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2007 (3)
Friday, December 21, 2007

Holiday Real Estate Opportunities

 

As December approaches its Christmas and Kwanzaa celebrations, you’re probably scrambling to buy the remaining gifts for the last remaining people on your list or going to supermarkets looking for the ingredients to use in preparing your holiday feasts.  There’s also a possibility that one of your resolutions for next year is selling the home you’re currently living in.  December can actually be an opportune time for selling real estate.

 

Behind all the festivities and rapturous celebration lies some great perks you can use to your advantage in getting your home sold quicker.  Among them is making the extra effort to decorate your home to look its best and using this time that is quickly coming to a close to ensure it dazzles when the lights come on.  Particularly during such a time, an elegantly luminous home can sway a buyer who would otherwise not be interested in your home’s visual appeal.

 

So you’re all revved up and ready to astound real estate buyers with a carefully thought out blueprint of how you want to go about decorating your home for the holidays but alas, the price tags on those lights that do twenty different synchronized movements and the giant automated snow globe are simply out of the question.  If the window for selling is short, you may have to scale back your efforts to something closer to your budget.  Otherwise, the answer may be waiting the day after Christmas.

 

Head to any store selling holiday decorum and you’ll notice pretty much anything that has to do with the holidays has had its price chopped almost in half.  Something that carried a price of seventy dollars now costs an inexpensive $28.  You can either save these items for use next year or use them to complement the end of 2007 festivities.  Things are also shaping up to be favorable for the real estate market next year which should also justify these purchases.

 

As long as you’re not putting yourself into any kind of irrecoverable debt or setting back your saving efforts, don’t feel guilty about splurging a little more than you intended in getting your home sold.  December is when people can be convinced to overindulge more on items they’d normally scoff at so the odds of catching the eye of a young man looking to buy a home for him and his fiancĂ©e to live in is much greater.

 
Posted at 10:50:27 AM

Monday, December 3, 2007

News Article
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Posted at 11:22:36 AM

Monday, June 11, 2007

High-rises, high hopes

High-rises, high hopes

BY ANDRES VIGLUCCI AND MATTHEW HAGGMAN

aviglucci@herald.com

 

COURTESY OF THE TERRA GROUP

BIG PLANS: In 2005, this rendering of the condo tower was envisioned for the area behind the historic Freedom Tower.

In downtown, from Brickell Avenue north to the Edgewater neighborhood, up the Miami River and down historic Coral Way, great chunks of Old Miami are fast disappearing in a cloud of dust. In its place, the New Miami -- a dense, steel-and-glass forest of condo towers -- is rising from the rubble.

 

The scope, scale and speed of the transformation are breathtaking. More than 114 major projects, most of them high-rise condos, are under construction or in the planning stages in the urban core along Biscayne Bay.

 

Citywide, developers are proposing more than 61,000 new condominium units -- eight times the number built during the past decade.

 

The projects encompass the tallest skyscraper in Florida, a 74-story spire higher than any residential building south of Manhattan, almost four million square feet of new retail space (nearly as much as two Aventura Malls) and parking for more than 100,000 cars.

 

''You have a wave of development underway here in Miami that is unprecedented, bigger than anything, bigger than Hong Kong in the boom years of development,'' said former Portland, Ore., councilman Charles Hales, a transportation consultant working on a plan for a Miami streetcar line.

 

Not since the post-World War II housing boom that multiplied Miami-Dade County's population fivefold, to more than one million people, has the region experienced anything comparable. But that took almost 20 years.

 

''We are building an instant city; what should take 15 years will take three,'' said Michael Cannon, a Miami real-estate analyst. The boom struck suddenly, unexpectedly, first a trickle of projects, then a torrent. Cash has poured in from Latin America, New York and, increasingly, Europe, the result of converging market forces -- slashed interest rates, a cheap dollar -- and a worldwide infatuation with Miami among the chic and moneyed.

 

It all amounts to a multibillion-dollar gamble, outdoing in risk and bravado the 1920s boom that made Miami a modern city: That given waterfront location, a sunny climate and a hip, international culture, intensive downtown residential development can catapult Miami into the first rank of world cities.

 

Elected officials, in particular Miami Mayor Manny Diaz and Miami Commissioner Johnny Winton, are counting on the boom to reverse downtown's long decline, to turn its seedy blocks and outlying neighborhoods into a scintillating, working urban hub with a vibrant street life.

 

''Just five years ago we were broke; we had zero development,'' Winton said. ``I'm going to bet you that when we're done -- I don't know when that will be -- historians will identify this as the most significant and rapid transformation of an American city.''

 

What precisely will the boom deliver? It's too soon to tell, experts say.

 

But this convulsion of development is already remaking not just Miami's skyline, but its streets and neighborhoods and likely its population, too.

 

If it stays on track, the boom promises a fundamentally different Miami -- more urban and congested, but also more cosmopolitan and, given the high prices the condos command, probably wealthier.

 

It also raises serious concerns. In the absence of a ready plan, how will the city cope with thousands of expected new residents and the traffic they will generate, given antiquated infrastructure, limited public transit and a shortage of parks and open space? Will Miami residents, among the nation's poorest urban dwellers, be displaced or priced out of new housing?

 

That is, if the planned condos actually get built, sold and occupied.

 

As the boom takes on the feel of a gold rush, real estate analysts, bankers and even some developers fear it's a mirage, a bubble fueled by speculators looking to resell condo units for a quick profit, and not by true buyer demand.

 

If developers build too much, and speculators can't find buyers for resale, the boom could bust, leaving Miami littered with vacant and bankrupted buildings or, worse, unfinished towers and bare lots.

 

SIGNS OF FUROR

 

For now, though, signs of the furor are everywhere.

 

Sales centers for multimillion-dollar condos that tout the merits of high-rise living sprout up across the city. Brokers push Miami condos in farflung locales, from Caracas and Bogotá to New York and France's Cte d'Azur. Lavish condo parties are thrown by developers several times a week, and advertisements for the high-rises fill the pages of local magazines and newspapers, including The Herald.

 

Downtown Miami is a thicket of construction cranes. Much of the landward side of Biscayne Boulevard has been razed, and the footings and columns of what will soon be a wall of six colossal condos, each more than 50 stories, are becoming visible.

 

''Where else are you near the water, 10 minutes from Miami Beach, 15 minutes from the airport and have access to public transportation?'' said Daniel Kodsi, chief executive of Boca Raton-based Royal Palm Communities, which plans a high-rise condo called Paramount Park across from AmericanAirlines Arena.

 

There is so much building that developers are struggling to find qualified contractors and subcontractors.

 

Sales and resales in the mid-six figures, and well beyond, have become commonplace. Towers of 300 units sell out in a day, with buyers coming in the main not from Miami, but from other parts of the country and the world.

 

''Miami, New York and Los Angeles have become the three cities in the U.S. where people want to be,'' said Joe Cayre, chairman of Midtown Group, which is building eight condo towers on the site of the old Florida East Coast Railroad yards in Wynwood.

 

They are people like Sal Loduca, who plans to leave Manhattan and his family's Long Island food business to open a brick-oven pizzeria at Cayre's Midtown Miami.

 

''Everyone's making the move to Miami. How could you not? It's a great opportunity. Miami's full of life,'' Loduca said.

 

`CRITICAL COMBUSTION'

 

Real estate broker Philip Spiegelman calls the confluence of factors propelling this boom a ``critical combustion.''

 

Among them:

 

• Across the country, young people and so-called ''empty-nesters'' have been returning to urban centers, in part because of long, wearing commutes from outlying suburbs. At the same time, a dwindling supply of easily developable land in western Miami-Dade and Broward counties has prompted developers to look eastward.

 

• A shortage of waterfront property elsewhere led developers to Miami's acres and acres of vacant bayfront land.

 

• Low interest rates have fueled record home-buying, while aging baby boomers are increasingly seeking second homes in sunny or exotic places.

 

• A cleaner local government has made Miami attractive to lenders and investors who once thought the city too risky, unsafe or corrupt.

 

• The weak dollar has made Miami an alluring bargain for Europeans and Latin Americans. And compared to other urban centers like New York City, Miami remains cheap.

 

Then there is the other factor, anecdotal and unquantifiable: the speculator.

 

''As much as 85 percent of all condominium sales in [downtown Miami] are accounted for by investors and speculators,'' housing analysts at investment firm Raymond James warned in a March report.

 

Banks have started to back off lending on condo projects, or have instituted new rules to avoid giving mortgages to investors.

 

Spiegelman sold the condo units in the Marina Blue condo going up on Biscayne Boulevard.

 

''One hundred percent of the buyers were investors and speculators,'' he said. ``Anyone who tells you their projects are different are deluding themselves.''

 

ZONING-CODE OVERHAUL

 

The pace of development is so furious that it has overtaken the city's planning efforts.

 

Only now is the city getting around to a long-promised overhaul of its outdated zoning code, a complete rewrite meant to ensure that new development produces lively, pedestrian-friendly streetscapes and respects open spaces and established neighborhoods, while weaving it all together into a cogent urban fabric. The rewrite, dubbed Miami 21, will be phased in over two years.

 

Yet more than 100 large-scale projects, most of them in and around downtown, have already been approved or are under construction.

 

Public-transit improvements like Metrorail extensions, a light-rail line to Miami Beach and the contemplated city streetcar are years away, raising fears of gridlock.

 

Quipped Cannon, the real estate analyst: ``Maybe we need to give every buyer of a condo in the urban core a Segway.''

 

There are other worries.

 

Some skeptics, noting the high condo prices and the out-of-town provenance of buyers, fear that instead of the diverse, working 24-hour downtown that city leaders envision, the boom will instead create a seasonal playground for the rich, a Monte Carlo on Biscayne Bay.

 

''I bet those buildings are going to be empty a lot of the time,'' said Joel Kotkin, an urban historian and consultant who has written about the rise of what he calls ''ephemeral cities'' -- places like San Francisco, Berlin and parts of New York that increasingly cater to the rich, the childless young and tourists.

 

''Maybe this is Miami's karma, to be this kind of place, a temporary, hip, cool, nomadic population serviced by a poor population,'' said Kotkin, author of The City: A Global History. But, he added: ``History shows a city has to maintain some sense of a middle-class character if it wants to thrive.''

 

`MISSING LINK'

 

Yet there's relatively little in the new downtown priced for working families. ''The missing link here is in creating housing that the middle class can afford,'' said Rafael Kapustin, a longtime downtown property owner who pioneered the conversion of old downtown offices and hotels into modestly priced condos and apartments.

 

In partnership with a big developer, the Related Group, Kapustin developed two affordable loft condos, with units averaging around $150,000, now under construction in the inner core of downtown. But their Loft II project may be the last of its kind because of the surging cost of land and construction, he said.

 

City leaders are sanguine. They say it will take years for all the planned condos to be built and occupied, allowing time to absorb new residents, build public amenities and improve transit.

 

While few city residents can afford waterfront condos, thousands of moderately priced condos and rental apartments are being built by private developers in adjacent Overtown and neighborhoods like Little Havana and Allapattah, many with direct city subsidies, according to a recent report from Miami Mayor Diaz.

 

`SELF-REINFORCING CYCLE'

 

And gradually, as new residents move into downtown, businesses, shops, restaurants, neighborhood retailers and services will follow, said Neisen Kasdin, a land-use lawyer and former Miami Beach mayor.

 

''It becomes a self-reinforcing cycle,'' Kasdin said. ``Yes, there will be a large segment of temporary residents, but as the city continues to grow as an international business city, it leads to the continued growth of a permanent community.''

 

Meanwhile, the city has instituted measures that strengthen the planners' hand in shaping an attractive, livable downtown: hiding parking garages inside buildings; lining sidewalks with shops, offices, dwellings and restaurants; and keeping garage and service entrances off Biscayne Boulevard and other main arteries.

 

'We used to sit here and say, `Someday,' '' said Miami Planning Director Ana Gelabert-Sánchez, alluding to the city's long-frustrated hopes for a downtown revival. ``Well, someday is here.''

 

Herald staff writer Larry Lebowitz contributed to this report. 

 
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Posted at 12:04:07 PM

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Real Estate News
Updated: Monday, October 22, 2018


What the Fed Does and Doesnt Do With Mortgage Rates

nbsp;

The Federal Funds rate is the rate banks can charge one another for short term lending. Short term as in overnight. Why does a bank need to borrow money on such a short notice? Banks are required to keep a certain amount of liquid capital, in other words ldquo;cash,rdquo; at the end of each business day. These funds are essentially demand funds. When a consumer wants to withdraw some cash either at the bank or at any automated teller, there needs to be cash available to meet those withdrawal requests. If the bank sees their reserves to meet these requests do not meet the reserve requirements, banks seek out a short term loan from another depository institution to meet the reserve requirements. This is what the Fed adjusts, the overnight lending rate. But the Fed doesnrsquo;t directly impact the everyday 30 year conforming fixed rate mortgage.

When lenders set their rates each day, they refer to a specific mortgage bond. For example, with a 30 year fixed conforming loan underwritten to Fannie Mae standards, the lender will review the current yield on the FNMA 30-yr 3.0 mortgage bond.nbsp;Just like any bond, with the price of the bond goes up, the yield will fall. And when the price goes down, the yield will rise. Investors buy bonds, all types of bonds, as a safe place to park cash. When the economy appears to falter, investors can get a little skittish and pull some funds from the stock market and transfer those funds into bonds, including mortgage bonds. If on the other hand the economy is healthy and improving, the opposite will occur.

When the Fed makes an announcement at the end of their two-day meetings, investors are anxious to hear if the Fed raised, lowered or kept rates the same. If the Fed announces they decided to raise the cost of funds by 0.25, it can tell investors the FOMC decided the economy is doing rather well but to hold of any potential inflation, it will raise the cost of funds that banks will pay for short term lending. Itrsquo;s not a direct affect on mortgage rates, but definitely an indirect one.


> Full Story

House Still Standing on Hard-Hit Mexico Beach After Hurricane Michael

ldquo;Hurricane Michael tossed cars into the canal, snapped trees in half and carved massive craters into U.S. Route 98rdquo; while killing 16 at last count, said NBC News. The hurricanes winds lifted another beach house ldquo;off its stilts and blew it 160 yards across the main road, where it landed on a grassy area next to a parking lot.rdquo;

Yet the Category 4 hurricane couldnt take down the house built by Dr. Lebron Lackey, a radiologist from Cleveland, TN, and his uncle, Russell King, an attorney from Chattanooga. There was, not surprisingly, some damage to the home, courtesy of 144-mile-per-hour winds and high water that had to go somewhere. ldquo;In a Facebook post, it was reported that the ground floor and the stairs up to the middle floor are gone, along with windows in one of the bedrooms,rdquo; said Q13 FOX. ldquo;All the utilities have to be redone, and one of the heating and air units is gone, too. Still, thatrsquo;s a far cry from the destruction of much of the neighborhood.rdquo;

So how did The Sand Palace stay standing while other homes were torn apart? ldquo;The house stayed upright because it was built last year to codes that were even more strict than laws required,rdquo; said Weather.com. ldquo;It took reinforced concrete walls, 40-foot pilings driven deep into the ground and other factors to keep the house safe in the storm.rdquo; The Sand Palace ldquo;was designed to survive a monster hurricane, and the reinforced concrete structure was meant to be the last home standing in the event of the unthinkable.rdquo;

The home, which is used for vacation rentals, lists many of its features on its Facebook page: ldquo;four-bedroom ocean front home with beautiful views, two fully stocked kitchens, inside and outside dining options, an elevator, plenty of living space, plus four and a half bathrooms.rdquo;
The post thatrsquo;s been pinned to the top of the page mentions that the home sleeps 10, has ocean views from the living rooms, master bedrooms, and decks, plus an outside shower, picnic table, porch swings, and a grill. If you scroll down a little further, there is some info about the products used in the home impact-resistant windows and doors from Custom Window Systems in Ocala, FL and the companies Southeastern Consulting Engineers behind the construction.

And while the home reportedly cost up to 20 percent more than it would have simply to meet existing building codes in Florida, the upside is obviousmdash;not just for this property, but also for the future of homebuilding in areas prone to extreme weather.


> Full Story

Stylish Bath Storage Solutions: Ways to Complement Your Bathroom Vanity

Finding adequate storage is a particularly challenging problem in bathrooms, and not just because they are usually the smallest rooms in the house. Bathrooms have increasingly become the place to store a large and diverse number of items, including bath towels, beauty supplies, toiletries, hair care products, medications, soaps, shampoo, and assorted cleansers. And if the primary inhabitants of the bathroom happen to be teenagers, then the demand for storage space increases exponentially.

Fortunately theres a very easy and space-efficient way to gain storage in a bathroom: install a bath-vanity cabinet. Fully assembled, easy-to-install vanity cabinets are readily available in several sizes and designs, but they all serve two primary functions. First, a bath vanity has a countertop that supports the sink and faucet. And just as important, it provides plenty of storage space right where you need it.

Depending on the size of the bathroom, you can install either a single-sink or double-sink vanity. The double vanity will obviously provide more storage and counter space than a single vanity, but both options typically have under-sink storage and may have a bank of drawers on one or both sides of the doors.

If you need more space than a vanity can provide, consider installing an auxiliary cabinet. Most major cabinet manufacturers offer a line of auxiliary bath cabinets that provide an easy, cost-effective way to add storage to any bathroom. Below is a detailed look at the five most popular auxiliary cabinets. They can be used alone or in conjunction with other units to transform even the most compact, cluttered bath into a clean, well-organized space.

1. Linen Cabinets

Freestanding linen cabinets are available in dozens of sizes, >

  • Linen cabinets can be divided into two basic shapes: tall and narrow, and low and wide.
  • Taller cabinets are ideal for squeezing storage alongside the sink, next to a window or in a corner. Theyre often as narrow as 15 in. wide.
  • Low, wide linen cabinets range in width from 26 in. to 36 in., so they require a bit more wall space. However, their low tops can be used for placing everyday items or storage baskets.

Depending on the cabinet manufacturer, some assembly may be required. Linen cabinets come with all the necessary hardware and fasteners, and most can be assembled in less than 30 minutes using basic hand tools.

Safety note: To prevent freestanding cabinets from toppling over, be sure to secu>

2. Wall Cabinets

When floor space is limited, consider installing a wall-mounted bath cabinet. These space-saving storage units come in a variety of >

The most popular >

3. Medicine Cabinet

Gain a little extra storage space plus a mirror with a wall-mounted medicine cabinet. This type of cabinet is typically installed over the sink and features a hinged mirror door that opens to reveal a shallow cabinet lined with shelves. While the shelves are seldom more than 3 in. deep, they can hold a surprising number of small bottles, jars, tubes and boxesmdash;items that gets lost if tossed into a drawer or vanity cabinet.

Medicine cabinets are commonly available with one, two or three mirrored doors. Note that most medicine cabinets can be installed one of two ways: recessed or flush-mounted.

Recessed installation requires cutting a hole in the wall and setting the cabinet between two wall studs. This type of installation requires more work, but looks much neater. Flush-mounted cabinets are simply screwed to the wall, which is quick and easy, but doesnt look as integrated.

4. Freestanding Shelves

Freestanding shelves take up very little floor space, install in minutes, can easily be moved around and repositioned, and provide ample storage space for both bath linens and toiletries. Bathroom-shelving units come in a dizzying array of sizes, colors, >

Space-saving models are available for use in corners, taking advantage of floor space that typically goes unused.

5. Wall-Mounted Shelves

Wall-mounted shelves provide a quick, easy way to add storage to any bathroom, no matter how small and crowded it is. You can stack the shelves, spacing them 10 to 12 in. apart, to increase storage, without sacrificing floor space.

Bath shelves are typically made of glass or chrome-plated metal; both >

Its best to fasten the shelves to wall studs, but if theyll be used to store small, lightweight bottles and jars, then hollow-wall anchors will suffice.

If youre looking to add storage to your bathroom, start with an updated vanity that can provide plenty of room to tuck away towels, toiletries and cleaning and beauty products. Then, look for space where you can complement that storage with one of these shelving or cabinet ideas.

Joe Truini is a home-improvement expert who writes extensively about do-it-yourself home remodeling and repair. He has authored six books, including his latest, "Build Like a Pro: Installing Floors." You can research Home Depots full line of bathroom vanities, including >

> Full Story



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