Thursday, March 31, 2005

Spring Time

We change our clocks this weekend. I can never remember is it is spring forward or fall does that go again? When it comes time to change the clocks that always tells me Summer is here not Spring. In Florida there is no Spring. We go from Fall right to Summer. No Winter No Spring. We have Fall from November thru March. I had an out of town buyer once ask me "How I do I know when it's Winter..." I said Football is on.

April is here tomorrow meaning Summer begins. Bring on the sweating, the burning hot steering wheels and the hot leather seats that we had to have in our "luxury" autos that give different meaning to "toasted buns." I do love Florida and will not leave the state again. After traveling around the country with my hubby while he served as a Navy Nuke for 20 years, there is nothing like home. I grew up wearing my swimsuit under my school clothes and head for the beach directly after school or even some times during school :) We wore flip flops and cut off jeans as the dress of the day. Make up was unheard of! Who needed it with that sun glazed face everyone had. (Yes I have paid for that at the dermatologist already.) We did not even wear perfume...the tropical essence from the tanning oil smelled just fine. Evenings were spent out by the river with a bonfire and tons of friends. Laughing, kissing boyfriends, and enjoying the "summer" evenings. is time to change the clocks this weekend, It is now Summer... how I love summer in Florida. There is no place like it!

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

House #7

Oops we did it again... Posted by Hello

We just bought another house in Titusville. This make 6 up there and the one down here for a total of 7. So... this starts the process of no sleeping... anxiety... buyers remorse, etc. I am my own worst buyer. I have buyers that handle this better than I do. I love selling homes to happy home purchasers knowing they will have celebrations, holidays and memories in their new home. That is why I do this, I just love that! But when I buy a house I am a wreck. Usually takes me about a week to recover. This house is 3/2 super cute in side. All new windows, it has a pool, nice shed with electric. Kitchen could use some updating. Roof is about 6 years old. It is about 1400 sq ft. That is a beautiful Grapefruit tree in the front yard and there is a nice Orange tree in the back yard. There will be a new development built behind this house but for now it is woods. I paid $190,000.
Let me know what you think? I am in day 2...5 more till I am normal again.

Monday, March 28, 2005

I've Made My Decision

E.M. Forster: "We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."

I have made my decision. It is up to the hubby at this point. He said to give him till Friday... it takes him longer... As a Nuclear Engineer you can imagine what his brain has to go through to justify actions....

The Madison

Perfection is Black and White...There is no Gray Posted by Hello

WCI Introduces The Madison in Downtown West Palm Beach
Lofts and Grand Sky Estates up to $3.5 Million on the Intercoastal

Contact me for more info.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Shhh... I am Praying.

My husband in the middle of the night says "you awake?" I said "yes, but I am praying and you should be too."

Have you ever had to make a decision that would change your entire life. Your entire existence will change. I have never been really good at change and will stay with the same thing in order not to change. I know, I know, I know I was a military wife for 20 years. Change should feel like clean underwear to me. But this is like a fork in the road, you stay on the same road and you sort of know the end of it. You may not like it but you know the story, you know what to expect.

If you decide to take the other road not knowing what will happen..would you? This is my decision to make. Or should I say mine and my husbands. I know we have made other decisions through out the years some good some not so good, some we did not have a choice but had to. This one is tough.

Defined: to arrive at a solution that ends uncertainty or dispute about b : to select as a course of action

This is hard... I need some sleep.

ps. Happy Easter

Friday, March 25, 2005

We have landed... in Homestead!!

37350 SW 214 AVE , Florida City, FL
Posted by Hello

Ok, this home I have to preview.... Has HGTV seen it yet?
Here is what the listing says:

Interested... Email me.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

More Info on Impact Fees

The County Governments have mounted a strong opposition campaign against HB 1173 and SB 2302 relating to Impact Fees. They are spreading misrepresentations of the what the legislation really does - standardizing how Impact Fees are calculated and implemented.Counties fear that this legislation slashes or caps Impact Fees, but the truth is far from that. What the legislation really does is:

· Require that data used to determine impact fee calculations must be based on the most recent and accurate data available.
· Impact fee calculations should provide a credit for the full present value of all past and future taxes paid or payable for the next 25 years.
· If an impact fee must be increased, places a six-month grace period between adoption of the increase and the actual implementation, plus increases should not apply to building permits completed prior the effective date of the fee increase.
· Local governments should be required to report fees collected and spent, limit their administrative fees to three percent not to exceed actual costs, and require impact fees to be refunded, with interest, if fees are not spent within six years of collection.
· Impact fees shall be paid in whole or in part at the time of closing, with any remainder to be assessed as part of the local government's tax bill and paid over a five to 10-20 year period.Please follow the link below to send an email to your legislator.
Click the following link to take action on this issue.

Below is another link to the website. However, if that does not work, please copy and cut the address into your web browser. Thank you.

Any questions email Wayne at:

~thanks for the info Wayne~

Why People live in Florida....

Posted by Hello

More of why people live in Florida... 84 degrees today!

Posted by Hello

Is this due to New Construction Speculation???

Sales of new homes jumped about 9.4 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.226 million, the Commerce Department estimated Thursday.

The sales rate is the second highest rate ever, matching December's pace and just below October's record 1.304 million. It was the largest percentage increase in four years.

Economists were expecting a small increase to about 1.14 million, according to a survey conducted by MarketWatch. See Economic Calendar.
The supply of new homes on the market rose to a record 444,000, representing a 4.4-month supply at the February sales pace. In January, the inventory had spiked to a 4.6-month supply. Read the full release.
RISMEDIA, March 24 – Existing-home sales slipped in February but remained above year-ago levels, while home prices rose at double-digit rates, according to the National Association of Realtors. Total existing-home sales, including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, were down 0.4 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.79 million from an upwardly revised pace of 6.82 million in January. Last month's sales activity was 6.1 percent above the 6.40 million-unit pace in February 2004.

Mosaic on Miami Beach

Given WCI's stature as the National Association of Home Builder's "2004 America's Best Builder," the amenities concepts, services and facilities offered at Mosaic on Miami Beach are sure to provide "Lifestyles Beyond Expectations" for which the company is renowned. Posted by Hello

Set to rise on a prized parcel of oceanfront within Miami Beach's legendary Historic District, Mosaic on Miami Beach will personify luxury surrounded by breathtaking views of the Atlantic, Intracoastal Waterway and Miami's dazzling skyline.
From eclectic art galleries to live theater to chic restaurants and world-class shopping, Mosaic is at the heart of an electrifying metropolitan district. Offering easy access to Miami and Ft. Lauderdale International Airports and proximity to South Beach and downtown, Mosaic on Miami Beach's location appeals to both the jet setter and local professional. It is a lifestyle dedicated to recreation, and one that offers future residents the opportunity to take full advantage of all that this celebrated destination has to offer.

Contact me for more information regarding this property.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Fed hikes federal funds rate

In a widely expected move, the U.S. Federal Reserve today decided to raise its target for the federal funds rate to 2.75 percent, saying that pressures on inflation have picked up in recent months.

Update: Lawrence Yun, senior economist for the National Association of Realtors.
Yun says that the 30-year fixed mortgage – now 6 percent (average) -- will be 6.7 percent by year's end. Yun is predicting that residential sales will decline 3 percent for 2005 as a whole. This comes off of four record years. There were also be a slowing in price growth. Price appreciation in 2004 was 9 percent. It will be between 5 and 5.5 percent in 2005, according to Yun.

May want to purchase that home now!

$28 million available for first time homebuyers

Interested in finding out more about Florida Housing’s First-Time Homebuyer Program can visit

There are three downpayment assistance programs and a new 3 percent cash assistance option available. In some cases, homebuyers could be eligible for up to $25,000 in assistance.

First-time homebuyers purchasing homes in Urban Infill areas, Federally Designated Targeted areas, Front Porch and HOPE VI communities; or participants in the Self-Help Housing Program as well as disabled homebuyers may be eligible for mortgages at a subsidized rate of 4.99 percent. Other interest rates available include the program's standard 5.55 percent and a new 6.25 percent rate with a 3 percent cash-back option. Florida Housing’s products are 30-year fixed-rate mortgages.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Impact Fees Going UP and UP!

New Construction may begin to see some dollar crunching which will be passed on to the buyer. Impact fees are one-time assessments levied on construction to raise money for the new schools, roads and other services or infrastructure needed to serve the development.

St. Johns County:
Under the county's existing impact fee system, all single-family residential construction currently pays the same impact fee of $2,630. However, under the new two-tier structure, homes that are 1,800 square feet or less will pay an impact fee of $6,685; all other homes will pay an impact fee of $9,299.

Brevard County:
Commissioners will discuss the proposal to charge a school impact fee of up to $4,445 on new homes during the April 29 meeting. The county school board wants the impact fees to help pay for the new public schools needed for its burgeoning student population.

Flagler County:
School Board is calling for a school impact fee in the range of $3,000

Collier County:
According to county figures, when the total fee goes into effect, in today's dollars it would create a $160 fee for a 1,000-square-foot single-family home, a $1,697 fee for a 1,000-square-foot retail space, and a $1,075 fee for a 1,000-square-foot office. It also would charge a $308 fee for a 1,000-square-foot church and a $526 fee for a 1,000-square-foot general industrial building.

Lake County:
Commissioners in Lake County, Fla., have approved a hike in school impact fees to $7,055 per home, effective at the beginning of February. Builders will be permitted to make prepayments at the current level of $3,489 until the new fee is implemented.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Infinity at Brickell

The building is now 80% sold, there are still some great Pre-construction units available.

Let me know if you are interested in Pre-Construction Condo. This link has photos and floor plans. Price $300-$1.2 Mil

Friday, March 18, 2005

Viva Las Vegas

Ok, I am finally home from Vegas. Am I awake...not so sure? I did see Green Valley Ranch and I think every hotel on the strip. I won $1000 with a Royal Flush in Video Poker which was exciting and my hubby won $500 with 4 aces in Video Poker. Can not tell you much more about the conference because we sort of, kind of, well ok we skipped the rest of it. We had a blast though in Vegas.

In this business it is so tough to take a vacation. You lose so much business while away. You have to decide that the "cost" of vacation and a break from the stress of the real world is worth every penny. So when I go on vacation it is not just the airfare, hotel, food etc. It is also loss of clients. Most people are "immediate gradification" types and if you are a realtor and not available...someone else is.

The dictionary says that the word vacation means "A period of time devoted to pleasure, rest, or relaxation."

I talked to another realtor friend that was complaining about his blood pressure medicine and that it was bothering him so he went off it. He saw his doctor last week and it was 156/96. Now he has to go through all sorts of tests etc. I also realized while on "vacation" that I need to make some life changes as well. My blood pressure is not the greatest and I could use to eat better. And so what... I lost some business but I enjoyed a wonderful week with my best friend and husband.

I hope that everyone remembers to take a vacation and devote to rest and relaxation, even if it is in your own backyard. Stop and realize why you are working, and stop working yourself to death. Remember you can't take it with you.

Again, what good is the goal if you don't enjoy the journey.

If I am rambling it is because I need sleep. :)

Monday, March 14, 2005

Escalation Clause

I am in Vegas at a Real Estate Convention. And the talk of the town is "Escalation Clause," that is when an offer is written and a clause is inserted that states you will pay X percentage over the highest offer received. The group I was talking to was from Seattle, WA. She told me the last offer in Rainier Beach that she did was written with a 35% escalation clause. I asked about the appraisal? How does it appraise, she said they do. I find that odd. Here in Miami we are not doing many if any escalation clauses on contracts because we know the fight we will have to get the appraisal up and or the buyer pays over appraisal. I am enjoying hearing about the different markets. But I hear of no "bubble" in these markets any time soon.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Hot Housing Markets

These markets saw the greatest gains between the fourth quarter of 2003 and fourth quarter of 2004.
Market Percent increase
Las Vegas, NV 47.3
Riverside/San Bernardino, CA 34.7
West Palm Beach/Boca Raton, FL 34.0
Bradenton, FL 32.0
Sacramento, CA 31.5
Melbourne/Titusvile/Palm Bay, FL 30.5
Washington, DC 26.9
Ocala, FL 26.8
Ft. Myers/Cape Coral/Punta Gorda, FL 26.5
Sarasota, FL 25.8

Now to the defense of Melbourne/Titusville/Palm Bay. This is my old stomping grounds. For the longest time homes sold for $100,000 or less. Rarely did you hear about a sale around $150,000. This market was stagnant for 10 years maybe more. If median home prices are $187,000 this market has yet to hit that. I think in this area, the 30% market increase was more of a market adjustment to current prices. I don't think they are anywhere near "peak". You can still buy a NICE 3/2 home for around $160 in this market area. I am to bet that they will increase this year as well.

New Book coming out:

"Are You Missing the Real Estate Boom?" (Currency/Doubleday), is scheduled to be released in March and predicts that real estate investments will climb through the end of the decade.

Friday, March 11, 2005


Thanks to curbed I learned about the Un-Broker. Here are the 10 Commandments of the Un-Broker.

1. Treat people as you want to be treated.
2. Create a personable and friendly environment.
3. Listen, and get people what they need.
4. Current and consistent informational flow.
5. Be intelligent. Provide creative solutions to provide appropriate results.
6. Low pressure Atmosphere
7. Customer's needs always comes first.
8. Professional service.
9. Use Technology to create customer involvement.
10. Tireless effort to accomplish your goals.

Sounded reasonable to me, that is how I do business....I must be an Un-Broker.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Flips & More Flips in South Florida

New Construction Flips:

Waterstone; 48 homes available, price range $224,900 to $435,000
The Shores; 5 homes available, price range $239,900 to $374,990
The Redlands; 5 homes available, price range $399,900 to $2,300,000
The Fairways/Augusta Green; 4 homes available, price range $304,900 to $509,990
Keys Landing; 8 homes available, $294,900 to $379,000
Cutler Cay; 7 homes available, $529,000 $745,000
Breakers @ Isle of Bayshore; 16 homes available $279,000 to $492,500
Blue Water; 2 homes available (just now starting to flip) $315,900 to $379,900
Cantamar; 22 homes available $265,000 to $530,000
Villas Del Campo; 5 homes available $295,000 to $359,900
Pelican Bay; 7 homes available $312,900 to $350,000

Marabella Cove at Waterstone; 10 available $189,900 to $239,900
Venetia; 54! available $142,000 to $232,000
Puerta Del Sol; 12 available $164,900 to $215,000
Santa Barbara; 11 available $210,000 to $260,000
Town Gate; 4 available (Arbor Park just now starting to flip) $195,000 to $252,900
Waterways; 4 available $259,000 to $269,000

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Former HUD secretary

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- March 9, 2005 -- Former Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Henry Cisneros says housing prices are unlikely to drop, and that creates a dearth of affordable housing.

..He notes that rapidly increasing home prices are forcing lower-income families to remain on the sidelines, something Cisneros calls a "gap in access to the American wealth creation machine."

Some participants saw a glimmer of hope in the onslaught of new condominiums going up in South Florida. An increased supply could, some day, put downward pressure on prices and increase the number of affordable homes. But even optimists admit that, for now, the opposite seems to be true and prices continue to drive upward.

In Broward County, for example, home prices rose 35 percent in one year to a median price of $306,000. In Miami-Dade, prices rose 21 percent to $298,000. Meanwhile, the rate of homeownership in Miami-Dade of 62.5 percent trails the national average of 67.3 percent.

Source: Miami Herald, Gregg Fields, March 8, 2005.

4th Qtr Economic Market Watch Report

Miami Dade 2004 Economic and Market Watch Report 4th Quarter

The most expensive home in the MLS

32 Mill! Posted by Hello

So what do you think? This is the most expensive home in Dade County up for sale.
5 INDIAN CREEK DR Indian Creek, FL 33154
Price: $32 Mil.

Lovely photo of the home! Beautiful curb appeal... Great realtor I am sure. Guess they could not get past the guard gate to take the photo of the actual home.


I wonder if Julio knows about this?
PS. Commission is 1% of the sales price.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

YeHaw hope you can attend!

"The so-called "bad girl of sports," Tonya Harding (news - web sites), will make her first South Florida appearance Thursday.

Harding will take on a transvestite television personality from a Miami station. Word is that they have not been able to get approval to box, so the "fight" may be more wrestling than boxing.

The match will be at Beach Bums in Fort Lauderdale Thursday.
Tickets to the event are $20 at the door. "


Update courtesy the Miami Herald:

After people paid up to $20 a ticket, the fight between Harding and transvestite Daisy D was canceled. Apparently, the match was not sanctioned by the state.
"If I would have participated in this event, I would have been stripped of my boxing title and also probably arrested," Harding said.
Harding said had she been allowed to fight, she would have made short work of Daisy D.
"It would have been fun, you know. Wham, bam, thank you mam," she said.
Fans who shelled out between $10 and $20 for tickets weren't happy with the cancellation. Instead of Harding vs. Daisy D., they watched several no-name wreslting matches.
"One hundred percent misled. A hundred percent. We came to see Daisy box Tonya Harding," said Nikki Weinberg.
Fan Dave Ellenberger said he asked for his money back but organizers just blew him off.

I miss my Dog.

Our son recently got married. The gal he married is wonderful. Just love her to tears. My husband says I finally got a daughter. Well to be honest I have two daughters now. Our other son who recently accepted a position with "Take Two" or 2K or something entertainment will be moving to San Rafael in May, girlfriend~future wife in tow. Both gals are awesome, beautiful and kind. I don't foresee any bad "mom-in-law" problems. I miss both the boys a lot. The house is different without them home all the time. I am proud of both of them and what they have become and the "men" that they are. We did good. Both are funny only 20 & 22 years old and they can hardly wait to buy their first house. They could both take the real estate exam and pass with out studying after living with me. I have been in real estate since there were about 7 & 9 years old. They have had the words Escrow, EM Deposit, closing, listing, and floor duty in their vocabulary at an early age. They have no idea what a 401K or SEP IRA is, only real estate. I'll have to talk to them about that. Oh, back to the dog.

When our son got married he took (stole) the dog. Ok he said it was his dog and not mine so he took her. She is a beautiful dog, mix border collie golden retriever. Tan with white accents. She is the BEST dog anyone could have. She loves everyone. While working on the computer she'd always lay on the floor next to me and be ready to bark at the first sign of any noise (or danger in her ears). She used to sleep (don't say gross, if you have a dog you understand) with us in the bed but it was getting to hard for her to jump up and down so she slept right in the door way...again to protect us. She never bit anyone and would probably run the other way but she wanted us to think she was protecting us. She drove me nuts at times, she hated dog food. She loved to go on a walk and would tilt her head back and forth waiting for me to say "want to go for a walk?" And she would run to the door and grab her leash. She even talked. Like you would come in the door and she would go "wo woo woa wo" like "where have you been?"

Rainy days like today.... I miss my dog...Ok my son's dog.

Monday, March 07, 2005

This just in....

I just got the appraisal back on a different transaction. Same neighborhood! House is 2053 sq feet...tiny lot no pool can go in. $345!!!

Low Appraisals

Once again, due to an unexperienced appraiser a buyer will lose his house. The buyer had to cancel the moving van and now is in limbo with no place to go. The home he was purchasing was listed at $325 seller wanted more so both the listing agent and myself had to lower the commission in order for the buyer to get it at that price. The lender who is out of county orders the appraisal and as usual the appraiser is out of county and the appraisal comes in low....see it all the time. For the most part if the buyer wants the home he is going to have to pay above appraisal. Problem is that the buyer may be financing the majority of the loan and not putting 20-30% down. The comps actually show this home to be worth closer to $339. The home is in an area of new construction and a lot of "flips" so there is no "real exact" data but several pending sales which some appraisers refuse to use. Good one's do use them, or should I say educated, experienced appraisers use them. See we get these appraisers from Broward county to come down to Homestead and they think that PoDunk Homestead is still cheap farm land. So prior to leaving they already can not believe that a house could even sell in Homestead for over $200,000 because they are clueless.

Back to the buyer. This house sits on one of the largest lots in an area of new constructions where they are all very close together. This yard can take a pool which 90% of the lots can't. That there is valuable and will be in great demand when this purchaser sells. Sad thing is the purchaser is coming from a market that is slow he had his home up for sale since last October just getting an offer on it he was happy. He feels he is overpaying for the house and the Seller should reduce the price to $305,000, he is pretty emphatic about it. The seller laughs. The buyer will most likely let this home go and end up renting paying out $1600-$1900 a month to live in the same house costing him in upwards of $24,000 in one year's rent. This more than covers the difference in the appraisal. Word has it if the buyer can not get his lender to review the appraisal and work out the loan details, the owner is going to re-list at $339,000 why not? It is a great home, on a large lot and the next educated buyer will buy it.

What can I do, it's a sellers market... guess I will look up some rentals for him.

Update: Buyer and Seller were able to negotiate a remedy and Buyer is getting the home!

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Interest Only Mortgages

I read this post regarding interest only loans at
At Mortgage Matters he posts:

"...About a book called "Missed Fortune 101: A Starter Kit for Becoming a Millionaire," by Douglas R. Andrew. I haven't read it yet, but from glancing at it, it appears that Andrew is suggesting that people get zero-down, interest-only mortgages so they can free up money for investments. He preaches that "equity has no rate of return when it sits idly in the house."

"My mortgage broker friend believes that Andrew's message is catching on, and that a lot of homeowners will want to get interest-only mortgages and transform as much of their equity as possible into liquid investments. I am skeptical of the wisdom of treating one's home primarily as an investment vehicle and secondarily as shelter. I have the book and I'll read it."

I have several investment properties myself. But I think a bit different. I do long term investing meaning I don't flip my properties. I put at least 10% down sometimes 20%. This enables me to get the lowest possible payment when I rent out the home I get the highest rent possible. So for instance, I bought a $70,000 home (now worth $125,000) interest only, 20% down. My payments with taxes and insurance are around $400 a month. I get $750 a month income. That is $350 a month. You are correct in saying I am not paying down the loan which is fine with me. The income I am receiving off my initial investment of $14,000. $350 x 12 = $4200 minus a vacancy rate of 10% (that's high) That gives me $3780 a year. Basically I have recouped my down payment in 4 years and gained equity by the market appreciation.

Further... If I do not "need" the $350 a month income to live on and put the Entire $3780 at the end of the year towards the mortgage I could have the home paid in full in 10-15 years. See the loan is interest only. If I send $3780 towards the principle this reduces my loan balance which in turn reduces my monthly payment which in turns increase the amount I get from the rent (with out charging more). The bank wants me to stay on a 30 year mortgage so they re-adjust everything, they don't want me to pay it off. I know it is confusing...but it makes sense.

There are flex saver loans that are interest only, line of credit on your first. Meaning if I pay down the original balance I actually have checks that I can write against the equity in the house based on the original balance. I never have to apply for a line of credit I am given it basically at closing. Plus I can put down 10% and pay no PMI. And the payment due date is the 15th of the month not the 1st of the month like a standard mortgage. For investment properties that is great...Tenants do not always pay on time.

When looking at getting a mortgage do some research. Ok, do a lot of research. There are TONS of different loan programs out there.

I plan on buying the book. I enjoy this stuff!

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Job Reviews

I had to pencil this out for sanity sake. My husband has a very strong powerful job where they are VERY shorthanded due to the "training" it takes for this position. My husband is a it about him keeps us neutal. There were 4 major catagories that he was rated on. Three VERY well one even said exceptional. Now again can I say shorthanded....and in one category they said he missed the mark. I said to him this evening, "If I had a 75% ratio of satisfied customers I'd be happy. I'd love it to be 100%!" But to each his own. Sometimes I did not click with the Seller all that well or even the buyer. There were Buyers that I was not there for at their "beckon call" because I had other buyers or sellers needing my attention too and I "picked" where I should be. Just like he picked where his attention was needed most. I hope and feel that I make 100% of the people I work with happy but I know I don't, and I know I can't. I can not be there for all. No one can. And to think you can...can drive you nuts. I have realized over the years that I do know Real Estate, and I do know investing, and I do know how to be a friend (you have to be one to have one) and I do know when I screw up. We are all human, and I applogize when I screwed up. My life is NOT a rating or a scale of performance but a day to day task. I hope others do not view their life as a "progess report". But realize if you are a good human soul you will do the best you can day by day honestly. That is what I try to do. I told my hubby to forget it...move on. That is what I love about this business... it is real moves on.

You know one of the biggest lessons I learned over years was a quote my mom used to say to me when after I got married and my husband was in the service and out to sea for months..."Stand up grab your ass and deal with it." So I did.

Real Estate Taxes

Ok, since I brought it up earlier I want to also make you aware of the Homestead Exemption/Tax Cap. Here are bits and pieces of an article posted in the Tampa Tribune on March 1st.

When Patsy Bourassa's father passed away 11 years ago, she vowed to help her then-64-year-old mother repair her deteriorated home.

Bourassa moved back to the Palma Ceia house her parents had owned for 40 years and surveyed the damage: a rotting roof and front porch, termite damage and no central heat or air.

They made small fixes to the 1925 bungalow, and Bourassa later decided to borrow money to do the rest. She got estimates, and a bank agreed to loan her $75,000. But first, the bank said, Bourassa needed to put the south Tampa home in her name. Her ailing mother, Violet Hamilton, signed over the home to her without a second thought.

It was that decision in 2000 that eventually cost them the house.

"It tears at my heart every day that I did that to my mother," Bourassa now says. "I was just trying to make her house a decent place to live in."

The problem arose because Hamilton had homestead exemption, which had kept her property taxes from increasing more than 3 percent each year. The three-bedroom, 1,618- square-foot home that had cost $8,000 in 1964 was paid for. Hamilton paid about $1,400 a year in property taxes, even as properties in the prestigious Palma Ceia neighborhood appreciated.

However, when the deed was transferred into Bourassa's name, the homestead and tax cap were removed. The county reappraised the home and adjusted the property taxes to reflect the new value of more than $200,000.

Over the next two years, the taxes almost tripled to nearly $4,000 a year. That caused Bourassa's monthly payment on the home equity loan to rise from about $450 to $1,216. Bourassa, now 46 and a financial specialist for the University of South Florida, couldn't afford that kind of increase and was forced to sell the house in 2004....

...Florida homeowners have enjoyed protection from rising property taxes since the Save Our Homes amendment to the Florida Constitution passed in 1993. Those with homestead exemption get $25,000 off of the taxable value of their primary residence. This saves the typical homeowner an average of about $600 a year, Shepherd said. Plus, the taxable value won't grow more than 3 percent a year for as long the owner lives in the home...

...The sticker shock isn't limited to situations such as Bourassa's. New homeowners inherit the previous owner's taxes for the remainder of that year, but when the county appraises the value the next November, the taxes are adjusted.
Issue: Property tax disclosure with fines of $500/$1,000 per time and suit for damages up to 5 times tax difference

RAMB launched an all out push to get every Commissioner contacted to address our concerns and request support for deferral instead of final approval on Tuesday.

Mandatory Meeting

Got a phone call yesterday from the secretary at our office that said there was a mandatory meeting at 1 pm. I asked what it was about she said the title company is doing a presentation on how "Sureclose" is going to work. Sureclose is through First Fidelity Title and they scan all the docs on the internet so your clients can view the progress of the closing. I had an inspection at 2 pm so I knew there was no way to do both and I hate meetings. Being the good realtor that I am I went to the office meeting. Drove 45 minutes in Traffic, meeting started 30 minutes late and lasted 5 minutes. We HAD to attend the 5 minute power point presentation so we could get our Login and Password....could not have just emailed it to me? Well standing in the room another realtor says don't you two (I was talking to someone else) work the Homestead Market. We both said yes. She said I am talking to this guy who wants to list his "flip" in the new development Waterstone and the sub-development is Portofino Lakes. She goes to say did you know the Turnpike runs right across his back yard? How do you deduct for this? Could not help but laugh and I asked her does he know about the Turnpike. She said no. He and his buddy investor bought it. The called the sales office and they faxed him the paper showing the lots. They picked this corner one looking at the lake. She said the Turnpike is no where shown on this map but it goes right over his back yard and lake! I asked if he had closed with the builder yet? She said he going to on Friday. I said find out how much he has down he may want to back out. I explained on top of the Turnpike does he know about the CDD? She said no what is that.... read on.

Long story short. I wake up this morning and this is in the paper.

Dozens sue; claim Lennar misled them
More than 35 Homestead homeowners have sued Lennar Corp., alleging that the Miami home builder hid their true tax burden. Lennar would not comment on the suit.
Dozens of homeowners in South Miami-Dade County sued Lennar Corp. on Wednesday, claiming that the home-building giant deliberately misled them about anticipated property taxes and homeownership costs they would have to pay.
The suit, filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, was brought by 37 homeowners who purchased single-family homes and town homes at two Lennar developments in Homestead, called Floridian Bay Estates and Floridian Isle...
Amid South Florida's real estate boom, property taxes have jumped as real estate values skyrocketed. But these plaintiffs, who closed on their homes in 2003 and 2004, allege it was not a red-hot real estate market that caused higher-than-expected tax bills, but rather that Lennar misrepresented how high they would be...
One Floridian Bay Estates homeowner, told The Herald that Lennar projected her tax bill to be $3,200. Instead, it turned out to be more than $7,700.

The plaintiffs also allege Lennar asserted that community development district fees -- which pay for roads, utilities, and subdivision amenities like pools and parks -- would be a one-time fee. Instead, according to the suit, such assessments aggregated to $30,000 per homeowner and are to be paid out over 30 years. Further, such assessments can be increased by the community development district board, which is currently controlled by Lennar, according to the homeowners.
''I didn't know I was going to be taxed in Homestead,'' said xxxx, a plaintiff in the suit who owns a home in Floridian Bay Estates. ``And I didn't realize the CDD was going to cost me anything after I closed. You have to tell me what I am paying for when I buy it.''

Residents in the two Homestead subdivisions, which are located in a larger residential community called Waterstone, didn't receive their first full-year tax bills until November...

Investors beware..... check out what you are buying and ask LOCAL EXPERIENCED agents who work the market what is going on in the area before you buy. Go to
for info from the homeowners themselves.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Real Estate Investing

I am getting several emails and lots of phone calls regarding investing in real estate. It is all over the place... is there a bubble?... did I miss the ride?....are prices too high?...

I have been doing real estate for 15 years and in 3 different states. Each being extremely different. I was in Washington when market times were at least 90-120 days and you had to "stage" the home in order to get it sold. I have been in NJ where you have a 4 day attorney review where the home is not "pending" for 4 business days after both parties have accepted the contract and in the mean time during those 4 days more offers are pouring in at higher prices and buyers getting bumped. A very frustrating market for buyers but great for sellers. The buyers would be paying well above list price and somehow they all appraised. Here in Miami it is a sellers market, no "staging" here (I just wish seller would at least clean their home) but once a buyer and seller agree on a contract it is pending and only back up offers are accepted so we do not get many that go above list price. Yet we still struggle with appraisals coming in lower than contract price.

Do I think there is a bubble? No. Not by any means. Do I think you missed the ride? No get on board. Do I think prices are too high. NOPE. Not yet anyway. If you compare prices with other Metro Areas such as NYC, Seattle, Chicago we are not there yet. Many markets in Florida were undervalued for years. In Brevard County for 10 years my mom's house was worth $95,000 just the past two years has it become worth just over $200 where it should be. So I think it some areas it there have been Market adjustments.

Those of you wanting to invest, there are a few great books I would suggest. Skip all those no down payment, seller to carry the contract etc. and read these:

Rental Houses for the Small Successful Investor by Suzanne Thomas
The Unoffical Guide to Real Estate Investing by Martin Stone and Spencer Strauss

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

I got this email this morning. I had just had a converstion with my husband last night how it seems if something strange is in the air. People are acting odd, stressed etc. I was wondering if it is because of the time of year. Holidays are long past, the end of the school year is getting closer and things just don't seem normal.... then I get this.

Subject: Land
I live in NYC now & planing to move to FL. March 22 I
am planing to come to sauth FL to do land shoping. At
this point I want to get a low $/acre AG land with
investment prospect for future to subdevide (later). I
also like some lake/river/wetland in the acreage so
that I can do some fish farming. I also like tropical
fruit farming for particular ethnick group in a non
frost zone.
Can you please do a search with $200k( for cash
buying) & another up to $.5 M. You can send me some
link at this address. Let me look at them & will call
you soon.

I might need a vacation.

Bankruptcy Reform


CALL FOR ACTION: Bankruptcy Reform

Tell your Senators to vote for bankruptcy reform today. This week, the U.S. Senate will debate S. 256 the "Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005." S.256 contains four provisions that REALTORSÒ have wanted:
* Eliminates the cap on single-asset bankruptcies;
* Provides protections for shopping center owners;
* Closes the loophole which allows rental housing tenants to avoid eviction;
* Requires homeowner and condo association fees to be non-dischargeable.
NAR has lobbied for bankruptcy reform for five years. It's time to get it done.
What You Need to Do
Simply click on the "Take Action" button on this screen. The letters are already written for you and are just three computer clicks away from delivery directly to their offices.
If you cannot access the "Take Action" feature, just log on directly to the NAR Action Center ( to send letters to both of your U.S. Senators asking them to vote for S. 256Act.
The window of opportunity in the Senate may close quickly on this issue. Tell your Senators it's time for bankruptcy reform, NOW.

Click here for more information on Bankruptcy Reform,