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Home listing growth accelerates to near 4-year high

Monday, January 21, 2019

At a key moment for the U.S. housing market, Redfin found more evidence that homebuyers are entering 2019 in perhaps the strongest position in years. The number of homes for sale in the nation’s largest markets grew 4.8 percent year-over-year in December 2018, the fastest rate of increase in 42 months, according to a new report from from the brokerage.

“Now that price growth has slowed down and more homes are sitting on the market, buyers will have the upper hand in 2019,” Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather said in the report. “Buyers will have more options with more homes for sale, and it will be sellers working to woo buyers into making an offer.”

In the same report, Redfin showed home price growth slowing to an annual rate of 1.2 percent last month, the lowest rate of price increases seen since 2012. Boston was one of the largest cities to see a decline in price appreciation (down 1 percent over December 2017). At the same time, the number of home sales closed in December fell nearly 11 percent year-over-year.

This combination of factors, along with an unexpected drop in average mortgage rates, has emboldened buyers and is helping to bring sellers to the table with more reasonable offers.

“Buyers shopping now are benefitting from sellers who are willing to negotiate, since it’s anyone’s guess what the spring real estate market will look like,” said Seattle-based Redfin agent Jessie Culbert in the report.

Still, Culbert elaborated that this apparent shift toward a buyer’s market did not equate to sluggishness. “Well-priced, appealing homes are seeing the return of pre-inspections and even multiple offer situations, so it may be too soon to get comfortable with the idea of a slower market,” he said.

Homes sold in the 76 largest U.S. metros tracked by Redfin fetched a median price of $289,800 in December. Listings spent a median of 50 days on the market, which was unchanged from a year earlier. Slightly fewer homes sold for more than their list price compared to December 2017 (18 percent this year vs. 21 percent last year).

Redfin highlighted Miami for its apparently bold sellers, who tended to list their homes for more than the estimated value generated by the company’s proprietary algorithm. More than 84 percent of Miami’s residential listings in December were priced above their Redfin estimate, the most of any market analyzed in the report. Median sales prices also grew an impressive 6.9 percent, to $295,000. The total number of homes for sale in Miami grew 7.1 percent.


This Week in Miami Real Estate: iBuyer expansion, office deals and more

Monday, January 21, 2019

Zillow’s iBuyer program that offers cash for homes listed on its website will expand into five more markets, including Miami, this year.

Zillow Offers is the company’s recently rolled-out online platform that can quickly provide a cash offer to homeowners who choose to list their homes through the service. Zillow’s cash offer is valid for a certain period of time, but the owner is under no obligation to accept. If he or she does accept, Zillow then purchases the home and handles the sales process. Other major real estate firms, including brokerage brands operated by Realogy and NRT, have recently unveiled similar iBuyer platforms on a limited scope. Zillow Offers is currently available only in Phoenix, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Denver and Charlotte, South Carolina. Miami will join Dallas, Raleigh, Houston and Riverside as the latest cities to join the program in 2019.

In other local real estate news:

  • RE/MAX Advance Realty and RE/MAX Dynamic of Tampa will host a seminar about becoming a “Top Producer Mastermind” in Miami Jan. 25 at the Killian Palms Country Club. Anthony Askowitz, managing broker of RE/MAX Advance, will join RE/MAX Dynamic CEO Andrew Duncan and real estate trainer Orlando Montiel at the free seminar. Agents, brokers and other real estate professionals are welcome to register for the event and happy hour following the discussion.
  • WeWork signed a major lease for OKO Group’s 830 Brickell tower, which is slated for delivery in 2021. The Real Deal reported the fast-growing coworking company signed a lease for 10 floors in what recent plans say will be a 712-foot mixed-use tower. WeWork claims the lease may be the company’s largest coworking space in Florida once completed, at 140,000 square feet total. Having recently rebranded as The We Company, WeWork is among the nation’s fastest-growing startups, although it has come under scrutiny for some accounting practices in advance of a planned IPO.

Real Estate in Brief: Opportunity Zone delays, single-family rents and more

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

New federal tax breaks available to real estate investors and developers under the Opportunity Zone program have already attracted billions of dollars from funds set up to utilize them. But the program’s complex, unfamiliar rules has also generated questions, many of which are going unanswered due to the federal government shutdown, which became the longest in modern U.S. history this past weekend. The Wall Street Journal published a story Jan. 15 featuring interviews with Opportunity Zone fund managers and partners who feel left in the dark at a critical time for the federal program that promised to stimulate blighted urban and rural areas. With the Treasury Department shut down since Dec. 22, numerous real estate investment firms that set up Opportunity Zone funds recently have complained that they have no ability to move forward on actually putting investor capital to use in the zones until the government reopens.

Several details on the mechanics of the tax breaks behind the Opportunity Zone program remain uncertain, even as money continues flowing to fund managers. The Journal estimated that at least “a few dozen firms” around the U.S. have raised Opportunity Zone funds valued between $100 million and $500 million each. The Treasury Department previously speculated that the tax break could eventually funnel $100 billion in capital to the more than 9,000 qualified zones around the country. The clock is ticking though: Unless the rules are updated or renewed, the tax breaks will expire after 2026. Investors are anxious to get in on the action soon, before the benefits diminish substantially.

In other news:

  • The hottest U.S. housing markets of 2019 are also expected to be some of the hottest job markets, according to a new Zillow report. In its analysis of home values, rents, population growth, income and unemployment trends, Zillow ranked San Jose, California, as the hottest home market once again. But not all winners are traditional hubs of high-tech jobs and talent. Orlando, Florida, ranked No. 2 on the list thanks to its reasonable median home value of $233,700 and anticipated 2.8 percent population growth. Atlanta ranked No. 4 with a median home value of $215,000, a typical household income of more than $65,000 and 1.6 percent anticipated growth.
  • Corelogic released a report on monthly rents for single-family home rentals, a market that has taken off in many cities where owning a detached home has become too expensive for the average household. Corelogic found that rents on single-family homes are increasing at a rate of around 2.9 percent annually as of Nov. 2018. In some cities, single-family rent growth is much higher: Las Vegas topped the list with 6.7 percent single-family rent growth in the last year. Rents on these properties also increased by more than 3 percent in both Atlanta and Miami.
  • The world’s largest hedge fund manager and one of the most prolific asset management groups around today, is getting into commercial real estate in a big way. The Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 15 that Blackstone Group was nearly finished raising a planned $20 billion for what would be the largest real estate investment fund ever. Blackstone has already invested heavily in distressed commercial properties throughout the U.S. and internationally, and plans to continue those efforts across other commercial properties. The Journal noted that since Blackstone usually finances real estate purchases with $2 of debt for every dollar of equity invested, the fund’s real purchasing power is actually closer to $60 billion.

South Florida home sales over $1 million increased in 2018

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

More South Florida homes and condos sold for at least $1 million in 2018 compared to the previous year, according to a luxury market report from The Keyes Company. Across Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Martin Counties, single-family home sales in excess of $1 million were 14.7 percent above 2017 levels, while condo sales in the same price range grew 26.6 percent. Federal tax reform drove some of this sales growth, according to Keyes CEO Mike Pappas, although once-skeptical sellers played a major role, too.

“It is important to understand that in addition to the tax reform bringing scores of buyers from the Northeast, the increased activity was also a function of the market adjusting its pricing,” Pappas said on the 2018 luxury report. “Sellers of luxury properties in South Florida became more realistic about where the market is at from a pricing standpoint. The average list-to-sell price declined by 15 percent year-over-year.”

An influx of buyer interest combined with a renewed eagerness among sellers to create a strong luxury home market in South Florida last year. Keyes vice president Kevin Leonard noted that many luxury buyers were retirees and even cash buyers, lured more by the lifestyle of South Florida communities than anything else, such as a perceived investment opportunity. Cash sales in the South Florida luxury market were up more than 10 percent for single-family homes, and more than 27 percent for condo sales.

“The federal tax reform took shape early in 2018, allowing plenty of time for buyers from tax-heavy states to understand the impact and close on South Florida luxury home and condo purchases,” Leonard said. “This should continue to be a major catalyst for our market going forward.”

The median sales price of both property types remained relatively stable, however. Single-family homes sold for at least $1 million last year held onto a median price of $1.6 million, while the median price on a luxury condo grew 2.7 percent, to $1.5 million.


Guide to minority-owned credit unions

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

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Credit unions are often the best banking and credit solution for low- to moderate-income families. Lower interest rates on lines of credit and higher earning potential for savings accounts make local credit unions an attractive option for many, but minorities in many communities can find even more value from working with a local credit union.

Credit options for minority communities

A credit union is a member-owned, non-profit financial institution where members can deposit money, take out loans, and open a new credit card. Twenty-eighteen has been the fastest growing year for credit unions since 1986, in part because of the value they can offer niche community groups and minorities.

Credit unions have the ability to cater to the specific needs of their communities, specifically low-income earners and minority groups. According to the National Credit Union Association, “minority-owned and managed credit unions play a critical role in providing financial services to communities that have been traditionally underserved or unbanked.”

By using a minority credit union, one can support a local business while getting services that address specific pain points that affect a certain audience or community.

Another banking option, minority depository institutions (MDIs) are often small community banks associated with an ethnic minority group. These institutions usually provide services to specifically benefit the minority community in which they serve.

While it may seem that these institutions, whether credit unions or MDIs, cater only to a specific minority population, they aim to serve any person, regardless of race or ethnicity. There are some great benefits to joining one of these banking options in your community, although you should consider all of your options before making a decision.

Community benefits of minority credit unions

Some advantages to using a minority-owned bank or credit union include reinvesting in your community and helping underserved members of your community build assets and credit, manage debt and build generational wealth. Doing this not only benefits those individuals and their families but adds value and stability to your entire neighborhood.

African American Credit Unions, for example, serve some of the most vulnerable communities in the U.S.

According to the 2017 FDIC Household Survey, “recent declines in unbanked rates have been particularly sharp for younger households, black households, and Hispanic households.” When banks don’t fit the bill, communities have taken initiative and created their own solutions, including minority-owned banks and credit unions.

The advantages and disadvantages of minority credit unions states that credit unions are “the best choice for low-and-moderate-income earners. [Minority] credit unions help their members build assets and credit, manage debt, and lay the foundations for building generational wealth.”

While it’s no secret that minority-owned credit unions can offer benefits that larger banks or financial institutions cannot, they aren’t always the best fit for an individual’s needs. In some cases, a national or international bank may make more sense for you; it’s important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages in order to make the best decision for you and your family.


  • Credit unions often offer more favorable terms: higher interest rates on savings accounts, lower minimum deposits, lower annual fees, lower APRs on credit cards and loans, and more.
  • They offer payday alternative loans. PALs allow members of some credit unions to borrow small amounts of money at a lower cost than traditional payday loans and allow you to repay them over a longer period.
  • They cater to your specific community. These are local people from a local institution that are serving your community specifically, not areas throughout the entire country. It is personal and personalized to you and for you.
  • You’re supporting your community. Utilizing these minority credit unions serves your community. Help these institutions become more mainstream for your neighborhood.


  • Your accounts are tied together. In a process called cross-collateralization, a credit union may link your financial products. For example, although you may not know it, your credit card may be tied to your checking account, meaning that if you default on the card, in theory, the credit union can pull the funds from your checking account. They can do this if they believe you will default, even before your payments are due.
  • Credit unions may want a little more from you and may hold you to more obligations than a larger bank. If you don't have excellent credit, you may be asked to take financial education or money management classes, which a traditional bank likely wouldn't do.
  • Credit unions are vulnerable to market swings. Because credit unions are local financial institutions, a severe economic downturn could damage the credit union. (However, even if your credit union falls on hard times, members are protected for up to $250,000 by the National Credit Union Administration.)
  • Credit unions are limited by area. Credit unions serve specific areas and neighborhoods, and they rarely make up large chains. If you travel often or plan on moving communities in the near future, a local credit union may not be the best option.
  • Credit union credit cards are not likely to have the rewards of major rewards credit cards. It may be possible to find a credit union card with a sign-up bonus, as in the case of the PenFed Gold Visa $100 bonus after spending $1,500 in three months, but ongoing rewards may be hard to find. An alternative would be to use a zero interest credit card.

If you do decide that a local credit union is the best option for you, make sure to research what is available in your area. Here is a list of minority-owned credit unions in the U.S. to help jumpstart your search.


8 'must-do' steps to sell your home this year

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Most sellers dream of a stress-free sale where they simply list their house, quickly find a qualified buyer, collect the cash and hand over the keys. The reality is that selling a home includes many moving parts -- some which you can control and some that are out of your hands.

For example, geography might influence how long your house lingers on the market and how much mark-up you can get away with.

In places where inventory is low, odds are you'll be able to sell faster and command a higher dollar amount. Conversely, in places where home sales have begun to cool, homeowners will likely have to wait longer and work harder to make that sale.

Before you feel helpless in this home-selling machine, what you can control turns out to be pretty substantial and will likely have a noticeable impact on your bottom line. Things like hiring an effective listing agent and maximizing curb appeal can convert effort into dollars. Here's what experts say homeowners should do if they want to sell their homes in 2019.

1. Recognize that every market is different

You can't really compare your state, town or neighborhood to what's happening miles away, says Louise Rocco, realtor for Exit Bayshore Realty in Florida. She explains that, above all else, pricing your property around the average sales price in your neighborhood is a good starting point.

"If you put your house on the market for $25,000 more than the average sales price in that area, it's probably not going to sell," Rocco warns.

Similarly, a house three miles away might be scooped up in a week whereas your neighborhood market might move slower. This could be because of school districts, nearby amenities and even age of the homes in the neighborhood.

An effective way to value your house and prove that value to buyers is to get comparables, or "comps." These are data sheets about recently sold property in a specific area. At a glance, you can get an idea of what houses are going for around you and you can price yours accordingly. This is a good starting point and will help you manage expectations throughout the process.

2. Get your home inspected

"Before I would even call a real estate agent, I'd have my home inspected," says attorney Diana Brodman Summers, author of "How to Buy Your First Home."

According to Home Advisor, basic inspections range from $270 to $378. Although some real estate agents advise against spending the money because the buyers will get one anyway prior to closing, Summers believes it's often better to be proactive..

"I would rather know what the inspector is going to find and be able to fix it -- and pick who will fix it," she says.

By being a few steps ahead of the buyer, sellers might be able to speed the selling process by doing repairs in tandem with other home prep work. This means, by the time the house hits the market, it should be ready to sell relatively drama-free and quickly.

3. Spruce up your space

Let poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's words be your battle cry when attacking a well lived-in house: "In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity."

Experts agree that less is more when it comes to staging your house to woo buyers. In other words, your refrigerator magnet collection and assortment of antique dolls might need to find another home during open houses.

By decluttering your space, you're allowing prospective buyers to imagine their stuff in your house. Alas, this is your ultimate goal: their stuff in your house, in exchange for money. If shelves and bookcases are overrun with personal photos, framed diplomas and vacation souvenirs, then it still looks more like your space and not their future abode.

Spend a few hours clearing off your shelves, tucking away wires and cords, and simplifying counter spaces -- that includes your electric toothbrush and excessive kitchen gadgets. Likewise, tidy up your outdoor space. Toys, lawn equipment and sporting gear shoved in every corner will make your lawn and patio area look smaller, darker, dirtier and older. It's better to put everything in one hidden spot than to scatter it around throughout your property.

If your home isn't appealing and in good repair, potential buyers might not even stop. You might even lose the chance to negotiate, says Eric Tyson, co-author of "House Selling for Dummies."

"You want to put your best foot forward," Tyson says.

You don't need to renovate, but make sure everything looks great and works well.

There are some things you can do to make your home stand out:

  • New paint. Paint the whole house, if it needs it; otherwise touch up the trim, shutters and doors for an easy-to-achieve fresh look.
  • A clean entryway. Sweep or pressure-wash the front walk and porch. Polish the outdoor metalwork; clean the windows and glass; and replace any burnt-out bulbs in outdoor lighting. And, if you can, add planters with healthy flowers or plants.
  • Lush landscaping. Think new mulch, sharp edging, a healthy lawn and beds of flowers.

4. Don't waste money on needless upgrades

If you're going to go beyond a deep clean and actually invest money into costly upgrades, do your homework. Make sure that the additions or updates you make have a high return on investment. It doesn't make sense to install new granite counters if you stand to break even or even lose money at sale.

Here's where a good real estate agent can help guide you. They often know what people expect in your neighborhood and can help you plan upgrades accordingly. If local shoppers aren't looking for super skylights or a steam shower, then it doesn't make sense to add them.

Generally, updates to kitchens and bathrooms provide the highest return on investment. So if you have old cabinetry, you might be able to simply replace the doors and hardware for an updated look. For example, you can swap out those standard-issue kitchen cabinet doors for modern, Shaker-style doors in a weekend, without breaking the bank. The same goes for outdated fluorescent lighting, which can be swapped out for more attractive track lighting or pendant lights.

5. Spend the money on professional photographs

Now that your house sparkles and shines, schedule a photo shoot to capture its best side. A professional photographer, with a strong portfolio, knows how to make rooms appear bigger, brighter and more attractive. The same goes for your lawn and outdoor area.

Dimly lit, grainy mugshots can turn off home buyers before they even have a chance to read about the lovely bike path nearby or the new roof you just installed.

A package of 50 or more photographs, with aerial shots -- courtesy of those handy drones, cost about $400 or less, says Matthew Kalb, broker at Commercial & Residential Realty in Las Vegas, Nevada.

"If you don't need to show off a golf course or mountain view then you can skip the drone shots and get a photo package for as low as $200," Kalb says.

6. Hire an agent -- particularly one who knows the market

Homeowners might be tempted to save on broker fees and commission by forgoing a real estate agent and instead selling their homes themselves. This is known as "for sale by owner," or FSBO.

The amount they stand to save on those fees can be thousands of dollars, usually 6 percent of the total sale price. On a home that sells for $300,000, for example, the agent will make roughly $18,000 if they charge 6 percent.

Tempting as that extra cash might be, the risks usually outweigh the benefits, especially for novice sellers, says Kalb. For one thing, your house won't be exposed to the broadest possible audience and that may cut the number and size of any offers you do get.

"There are certain disclosures sellers have to make and rules they have to follow, which vary from state to state. Inexperienced sellers could end up breaking laws and jeopardizing the sale," Kalb says.

If you're among the majority of homeowners who hire a listing agent, find one who knows the local market. Agents who are in the neighborhood day in and day out have relationships with other local agents (who represent buyers in the neighborhood) and can help you price your home competitively for the specific area you're in, Rocco says. This kind of local advantage can save you time and money.

7. Interview real estate agents

Asking potential agents the right question could be the difference between a great experience and miserable one. Rocco recommends asking prospective agents about their recent listings. If the agent hasn't sold property in a few years or has listings but few sales, these could be red flags.

"My advice is to get referrals. Don't just rely on an ad," Rocco says. "There are a lot of agents who are busy so you might not get the attention you need. Find out how much time they can devote to your property and how they plan on marketing it so you can meet your sales timeline."

8. Set a realistic price

Even in competitive markets, buyers don't want to pay more than what the comps show, so it's crucial to get it right the first time.

"If a house lingers on the market too long, it gets stale," Rocco says. "Agents will use this against sellers when negotiating. Homeowners need to listen to their agent when it's time to price their home."

If you're not using an agent, check the local paper or sites like to see how similar houses in the area are priced. Tracking actual sales prices may give you a better picture than asking prices.

Christopher Dyson, founder of real estate company The Pocket Listing Service, says that getting the price right the first time can save sellers a lot of money and frustration. Dyson and his partners designed the PLS tool, which allows sellers to list their property privately on a website that only agents have access to. This gives sellers a testing ground for prices before they list their property on the market.

"As an agent, I know how tricky it can be to walk the line between getting the maximum value for property and going over," Dyson says. Sellers using the tool learn to adjust their asking price when they're not getting hits.


This Week in Miami Real Estate: Lender acquisitions, office openings and more

Monday, January 14, 2019

Miami-based mortgage lender Movement Mortgage announced Jan. 9 that it planned to acquire several retail branches from Eagle Home Mortgage, the financing arm of Lennar Corp. Terms of the deal have not been fully disclosed, but HousingWire reports it will involve the acquisition of 35 retail branches and around 230 employees of Eagle Home. Movement estimates it could ultimately add $1.5 billion in mortgage origination volume per year to its books. While Lennar and Eagle Home are headquartered in the Miami area, the branch acquisitions are mostly concentrated in the Pacific Northwest and Mountain West regions, including states like Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Colorado.

Movement currently counts 650 branches of its own as well as 1,500 loan officers nationwide.

“We want to grow, and we relentlessly look for purpose-filled, growth-minded mortgage professionals who want to make a meaningful difference in their industry and communities,” Crawford said in a statement. “We found all of those qualities and more in the team at Eagle Home Mortgage. I’m excited and honored to welcome these talented individuals to Movement.”

  • Also this week, Eagle Home found itself at the center of a lawsuit filed in Pinellas County Circuit Court. The Tampa Bay Times reported Jan. 7 that a former Eagle Home employee alleges in the court filing the lender approved mortgages for unqualified buyers, made misleading statements to convince borrowers to sign and committed other acts of fraud. The former employee further claims she was fired for bringing these issues to the attention of her superiors. Eagle Home and Lennar did not comment on the suit, citing a rule against discussing pending litigation. Eagle Home did recently settle cases with the U.S. Department of Justice, which alleged the company failed to fully comply with federal lending standards in some instances.
  • Douglas Elliman expanded its South Florida presence with the opening of its first office in Coral Gables Jan. 7. The office at 1515 Sunset Drive will eventually accommodate around 75 agents, according to a press release from the company. Maggie Buck will take over as the office’s chief broker after having served as managing broker at the firm’s Miami Beach office. New York-based Douglas Elliman now counts 20 Florida offices in total.
  • Boca Raton developer SobelCo. is celebrating the topping-off of 321 Water’s Edge in Fort Lauderdale Jan. 15. The project is a collection of 23 luxury estate homes in two- and three-bedroom plans with prices starting at $2.2 million. Douglas Elliman Development Marketing is handling sales of the homes, which are scheduled for delivery this summer.

How to Use Photographs to Tell Your Property’s Story (And Sell It Even Faster)

Friday, January 11, 2019

Want someone to remember your message? Don’t just tell them — show them.

Humans are visual beings yet words are what we turn to more often today to communicate a message. Research shows we’re not only processing visual information faster, but we remember it better too.

For real estate professionals, that’s worth noting.

Curb appeal has been important to selling homes forever. But how do you generate curb appeal in the digital age when 90% of homebuyers start their home search first online?

During their online search, 89% of buyers report that photographs are a “very useful” feature. Having spent a number of years leading the marketing for a real estate photography and visual marketing company, I’ve seen this confirmed in practice time and time again. Clearly, appealing imagery is essential to intriguing buyers.

So, how do you get it?

1. Know Your Brand Personality

Real estate pros can borrow a trick from top brand marketers who are experts in creating an emotional connection with buyers. Successful brands have a personality — a story about who they are and their place in the world. That story makes an emotional connection.

Translated to home buying, we know people aren’t just purchasing a house — they’re investing in their future and a lifestyle. Think of that lifestyle as the brand or the story of that property. What could living there look like or feel like? The best source is to talk to your seller. Ask them what they love about the house as well as the surrounding area.

2. Showcase the Listing’s Potential

Real estate professionals now have plenty of tools at their fingertips to showcase a home’s potential, such as virtual staging. A vacant basement can be virtually redecorated as a man cave or a second family room; a spare bedroom becomes a stunning home office, a workout room or even a nursery.

Virtual redecorating can also appeal to buyers’ varied tastes and preferred styles. Tech tools make it possible for real estate professionals to abandon the “one-size-fits-all” approach to marketing a listing. Staging gives you the flexibility to showcase a variety of styles, helping the buyer envision their life in that home. By appealing to more preferences, you can attract a larger set of prospective buyers, which can result in a faster sale and a higher sale price.

3. Bring A Listing’s Story to New Heights

When it comes to providing a high-level view of life in a new home, aerial photography and video can tell a story that ground-level still photographs would never capture, such as a beautiful setting and/or community features like a pond, playground, or tennis court. Done well, “dronography” is unparalleled for creating that sense of story that gives a property a personality or brand.

There are now certification requirements and FAA rules guiding drone usage. While many hobbyists have taken up drone piloting, beware of the pitfalls of taking a DIY approach. It takes time and money as well as skill to pilot a drone and manipulate the camera for high-quality video.

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. When it comes to presenting a property, though, the right images might also be worth many thousands of dollars.


Miami Realtors host groundbreaking for cargo container concept home

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Miami Association of Realtors hosted a groundbreaking event Jan. 9 for a one-bedroom home in South Miami built from a metal shipping container, the first of its kind in the area and a prototype for what could be an economical, mass-produced home design. Designed and built by Little River Box Co. and Cobo Construction, Miami Realtors and local officials hope the container home could spur a new trend, demonstrating a functional solution to the affordable housing shortage afflicting the area and much of the U.S.

“Not only are Realtors taking action and building a prototype to explore the challenges to this new style of housing, but we’re also partnering with Miami-Dade County on another endeavor — keeping properties affordable,” the fact sheet for the container home explained.

Turning shipping containers into shelter is not a new concept. Steel intermodal freight containers of the type used to built the South Miami concept home are ubiquitous around the world, making them relatively inexpensive to acquire. That’s made them easy to repurpose into mobile homes and various kinds of fixed structures. Miami Realtors hoped to exploit this advantage to demonstrate the effectiveness of the container housing concept as an affordable home solution.

“Within our defined space for development, there is tremendous demand for workforce housing, which begs the question, ‘How do we create more housing supply within our current boundaries to meet this demand?'” the home’s factsheet explained.

The South Miami container home is under construction at 6180 SW 63 Terrace, and will offer 480 square feet of indoor space on a 3,200 square foot lot. The home also will come with a deed restriction mandating it be sold at cost only to buyers with income that is 80 percent or less of the area’s median income (around $51,000 annually). Moving forward, the home must also remain affordable according to this metric for at least 20 years, and as long as the next 60 years.

Miami Realtors and the other development partners are hoping to list the home once it’s completed this summer for a price of around $140,000.


Miami suburbs see spike in renter population

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Renting has long been more popular than homeownership in some areas, but it’s increasingly shifting from a strictly urban phenomenon to a suburban one. According to data analyzed by RENTCafé, a few Miami-area suburbs ranked near the top of a nationwide ranking according to recent gains in renter households.

Plantation, FL ranked the highest in the Miami area, with its renter count increasing 53 percent over the last five years. The average rent in Plantation also increased 18 percent over that time period, to an average of $1,680, RENTCafé reported. Tamarac, Doral, Sunrise and Coconut Creek also saw their renter populations increase by 40 percent or more over the last five years. Of that group, average rents were highest in Doral ($2,150 per month), while rents grew fastest in Tamarac (24 percent in the last five years).

Miami’s status as a suburban rental hotspot isn’t surprising, given the high level of investment there from single-family rental companies. The Wall Street Journal reported in July that the Miami metro had the third-most detached homes owned and rented out by property management firms or institutional investors.

Renter households across all property types have grown faster than the number of home-owning households in the last 10 years. Economists speculate that Americans today are more reluctant to own a home due to higher costs and still-fresh memories of the 2008 housing crisis. At the same time, a group of investment firms capitalized on the surge of foreclosures that followed that crisis, buying up homes at bargain prices and then marketing them as rentals. As may be the case in Atlanta, these rentals cater to residents who prefer suburban detached homes or who can’t afford a centrally located urban apartment.


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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

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This Week in Miami Real Estate: iBuyer expansion, office deals and more
Zillow’s iBuyer program that offers cash for homes listed on its website will expand...

Home listing growth accelerates to near 4-year high
At a key moment for the U.S. housing market, Redfin found more evidence that homebuyers...

South Florida home sales over $1 million increased in 2018
More South Florida homes and condos sold for at least $1 million in 2018 compared to the...