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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Miami, Dade leaders reveal multibillion-dollar downtown plan

By LARRY LEBOWITZ AND MICHAEL VASQUEZ
Miami city and county leaders have forged a multibillion-dollar public-works bonanza that could alter the face of the downtown core -- affecting everything from a baseball stadium to a port tunnel to museums.

The plan, coming together with rare speed in the world of governmental red tape, envisions a holiday bounty of projects aimed at garnering support from constituencies ranging from sports fans to arts patrons.

Announced late Wednesday by Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, the deal would cover everything from a $914 million tunnel leading to the Port of Miami to finally transforming fallow Bicentennial Park into a waterfront jewel with new art and science museums.

By also shoring up the shaky finances at the fledgling Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, the plan's framework would free up additional tax monies that could be used to build a $525 million retractable-roof ballpark for the Florida Marlins.

''This is a great opportunity for all of us -- all of us -- to create an incredible legacy for the urban core,'' Diaz said following a long day of negotiating the multi-party pact -- and then selling it to individual commissioners.

While Diaz and others in the city embraced the so-called ''global'' agreement with the county, many questions remain.

One is whether a deal this complex can actually come to fruition. With so many parts forming the larger whole, it's possible that criticism of one piece of the blueprint could derail others.

Secondly, the intricate financing has been crafted in a way to sidestep a potential voter referendum -- which could embolden critics.

COMMISSIONS TO VOTE

Selling it is key, and the first test comes Thursday when Miami commissioners decide whether to move the multilayered plan forward.

County commissioners would then begin their review of key pieces of the ballpark financing and redevelopment plans Dec. 18.

The framework -- hashed out over several weeks of behind-the-scenes talks with city and county managers -- centers on expanding the Omni Community Redevelopment Agency to include Bicentennial Park and Watson Island.

CRAs are federally mandated special taxing districts that generate extra cash for areas targeted for revitalization. By aiming to expand the key Omni district, Miami leaders envision new infusions of money that would be doled out for multiple big-ticket projects.

The biggest beneficiaries of this new Omni CRA would be the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts and a proposed new ballpark for the Marlins at the soon-to-be-demolished Orange Bowl.

Diaz said the county would essentially receive up to $400 million in CRA revenue over the next 30 years to cover debt service on the arts center.

This will free up somewhere between $160 million and $200 million in tourist taxes from the PAC -- that the county and city could then use for the ballpark in Little Havana.

PARKING GARAGE

Less certain: whether the will, and the money, exist to build a 6,000-space parking garage and one of Diaz's personal projects -- a 25,000-seat soccer stadium also proposed for the 40-acre Orange Bowl site.

By expanding the CRA boundaries over the MacArthur Causeway to Watson Island, the city believes it can also use $50 million in CRA money to pay its share of the $914 million Port of Miami Tunnel over the next 35 years.

Florida transportation officials had vowed to move their $457 million share of the tunnel deal to other parts of the state if the city didn't put up its $50 million piece by Monday.

''I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, no pun intended,'' said City Commissioner Joe Sanchez, who represents the Orange Bowl area.

Miami property owners would also benefit from the expanded Omni CRA, city leaders say.

Diaz said the city would pay off its outstanding debt on the troubled Jungle Island construction loans from the expanded CRA instead of general revenues.

By expanding the boundaries into Bicentennial Park, the city would also use $68 million in new CRA revenue for the development of Museum Park -- including a planned underground parking garage. The CRA money would not be used to build the museums.

OVERTOWN IMPACT

Another question mark: whether city officials will be legally permitted to spin another $2 million a year out of the CRA to pay for ongoing capital improvements inside the park.

A second, more hard-pressed, special tax district would also benefit under the city-county pact.

The Southeast Overtown/Park West CRA, which generates considerably less revenue than the Omni, would be extended to year 2030 and its boundaries expanded to 20th Street on the north and Northwest Seventh Avenue on the west.

The city would spend up to $80 million for affordable housing, infrastructure, parks and job programs in the economically depressed Overtown neighborhood, and it would set aside $35 million for the city's struggling streetcar plan.

Diaz said Miami planned to adopt a pay-as-you-go approach when spending the CRA money on these big-ticket items over the next 30 years, rather than floating bonds to bankroll the projects.

The unstated reason: The projects wouldn't have to face voter approval.

In previous years, the city had contemplated issuing CRA bonds that could net perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars up front, to be used on large public-works projects.

But the Florida Supreme Court ruled in September that any bond issue local governments do with CRA money needs voter approval. Miami responded by abandoning its bond-issue plans.

This plan would sidestep those concerns.

DETAILS

As in every public project, the key is in the details, and literally hundreds of them still need to be hashed out.

First: Does Diaz have the three commission votes to pass the plan when the body meets this morning?

''God willing, [Thursday] we will approve possibly the most exciting -- largest, certainly -- package of projects in city history,'' Diaz said late Wednesday.

Commissioner Sanchez said of the ''global'' agreement: ``So far, it looks good. . . . It's a win-win situation for everybody.''

Herald staff writers Charles Rabin, Andres Viglucci and Matthew I. Pinzur contributed to this report.

 
Posted at 3:24:14 PM
 
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Updated: Wednesday, December 2, 2020


6 Tips to Help You Sell a Home During the Holidays

Typically, the winter holiday season is not an optimal time to sell a home.

The weather isnt conducive to showings, its the middle of the school year, and most people think about holiday planning and travel.

Of course, there are some possible benefits. For example, if you sell your home in the winter, theres less competition because most people sell in the spring and summer. People also have time off work around the winter holidays, meaning more time to see homes. Buyers may be motivated too.

If you have to sell your home during the holidays, there are things you can do to make it an easier process.

Stage It Accordingly

One unique benefit of selling a home during the holidays is that you can actually use it to your advantage when it comes to staging. You can warm up a space during the holidays and that might make it easier for potential buyers to picture themselves there.

Add tasteful but simple holiday decorations. Dont go overboard and block the homes features.

Focus on the cozy features like the fireplace, and of course, its a great time to use the >

Clean-Up the Curb Appeal

While the winter makes it tougher to sell your home because people cant see the landscaping, that doesnt mean you should neglect the curb appeal altogether.

Shovel the walkways, illuminate pathways, and make sure that theres a mat at the door so people coming to see your house can wipe their feet.

Price It Accordingly

Your listing agent can work with you to develop the right pricing strategy based on their assessment of the data. Many variables go into pricing, but you may need to go a little lower than youd like if you are selling around the holidays.

If youre selling during the holidays, its not the time to haggle. During this time of year, its often better to price it right from the start instead of making price reductions later.

Work with a >

The last thing you want is to work with an agent who goes MIA during the holidays. Be very clear with your agent about your expectations for communication and how much theyll work during the holidays. When youre choosing an agent, you might ask them if theyve ever sold a house during the holiday season before.

Be Flexible About Showings

During the holiday season, everyone is busy and may have more plans than usual, but if youre selling your home, you need to be flexible and accessible when it comes to showings. Its a challenging time so if someone wants to see your home, you need to do everything you can to facilitate that.

Focus on Outdoor Features

If you live somewhere with harsh winters, selling your home around the holidays can give you the chance to show off some of the exterior features that make it well-equipped for winter weather. For example, maybe potential buyers go outside to take a look at your homes new roof. You could also show off convenient winter features like updated heating and attached garages.

If you can manage your expectations before you put a home on the marketing during the holidays, its going to help you stay more >
> Full Story

Five Questions for a Fresh Seller Perspective

In this time of supreme uncertainty, how can sellers decide whats the best thing to do now or next with their real estate?

Real estate sellers are trying to guess what the future holds as much as everyone else:

When they are wrong, sellers may put their home and other real estate at risk.
When they are right, sellers may add wealth and security.

Talking to local real estate professionals has always been a great way for sellers to start when charting plans for the future. This is still a good launching pad, even when no one, including professionals, currently knows what is coming next. However:

Real estate professionals have the facts about what has happened locally since March 2020 and what was going on before that.
Choose the right real estate professional and youve found someone who is well-connected locally and through the industry to ensure you learn about current key trends in time to take advantage of them.
Real estate professionals are committed to filtering pressures and impact of the pandemic and other social and economic changes through their real estate lens to make sense for each individual property owner-client.

Five Questions for a Fresh Seller Perspective on NOW amp; NEXT

Aim to achieve clarity about what you can live with and without.

1.nbsp; What can you see ahead?

Project and expect the worstWhat exactly would that mean to you?or project and expect the bestHow could that materialize for you? Your choice.

In your world, you control some things and not others. Direct your future where you have more control and the outcome may involve more of what youd favor, but it may also be more of the same. Select a path less traveled, with a move outside your comfort zone, and risks may increase, but benefits may also take a giant step forward.

Your attitude and stage of life determine what the future holds for you. Glass-half-full thinkers may look for some good to come out of the pandemics interruption of life and career; glass-half-empty thinkers may concentrate on what has been lost or disrupted so looking forward may mean settling for less. Couples have the potential to complement each other with their attitudes and recovery strategies. What would you like to see ahead? What steps can you take in that direction?

2. How will you emerge financially from the pandemic?

Even if youve managed to hold onto status quo through the pandemic, theres no guarantee that will continue. Those whove had a tough haul so far may find things leveling off. Regardless of your path to date, it may be too soon to forecast how youll emerge financially. If pressures mount, ask your real estate professional and your financial advisor how selling nowbefore the pandemic is overmight improve your financial situation and life>

Your biggest financial asset may be your earning ability. Post-pandemic job security and business sustainability may not yet be evident. Dramatic change is to be expected in some areas and industries. The restaurant, hospitality, and travel industries were hard-hit by the pandemic while other sectors thrived or at least chugged on. Which industries does your earning power revolve around? Can online learning top-up your earning credentials?

Select your own track. Sellers who chose to live near their workplace and, thanks to telecommuting, will no longer need to, may consider a move. Those who are making a life>

You may repeatedly change your mind about the next step as the nature of the pandemic alters in your area. Taking time to see where things are headed before you plunge into the market may be wise. Reversing real estate decisions is much more difficult than making them in the first place.

3. How will you stay safe in the meantime?

One great way to get a fresh look at your real estate, is to try and get out of your home in less than 2 minutes. Have you planned a fire-escape route lately? Do you know at least two ways out of each room and from each level? In planning a 2-minute fire-escape route, youll see how well spaces work and dont. This intimate exploration will help you decide whether this is the ideal place to live or not.

Cooking, a popular Covid activity, is also the number one cause of home fires. As the holiday season approaches with its candles and inflammables, and colder weather drives us inside, fire safety becomes an even more significant issue.

With a safety overview in mind, take a long hard look at your home and what needs to be done to ensure it is safe and comfortable. Even if your last renovation was fairly recent, there can be things that need attention or repair.

nbsp;House Fires: Less Than Two Minutes To Survivenbsp;
nbsp;Is a Silent Killer Lurking?nbsp;

How your community manages Covid-19 outbreaks is vital to your safety. How well do available medical and hospital capacities serve the population?

4. Will your pre-Covid home suit your post-Covid life>

What issues does that question bring to mind? Covid-19 has irreversibly changed some lives, but not others. The pandemic has altered many aspects of life temporarily and just as many permanently. Normal is being redefined.nbsp;

What do you want to return to and what would you like to improve on? As you flesh out this exploration to see if a move makes sense, consider the full cost of owning and maintaining your current property and the complete cost of moving not me>

5. How quickly can you react?

If you suddenly had a good reason to selllike a red-hot market or a distant job offerhow quickly could you get your home listed and on the market to earn top dollar? If there is a dramatic market change due to the pandemic, sellers may have to react quickly or be left behind.

Do you have a real estate professional who you continue to work with or will you have to interview to find a compatible match?
How ready is your home? Is it a cosmetic do-over or major make-over that will be required to earn top dollar?
Do you understand what you would net from the sale of your property? Would it be enough to acquire your desired next home or to finance your next venture?
Have you researched the practicality of purchasing or renting your next desired home? Low listing inventories are common in this stay-at-home time.

Talk to your real estate professional to determine who will buy your home. Whos the target buyer for your neighborhood and type of property? Once you learn how your real estate would fare in the current local market, take an equally-detailed look at what choices you have for your next home.

Keep in mind that an ideal market for selling may not be an ideal market for buying the particular type and value of real estate youre interested in. For instance, low inventory of listings may inflate your sale price, but when youre the buyer there may not be much to choose from.

Your home may sell very quickly, so make sure you have all the choice you need for your next purchase before you sell.


> Full Story

Can You Negotiate a Real Estate Commission?

In a real estate transaction, there are typically three main parties involved. There are the real estate agent, the buyer and the seller. The takeaway for the agent is a commission, but many people experience confusion about things like how much it is and how its paid. They also wonder if they can negotiate a commission.

What is a Typical Commission?

Most people think theres a standard percentage across real estate for commissions. There isnt a fixed price. There is an average prevailing fee in most states thats around 6 of the final sales price of a home, however. If an agent sells land, they may get a higher commission of anywhere from 10 to 20 because it takes more time and a larger marketing budget to sell land.

The seller of a property is typically the one who pays a commission. It goes to the listing agent, and then the listing agent gives a portion to the agent representing the buyer. The home buyer doesnt pay anything.

Most real estate agents only work on commission and dont earn a base salary.

So what it might look like if you were to sell a 200,000 home is that the listing agent would charge a 12,000 fee. That would be a 6 commission. Then, they would split that with the buyers agent, so the agent representing the buyer gets 6,000, and the listing agent gets 6,000.

Then the agent has to share part of that 3 with their brokerage office. Sometimes that amount could be as high as 40 of the 3.

Agents also pay for a lot out of the fee, including their marketing and insurance costs. Commissions are paid at the time the title transfers for the home.

Can a Seller Negotiate?

Legally, a commission is negotiable. However, sellers have to be careful here. While an agent might be willing to negotiate in certain circumstancesfor example, the property is high-end or it may help them break into a great neighborhood, in many cases, they wouldnt be.

If a real estate agent is too willing to settle for a lower commission for seemingly no reason, you have to think about how their negotiation skills will look later on when theyre working on a deal for you.

The entire goal of hiring a real estate agent is to get the best price for your home, along with the best terms. A real estate agent who quickly agrees to take a lower commission may not achieve those goals. Also, the marketing costs will come from that commission, so in taking a lower fee, will the agent be cutting corners on their efforts to advertise your home?

Its not unusual for an agent to be unwilling to negotiate their commission simply because they dont have to. They may be so busy that theres no reason for them to take a lower commission. They can simply move onto other sellers.

What if the Same Agent is Handling Selling and Buying?

If youre going to sell your home and then the same agent will help you buy another one, they earn both commissions. Its possible that you could get a discount in this situation, but again, maybe not. Both transactions are separate from one another, and both require their own work. It doesnt matter to the agent if the seller and buyer are the same people because the workload would be the same as if they were different people.

What if the same agent represents you and the buyer?

This is a situation known as dual agency, but not all states allow this.

In this case, if its legal, an agent could earn the listing and selling fees. You might ask a listing agent if they will lower their commission fees, although again, theres no obligation on the part of the agent.

While negotiating is possible for real estate commissions, its not always the best idea nor will it always result in a discount for you as a seller.


> Full Story



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