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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: Wednesday, September 26, 2018


What Not to Leave in Your Garage During Extreme Weather

Any kind of extreme weather could bring potential damage to your garage. Fortunately, a lot of the risks they present are preventable mdash; although a recent Esurance survey found that only 25 percent of homeowners proactively prepare for damaging weather events. Donrsquo;t get caught unprepared. Whether itrsquo;s triple-digit heat, below freezing cold, hurricane seasons or drought-induced wildfires, itrsquo;s best to prep your garage ahead of time to minimize your safety risks.

From fire hazards to burst pipes, herersquo;s how to prepare your garage for extreme weather.

Extreme Heat and Wildfires

Propane tanks
Propane tanks should never be stored indoors in the first place, but they are a particularly big risk in extreme temperatures as they begin >

Do this instead: Store propane tanks outdoors, about 10 feet away from the house and out of the sun. Make sure theyrsquo;re painted in a color that reflects light. If theyrsquo;ve been left in the sun and you worry that theyrsquo;ve gotten too hot, hose them down.

Oil-stained rags
It might seem obvious, but oil-stained rags have been known to cause house fires mdash; even if theyrsquo;ve been through the wash. When the temperature in your garage rises to extremes, they can spontaneously combust. If a wildfire breaks out, they pose a substantial risk for fueling the flames and even causing small explosions.

Do this instead: Dispose of heavily used oil-soaked rags and replace them. Wash gently used rags a few times before storing them in a covered metal can.

Aerosol cans
Eighty percent of aerosol cans mdash; even ones filled with hairspray and the like mdash; contain 3 to 5 ounces of butane or propane. When temperatures reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit, they can explode, sending bits of metal shrapnel through the air, or they can become propelled like rockets, capable of causing serious injury or damage.

Do this instead: Store aerosol cans in the garage only if the temperature is between 55 and 80 degrees.

Snow/Ice Storms and Extreme Cold

Aluminum cans
Carbonated beverages are temperamental, and they can be dangerous at freezing temps. Beverages like soda and beer freeze at around 15-20 degrees. Once frozen, the carbon dioxide separates from the water and pressurizes, becoming especially dangerous if handled or opened, potentially bursting and sending the top of the can flying.

Do this instead: Keep your canned, carbonated beverages in a refrigerator or cabinet in the house, where they wonrsquo;t freeze.

Glass bottles
Similar to aluminum cans, water-filled glass bottles can shatter in the cold, regardless of whether or not the liquid is carbonated. Thatrsquo;s because water expands as it begins to freeze. It can wreak similar havoc on your pipes.

Do this instead: Store your glass beverage containers in the house along with the aluminum cans.

Exposed pipes
As water gets colder and colder, it begins to expand, putting extra pressure on pipes. Regardless of the strength and material of the pipes, they will eventually burst under the pressure.

Do this instead: Let water drip from your faucets. Moving water helps prevent freezing. You can also insulate your exposed pipes to prevent them from freezing. Conventional foam insulation is easy to slip over existing pipes with a bit of tape. You can also go with the self-sealing variety, but you may want to leave the spray foam insulation to the pros.

Hurricanes and Windstorms

Generators
Anticipating the power going out? Make sure yoursquo;re not running your generator inside mdash; even in your garage. Generators produce large amounts of carbon monoxide, which can be deadly in contained, unventilated spaces.

Do this instead: Set your generator up outside mdash; at least 10 feet from your house mdash; to ensure proper ventilation.

Open doors and windows
It might go without saying, but open windows or doors in your garage invite tons of messy debris during a hurricane mdash; not to mention the potential damage to your car and other belongings.

Do this instead: Double-check that your garage door is closed and any and all windows are shut and locked before the storm makes its way in. Consider installing storm windows or shutters to the exterior of the garage to add extra protection against high winds and heavy rains.

Important Documents and Sentimental Items
With an increased risk for flooding and water damage, make sure you remove any important files or boxes with sentimental items before the storm hits.

Do this instead: Move any at-risk items safely indoors and store them in an interior room for the duration of the storm.

Are you prepared for extreme weather? Protect your family and your home by inspecting your garage to prevent unsafely storing potentially dangerous items in a weather emergency.


Eric Brandt has more than 25 years experience in the insurance industry. Eric currently serves as Chief Customer Advocate for Esurance, where he leads the customer experience, including claims fulfillment. Prior to joining Esurance, Eric led customer-centered transformations in the areas of claims, risk management and >
> Full Story

Has Your Marketing Content Become Stale?

Does your marketing receive regular complete overhauls? Or, do time
pressures only allow for the periodic makeover of one or two content
sections? On the other hand, you may simply rearrange existing content
with little more than headline changes. Or, do your marketing efforts
fall somewhere in between? Regardless of the approach you take, why are
you confident your marketing content and strategies resonate with your
select target market?

Answer this on-point ldquo;YES or NOrdquo; Quick Quiz to clarify where you
stand regarding content creation:

1. Is there really anything new to say about buying and selling real estate?nbsp;YES/NO

2. Is there anything that buyers and sellers havenrsquo;t heard already?nbsp;YES/NO

3. Is there truly something different about the way you, as a real
estate professional, work with real estate prospects, buyers, and sellers?nbsp;YES/NO

Real estate professionals who want to create magnetic, engaging real
estate content for their target market must answer each of these three
key questions above with a resounding ldquo;YES.rdquo;

Professionals who answer one or all of the questions above with ldquo;NOrdquo;
will not only produce stale content, but they may also find other
aspects of their practice and their productivity lacking

1. If real estate professionals cannot continually see ldquo;newrdquo;
perspectives in buying and selling real estate, how can they stay fresh
and eager enough on a daily basis to attract prospects and retain clients?

2. Professionals who donrsquo;t believe there is a lot that buyers and
sellers will benefit from hearing about real estate, may not radiate
enthusiasm and, as a result, may not be as productive or resourceful as
necessary to build a sustainable practice and achieve long-term
financial goals for themselves and their clients.

3. A professional, who does not clearly see how to uniquely serve the
niche of buyers and/or sellers this professional wants to zero in on,
cannot expect target prospects and clients to see any difference between
this professional and the rest of the real estate ldquo;pack.rdquo;

Fresh, target->
deep, accurate knowledge on many levels, but always from the targetrsquo;s
point of view.

Are you in the right frame of mind to create great content for the
buyers and sellers you aim to serve? Professionals who decide to hire
custom content developers or to buy stock content, must also know
exactly what targets need and why.

bull; How do you measure the effectiveness of your marketing
content? Buyers and sellers expect their selected real estate
professionals to continually prove and improve their value. Marketing
content, in any format or on any social media platform, must meet the
same target value demands. How do you measure ROI Return on
Investment on your marketing efforts, for you and your clients?

bull; How regularly do you update your Brand Profile? Fresh,
engaging language, concepts, and offers are essential to keep your brand
uppermost in the minds of target buyers and sellers. Donrsquo;t follow
your competition into trends-lead your targets.

bull; Have you recently updated the selected target buyer and
seller profiles or personas you concentrate your business efforts
on? Do your target profiles and content on each social media
platform synch up, but remain distinct and in keeping with each specific
platform? Is your content an engaging, thought-provoking mirror of
target issues?

bull; What process and systems do you use to efficiently recycle
and refresh content across selected social and traditional media? Do
you have a documented marketing strategy that transforms blog posts into
email newsletters, then into YouTube videos and interactive webinars, or
whatever media your targets prefer? What criteria do you use to
decide when to employ your own content creation skills and when to hire
proven expertise?

As well as consistently improving content development, professionals
benefit from becoming progressively more sophisticated, more refined,
more elegant in their communication techniques, approaches, and
outcomes.

Herersquo;s an example of clever email content that lets target clients
convince themselves of the value of the content developer, while quickly
and simply revealing what targets are doing right and what more they can
do for themselves. A lot is packed into one 7-page, graphic-rich
publication. Does it inspire you to tackle something similar to reveal
your value while giving your targets opportunities to measure their
ability to be excellent buyers or sellers working in their own best
interest?

New-York-based content developer, Contently, recently
produced ldquo;The Contently Content Maturity Modelrdquo; as email
marketing content.
Disclaimer: Although I have met some Contently staff, I do not have a
working >mine.

bull; The Model reveals how, as Strategy, Technology, and
Process improve, this leads to ldquo;significant improvements in efficiency,
data use, and collection, and alignment across teams.rdquo;
bull; The checklist of ldquo;major attributes that represent your maturity
at each [of four] phasesrdquo; reveals what you donrsquo;t do and should when it
comes to content development, and what Contently does for their
clients.
bull; The strong sales pitch is in plain sight. Does it seem balanced
by valuable content to you? If not, you may not be the selected target.

Resource:
For more, visit PJ Wadersquo;s ldquo;Whatrsquo;s Your Point?rdquo; blog.


> Full Story

5 Tips for Economically Renovating Your Home

In 2017, homeowners spent an average of 15,000 on house renovations. However, you need to take each step carefully if yoursquo;re on a tight budget. Letrsquo;s walk you through some simple tips to remodel your home economically:

1. Begin by cleaning up

As soon as the idea of home renovation pops in your mind, you need to hold your horses. This is because any design pointers that come to your brain at this point will be hazy. Thanks to the clutter, you cannot develop a crystal clear idea of what you want.

If you canrsquo;t do that, you canrsquo;t budget realistically. It details the very purpose of renovating your home reasonably. Therefore, start by cleaning your place thoroughly. Declutter and clear out what you donrsquo;t need.

Chances are that cleaning your space and rearranging the furniture can help you redesign your entire house. If your house is in good shape, only cleaning and moving things around can work to give your house a new look. If not, then this DIY project will help you visualize the home remodel that you want.

2. Set a realistic home renovation budget

Business Insider revealed that 61 of us donrsquo;t have a budget, but that wonrsquo;t work if you aim to renovate your house on a shoestring budget. You need a budget, and while you are at it, you need a realistic budget.

This means that if you put yourself in utopia and estimate fairytale costs, you wonrsquo;t be able to get anywhere with your home renovation plans. Hence, you need a fair estimate of what renovations you want in your house.

For instance, if you plan to spruce up your existing backyard, then you need to research the rough estimate of getting done all that yoursquo;ve in your mind. On average, Landscaping Network reports that a budget of 25,000 is typically dedicated to backyard renovation. A good contractor such as Terra Nova Landscaping can help you figure out the costs as per the revamps you want.

3. Decide what you want in advance

Budgeting means there is no room for a change of heart at the last minute. You also donrsquo;t get to be picky, saying that a certain color doesnrsquo;t look the way you anticipated it to, because such double-mindedness quickly adds to the costs.

The simple way to nip this unwelcome evil in the bud is to plan beforehand. Browse through the internet or flip through interior design magazines to get an idea of what yoursquo;re looking for. Turn Pinterest upside down if you have to while rooting around renovation ideas and trends, but do it before you seal the deal with your contractor.

Once you have a blueprint of what you want in your mind, yoursquo;ll be better able to map out your budget. Plus, you can save your money from going down the drain by saving yourself from buying things on impulse.

4. Get a black and white paint palette

You know that you need your home remodeled when the color leaches from your walls. Since yoursquo;re on a mission to give your house a new look on a tight budget, consider a black and white color palette.

Getting different colored palettes can add to the total cost. To counter that, go for the >

Alternatively, choose a neutral color scheme for your rooms. It is a perfect pick because it offers you a lot of flexibility when it comes to decorating. This makes the neutral color scheme a budget-friendly choice because it allows you to add nearly any deacute;cor or accent color.

5. Think smaller home remodeling changes

Another smart tip to refurbish your house on a tight budget is to make small changes. While itrsquo;s nice to think of the big picture, it is useless to daydream about a new look for your house if you donrsquo;t have the cash to make the dream come true.

In such a case, making small changes can significantly change your housersquo;s look. One way to do this is to renovate your house in sections. For instance, get your kitchen renovated this year and then save up and revamp your bedroom sometime later.

Or, you can make minor changes that make a big impact. For instance, change the hardware on the kitchen cabinets for a refreshed look instead of getting the cabinets replaced altogether. Similarly, change the rugs or curtains in your house for a different look.

Wrap up

Budgeting can be tough but not impossible. You can always stay within the limitations of your wallet by planning, making small changes, spending thoughtfully instead of impulsively, and doing some work yourself.


> Full Story



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