Charleston, South Carolina, June 2021
After visiting the incredibly eye-opening and educational Old Slave Mart museum, I stepped out into Chalmers Street, waiting for friends to meet me. The sun torched sidewalks and cobblestones, I was early, and so I decided to wait in the shade and plopped down on one of the two small benches flanking the museum entrance.
After a few minutes another visitor leaving the museum asked if there was room for her to sit down too; apologising for being such a space hog I scooted over to make room.
Then one of her friends came out to join her, so my seat buddy and I made space in the middle for the newbie to sit down. Both she and her friend were Black, both in their Fifties or Sixties. The new arrival joked about the stability of the bench – basically a wooden plank with end supports – now bending quite a bit under the weight of three adults. I laughingly responded that, just like in real life, we all sat in the same boat.
A few minutes later, the lady in the middle turned to me and very politely inquired if she could ask a question.
I stopped spacing out observing people, turned to her and said “yes, of course”. My neighbour proceeded by explaining the question had nothing to do with me personally, and that she actually felt it was ok to ask me. I had a slight inkling that what was coming was not a tourist question about dinner recommendations.
And so she asked: “Why do you hate us?”
If my writing doesn’t paint the moment properly I am sorry: what her question meant was “Why do you Whites hate us Blacks?” I was speechless, floored by her question, by her trust to pose it to a total stranger, and also by a quiet sadness in her voice.
Mentioning that I’m German, living in the US for about 30 years and considering it my second home country but couldn’t answer like a born American could, I responded spontaneously and truthfully: “I can’t explain it, and I do not understand it either.”
Pause. Her eyes got wet, mine probably too, and for the next ten minutes or so the two of us spoke quietly about discrimination, and about race, fears and hope. Two total strangers, without introduction or preparation, spun a too-short dialogue without barriers, and I felt extremely honoured that she had seized the moment and chose me to ask what was on her mind.
My friends appeared. When my conversation partner’s group got ready to leave as I did, my new friend turned towards me and, waving goodbye, said "I wanna marry you." Beam. I still regret not giving her my name and phone number; I so would have loved to continue our exchange. But I didn’t think on my feet.
It was a magic moment, priceless, with an unexpected insight into each other’s experiences, feelings and thoughts. This lady, with her courage to approach a stranger with her question, touched me in a way I will remember as long as I live.
– Your thoughts?
©tckaiser. Photo by ThriftDiving.com
As the housing market in South Florida took off like a torpedo from August 2020 to August 2021, selling prices for single homes between Miami and Jupiter year-over-year increased by approx. 29 percent.
Since late August or early September ‘21, there is the first hint of normalcy on the horizon – meaning a slow-down in price increases, though no return to previous prices.
Unfortunately salaries didn’t increase by 29 percent at the same time – wouldn’t that be nice! – while the hottest price range still is approx. $350,000 to $800,000, mostly bought by owner-users (vs. speculators or snowbirds).
At $350,000, currently there are unfortunately no modernist homes available for purchase, but as you go up in prices, selection and quality start to increase. Any of these homes shown below may be under contract by the time you read this post, but here is an overview of what you can reasonably expect in modern homes available for sale up to $800,000:
3/2 with 1,480 sf under air on a 6,050 sf lot, built 1962. – Charming vintage home, completely renovated, features tongue & groove wood walls and cathedral ceilings, red brick, Coquina coral walls, working fireplace, completely updated plumbing and electric, new metal roof, impact windows, laminate wood floors, large skylights and a private, tropical landscaped garden. #856506, asking $549,000
4/2 with 1,510 sf under air on a 6,380 sf lot, built in 1957. – Sited in a neighborhood with many mature trees, this open-concept house has been renovated with a new roof, new AC, new driveway and patio, new fence, new kitchen, new bathrooms, new impact windows and doors, new recessed lights inside and out and new landscaping in a large back yard. #424405, asking $615,000
3/2.5 with pool and 4-car garage, 3950 sf (363 m2) under air on 13600 sf lot, built in 1975. – Overlooking a golf course, this home boasts a detached master suite w/access to the pool, a designated wing with 2 bedrooms and cabana bath, an open kitchen, a billiard room with wet bar, two office spaces, library, laundry room, 4 AC units and a 4-car garage. #616803, asking $550,000
3/2 with 1,340 sf under air on a 6,750 sf lot, built in1956. – Steps from the Intracoastal Waterway, completely updated with new impact windows and doors, garage and circular drive. Open plan, light and bright. Original Terrazzo floors throughout. Plumbing and electrical updated, new HVAC, newer water heater and roof. Beautiful landscaping with plenty of room for a pool. #262301, asking $799,000
3/2 with 2,040 sf under air on a 10,230 sf lot, built in 1970. – A good example for ‘70s modern architecture in a popular golf course community, very well maintained, with eat-in kitchen, cathedral ceiling, formal dining room and an atrium. Newer refrigerator, a/c, water heater and washer/dryer; oversized 1-car garage. Low HOA fees. #939801, asking $499,000
Shared ownership of a 5/4 with 3,970 sf under air on a 10,120 waterfront lot, with pool, dock and garage, built in 2014. – Opportunity to acquire 1/8th (so technically it's not a $654,000 home, agreed) of a professionally managed, fully furnished and decorated home. Open floor plan centers around a great room opening to a covered deck. Chef's kitchen includes high-end appliances and a breakfast nook with a workstation. Primary bedroom is downstairs, upstairs are a sitting area and four guest suites. #399703, asking $654,000 (1/8th share)
What is your impression of the current housing market in South Florida? Have looked for a home and were outbid, or were you successful? Do you consider selling your home? In either case, I would love to hear from your comments or questions: 954 834 3088 or KaiserAssoc@gmail.com. – Thank you, Tobias.
(All information from the respective listing agents via SEF-MLS).
In chapter 5 of my “Guide to Florida Real Estate Transactions” (the series started in April, in case you missed the first chapters) I outline the main steps from inquiry to contract.
Because of the large number of available properties–even in this market in late summer 2021–on first client contact any experienced agent will not send out those nice brochures, or even run out and tour a sampling of homes. Rather, he will set up a client profile. This allows to offer a buyer only properties within his specific criteria and financial framework. Showing properties outside a buyer’s financial capabilities makes no sense and equals real estate tourism, with the agent being the unpaid tour guide and a frustrated buyer at the end of the day who saw during the tour what he’d love to have but can’t afford. – Bad approach!
So if you are the buyer, your agent will assemble a list of properties suitable for viewing based on your criteria. Having toured a few–or many–homes and hopefully found one to your liking, your agent will present a written offer to the seller’s agent. The amount of this opening offer will be determined by your agent and you, based on a market analysis done by your agent. Please note: verbal offers or inquiries are generally considered unprofessional and disregarded.
When your opening offer has been presented to the seller, he can accept, reject it or counter it within a time-frame you have specified. Your offer becomes only a contract when both parties agree and sign. Then a first deposit will be due, and as well as following ones it will be paid into an escrow account of your broker (agents are not allowed to open escrows), your lawyer or a title insurance company–but never to the seller directly. Only at closing–exchanging property title and keys against money–will all deposits be handed over to the seller together with the remaining balance of the purchase price.
If the property does not close, all deposits will be returned to the buyer if he didn’t default. However, if the buyer defaults on the contract or changes his mind midway he looses his deposits; the seller may also sue for damages. In a resale (a “used” home), the buyer has those same rights against the seller in case of a seller’s default, in addition to requesting specific performance. In new construction, the cards are distributed differently: the purchase agreements for new homes eliminate major buyer’s rights, favor the builder and thus demand special attention with a very fine comb before signing.
Real estate contracts have to be in writing and may contain any type of clause negotiated freely between the parties as long as they are legal. All time periods contained in the contract, such as the inspection or financing periods, commence with the last necessary signature of seller or buyer. Time is of the essence, and missing a vital date may constitute a breach of contract. It is good practice for an agent to prepare a time-line containing all important dates of the transaction.
Comments? Questions? Please contact me anytime; I'd be delighted to assist you.
©1996-2021 Tobias Kaiser. Use or reproduction only with written permission.
What is it:
New two-story, 46,000 sf library, cultural center building and civic campus adjacent to City Hall, replacing the old library on E. Atlantic Boulevard open from from 1952 until November 2017.
The new facility features a standard library, media labs, 5,000sf of theater/flex event space and an exhibition gallery of 750sf. Construction included also a multipurpose room, three tutoring rooms, a group study room, conference room, storytelling/program room, computer lab and the Teen Tech Studio, which is designed to encourage young adults to creatively explore digital media.
The new library houses a collection of approximately 50,000 items including books, DVDs, CDs, publications and reference materials.
Site improvements included a new civic plaza featuring raised planter areas, street furniture, a lightning bolt plaza and a new paved breezeway connecting the parking areas to the civic plaza.
What's its purpose:
Located at the heart of a community where the average annual income is under $40,000 per family, the Pompano Beach Cultural Center & Library was developed to provide broad access to knowledge, technology, and 21st century tools for creativity. To that end the project was developed to combine the richness of a state-of-the-art public library, that is equal parts children and adult services, with a cutting-edge cultural arts and media center.
This combination gives shape to a one-of-a-kind innovative teaching and learning center unprecedented in the public realm. For two different sets of clients, budgets, and management teams the programs are uniquely separate but symbiotic, and are arranged to complement one another, promoting innovation and collaboration. The technology at the library is intended to introduce users of all ages to new media with spaces such as the YouMedia lab for kids. At the Cultural Arts and Media Center, the public has access to production spaces and advanced classes enabling entrepreneurial activities and collaborative projects. (via MPdL)
The original vision for the library did not include the cultural center, which was added during planning. When Redevelopment Management Associates (RMA) was engaged as the Executive Director of the Pompano Beach Community Redevelopment Agency, they placed an emphasis on arts and culture venues for reinventing the Old Town Pompano Beach area, and residents overwhelmingly favored including the cultural center in the project.
25,000 sf Public Library; 21,000 sf Cultural Arts and Media Center
Architects: Silva Architects with MPdL Studio
Construction cost: $19.7 million, with about half of that amount going toward each facility. Funding for the project came from Broward County, the City of Pompano Beach and the Pompano Beach Community Redevelopment Agency. The library is located on land owned by the City of Pompano Beach. The County will occupy the library space via a 50-year lease with the City, with a 50-year option to renew.
Contractor: OHL Building, Miami (with CBI and NV2A)
Achieved LEED Gold Certification
2017 Unbuilt Merit Award, AIA Miami Design Awards
2019 AIA FL Merit Award of Excellence for New Work
2019 AIA Miami Design Award
(please verify Covid-19-influenced hours and admission conditions before you go)
10a – 6p Monday – Saturday
954.357.7595 or 954.545.7800
The popular Pompano Green Market will restart on Nov 13, 2021, from 9a to 2p, and from there on (hopefully) every 2nd and 4th Saturday.
Have you been at the Pompano Beach Cultural Center and Library? Do you like it – or what is your impression?
Overall, the main trend of the regional residential market – more closed sales and higher median prices – continues, but now with more new listings and a slight easing of the buyers-to-sellers ratio.
As we enter the second half of 2021, the first change indicators for somewhat calmer times are appearing.
Because Florida started its lock down last year on April 1st, I compare statistics not with June 2020 but June 2019, the last "normal" pre-pandemic period. Mid- to late 2020, as people adapted into a rhythm of life with the pandemic, the recovering regional housing market was in most aspects a market on steroids, making up for the lost spring and early summer buying peak, and thus considered atypical.
Geographically, I am analysing the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area, a standard US urban and suburban geo-definition) - which consists of the three counties Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade, locally also referred to as the TriCounty area.
Inventory in months*, where 4-6 months is generally considered a balanced housing market: Dropping from 5 mos for SFH to 1.8 mos, and from 8 to 3.2 mos for Condos/TH.
Active inventory: For SFH increasing from May'21 to June'21 to 8,457, but coming down from 19,028 in June'19. Still, this is the first increase since March'20. Condo/TH listings went from 29,247 i June'19 to 15,503 units June'21.
Median time on market (entering the MLS to signed contract): from 46 to 12 days for SFH, and 63 to 31 days for Condos/THs. (The bump in summer 2020 shows how atypical that year was).
Closed sales: +40.8% for single family homes, and +144% for condos and townhomes (June 2021 vs. June 2019).
Median selling prices: +29.9% for SFH, and +22.6% for Condos/THs. In absolute numbers: SFH went from $365,000 to $500,000 selling price, which is $149,000 over the Florida median. Condos/TH went from $206,450 to $269,700.
Noteworthy is also the rise of cash transactions. In June'21, 32.7% of all SFH in the MSA were bought all cash, up from 22.7% in June 2019. For Condos/THs, cash purchases went from 49.8% to 54.0%. Two price brackets are the main contributors: above $1m and under $250k.
Over $1m selling price, 56.7% of SFH as well as 70.1% of all Condos/THs are bought cash. That is quite common in our market; luxury sales are traditionally very often cash sales.
At the lower end, 38.6% of SFH between $200,000 and $250,000 selling price, and 56.5% of SFH between $150,000 and $200,000 were bought cash in June. Those are not owner/users but investors who are storming this segment.
The chief economist of the Florida Realtors® Association, Dr. Brad O'Connor, believes "all current signs point to us having reached the peak of the seller's market. That doesn't mean we're going to swing right back into a buyer's market, though. Remember, we were already in a seller's market for single-family homes before the pandemic. All this means is that market conditions for today's prospective buyers have [likely] finished worsening."
To some extent, that will also depend on how mortgage interest rates develop. According to Freddie Mac, interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.98% in June 2021, down from 3.16% in June 2019.
In addition, I expect the Surfside collapse to put pressure on pricing for older condo units for a while, especially if regional or State laws are quickly enacted that go above and beyond the so-called 40year recertification requirement. Those are currently in place only Miami-Dade and Broward counties. But not for long – take my word for it.
Questions, comments, corrections? I very much welcome your input!
*meaning: at the current selling pace, in X months all inventory would be depleted.
In chapter 4 of my Guide to Florida Real Estate Transactions (the series started in April, in case you missed it) I will explain where the friendly real estate agent you are talking to on the phone, by Skype, Zoom or Signal might stand – or, to say it clearer: who he (or she) represents. Hopefully your interests.
Let's dive right in:
In residential transactions (different rules apply to commercial and business transactions) agents can act only as a
• transaction broker for the seller or the buyer or
• seller's broker, representing the interests of the seller,
• buyer's broker, representing the interests of the buyer,
• non-representative, very similar to the broker model in many European countries.
Agents often represent one party exclusively, typically the seller, though an agent may show a variety of other broker’s property listings to a buyer.
If you are a buyer, you should insist that the agent you work with represents you and your interests. Working as a buyer's agent he is obligated to represent your interests and to find you the property best suited to your needs at the best possible price. A residential commission will typically be paid by the seller; this does not constitute a conflict of interest but is part of most listing contracts.
89% of US buyers claim a very good or even excellent experience in using a buyer's broker, and are very satisfied with the services and the results. Negotiating skills, experience and knowledge of the local market are the reasons most quoted for using an agent. (Survey of Recent Home Buyers ©2020 FAR).
Buyer’s advantage: without additional cost he has a professional at his side representing his interests – which is not the case if a buyer contacts the selling broker or even the seller directly, for instance by calling a telephone-number on a “For Sale”-sign.
If you are happy with your buyer’s broker, please remain loyal. Because the moment a seller or his real estate agent learn your name in any other way then through your agent, your agent will be excluded from the transaction.
This means: he can’t represent you, can’t look out for your interests, can’t negotiate for you and will not receive any commission for all the services rendered to you. The result: deep frustration, the end of your business relationship, and for you having to start all over, this time without your agent’s support.
It is a common misconception that the seller or a listing agent (the agent who markets the property) will pass on any commission savings when being contacted directly by a buyer who has the idea of cutting out one of the middle-men. Believe me: it does not happen.
In addition, foregoing or worse, circumventing a buyer's agent, does not help the buyer in any way. In contrast, the buyer most likely pays more than he has to, since the seller's agent's obligation is not to save the buyer money, but to get the best deal and highest price for the seller.
Tip: For your legal questions, please consult with a recommended Florida real estate attorney. Real estate brokers are neither qualified nor allowed to give you legal advice, and unauthorized practice of law is not taken lightly.
©2021 Tobias Kaiser
Above is an excerpt of my Guide to Florida Real Estate Transactions, which you can request for free. It is updated annually and available in English and in German. – Do you have any questions, corrections or comments? I would love to hear from you!
Update: In 2008, Julio Robaina, then Republican state legislator in Florida, sponsored a law requiring condo associations to hire engineers or architects to submit reports every five years about how much it would cost to keep up with repairs.
The law lasted only two years before it was repealed in 2010, after Robaina left office. The legislator who sponsored the repeal, former state Rep. Gary Aubuchon, a Republican real estate broker and homebuilder. Robaina blamed the repeal on pushback from real estate lawyers and property managers, who he said claimed that the law was too burdensome for condo owners.
The law might have very well prevented the Surfside tragedy. Robaina recently commented to NBC “If the [Surfside] owners would have had a reserve study, if the board was proactive and had funded its reserves, this never would have happened”.
Q&A: After Surfside, What Should I Know About Condos?
by Lois K. Solomon, 2 July 2021
Shaken by the recent disaster in Surfside, many condo owners wonder what they don’t know but should. A Q&A with specialists and attorneys provides some answers.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Many of us live in high-rise buildings in South Florida. And even if we don’t, we have to wonder about the condition of our apartments, condos and homes after the Surfside catastrophe.
We asked construction specialists and attorneys about the questions we should all be asking about the condition of our living spaces and what kinds of updates they need as they deteriorate from heat, humidity, hurricanes and climate change.
Question: What kinds of questions should condo owners, likely with little knowledge of building construction, be asking now?
Answer: Ask about the age of your building, when the last inspection was and what kinds of repair work are planned in the near future, said Boca Raton attorney Peter Sachs, who is certified in condominium and planned development law. You will also want to know how much money is in the building’s reserve fund, and if and when an extra financial assessment is coming, he said.
You have the right to inspect your building’s records, which would include finances and repair work. Florida law requires that condos maintain their official records for seven years.
Question: Who’s at fault when there’s a serious structural problem in a building? Is it the architects, the builders, the engineers, the inspectors or city officials? Or all of the above?
Answer: The architect, builder and engineer are all potentially culpable, as is the condo board if they do not act to fix the problem, Sachs said.
He said the architect would be responsible if there is a serious design flaw, and the engineer if the calculations, supervision or drawings are deficient. The builder would be to blame if corners were cut on materials or if construction failed to comply with the building code. The builder may also be liable for the failings of the architect or engineer.
The board, too, has obligations to residents, he said.
“The board has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the unit owners. If the board is negligent and fails to act, or unduly delays, it may be held liable,” Sachs said.
But city officials are off the hook, according to Sachs.
“The city officials are protected by the doctrine of sovereign immunity,” he said. “Barring criminal conduct (the building official accepted a bribe to look away from a potential problem), it is highly unlikely that a city or its employees would be held legally responsible.”
Question: How often should structural engineers inspect high-rise buildings?
Answer: Miami-Dade and Broward require inspections when a building turns 40, but there’s no similar mandate in the rest of the state, said Peter Sachs, a Boca Raton attorney certified in condominium and planned development law.
The boards that supervise the buildings should take the initiative and conduct a thorough inspection at least every 10 years, and more often is better, said Yaniv Levi, president of Coast to Coast General Contractors in Hollywood.
“It would behoove the association to do it yearly or bi-yearly,” he said. And he recommends the building get a new coat of paint, which also serves to weatherproof it, every seven to 10 years.
Question: How quickly should buildings fix leaks and other water intrusions?
Answer: Immediately, said Yaniv Levi, president of Coast to Coast General Contractors in Hollywood. “As soon as the leak is identified, they should find the source of the intrusion,” he said. “If you catch it early, it won’t develop into something major.”
Question: How can I find out if my building was constructed under the highest safety codes?
Answer: If it was built in 2002 or later, you should have the best building codes or close to it. If your building was constructed before 2002, it likely does not meet the highest standards unless it was damaged by a storm and had to be upgraded.
After Hurricane Andrew in 1992 mowed down entire blocks of cheaply built houses, Florida adopted a statewide building code that has become a national model. So when Hurricane Wilma struck Fort Lauderdale 13 years later, new downtown buildings, such as the 42-story Las Olas River House, held up well. Older buildings constructed before the building code sustained severe damage.
Question: What should owners do if they believe their board is ignoring a safety issue?
Answer: You should ask to have the issue brought up at the next board meeting, said Hallandale Beach attorney Larry Tolchinsky.
“Get it on the record that the board is ignoring the issue,” he said. “Thereafter, file a lawsuit against the board.”
Boca Raton attorney Guy M. Shir agreed that you may need to take matters into your own hands. Call the local building or code enforcement department to report your concern, and put it in writing, Shir said. And if you can afford it, you may want to hire your own engineer.
“In the end,” Shir said, “it’s (your) property, investment and life/safety issues.”
Question: Should condos have rainy-day accounts to pay for property improvements?
Answer: There’s often resistance from condo owners when a board of directors wants to add to the monthly maintenance fees, said West Palm Beach attorney Michael Gelfand, who is certified in condominium, planned development and real estate law.
“The board is caught between irreconcilable goals: perfect safety, which is impossible, and the owners not wanting their assessments to go up,” he said.
Condo associations are required by law to budget for reserve accounts for repairs of significant components, such as painting/waterproofing, roofs and paving, but frequently owners vote down these budgets as well as expensive structural work, Gelfand said.
These repairs are often expensive. In emails released by the town of Surfside, an engineer said Champlain Towers South, the collapsed building, needed to spend about $9 million to repair cracked columns and crumbling concrete. The board took out a $12 million loan to do the work.
The loan meant owners at Champlain Towers South were facing payments of anywhere from $80,000 for a one-bedroom unit to about $330,000 for a penthouse.
Beyond the legally required reserve accounts, boards of directors take an assortment of approaches. Some have no reserves at all, while others have accounts dedicated to repairs needed every five to 10 years, said Mike Ryan, a Fort Lauderdale attorney and mayor of Sunrise.
“Some condos cater to people with fixed incomes. It’s difficult for them to suddenly get hit with an assessment,” Ryan said. “It’s up to the board how they want to handle this. It’s wise for them to put aside money. If you defer too long, it becomes too costly.”
The best strategy for the condo board is often to take the monthly maintenance fees and set aside some of that money for a rainy day fund, he said. This will lessen the financial impact on individual owners when a sudden major repair is needed and the board must ask each homeowner for money.
Question: What if an owner can’t afford the assessment?
Answer: “It’s like a lifeboat,” said West Palm Beach attorney Michael Gelfand, who is certified in condominium, real estate and planned development law. “If you can’t pull your weight, you’re off.” The association may foreclose on your unit. Otherwise, their accounts will run a deficit and they won’t be able to pay the bills.
Sometimes the association will borrow money from a bank to pay for these large expenditures, Hallandale Beach attorney Larry Tolchinsky said. “For those unit owners that can’t afford to pay, the association will likely spread the payments over time,” he said. “Up to 10 years in some cases.”
Question: Will prices of semi-attached condos or low-rise units increase significantly?
“We moved from Massachusetts to the Lotus development in West Boca in June 2020. Since we made our deposit in March 2019, the market value of our home is up 86%, due to constant price increases.
I’m wondering if enough owners will now start selling their high-rise condo units [so] that the values of these units will drop significantly. At the same time, will the prices of semi-attached condos, or low-rise units increase significantly? I can see a number of owners moving to what they will now perceive as ‘safer’ housing. I can also see a number of snowbirds deciding to sell before prices drop, then renting for the season or buying a winter home in low-rise or garden-style units.” – Arthur Missan
Answer: Ken Johnson, a real estate economist at Florida Atlantic University, said he does not anticipate significant effects on prices because of the Surfside collapse. He said buyers likely will perceive the collapse as a freak accident that’s unlikely to be repeated.
“I expect to see an increase in the demand for satisfactory property inspections contingent upon closing,” he said. “However, I do not see any price impact due to this horrible tragedy. Most know that this sort of thing is unlikely to ever happen again. As for a moving strategy, I don’t really see one with the average cost of a move, all things considered, being between 10% and 20% of selling price.”
Question: In terms of safety, is it better to live on a high floor or a low floor?
Answer: “In my personal opinion, there are risks in both cases,” Hallandale Beach attorney Larry Tolchinsky said. “Living on the ground floor can have flooding issues. Perhaps issues with crime. Higher floors take longer to escape from the building and they have wind issues.”
Question: Is it going to be harder to find concrete repair firms now that everyone is thinking about these questions?
Answer: “Perhaps, but my belief is the collapse was more complicated than just issues related to concrete repair,” Hallandale Beach attorney Larry Tolchinsky said. “Certainly, the cost of having a firm perform these repairs is going to skyrocket. This is based on the level of data and certifications that will likely be needed to be provided to boards and governmental agencies to perform this work. Also, the high demand for building materials and the lack of skilled workers given the tight labor market will make it harder to find concrete repair firms.”
©2021 South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com via FloridaRealtors.org.
Please contact me if you have any questions or would like further information. I will be happy to assist in any way I can.
“It Caught My Eye” is a series of posts about chance encounters with interesting architecture or design, published at irregular intervals. Often I accidentally stumble across something that catches my eye, while at other times I drive past an interesting building repeatedly and each time think “hmmm...”
Such is the case with this defunct modernist gas station at 2366 Las Olas Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Built in 1957, four design elements I find noteworthy and lovely:
• the dry-stacked stone walls – on a gas station!
• the inward-inclined windows to reduce solar gain and glare, very rare these days,
• the interior downlight cans (you have to look closely in the pic), running parallel to the windows, and
• the angled canopy, complete with a cutout for the brand post.
Lovely – but likely not for long: the station has been closed for at least two years, and being located on very valuable land, it is only a question of time when a Phase 2 environmental audit will be completed and the site usage will be changed. Sad for the structure, but a service station in this location is probably not the highest and best use of the site.
If you happen to be near East Las Olas Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale just west of the Intracoastal: check it out!
Germany, similar in size to the state of Montana, has approximately 83 million people, so open space is at a premium. At cemeteries, it is customary that you don’t buy a burial plot and it’s yours for eternity - you purchase in essence a land lease for 30 or 50 years, reverting back to the cemetery after that.
In North Rhine-Westphalia for the funeral of a family member in 2018, I encountered an alternative building use I had never seen before: the conversion of a church into a Grabeskirche (burial church) for urns.
The church in question, St. Josef in the small town of Viersen, located on the lower Rhine near the Dutch border, was designed by architect Josef Kleesattel and, in neo-gothical style, is typical for church buildings in this part of Germany. It was dedicated in 1891 and partially converted to a Columbarium in 2012, aided by the fact that the catholic church allows cremation of its members again since 1963, something it had forbidden since 765.
The space adaptation of the building is convincing and harmonious: about 2/3 of the nave has been converted into a Columbarium with walls for urns. The altar has been left intact, and there is enough space to hold funeral services in the sanctuary, as well as community events and frequent concerts. All pathways are ADA- (equiv.) compliant, and besides a priest there is a competent team on site to aide relatives in planning and execution of funeral ceremonies.
The current configuration offers 1,638 niches for urns, of which over 800 were sold when I spoke with a church team member during my visit. A two-year remodeling plan, designed by architect Ulrich Hahn of Hahn Helten architects https://www.hahn-helten.de in Aachen, will create another 1,000 spaces.
Astonishing for anyone who has encountered catholic conservatism: the burial plots are available to deceased of any religion or if the person had even formally left the church. Bravo!
Please leave your comments and questions below – I’m very curious to hear your opinion.
Krypta photo ©Uwe Rieder, all other photos ©tckaiser
It’s that time of the year... No, not Christmas! Not yet at least. Haven’t you been outside lately?
It’s Hurricane Season, starting 1st of June, luckily coinciding with a Florida Tax Holiday, starting this Friday 28 May, and running until Sunday a week later, 6 June.
(Non-Floridians: during a Tax Holiday, which normally happens shortly before the new school year starts, there is no sales tax levied on exempt items; typically 6.0 or 7.0 percent.)
The cherry: quite a few items for your Hurricane Box – you do have one, yes? – are included in the sales-tax-exemption. Just refer to this spiffy handy guide:
And while you’re busy surfing the net, also download the supply kit checklist from www.floridaDisaster.org/kit.
NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) is predicting an "above-normal" 2021 Atlantic hurricane season which runs through 30 November, so do stock up now.
Now, if you’d rather quickly sell your house before the season starts: Who is the fairest Realtor of all?
:-D That's correct!
Part 3: AGENTS, BROKERS and REALTORS® - What's the Difference?
In order to broker properties or businesses in any US state, one has to be properly licensed in that state, either as a real estate broker or a real estate agent. Agents have to pass one, brokers two state exams. In Florida, both licenses must be renewed every two years through a short exam. An agent always work in a broker's office under his/her supervision. A broker may work for another broker or self-employed. All real estate professions in Florida are regulated and supervised by two state authorities.
When you consider buying or selling US property - residential property or commercial investment - in practically all situations you should be using an agent or broker to represent your interests in the transaction. He/she should:
An agent (following for agent or broker) may call himself a Realtor® only if he (following for he or she) belongs to the local Board of Realtors®, a voluntary professional association with strict business and ethical guidelines that often exceed state law.
As the graphic on the left hopefully clarifies: all brokers and agents are licensed, but only some licensees are Realtors©. Many commercial practitioners for example don't need a Board membership or benefit from one, so they don't belong.
For residential agents, membership in the Board of Realtors® is the only way for full access with selling and listing privileges in a proprietary regional property database called Multiple Listing Service or MLS. This database may contain 95-98 percent of all regional residential properties for sale, as well as some commercial properties also offered by MLS participants.
The Southeast-Florida-MLS for example, consisting of several Boards and their MLS databases, and reaching from Homestead to Fort Pierce, connects over 85,000 agents with over 80,000 properties and businesses for sale.
As a result, buyers can (and should!) avoid agent-shopping and instead concentrate on working with one agent who can offer and sell any property shown in the MLS, not only the ones offered by his own firm. More on loyalty further below.
HOW TO PICK A GOOD AGENT
The sheer number of Realtors in South Florida can be overwhelming, and it may seem everyone you know has a license and wants your business. But your choice of an agent should be guided by other criteria than being a neighbor or golf buddy: by the level of competence in his/her specialty, by how well you communicate, ideally by past client references, and certainly by a feeling of trust and confidence.
You don’t have to become best friends for life or be smitten at first sight, but if you don't like an agent, for the sake of a harmonious transaction it sure is better to chose another one to work with and remain loyal to your choice.
You expect commitment from your agent to find the best deal and prevent you from making mistakes, and your agent in return has the right to expect commitment and loyalty from you, the client.
Important is that your agent is experienced in like transactions and knows what you are expecting. He should explain the terminology to you in plain language and guide you through the sequence of a deal.
If there is an international or a commercial aspect, you will only be served well by an agent who is certified as a CIPS (Certified International Property Specialist) or by someone experienced in commercial transactions. E.g., a residential condo expert dabbling in commercial real estate is a recipe for a disaster, and the client is paying the price.
Any questions on this chapter? Want to read the whole guide in one session? Then please contact Tobias. He will be delighted to hear from you.
©Tobias Kaiser. Use or reproduction only with written permission from the author.
Today I want to share with you a look at the fastest- and slowest-selling price brackets in South East Florida. In my office's team meetings as well as in discussions with colleagues and consumers, this market statistic always pops up, mostly as an impression or unfounded opinion ("my neighbor heard of someone who's friend's house sold for $29m in 2 days.")
Funny how stories take on a life of their own, isn't it?
If you have hard data, you may find out the asking price over the last three years was $26m, and only when it was cut in about half to $14.5m by the bank, it sold in less then two months. Such is our world where everyone is a real estate expert. Perhaps I should advise my dentist with the profound knowledge I learned on the web about dentistry?
Now let's have a look:
Table and chart are pretty much self-explanatory. I created this analysis mid-April, based on sold single family homes in Broward and Palm Beach counties, Florida. I chose the most common selling price brackets for our market, while DoM refers to Days on Market or the time period from hitting the market to going into contract. Blue is the number of closings in the previous 30 days, while red shows the median DoM.
The curve visualises nicely how fast things move: rapidly from $200k to $1m; from $1m to $2m takes a bit longer, and over $2m it takes between six weeks and five months – in median days. Averages are considerably higher, and even those are under-reported because often enough a property gets taken off the market for a week or two, then relisted with a fresh MLS number so it doesn't appear "stale". Silly tactic, but not uncommon for expensive and/or overpriced homes.
What are your observation or thoughts?
When you go on a vacation or an out-of-town business trip or, your primary concern will always be the safety and security of the house you're leaving for a longer time than usual.
Sure, you may have home insurance coverage, but that doesn't mean it will make losing stuff to a fire or burglars hurt any less. You will also have to go through the hassle of filing a claim, which can get a bit tricky in the middle of a global pandemic.
If you're going away for an extended period, make sure you do the following to protect your home:
Don't Let The World Know No One's Home
We live in a world dominated by social media, the perfect place to make people green with envy by posting in real-time photos and videos of your vacation or business trip to another city, state, or country.
Unfortunately, social media is also where burglars can scout for houses to hit, and your posts will definitely help them out in that regard.
It's OK to share proof of out-of-town trips, but it's best that you wait until you're back home before dumping all your videos and pics on social media.
If you can't help yourself, you should at least make sure your sharing setting is set to private.
Ask For A Neighborly Favor
Do you have neighbors you can trust? If so, then try asking them if they can at least keep an eye on your home and call 911 if they notice anything suspicious happening inside or outside your property.
If you trust a neighbor enough, you can also leave them an extra key so they can check your home from time to time.
In case something unfortunate does happen, giving your neighbor your contact details would allow them to contact you right away.
Trick Would-be Burglars Into Thinking Someone's Home
Few criminals will not hesitate if they think a target house is actually occupied.
One effective way you can make people think someone home is by setting timers on your lights, so they turn on at certain times of the day and night, ideally at varying times – there are plug-in timers for instance with dusk-activation.
When you leave, take a cab or use a ride-hailing service to take you to the airport or train station so you can leave your car parked on your driveway and give out the impression that its owner is home. Alternatively, ask a neighbor to park his/her car in your driveway.
Unkempt lawns could signal to thieves that no one is cutting the grass, so keep your landscaping appointments even when you're away.
Power surges could occur when no one's home and damage your appliances. You can avoid that by unplugging your TV, computer, and other electronics.
As for your refrigerator, whether to unplug it or not will depend on how long you're going to be away.
If you are gone for only a week, it might be more practical just to leave your fridge plugged in and make sure it's equipped with a surge protector. If your trip will keep you away for a month or longer, unplug your fridge before you go. Consume or give away its perishable contents to neighbors or friends so they won't go to waste.
Shut Off The Main Water Valve
Few things can thoroughly ruin your homecoming from an extended trip than your furniture, appliances, and other belongings floating on a foot or so of water, courtesy of a pipe that burst while you were gone.
You can prevent that from ever happening if you shut off the water, which you can easily do if you know the location of the main valve. [Note: If you have a sprinkler system for your garden, obviously do not shut the water off; your plants and lawn will thank you - tck]
Secure Your Valuables
It's just too much of a risk if you leave jewelry, cash, and other valuables lying around the house.
If you have a safe, make sure you lock everything in there, including vital documents and hard drives that contain crucial files and information.
Better yet, go to your bank and put them all in a safe deposit box before you leave.
These are just some of the many ways you can protect your home when you go on a long trip, but they should be good enough places to start.
Guest post courtesy of Rachael Harper, Content Marketing Strategist of Bennett & Porter, a wealth management and insurance firm based in Scottsdale, Arizona. When not writing, she makes use of her time reading books and playing bowling with her family and friends.
You might be aware of the fact that real estate purchases and sales in the United States differ substantially from many other countries, and even from one US state to another.
In 1996, after a few years in business as a real estate broker, I put together a little flyer for my foreign buyers and sellers, explaining some of those differences.
Based on 30 years experience in the market as an independent Florida broker and consultant, the flyer has grown into a 16-page PDF, updated annually.
Focused on laws and customs in the State of Florida, property transactions in other states will differ, but the brochure should still afford non-professionals a general overview on the key transactional elements and sequence of a property purchase or sale in the US.
I am delighted about the opportunity to share some of my knowledge, so over the next few months I will post chapter by chapter (excerpts or complete chapters, depending on length and detail) here on this blog.
All information comes from reliable sources and/or my own experience, however it is not warranted and – very important – can never replace professional advice. With any questions you may have (and I am certain you will) I cordially invite you to contact me any time.
Part 1: TYPES OF PROPERTY
Considering a real estate purchase, the first question should be: what type of property fits my goals? One generally differentiates between:
Among those, Residential refers only to:
Commercial includes, among others:
Business Opportunities very often refer only to the business, not including the real estate it inhabits, such as:
A good broker or agent (see below) will assist you in defining your real estate investment goals and advise you in selecting a matching property.
Part 2: STEP BY STEP - THE TRANSACTION SEQUENCE
Real estate acquisitions in the US typically follow a specific structure:
Definition of transaction goal
Improvements if necessary
The sequence may vary, but in general it will be altered only very little, independent of property or state. In following posts you will read about each of those steps in more detail.
Tobias Kaiser is an independent real estate consultant and licensed Realtor in Florida since 1990. He specializes in modern architecture and net leased investments.