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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real Estate Florida.)

MIAMI-Bulk purchases in the local residential condominium market, where inventory is believed to have ballooned to 40,000 units, have been few and far between thus far in 2009. However, plenty of opportunities to buy blocks of units exist that many investors simply aren’t aware of yet.

More than 200 condo and townhome projects are in Miami-Dade County with availability of at least 20 units, according to Miami-based CondoReports.com. The report draws a distinction between units built through 2007, before the perceived condo market crash, and those closing over the past 15 months.

The exact number of units in each block is a moving target because projects built in 2008 and this year’s first quarter are still closing out existing sales contracts, says Adam Cappel, CondoReports president. It is safe to assume that nearly every building that began closing last year will have a meaningful block of inventory remaining, he says.

While Miami-Dade has garnered a huge amount of national media attention for its heavy inventory of unsold condos, vulture investors and real estate opportunity funds continue to be attracted to the market: “Institutional money considers the long-term fundamentals of Miami-Dade to be stronger” than other major metropolitan markets in Florida, Cappel tells GlobeSt.com.

So far, only bulk deals in high-profile projects have grabbed local headlines, he says. For example, the newly built MarinaBlue on Biscayne Boulevard in Downtown Miami, was where an investment group bought 60 units for $13 million in January. Some condos in the deal went for as little as $126 per square foot, though local observers speculate that prices might have since moved lower, particularly for converted apartments.

CondoReports states that within the 146 projects that began closing units in 2007 or earlier, bulk ownership exceeds 14,000 units with an average block size of 87 units. Those projects were almost evenly split, with newly built units accounting for 55% and conversions making up the other 45%.

Cappel points to figures from the Florida Association of Realtors showing just over 400 condo closings in Miami in February with an inventory of 21,848 units, indicating a supply of roughly four years. He says these numbers may understate availability because only a small portion of block units is listed as being on the market, adding that true inventory could be pushing 40,000 units.

Sales of Miami-Dade condo units could pick up whenever prices eventually stabilize, though Cappel says no one can say with any certainty when that will be. “We are going to need to see a large number of these units getting into the hands of end users or well-capitalized investors,” he says.

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