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2009 (2)
2008 (9)
2007 (6)
Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Understanding an REO

With today’s considerably lower Miami Beach real estate prices, the large inventory of foreclosures and bank owned property the question becomes more of what kind of property is worth investing in than anything else.  For purposes of this article, we’ll focus on bank owned properties, also known as REO (real estate owned) property.

A home becomes real estate owned if it doesn’t find a buyer during a property auction.  Since banks aren’t necessarily designed to function as Miami Beach real estate property-owners, they’re usually very eager to get rid of them which can result in considerable discounts.  However since an REO is not the same thing as a foreclosure, lenders can still earn a profit from them so don’t expect as deep of a discount.

A perk of buying a Miami Beach real estate REO is that there’s much less of a risk of dealing with liens, taxes and other unforeseen costs that come with a foreclosure since lenders will take usually deal with them before the sale is closed.  However an REO can still be in bad condition like a foreclosure so it remains important to get a home inspection or check the home out yourself, lenders are not at all obligated to make any repairs on the property but they will allow you to back out if something is seriously wrong.

 
Posted at 10:24:21 AM

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Examining the Interior of a Home

If you’ve been browsing through Miami Beach real estate on the internet, you’ve more than likely come across numerous resources thoroughly explaining how important it is that you carefully consider where the home is located, the values of neighboring homes, etc.  If you’ve done your homework, perhaps it’s time to narrow down your assessment to the home you may soon be living in by giving the interior a meticulous examination.

Perhaps you’d like to start off with the electrical wiring.  Depending on your familiarity, you may wish to leave this to a professional or have it done as part of the home inspection report, should you request one.  Always check this part out regardless of whether the home was built ten years ago or five years ago.

The plumbing is a little easier.  Leakage can often be discovered just by taking a look behind sinks since that’s the spot where mold has the best conditions for accumulating.  A leaky sink could be an indicator of bad pipes and thus plumbing, something you likely want to bring to the appropriate person’s attention before signing off on the dotted line on your Miami Beach real estate purchase.

Not all homes come with an addict but if there is one, you may wish to make it your first stop.  If you want to examine the roof, the attic is the best spot to do so.  If there’s wood that shows wear and tear, this could lead to leakage later on.

 
Posted at 11:00:29 AM

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Compiling Comparable Sales

With the advances in technology and the widespread availability of the World Wide Web, there is more real estate information available than ever.  Realtors have a number of resources available to help them with their seller and buyer assistance efforts and among these, it’s important to have a good idea of average sales prices in any given neighborhood, officially known as comparable sales and often referred to simply as comps.

Depending on the state where the realtor is doing business, obtaining information on comps can be done by simply heading over to the local courthouse and browsing through public records or reading newspaper listings to get a glimpse of recent sales figures.  However this method means that such services need to actually be provided in order to make use of them.

The most readily available resource is the internet since there are many websites available which can be used for finding comparable sales information while removing the need to do a lot of unnecessary and possibly fruitless legwork.  Keep in mind though that there is no guarantee as to how current this information may be.  A similar approach is to subscribe to service companies which can mail or offer this information via other means besides the internet.  Even so, the same problems of encountering outdated information are still there.

The MLS can be extremely useful and if the person using it is already a licensed realtor then they have access to a wealth of information on multiple listings which is more often than not kept up to date.

At the end of the day however, perhaps the best way to have the sharpest knowledge on comps is to take the self research approach and focus on a certain neighborhood and staying abreast of sales.

 
Posted at 4:43:12 PM

Friday, October 31, 2008

Existing Home Sales Rose Nationally Last Month

While the economy seems bleak with the stock market fluctuating daily and a steady amount of major companies going bankrupt or merging, the real estate market seems to be headed down a different path. Month-after-month the real estate market has slight improvements. Experts think the worst declines in the real estate market have already past while the economy still has a while before it stabilizes.

Recent reports from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) show an increase in existing home sales. Home sales were up 5.5 percent with a total of 5.18 million units sold across the country in the month of September which was higher than the previous month by 1.4 percent. Lead economist for the NAR Lawrence Yun suggests this is part of “a sales turnaround which began in California several months ago…” and “is broadening now to Colarado, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and Rhode Island”. 

The cause of this influx of real estate business, according to NAR President Richard F. Gaylord is “low home prices and low interest rates”. The nearly thirty percent discounts in home prices in major cities and rural areas have attracted buyers back to the real estate market in certain areas of the country. Richard F. Gaylord is optimistic about recent gains and thinks the real estate market is on its way to recovery.

Lawrence Yun, while also optimistic about the recovery of the real estate market, warns of “market disruptions” on the road to real estate market recovery. The credit markets have a significant impact on the real estate market and as they experience tough times it may have averse effects on the real estate market. But that aside, the NAR is predicting that the worst for the real estate market is over and that it will recover sooner than the economy itself.

 
Posted at 10:53:28 AM

Friday, September 05, 2008

Environmental Awareness

Global warming, damaging fuel emissions, they’re all more of a concern on people’s minds these days as they become more and more aware of their long term effects on the environment and how important it is to try and incorporate “green practices” into your daily lifestyle whether that means doubling up your recycling efforts or reducing the amount of time you spend sitting idly in traffic.

In real estate, many developers have taken into account how they too can make homes “greener” and many have made use of natural resources to create environmentally friendly condo buildings like Ten Museum Park which uses its glass design to allow tons of natural sunlight to come into the building, thus reducing the need to flip on artificial lights, at least during the day.

The Ten Museum Park condo is only a small part of a bigger picture.  Its home, downtown Miami is recognized not only by its sweeping business and condo skyscrapers, but also the numerous and elaborate light displays that bring the city to new life during the evening.  Obviously all this visual eye candy, while certainly nice to look at does not do the environment any favors.  Thus, to reinforce the message of how important it is to turn off nonessential lights whenever possible, Ten Museum Park and all those other high rises in downtown Miami’s will turn off their own unimportant lights on March 29 in a global effort to encourage environmental awareness.

Regardless of whether you live in a Miami single family home or a luxury condo, the efforts required by you to help out the environment even a little are that simple: turn off lights when you leave a room, drop a plastic water bottle or soda can into a recycling receptacle instead of the trash.  It may seem useless but it’s always good to know you’re doing your part in making the world you share with everyone else that much more pleasant.
hat require little to no repairs.  Don’t get caught up in the fierce competition without having a limit of how far you’re willing to bid, always remember the winning bid is only a component of the other fees that follow.  As you learn the ropes, you’ll eventually get a feel for how real estate auctions work and who knows, if you become good at it, they may become your preferred method of buying Florida real estate.
 

 
Posted at 2:50:44 PM

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

International Florida Real Estate Assistance

To some degree the foreclosure situation has transitioned from how to prevent foreclosures to how to get rid of the hundreds of foreclosure properties already available on the market.  South Florida homes are among the highest in foreclosure filings, contributing to an already overcrowded housing glut.  The answer to appeasing the situation may lie beyond the U.S. borders.

Strategic Real Estate Advisors is an asset management firm situated in London that plans to raise $1 billion dollars in order to purchase luxury property like Miami Beach oceanfront condos currently owned and being sold by the banks through the Florida Prime Residential Opportunity Fund.

It’s interesting to note that not only is Strategic Real Estate Advisors located outside of the United States, the majority of the funds which will go towards the purchase of all these luxury properties will be coming from well to do investors and funds located throughout Europe and the Middle East.  Recent reports have consistently pointed towards international investors and buyers as integral towards maintaining interest in Florida property investments and sales.

Critics may see Strategic Real Estate Advisors’ initiative as ineffective since they won’t be making a profit.  The firm actually plans to buy and then hold onto these properties for next six years or so, a move that may cost considerable funds as the market fluctuates but which should bring considerable profit by the time it decides to sell them off as a residential property investment or something else entirely.

Within a seven year timeframe home values and the real estate market in general will certainly be in much better shape and buying activity will likely have increased so in a sense Strategic Real Estate Advisors are providing a worthwhile short and long term solution.  Is this just another flash in the pan or is it a viable strategy?

 
Posted at 12:30:39 PM

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Homes Are Selling Again

Amidst the doom and gloom of housing market reports comes a recent report suggesting the real estate market is showing strong signs of life. In these tumultuous times it's easy for people to think that the economy is headed for recession or even a crash. Despite current market reports that suggest we are beginning to see slow signs of recovery there are still those who would rather build a bunker under their homes to prepare for an apocalypse then invest in real estate.

The last half dozen months have not seen much progress in the way of homes sold. The highest percentage of drop in home sales occurred during that period leading many to believe that the market would eventually begin to recover—and it did. In April homes sales increased slightly, which wasn't enough to ease all tensions in the housing market but enough to show that the market is on the right track to recovery. 

Property value also rose slightly across the nation showing encouraging signs of the real estate market's enduring strength. Though the median home value is comparably low to just four years ago the fact that property value is stabilizing across the country is a sign that things will return to normalcy sooner than later. When property values experience steady rise it will be more practical for people to sell homes and to convince investors to buy homes. 

So, how should one react to recent reports of trends reversing in real estate? Real estate transactions rising are a sign that demand for property is still alive. Prices are almost at a low enough level that many people sitting on the fence on whether or not to invest will soon become active. As sales increase, so will home values and soon real estate investments will become stable enough to return to business as usual.

 
Posted at 10:09:56 AM

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Updated: Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Probate Home Sales Have Their Own Special Rules

Frequently the real estate that had been owned by a person now deceased is made available for sale through a procedure commonly known as a "probate sale." When this happens a somewhat complex set of rules comes into play, especially, of course, in California.

The personal representative of the estate also known as the executor or the administrator, depending on the circumstances may seek purchasers directly or he may list the property for sale with a real estate broker. If the property is listed, the listing period may not exceed ninety days California Probate Code 10150a. Extensions of up to ninety days each may be granted if needed.

Prospective purchasers often find that things get a bit confusing when an offer is made. Generally, negotiations will be conducted as in an ordinary sale. That is, the offer may be presented to the executor, that person might then issue a counter-offer, there could then be a counter to that, etc. However, even when the executor and the purchaser have come to terms, the deal is still not final.

The estates acceptance is subject to confirmation by the court. The executor must petition the court for a hearing date for the purposes of confirming the sale. That is a public hearing, and notice of it is made public. The date set for the hearing will depend on the court calendar.

At the time of the hearing other interested parties may bid on the property as well. The Probate Code sets forth a formula for determining the minimum amount of the first overbid. The first overbid amount must be at least "10 percent more on the first ten thousand dollars 10,000 of the original bid and 5 percent more on the amount of the original bid in excess of ten thousand dollars 10,000 " [Probate Code 10311a1]

Suppose, for example, that an executor had accepted an offer of 300,000, and that you came to bid on the property at the confirmation hearing. You couldnt open by bidding 301,000. According to the formula the first overbid would have to be at least 315,500. 10 of the first 10,000 = 1,000, 5 of 290,000 = 14,500.

After the minimum overbid has been made, there can, of course, be further bids. These are not subject to a formula, and the court may set the bid amounts at that time. For example, the judge can say that he will hear further overbids only in increments of 500.

If there is bidding, and the highest offer is on different terms than the originally accepted offer, the court will not confirm the highest offer unless its terms are acceptable to the estates representative. For example, the estate might have preferred and originally accepted an offer that involved credit such as carrying back a long-term mortgage. It is a myth that probate sales must only be cash to the seller. If an overbid offer were for cash, it would not have to be accepted. Similarly, if the accepted offer had been for cash and the overbid involved credit.

In general, the probate rules and procedures are designed to bring the best price to the estate. In that regard, the court is granted a great deal of discretion. Even with overbids, the court may disallow a sale, and order a new one, if it feels the price is not appropriate.

The code also directs the court to determine that the property received adequate exposure to the market. Listing brokers of probate sales need to be prepared to show that the property was marketed thoroughly.

There is a very complex set of rules for determining brokerage commissions in the event of an overbid situation, and it would not be beneficial to recite them here -- especially because they can be set aside by the court. Brokers need to warily remember Probate Code 10161a, "whether or not the agent or broker has a contract with the personal representative, the fee, commission, or other compensation of an agent or brokershall be the amount the court, in its discretion, determines to be reasonable..." [my emphasis]

It is often thought that probate sales represent the opportunity to find "a steal". Given the procedures set forth for making such sales, that is highly unlikely.

Bob Hunt is a director of the California Association of Realtorsreg;. He is the author of Real Estate the Ethical Way. His email address is .
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Real Estate Is Lucrative For Canadas Taxman

The Canada Revenue Agency CRA continues to follow through on the crackdown it announced last year on people who fail to report income from real estate transactions.

The agency says that from April 2015 to March 2017, real estate transaction audits found 329.4 million in assessed income that had not been reported. That resulted in more than 17 million in penalties, "primarily associated with Canadas two major real estate markets in Toronto and Vancouver," says the CRA.

The agency says it conducts audits on real estate transactions on a regular basis, "including in regions of Canada where economic factors may increase the risk of non-compliance." In 2015 it doubled its efforts on the real estate sector in B.C. and now it has started a review of 500 high-dollar-value real estate transactions in that province "to uncover any tax issues that may not have already been identified."

If a taxpayer knowingly makes a false statement when filing a return, they will be assessed a penalty equal to 50 per cent of the additional tax payable. In the last two years, 885 such penalties were assessed. The largest penalty was almost 2.5 million.

In addition to income tax, the CRA also checks to see if GST/HST payments have been made. It also reviews whether rebates that have been claimed for new homes or rental housing are legitimate.

In Ontario, the agency looked at 14,735 files for the GST/HST New Housing and New Residential Rental Rebates programs, recovering 190.8 million. In B.C., 2,546 audits recouped 10.8 million.

"Builders of new residences or rental properties are required to collect and remit the GST/HST to the CRA when they sell, rent out for the first time, or appropriate the property for personal use," says the CRA. "Additionally, purchasers of new residences must ensure they abide by the rules when applying for new housing rebates."

Builders of new or "substantially renovated homes" must charge and collect GST/HST when the home is sold and report the tax.

"If a builder leases a new or substantially renovated home, the builder is deemed to have sold the home to themselves. The GST/HST is payable and collectible at once on the fair market value of the home, including the land value, and the builder must report that tax to the CRA," says the agency.

Most resale homes are exempt from GST/HST, but "there may also be GST/HST implications for flipping transactions, if a property is new or has been substantially renovated," says the CRA.

There were 2,110 Ontario files audited for income tax compliance, with 30.4 million recovered, while in B.C. 288 income tax audits yielded 12.7 million in unreported taxes.

Capital gains on the sale of a taxpayers principal residence are generally exempt from taxes. However, beginning with the 2016 tax year, taxpayers who sell their principal residence must report the sale when completing their income tax returns.

"For the sale of a principal residence in 2016 or later tax years, CRA will only allow the principal residence exemption if you report the sale and designation of principal residence in your income tax return. If you forget to make a designation of principal residence in the year of the sale, it is very important to ask the CRA to amend your income tax and benefit return for that year. Under proposed changes, the CRA will be able to accept a late designation in certain circumstances, but a penalty may apply."

The agency says a non-resident who invests in property in Canada "is liable to pay tax on gains that arise from the sale of that property and is generally not eligible for the principal residence exemption."

The CRA determines a persons residency status on a case-by-case basis, considering their residential ties in Canada, the purpose and duration of their visits outside of Canada and their social and economic ties outside of the country.

"Residency status should not be confused with citizenship," says the CRA. "Non-residents only have to report their Canadian-source income, unless a tax treaty provides otherwise. An individuals residency status is therefore essential in determining what income must be reported."

Taxpayers who think they have made a mistake or who forgot to report real estate income can correct the record here. They may also be able to take advantage of the Voluntary Disclosures Program where the CRA says it may "offer you a second chance to make things right."

The agency says it is continuing to strengthen >"Our government has committed to protecting the fairness and integrity of the tax system for all Canadians, notably by cracking down on tax cheating in real estate transactions," says Minister of National Revenue Diane Lebouthillier. "This means that, without exception, every taxpayer abides by the same tax laws."
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The First-Time Homebuyers Guide To Grown-Up Furniture

You just bought your first home. Congratulations: Youre an adult Now its time to fill it up. But if you were planning to pack up those ratty old beanbag chairs and the bed that awakens you with a morning backache and move them to your new place, we have a few suggestions. Its time for a grown-up upgrade. Heres where to start.

Invest in the important staples

You can scrimp on your mattress because its not something that guests will see, right? Not so fast. A good mattress should be at the top of your list because it affects something more important than the opinions of friends and family: Your health.

"You wouldnt run a marathon or hike a mountain without the right gear. And yet, despite spending a third of our lives sleeping, many of us havent adequately prepared in the bedroom - when it comes to mattresses, that is," said Huffington Post. "You might be tempted to blame your budget for continuing to doze on a less-than-ideal mattress, but considering justa little bit more shut-eyecan help you lose weight, improve your memory and live longer, can you really put a price tag on good sleep? But the wrong mattress - or the mattress thats simply too old - can be the cause of more than that crick in your neck or yourlower back pain. Here are five sneakier ways your mattress affects your sleep -andyour health.

If you just cant bring yourself to spring for that kind of big-ticket item right now, look for opportunities to spread out payments with a zero percent interest deal, which more and more retailers are offering. Go to a place like Rooms to Go and you might be able to get your mattress and a living room set with monthly payments that are right around what you and your honey would pay for a nice lunch.

Measure, measure, measure

Having furniture thats too small or too large for a room can make it function poorly and look "off." Measure ahead of time so you know what to look for. Stores like HomeGoods have stacks of paper measuring sticks laying arouond, but you wont always be that lucky. Measure your space and input everything in your phone, stash a measuring tape in your bag, and you wont have to guess if something will work when youre out shopping.

Dress up the bed

One of the best ways to make a bedroom look pulled together is with a headboard. But many people dont even take a look at options because they assume they will be too expensive. You can get a super chic headboard for a minimal spend if you know where to go. This tufted headboard from Overstock looks like it would cost you about as much as a monthly mortgage payment, but its just 137.


Overstock

Buy a decent couch

The couch falls squa>Youll hate yourself - and your couch - if you buy super cheap just to get something in the room. And were speaking from experience. Our first cheapie couch purchased online, BTW started falling apart after about a month. Contrast that against what Sothebys-trained home shopping expert Jennifer Litwin, author of Best Furniture Buying Tips Ever, says should be the lifespan of the couch: "The general prognosis isabout 10 to 15 years, she told The Nest. You can scrimp on other, easily replaceable items like side tables and chairs that wont be used often, but when it comes to that couch: Go ahead and splurge a little.

Like and follow influential sites

Speaking of chairs

Just today we learned about this great-looking 43 chair on Amazon that we never would have known about if we werent fans of MyDomaine. And, by fans, we mean we follow them on Facebook. "The midcentury-modern chairs feature velvet upholstering, steel legs, and are available in dusty rose, moss green, gray-green, and teal, to name a few," they said. Theyre sold in a set of two, starting at 85."


mydomaine.com

Sites like Apartment Therapy and Design Sponge are great places to get interior design ideas, and liking and following a few favorite stores like World Market and HomeGoods and online sites like Wayfair and One Kings Lane is a great way to keep up to date on sales and trends.

Be careful about buying online

When comfort and quality are key, you want to be careful about buying without being able to see, touch, and sit. If you just have to have it, at least you can read what others have to say before producing your credit card. Back to that 43 chair from Amazon: "How do you know if chairs sold on Amazon look and feel as luxe in real life," asked MyDomaine. "Members of the Facebook group purchased the chairs and posted images of the items IRL, confirming that they live up to the hype.Yes, if the long chain of comments, likes, and photos are any indication, this might be one of Amazons best-kept secrets."

Buy some art

Real art, from real actual artists. You can find some surprisingly affordable pieces that will give your home a personal touch. "Collecting art can be an expensive habit, but these days there are plenty of places to get amazing original art for a great price," said POPSUGAR. Like Minted, one of our favorite spots for original art that "discovers talent through ongoing design competitions. Designers submit, the Minted community votes to tell them what to sell, and we end up with seemingly limitless options at super affordable prices," they said.


minted.com

That doesnt mean you need to give up all your posters although, we adults call them "art prints." Just get them framed nicely. "Luckily, framing has never been easier, now that there are online services like Framebridge," said Refinery29. "And when all else fails, you cant go wrong with the basicIkea RIBBA framesjust make sure the art fits and doesnt slip and slide around when its hanging on the wall."

Dont be afraid to go to IKEA

IKEA is good for more than frames, even though you probably equate grown-up furniture with stuff you dont have to put together yourself. But not everything has to be a permanent fixture when youre just starting out. Concentrating on the big-ticket items may leave limited fuds for available to fill in the rest of your place. Many a new homeowner has hit the big blue-and-yellow warehouse and headed straight for the MALM dresser. Its cheap starting at 54 for a two-drawer version, its functional, and if you have a little bit of creativityor the ability to do some basic research and follow directionsyou can turn it into something that looks far more expensive.


Pinterest.com

Were also loving this South Shore Cookie 6-Drawer Double Dresser in gray and white from Walmart, which could give you the function in you need in an extra bedroom or guest room with a sleek, modern look. We guarantee your guests will never know where it came fromunless they were savvy enough to purchase on for their own home.

Get a few key housewares

Living like an adult isnt just about what you put stuff on. Its also about the stuff you put on you. Still using the same stiff sheets you bought for your first apartment or ratty towels youd be embarrassed for company to see? "Youll feel more grown-up the second you stop drying off your body with a towel that has a fish in sunglasses on it," said Refinery29."
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