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Greenness: The Green Cities Movement

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

While we might not all agree on how or why, it’s clear to most of us that the climate has faced some extreme weather conditions in recent years. While scientists and politicians debate these issues, local governments in cities around the world are working proactively to respond to future threats of environmental challenges. And this ‘green cities’ movement has had a proven financial impact on the cities that have tried it.

Europe has really taken the lead in this, London recently named The World’s First National Park City. This means it will re-imagine its green locations and improve outdoor space for wildlife and humans alike. Its goal is to reduce its carbon footprint and enhance biodiversity while planting more greenery with becoming a more sustainable city.

Organizers of this greenness campaign plan to name at least another 25 cities by 2025. Newcastle and Glasgow have already signed on, with many more coming online soon. They are hoping, with more cities on board, that the cities can then communicate interdependently. Cities can share information with each other, coordinating useful data for all.

Benefits Of Green Cities

  • Physical Health

  • Mental Health

  • Reduction in Extreme Heat

  • Alleviate Pollution

  • Potential Mitigation of Climate Risks

By 2050, studies show that 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities. This campaign is a massive undertaking which needs to benefit both people and the environment. With increased public demand, greener options and openness to new ideas, this campaign will have the ability to change how cities operate in the future.

Miami, Your Next Home

The city of Miami has taken its own measures in joining the world's green cities, a process which involves much of the ideas and values of this campaign. Luxury Living Listings is your key to finding your next condo or home of your dreams. Call on us today to view any of the properties available.

 

Miami and Why Property Investors Are Still Investing

Sunday, February 09, 2020

In any industry, it’s always a good sign to see investors still investing. The real estate market, specifically, is still going strong, especially in the Miami area. According to various studies, nearly a fifth of all homes sold in the south Florida area are being bought up by property investors to this day, a number which is up 1.3% from this time, last year.

And investors typically know what they are doing.

What Is A House Flip?

Investors are buying single-family homes to either flip, which is buying at a low cost, fixing up and reselling at a much higher cost, or buying them to rent out. This is great news for moneymakers but does not help already-high housing costs. For anyone on a low or fixed income, this can easily take them out of the running to become a new homeowner or renter of these properties. They have just become too expensive.

This study also found that the Miami metro area ranked #3 on the list of the highest percentage of home sales bought by investors in the United States. Miami is third only to St Louis and Birmingham, Alabama.

Miami has an advantage to some other locales. With the international diversity of the Port of Miami, this affords properties to be flipped and if not, then rented out, still making it a win-win scenario. Due to these advantages, the median home sale price in Miami has now upticked to a whopping $370,000.

Whatever Your Needs, We've Got You Covered

There are always deals to be had and money to be made, whether you're one of Miami's many interested property investors or just someone looking for a new home at a great price. With Luxury Living Listings, we can help you locate the perfect home suited to your needs. Miami has many great real estate opportunities that are just waiting for you in the warm south Florida area. Call on us, today, to let us start the search for you.

 

Is Miami One Of The Smart Cities?

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Smart phones. Smart watches. Smart fridges, toasters, televisions, and...cities? All of these are real things, but what does the “smart” in “smart devices” actually mean? And what about those smart cities?

A smart device is any everyday object that has been “made intelligent” by adding with a computer and connecting it to the Internet. This connection has led to the formation of something known as “the Internet of Things” or IoT, which is shorthand for objects being connected online.

Take a watch, add a digital interface, and give it Internet access, and it becomes a smart watch. Do the same thing with glasses, clothing, earphones, cars, and other day-to-day objects, and the same applies.

But what was that we were saying about smart cities?

A Closer Look At Smart Cities?

Smart cities are defined as any metropolitan city that uses digital technologies across the entire city in order to carry out its functions. Through various digital methods, this tech optimizes the city’s functions and drives economic growth. This can include anything from improving the quality of life for citizens to improved data analysis for helping refine various important processes.

Collected data works serves dozens of great purposes. These include:

  • managing and monitoring traffic and transportation systems

  • power plants

  • utilities

  • water supply networks

  • waste management

  • crime detection

  • information systems

  • schools

  • libraries

  • hospitals

  • community services

Sensors collect electronic data from a variety of means; citizens, devices and assets. With the hopes of improving communication and development functions, they work to gain the most accurate, up-to-date data. With city officials reviewing the accurate data while integrating the information and communication technology (ICT), the city can easily see where improvements can be made.

It is a very structured, ongoing learning process, for which most smart cities have gained much positive feedback from their citizens and can only be a beacon for potential new residents. It offers much more information than we have had previously. City officials compare it to taking a magnifier to their city and seeing things they never had before.

Is Miami A Smart City?

According to South Florida Business Journal, Miami is leading the way of becoming the model smart city in South Florida, and possibly the nation.

Considering a move to or within the Miami metro area? Contact the real estate experts of Luxury Living Listings to find what you’re looking for. And happy home hunting!

 

Are You Ready To Stop Renting?

Monday, January 13, 2020

We’ve all had experiences with modern advertising, by this point. Follow a link to a car dealership's website, and you'll find ads for pre-owned Cadillacs and Kias in your mailbox for weeks. Mention to a friend that you want to take a trip, and your phone could literally hear you and gear all of your ads toward timeshares and other vacation packages.

Sometimes, this is pretty annoying. Other times, you'll start to wonder if you don't sort of need exactly what you're being sold. After all, would they try to sell you so hard if you hadn't gone looking that first time? Or mentioned it to your coworker?

Buying a home is a prime example. And there are a lot of great reasons to own instead of rent, right now. So join us today, as we take a closer look at five signs you're clearly ready to stop renting and become a homeowner.

Five Signs You Are Ready To Stop Renting

  1. You Just Want To Own. Period.

    If you’re ready for the responsibility of homeownership, that might be all the sign you need. After all, if you don’t have a green thumb, you don’t have to go out and work 10 acres of land. Anybody can maintain a moderately sized home, provided they actually want to.

    With so many options out there to match your lifestyle, and some of the best real estate agencies to date willing to help you find your perfect match, now is a great time to be a homeowner.

  2. You Have The Down Payment Saved Up For.

    You’ve been counting your pennies and foregoing your craft coffees for the last six years, all in preparation for this moment. Typically, 20% down is needed for better rates and more favorable terms, but you’ll know all about that because, like we said, you’ve been saving.

    If you’re ready to pay the mortgage, outright, you’ll also be able to avoid private mortgage insurance, which accounts for 1% of the purchase price and is paid annually.

  3. You’ve Accounted For All The Extra Fees.

    You’ve done your research and are up to date on the additional costs it takes to own a home. Your mortgage will be the highest cost, but expect to pay taxes, insurance, maintenance and, sometimes, association fees, as well.

  4. You’ve Checked Out Your Neighborhood.

    It is always useful when potential homeowners narrow down their search to a specific area. It’s important to drive through at different times of the day and on different days, just to scope out if that lifestyle matches yours. It’s a decision that may just keep you there for years to come, so it needs to be done right.

  5. Owning Is Cheaper Than Renting.

    Rental rates are skyrocketing in neighborhoods around the country, and owning can actually be less expensive in many examples. Do your research, find out what your options are, and be honest with your needs. You may actually find this works better than any other option, by far.

Next Step, Contact A Real Estate Agent

Considering purchasing in Miami, in 2020? Contact a company that knows Miami like the back of its hand. Luxury Living Listings is here to help you, to answer any questions you may have about the buying or selling process.

 

Pollster shake-up casts shadow over Trump's big 2020 launch

Monday, June 17, 2019

(CNN)President Donald Trump plans to spend this week triumphantly setting course for a second term, but turmoil within his campaign is hinting at alarming liabilities in his bid for re-election.

Trump aides said Sunday that several pollsters have paid with their jobs after revealing lagging early swing state data that raises doubts over Trump's ability to make political lightning strike again in 2020.
The firings are casting a shadow over Trump's huge Florida rally on Tuesday night to formally inaugurate a re-election campaign that in reality started even before he took the oath of office.
Sources told CNN that the President has been angry for days about the internal polls leaked to the media last week that showed him losing to Democrats, including Joe Biden, in states like Michigan and Wisconsin.
Trump's campaign has publicly pushed back against data that it says is weeks old and doesn't reflect the current situation, especially after the conclusion of the Mueller investigation.
But privately, a person familiar with the situation told CNN that the dismissals were less to do with the quality of the pollsters' work than about pacifying the President.
Trump typically fulminates against polls that show him doing badly while cherry picking others, that however dubiously, appear to show him in a more favorable political position.
In a Monday morning tweet, the President warned his followers not to believe any polling that showed him trailing Democrats.
"Only Fake Polls show us behind the Motley Crew. We are looking really good, but it is far too early to be focused on that. Much work to do! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!" Trump wrote.
The 40 wildest lines from Donald's Trump's birthday appearance on 'Fox and Friends'
The 40 wildest lines from Donald's Trump's birthday appearance on 'Fox and Friends'
Going after Biden
But the latest campaign intrigue may offer a window into some of the uncertainties and potential weaknesses that surround Trump's re-election campaign at the moment he plans to amp it up.
Any softening of the President's popularity in the blue-collar Midwestern heartland would set warning signals flashing inside his camp given his relatively narrow path to re-election.
Whomever comes out of the 20-plus field of Democrats to face the President will have to be prepared for a man who is adept at attacking his rivals, as evidenced during the 2016 campaign and throughout his presidency.
Trump accused Biden of flip-flopping -- most recently on abortion -- under pressure from more radical Democrats in an interview clip released over the weekend.
"He has recalibrated on everything," Trump told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos. "Everything he's said he's taken back two weeks later because he's getting slammed by the left."
Signs that Biden -- the Democratic frontrunner -- is a serious threat would further play on Trump's mind on a topic over which he has spent considerable time agonizing, sources say.
The President even attacked Biden during a recent trip to Japan -- using assaults on the former vice president's mental capacity by North Korea's official media -- to back up his case.
The leaked polls could have a double electoral consequence in that they appear to bolster Biden's central campaign argument that he is the Democrat most likely to dispatch Trump in 2020.
But more fundamentally, a candidate that cannot bear to learn the truth about his own campaign is not one who can be considered in a strong position on the eve of its formal launch, or who can easily make tactical adjustments all successful re-election bids require.
The campaign that never ended
Early state polling is not always predictive of how a race ends. And other first-term presidents have often looked more vulnerable than they turned out to be after months on the trail.
Incumbent presidents — especially those steering a strong economy like Trump — have historically had a clear advantage when seeking a second term in office.
And few politicians are as good at defining and eviscerating a campaign trail foe than Trump. So in many ways, the 2020 race will not begin until there is a Democratic nominee.
Yet the President cannot offer as an excuse for worrying poll numbers the usual incumbent's argument that he has been so consumed with governing that he has had no time for politics.
In fact, his kickoff rally in Orlando on Tuesday night expected to feature an overflow crowd and include Vice President Mike Pence and first lady Melania Trump, may be the most superfluous campaign launch in US political history.
Not only did Trump never stop running after his staggering 2016 election win, he has devoted almost every day since to defending the legitimacy of his presidency and positioning for re-election.
Crafting his message
In thousands of tweets, scores of rallies, multiple speeches, and friendly TV interviews, Trump has celebrated his 2016 triumph and obsessively cultivated his political base.
He spent the weekend setting the tone for his re-election push, blasting Democrats, the Russia probe, the media, touting his border wall and warning of a national disaster if he loses.
In a tweet, the President boasted that the economy was setting records "and has a long way up to go..." typically augmenting reality in leveraging his best argument for re-election.
"If anyone but me takes over in 2020 (I know the competition very well), there will be a Market Crash the likes of which has not been seen before! KEEP AMERICA GREAT," he wrote.
Trump has generally sought refuge in friendly interviews inside the conservative media machine in recent months. The ABC interview appeared to be an attempt to engage a wider audience. But the plan may have backfired because it delivered days of unflattering headlines for the President as individual excerpts were released.
Trump's tweets offer a nutshell introduction to his re-election strategy that will likely be fleshed out on Tuesday: Make exaggerated claims for his own success, tear at cultural and social fault lines that helped him win power, and whip up anger against those he defines as political enemies.
His rhetoric in recent weeks also suggests Trump will make a case to Republicans who backed him in 2016 that he's worked tirelessly to honor his campaign vows and proven to be a great deal maker — despite debatable evidence.
He will highlight the lowest unemployment rate in half a century, gutted government regulations, the travel ban his aides say kept Americans safe, the elimination of a key Obamacare mandate and increased defense spending by NATO members.
He's already raised nearly $100 million for the "Keep America Great" campaign and has crushed dissent within the GOP to ensure the best possible chance at a unified party in the re-election effort.
Donald Trump's cash machine grows stronger as Democrats prepare for primary brawl
Donald Trump's cash machine grows stronger as Democrats prepare for primary brawl
Rallying the base in the battleground states
Washington buzz about turmoil in his campaign polling machine is unlikely to penetrate the crowds drawn from Trump's uber-loyal political base — especially in Florida where he racked up huge turnout in 2016, particularly in the northwestern panhandle area.
But the decision to begin there rather than in his midwestern bastion is a reminder that the Sunshine State will be vital if 2020 is even closer than 2016 should some of his heartland battlegrounds return to Democratic control.
Trump's entire presidency so far has been a bet that the fiercely loyal grass roots voters who helped him win in 2016 will do so again against a Democrat not named Hillary Clinton.
The theory of Trump/Pence 2020, initiated in unusual campaign rallies during the presidential transition, has disdained broadening his base in favor of keeping voters who idolize him motivated and sufficiently angry to return to polling places in huge numbers.
The 17-month race to Election Day that Trump will preview in Florida on Tuesday night will test whether that strategy is a shrewd bet on a nation that is more polarized than in previous decades.
Or it could reveal that Trump's tumultuous presidency did not just succeed in electrifying his base — but sparked a Democratic backlash that could ultimately send him home to New York.
That's why the leaked polling data from inside Trump's campaign — whether it reflects the current state of the race on the ground or not — could be an early danger sign for Trump in 2020.
CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Jeff Zeleny, Jeremy Diamond and Sarah Westwood contributed to this report.

 

Trump tries damage control after offer to foreign spies

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump threw up a smokescreen of deflection and confusing counter attacks Thursday as a furor mounted over his staggering comment that he would be open to dirt dug up on his 2020 opponents by foreign powers such as Russia or China.

The President even implied -- clearly erroneously -- that he had been merely referring to the content of his conversations with foreign dignitaries such as the Queen of England and Prince Charles when he made the remark in an ABC News interview.
Even in a presidency that long ago burned through all conceivable superlatives, Trump's statement was a stunner.
This was more than a mere candidate calling on Russia to find Hillary Clinton's emails. It went further than dumping on US intelligence agencies by believing Russian President Vladimir Putin's smirking denials of election interference. Or Trump's claims that the Kremlin's 2016 interference caper is one big Democratic hoax.
Trump says he would accept dirt on political rivals from foreign governments
Trump says he would accept dirt on political rivals from foreign governments
This was the President of the United States -- the man charged with protecting the Constitution, American democracy and the Western world -- sitting at the Resolute desk in the Oval Office, saying he would accept damaging information from Russia and China on his 2020 Democratic foe.
"I think you might want to listen. There's nothing wrong with listening," Trump told ABC News on Wednesday.
Anchor George Stephanopoulos brought up FBI Director Christopher Wray's warning that anyone who received incriminating information from a foreign power should call the bureau.
"The FBI director is wrong," Trump said, anger hardening his voice. He denied that interfering in American elections -- as Russia did in 2016 to help him win -- is even a problem.
"It's not an interference. They have information. I think I'd take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I'd go maybe to the FBI, if I thought there was something wrong," the President said.
Then again, Trump had said moments earlier: "I don't think in my whole life I've ever called the FBI."
On the morning after his interview broke the President launched a sometimes nonsensical Twitter tear, apparently seeking to fog understanding of his remark and to offer his defenders ammunition to push back against his critics.
"The fact is that the phony Witch Hunt is a giant scam where Democrats ... and other really bad people, SPIED ON MY CAMPAIGN!" the President wrote in one tweet.
New calls for impeachment
Play Video

Pelosi: Impeachment is not off the table 01:19
The immediate political effect of Trump's interview was to fan more Democratic calls for the President's impeachment -- and to make House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's life more difficult.
"It is past sad. It is past frustration. This is criminal. It is criminal. And we need to hold this president accountable," Democratic Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Michigan, told CNN's Erin Burnett.
"I feel we have to begin that process," said Lawrence, one of a growing minority of Democratic House members urging more robust action against Trump, referring to impeachment.
It would not be farfetched to argue that the President's remarks in themselves might end up as part of an impeachment case if things ever get that far.
The Democratic Party's 2020 presidential candidates competed with one another to hit the impeachment talking point -- suggesting the growing power of the argument even though the Russia investigation is not a dominant 2020 issue.
"The #MuellerReport made it clear: A foreign government attacked our 2016 elections to support Trump, Trump welcomed that help, and Trump obstructed the investigation," Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, tweeted.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said he was not shocked since he believed that Trump does not respect the Constitution.
"I believe the House should begin impeachment inquiries," Sanders told CNN's Anderson Cooper.
And Sen. Kamala Harris of California -- the state's former attorney general -- tweeted: "China is listening. Russia is listening. North Korea is listening. Let's speak the truth: this president is a national security threat."
Anything it takes
Play Video

Clapper stunned by Trump's remarks to ABC 01:39
But the political consequences of Trump's statements on Wednesday may pale in comparison with the intelligence and national security problems they will seed.
The President did not just risk the integrity of the 2020 vote, he reinforced the already strong impression that he would do anything it takes -- anything -- to win. Since he has the power of the presidency, that's a troubling thought.
Given that reality, any foreign entity that helps him in 2020 might expect all kinds of unspecified accommodations in policy or otherwise -- one reason why Trump's private meetings with Putin so trouble his opponents.
US intelligence partners wary of Barr's Russia review
US intelligence partners wary of Barr's Russia review
If he takes dirt from a foreign power, the President could then place himself in a dangerous, compromised position.
While US intelligence agencies -- and even the White House -- say they are doing everything they can to protect the election, the most powerful man in the world is signaling he doesn't care and would be willing to undermine those efforts.
And it may not even matter if any dirt gleaned on his opponents is true, since the Russian effort in 2016 showed that rumor and misinformation can be just as powerful as genuine information.
Trump's swipe at Wray will also spark new speculation about the position of the President's second FBI director.
There was no immediate comment from the bureau.
But will it even matter?
Play Video

John King knocks GOP 'selective outrage' over Stone raid 02:47
The lesson of Trump's two-plus years in power is that convention-shattering comments like these will do nothing to crumble the rigid GOP base of support that sustains his presidency.
On the evidence of past kerfuffles, Republican senators can be expected to dodge and hedge. Conservative pundits will deny he did anything wrong. And his White House may accuse journalists of taking him out of context or deny the evidence on tape that the President said it at all.
Every Trump-engineered outrage ends the same way, with his critics fulminating and the President untouched and unrepentant, reinforcing his brand as a flamethrower torching the structures of Washington governance, as he promised his fans he would.
Trump knows what he's doing. He makes such incendiary statements well aware that they will unleash a media storm that will explode heads in Washington, further divide the nation and agitate the political base he needs to turn out in droves in 2020.
By now, it's almost as if Trump is intent on demonstrating that in the turbulent political era he spawned there are no enforceable standards of minimally acceptable public conduct. That his power cannot be constrained and reality is what he says it is. Yet another presidential constraint obliterated, and a new outrage will be along soon.
The cost to democracy
Play Video

Elizabeth Warren: Impeachment not about politics 04:56
That is not to say there will not be reverberations from the President's interview. In the real world, there will be political, practical and intelligence implications.
After all, he's inviting anyone to play in the process that ultimately underscores American democracy. If elections have no integrity, the public's faith in those to whom it grants power cannot be guaranteed and the system will be in severe jeopardy.
Trump's comments represented a particular repudiation of special counsel Robert Mueller, who even in his taciturn way made an impassioned plea for Americans to protect their democracy.
On the first page of the Mueller report, the special counsel writes that Russia interfered in the 2016 election in "a sweeping and systematic fashion."
At the end of his news conference last month, Mueller strove again to get his message across with the final act of his assignment: "There were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. And that allegation deserves the attention of every American."
Trump delivered his response on Wednesday, taking issue with the central pillar of Mueller's case -- effectively arguing that the targeting of an opponent by a foreign espionage operation is acceptable.
"It's called oppo research," Trump told ABC.
Adding insult to injury, the President also flagrantly misrepresented Mueller's account of multiple meetings between his team and Russians in the 2016 campaign: "In fact, it said we actually rebuffed your friends from Russia; that we actually pushed them back -- we rebuffed them."
Mueller did not find a conspiracy between the Trump team and Russia. But he wrote in the report that "the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts."
The ultimate question posed by the special counsel's parting warning and Trump's response is whether Mueller's plea will resonate, or whether another presidential restraint will dissolve in plain sight.

 

What to know about new seller disclosure rules in Miami-Dade County

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Starting June 14, 2019, home sellers in Miami-Dade County, along with their agents, will need to adhere to new disclosure rules related to special assessment district (formerly known as a special taxing district). In an email sent to members of the Miami Association of Realtors, the organization’s government affairs office elaborated the most important changes to the rule impacting real estate agents and their clients.

What is changing?

According to the Miami Realtors bulletin, beginning June 14, “sellers will be required to disclose that their property is located within a special taxing district via an addendum to the residential contract for sale and purchase.” Miami Realtors members will see this updated addendum in Form Simplicity, the digital transaction management service available through the association.

What is a special assessment district or special taxing district?

Special Assessment Districts (generally known as special taxing districts) are entities created at the request of homeowners or HOAs and managed through a division of Miami-Dade County’s Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces department. According to the county, at least 1,000 such districts are in place throughout the area, covering some 271,000 households. Special taxing districts serve as a funding mechanism for various services or improvements shared by a single community. Some common uses for special taxing districts include:

  • Garbage disposal
  • Community security guards
  • Street lighting
  • Installation of water or sewer utility lines
  • General maintenance (such as landscaping)

Homeowners located within a special taxing district pay a share of the fees to fund these services as part of their annual property tax statement from the county. However, these fees are not technically the same as property taxes — they are assessed “on the basis of benefit [non-ad valorem] rather than property value [ad valorem] and they are assigned to specific properties rather than all properties within a general taxing district,” per the county’s website.

What should agents do next?

The Miami Realtors Association advised members to first determine if any of their listings are within a special taxing district. This can be accomplished through an online search. For any properties within a special taxing district, agents will just need to ensure the seller signs the new disclosure.

The association also pointed out that after hearing input from its government affairs team, Miami-Dade officials drafting the new disclosure rules did not adopt more stringent language that would have required sellers to disclose any of the following:

  • The dollar amount of any fees levied through special taxing districts.
  • Any pending petitions to create a new special taxing district that would affect the seller’s property.

The home seller also does not need to record the disclosure with the county clerk and pay a recording fee.

 

How much Miami homeowners saved on taxes last year

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

A new report by John Burns Real Estate Consulting attempts to quantify and forecast the real estate impact of 2017’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and takes stock of some measurable aspects of the law’s effects about a year and a half after its enactment.

The researchers who wrote the report calculated the law’s impact for a typical two-person married household filing jointly in 32 major metropolitan areas and found that in 2018, the law was responsible for an average savings of $1,508 in tax savings across those markets.

In Miami, those savings penciled out to $1,382 for a married couple filing jointly. Nashville offered homeowners the most tax savings of any major city, at $2,335 on average.

Before the new tax law’s passage, experts had predicted that it would disproportionately benefit those in Republican-leaning states in the South and Midwest. The John Burns researchers’ conclusions largely support this prediction, with the top six metros for tax savings in states that went for Trump in 2016. Still, a few large metros within blue states, including Boston, Chicago and Seattle also showed a lightened tax burden for homeowners owing to the new tax law.

Homeowners in the San Francisco Bay Area fared poorly. Those who purchased homes in 2018 paid an average of $899 more in San Jose and $1,409 more in San Francisco than they would have if they’d bought before the law’s implementation. The newly-imposed cap of $24,000 on the state and local tax and mortgage interest deductions is cited as the direct reason for the spike in these homeowners’ tax bills.

In every other metro included in the study, households that fit the researchers’ criteria saved money on taxes after the implementation of the new tax law.

 

How and why your clients undertake remodeling projects

Monday, June 10, 2019

Spending stats and project types

Typical renovation spending by Miami homeowners was above the national median, at $20,000 compared to $15,000 nationwide. The survey also found that the share of homeowners investing less than $5,000 in a remodel ticked up from 16 percent in 2017 to 19 percent in 2018.

Kitchens retained their spot as the favored remodel target. But they also remained the most expensive. The median remodel price tag for a kitchen jumped to $14,000 in 2018, from $11,000 in 2017. This marked a 27 percent increase, and the next most expensive project was a distant second: master bathrooms at $8,000.

Though kitchens steal the show, technology is working its way in slowly but surely. Security upgrades continued to gain popularity in this year’s edition of the report, with an average annual growth of 20 percent over the past three years. Similarly, outdoor security is having what report authors characterized as a “major moment,” with nearly 50 percent growth year-over-year. In terms of smart-home tech, millennials are 1.5 times more likely to upgrade home automation and are two times more likely to upgrade to a smart thermostat than baby boomers. Still, one in four millennials rank smart-home technology as a low priority overall.

Driving factors

While 57 percent of respondents said their main reason for undertaking a remodeling project was “wanting to do it all along and finally having the time or financial means,” the second most common response was “wanting to customize a recently bought home.”

Of course, time spent in the home played a role as well. Sixty-one percent of long-term owners said their main driver in deciding to remodel was that they “wanted to stay” in their current home. For recent homebuyers, 56 percent cited personalization as the most important factor. In terms of priorities, 88 percent of homeowners sought to improve their home’s design, and 81 percent were looking to improve functionality. Next on that list was resale value, at 67 percent.

What your clients need

The study found the majority of respondents get professional help during renovations. Despite the popular conception of millennials as avid DIYers, the gap between Gen Y and baby boomers in terms of how likely they are to hire professional help is relatively small (82 percent versus 89 percent, respectively).

While 29 percent of respondents said their top challenge was “finding the right service providers” in 2016, that number grew to 32 percent in 2018. That was tied for first place with “staying on budget.” As for the types of pros you should have on your referral list, Houzz found more than half of respondents hired a specialist such as an electrician or a plumber, more than a third hired a construction manager, and one in five hired an architect or a designer.

 

Real estate in brief: Fannie and Freddie plans, LGBT house-hunting and more

Friday, June 07, 2019

Fannie, Freddie conservatorship plans in final stages

Long-discussed plans to take Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac out of their government-controlled conservatorship status and return ownership to private shareholders may be nearly complete. The Wall Street Journal reported May 30 that according to anonymous sources, the Treasury Department and the Federal Housing Finance Agency could release the first detailed roadmap of the privatization plan as early as this month. Sources also said that the plans include measures that would protect Fannie and Freddie in the event of another crisis like what happened in 2008, the event that led the U.S. government to effectively nationalize the two mortgage firms.

However, the Journal noted that based on discussions with “former officials of the companies and housing market experts,” the act of returning ownership of Fannie and Freddie could prove “daunting.” That’s because the companies would need to secure new funding, most likely by selling new shares on the stock market. To ensure that Fannie and Freddie have enough capital to cushion the blow of another housing market panic, they would need to raise an estimated $125 billion from the stock market, far more than any publicly traded company has ever raised by selling shares. Even when plans are released to the public, though, they could still change after input from the Trump administration or Congress.

Mortgage rates move lower still, opening up refi opportunities

The average rate on the standard 30-year fixed mortgage fell to its lowest level in almost two years, according to a June 6 report from Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey. At 3.82 percent, the fresh low reached last week could benefit existing homeowners paying down mortgages, not to mention buyers currently shopping for a loan. According to Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sam Khater, around $2 trillion in outstanding mortgage debt may now be eligible for refinancing at a lower rate, even loans originated less than a year ago when interest rates were approaching 5 percent.

Affordable LGBT neighborhoods around the U.S.

For LGBT residents looking for affordable places to live, there are several urban areas categorized as “gayborhoods” nationwide that have homes valued under $300,000 as Zillow found. Most LGBT-friendly neighborhoods have premiums that are too high for most members of that community, such as West Palm Springs, California, where a typical home costs about $1.2 million. More affordable places include San Antonio with a median home value of $111,500 in its LGBT district, which is about 37 percent less expensive than the typical San Antonio home. The most expensive LGBT neighborhood listed by Zillow was in Chicago’s Edgewater and Lakeview, where the average home value was nearly $300,000. This was a 30 percent premium compared to average values in the market as a whole.

Wells Fargo pledges $1 billion for affordable housing

Wells Fargo & Co. pledged $1 billion in a philanthropic mission supporting affordable housing for six years. As the bank faces previous scandals, efforts to clean up its reputation are underway, with the company also supporting small businesses and helping consumers manage their finances through other programs. Citigroup Inc.’s Brandee McHale will oversee the company’s new philanthropic push.

Congress approves flood insurance

Right in time for hurricane season, Congress passed a bill to extend the National Flood Insurance Program by four months as part of a disaster aid bill following large storms including Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Residents with federally-backed mortgages on properties on 100-year floodplains are required to purchase flood insurance by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. That number of people is projected to increase as much as 45 percent by 2100 due to climate change. The National Association of Realtors predicted that a lapse in the NFIP would delay about 40,000 home sales a month since buyers would not be able to get funding for their loans.

 

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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

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