How Miami’s King of Condo Marketing is Finding Buyers Now
Thirty-three years ago, when he started Fortune International, Edgardo Defortuna pretty much invented the concept of diving deep into South America to find Miami condo buyers—explaining to them how they can protect their wealth and find attractive value in America. With current exchange rates holding many back, leave it to Edgardo to innovate new strategies.
We snapped Edgardo at his Brickell office Tuesday morning drinking his usual cappuccino (light on the coffee). Actually, he has three strategies: zero in on the strong economies; go to smaller cities off the beaten track; and work to get more direct flights, a key to Latin interest in Miami.
One enlarged focus the last three months has been Mexico, where the economy has been growing slowly but steadily for several years including 2.5% in 2015. Edgardo, not just a top marketer but also now a major developer, says his partners in creating the Auberge Beach Residences in Ft. Lauderdale are now launching the same in Miami and went exploring in Mexico two weeks ago with great early success; and Fortune's team doing the Ritz Residences in Sunny Isles headed there this week. Other improving economies on his radar are those of Paraguay, Bolivia (Santa Cruz more than La Paz), and Peru, as well as his own home country of Argentina. And several smaller Brazilian cities with relatively new non-stop flights to Miami like Belo Horizonte and Recife.
Edgardo’s not just a collector of modern art (Jorge Perez has taught him some things), but presumably a collector of frequent flier miles—he travels every month talking to clients, often abroad. He set up an alliance with international brokerage Savills, which has a big focus in Asia, and he’s lobbying his friends at American Airlines about direct flights to Hong Kong.
Sometimes he doesn’t have to get on a plane: He lectures at the University of Miami, and a savvy Chinese student came up to him saying she’d love to help sell his product to classmates from her country—turns out there are 400 attending the school. She’s just served as an intern and is about to join Fortune full-time. And of course there are American buyers: Fortune recently entered into a partnership with Town Residential in New York. (And Edgardo sees the reverse opportunity as well: using his channels in Latin America to bring customers to NY landlords, developers and investors, many of whom he already works with closely in Miami.)
Fortune International has three key businesses: A huge South Florida brokerage with 1,000 agents; an elite marketing and sales agency that represents particular projects on an exclusive basis; and a development arm. (How does Edgardo divide his time? Around 20%, 30% and 50%, respectively.)
Edgardo tells us he’s considering two new divisions, and here we must be purposely vague on details: one that’s complementary to development; and another that follows his development mission but will feature a new product. Intrigued? Stay tuned.
Clearly he has a great fondness—and skill—for development. His Jade buildings are high-end, dramatic and popular, and his fourth is equally spectacular: the 57-story Jade Signature in Sunny Isles with Herzog & de Meuron, which delivers 2017 (rendering here). He’s also doing the Ritz-Carlton in Sunny Isles with Chateau Group (picture above); and, with Related, both Auberge in Ft. Lauderdale and Hyde Resort and Residences in Hollywood. And with Chateau Group he has another great site in Sunny Isles around Collins and 187th where they negotiated the purchase of 436 individual apartments and as a result will have 440 feet of waterfront ready to develop when they determine the market is ripe.
No, we didn’t misfocus. This picture reveals a key fact about Edgardo, but you’ll have to read to the end to know why. Meanwhile, here’s some more factoids you didn’t know about Edgardo:
Wife: Ana Cristina, introduced because her dad founded the Peruvian chamber of commerce and his founded the Argentine chamber.
Family: three boys, 8, 10, 12
What he does with them: spends all weekend driving from soccer game to soccer game and tennis match to tennis match
Future tennis champs: Here are the two older kids getting in the swing with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
Fave restaurants: Cipriani, Zuma (get the cod dumplings), Coya
Go-to joint with family: Puntino Key Biscayne, great pizza
Weakness for: cashew nuts
Favorite vacay: anywhere in Italy, rents in St Tropez two weeks every year
TV addiction: Breaking Bad, Vikings, Homeland
Music: whatever his kids listen to, meaning a lot of Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber
Why sightseeing boats slow down at their Key Biscayne home: It’s built on the site of Richard Nixon’s vacation home, known at the time as the “Florida White House” because the president spent so much time there
Startling fact No. 1: because mom was a phys ed teacher, can play every sport at least a little; as competitive high school volleyball player went to South America Youth Championships
Startling fact No. 2: Went to military school in Argentina from 13 to 18, learned discipline, including how to sew buttons—impresses wife and kids.