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,

Sept. 26, 2018

3 Things to Know About Buying a Home with a Pool

3 Things to Know About Buying a Home with a Pool

Many Miami area homes have swimming pools but of course, many don't as well because the ocean is usually no more than 20 minutes away. But if you're looking specifically for a home with a pool there are pros and cons to owning one. People usually either love having a pool or they despise it but if you're one of those that loves having the freedom of going swimming whenever you want, being able to cool off or relax in a resort style setting in your backyard, a pool is a great option.

The first thing to understand is that having a pool is an added expense but it may not be as much is your thinking. It will be a new item in your budget and you'll need to decide whether you want it professionally maintained or if you're going to spend the time and energy and do-it-yourself. Pool upkeep can be as inexpensive as $50 a month if you do it yourself or up to $400 a month if you have regular professional maintenance.

Pools can also be a selling feature for pool people that is. Which means it may be a downside to a lot of people. But remember, if you're looking specifically for a pool, others will likely want one as well. Here are three basic things to know when buying a home with a pool.

#1. Understand what you're getting into.

You may not be able to get out what you think your pool is worth when you go to sell. But, if you're really only buying the pool for your own enjoyment, having it as a resale feature may not be as big of a deal. Remember, when you're buying a home with a pool you're always buying the pool secondhand. Most people don't think of it that way of course because it comes with the house. But you are buying a used pool, not in brand-new condition. You want to have a specific pool inspector check out the pool area to make sure that it is sound and doesn't have a mountain of problems before you even buy it. Make sure you ask about everything including how often it is clean, when it was installed if it's ever lost his integrity and how much it costs each month to maintain it.

#2. Remember to maintain safety.

If you have small children you'll definitely want to get a pool gate or a fence around the pool. Remember, if you're the only one in the neighborhood with a swimming pool your house will probably be considered the "cool house", which means you may have a lot of people, guests, friends and friends of your children over at your house swimming. This can leave you up to a lot of liability so you want to make sure that you are covered in your insurance and you've done everything you can to maintain safety and protection of your home, your family and your friends.

#3. Properly maintain pools can add resale value.

There are pretty much two types of buyers; buyer specifically looking for a home with a pool, and buyer specifically looking for a home without a pool; never the two shall meet. You might find a home buyer that doesn't realize they want to pool until they see a beautiful home with a properly maintained pool and backyard. This is why you need to be able to capture this type of buyer that's on the fence or just doesn't have an idea that they want a pool. Keep your home properly maintained, make the pool area something that you can be proud of and entertain and it will hold its resale value when you go to sell.

More Tips For Pool Owners:




Posted in Miami Real Estate
Sept. 20, 2018

What You Need to Know About Selling Your Home Yourself

Can you do it? Sure! Should you? Well…. That’s always up for debate. Of course, as a real estate agent, you’ll think I’m going to say ‘no’ but there are more reasons than my paycheck for which I’m suggesting.

Here’s what you need to know about selling a house yourself.

Legal IssuesWhat You Need to Know About Selling Your Home Yourself


You need to know some legal issues. Selling a house is a big purchase and sale and if you are not fully aware of all the details that go into a transaction you may find yourself in a world of hurt. It’s not as simple as selling a car. You can’t simply hand over the keys and deed and get a wad of cash in exchange. Most buyers will have to finance and you’ll need to have that approved ahead of time. You don’t want to be sitting at the closing table only to discover the buyer hasn’t gotten their financing in order and really can’t afford the home.

Then there’s the legal deed, recording with the county and any outstanding liens. Title insurance and verifying you truly have the right to sell the property. (You’d be surprised at what many homeowners don’t even know about their own house.)

There is just so much legal jargon involved in a contract that if you are not fully clear on the wording, you could end up losing out on money or personal property. Everything needs to be done correctly and legally for the proper exchange to take place. Hearsay, word of mouth or shaking hands on a deal is not always the most honest ways to do business, especially when you’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Accurate Price


Don’t get me started on that “Zestimate” of Zillow. Too many homeowners think their homes are worth far more than they really are. Now, I’m not here to underprice the home but Zillow’s estimates have been known to be up to 35% off of the actual market value! That’s a lot! These sites just cannot evaluate the home like a skilled and experienced agent. You never know… you might actually UNDER-price the home and sell too fast, losing out on money you could have received had you priced it correctly from the beginning.

Overpricing the home means it will sit on the market for longer than you anticipated. Homeowners usually start to drop their price after the first few weeks to get more attention. Buyers start to notice how long the home has been on the market and may tend to shy away at this point. They don’t know the home was overpriced but may feel that the property has something wrong with it. The longer a home is on the market, the more of a black mark it tends to get from potential buyers.

Pricing it correctly from the beginning is key. As a real estate professional, I know the market, the neighborhoods, the trends and what buyers are willing to spend. Knowing all these key components can make it much easier to price and sell a property.


Showing it yourself


There’s a reason we suggest that sellers leave the property when it’s time to show. Buyers feel awkward when a seller hovers over them as they tour the property. Sellers tend to overcompensate by explaining too much about the property when the buyer really just wants to browse in peace. This can certainly shy buyers away right off the bat. It’s best to have their agent or your listing agent tour the property with the buyer, keeping the property safe and yet giving buyers the freedom to discuss and tour the house at their leisure.


If you are still considering selling your home yourself there is the component of marketing. You’ll need to spend your money on marketing, advertise and promote the property. This can be done with a sign in the yard, ad in the newspaper or social media ads. But your agent does all this for you in addition to all the marketing they do in the MLS. Only licensed agents are allowed to list properties in the MLS, which is seen on thousands of websites across the country. Your agent may even have a buyer ready to go before listing! FSBO’s (For Sale By Owner) just simply cannot achieve this level of exposure.

So, yes, you can sell your home.. or should I say, try to sell it. Statistics have shown that those that try to sell on their own, eventually come back to a Realtor® and end up selling for more than they would have on their own. It’s really worth it. Give me a call and let’s find out how much we can sell your Miami home for.

More Tips for Sellers

Thinking of Selling? Do These 20 Things First

How to Kill a Perfectly Good Real Estate Deal

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

Posted in Miami Real Estate
Sept. 5, 2018

Newest Sunny Isles Beach Project is Now Topped Off

The new upcoming Residences by Armani/Casa condo project in Sunny Isles Beach has officially topped out at 649 feet. After reaching its halfway point in March, the design firm and architect Cesar Pelli, has completed the height on this glass tower featuring sleek interiors and representing the firm's first self-branded real estate development in the US.Newest Sunny Isles Beach Project is Now Topped Off 

When complete, this tower will feature 308 high-end residences ranging from 1350 ft.² to nearly 6000 ft.² and prices starting around $2 million. For the top penthouse suite, the projected price is looking at topping over $17 billion. In addition to the units, the building will include 35,000 ft.² of amenities and a private beach resort with 300 feet of water frontage.

The Armani/Casa residences have been making this a reality for a couple of years now. This one-billion-dollar project is set to open in the fall of 2019. This is a 56 story property designed by Dezer Development and the Related Group and is designed to be some of the top residences along Miami Beach.

Although renderings for the Penthouse is not available yet, the building is already 70% sold. The Penthouse will include a master bath with white onyx, beautiful custom cabinetry in the kitchen, sleek lines, beautiful finishes, gorgeous floors, and luxurious layouts. And to top it all off, the Penthouse comes with an Italian trip to meet Giorgio or money himself. According to the Wall Street Journal, this a one-time amenity includes meeting founder Giorgio Armani, whose company designed interiors and finishes of the building and specifically the six-bedroom duplex on the 53rd and 54th floor. This 6000 square-foot Penthouse will include two first-class round-trip tickets to Milan, a two-night stay at the Armani Hotel Milano, a private tour of Armani's flagship store after hours, dinner for two at Armani Ristorante, cocktails with Armani, and a signed copy of Armani's book. 180 units have been sold since sales kicked off in 2018. But has anyone purchased the Penthouse as of late?

See all renderings of the Penthouse from Curbed.

So far the Penthouse remains unoccupied but this one-billion-dollar project is the group's most expensive project to date. The sales center alone is priced at over $10 million.

So, is the Penthouse on your list of residences? If so, give me a call and let's see what the waiting list looks like. For the right price, you can buy just about anything. And if you're looking for time with Armani, it's easy to do with the Penthouse unit.

Stay tuned to my blog for more information or simply contact my office to be notified when new listings hit the market.

Image By Lorenzo Bozzi [CC BY-SA 4.0  (], from Wikimedia Commons

Aug. 30, 2018

Best of Brickell

Considering a move to Miami's Brickell Neighborhood? Start here!


Brickell Miami

Top 10 Most Popular Brickell Condos in Miami

The term most popular could be subjective. Brickell has about 100 condo buildings throughout Brickell and Brickell Key to choose from, so how is a new homeowner supposed to decide?

Whether it's the best, the most popular, or the closest to your favorite coffee shop, being the best is all subjective to what you are looking for, the price, the amenities, and the location. While you can find a list anywhere, being in the real estate industry for so many years, I've done my own research as to what I feel are the best or most popular Brickell condominiums.

Best Pet-Friendly Condos in Brickell Miami

Best Pet-Friendly Condos in Brickell Miami

There are several pet-friendly condominium complexes in downtown Brickell, just seconds from Miami and Miami Beach. If you are looking to bring your four-legged friend or perhaps another animal along with you, these are the buildings that you want to search in.

Each of these buildings offers something different and they have different rules and restrictions for each. Below is a list of condominiums and their requirements when it comes to your furry friend.

Walkable neighborhoods

Most Walkable Condos in Brickell

If you don't own a car or you just don't want to deal with parking and driving just to go to dinner, then you're probably looking for a Brickell condo with a perfect walk score. is a website that looks at every address across the country and determines walkability, transit and bike feasibility. With a walk score of 90-100 it's considered a "Walkers Paradise" as most daily errands don't require a car.  If you're looking for a condo in Brickell, nearly all have a high walk score but only a few boast a 99. Here they are.



Safest and Most Durable Condo Buildings in Brickell

Safety is always a big concern and more now than ever due to our active hurricane season! Surviving a hurricane in a high-rise is a scary thought but with new requirements and building codes since 2010, our buildings are safer than ever. After Hurricane Andrew in 1992 revealed lax building codes, the state cracked down on materials and systems greater than ever. Florida has adopted the most stringent building codes in the US for both single-family homes and residential high-rises. Since 2010 though, those codes have gotten even stricter, which should ease many minds about living here.


Pre-Construction Condos in Brickell

If you're looking for new construction or preconstruction condominiums in the Miami and Brickell neighborhood here is the top list as of 2017.

Best Places To Shop In Brickell

Best Places To Shop In Brickell

Downtown Miami provides visitors and residents with a unique shopping experience with many different styles of malls and shopping areas. In the Brickell neighborhood, shoppers can find the Brickell City Centre, the Brickell City Centre Farmers Market, and Mary Brickell Village.

Best place to eat in Brickell

March 6, 2018

Best Places to Eat in Brickell

Miami is a melting pot of cultures from throughout the world; there are Latin and Cuban, Asian and American, and everything in between. No matter what you are craving Brickell has it on the menu.


Search all Brickell Homes and Condos for Sale

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.


Investing or renting in a condo Co-Op?

5 things to know about a buying a condo on Miami Beach

Should we buy a condo or a house?

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