ANITA FUNTEK: THE BRILLIANT MIND BEHIND THE MIAMI NEW CONSTRUCTION SHOW
When she walks into a room her mere presence instantly demands attention. She could easily be confused for a model strutting down the catwalk of a European fashion magazine and into real life. But Anita Funtek’s work doesn’t involve designer wardrobes or high-fashion ad campaigns; her field of expertise is Miami’s quickly evolving real estate development market. She’s the founder of the Miami New Construction Show, a four-day convention-style real estate expo showcasing the latest state-of-the-art developments, luxury condominiums and housing projects in South Florida. Listening to Funtek talk, it’s quickly clear that there’s an abundance of passion and excitement surrounding every project she’s involved in. The pupils of her almond-shaped blue eyes widen when speaks about “buying and selling”, “fixing and renovating”, and “sharing and connecting”. Her face lights up the way other women’s faces might when talking about the latest pair of Jimmy Choo stilettos. But don’t let her overflowing enthusiasm fool you. The 40-year-old born in Hungary has had to work many long hours and late nights to get to where she’s at, the epicenter of an industry whose official language is money. Even so, she makes the feat of carving her own space in a male-dominated industry, seem effortless and fun. Perhaps, it’s because it was a man that led her to fall in love with the process of seeing a project through from start to finish: her father. “When I was seven years old my father, who was working as an architect, gave me the job of helping him cut out these huge big blueprints,” said Funtek. “I remember they were a purple color and he gave me the job of cutting them out, so this was my first little job as a child and it was a very special way to bond with him.” She adds: “But it was also the first time I fell in love with the world of housing, I adored the way that he would fold the blueprints together at the end and I loved reading the street names printed on the sheet.” As she grew up, Funtek’s father took a job as a general contractor but continued to involve her in his work. He’d often take his daughter to job sites and walk her through the process of transforming a property from nothing into something. “He would take me to different places, wherever he was working on a property and once you get used to the smell of fresh concrete or fresh paint and start to see changes and a transformation happening right in front of your eyes, it’s pretty hard not to be drawn to it.” said Funtek. As a young woman living in Budapest, Funtek tried her hand at buying, fixing and selling properties of her own and says it simply served as a confirmation of how much she loved the process.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and later earned a master’s in business administration at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. Funtek then held several positions at Hungary’s Budapest Bank, owned by General Electric, where she worked for six years. “From my father I had learned the guidelines, how to think and form new ideas, how to lead other people, how to manage failure, the ups and the downs, and how to have the spirit of an entrepreneur,” she said. “At General Electric, I learned how to be a part of a team, part of an organization, how to have an open door policy and the power of positive energy.” She got married, had three children and in 2011 moved to Miami. The Miami New Construction Show is born When Funtek arrived in Miami with her family she had to start from scratch. Her first step was getting a realtor’s license and becoming a broker. However, she soon realized how difficult it was to find sales offices for new construction projects and had an idea. “Why don’t we have something like the boat show or Art Basel?” she said. “We have so many beautiful new constructions that for buyers are undiscoverable, so why not gather all the developers and bring them into one location, bring all the realtors and all the buyers and let them all meet?” Funtek likens it to buying fruit in a market, where consumers can see the fruit, hold it in their hands and compare it to other fruits. “If you’re selling a luxury new development, you now have the space to show the buyer that you’re using the best materials, you can show off scale models, you can answer any questions that buyers may have… participating in the MNCS allows an interaction between developers and buyers that simply didn’t exist before.” The first ever MNCS was held last year at the Miami Beach Convention Center. More than 100 real estate industry booths were set up and sectioned into specific neighborhoods and areas such as Miami Beach, Downtown Miami and Broward/Palm Beach and about 12,000 people attended. “This event is thought up with the goal of always benefitting the buyer, saving the buyer time, effort, stress and money,” she said. “People can get answers to their questions without waiting weeks, days or even hours, it just takes a couple of minutes, but perhaps the best part is that it creates opportunities for buyers to access on-site specials and discounts, when developers are together in one space they’re in direct competition and this drives down prices.” “At the MNCS, we give people the chance to buy and the confidence to do it, they can compare, they can bargain, they can talk to one developer and tell him ‘Hey, the developer three booths down from this one said he’s going to include free tile…Can you match that?’ No? Okay, I’ll go back over there.”
This year the number of booths at the MNCS has i n c r e a s e d from 115 to 300 and European real estate l a w y e r s , immigration lawyers, tax advisers, property managers, concierges, interior designers and furniture companies will be on-site to provide their services and meet the needs of different buyer demographics. “Many times Miami is bought by foreigners,” said Funtek. “If you’re a foreigner, sometimes you hear terms like “title company” and you don’t have a clue what that is so you don’t feel comfortable enough to buy a property and that’s why it’s important to have European real estate lawyers on location.” The 2015 MNCS will showcase a row of booths reserved exclusively for the display of 20 of the world’s most recognized projects and will include representation in the international sector for the first time. There will booths for brokers to show resale listings and promote their businesses. For families, there’s a Kid’s Corner. If you’re hungry, there will be delicious food. Funtek has taken on the task of ensuring that the MNCS has something for everyone. “Everyone is welcome,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re planning to buy 10 units or one or if you just want to come learn, or look at what the market has to offer.” This year’s show will also feature a room for scheduled project presentations fully equipped with an audio visual system: “In this room we’ll have presentations in English and in Spanish and we’re adding many new elements to the show, for instance a section for retail properties, so if you’re thinking of opening a business can find something here too.” But aside from gathering Miami’s most influential developers, realtors and brokers under one roof and providing them all the tools to conduct successful business and learn about the latest updates in their field, Funtek assures the show is far from being “business, business, business.” “We’re not just selling luxurious new developments, we also have a responsibility to sell Miami and all that implies,” she said. “I think this is the only real estate show that has dancing, music and a lively party atmosphere, it’s a new construction show but it’s definitely held Miamistyle.” Funtek works year round to ensure that all aspects of the MNCS are a success. She meets with real estate developers, brokers and possible on-site entertainers, and every detail of the MNCS has her signature touch and seal of approval. Funtek and her team also travel to a variety of real estate trade shows around the world where she shops for new ideas. And what about buying, fixing and selling? “Yes, that’s still like a little candy in my life,” said Funtek. “It’s a side project that I share with my husband and my kids. I don’t know if they’ll become as passionate about it as I did but sometimes when I show them the different stages of a renovation that my husband and I are working on, I’ll hear the same ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ and hear them tell me the same things I used to tell my father.”
As far as the MNCS is concerned Funtek’s vision is still very much in its infancy. “Every year is going to be bigger and better,” she says with grin that makes it almost impossible to doubt her words. The Miami New Construction Show will take place on October 22-25, 2015 at the Miami Beach Convention Center. For more information on Anita Funtek, becoming an exhibitor or attending the MNCS please visit www.miaminewconstructionshow. com