“Miami is like a good love affair…it will get more and more incredible,” says Alicia Cervera Lamadrid, Miami’s powerhouse real estate agent.
The love affair started for Lamadrid when four decades ago her mother, Alicia Cervera Sr., placed the Cervera stamp on the “Magical City”. Transforming many of Miami’s neighborhoods, Cervera Sr. earned her place as Grand Dame of Miami real estate.
She has been called the 'Queen of Brickell,' and today her daughters and their daughters have taken the moniker and run with it.
Lamadrid said before her parents envisioned high-rises, Miami was a horizontal city.
“My mom had lived in New York, Peru, and Cuba. She was used to seeing tall buildings on the skyline. Miami in the late 1960s was a sleepy town on a down tic, but the landing of the Cubans was the beginning of the revival. The Cubans who came here were educated and ready to start their lives,” Lamadrid says.
The selling gene for the Cervera/Lamadrid women is strong. After Alicia Sr., started the company, Cervera Real Estate now has a second and third generation in the family business. Lamadrid’s sister, Veronica Cervera Goeseke, her daughter Alicia Lorena, and Lamadrid’s daughter Ali are all now selling Miami—and it’s a city where real estate properties are selling like hotcakes.
When Alicia Cervera Sr. moved to Miami in 1961 from Cuba, she moved with her two daughters and son, all born in Havana. Seeing the extraordinary potential of Brickell Avenue, in 1966 she and her husband Javier Cervera Sr., a Cuban plantation owner, purchased a piece of waterfront property and rezoned it for multiple residences; this was the first official high-rise zoning in the area--the Brickell Avenue corridor in downtown Miami.
Cervera soon opened her own firm and her business model evolved after meeting Harry Helmsley (one of the titans of real estate whose portfolio included the Empire State Building and the now Ritz-Carlton). Tipped off by Peruvian architect Bernard Ford that Helmsley would be developing in Miami, Cervera wrote a letter to Helmsley and asked to meet with him. He agreed, and Cervera was able to convince him to let her sell his 254-unit Helmsley Palace on Brickell—while it was still in development. That became the strategic positioning and ultimately the success of her agency—selling people space before it was built—from the floor plans.
After joining her mother’s business in 1980, today Lamadrid is focusing on selling the new condo high-rise developments, Brickell House and Ocean House. Breaking ground soon in the very trendy neighborhood of Brickell, Brickell House is the first of its kind to start construction since the crisis of 2008, and is slated to finish in 2014. Lamadrid’s company, Cervera Real Estate, has already sold (reserved with 10% of the cost) over 75% of its 374 units, with prices starting at $200,000. She’s good at what she calls, “selling air”.
“These are cash buyers. We’d have more locals and I expect we will when the banks make it a little easier to get loans. For now though, Miami is the gateway to the US for South Americans, Europeans, and Mexicans, all these folks are flush and looking to get a piece of the new Miami. This is the year, more than ever, to see million dollar plus properties closing in Miami. We’re the number one recovery market in the US,” Lamadrid says.
About being a woman running one of the most successful real estate agencies in Miami (competing with all male-run companies for the million dollar developments), Lamadrid says:
“Of course a lot of business is conducted on the golf course and in bars, and men may be more comfortable dealing with other men at these places, and that can be a barrier," she said. "But despite that, I believe women should embrace being women. Don’t hide who you are, use everything you’ve got."
She said women don't have to wear a suit to look as good as men.
I don’t think of myself as a woman, or a Cuban, or a Latin or a Peruvian, or a blond, when I walk into the room I assume it’s a level playing field. I’m embrace who I am, and I don’t’ try to be anything I’m not," she said. "As soon as you do that you’re playing the game on someone else’s turf.”
Rebekah Sager is a freelance writer based in San Diego.
Rebekah Sager is a writer/editor for Fox News Latino. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @rebekah_sager