Dear Friends,

Welcome to our Miami Beach Real Estate Blog. We are always looking for input so if you have any questions or comments we would welcome them.  We strive to get only to give the best to our community.  Look forward to hearing from you soon.   

Take Care,

Aug. 16, 2018

Who Should Attend a Home or Condo Inspection?

Who Should Attend a Home or Condo Inspection?

Buyers have the ultimate say as to who attends their home inspection. Buyers also have the authority to determine who they will use for the inspection. Real estate agents can suggest or recommend but it’s ultimately up to the buyer to choose the inspector. Because of this, buyers also have a say in who attends the inspection. In general, most real estate buyer’s agents will attend the inspection with their buyer but at the very least, buyers should attend as well.

In some cases, buyers may be unable to attend the inspection due to unrelated circumstances such as an out-of-town buyer or they are not able to leave work in time, etc. In these cases, the buyer’s agent should be on site to accompany the inspector throughout the property. Often times, the listing agent will provide the seller’s disclosure form to the inspector as a reference on what the seller already knows about the home. But in most cases, the buyer and the buyer’s agent will attend the inspection.

Should the Seller Be There?

The issue of whether or not sellers should attend the inspection is a complicated matter. Buyers cannot forbid the seller to leave the premises altogether during the inspection but most will willingly leave for several hours. We have come across extremely involved sellers that not only remain on site but accompany the inspector as well, shadowing their every move. This can not only agitate the buyer but complicate the inspection and distract from the purpose of the inspection. Buyers may not feel comfortable discussing problem areas or concerns freely in the presence of a seller or the listing agent. This is where a diligent buyer’s agent can advise the listing agent and the seller. An experienced buyer’s agent should be able to point out the negative connotations of a seller attending the inspection so that the process can proceed without uncomfortable issues.

Buyers should certainly accompany the inspector if possible but try and keep the attendees to a minimum. Too many parties involved may distract the buyer from concentrating on the issues at hand and asking necessary questions that arise. It’s important to concentrate on the property and understand the details that come with purchasing a home and land.

For more information, please contact me today! I would love to help put you in touch with an experienced home inspector for the Miami or Brickell area.

Related Resources:

Posted in Miami Real Estate
Aug. 9, 2018

Who Owns What in an HOA?

Who Owns What in an HOA?

In every community Association, whether it's a condominium association or an HOA for single-family homes, there are two types of ownership, common elements, and units or lots. Lots are typically used in a single family Association were common areas or common elements are more used in a condominium building or complex.

Common elements of those areas which are under the control of the Association. However, this doesn't mean that the Association owns them as each owner owns a percentage of those elements. The board of directors for the Association makes decisions on behalf of the owners to repair or replace these elements. The Association usually has some restrictions on the amount of money that the board can spend to repair or replace these items.

Units or lots are the apartments or homes that are owned in fee simple by all the members of the Association or the owners of that community. The recorded plats and plans will define each of these units or lots. Maintenance, repair, or replacement of anything inside the unit is under the control of the homeowner.

There's also a limited common element which is those common elements identified in the declaration or in the condo or Association plan reserved for the use of one or more but not less than all of the unit owners. This could be a balcony, patio, or backyard that is only accessible to each homeowner.

RELATED: What amenities should I be paying more for in a condo?

Some items that are controlled, repaired, or replaced by the Association:

  • Building siding
  • Roof material
  • Common area landscaping
  • Building or Association signage
  • Any common area amenities such as swimming pools, clubhouses, restaurants, playgrounds, hiking and biking trails
  • Development exterior lights or sidewalk lights.
  • Anything on the exterior of a condo building

Items that should be replaced and are controlled by the homeowner:

  • Interior appliances
  • Plumbing and electrical inside the unit. (Once plumbing goes outside of the unit it is the responsibility of the Association but be sure to check with the covenants on the details).
  • Interior leaks, fires, walls, and ceilings.

Each Association is slightly different so whether it's a home Association or a condo association, it's important to get a copy of the CC&Rs, which stands for covenants, conditions, and restrictions and will cover just about everything possible that the Association is responsible for as well as any rules and regulations that owners need to abide by.

For more information on associations for buildings in Miami, Brickell, and Miami Beach, give me a call. I can provide you with the details on just about any building in the area.


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Posted in Real Estate
July 23, 2018

Secret Home Deals in Miami on Feds Radar

Last year, a company called Flower of Scotland paid $1.13 million in cash for a three-bedroom condo in Sunny Isles Beach and the federal government wanted to know who the real owner was. It seems this is a new trend that the Fed's are looking into. This a Delaware based company has put money down and walked away with new condos before but their secrecy was stripped away in 2016 when the federal government and Treasury Department imposed a transparency rule on Miami-Dade County to look into attractive real estate deals and their dark money.

Basically, it's just asking that these anonymous cash buyers reveal their true self. But a funny thing happened, they stopped buying homes.

In our County, this first of its kind study found a 95% drop in how much cash these companies spend on homes. The decline began immediately after this ruling took effect. This study analyzed millions of home sales nationwide collective from local property appraisers and other real estate sites. This fall in transactions may give the federal officials ammunition to argue that secretive real estate deals can allow criminals to launder stolen money into these condos and home sprouting up around South Florida. Those that started this temporary transparency rule want to see these rules made permanent and expanded nationwide for obvious reasons.

Even though these larger companies are not buying homes at the rate they did before, are residential real estate market didn't drop out too much. Overall sales haven't changed even though prices have risen less rapidly than would otherwise be expected. Surprisingly, there's actually been an increase in cash purchases, which tells officials that they may just have found new ways to buy properties. These "shell companies" use cash to buy homes because those transactions allow buyers to evade certain rules employed by banks. It means that their identities and possible connections to criminal activity could remain secret. Our Miami-Dade County is where this rule has been most pronounced because this County and Manhattan seem to be the most luxury real estate markets that draw foreign money like a magnet.

Before the rule, 29% of all residential transactions were bought by these corporate entities. That number plummeted to just 2% afterward. It has stayed that way since. The change in behavior may reflect buyers seeking to avoid having to reveal their names to the federal government as well. You take away the anonymity and you can see the effect on the market.

It's important to note that this agency also issued a new rule in May of this year, quietly dropping the price threshold that triggers the reporting requirement. Previously, these shell companies had to report their owners when they paid cash for homes priced at $1 million or above. But now the limit is just $300,000, vastly increasing the universe of reportable transactions.

The study marks the first comprehensive attempt to measure the effects of this rule. It examines millions of homes between 2010 and 2017 from 17 different states including Florida. Under this rule, all corporate entities including shell companies, must report their true owners to title insurance companies involved in the sale. The insurers then pass the information on to the feds. The owner's identity is otherwise supposed to say secret. We understand there are legitimate regions to use shell companies including privacy protection, but criminal activity is of course, not one of them.

[Source - Miami Herald]

Posted in Miami Real Estate
July 18, 2018

How Do You Know You Need a Jumbo Loan?

It's true that a lot of homebuyers in Brickell and Miami are all cash buyers, but that doesn't necessarily mean that someone might not need a jumbo loan from time to time. With home prices well over $1 million, a jumbo loan might fit the bill when looking to a apply for a mortgage. So, what is a jumbo mortgage and when do you need one?jumbo mortgage in miami

Prices have certainly gone up across the US and in many places the need for a jumbo mortgage is inevitable. A jumbo loan refers to loans that exceed the limits set by the government-sponsored enterprises that by most home loans and package them for investors. These jumbo mortgages are any loan that exceeds the dollar amount loan servicing limits put in place by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. This also makes them nonconforming loans.

These limits are currently $453,100 in all states except for Alaska, Guam, Hawaii, and the US Virgin Islands where the limit is well over $600,000. The maximum loan amount can vary depending on which lender you choose. You can get a fixed or an adjustable rate jumbo mortgage with different term options. These loans can be used for your primary occupancy home or even investment and vacation homes.

So how do you qualify?

Jumbo lenders usually have stricter underwriting requirements because they are not backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. There considered a risk your loan but lenders have more to gain since the dollar value is higher and they can offer additional services to those who qualify. Eligibility requires higher credit scores, greater reserves, and a larger income, naturally. FICO scores must be at least 700 but even those with lower can qualify if they have a low debt to income ratio.

Eligibility should also means that the borrower has enough reserves or assets to cover between six and 12 months worth of mortgage payments. The down payment on jumbo loans is also larger, typically 10 or 20%. Learn more about the 10% down payment jumbo loan

Obviously, the benefits of a jumbo mortgage means that you can afford a higher priced home but interest rates might be higher as well. They are a convenient way to finance higher-priced properties and instead of getting to conforming loans to finance the property, the jumbo mortgage eliminates the need.

If you're in the market for a jumbo loan on a higher-priced home throughout Miami or Brickell please give us a call. I have lenders that specifically work with jumbo mortgage applicants and could help you get the right loan and terms for your needs.

Contact Todd Blair Search Properties

Posted in Miami Real Estate
July 12, 2018

How to Kill a Perfectly Good Real Estate Deal

How to Kill a Perfectly Good Real Estate DealIn today's real estate world, buyers know when the property hits the market almost immediately. With the Internet and updated real estate websites, homes can hit the market, be seen that afternoon and have an offer by dinnertime. Properties that sell quickly often come extremely close to the listing price if not over in hot markets. Buyers can look at all the pictures of a home, contact our agent and have an offer on the table within a few hours.

If a home is priced correctly, is in decent condition, and has a great location, chances are that home will sell fairly quickly. If the home doesn't have one of these three features buyers will typically move on. The longer a home sits on the market the higher the risk that the property won't sell for list price. If buyers do return to a home it's typically because the price has been lowered or they can't find anything better.

This is why time is one of the biggest things that can kill real estate deals. Not only the length of time a home sits on the market but during the real estate transaction as well. If parties do not respond in a timely manner or within the three day response time, the deal can technically be terminated by either party. If buyers submit an offer and sellers refused to return the offer, counter, accept or reject it technically dissolves.

Days on the market also can kill a real estate deal. "When a home first comes on the market everyone who is looking for a particular type of home in certain price range and location sees it right away online. If it does not sell, those potential buyers have moved on, and as time goes by, only buyers new to the market are discovering the home. By definition, that is a smaller group that all the buyers who are looking when the house first came on the market." [Washington Post]

Related: How to Sell a House in a Neighborhood with an Eyesore

Then you have the closing extension. During short sales and foreclosure time is definitely not on buyers or even a sellers side. A short sale is anything but short and typically takes anywhere from 3 to 12 months depending on the situation. Buyers need to be prepared to wait and have the patience for this type of transaction.

We recently had a couple that put an offer down on two different homes within about a two week period. The first home did not receive a response back from the listing agent or the seller and the three day waiting period expired. They proceeded to put an offer down on a different house in which they did receive a counter offer and negotiated to an acceptable mutual agreement. After this second offer was accepted the listing agent on the first home came back and accepted the offer, however, because the offer had expired, the buyer was no longer obligated to follow through on the first offer. Because the listing agent and/or seller neglected to respond to the buyer in a timely manner they lost out on a potential sale and killed the deal.

Related: 15 Signs Your Real Estate Agent is Not the Right One

Time is definitely a huge factor when dealing with real estate. Sellers don't want to wait too long for an offer and buyers need to respond in a timely manner in order for a transaction to continue on. Buyers need to be ready with pre-approved financing in order to make an offer in a hot market and sellers need to be ready to make a decision on pricing their home and on any potential offers that may come through.

For more information on pricing your Miami or Brickell home, getting pre-approved are finding the right property for your needs 


Posted in Real Estate
June 25, 2018

Loan Approval Letter - The Best Way to Get Your Offer Accepted

Oh home loan approval or preapproval letter is one of the best ways to get your offer accepted but did you know that there are three different types of letters?Loan Approval Letter - The Best Way to Get Your Offer Accepted

A preapproval letter means that you've already done the financial homework necessary to apply for a home loan. Sellers see that you can afford the home that you're placing an offer on, and you're more likely to get your offer accepted. Here are the three types of letters:

#1. Prequalification letter.

This is the most common letter in the easiest one to get. This allows you to go shop for homes within your price range because you know what you qualify for. Most real estate agents require this minimal prequalification letter before looking at homes. This means that your lender has pulled credit, and gotten an initial underwritten approval automatically. If you don't get this automatically then you need to go to the next step. This information has been provided by the buyer so it needs to be verified. This is a great first step to find out your credit history and score and how much home you can afford. The only downside is that there's not been any documentation to prove what the buyer has said about their credit history, income, and liabilities.

Getting Mortgage Approval After a Loan Modification

#2. Initial Condition Approval 

This process starts with all the initial information previously including pulling credit, getting an automated approval, and filling out an application, but it also means that it's been verified at this point. The buyer or borrower has sent pay stubs or tax returns, assets and liability information.

#3. Fully Underwritten Conditional Approval

This is the strongest and most accurate of the approval letters. It means that all the initial information has been filled out, the required documents have been reviewed, and now it's all been submitted for underwriting. This is the final approval and if a buyer has this approval, chances are the transaction will go through financially. The only other tasks that need to be done is to get a property address and appraisal. As long as the property appraises for with the borrower is looking to borrow, financing should go through. The only way financing would not go through at this point is if the appraisal comes in lower than the approved amount or the buyer makes some large purchase or financial mistakes between the time they were approved and closing on the property.

To get any one of these letters started, give me a call. I have a lot of resources for great lenders in the Miami area and can get you any type of letter would you need to make your offer the strongest possible.

Bidding Wars in Miami are in Full Effect

Posted in Miami Real Estate
June 19, 2018

Highest Priced Home in Brickell - June 2018

As of June 19, 2018, the highest priced home in Brickell is the Penthouse at 1425 Brickell Ave. featuring six bedrooms, seven bathrooms, and 8800 ft.² currently priced at $25 million.

Highest Priced condo in Brickell

The most stunning penthouse with the highest quality finishes and unique upscale design is this condominium at the Four Seasons Residence. Built in 2007, this beautiful home features spectacular master suites with expansive walk-in closet, wine cellar, media room, and one-of-a-kind features.

Highest Priced Home in Brickell - June 2018

The first thing you notice is the beautiful art; not just on the walls but also hanging from the ceiling. Beautiful sculptures, rounded windows, stunning features, and beautiful ceilings in chant this entire penthouse. The unique architecture and geographic geometric design make this a one-of-a-kind art piece in and of itself.

Highest Priced Home in Brickell - June 2018

Life at the Four Seasons Residences is like living the resort dream. Homeowners dues are $7853 per month and include all the highest quality amenities available anywhere in the city. Residents enjoy a lounge, business center, community room, high-speed elevator, fitness center, kitchen facilities, swimming pool, sauna, spa and hot tub, and much more. Pets are allowed and all amenities are included in the homeowner's fee as well as common area maintenance, pest control, several utilities, and building maintenance and management.

Highest Priced Home in Brickell - June 2018

This home features stunning views of the bay, Key Biscayne, the ocean, Miami Beach, and Fisher Island. The floor-to-ceiling windows allow for ample natural light, and the high end, modern kitchen is perfect for entertaining with a large island, breakfast bar, and plenty of storage.



Highest Priced Home in Brickell - June 2018

The master suite features a stunning master bathroom, 360 glass shower, plenty of storage, dual vanities, and expansive walk-in closet with shoe shelves, folding table, drawers, and multiple cabinets.

Highest Priced Home in Brickell - June 2018

No expense has been spared in this beautiful home nestled just seconds from Point View at the end of 15th Rd. Close by our high-end shops, restaurants, markets, and more and with a 93 walk score, 77 bike score, and 85 transit score, commuting has never been easier. Those with school-age children utilize the Southside Elementary school or the Air Base elementary school, the Shenandoah middle school, and the Booker T. Washington Senior high school.

Highest Priced Home in Brickell - June 2018

If you'd like to see this beautiful penthouse up close and personal please contact my office for qualifications and to schedule a showing.


More on Brickell Real Estate

Pre-Construction Condos in Brickell

Indulgence in Real Estate - 2018's Newest Luxury Trend

Safest and Most Durable Condo Buildings in Brickell

Most Walkable Condos in Brickell

Images courtesy of local MLS for Miami-Dade

June 11, 2018

Helping Foreign Buyers and Sellers in Miami

Helping Foreign Buyers and Sellers in Miami

"I met Kenny almost 2 years ago when I first started to search the property market on Miami Beach. As a Foreign National, I knew little about the purchasing process in the USA, but with his advice and extreme patience, we are close to reaching the dream. He has always been quick to answer my questions (of which there have been many!), and even viewed properties in my absence. Would I recommend Kenny to others? I already have!" - KR

We have a lot of foreign buyers in Miami. Whether you're buying a condo on Brickell, a Miami Beach estate, or townhouse in downtown Miami, investors and foreign real estate buyers account for at least 25% of all of my business. Working with those overseas whether in the military or foreign investors means that you sometimes have to do a lot of the work without the clients. Clients need to be able to trust their Realtors in finding the right home, showing homes in their absence, and communicating sometimes all hours of the day or night.

Because this is my full-time profession and I've done it for several years, I know how to negotiate both for my foreign buyers and 24 and sellers. Having local and technical knowledge means I can help my clients make sound financial investments and find the perfect property for their needs.

If you are a foreign investor or you're considering buying property in the Miami area give me a call. Let's discuss your needs and the current options available. We can set up a conference call, Skype or live feed phone call or however you like to communicate. I want this to be easy, effortless, and definitely something you'll do again. I look forward to speaking with you at any time.

Read More:

May 25, 2018

Patient Buyer Finds Exactly What They Were Looking For

May 15, 2018

Happy Seller in Miami Beach - Home Sold in Just a Few Days

Posted in Miami Realtor
June 6, 2018

New to Homeownership? Here's What to Spend Money on

Homeownership can be exciting, especially if this is your first time owning a home. But, if you haven't maxed out your budget buying the property, you've probably set aside some money for projects and home improvement. Before you dive into spending a boatload of money, here's what you probably should be spending your money on is a new homeowner.

New to homeownership

First off, do a project inventory. Take an annual inventory of all your home projects and things you want to get done. Estimate cost of time and materials. Consider outsourcing jobs that may be beyond your comfort level and budget a little bit beyond what you think you might need.

Make a timeline of what to repair and when. Just because you have 100 things you want to do as soon as you move in, doesn't mean that you'll tackle them all at once. Understanding the age and level of operation of systems in your home can help you predict upcoming costs. For instance, if your home inspector said that your furnace has 10 years left on it, find out how much a new furnace will cost and then divide that by how many months you have left on the furnace. Put that money aside each month so that when the time comes to replace it, you have exactly how much you need.

Another trick is if your appliances are about eight years old, it will cost half as much to fix them as it will to replace them. Weigh the cost of replacement with repairs.

Make a note of any home improvements that will increase the value. Not only do you want to improve the house while you live there, but you want to create more value so that if you do go and sell the house, the home has greatly increased its value.

Know when to outsource work. Time really is money and if you make $20 an hour, it may not be worth your time to do a project yourself. Consider how much your time is worth and if you'll make more money not doing the project yourself and instead hire out.

Don't forget to negotiate. Don't just take one workers word for it; get two or three estimates on major projects so that you can save money where you can and put it into materials or other projects instead.

If you're new to homeownership these are some great tips to get you on track financially. The last thing you want is to max out your budget and not have any money for repairs. With some simple organization and planning, you can tackle projects one at a time and slowly increase the value of your home.

Posted in Miami Real Estate
May 29, 2018

Affordable Homes in Miami? Is that a thing?

Affordable Homes in Miami? Is that a thing?Yes, you can still find reasonably priced properties in Miami but they are dwindling. And, affordability is all relative, right? An affordable housing payment is typically less than 30% of your income. That could be $500 to one, $5000 to another. The Miami-Dade County's competitive housing market makes it difficult to find moderately priced homes or condominiums and with our competitive market, having a preapproval letter is no longer the end-all to being accepted. What is the key component to finding a great deal? Being ready to move in a heartbeat.

There are so many homebuyers in the $180,000-$225,000 price point that it's just making the market so competitive for first-time homebuyers. We can no longer give ourselves a few days to think about it as someone else will snatch up that property before we can even write up an offer.

HOME VALUES: Should you trust Zillow to Determine your Home's Value?

For instance, I recently listed a home for about $350,000 and in the first week, we had seven offers, most of which were over list price. While this is great for sellers, it can be a nightmare for buyers. The national shortage of single-family homes in the $200,000-$300,000 range is the tightest in our County. Investors who bought cheap after the 2008 recession have held on to these properties and use them as a rental income instead of reselling them and putting them back on the market. There's also competition from foreign buyers who pay cash, and attractive offer to many sellers.

Read More: How to REALLY Negotiate with Sellers

There are a lot of factors that constrain the system in these affordable, middle-class markets. At the beginning of 2015 there were nearly 12,000 homes on the market priced under $300,000 but today there's less than half of that. This tight and intense market coupled with limited land and supply has become a nightmare for some buyers. Our absorption rate is less than a month in some places, meaning that if no more homes hit the market as of today it would take less than a month to exhaust all listings.

There are some neighborhoods that are maintaining a median price of around $300,000. These include Miami Gardens, the Crossings condominiums, and Aventura with the median sales price of a condominium is about $302,000. This community also has a nearly 22 month supply of properties. Cash sales represented nearly 41% of all closed sales over the last few months. 54% are condo sales and 27% are single-family transactions, all done in cash. So is cash still king? You might think so with the statistics, but terms still power the offer. Cash offers might seem great but with strict inspection terms, closing dates, and other addendum's, a financed offer with easier terms seems much more attractive. [Source]

Read More: Is THIS Keeping you from finding your next home?

Bottom line: have a real estate agent that knows the areas, what you want, and is aggressive enough to go after it immediately. You have to be ready to pull the trigger when the right listing hits the market. For expert care in Miami real estate contact my office. Let's stay on top of the market where you are most interested in, so that you can get the house of your dreams at an affordable price.

Are Bidding Wars in Full Effect?

Posted in Miami Real Estate