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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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10 Tips To Upgrade Your Home Security

Keeping your home and family safe is a priority we all share. But beyond locking the doors and getting a home alarm, there are numerous steps we can take to protect who - and what - we love, and it doesnt have to break the bank.

1. Change your locks

Did you change your locks when you moved into your new home? Yeah. Neither did we. That means someone might already have the most important thing they need to get into your home: a key.

2. Upgrade your door security

While youre changing your locks, look for those that give you more secure options. If youre not sure how important this is, consider what Family handyman reports about FBI burglary statistics: "65 percent of break-ins occur by forcing in the front, back or garage service door."

3. Remove that extra key

The FBI also reports that 12 percent of break-ins are caused by thieves simply finding your hidden key. If you have one sitting under your welcome mat or in a planter, its time to remove it.

4. Use timers

"Put interior lights, TVs, and radios on timers so that you can create the illusion that someone is home when theyre not," said Bob Vila. "Modern digital light timers offer a key benefit over traditional models by having lights cycle on and off randomly."

Make sure to include motion detector lights in key spots around the exterior of your home. A light that pops on just as a burglar is approaching your back door may be enough to make him back away form your home. Home automation products make all of this easier than since you can control lights, TVs, and other items via Smartphone.

5. Get a dog

Seriously. Homes with dogs are less likely to be broken into, according to a study by The University of North Carolina, because they bark to create a ruckus and can also harm an intruder by biting.


BullyMax

6. Fake the alarm

If you cant swing the cost of an alarm, pretend you have one. "Thieves look for an easy mark; making your home look tough to crack will encourage them to move on," said HGTV. "You can easily put up security system decals - a clear deterrent - even if you dont have a system."

7. Install a camera

"Thanks to >8. Check doors and windows

You might think your home is more secure than it is. Maybe that backdoor is easy to open with a good push or the guest room window isnt shutting all the way. Eliminating easy access points by shutting doors and windows and locking everything up will cost you nothing, but if you need a backup for that easy-access slider door, a good old broomstick cut down to size will do the trick.

9. Call the police

In many areas, a police officer will visit your home to give you tips on how to make your home more secure, and it will cost you nothing.

10. Eliminate hiding spots

"If your shrubbery is too tall, bushy, or not well spaced, youre providing a nice hiding spot for a potential burglar," said Consumer Reports. "Trim and prune plantings."
> Full Story

Keeping Costs Down When Building Your New Pool

Having a pool can be one of the most enjoyable parts of homeownership, but building it can be an expensive undertaking. "If youre planning to install a pool, be prepared to open your wallet," said US News. "PK Data reports that the average cost of a residential in-ground swimming pool was 39,084 last year."

If you want a pool without the high price, there are ways to keep costs down:

1. Get multiple bids

Talking to only one company gives you no point of reference. Youll want to compare at least three bids from three different companies while youre deciding who is going to build your pool, even if the companies in the running are referrals. And, speaking of referrals, make sure you get them. Entrusting someone with that much money and responsibility without the recommendation of someone you trust - and without thoroughly checking them out - may not end well.

2. Think about the big picture

It might be that a larger upfront cost can lead to savings down the line. Consider this from Marc Sheridan of River Pools: "In the past, concrete, or gunite pools as theyre also called, were almost always more expensive or at least priced about the same initially as fiberglass pools. This year thoughhellip;Ive been witness to some of the lowest prices offered on concrete pool installations in over 10 years. For example, on large pools, Im finding that most concrete pools come in 5-10k less than a fiberglass pool."

The problem lies with using inexpensive surfaces that may not have lasting power. "Most consumers have no idea that theyll be shelling out an additional 8-12k minimum only a decade after install" of white plaster," he said. "When one compounds this number over the course of 20-30 years, the cost to the homeowner is even worse. This doesnt even account for the fact that most pool owners are now using salt chlorinators with their swimming pools, a technology of which I am a huge fan of but has been shown to be more abrasive on concrete pool surfaces than regular chlorine. This is also why I always recommend to my clients that decide to go with a concrete/gunite pool that they should go with a more permanent surface like PebbleTec. I always base decisions and recommendations on what is the best for the long-term, and not for the initial moment price. What good does it does to save a few thousand dollars upfront on a swimming pool purchase if these savings will cost you thousands and thousands more in the long run?"

3. Go with a simple design

A pool design with multiple curves, steps, shelves, and other add-ons will raise the cost. Keep it simple for the best chance of keeping the price down.

4. Limit the materials

Exotic tiles and finishes in the pool, and upscale materials used on the decking and patio, can add thousands of dollars to the overall cost.


LandscapingNetwork

5. Forgo the bells and whistles

A spa, a waterfall, a bubbler, and an Infinity edge... All are desirable pool features, and all will add to your bottom line.

"By some estimates, the actual construction of an in-ground pool is only about half of what you will eventually pay," said Pool Pricer.

6. Pay attention to size

The bigger the pool, the more expense youll have in piping, pumps, filters, chemicals, and energy used.


homedit

7. Do your own maintenance

Pools get dirty and have to be cleaned and maintained regularly. The monthly cost averages 130 to 378, according to HomeAdvisor, with pool cleaners charging 75 to 100 per hour or more. But, much of this cost can be eliminated if you choose to maintain the pool yourself.

"Maintaining your pool yourself will take less than two hours as long as you do it regularly. Routine maintenance not only keeps your pool clean for use, but it also allows you to spot problems early on - before they become big, costly repairs," they said.

8. Build a self-sustaining pond instead

The swimming pond is a growing trend that brings a natural look to the yard and limits the amount of maintenance that needs to be done. "One of the great benefits of a swimming pond is that it is chemical free. When managed properly, natural swimming pools have crystal-clear water and require no chemicals to maintain because they are self-cleaning mini-ecosystems," said Good Housekeeping.

9. Wait on the pool heater

"Adding a heater after having owned the swimming pool a season or more can be a great idea because pool owners can get a true gauge on just how much they need a heater, as well as what type of heater will suite them best," said Sheridan. This is especially useful in warmer climates where homeowners may not even need a heater in the summer.

10. Carefully choose the location

A pool that is located under trees may benefit from shade and therefore not need as much heating, however, it might end up with more leaves and debris, increasing the need for cleaning. The distance from the house is also a factor. "Well-planned pools are generally located close to the house, reducing costs associated with energy and water," said Contractors.com.


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Eight Signs Its Time To Move Up

The starter home. It was so cute and quaint and sweet when you bought it, right? But, that was before kids and dogs and overnight quests and holiday dinners that require mathematician-level logistics to finding everyone a seat in a dining room that bursts at six people.

Lets face it: Its probably time to move up. Lack of space is the No. 1 reason people start looking for a larger home. Families expand, life>But running out of room not the only reason to consider moving up.

Youve got the equity

You may have had to scrimp and save for the down payment on your first home, but, if your home has appreciated, you may be in a completely different financial position this time around. If youre the type who envisions paying off your home and being free and clear, moving up may not be on your mind. But, for the rest of us, having equity in our current home means greater buying power to buy something bigger or get into a neighborhood we covet.

Youre at each others throats

Feeling cramped and living in clutter and hating that you dont have a space of your own or even a minute to yourself? That can create stress and leave you feeling anxious and overwhelmed. And, it goes against the general principle of homeownership since your home is supposed to be your sanctuary Having some extra room to spread out and yard for the kids and dogs to play in can make a real difference in the way your family functions.

Ask yourself if "your quality of life is suffering," said Unpakt. "This category can include many things: your ever-growing pack of dogs or cats who are driving you crazy. Your cascading piles of fabrics that you use for quilting, but just cant keep organized in your current space. The lack of a guest room means that when family visits, youre stuck on the couch. Whatever it might be, if your quality of life has taken a nosedive because your house is too small, well, the answer is pretty clear."

The neighborhood is changingand not for the better

One of the reasons you may want to start looking at a new house is because your neighborhood is starting to evolve. Maybe there are new restaurants and bars that have attracted a different crowd or plans for a huge mixed-use project that, while great for the economic potential in the area, could mean more traffic than you want in your quiet little town. Even something like a change in the flight patterns from the local airport can get you thinking about that next home.

Remodeling is price prohibitive

A good real estate agent should be able to give you an idea of what necessary or wanted renovations would cost to your existing home. It could be that the amount of work you would need to do on your home to get it where you want it - or get it into tip-top shape for a sale - is beyond what you want to spend. In that case, it might make better financial sense to make small improvements, put it up for sale, and put your money into a new home that better suits your needs.

You dont want to over-improve for the neighborhood

The other important factor to consider when deciding whether to move or improve your home is how the redone home would sit in your neighborhood. You dont want to run the risk of doing a bunch of expensive renovations only to have the home sit on the market because its overdone and considered overpriced.

"Weighing against renovation is the risk youll over-improve your home comparedwith others on the block," said Bankrate. "When you are in a neighborhood that has starter homes and smaller homes, adding a large addition or doing an extensive renovation may not yield the return one would expect."

Everyone else has moved on

So, your kids were young and bicycles and basketball nets lined the street when you first fell in love with your home. At the time, it was everything you were looking for. But now, so many of those families have moved on, and the lively street you loved has turned rather sleepy. If youre still holding on to the memories of what your neighborhood once was, maybe its time to find one that better meets your life>Youve crunched the numbers

Presumably, a move-up home is going to be more expensive. Beyond the equity you can use to make the purchase doable, you have to consider the monthly expenses, too. "Its not just the sticker price on the house; its thelong-term costs associated with it," said Realtor.com. "When you go up in square footage, you get higher property taxes, higher utilities, and more maintenance." And acquiring more rooms means shelling out for more furniture, too.

You can make sure you can afford a move-up home without becoming "house poor" by "using onlineaffordability calculatorsto figure out how far you can stretch your dollar.
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