Zilbert's Miami Beach and South Beach Real Estate Blog

Aug 27 2014

3 Things to Consider When Purchasing an Unusual Home

Filed under: Real Estate Tips

Seashell house


Purchasing an unusual or unique home can be thrilling. After all, these one-of-a-kind homes are truly special and may reflect your personality and taste. Before you purchase one of these homes, however, there are a few things you need to keep in mind to ensure you are making a sound financial decision.


1. Considering the Resale Value

While you may think your unusual home is priceless, you may have a hard time finding someone who is just as passionate about the home’s unique features as you are. When purchasing one of these homes, resale may be the furthest thing from your mind, but the reality is that life changes and you may find yourself having to put the home back on the market.

Unfortunately, unique and unusual homes can be quite difficult to sell. While your home may be worth a lot of money, finding someone who is willing to put that much money toward the purchase of your home may be nearly impossible. Furthermore, even if there are other people who appreciate the unique features of your home, finding someone who is in the market to purchase a home or who has enough money available for the purchase can also prove to be quite difficult. Therefore, when purchasing an unusual home, you need to be prepared to sit on it for some time before you are able to sell it later.


2. Finding a Lender

When determining the value of a home, appraisers look at other homes that are similar to the home that is being appraised. Since an unusual home is a one-of-a-kind home, appraising the value can be quite difficult. Since the appraisal process is so difficult with these homes, it can be equally as difficult to obtain a loan. This could be a problem for you when it comes time to purchase the home, and it can also prove to be a problem when try to sell the home at a later date. After all, the lender wants to be sure it will be able to get its money back if you fail to repay the loan as agreed upon. If the lender is not confident of the value of the property or if the lender thinks the property will be far too difficult to sell, you may run into some serious problems with obtaining the necessary financing.

Generally speaking, larger lenders are unwilling to take risks on unusual properties. Therefore, in order to increase your chances of finding a lender, you may need to work with a small local lender that is familiar with unusual properties in the area. Even with these lenders, you may find yourself facing a high interest rate or you may be asked to put down more than the standard 20 percent down payment.


3. Thinking About Lifestyle

Another factor to consider when purchasing an unusual home is your lifestyle. While a cathedral that was converted into a home many sound amazing, cleaning and caring for the property may be overwhelming and difficult. You may also have difficulty with furnishing a unique home, or the property may be located in an area that is very inconvenient for you in terms of commuting to work or pursuing other interests. You should also consider the costs that will be involved with maintaining the home.

Aug 24 2014

Zilbert’s Newest Properties Featured

Filed under: Community News




I was reading this article by Curbed Miami, basically outlining how Miami’s condo market is becoming too expensive for many locals, however, is becoming one of the top markets in the world for luxury real estate.  It’s quite a shift from past years, but nonetheless, it is a clear signal that buyers should be focused on buying in Miami at today’s prices, in anticipation of much higher prices in years to come.

Well, that’s where my team and I come in.  We are here to help buyers find the best properties in Miami, and we have a lot of insight to share.  Here are some places where you can start looking around:

  1. The Zilbert Collection – these condos and homes are part of the exclusive collection of listings marketed by Zilbert, and in many cases represent the best value in luxury real estate. [CLICK]
  2. Miami Preconstruction – these condos are the latest, newest properties being built in Downtown Miami, Miami Beach, Edgewater Miami and other high profile areas. [CLICK]
  3. 100 Newest Listings – these condos and homes have just come to market, and sometimes you will find that your best deal can be made on a new property listing. [CLICK]
  4. My Private Collection – in addition to the many properties listed and marketed by Zilbert’s team of high-profile agents,  I generally hold a small handful of properties that I market exclusively. [CLICK]

As always, my team and I are available 7 days a week, and brokers are always welcomed at any Zilbert property listing.  You may drop by our Continuum sales office at 40 S Pointe Drive any day of the week between 10am and 6pm, or our main office at 5th and Alton during weekdays.



Links to the Zilbert Lists

100 Newest Property Listings:



100 Most Recent Closed Sales:


100 Most Recent Contracts: http://www.zilbert.com/100_most_recent_contracts.asp

100 Most Expensive Listings: http://www.zilbert.com/100_most_expensive_condos.asp

100 Most Expensive Sales: http://www.zilbert.com/100_most_expensive_sales.asp

Mark Zilbert President and CEOLicensed Real Estate Broker


Zilbert International Realty

office  +1 305 726 0100

mobile  +1 786 280 0201

fax  +1 786 206 3854

e-mail  mark.zilbert@zilbert.com

website  http://www.zilbert.com

BBM secure pin 79aca5bf

Zilbert International Realty

1129 Fifth Street

Miami Beach, FL 33139


Zilbert Realty Store at The Continuum

40 S Pointe Drive, Suite 110

Miami Beach, FL 33139

Tel:  (305) 695-1111

Aug 21 2014

Planning to Rent? Five Questions to Ask a Potential Landlord Before Signing the Lease

Filed under: Real Estate Tips

Rental Agreement

Before landlords approve new tenants, they typically do a lot of digging into the applicant’s history. In fact, it is not uncommon for a landlord to perform a background check and to look into a potential tenant’s credit history. Yet, many people fail to put the same effort into checking into the background of a potential landlord. Given the fact that you are about to commit yourself to a financial relationship with this person and that you are about to trust this person to have a key to your home, it is a good idea to screen potential landlords before you sign a lease. Unfortunately, you can’t get a potential landlord to fill out an application or to hand personal information over to you. You can, however, ask the right questions to help you determine if the landlord will be a good fit for you. To that end, here are a few questions that you should ask before you decide to make a move.

How Long Were the Previous Tenants Here?

If the previous tenants did not stay for very long, it may be an indication that there are issues with the landlord. If the previous tenants stayed for a less than a year, ask the potential landlord how long the tenants before the previous tenants stayed. If you are noticing that everyone seemed to leave in less than a year, ask the landlord to explain why this might be the case.

What is the Neighborhood Like?

Before you move into a new rental, you should take some time to drive around the neighborhood in order to get a better idea of what it is like. Consider the type of people you see in the neighborhood as well as the neighborhoods amenities and features. The potential landlord should be able to give you an idea of what the neighborhood has to offer. If the landlord doesn’t know much about the neighborhood, it could be a sign that the neighborhood is less-than-desirable or that the landlord does not spend much time in the neighborhood. If the landlord does not spend much time in the neighborhood, you may have problems getting any issues that you encounter resolved.

How is Maintenance Handled?

While some landlord perform maintenance themselves, others have someone who does this task for them. The landlord should be able to tell you who to call if your property is in need of repair. If your landlord can’t give you this information, it is a red flag that you may have trouble getting repairs completed in a timely fashion.

Who Can Tell Me More About the Neighborhood?

Asking the landlord who can tell you more about the neighborhood is a good way to help you break the ice with some of your potential neighbors. If you are going to rent an apartment in a multi-unit complex, talk to some of the other tenants in order to get a better idea of how the landlord handles the property. If you are going to rent a house, talk to some of the neighbors. Even if the neighbors are not tenants, they might be able to tell you more about the landlord and the property.  You might also want to consider performing an online search of the landlord’s name to see if anyone has written a review about him or her.

What Can You Tell Me About the History of the Property?

Asking the potential landlord about the history of the property will help you gain clues about any financial trouble the landlord may be experiencing. To further ensure there won’t be any problems in this area, it is a good idea to make sure the landlord is the actual owner of the property and that it is not in foreclosure. This way, you won’t find yourself quickly stuck in the middle of a sticky financial situation.

Aug 21 2014

Living Small

Filed under: Misc


No matter what our background, we all have an ideal dream home size in mind. When it comes down to the actual living in it, however, can smaller be better? If your dream is for an urban dwelling with access to cultural events, public transportation, or a great walk score you might have to look smaller to be able to afford your location. Or, if you want a mountain cabin or beach cottage, you may have to rethink that overstuffed sofa, king-sized bed, and your gigantic collection of taxidermy.

Does size matter?

Depending on how many people are living in the home and the home’s design, too small a home could make everyone be underfoot and living there miserable. But recent innovations in organization and layout, clever, multipurpose furnishings and lots of personal ingenuity can make a smaller home, condominium, or cottage the perfect place for you and your family.


When designing and furnishing your small space, be thoughtful about each piece you add to your home. If a piece of furniture has only one purpose, you might want to rethink it. For instance, can your table double as your desk? Alternatively, can a work cart become a counter with stools? Do you mostly eat in the living room? Then your coffee table could double as a dining space.

Out of the box

Some retailers specialize in small spaces and can give you great ideas on how to maximize space. If your ceilings are tall enough, consider a loft option for your bed. Not just for children or college students, the space below a queen-size loft bed can be a closet, an office, a TV room … let your imagination run wild. In a child’s room, below the loft can become a playroom, or alternate levels of beds can provide privacy for multiple kids.

Another option is to create storage above, below, and around the bed. Standing or wall-hung cabinets offer designer details while adding a repository for you shoe collection. Raise your bed up just a few inches and you can fit a full dresser under it. Take advice from apartment-dwellers and maximize all of your vertical space.

Consider your lifestyle

If you regularly cook and eat at home, design your kitchen to accommodate your eating style and use living space accordingly. But, if you regularly order take-out, or dine out more often than in, consolidate your kitchen area in to a gallery and use more space for entertaining. A compact kitchen can still have all the amenities of a large one—stainless steel appliances, built-in specialty storage spaces, high-end surfaces like granite, and designer backsplashes—just in a more condensed layout. Moreover, your kitchen doesn’t even need to be a separate room. A “great room” concept with kitchen, dining and living all in the same area works great in small spaces as well as large ones.

Know what’s important

The most crucial thing about choosing to live small is knowing why it is your best choice. If access (to work, shopping, transportation, culture, the beach, solitude) is most important to your quality of life, paying more to live small may be the best decision you make. If living small for a season so that you can later enjoy a larger space is your purpose, then working at it to make your small space work for you is an important decision.

No matter what your purpose, small or large, or anywhere in-between, we can help you find the space that work best for your situation. Give us a call today.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Aug 19 2014

Do I Want to Buy with Cash?

Filed under: Misc, Real Estate Tips


According to Market Watch, 43% of homebuyers in 2014 so far have purchased with all cash. While some analysts believe that the cash-buying frenzy will not last, there is always more room for negotiation when the buyer brings cash to the table. When it comes to buying a home in a hot real estate market, sometimes cash can net you a lower price than a mortgage. So, if you’ve just sold your home and are looking to buy a new one with cash or are otherwise planning your estate, here are some things to remember.

Reasons to buy with cash:

As an empty nester or retiree looking to downsize, you often have cash from the sale of your larger home to purchase a new home. This allows you to choose a smaller home, pay cash, and possibly have money left over. Or, you can buy into a better community for retiring. So while you may end up with a smaller home, the amenities more than make up the difference.

Sometimes, you want to gift a home to your children as a wedding gift, or as part of your estate planning. After all, homeownership is part of the American dream. However, gifting only a down payment may pressure your loved ones to purchase a home when they are not ready to be homeowners. A better option for them would be to purchase a home for them with all cash. The home is paid-for and their obligation would extend only to yearly taxes and insurance, but not the heavy burden of a mortgage. A paid-for starter house protects them from the ups and downs of the market as well, and gives them a basis for a mortgage when the time is right for them.

Investment property that is completely paid for can be a “cash cow” for your retirement. The ongoing income from a rental that does not have a mortgage can make your retirement a little more comfortable, and is less problematic in probate than properties with mortgages would be.

Reasons to have a mortgage:

If you have a financial instrument that might give you a higher rate of return than the mortgage will cost you, it might make more sense for you to invest your cash in the higher return and to take out a low cost mortgage on the property.

If you need to improve your credit report, it might be better for you to take a mortgage. This type of “good debt” can improve your credit score and make it easier to borrow money for other reasons.

Additionally, there are tax benefits from holding a mortgage that, depending on your financial situation, may be more beneficial than owning the home free and clear. Of course, before you make this decision you should check with your tax accountant or financial advisor.

Negotiating with cash:

When you find the perfect house and you’re ready to make an offer, don’t start with the “all cash” offer. If the sellers know that you are able to pay cash for their asking price, they will be less willing to negotiate with you. Let your professional real estate agent help you determine the best time to reveal your cards. We know the right time to offer cash to get the seller to agree to your offer.  Call us today and we can get started finding the perfect home for you and negotiating the best offer for your needs.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Aug 14 2014

Why More Americans Do Not Own Homes

Filed under: Misc, Real Estate News


Even while home prices are on the rise—fueled by the low supply, low mortgage rates and investor buying—the number of Americans that own homes, as a percentage of the population, is decreasing. The reasons vary, since many current renters are former homeowners that lost their homes during the financial crisis and others simply do not have enough income to qualify. But some potential homeowners, with savings for down payments and the desire to own may be priced out of the market by as little as $1000.

A new report by the National Association of Home Builders points out that an increase of just one thousand dollars in the price of a new home can upset the delicate balance of income-to-debt ratios required to qualify for mortgages. According to their report, that $1000 increase in a home’s price knocked over 200,000 potential buyers out of the market in 2013, assuming a 10 percent down payment and a 30-year mortgage.

Subtle cost increases

The NAHB report suggests that local regulatory increases—fees, permits, zoning costs and higher taxes for new construction—price new homes out of reach for otherwise qualified potential homeowners. Since it is in the best interest for most localities to have more homeowners than renters, this inadvertent price increase imposed by local regulations may ultimately produce an undesirable effect.

Buying used

Since homes in established neighborhoods are less likely to have the higher regulatory fees and taxes that new construction has, a solution is to buy a resale home. Real estate professionals like us specialize in finding the right home for the right price for qualified buyers. Homes in older neighborhoods have other advantages as well. For instance, initial outlay for a new home does not often include the cost of landscaping. A resale home typically has at least some landscaping in place. When a new homeowner is on the very edge of what they can afford, extras like that raised flowerbed you have your heart set on, the stone pathway you envision or an in-ground sprinkler system and newly laid sod often have to wait.

We can help!

With income not keeping pace with the cost of new housing, you may find yourself priced out of the new-home market. We can help you find an affordable solution without sacrificing the amenities you want in your new-to-you home. Compared to new homes, pre-owned homes have the advantage of negotiation between buyer and seller on some or all of a home’s features or components. Remember that any upgrades the previous owner put into the home—ceiling fans, upgraded faucets, hardware and appliances—typically come with the home.

New homes often have warranty issues. The first owner ends up dealing with all of those issues so that by the time the second (or later) owner moves in, the potential for problems is less. A home inspection before your purchase should reveal any potential problems that then can be included in final negotiations at the time of close.

For information on the best home purchase for you, give us a call.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Aug 12 2014

Looking for a Cheap Home? Consider Purchasing a HUD REO

Filed under: Real Estate Tips


If you are looking for a good deal on a home, you may be interested in purchasing a HUD REO. Before you decide to pursue this option, however, it is beneficial to learn more about what a HUD REO actually is and how to go about purchasing one of these properties.

What is a HUD REO?

To understand what a HUD REO is, you first need to know what an REO is. An REO, or real estate-owned property, is a type of property that did not sell after being put into a foreclosure auction. As a result, the lender is putting the property up for sale again. If the property is backed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, it is backed by a government mortgage. In this case, HUD pays off the loan balance and then puts the home up for bid. Therefore, a HUD REO home is a property that is being sold by the government that does not have any liens. Typically, these homes are sold at prices that are well below market value.

How Can You Find a HUD REO?

HUD advertises its homes at HUDhomestore.com.The site lists all of the HUD REO properties that are available throughout the country, including the contact information of the asset manager who is in charge of the property. The site will also provide you information to help you determine whether or not you are an eligible bidder, if the property is eligible for an FHA loan and the listing period of the property.

How Do You Buy a HUD REO?

To purchase a HUD REO, you will need to contact a real estate agent or broker who is authorized to sell HUD property. You will then place a bid on the property without being able to see the bids of other interested buyers. If your bid is accepted, HUD will provide your real estate agent with a settlement date. This date is usually 30 to 60 days after the bid has been accepted.

Can You Purchase a HUD REO as an Investment?

When a HUD REO is put up for bid, it is first made available to people who are interested in occupying the home. If there are no offers or acceptable bids placed during this round of bids, however, bidding becomes open to investors.

How are Payments Made on a HUD REO?

When making a bid, you will need to include earnest money. If you do not have the money to purchase the home after your bid is accepted, you will need to obtain a loan through a mortgage lender. HUD properties can be financed through an FHA loan or through a conventional loan.

What are the Risks of Purchasing a HUD REO?

The greatest risk to purchasing a HUD REO is that the property is sold as-is and without a warranty. Furthermore, if you back out of the purchase or if you are unable to obtain the financing within the settlement period, your earnest money will not be returned to you. Therefore, it is a good idea to get pre-qualified before bidding on a HUD REO.

Aug 12 2014

Keeping the Old House when Buying the New

Filed under: Home Tips


The current housing market, while picking up in most areas, has one basic problem: low supply. With many buyers choosing to keep their old home when they purchase a new home, fewer homes are on the market, driving up demand.

Becoming a landlord

Buyers that do not need the equity in their current property in order to purchase the home into which they are moving, are choosing to become landlords instead.

The financial crisis and ensuing recovery has increased the demand for rental housing. In fact, the cycle of buyers not selling their current home before buying a new one reduces the supply for homes to buy, thereby raising the prices and pricing entry-level buyers out of the market. Unable to buy the home they can afford, they then seek to rent a home that better meets their needs instead, resulting in rental price increases due to higher demand.

For those able to become landlords, it is somewhat of a perfect storm since the ability to demand a higher rent increases the income from your rental property, increasing your equity.

Advantages for landlords

Don’t forget the other advantages of being a landlord too. Since your former home is now a business for tax purposes, repairs, maintenance, utilities, taxes, insurance, some fees, and other costs may be tax deductible. Be sure to consult a qualified tax accountant to find out what your tax liabilities or deductions may be when making your former home a rental. Remember too that collected rents count as business income, so be sure to establish proper accounting records for your property.

Advantages for underwater homeowners

The option of turning a home that currently is worth less than then its mortgage into a rental property offers a way to build equity into the home and shift the balance back toward the break-even point, while potentially making a little income in addition. So, rather than chuck more money into the current home, making it into a rental solves the upside-down mortgage issue while freeing up cash for the down-payment and mortgage on a new home.

The emotional costs of being a landlord

Some property owners, especially if they lived in the property, find it difficult to make the shift from homeowner to landlord. They mourn painting over their faux finishes with generic rental neutrals, and seeing a nursery turned into an office. They worry about potential damage to their property, and the associated costly repairs, and they fret about the possibility of months without a renter and having to pay on two mortgages at once.

The best solution toward making this shift is to hire a professional property manager. A professional helps you establish the appropriate rental amounts to cover both the initial mortgage and other costs and repairs that may become necessary.

In addition, they offer a buffer between the owner and the renter that keeps the relationship entirely professional. Having a property management service handle your rental and renters can give you peace of mind while ensuring that your former home is in good hands.

As your real estate professional, we can connect you with a property management professional, so let us know what your plans are so we can help.


Compliments of Virtual Results

Aug 07 2014

What Homeownership Can Mean for You

Filed under: Market Updates

What Homeownership Can Mean for You

When you’ve never owned your home, your relationship to it is less personal. Let’s face it, when something goes wrong in your rented apartment, you call the landlord or manager to fix it. You don’t worry about insurance against natural disasters, save up for that new roof or upgraded furnace, or myriad other requirements of homeownership. After all, you just live there.

Homeownership changes all of that. You are your landlord! You are the manager, and all those repairs and upgrades? They’re your responsibility now.

So, do you really want to own a home? Yes! And here’s why:


When you own your home, every payment that you make toward your mortgage principle (i.e. not an interest only payment) increases your equity (ownership stake) in your property. As a renter, your payment goes toward the property owner’s equity. You also gain equity when the fair market value of your home increases due to changes in the market, economic growth in your region, or shortages in housing due to increased demand. And, if you make useful improvements after you purchase your home, both your improvements and your principle payments may increase your equity.

Predictable payments

As property values and costs increase, rents go up. If you are not in a rent-controlled situation, you have no control over what your lease payment will be from year to year. When your current lease ends, you may find yourself priced out of your building or neighborhood. When you buy a home with a fixed-rate mortgage, particularly in an area that does not have association dues, your monthly and yearly outgo is steady and stable. Having predictable payments allows you to stick to your budget.

A place of your own

We teach our children to save up for that toy they want, and that teenager to work toward the cost of that first car because we know that the personal investment brings pride of ownership, increased responsibility, and appreciation for the cost and value of the object. When you buy your own home and have the responsibility of caring for it, you work toward keeping it in the best possible condition and presentation. When something is broken, you fix it. When it needs and upgrade, you save up for it. It becomes an extension of you and your dream for yourself and your family.

You also take more pride in how your home appears to your neighbors. You know that if yours is the only uncut lawn, your standing in your neighborhood diminishes. Neighbors that work together to increase the curb appeal of the entire neighborhood have not just pride of ownership, but also a sense of belonging. Common improvements to the neighborhood raise the value of everyone’s property.

Homeownership changes you. It grounds you to your community and connects you to your neighbors. If you’ve never owned a home, start by contacting us. We are professionals in real estate. We can get you started toward homeownership and its many benefits.


Compliments of Virtual Results

Aug 06 2014

APR vs. APY: What is the Difference and Why Does it Matter?

Filed under: Real Estate Tips


After finding the home that you want to purchase, it is only natural to become excited and to think that you are close to moving in to the house of your dreams. Unfortunately, finding the right home is only the first step in the process of becoming a homeowner. Now that you have found the home, you need to secure the financing necessary to pay for the home that you wish to own. For many first time homebuyers, this process can seem a little overwhelming and confusing. This is particularly true when the lender starts throwing a variety of different terms and acronyms at you. Two of these terms that are often confused and misunderstood by homebuyers are APR and APY.

What is APR?

The acronym “APR” stands for Annual Percentage Rate, the APR is the interest rate that is charged to the principle balance of your loan. A number of different fees can be included in this balance, so it is important for you to ask the lender which fees are included in the APR. Some fees that are commonly included the APR included tax service, title, attorney, escrow, credit report and home inspection fees. The lender may also include the fees that are associated with preparing the loan. These include fees for loan processing, document preparation, underwriting, loan application, appraisal, credit life insurance and private mortgage insurance.

Since the fees that are included in the APR can vary from one lender to the next, it is important for you to take these fees into consideration when comparing the loan offers that are made by various lenders. Be sure you are comparing the APR as well as the cost of fees that are not included in order to determine which offer provides the best deal overall.

What is APY?

 The acronym “APY” stands for Annual Percentage Yield. While these two terms may sound very similar, they actually serve two different purposes. Whereas the APR is the interest rate that is charged against your loan’s principle, the APY is the percentage of the principle that you will pay in one year. This figure takes into consideration compounding interest. Therefore, every time the interest changes on your loan, the amount the lender earns from the interest payments is increased. This means your APY may actually be higher than your APR because the amount of interest charges that your loan actually accrues is higher than the APR.

Since the APY represents what you are paying due to compound interest, it is important for you to consider this rate as well. The lower this rate, the less money you will ultimately pay toward interest on your home loan.