A very personal experience:
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 June sun torched sidewalks and cobblestones, I was early, 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 only had an 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 floored by her question and speechless, 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 too, and for the next ten minutes or so the two of us spoke quietly about discrimination, race, fears and hope. Two total strangers, without introduction or preparation, engaged in a too-short dialogue, dropping 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 want to marry you." Beam. to this day I regret not giving her my name and phone number or asking for hers. 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.
©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.
Tobias Kaiser works as an independent real estate broker and consultant in Florida since 1990. Always putting his clients' interest first, he specialises in modern Florida homes and architecture, as well as net leased investments.