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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tax relief may work against real estate vultures

Tax relief may work against real estate vultures

mhaggman@MiamiHerald.com

For two years Magdiel Guillemi watched the condominium towers go up across South Florida and waited for his chance to buy in. Now the 25-year-old aluminum company executive thinks his time has arrived.

With the housing market stuck in slow motion, more and more condos nearing completion, and many jittery preconstruction buyers wanting out as closing day approaches, Guillemi's betting he'll be able to buy at steep discounts. Then he hopes to sell for a profit, just as flippers did when the market was on the way up a few years ago.

Call it the contrarian view of real estate investing. While the market appears stone-cold to many individual buyers and sellers, others -- the so-called vulture investors -- see opportunity.

Guillemi says he's already finding bargains but he wants to act fast: The Florida Legislature starts a special session this week to consider lowering property taxes -- a move he thinks could spur renewed buying activity and endanger the low-cost deals he's scouting.

''If they cut taxes that will motivate individual buyers,'' said Guillemi, who plans to start buying in the next few weeks. ``And I want to get in before they do. I don't want to be left with the crumbs.''

Large investor groups and hedge funds are also scouring the region for bulk deals at bargain prices.

At the height of the 2001-2005 housing boom, it seemed everyone was getting into real estate, hoping for fat profits. But a separate class of speculators sat out during those frenetic days, betting the market would be bid to unsustainable heights yet still hold long-term value.

Their gambit: Buy on the dip and ride the market up.

The question for these investors is when to buy. Many observers say the market hasn't yet hit bottom, others say the time is right.

But for the vulture investors, who have pooled cash and waited for their big chance to score from a market correction, this week's special session brings a twist. It's spurring some like Guillemi to accelerate their plans and others are hoping legislators don't accomplish much.

Peter Zalewski, a former journalist who a year ago started condovultures.com -- a company that helps buyers find bargains in a downturn, said he fears decisive action in Tallahassee will provide a jolt that could potentially undermine his plans.

''There is an urgency that is being created by the legislative issue,'' Zalewski said. ``If they resolve the property tax issue, the market will get some medical attention. We don't want that, we want to bleed out the market some more.''

Of course, few will feel badly if vulture investors' prospects evaporate. Home builders, brokers and many homeowners hope Zalewski's thinking that a cut in property taxes will give the region's anemic housing market a shot in the arm is right. The Latin Builders Association and Builders Association of South Florida are both pressuring leaders in Tallahassee for sharp cuts.

But not everyone is convinced a property tax cut in Tallahassee will cure the housing markets ills. Among the other issues the market must work through are:

• A giant oversupply of homes: more than 76,000 were listed for sale in April in Broward and Miami-Dade counties compared to some 50,000 a year ago. Over the next 18 months about 20,000 new condo units are expected to come onto the market in Miami-Dade County alone, possibly spiking unsold inventory as those units are put back on the market for resale.

• Insurance rates have not come down. Condo associations and individual homeowners are still grappling with hefty premiums.

BIG BUYERS

Analyst Jack McCabe, who is advising large vulture investors on bulk deals, said big investment groups aren't as worried about tax rates as individuals -- saying such costs can be spread out across big buyers' portfolios.

Last week McCabe announced the completion of the first market-corrected deal he's worked on since the slowdown began. While short on specifics, McCabe said a multibillion-dollar private investment fund bought a substantial block of newly built condominiums from a publicly-held home builder in Florida. His investor client, he said, was chosen because of its ``ability to close quickly in an all-cash transaction, noncontingent on financing.''

Currently, he said the market is too sick to recover from a tax reduction alone. A big property tax cut may reignite buying now, he said, but would effectively create a false bottom.

''Meaningful reduction will slow down the correction cycle but the correction is still inevitable,'' said the Deerfield Beach analyst, who has warned for some time about too much construction going up too fast. ''The market is so sick it will take a while to cure this,'' he said. ``This is not a head cold, it is more like pneumonia.''

But such doomsayers also believe the market is poised for brighter days ahead. McCabe says that barring calamitous hurricanes, the market will have righted itself by 2010 -- just as the first baby boomers turn 65.

''No one is more bullish on Florida long-term than me,'' McCabe said.

It's such thinking that prompted corporate raider Carl Icahn to announce last week that he would continue efforts to buy Bonita Springs-based WCI Communities. And Zalewski spent last week showing property in South Florida and Central Florida to two investor groups, one from Michigan and another from Colorado.

DEEP DISCOUNT

Guillemi, meanwhile, is focusing on a unit at the Brickell on the River condo in Miami. He said the owner bought it for $341,000 and is trying to sell for $280,000.

''The seller has two other properties under foreclosure and is having trouble making mortgage payments,'' said Guillemi, operations director of FDS Aluminum in Pompano Beach. ``I'm trying to pick it up for $260,000.''

So with an eye on the special session in Tallahassee, he's ready to move now. ''With tax reform you will have two things pushing people into the market: lower prices and lower taxes,'' Guillemi said. ``I'm not going to wait. Of course, you have to be smart about it. There is a lot out there and you can't get married to the first girl you see.''

 
Posted at 2:41:31 PM
 
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Updated: Friday, June 22, 2018


The Inside Workings of Credit Scores

Consumers are encouraged to check their credit reports once per year. The primary reason for doing so is to make sure there arent any mistakes. Unfortunately, credit reports are prone to contain mistakes. Its not really the fault of the three main credit repositories, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion because all three are just a database. Whatever is reported to them is what you see. Further, someone with a similar name can show up on someone elses report. If youre not the only Bob Smith in town, this is certainly possible.

Someone elses poor credit might very well be showing up on your report which can directly damage your credit scores. When you find an error work with your loan officer to get it fixed. Your loan officer has working >

But have you ever wondered how these scores are calculated in the first place? They follow an algorithm first developed by The FICO Company years ago. For a while, credit scores werent the primary force behind a credit decision but over time the impact of a credit score became more and more important. Most every loan program available today has a minimum credit score and if a score falls below the minimum, theres some additional work that needs to be done to get those scores back on track.

There are five characteristics of your credit history that make up your three-digit score:nbsp; your payment history, account balances, how long youve had credit, the types of credit used and how often youve applied for new credit over the past couple of years.

Credit scores range from 300 to 850. Lets say a borrower has a credit score of 600 but needs a 620 to qualify for a particular loan program. Credit scores will improve much more quickly by paying attention to the two categories that have the greatest immediate impact on a score- payment history and account balances.

Payment history accounts for 35 percent of the total score and account balances 30 percent. When someone makes a payment more than 30 days past the due date, scores will fall. An occasional "late pay" wont really do much damage to a score but continued payments made more than 30, 60 or 90 days past the due date definitely will. By stopping the late payments scores will begin to recover.

Account balances compares outstanding loan balances with credit lines. If a credit card has a 10,000 credit line and there is a 3,300 balance, scores will actually improve. The ideal balance-to-limit is about one-third of the credit line. As the balance grows and approaches the limit, scores will begin to fall and fall even more should the account balance exceed the limit. This category contributes 30 percent to the total score.

The remaining three have >
> Full Story

How To Improve The Accessibility Of Your Outdoor Living Area

Your outdoor living area can be a source of enjoyment when youre >

Here are a few tips to make your outdoor living area easier for everyone to enjoy.

1.Install ramps.

For people with mobility problems, even one or two steps can be difficult to navigate. A gradual sloping walkway or a ramp in place of steps can provide better access to an outdoor living space.

When building a ramp, refer to the American Disabilities Act Code for measurement guidelines. Even though private homes are not required to follow these requirements, theyll help you determine proper slope, length and width specifications. Ramps can be built with wood or metal. If you dont have access to a professional who can build a ramp for you, some pre-made ramps are available online. Add skid-resistant surfaces to the ramp with special paint, tape or rubber matting for added protection against falls or slipping.

The threshold entrance into the home can also pose a problem for people with mobility challenges. You can purchase small threshold ramps at local hardware stores. Ramps can be made to enhance, not detract from the look of your home and increase your resale value. Check out Pinterest for some great ideas.

2.Clear, repair, or replace pathways.

Does your yard have a sitting area outside where you like to spend time by yourself or enjoy the company of friends and family? Are sidewalks and paths in your yard in poor condition with cobblestone or pavers that shift over time, or trees and bushes that become overgrown? Consider hiring a landscaper to trim or replace trees or bushes. They can repair or replace materials on a walkway that are hazardous to navigate with a cane, crutches, walker, wheelchair or mobility scooter.

Think about replacing mulch, stepping stones and gravel with crushed limestone, as this can make pathways smoother. Or, have walks paved with asphalt or concrete. Good sidewalks and pathways are smooth, flat or gently sloping, free of clutter, and at least 4 feet wide to accommodate mobility aids.

3.Raise gardens.

Gardens provide benefits for young and old. Children learn the appreciation of seeing plants grown and bloom, and, according to a research study, daily gardening can reduce dementia by 36 percent in seniors. Whether youve maintained beautiful gardens for years or youre just now trying out your green thumb, you can create a garden thats within reach.

Making a few changes can help minimize bending and straining for people with back and joint discomfort. Think about reducing the size of your gardens and raising them up to a higher level. Ask family or friends if they will help you make gardens more accessible by building a raised bed garden. You can also try vertical gardens: Make them with t>

You and your whole family can benefit from keeping outdoor spaces accessible and well maintained. It could even increase the value of your home.

Jean Cherry, BSN, WCC, MBA is a former home health nurse who is passionate about helping those with mobility issues live a happy and healthy life>
> Full Story

How To Channel Your Personality To Create The Perfect Home For You

Youre not boring, and your home shouldnt be either. But, you can obey all the design rules and end up with a place that looks like it came right out of a magazine but still lacks a little spark. Heres how to inject a little "you" into it.

Art

You dont have to have a house full of bold florals or abstract pieces just because thats whats "in" right now. But, it may feel like it if youve been browsing for art. Building an art collection with staying power means collecting items and >

"Think beyond which artists are hot or trendy," said Tze Chun, founder ofUprise Art, an online art gallery, to Corcoran. "The goal is to build a collection that can grow with you, so select artwork that speaks to you rather than whats popular at the moment. Art is a great investment because of the value it provides you everyday, by improving your living space and offering daily inspiration."

Furniture

It can be a little challenging to furnish a new space from scratch, especially if you dont want a matchy-matchy situation. But, ordering a furniture "set" can be tempting because it makes it so easy to fill up a room quickly. Doing so can result in a boring look, and can also lock you into one particular >


visaopanoramica.com

And then theres another reality that many people face: Trying to merge too many pieces and too many >Adding one great piece

Sometimes, all it takes it one great piece to create a memorable and mesmerizing space. Your grandmothers old sideboard? Paint it glossy black and showcase it in your dining room juxtaposed against your modern table. That Italian chandelier you fell in love with at the Flea Market? Hang it over the bathtub in your master. Unexpected touches that speak to you will always catch your eye when you walk into the room, make you feel like youre home, and become conversation pieces for visitors.

Personalized passions

No matter what youre into, be it gothic architecture or prehistoric fossils, there is a way to bring that passion into your home and showcase it in a way that creates interest but also makes you smile.

"A collection is a window into someones world. Each piece tells a story of who they are and where theyve been," said Barrons. Take a cue from three leading designers who offer recommendations for showcasing "cherished collections in >Check your Zodiac sign

If you can diet according to your Zodiac sign, you can decorate according to it, too. The idea is to tap into the main elements of your sign to connect to the colors, >Aquarians "gravitate toward inventive design with nostalgic pops," while Taurus "rooted earth sign" means theyre "drawn to natural, unpretentious materials likerustic woodand unpolished stone," said PureWow. And the hermit like Cancer is "all about maintaining a soothing, domestic shell, which makes you the prime candidate for the Scandinavian life>Choose color wisely

When you see a super chic home, it often has very little or no color on the walls. And the overwhelming mantra among designers, especially those who are staging a home, is to keep everything neutral. But you dont have to follow that rule, especially if youre just moving in or freshening up your place.


housebythewater.wordpress.com

"The introduction of colour into your home is the simplest and surest way to inject a little of your personality while creating a mood that is both interesting and enduring," said Domain. "You would be surprised at how effectively combinations of colour can direct your mood. For instance, greens and blues are typically very calming which is why you will often see a hospital saturated with these tones, and red is a much more emotionally intense colour that is known to increase cravings for food, making it a common colour used in kitchens and dining rooms."

If youre not ready to do all the walls, start with one; you might end up loving this feature wall, or it may inspire you to go ahead and paint a few more.

Paper it

Wallpaper has been enjoying a resurgence over the past few years, and so has the peel-and-stick version. This is one of our favorites things to use to inject personality into a room and make it feel dynamic, romantic, exoticor any other feeling youre going for. Because its removable and replaceable, its great for fickle design folks like us who want peacocks on the wall this month, banana leaves the next and then start thinking about how great that wall in the kitchen would look with peel-and-stick faux brick while were installing banana leaves in the living room.
> Full Story



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