all of its buyers, and now the developer is looking at changing uses to either a rental tower or a hotel.

What should you do if you can’t or don’t want to close on your Miami pre-construction condo? Here is some advice:

  1. Check the last date signed on your contract with the developer. When did it become an executed agreement by all parties? By state law, the developer has to deliver the unit within a specified time from the date you signed the contract. If the developer doesn’t finish the project within the time allowed, and you haven’t signed any extensions or new contracts that “re-up,” (make it a new contract with a new date), you may be able to rescind on that fact alone.
  1. Call the developer. Tell him that you can’t possibly close on the unit and ask to be released from the agreement. I did this with one of my clients and since he bought a very desirable unit very early in the game, the developer was more than happy to take the condo back because he could make a few hundred thousand more dollars on it. This is a long shot, but worth a try. This developer was very well funded, met his pre-sale requirements, and the project was a huge success. If you feel that your project hasn’t been that successful, this approach is worth a try.
  1. Check for any last minute changes to the condo docs and/or operating budget. Right before closings begin, developers will file any last minute changes to the condo docs. There might be “material” change that is “adverse” to the buyer.
  1. Hire a good real estate lawyer. I am shocked beyond belief by how many people purchase these sometimes multi-million-dollar condos and never run the deal by their attorney. I make sure my clients read their contract with the developer and have their lawyer review it before they sign it. As I said in my last post, read your condo docs!

Getting out of your contract is NOT going to be easy, so at the end of the day be prepared to close or lose your deposit.