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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 03, 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: Wednesday, September 18, 2019


Falls on Stairs Fill up Emergency Rooms

Scary but true: there were more than 50,000 emergency visits for injuries from falls on stairs in Ontario in 2015, according to Ontario Injury Compass, which analyses and discusses injury issues in the province.

ldquo;In B.C., stairs were involved in approximately 8.2 per cent of all hospitalizations for fall->

And it gets worse: a 2011-2015 B.C. Vital Statistics report says, ldquo;On average, 38 people are killed every year in B.C. by falling on stairs.rdquo;

Whorsquo;s at risk? The young and the old are most prone to stair->

Whether itrsquo;s a long flight of stairs or just a step or two, falls happen.
There are three main contributing factors to why people fall on or from stairs. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. CMHC says they are environmental factors such as poor design, construction and maintenance; health factors, for example loss of balance, weakness or vision problems; and behavioural factors including wearing unsuitable footwear or carrying something that obstructs vision when using the stairs.

How do you prevent stair->

- Experts recommend removing reading glasses when travelling up or down stairs. They also recommend caution when wearing bifocals or progressive eyeglasses.

- Install handrails. CMHC says occupational therapists recommend handrails be installed on all staircases, even if they have three steps or less. Have at least one handrail. Two is even better. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety says, ldquo;You should be able to run your hand smoothly along the entire length without having to adjust your grip.rdquo;

- Use handrails: Neglecting to use your handrails defeats the purpose of having them. Teach children to navigate stairs using the handrail so they can learn good habits early.

- Proper lighting is crucial, especially for people with vision problems. Having a light switch at the top and bottom means stairs can be well lit whether a user is travelling up or down.

- Make sure the edges of the steps are visible. CMHC recommends painting a contrasting colour on the edges of wooden or concrete steps, or on the top and bottom steps. Special strips that can enhance the visibility of each step are also recommended.

- Wearing proper footwear helps reduce the chance of falling on the stairs. Heels may get caught on the edge of a step, says the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. ldquo;Such mishaps are a routine cause of twisted ankles, sprained knees or more serious injuries incurred by a total fall.rdquo; Slippers that are loose or slip-on footwear is also not recommended.

- Pay attention when yoursquo;re using the stairs. This is especially important when yoursquo;re not familiar with the stairs or the staircase has uneven or narrower steps, such as those on a circular staircase.

- Rubber, metal or slip-resistant paint can help reduce the slipping risk.

- Make sure your stairs are in good repair and ensure stair treads are non-slip and are properly fastened.

- Consult an occupational therapist for advice about changes that can be made to the home to reduce the risk of falling on stairs, CMHC says.nbsp;ldquo;Simple modifications can be made to increase the safety of stairs, for example, adding a second handrail or installing visual contrast strips at the edge of stairs for easier visual detection.rdquo;

- Use baby safety gates at the top and bottom to keep very young children off of the stairs.

- Ensure stairs are kept clear of clutter and other tripping hazards.

- Do not carry bulky objects that block your vision.

- If yoursquo;re building or renovating a home, ensure stairs are built to code, with uniform steps. Handrails should be on both sides and continue one foot past the top and the bottom of the staircase, according to Fall Prevention Programming, a book by V. Scott.

- If stairs are too much of a challenge, install a stair lift or elevator.

- The majority of stairway falls result from a loss of balance, so be aware and take precautions.

- Experts also suggest removing loose carpets or throw rugs from the stairway landing.

The World Health Organization says falls are the second leading cause of unintentional injuries worldwide after road traffic crashes.

ldquo;Prevention starts by keeping in mind that there are risks in using stairs. Good planning and simple strategies can help prevent falls and injuries,rdquo; says CMHC.


> Full Story

Americans Obsession With Murder Spurs Intriguing New Design Show

But is there a cap? Do we just want to see and watch and read about murder, or does it go further? How do you feel about buying a house where a murder was committed?

Thatrsquo;s the question new mobile streaming platformnbsp;Quibi is posing. When the platform launches in April 2020, it will offer a new show featuring renovations of some of the countryrsquo;s most ldquo;infamousrdquo; homes. The show will partner builders and decorators with forensic specialists and spiritual healers, with the goal of transforming both the ldquo;homersquo;s physical appearance but also its spiritual energy,rdquo; said Inman. ldquo;Are you a fan ofnbsp;fixer-upper shows,nbsp;haunted or otherwise creepynbsp;houses and true crime TV? Then you will love the latest home renovation show:nbsp;Murder House Flip. ldquo;Thinknbsp;Flip or Flop, with a sordid, and in some cases, paranormal, twist.

Over the years, there have been many stories of people buying ldquo;murder houses,rdquo; perhaps out of morbid curiosity, but also because, well, you might just be able to find a bargain.nbsp;

ldquo;Homes where a high-profile crime or murder occurred can sell for as much as 10-25 under market ratemdash;an enticing invitation for intrepid bargain hunters,rdquo; said The Hustle. ldquo;The mere presence of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmerrsquo;s Milwaukee apartment building depressed the value of surrounding homes for years, until a community development group bought it at a premium just to demolish it.rdquo;

In 2016, tech entrepreneur Braden Pollock purchased the ldquo;Los Feliz Murder Mansion,rdquo; where Dr. Harold Pe>

Most recently, Zac Bagans, actor, author, and host of the Travel Channelrsquo;s Ghost Adventures, purchased the Charles Manson murder housemdash;the luxury L.A. residence where Lenonbsp;andnbsp;Rosemary LaBianca were slaughtered by Mansonrsquo;s followers in 1969.

ldquo;Its unclear if the house is haunted, or filled with energy from the brutal murders, but Bagans is ready to find out,rdquo; said Newsweek. ldquo;He shared a story of dogs disappearing from the property, and said that past tenants have been spooked silly by seeming paranormal encounters. This isnt Bagans first interaction with objects or places >

Bagans may take his interest to a more detailed level than the average American, but we predict hersquo;ll be in good company watching Murder House Flip when it premieres next year.

nbsp;


> Full Story

Home Upgrades That Will Make Your House Worth Even More Moolah

Replace the Windows

Poorly insulated, drafty, or cheap windows can bring down the value of a home like nothing else. Todays discerning home buyers expect double or triple pane windows with elements like Argon gas, low-e coatings, and all the other elements that make good-quality windows look good and function well. According to money.com, homeowners who replace the windows in their homes get a 73 return on investment when they end up selling their home.

Replace the Roof

A damaged or faulty roof is one of the biggest reasons that homeowners have to hand over money to buyers during the buying process. Inspections frequently turn up issues with cracked shingles, holes, old tiles and all the other roof damage that can put your house at risk. A faulty roof not only makes the outside of the house look bad, but it also raises the risk for damage inside your house.

Do a Minor Bathroom Renovation

Bathroom renos can often take quite a bit of money. If you dont have a lot of money, you can still do a renovation that not only looks good but offers a great return on your investment. Doing something like replacing old, dingy tile or adding a new bathtub can completely change how the bathroom looks. If your tile floor has seen better days, consider replacing it with high-end vinyl flooring or adding a heating element. With small changes like these, you could see as much as a 100 return on your investment when you sell, making these moves a good choice.

Do a Little Kitchen Reno as Well

The same way that a small bathroom renovation can make a huge difference is the same way that a small kitchen renovation can make a huge difference. Like a bathroom, a full kitchen reno can cost well over 100,000, something that you may or may not have. If you have it, go for it. If you dont have it, you can still make small changes that will make a huge difference and how your kitchen is perceived by buyers. When we say "small kitchen renovation", were talking about things like replacing the cabinet doors, replacing the apron on a farmhouse sink or redoing your countertops. One of the easiest things that you can do that will make it look like you have a brand new kitchen is to replace your sink and faucet. Simply upgrading those two elements can create a visual transformation that is a sight to behold. Small changes like these can result in a more that 80 return on investment, according to Nerdwallet.

Replace Your Front Door

Theres nothing like a shabby, broken-down front door to negatively influence a potential buyers opinion of your home. No matter how good the inside of your house looks, that shabby front door will always be the first impression. The buyer may even go so far as to assume that because the front door is shabby, the rest of the home is secretly shabby, even if it looks good Its in your best interest to replace that front door as soon as you can. Buying a good front door will not only make your home look good, but it will give you as much as an 85 return on investment, according to Consumer Affairs.

By following the above home reno tips, youll not only be enjoying the way your home looks. Youll also feel confident that youve increased the value of your home as well.


> Full Story



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