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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: Sunday, September 24, 2017


How to Choose Hardwood Flooring That Will Get Your House Noticed

As a house flipper, ensuring my renovated properties look great is very important to me. I love walking into homes with hardwood floors. From bamboo to cork to parquet, oak, pine, and mahogany, wood floors give an immediate feeling of quality and luxury. There are seemingly endless varieties, >

If youre thinking of selling your home in the next few years or simply want to love where your feet fall, hardwood flooring can add value and give your home the design boost it needs.

Solid Wood vs. Engineered Hardwoods

With so many options available nowadays, making the right decision can be difficult. Consider these key differences when evaluating flooring for your home.

Solid Wood Flooring is milled from trees, and each plank is composed of natural wood. Within the realm of solid wood, there are varying degrees of hardness. The Janka Hardness Scale rates the hardness of wood and can help you choose the right flooring for your home.

Engineered Wood is made up of pieces of wood and composite materials that are layered to create each plank.

There are pros and cons to each option. Solid wood flooring can swell and retract based on humidity and climate, requiring proper installation to limit the chances of these occurrences. In most instances, hardwood flooring means paying a premium in the cost. On the other hand, engineered wood flooring doesnt react like solid wood to humidity, but it cant be refinished multiple times if it gets deep scratches.


Visual interest, floor to ceiling.
Photo credit: Jacqueline Falla

Installation and Other Considerations

Engineered floors come prefinished, which saves a step or two in the process of completing your flooring project. They can be installed quickly, in as little as one day, and are ready for immediate move-in. Hardwood requires several additional steps in the process: installation and cleaning, and staining often several times prior to adding a final coat of varnish.

Weather conditions matter as well. High humidity requires a longer drying time between coats, and stepping on floors that have not cured properly is out of the question. Those with sensitivity to strong odors will want to wait until the smell disappears before returning home.

Color and Pattern Choices

>


Photo credit: Jacqueline Falla
Ready for the beach.

Durable, Practical and Stylish

Installing hardwood flooring is one of those rare instances in life where the practical choice doesnt leave you feeling like youve made a series of compromises to arrive at a responsible decision. Hardwood is beauty and brains wrapped in one tough package. The main choice to be made, really, is whether to install natural or engineered hardwoods.

Because each type has different properties, where you plan to put the flooring could supply you with the quickest answer to the type of hardwood you should select. Due to the expansion and retraction qualities of solid hardwood, its best to keep it out of spaces that have a lot of moisture, like the bathroom or kitchen, or in spaces where the flooring would be laid directly on top of a concrete slab. For this reason, basements and bathrooms are great places to use engineered wood flooring instead.

Rental Property Considerations

If your home is an investment property for rent, you may want to opt for solid hardwood over engineered. Solid hardwood floors can be refinished up to 10 times before they need to be replaced. This will allow you to refinish the floors between tenants. Conversely, engineered hardwood, while very durable, has a useful life that does not extend beyond one or two sandings.


Hardwood is a smart choice for pet owners.

Pet-Friendly Flooring

Hardwood flooring is a practical choice for pet owners as its >

Noise Reduction

If you prefer that the pitter patter of little feet - or big feet, for that matter - be muffled, cork flooring has sound-absorbing properties to keep your home quiet. Its leathery look and comfort underfoot make it an attractive option. Cork is also an eco-friendly product because its derived from the bark of the cork tree and doesnt require constant replanting.


Cork floors help stifle sound transfer.

Whether youre a DIYer or need a little help, there is a flooring selection for every >

As an avid DIYer, Jaquelinenbsp;Fallanbsp; is constantly flipping houses.nbsp;She writes for The Home Depot about the projects that provide the biggest return on investment.nbsp;She loves adding hardwood floors - or refinishing existing ones - for a quick visual lift to get a house ready for sale.Visit The Home Depot to see a selection of hardwood flooring options to update your home.

This article is editorial content that has been contributed to our site at our request, and is published for the benefit of our readers. We have not been compensated for its placement.


> Full Story

How The Equifax Hack Affects Homebuyers And How You Can Protect Yourself

Half of the country is freaking out. Thats about how many people are potentially affected by the unprecedented Equifax hack. If youre the average person whos afraid of having your data stolen - and by data, we mean your name, Social Security number, birth date, addresses, credit card numbers, and drivers license number that were reportedly involved in this breach - you may have already taken some steps to limit the damage. But what if youre in the process of buying a home or are getting ready to do so? How does this hack affect you, and what can you do to make sure you are protected?

Potential fallout for homebuyers

"Take this scenario: Say your Equifax file was looted but youve done little or nothing to detect fraudulent activity on one or more of your credit accounts. You sign a contract to buy a house, and you apply for a mortgage. The lender pulls your credit and confronts you with shocking news: Your FICO credit score is too low for you to qualify for the loan because youve been running up too much debt on one or more accounts. Your lsquo;utilization ratio on your available credit is too high, and that has depressed your score," said the Washington Post.

"Or theres a newly established account in your files that has put you deep in debt, even though you had nothing to do with it. It turns out that financial thieves have been racking up thousands of dollars in debts at your expense, and now - smack in the middle of a major lifetime investment - youre stuck with having to get the file corrected, which takes time and can be a pain. In the meantime, what happens to your purchase contract? Will the sellers bear with you, essentially putting off the transaction indefinitely and possibly blowing up their own plans to move into another house on a specific date? It could all get really messy."

Those who are already in escrow could also be derailed when the lender runs your credit before the loan closes and discovers fraudulent new accounts or charges that raise the debt-to-income ratio beyond what is allowed. "At the very least, whatever rate locks you had could be blown as you scramble to get your files corrected," they said. "Or your entire loan transaction could be jeopardized if the process takes too long."

Steps to take now

Have you still not checked to see if you were potentially impacted by the hack that affected as many as 143 million people? Not having dealt directly with Equifax doesnt guarantee your safety. "You may have never used Equifax yourself, or even heard of it," said CNN. "Either way, the credit reporting agency could still havenbsp;a lotnbsp;of your personal information. To find out if your data was compromised by the hack, gonbsp;here."

Keep in mind that youll have to enter your last name and the last six numbers of your Social Security number to check. Regardless of whether or not they believe you were impacted, youll be prompted to enroll in their TrustID Premier credit monitoring service, which will be free for a year. Despite earlier concerns, "Equifax has confirmed that signing up for TrustID Premier willnbsp;notnbsp;prevent you from joining a >

Armed with this information, you can go about taking further steps to protect your credit and prevent thieves from stealing your identity. Pull your credit reports for free once a year at www.annualcreditreport.com. Look them over carefully to make sure there are not any fraudulent accounts and/or charges. If you see anything, get on the phone with the creditor right away and start the dispute process. If youre in the process of applying for a home loan or are under contract, youll also want to call your lender immediately to alert them to what you found.

To freeze or not to freeze

There has been quite a bit of discussion about credit freezes since news of the breach broke, with some consumers concerned that "turning off" their credit could potentially damage their score or negatively impact them in some other way, especially during the homebuying process. The fact is that a credit freeze is "the most extreme method, but its also the most effective" at preventing your information from being stolen and used to open new accounts, credit expert Barry Paperno, who blogs at Speaking of Credit, told NerdWallet. And, it can be turned on and off as needed for, say, a mortgage application or credit re-check before a closing.

"There are no downsides to this: You can still use your credit cards with the freezes on," said Realtor.com. "But no one will be able to check credit scores and personal information without yournbsp;permissionmdash;so no bad apples can open up fraudulent new cards or getnbsp;loans under yournbsp;name. And younbsp;can undo the freezes at any time - typically for a smallnbsp;fee."

That fee varies depending on the state, and Equifax has said it will offer free freezes for 30 days, but the need for freezing will extend long after that is over. "Because a freeze can prevent fraud, its better than a credit monitoring service, which only alerts you that fraud might havenbsp;happened," said NerdWallet.nbsp;"Its the difference between using a deadbolt to keep thieves out rather than a security camera to catch them after the fact."

You can easily request a freeze online for the three credit unions: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Fraud alerts

"If you dont want to lock out all creditors - perhaps youre in the middle of mortgage shopping or refinancing - you can place a 90-day fraud alert on your credit," they added. "Thisnbsp;tells potential creditors to verify your identity before issuing credit in your name." A fraud alert is a good idea whether or not you freeze your credit. In this day and age, when hacks are more frequent and more damaging to more people, ongoing monitoring just makes sense.

"The biggest fears of identity theft "center around identity theft on an epic scale. It isnt tough to conjure upnbsp;worst-case scenarios," said Realtor.com. "Think about it: Bad guys with all of someones information could, at least theoretically,nbsp;trynbsp;to buy a home under that personsnbsp;name. Its more likely, though, they would use those stolen credit card numbers - or use SSNsnbsp;to open up new credit cards - and rack up lots ofnbsp;debt in that unsuspecting victims name. And that damage could make it much harder for someone to qualify for a mortgage or refinance annbsp;existing mortgage."

Consumers have largely been turning to ID theft protection company LifeLock, who the Los Angeles Times said could be "one of the big winners from the big data breach suffered by Equifax." Not surprisingly, the firm has upped its advertising outreach in the wake of the breach. The result: "An executive of Symantec, LifeLocks parent company, told Bloomberg that since the Equifax breach was reported,nbsp;LifeLocks Web traffic has increased sixfoldnbsp;and enrollments per hour are running 10 times ahead of the pre-Equifax era."

But, theres a rub: "Heres what LifeLock isnt advertising so widely: When you buy its protection, youre signing up for credit reporting and monitoring services provided by, yes,nbsp;Equifax. LifeLock signednbsp;a four-year contract with Equifaxnbsp;in December 2015," and the >

If any or all of that makes you queasy, there are alternatives to LifeLock you may want to consider.


> Full Story

5 Popular Home Trends by Region

Growth in home renovations and remodels has been steady since 2012, and the Residential Remodeling Index predicts continued growth into the future. Many renovations are trending from coast to coast, such as installations to increase energy efficiency, sustainability and security. There are some, however, which are more popular in specific regions.

Indoor/Outdoor Living on the West Coast

Indoor/outdoor living areas are trending across the nation, but the West Coast carries the torch. The regions climate practically begs you to incorporate the outdoors into your everyday activities.

  • An Open Wall - Remove the barrier between your yard and home by replacing an entire wall with glass doors, which can be opened and shut as-needed. You will find glass walls like this off of kitchens, family rooms and even bedrooms
  • A Table Outside - Move your kitchen and dining area outside, right outside the home and covered for use in any weather. With an outdoor kitchen, you can enjoy nature and a fresh breeze while you cook, rather than being confined.

Basement Remodels in the Mountains

In the mountain region, more and more people are turning their basements into livable spaces. This is a fantastic way to add useful space, as well as value.

  • Family Den - Create a downstairs family area, complete with a bathroom, couches and a television for video gaming and movie nights.
  • Home Office - Shut yourself away from dishes in the sink, laundry on the floor and attention-hoarding animals.
  • Guest Living - Give your in-laws a space of their own when they visit so that you can all have your privacy, without tripping over air mattresses.

Accessibility in the South

In the south, homeowners are making modifications which will help them to age-in-place. When people think of accessibility renovations, they dont often envision anything glamorous. However, your adaptations dont have to be boring. The changes you make can enhance the aesthetic of your home if you thoughtfully choose materials and design.

  • Easy Navigation - Widen doorways and remove steps between rooms and at entryways, so that access is flat and easily navigated.
  • Easy Access - Install a bathroom right by the entryway and retrofit the kitchen and bathrooms for wheelchair or walker access.
  • A Touch of Luxury - Build a tiled walk-in shower with recessed shelves, a bench, ambient lighting and spa-like fixtures.

    Deck Additions in the Northeast

    In the Northeast, deck additions have one of the greatest returns on investment, and the residents have taken note. Having a deck can make your home more competitive in the market. If youre renovating for yourself, its a great way to create an outdoor area for family gatherings and >

    • Entertain - Build your deck off the kitchen and outfit it with a table and chairs, to make hosting more seamless.
    • Unwind - Put your deck in a shaded corner and furnish it with comfy, weatherproof chairs for lounging. Consider installing an outdoor fireplace and a television.

    Bathroom Upgrades in the Midwest

    Midwesterners are remodeling their bathrooms, even though the return on investment isnt as high as with many other projects. Bathroom renovations are often homeowners treat to themselves, as they turn their house into their dream home.

    • Mirror, Mirror - Choose a theme that reflects your personality. Trending >
    • The Works - Install a spa tub or shower jets, and splurge on heated flooring.

    These are some of the most popular remodels happening across the nation, as people craft their perfect home or prepare it to sell. Making renovations isnt as simple as picking a project, however. You may be wondering how your neighbors have the resources to pursue such lofty endeavors. HomeAdvisor put out a True Cost Report which outlines several aspects of home improvement in 2017, including financing, which is a great resource on the years trends.


> Full Story



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