View From the Top Part II

Photography by James Woodley

Shot on location at Rooftop in downtown Fort Lauderdale

Creative director: Melanie Geronemus Smit

Art director: Evelyn Suarez

Special thanks to the team at Rooftop (1 W. Las Olas; rooftop1wlo.com) and Susan Penrod PR for opening the doors to the open-air bar/lounge that overlooks downtown Lauderdale and the New River. Visit lmgfl.com for the complete interviews with our real estate experts.

Peter Zupcofska

Title: Realtor associate

Company: Douglas Elliman Real Estate

What real estate trends should people be on the lookout for this year?

Downtown Fort Lauderdale is becoming a greater magnet for those who want a vital urban experience. As a result, downtown—as well as nearby neighborhoods such as Las Olas Isles, Colee Hammock, Victoria Park and Sunrise Key—are highly desirable and booming.

What can you tell readers about the South Florida real estate market that they might not know?

Homes and lots affording yachters direct ocean access with no fixed bridges, deep-water dockage and superior wide-water views are becoming increasingly rare and more valuable. As each one sells, it moves the price point up for the next similar property. Would-be homeowners and investors: Now is the time to make your move.

What’s the most important truth for people looking to buy or sell a home?

Real estate is a marvelous investment tool. Unlike stocks, bonds or bitcoins, you can live in and experience your investment, or rent it out to await a favorable market cycle for selling. It provides you a lot more than a piece of paper.


Jonathan Howard

Title: Realtor associate

Company: Kimpton Howard team at Douglas Elliman Real Estate

Why are you good at what you do?

Along with my wife, Melanie Kimpton, I have purchased, redesigned, rented short-term—and eventually have sold several properties in Fort Lauderdale. Those personal experiences give us an edge and expertise that our clients greatly appreciate.   

What’s the most valuable business lesson you’ve learned from being in real estate?

Our market constantly offers opportunities. If you are well-prepared, you can receive an incredible result. Many times, the best deals are made in a matter of hours. I have been fortunate enough to represent clients on a number of home-run deals, because they were well-informed and ready to take immediate action.

What real estate trends should people be on the lookout for this year?

My team and I focus on east Fort Lauderdale. The city is growing and improving with billions of dollars in new projects on the beach and downtown. … This [leaves] me very optimistic going forward. We are seeing more out-of-towners and foreign nationals focus on Fort Lauderdale, preferring our lifestyle compared to our neighbors to the north and south.

Ron Lennen

Title: Broker associate

Company: Premier Estate Properties

Note: Lennen is president of the Realtors of the Palm Beaches and Greater Fort Lauderdale, the country’s third-largest such association.

What real estate trends should people be on the lookout for this year?

Sellers should be on the lookout for fluctuations in the market that could affect the marketability of their homes. For example, if inventory continues to decline and prices continue to rise, we will remain in a seller’s market. If this trend continues at a strong pace, it could lead to prices that outpace wage growth, causing markets to become less affordable. An ideal market is balanced with 5½ months of inventory.

What’s something about South Florida real estate that readers might not know?

South Florida is unique in that there is a range of property types, including suburban, urban, equestrian and luxury waterfront properties with domestic and international buyers. While the overall market has been a steady incline, the luxury homes priced more than $1 million in January have seen a 28 percent spike from January 2017.

What’s the most valuable business lesson you’ve learned from the real estate industry?

While property type, size, location, and pricing matter, it is always about understanding the customer’s needs and putting them first and foremost.

Roy Oppenheim

Title: Co-founder

Company: Weston Title & Escrow

Why are you good at your job?

Besides having a real estate law practice and a title insurance business, I am an active real estate investor. I live and breathe real estate in all its dimensions. I think my clients find it comforting that I’ve been doing this for 30 years, still enjoy what I do, and can offer that wisdom to them.

What are the most valuable business lessons you’ve learned from being around real estate?

I call these Roy’s Rules. If you are developing real estate, you should try and use equity to finance the land. If you do not, you probably are going to be working with margins that will not allow for a hiccup in the economy or a lull in absorption of your inventory. Also, you should always choose your partners wisely and carefully; examine their net worth statements to make sure that if something does go wrong, you are not going to be the big fish that the lenders are going to look to for indemnification purposes. For flippers, I’ve found that those individuals who hang onto their property, lease it out and let the property mature, historically build more value and net worth [compared to those who] buy and flip constantly.

What real estate trends should people be on the lookout for?

Obviously, the biggest one is going to be the increase in interest rates. I think that as interest rates creep up, we will see values start to flatten.

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