The hottest city under the sun

The only thing hotter than sitting under three high-powered spotlights at high noon -- in a suit and tie -- might be the South Florida real-estate market. At least that's what CNBC's daytime business program, Power Lunch, seemed to suggest as it kicked off a five-day, five-city roadshow on Monday with a live broadcast from South Beach. Working from stages set up by the pool and on a balcony at Loews Miami Beach Hotel, host Bill Griffeth set the tone by plugging the city's boiling property market three times in the pre-show teaser before working the phrase ''arguably the hottest real estate market in the country'' into a sort of running chorus for the program. Despite the high wattage of some of the guests, the real-estate question kept stealing the limelight.

The conversation with Miami Mayor Manny Diaz turned into a discussion about how the city is coping with rampant development; Loews Hotels CEO Jonathan Tisch was asked about the property squeeze on South Beach; and Coldwell Banker power agents Jill Eber and Jill Hertzberg, who brokered houses for Shaquille O'Neal and Ricky Martin, gave a video tour of some of the multi-million-dollar homes on offer locally. Asked about the hottest real estate investment in South Florida, Hertzberg replied: ``Buy a single family home at any price you can, anywhere you want.'' But it wasn't all about the city's turf. Latin music mogul Emilio Estefan talked about international entertainment, and Micky Arison, Carnival Corp. Chairman and CEO -- and Miami Heat owner, talked about the NBA playoffs. True to its name, the broadcast also included a discussion of Florida cuisine with Mark Ehrler, Loews executive chef, and advice about the Miami area's trendiest power lunch spots. Chatting before the broadcast, Griffeth said producers picked Miami as the starting point for the cross-country tour because it's increasingly seen as ripe for investors. ''The big story about Miami is growth and real estate and we want to tell that story,'' he said. ``This is a hot market -- especially the condo market is white hot. Will it last forever? Of course not, but that doesn't mean there aren't some great opportunities here.'' With sunbathers and pool splashers as a backdrop, only a steady supply of iced towels and talcum kept the cast from melting into the manicured lawn. The craft of staying cool will be essential to survive the next few stops on the Power Lunch tour, which will travel to Phoenix, Dallas, Los Angeles and Hollywood.