Friday, September 30, 2011

Previews International - #1 in Miami Luxury Homes Sold

Luxury Homes are Hot Along
The American Riviera
The national media would have you think that the luxury real estate market in America has gone cold. The reality would indicate otherwise. As far as Miami is concerned, cold must stand for Cold Hard Cash!

Ironically back in 1933, when the country was in the throes of the greatest economic catastrophe in our nation’s history, a young entrepreneur by the name Henderson Talbot had an idea. He identified the need for owners of high luxury homes throughout the country to promote their exquisite properties to buyers throughout the world. Prior to this, there was no specific resource for high end residential real estate sales. He seized upon the opportunity and traveled the country, developing the first strategic marketing platform for high end homes the world had ever seen. He would take numerous photographs of the homes with his 16mm camera and together with captivating and detailed descriptions of the homes, Mr. Talbot revolutionized an industry. He called the program Previews:

Today as back then, the Coldwell Banker Previews International name continues as the preeminent leader and benchmark for high luxury homes in America, and has transcended international borders to feature the most exquisite homes all over the world. Ironically as in the dawn of its origins, the need is just as great for exceptional properties to be featured and represented in ways befitting their status and by professionals that are equally suited to the task.

In Miami, the Coldwell Banker Previews International name features prominently throughout the luxury landscape. Here are some revealing numbers for homes offered at $1,000,000 or more to support this claim:

Available Homes - $1M+       =   970
$1M+ Homes Sold or Placed under Contract-Last 30 Days        = 136
Number of Months Inventory = 7.13
Closed Sales ($1M+) in Last 30 Days = 39
Closed Sales ($1M+)–Coldwell Banker Previews Intl= 10 (26%)

*as per Southeast Florida Multiple Listing Service

One in Four $1M+ Miami Homes Sold
Represented by
Coldwell Banker Previews International

Of the thousands of agents and brokerages in the Miami area, Coldwell Banker Previews International stands alone as the standard of excellence and quality performance. With these numbers, would you trust the sale of your most prized possession to anyone else? As a buyer, would you give your confidence to any other organization?

A few Coldwell Banker Previews International
Properties Sold - Last 30 Days

Coconut Grove -3810 Battersea Rd

1071 San Pedro Ave
Coral Gables (Cocoplum) - 184 Paloma Dr

Miami Beach - 1730 W 23 St

Miami Beach - 68 La Gorce Cr


Quality-Experience-Resources-Brand Recognition

Industry Leadership –Global Reach

Uncompromising Professionalism

These are the hallmarks of excellence. I am proud to serve my clients among such an exceptional community of professionals. If you are considering the sale or purchase of a home, I am honored to be at your service.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Some Good News for Veterans!

Some Good News for Veterans!

by Dean Hartman on September 29, 2011

Effective October 1, 2011, the costs associated with getting a VA mortgage are going DOWN!
An overview: VA mortgages are bundled, securitized and sold in the secondary market with the backing of the Federal Government. In order to insure these mortgages, the government charges a type of insurance premium, called a VA Funding Fee, which is typically added to the loan amount (thereby financed).
Remember, too, that the VA (subject to some restrictions) will insure loans up to 100% of the purchase price for the home.
What is happening next week? On loans that close effective October 1, that Funding Fee is being reduced. Because it is typical that the fee is financed into the loan, the VA is effectively lowering the monthly cost (because the loan amount is lower) AND the amount that will be paid back when the home is sold (again, because the loan amount is lower). It’s a win/win for the veteran.

If you have any questions about purchasing a home with a VA loan or if you already have one and are considering a refinance of it because of the low interest rates, reach out to your favorite mortgage professional and explore the possibilities. If you don't have one, please contact me and I will recommend a few with whom I have had success.  There has never been a better time!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Summit of High Luxury in Coconut Grove and Coral Gables

Breathtaking Luxury!

Coral Gables – CocoPlum / Coconut Grove  

I had the opportunity to view several luxury homes today that would take the breath away from a leviathan (mythical sea monster, for all you non-nautical types).  In the interest of full disclosure, these are not my listings.  These magnificent homes are being offered under the guidance and care of fellow Realtors.  A few are with my beloved Coldwell Banker Previews, and others are with competing brokers, all of exceptional standing.  This piece, however, is not about the brokers; it is about the properties.   I will, of course, give due mention to the agents as a matter of professional courtesy and remind everyone that although we may be in competition between brokerages and agents, ultimately we cooperate and collaborate with each other upholding the highest ethical standards and best industry practices in the best interest of the clients we serve.   I am grateful to all of them for the opportunity to stand in awe of what I am about to share.

The first is an amazing waterfront condo at the landmark Yacht Harbour Condominum in the very heart of the Village of Coconut Grove.  Built in 1975 and tastefully draped in a nautical motif, Yacht Harbour serves as a timeless icon of the beauty, eclectic elegance and the free spirited artistry of Coconut Grove.  Unit 3B is emblematic of this spirit as it seamlessly fuses a seafaring exterior design (the building is actually shaped like a ship) with a free and open interior layout that will sweep you off your feet.  At 4,775 sq ft (including over 2,000 sq ft of open waterfront balcony) it is the ideal home for entertaining.  With 2 spacious bedrooms and two handsomely appointed baths, this fabulous condo blends the classical soul of the Grove with the essence of trendy design concepts.  Offered by Ms. Marilyn Tatman of Coldwell Banker Previews at $2,500,000.

Next we are transported from the lavish bayfront condo realm to that of the palatial waterfront estate.  We travel to what is arguably the epitome of waterfront luxury on the private Tahiti Beach Island in the exclusive community of Cocoplum in Coral Gables.  I visited three absolutely magnificent beyond words homes on the island.  Conservatively speaking, it is 24-karat heaven.  I write about these homes in no particular order, as all of them are indescribably beautiful.
As we traverse along the tree lined streets of gated Cocoplum taking in the opulent vistas of one fantastic property after another, we pass manicured lawns, a private marina and tennis club to the second guarded security gate and then onto Tahiti Beach Island. The island is home to 28 spectacular estates, each one virtually folkloric in its beauty.  Land value for each lot is approximately $5M.

The first of the estates is 5 Tahiti Beach Island Dr.  11,533 sq. ft. of Mediterranean style splendor on a builder’s acre that imparts the grandeur of European classical style with views and features that are pure South Florida. Featuring 8 bedrooms, 8 full baths, 2 half baths, its own private beach and finishes that are the stuff of royalty.  Built in 1997, this is a home Sir Thomas More could have used as the setting in his classic Utopia.  Offered by Ms. Audrey Ross of Esslinger Wooten Maxwell Incorporated at $13,900,000.  Voila!

Next we go to 24 Tahiti Beach Island Dr.   This 15,563 sq. ft mansion rests on a full acre at the very end of the cul de saq on this very special street.  Among its countless qualities and attributes are 7 bedrooms, 8 full baths, and 2 half baths.  The residence also backs up to a small cut on the island that inspires a natural haven-like ambience.  Neo-Mediterranean in motif, the home boasts soaring ceilings, exquisite marble and hardwood finishes, elevator and a private dock.  Offered by Mr. Jeffrey Lehman of Coldwell Banker Previews at $13,475,000.  Enjoy!

Last and as you will see, certainly not least, we come to 22 Tahiti Beach Island Dr.  Built in 2005, this 13,853 sq. ft on a lot just shy of a full acre is nothing short of Mediterranean waterfront palace.  8 bedrooms, 8 full baths and 2 half baths, ceilings that could reach Olympus, and an overall design to rival the depths of one's imagination. The quality of the finishes and the sheer symmetry with which they blend with each other is absolutely magical! This home is an architectural and design symphony.  Offered by Ms. Audrey Ross of Esslinger Maxwell Incorporated at $18,000,000.

I hope you enjoyed this tour de force of high luxury in Coconut Grove and Coral Gables.  Once again, I give thanks to my colleagues for the opportunity to see these homes and for the privilege to write about them.  I purposely kept my descriptions brief, but hope I have captured the essence of their beauty for my readers.  In all honesty, each one of these homes is extraordinary beyond words.  If there is interest in seeing them for yourselves, I am humbled by the privilege to be at your service.
I look forward to your feedback.


Coldwell Banker Previews: A 78 Year Culture of Class and Elegance

Click on the Headline to Find Your Shangri La!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Selling? Waiting Until The Spring Makes No Sense

Selling? Waiting Until the Spring Makes No Sense
by The KCM Crew on September 27, 2011

Late last year, banks were warned that they needed to guarantee that the paperwork necessary to start a foreclosure process on a family was both accurate and complete. Since then, the banks have slowed down the foreclosure process while they re-examined their procedures. They are now confident that all the required documentation is in order. We are currently waiting on a settlement between the banks and the state attorneys general which will establish what penalties will be assessed.
Once this settlement is reached, the banks will again move forward on many homes which are currently stalled at some stage in the foreclosure process.

How many homes are we talking about?

There are millions of homes in this category. Calculated Risk quantified the situation:

“There are a large number of seriously delinquent mortgage loans in limbo waiting for this settlement. According to LPS, at the end of August there were about 1.87 million loans seriously delinquent and another 2.15 million loans in the foreclosure process. This is only down slightly from a year ago when 4.4 million loans were seriously delinquent or in-foreclosure. Once the settlement is reached, the pace of foreclosures will pick up sharply.
The pace will “pick up sharply”.

Bottom Line

As more foreclosures come to the market at discounted prices, there will be greater downward pressure on all housing values. Waiting for the spring selling season to put your house on the market may not make sense this year. The increase in demand may be overshadowed by an increased supply of distressed properties.

Monday, September 26, 2011

13,780 Homes Sold Yesterday

13,780 Homes Sold Yesterday

by The KCM Crew on September 26, 2011
To all those who have declared the real estate market dead, we want you to know that over 13,780 houses sold yesterday, 13,780 will sell today and 13,780 will sell tomorrow.

That is the average number of homes that sell each and every day in this country according to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) latest Existing Home Sales Report. NAR reported that sales had increased 7.7% over the month before and 18.6% over the year before. According to the report, annualized sales now stand at 5.03 million.

Divide that number by 365 (days in a year) and we can see that, on average, well over 13,000 homes sell every day.
We realize that these numbers are below the record for homes sold in 2006. We also know that we may never see those numbers again (and that is probably a good thing). But to say that the current real estate market is dead or that houses are not selling is totally inaccurate. We have over 13,000 pieces of evidence to prove that.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Previews International Conference - High Powered Selling in Today's Luxury Market

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to join over 200 friends and colleagues at a conference hosted by our luxury home division, Coldwell Banker Previews International.  The venue was the spectacular Christine Lee’s restaurant at Gulfstream Racetrack and Casino in Hallandale.   Complimented by a sensational meal and networking opportunity with the very best of the best in luxury real estate, we were privileged to have several distinguished speakers present and share valuable information and insights on the Southeast Florida luxury market segment. 

Christopher Ramey
Luxury Marketing Council
Mr. Christopher Ramey of Florida’s Luxury Marketing Council was the first keynote speaker.  He spoke about the driving forces of today’s high net worth buyer and seller, and the global shift of age demographics and the role it plays in market psychology and consumer behavior.  Mr. Ramey addressed the importance of brand recognition in the luxury segment, and how the Previews International brand is synonymous with high luxury real estate throughout the world.  Evidence of this status is demonstrated by virtue of the company we keep as invited members of the Luxury Marketing Council:  Bentley, Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Mercedes Benz, Four Seasons Hotels, Brioni, Louis Vuitton, Rolls Royce, and Bergdorf Goodman just to name a few. 

Jillian Tobias
Boardroom Communications Incorporated
Ms. Jillian Tobias of Boardroom Communications Incorporated ( ) , headquartered in Plantation, FL was next to speak.  Her firm specializes in integrated marketing and public relations.  Ms. Tobias leads the company’s forward thinking initiatives in new media (blogging, social media, interactive).  Ms. Tobias gave us a peak into the world of new media and how it is continually evolving and allowing marketers to reach potential, existing and past customers around the world, and engage them to establish, maintain and retain quality relationships, loyalty and promote growth through the infinite capabilities of the internet and the expanding sphere of influence it facilitates.

Ken Kamen
Mercadien Asset Management
Mr. Ken Kamen, President of Mercadien Asset Management ( was next to grace the stage with an enlightening perspective on  global markets, the economy and government.  Mr. Kamen is a nationally recognized financial expert and advisor. He has consulted with the U.S. House Commerce Committee and the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, testified before the House Subcommittee on Finance, and served as the chairman of the business advisory group to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Oversight and Investigations Sub-Committee on financial matters surrounding the Enron corporate scandals.  Author of the book “Reclaiming Your Nest Egg”, Mr. Kamen demonstrated a keen awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of the American economy as well as the economies of China and Europe.  Personally, my key takeaways from his presentations were (these are my words, not Mr Kamen' other words, I could be wrong):

1.    Don’t pay too much attention to the media.  Their job is to attract viewers for their advertisers, and hardship attracts more eyeballs than happiness. The media feeds on volatility, not performance.  Volatility creates excitement and excitement draws viewers.

2.     Don’t let the media be your financial advisor or Realtor any more than you would allow WebMD to be your doctor.

3.    Financial security is a long term game, and the majority in our society has a sound bite mentality.  Boring and tedious issues like insurance, asset allocation and tax planning have a more important long term impact on our future and the futures of our children than the stock of the week or the crisis du jour.

4.    Government is largely controlled by very well organized special interest groups who effectively communicate their positions and objectives to congressional staffers (many of which are highly educated mature 20-somethings) who filter and feed this information to our elected officials in order to guide them and help form their opinions and positions. This, in conjunction with polling data from focus groups, drives the direction and strategy our country takes. Under this system, it is inherently implausible for government leaders to have a true and comprehensive understanding of the issues we face.  While their intentions may be good, their perspectives are generally tilted to one side or another.  As a result, policy decisions in most cases fall victim to unintended consequences.
5.   Owning a home represents much more than a simple entry in our asset portfolio.  It represents the security and stability of our lives and the comfort and well-being of our families.  It represents us as an integral part of our communities.  To the luxury market, it means the opportunity to create an environment for those we love that we can cherish and foster memories that will last for generations.  To the high net worth buyer or seller, time is the most valuable commodity.  Therefore, in the current economy where treasury notes, CD’s and money market funds result in a net loss against inflation, and uncertainty is the only constant in the stock, bond and commodities markets, the burning question is whether the wealthy should forego the pride and pleasure of a new home, give up the time and satisfaction of providing joy and happiness to their families in exchange for what the paper investment markets have to offer.

Finally, Mr. Damon Salerno ( of the Wall Street Journal  presented a veritable library of print and digital outlets available to Previews International agents to promote and feature their properties through the world’s most widely read news publication.  According to Mr. Salerno, 89% of all WSJ readers said they would do business with an agent from Coldwell Banker, far and away the industry leader among their readership.
I would like to thank Mr. Mike Murray, VP of Coldwell Banker ‘s SE Florida region, Ms. Rochelle Fraga, our Regional Marketing Director, Christine Lee’s Restaurant and all the leadership and staff who made this event possible.  The ideas and insights were relevant and enlightening, the message of support and guidance from our leadership is resonant, and Coldwell Banker Previews International remains the benchmark of quality, expertise and customer care in luxury real estate!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What Happened to Modifications??

What Happened to Modifications?

by The KCM Crew on September 21, 2011

Monday’s blog post generated many questions as to whether modifications would have a major impact on preventing an increase in future foreclosures. Though modifications are still being done, the onus by the government and the banks has currently shifted to two other initiatives to help the housing recovery:
  1. Preventing future delinquencies (people falling behind on their payments)
  2. Clearing the backlog of foreclosures already owned by the banks (REOs).
As proof of this, we just need to look at the speech by Edward J. DeMarco, the Acting Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), to the American Mortgage Conference.
The text of the speech was released earlier this week . Mr. DeMarco explains:
“At the end of the Bush Administration and in the early days of the Obama Administration, attention focused on loan modifications as a way of stabilizing troubled borrowers’ monthly payments and aiding them in avoiding foreclosure. These efforts resulted in the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP. For much of 2009, the key priority was developing and then implementing HAMP; in late 2009 and into 2010, the challenge became making HAMP more operationally effective and converting borrowers from trial modifications to permanent modifications.”
DeMarco then talks about what initiatives the agency is now concentrating on:
“Current priorities are focused on issues at the two ends of the foreclosure process – at one end, we are enhancing efforts to keep current borrowers from going delinquent in the first place and at the other end, we are now focusing on the challenges of disposing of the real estate owned that is left after a foreclosure.”

Preventing New Delinquencies

Trying to prevent more American families from falling delinquent on their mortgage payments is a great first step to a recovery in the housing sector. DeMarco claims:
“FHFA is carefully reviewing the mechanics of the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) program to identify possible enhancements that would reduce barriers for borrowers already otherwise eligible to refinance using HARP. If there are frictions associated with the origination of HARP loans that can be eased while still achieving the program’s intent of assisting borrowers …we will seek to do so.”

Clearing Existing Foreclosures

We must also clear the inventories of foreclosures currently held by the banks. This is seen by FHFA as a crucial component to any plan to help the real estate market recover.
“The second area I would like to briefly discuss is the disposition of Real Estate Owned or REO. In August, FHFA, Treasury, and HUD issued a Request for Information (RFI) on ways to dispose of REO properties. While the Enterprises have considered various approaches to disposing of REO over time, the RFI represents an opportunity to consider new approaches, including possible approaches that include both the Enterprises and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). By taking this collaborative approach, the three agencies seek ways to improve returns to taxpayers and bring greater stability to local housing markets. We have received nearly 4,000 submissions in response to the RFI. We are encouraged by the strong response and interest in this effort. Obviously it will take a little time to review so many responses but we are already hard at work doing so.

To be clear, this effort is not intended to develop a single, national program for REO disposition. Rather, we are most interested in proposals tailored to the needs and economic conditions of local communities.”

Bottom Line

To help the market, the two major initiatives FHFA is pursuing are preventing new delinquencies and selling off the backlog of foreclosures that currently exists. Modifications, at best, now appear to be on a back burner.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Home Sales: Investors

Home Sales: Investors Are About to Return

by The KCM Crew on September 20, 2011

Sales in the housing industry have remained stagnant over the last several months. Though certain categories of purchasers have remained stable and even increased, the number of cash buyers and investors has dramatically decreased. Researchers from Capital Economics recently reported:
“The firm has found that since January, the number of homes purchased by cash buyers and investors has fallen by 26 percent.”
However, we believe these purchasers have not left the market entirely but instead have been waiting on the sidelines.
Both cash buyers and investors are normally looking for a deal/steal on the real estate they purchase. It is our opinion they are waiting for the release of the glut of distressed properties which has been kept off the market while paperwork issues were being cleared. Proof of this can be seen in the decreasing percentage of overall sales the distressed market has represented over the last six months (40% to 29%).
As we posted yesterday, this distressed inventory is about to come to market. These foreclosures will have very enticing prices on them. We believe sales will jump.

Bottom Line

The supply of houses will increase; so will demand for this inventory. The impact on prices will be determined by which increases more. Our bet is that supply will still be greater than demand causing further downward pressure on overall prices.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Windows of Opportunity Beginning to Close for Sellers

We have suggested that sellers who need to sell within the next 18 months had a ‘window of opportunity’ to sell at higher prices. They needed to put their houses up for sale immediately before a flood of distressed properties were introduced to the market. This window is beginning to close. The paperwork challenges faced by banks that caused a delay in the foreclosure process over the last ten months are starting to clear. It seems that these houses are now coming to the market.

RealtyTrac reported in their September Foreclosure Report:

“Default notices were filed for the first time on a total of 78,880 U.S. properties in August, a nine-month high and a 33 percent increase from July — the biggest month-over-month increase since August 2007.”

James Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac explained:
“The big increase in new foreclosure actions may be a signal that lenders are starting to push through some of the foreclosures delayed by robo-signing and other documentation problems. It also foreshadows more bank repossessions in the coming months as these new foreclosures make their way through the process.”

Diana Olick, of CNBC’s Realty Check quoted a spokesperson for Bank of America:

“ Strong gains like that from July to August demonstrate our progress – primarily in judicial states — clearing more volume to advance to foreclosure once we pass the numerous quality controls we have in place and exhaust all options with homeowners.”

The impact will be felt from coast to coast. New Jersey Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson recently cleared the way for the top banks to resume foreclosures in the state. The impact this will have on the number of distressed properties can be clearly seen in these statistics reported by Housing Wire:

“In October, New Jersey had the 24th highest foreclosure rate in the country, with servicers filing roughly 5,200 foreclosures that month, according to RealtyTrac. By July, the Garden State’s foreclosure rate dropped to 42nd with just 1,112 filings last month.”

ForeclosureRadar, which handles research in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Nevada, last week reported:

“Foreclosure starts rose in every state.”

Bottom Line

If you currently are selling your home, price it to compel a buyer to purchase it now. Waiting will cause you to compete with an increased number of distressed properties which sell at dramatically discounted prices.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Genting unveils plan for Miami bayfront resort - Business -

How does a world class casino developer and operator commit to a multi-billion dollar private casino (being labeled as "the most iconic resort in all the Americas") in a town and state where private casinos are not currently permitted. Maybe they know something you and I don't? Hmmmmm....

What might the effect be on properties in the surrounding area?

Genting unveils plan for Miami bayfront resort - Business -

Monday, September 12, 2011

Luxury and Vacation Homes Are Selling...

Luxury and Vacation Homes Are Selling

by The KCM Crew on September 12, 2011

It has been a trying time for most segments of the real estate industry. However, two areas that are showing improvement are the luxury home and vacation home markets. It seems that people in these segments are again beginning to purchase.

Vacation Homes

Last week Market Watch published an article discussing the vacation home market. Dan White, president of Daniel A. White & Associates, a wealth-management firm in the Philadelphia area, was quoted in the article.

“A lot of people are worried about the [stock] market today because of the volatility and the fact we could be going into a double-dip recession. They’re looking for other avenues. Real estate, if we’re not at the bottom [in prices], people think we’re pretty darn close.”

The article also explained some purchasers are seeing this as an opportunity to buy a vacation/retirement home:
“Some baby boomers are seizing an opportunity to get a deal on a vacation home they can enjoy now but that’s also a home that eventually will become their primary residence when they retire.”

Luxury Homes

Along with the vacation home market, the luxury market has also made a comeback. HousingWire reported on the luxury market last month:
“In the nation’s top 20 markets, million-dollar property sales rose 18% in 2010 with a 21% increase in California, said Laurie Moore-Moore, CEO of The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, a Dallas-based firm…

In Miami, 517 properties sold for $2 million or more during the first seven months of 2011, up nearly 16% from a year earlier.”

Bottom Line

If you are in a position to move-up to the home of your dreams or have been thinking about a vacation home for the family, now might be the time to make the move.

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