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.
You may have read that, among other areas in the US, the South Florida residential market experienced a massive price increase, coupled with a major inventory decrease, in Q3 and Q4 last year.
Median selling prices for all single family homes increased between 13.0 and 17.8 percent each and every month from July until December, compared to the previous year. That translates into a blended 14.8 percent selling price increase for the second half of 2020 vs. 2019.
At the same time, inventory for sale practically halved, from typically 18,000 to 19,000 homes to just over 10,000 – and it's further decreasing, today to just under 9,000 homes. That is not sane, but it's a not a bubble either.
Take a deep breath: the modern home market shows even higher numbers, unfortunate from a buyer's and a Realtor's perspective: median selling prices in Q4 2020 versus Q4 2019 rose by 70.0 percent, while time on market dropped substantially.
That means: weak purchase offers vaporize into this air, and procrastinating buyers won’t even get a shot.
For the January stats, I first thought I had made a mistake in my analysis (there is no modern home data broken out in the statistics, so I run my own modern home analysis every month): the median selling price of all modern homes I tracked which sold in January was virtually identical to the asking price. I don't recall that happening any time after the 2008 housing crash.
Overall, 17% of all single-family homes across all price levels closing in January 2021 sold above list price, Miami proper and Miami-Dade County showing the highest demand.
Can you just sit it out?
Likely not the best idea, unless you have lots of time and deep pockets. The National Association of Realtors helpfully states that 2021 should be a bit saner: "Although the pace will slow from the late 2020’s frenzy, fast sales will remain the norm."
"Buyers who prepare by honing in on... home characteristics that are must-haves vs. nice-to-haves and lining up financing including a pre-approval will have an edge... as sellers will be in a good position in 2021." (Forbes, Jan 2021)
Forecasts for our region, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach MSA, predict a sales increase of 3.7%, and a median selling price increase of 7.1% (2021 NAR Housing Market Predictions and Forecast).
Translated: we are in a strong seller's market, most likely throughout all of 2021 and possibly into next year.
If you do plan to buy a Florida residence, all data indicate it is advisable to act rather sooner than later – and if you do find a home you like, don't wait but go for it.
If you are on the other side of the fence, a Florida seller considering putting your modern house on the market: please contact me so we can lay out the best options for you.
Any questions or comments? I'd love to hear from you!
The travel restrictions prohibiting US entry of most non-residents, except close relatives of US citizens, airline crews, medical professionals etc., did not expire as originally planned on 31 December 2020, and have not been lifted by the new administration either.
There are some exceptions added, namely for investors, but in essence most travelers from the Schengen area and quite a few other countries still can not travel to the US.
Furthermore, a client told me that at least EU health insurance providers will not offer any health care coverage for any unnecessary – read: anything touristy – trip into a high-risk area such as the US.
For more details, please visit the CD website https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/from-other-countries.html
In short: with a few exceptions, travel from Germany to the US is currently not possible, and likely won’t be until the end of the year or longer.
In detail: a very informative webinar this morning by an immigration attorney who’s admitted both at the German and Florida bar, Ellen von Geyso, addressed current travel restrictions and options between the US and Germany; I learned a lot. Other countries may have different restrictions, but since this webinar was offered through the GABC Miami, it was specific to Germany and German citizens:
This post summarises a webinar, and should not and can not be regarded as legal advice. For that, please contact an immigration attorney Ellen von Geyso, who held this webinar, at email@example.com or via sms or whatsapp at (+1) 305 298 4365, or another immigration attorney you know and trust.
For a German version of this post, or any real-estate related questions, please contact me at KaiserAssoc@gmail.com or by sms/voice at (+1) 954 834 3088.
(This in an update to my post dated 22 April 20)
For starters: If you need to sell or buy a home now – because you are relocating for a job, in need of more/less space, or facing new financial circumstances that require a move – you shouldn't let the coronavirus stop you.
I closed two transactions in the last seven days, and during both cases we – my clients and I – never felt unsafe or that we running a risky gamble.
So I would say by being cautious, eliminating unnecessary any risks and following the right guidelines, it is safe to sell or buy a home even amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Classified as “essential business” by the Dept. of Homeland Security, real estate never stopped during the lock-down. A least in Florida, real estate brokers and agents were allowed to conduct business. But all new transactions - listings for sellers, searches for buyers, property showings and purchases - had to be electronic, with no meetings in person. While this was truly uncharted territory for buyers, sellers and Realtors alike, the last two or three months showed how it can work, and rather well actually.
Even with most restrictions lifted, many transaction participants chose to leave protective measures in place out of precaution; that includes my office as well.
Step by step:
Listing a property is not an issue, since all trades are available: photographers, building inspectors, appraisers and title companies are on board. If sellers do not feel comfortable meeting in person with a Realtor to discuss a listing, the meeting can be conducted online through video--calls.
For showing properties, personal meetings and visits are allowed again, but a Realtor can also conduct a video-showing from the site if one party feels uncomfortable or is in a high-risk group.
Open houses are not happening right now, and as a requirement for showings, all buyers are asked to narrow online their list of possible homes as much as possible, to provide a Covid-19 risk questionnaire as well as a pre-qualification letter before a showing, and to follow showing guidelines (masks, gloves etc).
Appraisals and building inspections are being conducted, which are vital for loan approvals – and in my experience of 28 years, even in a cash purchase, buyers should always have an inspection conducted.
Title companies are closing deals; many of them are conducted electronically, but some in a personal meeting, which I personally do not recommend.
And finally, court houses and tax appraiser offices are working electronically, so deed changes can be properly recorded.
Thus, the workflow of a Florida real estate purchase or sale is intact and functioning.
Do you have any questions?
If so please give me a quick call at 954 834 3088, email me, or let's set up an online meeting via Jitsi (no extra software needed), Skype, Signal or Google.
I wasn't joking when I headlined this post 'The Housing market - last Week'.
Because of the market volatility, I switched from quarterly data to weekly data to see trends faster. The numbers I'm analysing are in two groups:
What makes it interesting is the gap: not The Gap Band, but the difference between what sellers ask and what buyers are willing to pay.
And a big gap it is. Currently it sits at an 18 percent price difference for homes and 17 percent for condos/TH. That is 3 percent worse for houses, but 4 percent improved for condos compared to the prior week.
In clear English: by median prices, single family home buyers are paying 18 percent less than what sellers are wishing for, and 17 percent less for condos and townhomes than what sellers dream of. And that is substantial. That we have, in no particular sequence,
A) a difficult presidential election year
B) a marathon pandemic far from being over and
C) major civil protests against racism and injustice
does not help stabilising the real estate market. How could it?
There is simply no telling where this market is going – way too many wild cards. A buyers' market it is, or should be... Unless you encounter delusional sellers.
Again, I close with Edward R. Murrow's most appropriate quote:
"Good Night, and Good Luck."
Is the Florida real estate market going sideways? –Photo ©Resnick
That must be one of the most-asked question posed to real estate brokers and agents these days. And while “experts” are tripping over each other to produce an “outlook” or a “forecast”, hard numbers are hard to come by. Even trade publications contradict each other with headlines ranging from “market is going up” to “market is frozen”, and local Boards of realtors are not much help either.
During the Lehman-Brothers-crisis, when during the giddy way up and the vertigo-inducing free-fall to the bottom, while everyone screamed “NOW is a great time to buy a home!!!”, I started to run my own market statistics.
As real estate brokers in the US, we have incredible transparency of the residential market at our hands, so sometime in February this year I started to analyse several sets of numbers weekly. I was interested not only in properties on the market (Actives), but even more so properties going into contract (Pendings), and properties that closed.
I split those three sets into two, one for single family homes (SFH) and for townhomes and condos (TH/C), all located in the Tri-County area, Palm Beach - Broward - Miami-Dade. And for those properties, I analysed the median prices – in our market, the delta between highest and lowest prices is way to large to work for averaging. Those median prices are for:
• List prices of Sold properties and finally
• Selling prices of Sold properties.
Seriously, not only in a geeky way, but also because at some point a pattern becomes visible. Let me explain:
The first Covid-19 case in the US became known on 21 January, 2020, in Washington State. The first infection in Florida was on or around 1 March, 2020.
And pronto, from early March on, the number of Single Family Homes (SFH, which what I analyse here) in the Tri-County area of SE Florida – Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties – dropped a bit every week until mid-April. Then they started to rise again.
SFH: median List price of Actives, List price of Pending Contracts, List Price of Solds and Selling Price of Solds; TriCounty; 1st week Mar - 2nd week May'20
Asking prices for SFH mirrored the number of “Actives” and they are now, third week in May, pointing up again; see the blue line in the chart above.
If I had only absorbed more of Edward Tufte’s outstanding “The Visual Display of Quantative Information”, I would create better graphs. But even owning that tome for over 15 years hasn’t made me any smarter. So please endure my mediocre Excel charts.
For future sales, the major indicator is the number of pending contracts. And from the first week in March to the second week in May, Pendings mirrored the fluctuation of Actives. But when you examine the asking prices of Pendings, properties in contract – remember, they haven’t closed yet, so there is no sales price – there is quite a gap between the asking prices of Actives versus the asking prices of Pendings; see if the orange line.
How to read this?
A lot of properties are for sale at a median price of $450,000, but those with contracts have only a median of $374,450 – a whopping 17 percent less.
Confirming the issue: while the list price of Pendings is flattening out in the last two weeks, “aspirational pricing” by sellers makes the median price of all Actives – the blue line – go up. Why? Because a vast number of sellers think they can ask more.
Which is not true.
When I look at the number of closed sales, I see a substantial drop from early March to the second week in May: minus 52 percent.
That is not only substantial but also an interesting indicator, as the typical time-frame between going into contract or pending and actually closing is about four to six weeks locally.
Now consider the asking prices of those properties which actually sold: median $370,000. Asking prices for all homes right now: $450,000, $80,000 or 21 percent more.
Does that make you believe the majority of current sellers have their finger on the market pulse?
From a peak around late March/early February, asking prices of properties that sold and their actual selling prices have dropped. That is in line with the 4 - 6 weeks delay that I had mentioned above. In my dorky chart, you can see how the gap is widening between the asking prices of Solds versus overall asking prices, and also of selling prices.
That makes it, as an Irish friend says, triple crystal clear: a majority of sellers in our local market is currently quite delusional about what they can get versus what buyers are willing to pay.
Consumer confidence is low, and now that states are opening up, people may feel like splurging a little – on a soothing dinner, a nice bottle of wine or a new pair of jeans. But a home purchase falls into a different category of spending and needs a totally different level of confidence in the buyer’s financial future.
Where do we go from here?
We will probably see a flat at best or even slumping housing market in the area for quite a while. Market drivers will be cash buyers, investors with thick fluffy capital blankets and those who need to move, and of course sellers who need to sell.
Anyone who can wait may very well sit on the fence and watch the game until the third or fourth quarter, possibly even into 2021.
Clients told me yesterday: lenders and mortgage brokers prepared them that lending rules change day by day; what was working three days ago isn’t anymore now. That certainly doesn't make a house purchase easier or more pleasurable, and will have an additional dampening effect.
My advice to sellers: be realistic and trust a good agent, because – I know I’ll get flak for this – your property is likely not worth what you think it is. That is a tough nut to swallow, but as a seller you have to decide if you want to go poking around a bit, or seriously sell your property.
My advice to buyers: cash is king, and in lieu of that an ironclad loan pre-approval paired with a good strong offer. But don’t you go out now and insult sellers, you hear?
In the words of Edward Murrow: “Good Night, and Good Luck.”
Any questions? I’m always available and happy to hear from you. – I’ll update data and charts in about a month, so please keep tuned.
Frustrated about hoarders with enough TP for 18 months in their garage and still buying more? Empty shelves raided by customers who disregard item limits?
If you’re a “Senior” – the qualifying age varies store by store, but typically 60 years is the minimum – there’s hope to snag hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes in the early morning hours, with this handy list from Good Houskeeping.
You may not have every retailer shown below in your locale, but I thought “mo’ is mo’ betta”:
• Albertsons: Stores are open from 7 to 9 .am. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for seniors and at-risk customers to shop.
• ALDI: Stores are open from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for seniors and at-risk customers to shop.
• Big Y: Stores are open from 7 to 8 a.m. daily for seniors and at-risk customers to shop.
• BJ's Wholesale Club: Anyone 60 and older can shop from 8 to 9 a.m.
• Costco: Any member 60 and older can shop from 8 to 9 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday. No more than two people can enter the store with each membership card at one time.
• CVS Senior Hours—Exclusive shopping for seniors and higher-risk customers every Wednesday from 9-10 a.m.
• Dollar General: The first hour of operation is reserved for seniors. Call your local store to find out opening times.
• Fareway: Anyone 65 and older, immunocompromised, or expectant mothers can shop from 8 to 9 a.m. Monday through Saturday.
• Food Lion: Every Monday and Wednesday, seniors and at-risk customers can shop from 7 to 8 a.m.
• Food Town: Anyone 65 and older can shop from 7 to 8 a.m.
• Fred Meyer: Seniors and at-risk customers can shop from 7 to 8 a.m. Monday through Thursday.
• Fresh Market: Anyone 65 and older and other individuals at risk can shop from 8 to 9 a.m. on weekdays.
• Gelson's: Anyone 65 and older can shop from 7 to 8 a.m.
• Harris Teeter: Every Monday and Thursday from 6 to 8 a.m. is reserved for shoppers 60 and older.
• HEB: Starting March 23, all stores offer the Favor Senior Support Line, a personal shopping and delivery service for at-risk customers, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m daily.
• Kroger: All stores open at least one hour earlier for seniors and at-risk customers. Call your local store for exact times.
• Morton Williams: Stores are open from 7 to 8 a.m. for "senior hour."
• Pavilions: Stores are open from 7 to 9 .am. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for seniors and at-risk customers to shop.
• Price Chopper: Stores are open from 7 to 8 a.m. for seniors and at-risk customers.
• Publix: Anyone 65 and older can shop on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 7 to 8 a.m.
• Rite Aid: Seniors and at-risk customers can shop from 9 to 10 a.m. on weekdays.
• Safeway: Stores are open from 7 to 9 .am. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for seniors and at-risk customers to shop.
• Sam's Club: Seniors and at-risk customers can shop every Tuesday and Thursday from 7 to 9 a.m.
• Shaw's: Stores are open from 7 to 9 .am. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for seniors and at-risk customers to shop.
• Stop & Shop: Seniors and at-risk customers can shop from 6 to 7:30 a.m.
• Target: Stores are reserving an hour on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for "vulnerable shoppers." Call your local store to find out exact hours.
• Trader Joe's: Stores will dedicate the first hour (either 8 to 9 am or 9 to 10 am) to seniors and at-risk customers. Call your local store to find out exact hours.
• Vons: Stores are open from 7 to 9 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays for seniors and at-risk customers to shop.
• Walgreens: Tuesdays are considered "Seniors Day" with all-day discounts and seniors-only shopping from 8 to 9 a.m. The hour is also designated for caregivers and their immediate families.
• Walmart: At least through the end of May, stores open one hour early every Tuesday for Seniors 60 and older; this includes pharmacies and vision centers. Check with your local store for hours.
• Whole Foods Market: Stores open one hour early for 60 and older and at-risk customers to shop. Call your local store for exact hours.
• WinCo Foods: Every Tuesday and Thursday, seniors and at-risk customers can shop from 6 to 7:30 a.m.
• Winn-Dixie: All seniors and at-risk customers can shop from 8 to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday.
via goodhousekeeping (14 April 2020) and parade.com
(last update: 22 April, 2020)
Q: Can you buy or sell homes, condominiums, villas or townhomes during the Corona-virus pandemic?
A: Yes, within CDC and other safety guidelines.
Real estate has been classified as “essential business” by the Dept. of Homeland Security.
Possibly different from state to state, but at least in Florida it means real estate brokers and agents are allowed to conduct business.
But: All new transactions - listings for sellers, searches for buyers, property showings and purchases - must be electronic for the time being, with no meetings in person.
This is truly uncharted territory, for buyers, sellers and Realtors alike. But for those clients who have to sell or to purchase now and can't wait: Tobias and his team can help you.
Do you have an upcoming or planned home purchase or a sale? Do you have any questions?
Give Tobias Kaiser a quick call at 954 834 3088 to discuss, or email him at tobias@
(This post will be updated constantly as needed)
You know your Youth is officially over when you see Objects from your Childhood in an Antiques Store
The first thing was a pale green hairdryer. You could either hold in your hand or place it in a stand. If the latter, you attached the vinyl hood that came with it over the nozzle, placed the hood over the curlers all over your head, and sat there reading a magazine while the snazzy contraption transformed your wet hair into a perfect Sixties coif.
I think I actually gasped. What was an item from my past doing in one of my mother's favorite antiques shops?!?!
Surely this was an anomaly, I thought, as I delved deeper into the cluttered shelves where Mom often found forgotten treasures from the '30s or '40s that would complement her meticulously traditional home. I'd tagged along that day because the store's owners apparently knew which way the home decor wind was blowing and wisely added vintage and mid-century to their front signage.
OK, I know when I was born and I know that a sizable chunk of my childhood took place during the mid-20th century. Of course, I was too young to appreciate it then, but I eventually learned that while I read Fun with Dick and Jane and played Tiddlywinks, Vernon Panton created his curvaceous molded plastic chair to provoke homeowners' imaginations, Hans Wegner made Americans fall in love with Danish Modern, and Charles and Ray Eames proved that modern, ergonomically correct furniture is just as comfortable and infinitely more attractive than any Barcalounger.
It was also during my childhood that real estate developer Joseph Eichler brought modern homes to the masses, changing the leading ideology about what was possible for middle-class suburban homes.
Unfortunately, my parents preferred homes and home furnishings with historic precedence, especially of the Colonial Revival sort. And growing up in a small Southern town instead of, say, Southern Florida or Los Angeles, the only clues I received of a Modernist movement afoot elsewhere in the nation were what I saw on TV and in the movies, like the Petris' house/set on the Dick van Dyke Show and the actual John Lautner-designed gem that appeared in an early James Bond films (Decades later, another Lautner house guest-starred in The Big Lebowski).
But icons of mid-century modernism were not what bothered me that day in the antiques store. What rocked me back on my heels was the detritus of my childhood - hair dryers, record players (as opposed to stereos), metal TV trays, and all sorts of toys - that appeared among the dusty, disheveled inventory. Soon enough, I would also discover that the emblems of my college years - fringed leather vests, beaded headbands, Grannie glasses, bell-bottom jeans, and anything macram - had become vintage.
Those once-disturbing discoveries are also in the past now. Not only have I accepted the fact that my membership in the youth culture has been cancelled permanently, but I've become proud of the fact that I was there, so to speak, during the golden age of mid-century modernism -- even if I didn't realize it at the time. (Kind of like being alive and, in this case, conscious of it, when the Beatles were still a band - a fact that my daughter envies to no end!)
I was on this earth when the groundbreaking Modernism that originated in the Bauhaus, De Stijl, and on Le Corbusier's drafting table in France finally acquired a certain lightness in the mid-20th century that catapulted its popularity. I was alive when mid-century designers began to teach materials new tricks and created bent plywood, tubular steel, strong molded plastic, and walls made entirely of glass (the latter thanks to structural steel).
In America, mid-century modernism wasn't concerned with a machine for living like the International iteration. It was more about the optimism and joie de vivre that swept the nation after World War II. And even the sexiness that could be infused in a low-slung, sun-filled house with clear horizontal lines, deep roof overhangs, wall-sized windows, and sliding glass doors that opened directly onto the deck of a private swimming pool.
Case in point: Frank Sinatra's Palm Springs estate.
Speaking of Sinatra, who reportedly had these all over his houses: Remember floor-stand ashtrays? And remember when a stereo was a credenza-sized piece of furniture?
Guest post by architectural publicist Kim Weiss.
Every year in early summer, the German Association of Architects organises an Open House weekend – called Tag der Architektur, at least in most states – to promote noteworthy architecture and make it accessible to the public.
This are not a US-style “Open House” to market properties, which is nearly unknown in my home country. The “Deutsche Architektenkammer” (there's a national one as well as one in each state, just like the AIA in the US) has a different concept in mind: it wants to introduce exemplary architectural solutions – residential, multi-family, commercial, interior design and public buildings – to an interested audience.
In the state of Bavaria for example, the accompanying book for 2019 listed 244 different projects. A (not so well-functioning) website allowed you to plan your visits in a specific area and field, say: all school buildings in Munich or all single family home projects in Nuremburg.
In 2018 I happened to be in Germany not only during the big BMW “Motorradtage” motorcycle meet in Garmisch Partenkirchen, but also during the Open House weekend – called “Architektouren” in Bavaria, from “Architect” and “Tours”. Talk about killing two birds with one stone...
But despite advance planning and excellent weather I managed to see only four commissions, all single-family homes. Those were very interesting however. The best part: talking to the architects and owners about the projects, their goals, and the paths and obstacles to realisation.
Here are the four homes I toured, all south of Munich:
In Starnberg: a SFH with expansive lake view.
Challenge: a sloping site with a newly instituted ban on flat roofs in the subdivision.
361 m2 under roof on 2400 m2 lot with wide views of Lake Starnberg. ... bedrooms, ... baths, 2-car garage.
Plan-Z Architekten, München
In Berg: a green SFH with textile facade.
Challenge: Design a compact – 157m2 under roof – SFH that can be run off the grid for a very compact lot surrounded by farm buildings.
Vallentin+Reichmann Architekten, München
In Krailling: a new SFH with a “flat roof”.
Challenge: a 10°, recessed, standing-seam roof avoided a flat-roof ban in the subdivision.
325 m2 under roof on an infill lot of 758 m2,
4 bedrooms, 4 baths, 2-car garage.
Moosmang Architekten, Gräfelfing
In Schondorf: a rooftop expansion.
Challenge: integrate the extension as an independent element crowning the existing building which had been modernised twice.
vonMeierMohr Architekten, Schondorf
The next "Tag der Architektur" in Germany
When: 27 and 28 June 2020
Where: Most if not all state architect chambers participate
Website: Not updated for 2020 yet but your best start is https://www.tag-der-architektur.de/ or the matching app "Tag der Architektur", available for iOS and Android
Wichtig: working knowledge of German is needed, as the lead website as well as those of the individual states are only in German. In addition, though some hosts and professionals will likely speak some English, but don’t count on it. And finally, most documentation available for each project is in German as well.
Interested in going? Questions? Need help in planning? Let me know!
The Coral lamp
Ten years at sea would have a profound impact on anyone’s life. For New Zealand-based designer David Trubridge, it inspired him to create furniture and lighting that expresses his close connection to the sea, to nature in general, and to his deep commitment to environmental stewardship.
Trubridge graduated from Newcastle University in England in 1972 with a degree in naval architecture. He taught himself to make furniture while he worked as a forester in rural Northumberland.
Then in 1981, Trubridge, his wife Linda, and their two small sons set out on a yacht named “Homepipe” determined to navigate their way through the Caribbean and the Pacific. They’d sold everything they had to buy the boat that would be their home for a decade.
When the family ultimately settled in Whakatu, New Zealand, Trubridge began to work on furniture designs that would be the basis for his small business. When he introduced “The Coral” pendant light in 2004, that small business gained the attention of the international media and, in turn, the international market. His small business wasn’t so small any longer.
“The Coral” wasn’t originally intended as a light. It was just a form Trubridge created out of plywood by repeating a geometric polyhedral 60 times. Trying to find a use for this fascinating form, he stuck a light bulb in it one day. And so began a series of “sculptural luminaries, inspired by nature,” such as…
A Problem and Its Ingenious Solution
Most of David Trubridge’s lighting pendants are quite large – one of many reasons why they work so well in open, clean-lined modernist interiors. “Navicula,” for example, is 22 x 8 x 57” (56 x 20 x 145 cm). “Snowflake” is 31 x 16 x 31” (79 x 41 x 79 cm). The “Sola” pendant is a 31” x 31” x 31” (79 x 79 cm) globe.
Made of plywood and other lightweight materials, the large pendants aren’t heavy. But imagine the shipping charge for pieces of that size, which would have to be passed along to the buyer, thereby dramatically raising the price. Beyond the cost, Trubridge was also concerned about the carbon footprint such shipping would entail.
So he devised a clever solution: He would ship his giant designs as kits of parts that buyers would assemble when they arrived. That way, the lights could be shipped economically in flat boxes. And the environmental impact? Trubridge now holds Life Cycle Assessments (LCA’s) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs).
According to the website (davidtrubridge.com), Trubridge and his company are also dedicated to sourcing sustainable materials.
“Wherever possible, all timber is from sustainably managed plantations in New Zealand or the United States. Wood is left natural where appropriate, with natural non-toxic oils being used in place of harmful solvents. From a design point of view, the products use only the minimal amount of materials and are generated with a focus on longevity.”
The Hinaki, inspired by fish traps
Trubridge’s work has been featured in numerous international publications. In 2008, Express magazine named him one of the top 15 designers in the world. In 2012 the Pompidou Centre in Paris acquired his “Icarus” installation for its permanent collection.
Where are they?
David Trubridge collections are available through retail stores, some of which will assemble the pendants for you for a small fee. The website davidtrubridge.com lists three Florida cities with Trubridge retailers: Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Pensacola. Go to the Where To Buy page to find those and all other retail sources.
Home buyers have an incredible array of sources at their fingertips when looking for a new home, thanks to websites such as Homes.com, Realtor.com, local broker websites with search capabilities, and of course the 800 pound gorilla in the room: Zillow, which had gobbled up Trulia.com and now offers identical searches on both websites.
What is it like to search?
I recently researched property in another state, and had an educational experience using above sites and a few more.
Educational insofar, as I am – being a real estate broker and Realtor*– so used to the multiple listing service (MLS) with all its options that I very quickly discovered: not one single consumer website gave me everything I needed to conduct my search.
• Only two sites allowed me to draw a map outline of the area I was interested in. Realtor.com once had that capability, but inexplicably took it away. – Shame on them.
• Second example: I was searching for property with garage OR carport (which typically can easily be enclosed and converted into a garage). Not one of the consumer sites I used can perform an EITHER-OR search.
• Third example: Homes.com until recently allowed filters to be applied as “must-have” or “nice-to-have”. However, that clever feature was deleted a month or two ago. – F, sit.
And Zillow? Most of our residential clients also search that site. But what is not known to home-buyers is that Zillow recently went out of the frying pan into the fire. Voluntarily.
Previously, a few unethical real estate agents posted bait-and-switch properties on the internet, even after they were rented or sold. To stop that unethical and infuriating practice – a laudable endeavor – Zillow decided to switch from manual property entry for Realtors® to an automatic feed from MLS data.
That idea was good, but not great: any brokerage wishing to participate now has to grant a blanket authorisation for all of the firm’s listings. Note: a blanket authorisation. Many brokers, including me, do not agree with that policy. But: Realtors® represent over 90 percent of all residential properties for sale.
As a result, all of a sudden Zillow's number of Realtor-listed properties dropped substantially. Consumers looking for homes or condos on Zillow now see only some part of what is actually available for sale. No disclaimers on the page: understandably, the site does not publish what percentage of homes dropped out, so not tick off consumers. I wouldn’t even dare to guess how many homes a consumer is missing when looking on Zillow.
So without intention, the big Z strengthened its competition, namely Realtor.com. That site now should have the most complete list of properties for any home buyer, since:
1) it represents the most property inventory – Realtors and all of their listings
2) with the most accuracy – Realtor.com is automatically fed multiple times every day from every MLS system in the country.
Unfortunately its filtering capabilities are sub-par, though similar to most consumer real estate sites. But: filtering becomes an issue when you, the consumer, are looking for something specific, such as a modernist home among 22,000 single family homes for sale in Southeast Florida alone (wink wink).
What to do?
You may know the saying “the best boat you ever have is your friend's boat”.
In this context, it translates into “the best home-searching website is your friendly Realtor’s MLS”, running a search for exactly the home you want.
And to stay in the marine analogy: while it’s good form to bring beer or wine when invited to a boat outing and help hosing the boat down afterwards, you are not expected to hose down your real estate agent. Buying the property he/she found for you through him/her is enough. Of course, wine or beer is always a nice addition.
* A Realtor® is a real estate agent or broker who has MLS privileges through his/her membership at a local Board of Realtors®. Every Realtor® has a real estate license, but not every licensee needs to have MLS access, for example commercial practitioners.
Photo ©Tobias Kaiser, illustration ©learntospeakthai.net
“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”
Who do you think said that? If you don’t already know, you’ll never guess.
It was Thomas Edison. In 1931.
Well, Mr. Edison, we didn’t have to wait for oil and coal to run out. Scientists and engineers have tackled solar power -- the natural energy of the sun to produce electricity -- and dramatically improved the technology it involves over the past two or three decades. Today, the prospect of running our homes on the power we generate from our own, stylistically unobtrusive solar energy system is not “futuristic” or “weird” but pretty much mainstream.
Here's a statement from the National Council for Solar Growth (NCSG) that will amaze and, we hope, delight you -- unless you're the CEO of a coal or oil producer:
"Recent renewable energy reports suggest that by 2050, solar energy will be the most widely used source of electricity across the globe."
The solar energy industry has also created two new professions: solar installers and solar engineers. If you’re considering a solar energy system for your renovation or new home, you will meet both pros as you work together to answer three key questions:
<>1.2.3.Net Metering. For example, both Duke Energy in North Carolina and Florida Power & Light have Net Metering programs. A solar aggregator will have to handle this for you for a small fee, but you’ll still come out on top. Imagine the utility companying owing you money instead of the other way around. To see the average cost of a system and its installation in Florida city by city, check out EnergySage.com.
Obviously, the type of system you choose will determine the up-front costs. But here’s where the up-front savings, via rebates and tax credits, kick in. Solar rebates, paid by the State, can be as much $2,000 right off the top. Also in Florida, residents don’t have to pay sales tax on their systems. That’s a seven percent savings right there. Here’s another perk from the Sunshine State: Adding value to your home via a solar energy system will not increase your property tax.
Now add the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) to those perks and incentives. The ITC allows you to deduct 30 percent of the entire cost of purchasing and installing a rooftop solar energy system from your federal taxes. (Unfortunately, under the current policy that percentage will start to drop as of January 1, 2020, but not to the point of discouraging the process.)
These are a few ways to offset the up-front costs of a solar energy system. What about long term costs and ROI?
According to the NCSG, five years is the average time it takes for a solar system to pay for itself. After that, the more energy you generate from your system, the less money you pay to a utility company. The solar engineer who will come to assess your home and energy needs will help you make sure free or nearly free energy is in your future.
But don’t forget another reason for choosing solar: the environmental impact. Unlike fossil fuel power, solar is clean, renewable, and sustainable, relying upon one of the most natural resources in the world: the sun. It has no negative impact on the planet whatsoever. Even the energy used to produce photovoltaic cells is paid back soon after.
Changing The Way We See
Award-winning modernist architect Frank Harmon shares his delight in ordinary places and everyday objects in his new book.
Four months ago, ORO Editions, Publishers of Architecture, Art and Design, released Native Places: Drawing as a Way to See, a new book by celebrated North Carolina architect Frank Harmon, FAIA, that has been called “a masterful legacy on all levels,” and ”a delightful book, destined to charge the way we see the world,” among other statements of praise.
Now in its second printing, is a collection of 64 watercolor sketches with which Harmon has been filling small sketchbooks for decades, paired with brief essays about architecture, landscape, everyday objects, and nature. The sketches convey the delight he finds in ordinary places and objects. The 200-word essays, inspired by the sketches, offer his fresh interpretations of what his readers probably take for granted. His mission, he says, is to “change the way we see.”
Architect, author, professor, lecturer, mentor, and Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, Frank Harmon is well known for the he has designed across the Southeast for 30 years. His work engages pressing contemporary issues, including “placelessness,” sustainability, and the restoration of cities and nature.
Harmon’s buildings are specific to their region and sites and use materials such as hurricane-felled cypress and rock from local quarries to connect his buildings to their landscapes. Airy breezeways, outdoor living spaces, deep overhangs, and wide lawns embody the vernacular legacy of the South while maintaining Harmon’s
When his wife, landscape architect Judy Harmon, succumbed to cancer five years ago, Harmon began searching for something to focus on besides his grief. The idea for using an existing watercolor sketch from one of his sketchbooks to inspire a 200-250-word essay soon emerged. That idea became his now-popular online journal NativePlaces.org, a online assemblage of thoughts and hand-drawn sketches that illustrate the value of looking closely at buildings and places.
Along with publishing the sketch-essay pairings online, he emails them every two weeks or so to his thousands of subscribers across the U.S. and beyond “”
“ ‘’ ”
Native Places --
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March 15, 2019 at 02:43PM
Frank Lloyd Wright continues to impact our lives every day.
FLW and Fallingwater
“I would rather solve the small-house problem than build anything else I can think of.”
In 1991, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) officially declared Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) “the greatest American architect of all time.” International academia considers him one of the three or four greatest modern architects of all time in the world (but possibly also one of the biggest divas amongst architects, and certainly a difficult one).
Wright’s name conjures images of such iconic FLW buildings as the Guggenheim Museum, the swirling concrete sculpture in New York City; Taliesin West, his iconic school of architecture in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert; and Fallingwater, the masterpiece he built into the rocky side of a mountain and above a waterfall in Mill Run, Pennsylvania.
These are only three out of 500-plus projects he completed over his 70-year career.
Yet to this visionary genius from Wisconsin, solving the American suburban “small-house problem” for “the common people” was a persistent mission. And the solutions he found forever changed the paradigm of residential design.
If you’re sitting in a modern or “contemporary” house right now, you’re enjoying Wright’s genius right now without even knowing it.
“I believe in God, only I spell it N-a-t-u-r-e.”
Frank Lloyd Wright’s devotion to “organic architecture,” as he called his guiding ethos, influenced everything he designed. So he looked to forms found in nature for inspiration. The design for the Guggenheim, for example, was reportedly based on a shell. Fallingwater – voted the “best all-time work of American architecture” by the AIA – is, in essence, an outcropping on the mountainside.
Wright’s work was never ostentatious – not even his largest, most expensive houses. He believed in clean lines and simplicity and despised the restraints and unnecessary ornamentation of architectural styles that preceded him, especially tthe ornate fussiness of the Victorian era.
FLW's 1920 Frederick Robie House, the epitome of his Prairie style.
To Wright, American homes needed to be more open, airy, and livable for everyday citizens. He saw the need for fewer, larger rooms conducive to family life, with an abundance of natural light and easy access to the outdoors, both physically and through constant views.
His philosophy was manifest in all of his work, including the Prairie Style houses (his term) he designed for the mid-western U.S. (1893 to early 1900s) and later in the small, one-story “Usonian” houses, as he named them, that he conceived during the Great Depression.
The 1936 Jacobs "Usonian" House
Of the latter, Wright knew his clients would emerge from the Depression destined to lead simpler lives without household help. They were going to need affordable, sensible, aesthetically pleasing homes. Among other considerations, this would require consolidated functionality.
“The architect must be a prophet…a prophet in the true sense of the term…If he can’t see at least ten years ahead, don’t call him an architect.”
So – you’re sitting in your modern or contemporary house right now, and you’re wondering where the great man’s influence still lurks. If you’re an architect, you already know. If not, prepare to be amazed:
FLW created deep, cantilevered roof overhangs to protect all of his windows.
(1) The hallmark of Wright’s groundbreaking Prairie Style was its horizontal emphasis – “a companion to the horizon,” he said. One way in which he expressed that emphasis was with his use of flat or hipped roofs with deep, cantilevered overhangs.
(2) A pioneer in structural glass: The roof overhangs were necessary to shade all those wonderful horizontal bands of windows and floor-to-ceiling glass doors that allowed natural light and panoramic views of nature to fill the interior.
FLW stunned the world with his concept for open floor plans, like the one above.
(3) Wright introduced the concept of open floor plans, a fresh and rather startling concept then, but de rigueur in all modern homes after it became popular post-WWII. The concept was not only beautiful and comfortable, but it also consolidated functionality rather than dividing the home’s function into a series of separate, confining-areas. As a result, Wright achieved the “fewer, larger rooms” he advocated for modern American living, as well as the open airiness we still love about modern houses today.
(4) Wright was both an artist and a pragmatist. As the latter, he knew that without domestic help, the post-Depression wife/mother (as was the norm then) would need to keep an eye on her children while performing her work in the kitchen. The open floor plan aided that. It also banished the claustrophobic kitchen that kept her away from family and friends. He installed skylights in the kitchen ceiling to provide natural light since the “workroom of the house,” as Wright called it, was often in the windowless core of the house.
(5) Other kitchen innovations we take for granted that sprang from FLW’s genius:
(6) To avoid costly, time-consuming plasterwork, Wright specified more efficient, less expensive pre-finished plywood for his interior walls – arguably the precursor to drywall.
(7) Construction technique and materials: Wright was the first architect to use new building materials – concrete and steel – in domestic architecture, including cost-efficient and durable concrete block construction. He hid the humble blocks behind veneers of more attractive materials, such as wood, stone, and brick (depending on the place in which the house was built).
(8) By embracing those construction materials previously relegated to commercial buildings, he was able to create L-shaped footprints for his houses. The “L” enclosed and overlooked a back yard/courtyard/private garden for the suburban homeowner – another way to blur the boundary between indoors and outdoors.
(9) Functional innovation: The L-shape also let him separate the bedrooms from the more “public” areas (living/dining/kitchen) in a one-level house. He believed this separation was vital for harmonious family life.
Wright invented the carport. On this FLW house, it's carport-as-sculpture. (Photo James Michael Kruger)
(10) He took advantage of other technical advancements to reduce costs for his clients. For example, furnaces had become smaller and cleaner. So he eliminated basements, opting instead for less expensive concrete slab foundations. He ran pipes through the slab for radiant heating. Many well-kept mid-century modern houses still feature their original under-the-floor heating.
(11) When automobile design and materials made them less vulnerable to the elements, Wright also reduced construction costs by replacing garages with “carports” – a term he coined.
* * *
These are only a few elements of modern and contemporary houses that we take for granted today. So when you have a few minutes, look around your own house. Chances are you’ll find several reasons to thank Frank.
On January 2, 2018, in an article entitled “Florida Could Be Close to a Real Estate Reckoning,” the Insurance Journal suggested that “one of the great mysteries of climate change isn’t scientific but psychological: When will the growing risks associated with rising seas and more severe storms begin to affect home values in otherwise desirable coastal markets?”
The article continued: “Nowhere is that question more pressing than South Florida, which has some of the country’s priciest properties—and some of the most vulnerable. A state built on real estate speculation, whose chief attribute was proximity to the water, now faces a whole new problem: There’s not enough land, high enough above the water, for its residents to pull back from the rising seas. By the end of the [21st] century, database company Zillow Group estimates, almost a half-million Miami homes could be—literally—underwater. That’s more than anywhere else in the country.”
Fast forward to December 21, when The Real Deal newsletter reported that home buyers and builders in Miami Beach have seized upon one immediate, if not visionary, solution to rising sea levels and the growing threat of flooding:
Elevated living quarters already a building requirement in the Florida Keys and on Key Biscayne, in July last year Miami Beach eased its restrictions on the height limit beneath single-family homes, which was set at seven feet (2.31 m). With approval from the city’s Design Review Board, owners and builders can now use pilings, or stilts, to raise the first floors of their homes up to 15 feet (4.95 m) – as architect Rene Gonzalez is proposing for his own house in the Venetian Islands.
“For now, Miami Beach’s elevated home designs mostly cater to luxury construction because of prohibitively high costs,” The Real Deal article states. “But in the future, industry experts said, those projects will become more common as designs are modified, prices drop and flood insurance rates rise.”
Patrick Dwyer, a wealth advisor with Merrill-Lynch, hired the renowned Miami firm Arquitectonica to design his two-story, $5 million house, which will sit high above Lucerne Avenue. Asked about the elevation he required, Dwyer said, “This seemed like a no-brainer. If you’re in Miami Beach and you’re not thinking about sea level rise, then you don’t really understand what’s to come.”
Difficult subject? Certainly.
Can we in Florida – owners, buyers, Realtors, the public – close our eyes and make it go away? Most certainly not.
My question to local property owners and buyers: Does this subject influence your purchase or ownership decisions, and if so how?
Looking forward to hear from you, here in the comment section or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Modern beachfront/waterfront home by architect Toshiki Mori on North Casey Key, Florida, with 7,100+ sf, six bedrooms, nine bathrooms, den and bonus room on the interior, swimming pool and guest house. Off-market.
It's that time of the year again: to welcome the New Year and to take a moment to introduce myself to new readers and visitors.
I'm a passionate fan of modern(ist) homes since I was quite young. According to my mum, as baby I was parked in my little crib in my parents' dining room, jazz playing in the background, while they discussed with their architect friend the modern house they were going to build, in which I would grow up in (modern vs. modernist is another post I regularly schedule, as it is a bit confusing. But there is a correct answer).
Unfortunately never having studied architecture, I snuggled up to it by opening my own office (now located in Boca Raton, Florida) as an independent real estate broker and consultant for modern architecture in 1990, approximately covering the area between Vero Beach and South Miami on the Atlantic coast.
It took me a bit of time to find my focus in real estate, and that in a market flooded with real estate agents. After being licensed I worked several years in all sorts of residential and commercial real estate: a generalist. But I found my calling over 15 years ago: modern homes, from mid-century to today's modernism. My real estate background is commercial, so I also know something about NNN-investment properties and still work in that field as well.
The Secret List
One of my most important tools, and part of my secret sauce, is The List.
For many years, I have personally documented modernist properties in Southeast Florida: whether observed, accidentally found, searched out, or through our Realtor property database MLS: they all end up in my Master List of contemporary and mid-century modernist properties – mostly single family homes, with a condo building, a supermarket or even a car dealership included for good measure.
Our MLS database is a bit tricky; since there is no “Modern” filter I devised my own. Consequently, I have as many as nine special searches running parallel, handpicking modernist properties for my list several times a week.
Over the course of the years, this list has grown to more than 4,600 unique modernist properties in Southeast Florida, covering roughly the area between South Miami and Vero Beach.
It is a labour of love and real work to keep the list updated, including sales prices.
However, it's not only an excellent educational tool but truly invaluable when it comes to finding modern houses for buyers who know what they want, or for sellers who need an expert to properly evaluate and market their modern home.
My Invitation to You
I warmly invite your comments, questions and inquiries, independent of you being a seller, a buyer, or simply a fan of modernist architecture.
Kaiser Associates Realtors, South Florida’s only real estate brokerage specializing exclusively in modern homes, has selected Blueplate PR in Raleigh, NC, as its public relations agency, citing owner Kim Weiss’s extensive knowledge of architecture – especially modern architecture – as a key factor.
“Our clients have a refined, special taste in homes, and our buyers are located all over the Americas,” said Tobias Kaiser, founder/owner, and a licensed broker. “Being trained in, and having worked in, public communication, I know print advertising won’t reach them. Looking for someone to help us grow our business and who understands modern architecture, Kim is just uniquely qualified.”
A native of Germany, Kaiser and his wife, Lisa, live in Boca Raton. They also maintain a home outside Munich and another in Raleigh where they met Weiss.
“When I launched Blueplate PR in 2004, after nearly 20 years as a journalist covering architecture and historic preservation, I promised myself that I would only accept clients whose work fueled my passions,” she said. “When I’m excited about a client’s work, good things happen. Well, I’m very excited about the work that Tobias and his team do at Kaiser Associates. They don’t just move real estate. They’re actually ‘match-makers’ who help very special homes find very special homeowners and renters who truly love and appreciate the houses’ architectural integrity. I’m thrilled that they’re letting me be a part of all that love!”
Throughout South-East Florida, Tobias Kaiser has documented over 4700 modernist homes and evaluated and brokered many of them, including:
For the latter, Kaiser found the lot and the architect and served as the owner’s representative throughout construction, which took three years to complete.
Among the homes Kaiser currently represents exclusively or in cooperation with colleagues is an exemplary mid-century modern beach house designed by renowned American architect Paul Rudolph. That house and all of Kaiser’s listings can be viewed at www.modernsouthflorida.com/modern-homes-for-sale.
For more information on Kaiser Associates Realtors, visit www.kaiserassoc.com.
For more information on Blueplate PR, go to www.blueplatepr.net.
About Kaiser Associates Realtors:
Through its experienced real estate agents, Kaiser Associates offers clients expertise, knowledge, and experience in four core specialties: (1) brokering, preserving, and promoting modern homes in South Florida, from mid-century to new construction; (2) owner representation and consulting for modernist ground-up construction, rehabs and renovations; (3) a full range of residential services including buying, selling, and renting; and (4) buyer representation for Net-leased/NNN investment properties in Florida and throughout the U.S.
After many years of writing my blog The Modernist Angle apart from this website (you find the old version here, if you are curious what you missed), I decided that it will make things easier to re-unite blog and website, especially in light of some interesting and exciting changes I have planned.
You'll see those changes here first, and where applicable also mentioned on my facebook page.
The latest market data for Southeast Florida single family homes for August 2012 can be found at http://www.TheModernistAngle.com
Current market data for Southeast Florida single family homes July 2012 can be found here
Market data for Southeast Florida single family homes for the month of June 2012 can be found at http://www.TheModernistAngle.com
Fresh data for the South Florida Home market are published on the Blog "The Modernist Angle" - read on here.
As the home-buying season begins in earnest in many parts of the country, Southeast Florida – which enjoyed an unusually mild winter, to the dismay of many including me – continues on its path of odd market behaviour, namely rapidly shrinking inventory accompanied by mildly rising asking and selling prices.
As dramatic as the numbers for single family home sales are, looking at the Tri-County area won't tell the whole picture, so I will briefly point out some of the differences between Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade... please read on at the blog The Modernist Angle
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.