Commercial Real Estate Selling

Something’s Gotta Give

Do you commute to the city but live in the suburbs? Light traffic day in Miami

Remember the movie Something’s Gotta Give starring Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton and Keanu Reeves?  Well this is nothing about that movie other than I thought of the title today while out on my morning run.  It does have to do with Labor Day, however.

Although I normally run shorter routes during weekdays, I decided I would go on one of my longer routes along Old Cutler Road.  What a mistake that was!  In addition to being extremely dark at 5:45 a.m., the traffic was horrific!  I couldn’t cross the street anywhere there wasn’t a traffic light, which I am sure made all of the commuters extremely unhappy.  For the longer part of my run, I thought about where those commuters lived versus where they worked, what they were sacrificing, if anything, having to get up so early to get to work, do they have another choice other than sitting in traffic at the crack of dawn?  So what do all of these questions have to do with real estate?  A lot, I think.

Quality of Life was the first thing that came to mind during my musings.  What quality of life do the commuters have?  I know several people with long commutes, including my husband.  We live in Pinecrest but he commutes to Port Everglades.  We have considered moving, but love our neighborhood and he says he would rather commute and love where he lives than have a shorter commute and not like where he lives, but the truth is traffic is getting worse, his commute times are getting longer, and he has already been doing this commute a long time.  Something’s Gotta Give.

Large lots, great schools, and plenty of parks are just a few of the perks of living in Pinecrest

Popularity of Live, Work, Play Communities – Places like Aventura, Downtown Miami/Brickell, Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Miami Beach, Downtown Dadeland, have all been growing because people want to be able to minimize their time in traffic.  Savvy developers, urban planners, and city officials, have been building condos and mixed use developments to meet the wants of a commuter weary public.  The negative side of this development and the demand, is that prices in most of these areas have gone up so rapidly, that they are no longer affordable and residents of Miami-Dade County pay more than (**(% in housing.  Teachers, firefighters, police and many service providers were probably sitting in that traffic.  One of my friends is a teacher.  She lives in Palmetto Bay, but commutes to her job at Beach High?  Would she take a teaching job closer to home if she could get one?  Does MDCPS consider an employees commute time/contribution to traffic, when they assign that employee to a school?  A vibrant community needs to include affordable housing options or offer wages to compensate.  Something’s Gotta Give.

Coconut Grove is a Live, Work, Play community

Other topics that I thought about include the importance of having transportation and work options close to home as well as affordability, taxes, and mixed use neighborhoods, not just buildings.  But those are all topics for other blogs.

Do you have a horrible commune?  Do you have public transportation options?  If you did, would you use them?  Would you live closer to your job if it was affordable?  Would you like to work closer to where you live if you could find a job?  If you feel like sharing your answers, please do.  If not, at least give the questions some thought and think about what your quality of life is versus what it could be if you didn’t have to spend so much time commuting.


Environmental Florida Life Hurricanes Pinecrest

Thank You For Being Late Is A Must Read



I just finished reading Thank You For Being Late by Thomas L. Friedman and think it is a must read for every politician, business leader, employee, employer…basically every one who needs to understand what is going on in the world today.  A timely read, it definitely is not a book to speed read through.  I found myself taking time to reflect on what the author was saying, how it applies to me, my family, my job, my community, my state, my country, and then extrapolate that out to other countries and the world in general.

Although he explores complex and interlacing issues that are accelerating at a dizzying pace due to Moore’s law, he also offers insight, both his own and others’, about how these issues can be addressed.  He acknowledges it won’t be easy, but a lot of the solutions boil down to trust, trees, community, dining room tables and chickens. Yes, chickens.

There were many quotable thoughts in his book, but some of my favorites, especially because of my long real estate career, recent conversations I have had with my husband about moving, and the fact that I live in Florida where hurricanes are a fact of life, several in the latter part of the book really hit home:

“I hope that it is clear by now that every day going forward we are going to be asked to dance in a hurricane….”

“…when people feel protected, respected and connected in a healthy community, it generates enormous trust.”

“When there is trust in a room, people are more inclined to collaborate and experiment – to open themselves up to others, to new ideas and to novel approaches – and to extending the Golden Rule.”

                 ” …the more the world demands that we branch out, the more we each need to be anchored in a topsoil of trust that is the foundation of all healthy communities.”

I have traveled extensively and moved frequently, but settled down in the Village of Pinecrest once my husband and I started raising our family.  In his chapters about Minnesota, I found a lot or similarities with South Florida.  Once you read the book, or if you already have, I would like to hear your thoughts.  Happy reading!




Buying Selling

What Do The Election Results Mean For Real Estate?



The long election  is finally over and the question I am getting asked a lot is, “What does it all mean for the real estate market?”  A recent video put out by the National Association of Realtors sums up the election as follows:

  • In Congress, not much has changed.  Republicans controlled the House and the Senate before the election and they control the House and the Senate after the election.  This will help NAR moving forward on flood insurance, tax reform, and the re-invention of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, since Realtors® had been working on these issues with the previous Congress, thereby providing continuity.
  • Flood Insurance:  The National Flood Insurance Program is $24 Billion in debt, which needs to be addressed.  States vary on the importance they give this program and how flood insurance should be covered.  Nevada has a different view than New Orleans and Florida and NAR is active in trying to negotiate a solution so that insurance is available and real estate transactions can continue taking place.
  • Tax Reform:  The mortgage interest deduction, property tax deduction, capital gains exemption and 1031 Like Kind Exchanges are all under consideration for reform.  No bills have been filed yet, but there are different proposals that have been floated by a variety of legislators.
  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac:  Their future is totally up in the air and NAR will keep an eye on any new proposals that are put forth.
  • Dodd Frank and the Consumer Protection Bureau:  These will be revisited.  Under Dodd Frank, regulations that affect smaller banks will probably be relaxed.  Since approximately half of current mortgage lending is being done by non-bank banks (on-line lenders), regulations may start addressing them.  Overall, the view is that federal regulations will be loosened and state and local regulations will increase.

Another topic that will be looked at is refinancing student loans, which would help get young people with a lot of student debt into mortgages and homeownership.  This is obviously a national overview.  I will go into more detail as to what the elections mean for us locally and for commercial real estate in future blogs.  Stay tuned!


Buying Florida Life Hurricanes

New Insurance Factors To Consider When Buying Your Home

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about how cheap flood insurance is if you don’t live in a flood zone.  After last Wednesday’s heavy rains, even many of us who do not live in flood zones witnessed flooded streets and front yards.  Before you go out and buy  flood insurance, you need to be aware that on Tuesday, October 1, federal flood insurance rate hikes kicked in.  That does not mean you should not get the insurance, since it is still affordable compared to other forms of insurance, but depending in what flood zone you live or are buying, in, the rate hike could increase nearly tenfold.  If you purchased prior to July 6, 2012, the increases will be at 25% per year until you reach the new non-subsidized rate.  Many states, including Florida, are trying to delay the federal hikes until the impact on the real estate market can be taken into consideration, but the current congressional stalemate has tied up the bill.

The second insurance factor to consider when buying your home is hurricane insurance.  By now everyone has heard that Citizen’s, our insurer of last resort, wants to get out of the insurance business and is giving incentives to smaller insurance companies to take over windstorm insurance.  Although wind mitigation discounts are still given, there is a good chance that insurance premiums are going to increase fairly significantly.  Both of these insurances should be taken into consideration in your financial calculations when you are purchasing your home.  Phil Lyons, at Insource Insurance, can assist you in determining how much properly insuring what is most likely your biggest asset will cost.


Buying Renting in Miami

Miami Real Estate: Rent vs Buy? That Is The Question…

During a Sunday get together, the rent vs buy question came up and a lively discussion ensued.  The individuals who were pro-renting argued that renting provided:

  • cash flow/opportunity cost:  not having money tied up in a mortgage, taxes, and insurance, allowed more money for investing, travelling, miscellaneous purchases 
  • flexibility:  if they wanted to move into different neighborhood, change size , or relocate for a job, their choice is not dependent on first having to sell their home
  • better lifestyle:  they argued that they could rent a nicer place in a nicer area than they could afford to purchase
  • maintenance-free living:  don’t have to worry about repairs, yard work, pool cleaning

The pro-buyers argued that buying was better because:

  • it builds equity: which helps build your net worth.  It is basically a forced way of saving money.
  • tax benefits:  interest on a mortgage is currently tax deductible, thereby reducing taxes you owe
  • gives you control over finances:  you are not subjected to rental increases
  • stability:  since home ownership is fairly long term, owning a home creates a sense of security and community
  • maintenance:  don’t have to wait for landlord to change or repair something.  Have control over quality of work of repairs and type of work done (i.e wood floors vs changing carpet)

Obviously both renting and buying have their pros and cons.  The New York Times rent vs buy analysis says that overall, if you stay in a place for 5 years or more, you are better off financially buying.  This analysis assumes that the landlord pays utilities, which for the most part in Miami-Dade is not the case.  The tenant usually pays all utilities, except for those that are provided by, and included in, the condominium’s maintenance fee.

So what side of the fence are you on and why?


Will Association Fees and Hurricane Insurance Derail Housing Recovery in Florida?

Two recent articles in the Miami Herald have me wondering if our fragile South Florida housing recovery is going to hit the skids.  The one in Monday’s business section talks about condo association fees and the one in today’s paper discusses the increase in windstorm insurance.  if you are getting ready to buy, make sure you keep both of these articles in mind and allow an extra cushion for increases.  If you already own, have either of these costs gone up for you yet?


10 Ways to Prepare for Homeownership

So, you have been reading that now is the time to buy and you are ready to take the plunge and purchase your first home.  Before you start surfing the websites and looking at properties, take the following steps to make sure the process goes smoothly once you find your dream home.

Florida Life Home Improvement

The Importance of Customer Service

I would think that in today’s economy everyone would be striving to perfect the art of customer service.  I rely 100% on referrals for obtaining listings and buyers and know one of the reasons I do well is because I strive to provide great customer service.  I have had two experiences lately where customer service was not bad, it was absolutely non-existent.  In the first one, I contacted several pool companies to give me an estimate on diamond-briting my pool.  Out of the three companies that I contacted, only one came by and followed up with a quote and a phone call to see if I had any questions regarding the quote.  I contacted one of the companies again, only because they are well known and I figured anyone can make a mistake, and they stood me up for a second time.  Sorry, but if I have to work that hard to give you work, I can’t imagine how hard I will have to work once you have my deposit.

The second instance is actually with a company I recommended to a client.  I had referred this company before with rave reviews.  This time however, my buyer is completely unhappy because a project that should have taken 3 weeks has taken two months, she tries to get people out to the house to finish the work, they set a date and time, don’t call or show up, and no one in the company has called to follow up, apologize or explain the delays.  My client is patient and understanding, but the lack of communication has led to her frustration.  To stress how important customer service is:  in this case, I was at a gym class today and someone asked the group where my client was.  Several women started saying that she was having nothing but problems with the house (I sold it to her) because of the company installing the windows (I recommended the company).  One woman asked,  “What is the name of the company so I can avoid them”?  Imagine if my client had been happy with her windows.  Instead of having 8 women who will avoid this company like the plague, they would have been referring them instead!  In addition, I will no longer feel comfortable referring this company, as it has affected my reputation as well.  So instead of taking Yosemite Sam’s view of complaints, use them to perfect your customer service.complaint


You Have Heard It, But Do You Believe It?

house sketchNow is the time to buy a home, really.  If you don’t believe me, read who is saying that buying a home now is a smart move.

Home Improvement

Remodeling? Consider Changing Your Front Door

According to Remodeling magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report, the biggest return on investment was replacing the front door with a mid-range entry door.  Not only is it the least expensive out of the 33 projects included in the report, it also returns an average national return of 128 percent.

Other good remodeling projects that don’t cost a lot include:

  • Organizing kitchen cabinets, including rollout trays.
  • Add or replace tiles.
  • Add a breakfast bar.
  • If you don’t have granite in the kitchen, install granite tile.  It is a lot cheaper than a granite slab.
  • Update the bathroom by adding a new medicine cabinet, light fixtures, faucets and vanity.  If it has tile, scrape and regrout.
  • Recondition kitchen cabinets and put on new hardware.
  • Replace light fixtures in foyer, bathrooms, and kitchens.