Zilbert's Miami Beach and South Beach Real Estate Blog

May 20 2015

Miami’s Gran Paraiso – Zilbert’s Early Buyer Opporunities

Filed under: Luxury Condos, Our Condo Listings

Gran Paraiso

I announced on Friday that pre-sales of one of the most notable new condos in Miami’s Edgewater District are getting under way. If you haven’t had a first look at Gran Paraiso, now would be the time. At this stage of the project, the prices are the lowest, and my team and I would be delighted to tell you more.

Last year, The Related Group revealed their 10-acre development site under the brand of Paraiso. So far, three towers have been announced, and sales have been unprecedented. The purchasers are among celebrities, locals and second home buyers from around the world. People are very excited to be a part of this new gated community.

So, now, there is one final, but unique, new tower launching sales, and it’s something very special. Gran Paraiso will be a 53-story tower, where every unit faces the bay, unobstructed. Each apartment has 10 foot ceilings, which you will not find in any of the other Paraiso towers. Each apartment is served by a private elevator foyer, and the layouts offer a flow-through design. Impressive, huh?

This may be the time to look further into whether Gran Paraiso is for you. Zilbert will be able to make a reservation for you now, with a minimal and refundable deposit. I really think that this is something worth learning more about, and my team and I are at your service.

Gran Paraiso

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EPIC Miami – Penthouse – PH-5401

The penthouse sits in 4522 sqft (420.1 m2) of living space over two levels, with an incredible private rooftop terrace with plunge pool. There is almost 3000 sqft of private outdoor space. We’ve priced this showcase apartment at $6.150M, which is about $1,360/sqft. Dare I even call this the deal of the week? In any case, you will love this property, and we are now booking appointments with qualified buyers. Brokers are also always welcomed at any Zilbert property.

Click HERE or on any photo below to learn more about this magnificent home.

01_Epic Unit PH5401

 

03_Epic Unit PH5401

 

04_Epic Unit PH5401

 

05_Epic Unit PH5401

 

 

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ST REGIS BAL HARBOUR LPH-7

ST REGIS BAL HARBOUR LPH-7

Zilbert’s Jeffrey Miller and Mark Zilbert have just listed a lower-penthouse apartment in this five-star resort community.  Fully furnished, and offering 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms in 2389 sqft (approx.) of living space.  Listed at $4,595,000. [MORE]

 

PORTOFINO TOWER MIAMI BEACH APT 1803

 PORTOFINO TOWER MIAMI BEACH APT 1803

Zilbert’s Lisa Van Wagenen is featuring this south-of-fifth gem, offering 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms in 2340 sqft of living space. It’s an incredible renovation and new design. Listed at $4,395,000. [MORE]
W South Beach Unit 1428

W SOUTH BEACH APT 1428

Zilbert’s Dario Stoka has a showcase offering on the ocean at the W South Beach.  It’s three side-by-side W apartments spanning the width of the tower, each of which can be used separately or combined.  A total of 2960 sqft, with three bedrooms.  Listed at $8,950,000.  [MORE]

 

 

Marquis Unit 3108

MARQUIS MIAMI APT 3108

Zilbert’s Juan Alvarez has a great deal at Marquis. This 2 bedroom apartment has just been reduced to $820,000, and offers two bedrooms and 1647 sqft of living space. It’s very nicely appointed. [MORE]

 

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So, what’s for sale around Miami and the beaches? 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:

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]

Miami Preconstruction – these condos are the latest, newest properties being built in Downtown Miami, Miami Beach, Edgewater Miami and other high profile areas. [CLICK]

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]

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.

 

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2014-12-29_1258

 

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Links to the Zilbert Lists

 

100 Newest Property Listings:

http://www.zilbert.com/100_newest_listings.asp

 

100 Most Recent Closed Sales:

http://www.zilbert.com/100_most_recent_sales.asp

 

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 CEO 

Licensed Real Estate Broker

zrg_transparent_white

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

 

May 19 2015

Need an Air Conditioner But Don’t Have Ducts?

Filed under: Market Updates

Need an Air Conditioner But Don't Have Ducts?

As scorching or humid summer days approach, you may be second-guessing the purchase of that vintage or historic home you’ve had your eye on. In fact, in many places homes as new as 15 to 20 years may not have air conditioning. If your home doesn’t have ductwork and is missing the attic, basement or crawlspace to add it, what can you do?

In know, I know … visions of unsightly window air conditioners dance in your head and the though of giving up a window makes you wince. Be encouraged … other options exist to see you through the hottest days.

Ductless air conditioners

Used extensively in Europe and Asia, and often seen in hotels in the United States, a mini-split or ductless air conditioner mounts one unit on the inside wall and one unit on the outside wall. The inside unit blows cool air into the room and houses any climate controls and the outer unit that brings in the air and expels the “condensate” or moisture through a drain. Between the two systems run refrigerant lines, the power source and the tubing.

Mini-split systems work great for retrofitting an older home, or for adding air conditioning to a room addition not connected to the main ductwork. In fact, installation typically requires just a three-inch hole for the conduit to pass through. While often the two units mount back to back, if necessary, situating the outdoor unit as far as 50 feet away offers more flexibility. In fact, cooling rooms on the front of your home, but situating the condenser unit I a less conspicuous location allows for installation even in highly regulated neighborhoods.

While the systems themselves cost much more than a window unit—often $1500 to $2000 per 12,000 BTU/hour cooling capacity—energy savings could increase because there is less loss than a typical duct system and less air leakage than a window system. One additional advantage comes from the minimal exposure to pests through the small entry point into the wall.

Portable Air Conditioners

A portable air conditioner is a unit that houses the blower and condenser in a single unit. They expel warm air through a small vent duct placed in an exterior window. Some portable units have two ducts … one to bring in fresh air and one to expel warm air and moisture. Additionally, many have condensation trays similar to dehumidifiers that need emptying on a regular basis.

Some portable units make quite a bit of noise, and others weigh up to 85 lbs., so “portability” may be subjective.

Other options

If your climate’s hot or humid the whole summer, you’ll want to invest in some form of air conditioning, but in more moderate climates with just a couple weeks of hot days, consider cooling with more traditional methods like ceiling fans, tower fans or even better, a whole house fan. A whole house mounts in the ceiling at the home’s highest point … such as above the top of the stairwell landing … pulls air from windows through the house and vents into the attic. Ranging from $200 to $800, a whole house, high capacity fan runs more quietly and efficiently at lower speeds. Even at hotter temperatures, the moving air evaporates perspiration from the skin, allowing inhabitants to feel cooler.

Compliments of Virtual Results

May 14 2015

What Matters Most? Why Location Trumps Everything!

Filed under: Market Updates

Home Location

Take a lesson from that old real estate adage “location, location, location.” Many seasoned homeowners will tell you that the size of your home and the amount of space you have—including extra living rooms, game rooms, or even acreage — becomes far less important to you in short order if the location is wrong.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How long is my commute to work? At first blush, the thrill of ownership may overshadow a long commute. Eventually, however, many commuters begin to feel that their families get to live in the home and they just visit for a few hours in the evening and on weekends. If being part of family life is important to you, look for something closer to your work, even if it’s a little smaller.
  • Is it near to my children’s schools? As children progress through school, the number of activities for them to be involved in increases dramatically. If the commute to their school for ball games, drama club, band practice and the like is too long, either you’ll spend all of your family life on the road or your children may miss out on things that could be important to them.
  • How far away is shopping? Living on rural property or in a newer housing development may seem like the perfect opportunity, but if you run short on milk for breakfast, is it an hour round trip to the nearest market? Or, if you choose an urban condo for its great walk score to restaurants and nightlife, do you have to have a vehicle to drive just to find groceries? The inconvenience of far-away shopping affects the enjoyment of your new home.
  • Do I enjoy activities in the nearest community? Whether urban, suburban or rural, your connection to your community affects your satisfaction and contentment with your location. If you prefer the theatre, but live in a community that only celebrates agriculture, your quality of life may suffer. Conversely, if you love the great outdoors, but your city only offers indoor activities, you may need to rethink the location of your home.

Other considerations:

Of course, one of the biggest reasons to consider location is the future sale of your home. No matter how lovely your home is, or how perfect in every other way, its location can make or break a future sale.

But, if you’re concerned about the environment, the location of your home can leave a larger or smaller carbon footprint. An EPA study points out that a home’s location relative to public transportation, energy sources and the actual housing type significantly affect energy consumption.

Before beginning your home search, take time to reflect on what is most important to you. Then, let your real estate professional in on the secret. He’ll narrow his search to those locations that fit your needs, wants and desires best.

Compliments of Virtual Results

May 12 2015

Does Size Really Matter?

Filed under: Misc, Real Estate Tips

Does Size Really Matter?

Now that you’re embarking on home ownership, you might wonder how large a space you actually need. After all, apartments tend to be a bit smaller than the average home and the siren song of extra space lures many a buyer into purchasing the biggest bang for their buck. While the size of houses increased during the early 2000s, the new home market shows a 15 percent decrease in square footage for the average home.

While some buyers yearn for more space, others have downsized … even while their children still live in the home. In fact, a trend toward very small homes has increased in popularity in recent years.

While no one can decide what’s exactly right for your situation, here are some things to consider:

How much space do you really need? vs. How much space do you want or can afford?

To answer this question, you’ll need to spend some time determining your family’s lifestyle:

  • How many people will live in the house? Brothers of a similar age can easily share a room, for example, but teens may do better in a separate space from their younger siblings. If grandparents share the home too, they may enjoy their own living area.
  • Do you often have out-of-town guests? If so, you’ll need sleeping room for guests, and even an extra bath.
  • Do you have lots of indoor hobbies? Sewing, crafting and woodworking in your living space can make day-to-day life difficult for the rest of the family. If you have indoor crafts, you’ll need a home with an extra room, a large garage, workshop, basement or attic.
  • Do you work from home? Both for tax purposes and for your own sanity, you may need an office with its own door. Being able to “leave work” is a boost for most home-based entrepreneurs, too.
  • Does a larger home require more maintenance? If more space just means more time cleaning, you might be happier in a smaller space, but if a smaller space means constant purging and organizing, a little more room to store your stuff can fill the bill.
  • Do you plan to keep the home into your empty nest or retirement years? If so, you may be willing to live with less space-per-person now so that you have a paid-off home that’s just the right size later.

Talk to your professional

Deciding how much space you want or need, and how you plan to use it is important before you begin to look. Your agent may show you a beautiful home that you become infatuated with, but that isn’t really right for your needs … but if she knows your needs and how you want to live, she’s more likely to show you the home that becomes your long-time love—no matter what size it is.

Compliments of Virtual Results

May 08 2015

Some Quick Real Estate Notes from Zilbert

Filed under: Luxury Condos, Our Condo Listings, Real Estate News

This week, I’ve got a handful of random items to share with you, and some news about the new Zilbert.com that will be released this summer. And, as always, I invite you to reach out to my staff and I seven days a week. We are always working, and always available.

Here’s what’s news at Zilbert:

THE GRAN(DEST) OF THEM ALL. We are highly-anticipating the launch of GranParaiso, the fourth tower in the hugely-successful Paraiso master condo development project in Miami’s incredible Edgewater district. The other three towers were enormous success stories, and this will be the newest and most-exciting new tower. As usual, Zilbert will be there on day one with entry level pricing, and our clients get preferred pricing. We will have an announcement very soon about this project, but let me know if you wish to be placed on an advance list to look at units we will be selling. This is another Related Group development, and for this fourth tower, Italian design mastermind Piero Lissoni will be the design architect. It’s going to be something truly amazing.

 

 

 

GranParaiso

GranParaiso

 

WHAT TO BUY? WHEN TO BUY? If you are a buyer, you may be getting mixed signals from the Miami marketplace. On one hand, with the strong U.S. dollar, non-U.S. buyers may be hesitating. On the other hand, Miami is going through its most-significant growth period in its history. So, anyone getting into real estate now is getting in during that upwards growth period (historically, pricing stablizes once growth stabilizes). But, make no mistake about it. The buyer opportunities are here, and now. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Sellers of Miami property who are from non-U.S. countries, particularly Europe, are seeing huge currency gains by selling their properties now. We believe many will negotiate favorable pricing to be able to “cash out” while their home currency is lower. The U.S. dollar cash sale is a windfall for them.
  • Some sellers are over-priced, giving a false impression that the market prices are higher than they should be. Enough time has now passed that we believe many of these unrealistic sellers will either reduced their pricing, or simply remove themselves from the market. This may give an impression of lower pricing. However, it’s really just a return to prices that are more consistent with the marketplace.
  • We are entering a 2-3 period where our many preconstruction buildings will be completing and opening (which has already started). While we have not created a market of “flippers” as we did with the last cycle, enough time has passed where there will likely be original buyers of preconstruction properties willing to let go their purchases at day-one pricing. That’s where the opportunities lie. And, for some of these buyers, their deposits that have been sitting in escrow have grown in value, due to currency changes in their home countries. So, yet another windfall for them should they sell out their contracts to new buyers. Zilbert has a team to match these sellers with buyers, and to facilitate in helping to find the proper and legal methods to either assign contracts or facilitate simultaneous closings.
  • South Florida is now seeing a surge in buyers from the U.S., which surprisingly enough, is something new for us. We have always had U.S. buyers, but the rate is skyrocketing. As U.S. buyers, particularly from the Northeast United States, continue to hunt for luxury properties, we are finding that our current pricing levels are compatible with their expectations. This means that although some of our condo properties are sitting at their highest valuations ever, buyers are making purchases.
  • Buyers from China are starting to descend on Miami. This adds a whole new demographic of buyers, one we did not have before. And the dollars coming into Miami are huge. We have yet to see what the impact on the market will be, however, as the number of buyers increase the amount of inventory decreases. So, for other buyers, this could reduce or eliminate buying options later on. So, perhaps this is a message to secure properties for yourselves ahead of this wave of buyers from China.

THE NEW ZILBERT.COM. Did you know that about 70,000 people visit Zilbert.com each month? And add to that our visitors to us in Brazil (Zilbert.com.br), Italy (Zilbert.it), France (Zilbert.fr) and Russia (Zilbert.ru), we are a worldwide resource. Well, we are getting ready to launch the next generation of Zilbert.com, and we are going to start to add many new features that make our web browsing experience a one of a kind experience. Not only will our site be Mobile-accessible (which you are going to love, by the way), we are redesigning how you look for properties or compare property prices. And, we will be introducing the “Zilbert neighborhoods”. This will help you watch and explore condos and homes in the areas that you want. We are very excited about this huge step in the growth of our technology, and it all debuts this summer 2015. Stay tuned!

 

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EPIC Miami – Penthouse – PH-5401

The penthouse sits in 4522 sqft (420.1 m2) of living space over two levels, with an incredible private rooftop terrace with plunge pool. There is almost 3000 sqft of private outdoor space. We’ve priced this showcase apartment at $6.150M, which is about $1,360/sqft. Dare I even call this the deal of the week? In any case, you will love this property, and we are now booking appointments with qualified buyers. Brokers are also always welcomed at any Zilbert property.

Click HERE or on any photo below to learn more about this magnificent home.

01_Epic Unit PH5401

 

03_Epic Unit PH5401

 

04_Epic Unit PH5401

 

05_Epic Unit PH5401

 

 

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ST REGIS BAL HARBOUR LPH-7

ST REGIS BAL HARBOUR LPH-7

Zilbert’s Jeffrey Miller and Mark Zilbert have just listed a lower-penthouse apartment in this five-star resort community.  Fully furnished, and offering 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms in 2389 sqft (approx.) of living space.  Listed at $4,595,000. [MORE]

 

 

PORTOFINO TOWER MIAMI BEACH APT 1803

 PORTOFINO TOWER MIAMI BEACH APT 1803

Zilbert’s Lisa Van Wagenen is featuring this south-of-fifth gem, offering 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms in 2340 sqft of living space. It’s an incredible renovation and new design. Listed at $4,395,000. [MORE]
W South Beach Unit 1428

W SOUTH BEACH APT 1428

Zilbert’s Dario Stoka has a showcase offering on the ocean at the W South Beach.  It’s three side-by-side W apartments spanning the width of the tower, each of which can be used separately or combined.  A total of 2960 sqft, with three bedrooms.  Listed at $8,950,000.  [MORE]

 

 

Marquis Unit 3108

MARQUIS MIAMI APT 3108

Zilbert’s Juan Alvarez has a great deal at Marquis. This 2 bedroom apartment has just been reduced to $820,000, and offers two bedrooms and 1647 sqft of living space. It’s very nicely appointed. [MORE]

 

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So, what’s for sale around Miami and the beaches? 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:

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]

Miami Preconstruction – these condos are the latest, newest properties being built in Downtown Miami, Miami Beach, Edgewater Miami and other high profile areas. [CLICK]

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]

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.

 

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Links to the Zilbert Lists

 

100 Newest Property Listings:

http://www.zilbert.com/100_newest_listings.asp

 

100 Most Recent Closed Sales:

http://www.zilbert.com/100_most_recent_sales.asp

 

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 CEO 

Licensed Real Estate Broker

zrg_transparent_white

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

 

May 05 2015

Home Loans Especially for College Grads

Filed under: Real Estate News

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With outstanding student loan debt topping $1.2 trillion, and more than 40 million borrowers carrying student loan debt, the age of first-time homebuyers is edging upwards. Among millennials, homeownership is down from 43 percent a decade ago to just 36 percent today. Even though rates on mortgages are relatively low, the overall debt-to-income ratio of potential homebuyers in their 20s and 30s is relatively high.

Graduating from college or getting that advanced degree can propel your career, but student loans hanging over your head might make buying that first home more difficult. According to a 2012 study, qualifying for low-downpayment loans—or any loans—for those with higher debt loads due to student loans can be particularly unattainable. But newer options are coming available for successful college graduates that might open up doors for potential homebuyers.

USDA Loans

A specialty loan type geared toward rural housing, the USDA Home Loan Underwriters consider a college degree to be a “compensating factor” when evaluating applications for home loans. They have special ways of calculating student loans that are in deferment or are in an income-based repayment (IBR) status depending on the documentation of your arrangements, so keeping great records on your student loans is really important.

FHA Loans

When calculating the debt-to-income ratio for FHA loans, the Federal Housing Administration calculates loans that are deferred beyond 12 months differently than loans that may require payments to begin sooner. Again, the FHA lender requires supporting evidence regarding your loan’s deferment status. If you are a co-signer on a student loan, your lender’s standards may differ, too.

How can you qualify?

Data from top lenders shows that about an equal number of loans to millennials with student debt are funded as are denied. That means that other factors regarding student loan debt affect approval during underwriting. According to some analyses, a difference in monthly student loan payment amounts of $500 versus $300 can derail a loan, as can a few points one way or the other on a credit score.

Check out new loan products

Standard loan underwriting by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae may continue to slow home mortgages to graduates with student loans, but some lenders are creating options for graduates in good standing.

Requiring as little as ten percent down, a SoFi mortgage has flexible debt-to-income requirements in its underwriting process for graduates with education debt. While not yet available in all state, these loan products are available in twenty-three states and the District of Columbia. Expansion to other states is in the works.

These mortgages do not require private mortgage insurance (PMI) or loan origination fees, saving new millennial homeowners a little more in the monthly outgo, too. According to their website, loans tend to close in as few as 21 days due to their streamlined underwriting process.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Apr 30 2015

Should I Haggle Over the Price?

Filed under: Real Estate Tips

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Buying a home, especially for the first time, is emotional. You’ve saved and scrimped for months—years even—and now you’ve found the home of your dreams. You’re in love and you don’t want someone else to get it.

Joss Whedon, the mastermind behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer says, “Never sit at a table you can’t walk away from.” That is, don’t begin a negotiation if you’re not willing to say “no” if it doesn’t move in the direction you favor. The truth is…if you can’t walk away from that home, you probably won’t do well and may even give up more than you need to.

When you’re negotiating over the purchase of a home that you’ve become emotionally invested in, it’s more difficult to stand your ground or walk away when the haggling becomes fierce. To succeed in a negotiation, you need resolve based on facts, not emotions.

Base your resolve on knowledge of the market: knowing the market gives you the advantage moving on to another similar home if this one doesn’t work out.

Let your professional do the haggling: Your real estate professional knows which areas in the deal might be negotiable and which probably aren’t. She also knows, or can learn, more about the home’s situation.

  • Has it been on the market for a while?
  • Is it being sold by the former residents? Or, is it being sold by a nephew that inherited it? Is it part of a divorce? The more you know about the seller, the better you can judge if they’ll negotiate. Public records can give you some information about both the property and the seller.
  • Are there circumstances in the neighborhood that can give you wiggle room (i.e. a shopping mall going in near by, periodic odors wafting in the home’s direction a couple times a year from nearby industry)?
  • Know what the nearby comparable homes sold for and why (updated kitchen, new bath, in-ground sprinklers).
  • Ask! If you don’t ask, you don’t know. The more questions you ask, the more information you have to negotiate with.
  • Stick to the basics and don’t get hung up on easily changed decorations, appliances, carpeting or window treatments. You’re buying the structure.
  • Avoid contingencies. If you’re asking for concessions and negotiating the price, don’t expect the seller to agree to a contingency on the sale of the home you currently own.
  • Determine which is most important to you: location, price or size. Then, craft your negotiations around the on that is most important to you and your family.
  • Know if you’re in a buyer’s market, a seller’s market or a balanced market so you can tailor your negotiations to the market forces. In a seller’s market, try negotiating for simple additions to sweeten the pot, but don’t offer low-ball pricing unless you know the seller is in a distressed situation. In a buyer’s market, push for options on closing times, upgrades to flooring or appliances or keeping the patio furniture. In a balanced market, expect negotiations to take longer, or agree to things like splitting costs.

You want the seller to feel that he came out well, even if you win some concessions in the negotiations. When both the buyer and seller feel good about the transaction, the negotiations will be smoother and more positive.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Apr 29 2015

Futuristic Kitchen Upgrades

Filed under: Home Improvement

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A recent display at the Saloni design fair in Milan, Italy, featured parts of Concept Kitchen 2025, a collaboration between IKEA, the IDEO design firm and Swedish design students. Their exhibit showcases concepts from tables that double as computers and cooktops to food storage appliances that read RFID chips on food packaging that programs the correct storage temperature via “smart induction cooling technology.”

In addition to technological advances, the displays included more traditional and even ancient technology such as naturally cooling terracotta storage boxes for root vegetables, potatoes, garlic or onions.

Other technology included ingenious designs for collecting gray water to reuse for watering plants or pre-washing dishes, faucets that respond to the intensity of touch by increasing or reducing water pressure, and visible food storage that encourages healthful snacking.

Many of the designs promoted the concept of small but adjustable living. Since many people will live in cities where space is scarce, kitchens with adjustable to fit the needs of the user with more or less storage, changes in the height of shelving, expandable tables and other surfaces, and other options.

While these designs may be incorporated into future appliances and kitchen items, some items may be in stores sooner. Move over, Jettsons … check out these futuristic kitchen helps available now.

  • Minipresso: This miniature espresso machine can travel with you anywhere. It is lightweight, compact and operates by hand so it does not impact on the environment.
  • Indoor microgarden: Grow your own herbs without the dirt or mess in an origami-inspired paper gardening kit.
  • SpreadThat: An advanced butter knife that uses your body heat to soften the butter as it slices offers up the perfect spread.
  • Interactive Prep Pad: a scale and prep area that keeps track of nutritional values to help you reach your health goals.
  • Furtif knives: These laser-bonded, titanium carbide kitchen knives only require sharpening once every couple of decades or so.
  • WiFi enabled Crock-Pot: When timing is everything, this slow cooker allows you to control it from wherever you are via your 3G, 4G or WiFi enabled smart device. You can adjust the cooking time, the temperature or turn it off from wherever you happen to be, so dinner is ready right on time.
  • ChillThat icecream dish: A step of from frosty mugs, this cool number keeps your icy treat frozen while you eat it. The refreezable bowl and cover are composed of an engineered thermal absorption material that protects your ice cream while keeping it the perfect temperature.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Apr 23 2015

Why Use Wood-Look Tile?

Filed under: Home Improvement, Real Estate Tips

Wood-Look Tile

A newer trend sweeping the building industry is the use of wood-look porcelain or ceramic tiles. While natural wood flooring is still an optimal choice for most homes, here are some reasons you may want to take a second look at wood-look or wood-grain tiles:

Humidity situations:

  • Moisture: if you live in a humid or moist climate, natural wood may succumb to warping or swelling when exposed to excess moisture. Fluctuations in humidity levels where the level in the air is higher than the level in the wood can cause a condition known as “cupping.” Cupping is when the floor has a washboard appearance and feels uneven underfoot.
  • Lack of moisture: in the reverse situation, where the wood has more moisture than the air, the moisture in the wood evaporates and causes shrinkage. In plank wood flooring, gaps may form between the planks. Parquet flooring exposed to low humidity may loosen and break apart. Even in typically high-humidity areas, running a furnace in the winter can reduce indoor humidity enough to damage wood flooring.
  • Properly laid porcelain or ceramic wood-look plank tiles give the rich look of wood, but do not swell or shrink with excess humidity or arid conditions.

Temperature control:

  • In warm climates, the cost of air conditioning can be a budget breaker. Ceramic and porcelain tiles are cooler to the touch and can help reduce the need for excessive air-conditioning.
  • At the same time, ceramic and porcelain tile is not as cool to the touch as marble, for example, so in colder climates it is not too cold in the wintertime. If your climate tends to extremes, you can mitigate the cold flooring in winter by installing radiant or hydronic (circulate water) heating mats under the tile.

Durability:

  • Tile comes in five varying grades of durability rated from light traffic to extra heavy traffic. The choice of tile should reflect the traffic and use that it will receive. Tile strength is graded by the Porcelain Enamel Institute and rated for hardness from Group 0 (only wall tile) to Group 1 (I, or PEI1) through Group 5 (V, or PEI5).
  • Compared to wood or carpet, ceramic or porcelain tile is water, stain and wear resistant. That means you can get a wood look in your kitchen or bath and not worry about damaging the floor if your dishwasher floods or the kids start a water fight in the shower.
  • Scratches can mar the look of wood flooring, requiring expensive sanding and refinishing. Laminate flooring like Pergo cannot be repaired once scratched—those individual planks need to be replaced. Depending on the grade, ceramic or porcelain tile is nearly impervious to scratches from normal wear and tear, so if you’re one of those homeowners that like to move the furniture every week or two, but love the look of wood flooring, wood-like tiles are a win-win.

Resale value

For homeowners, along with all other considerations is the concept of resale value and return on investment (ROI). Wood flooring increases home values, but wood-look ceramic or porcelain tile can add the same or similar value over the long-term. Additionally, tile often is less expensive to install, so your return on investment can be even greater.

The best choice is the choice that fits you and your family’s lifestyle, continues to look good for years and is easy to maintain.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Apr 21 2015

Help for Prospective Homebuyers

Filed under: Real Estate Tips

Help for Prospective Homebuyers

While there is no dearth of advice when it comes to saving up to buy a home, some of us just need a little more help.

Introducing the Housing Counselor

What, you ask, is a housing counselor? Different from a real estate agent or broker, a housing counselor is a neutral party that does not make money from the purchase (or sale) of a home. Her sole mission is to:

  • Educate potential homeowners so that when they make the decision to purchase a home, they are reading financially, and
  • Help them keep the home once they’ve purchased it.

Many housing counselors work for non-profit and not-for-profit organizations. They offer unbiased information, recommendations and options for each client’s circumstances. Their information and advice takes into account the potential homebuyer’s financial history, family situation and time of life, and future goals and plans. To them, it’s all about you … not about making a sale or commission.

When you develop a relationship with a housing counselor, you can maintain that relationship through all phases of your homeownership experience. In fact, coming to the table to purchase your first home with the advice of a housing counselor makes the job of your professional real estate agent more focused and directed. You already know how much you can afford, and how much you need. You’ll know which loan options will for you.

When a Housing Counselor is required

Sometimes, meeting with a housing counselor is a requirement of being approved for a loan. This often is true in the case of homebuyers utilizing low-downpayment loans and government subsidized loan programs. If you’re wanting to purchase a home after a bankruptcy or foreclosure, a housing counselor can help you find programs set up directly to assist you if your situation has improved, despite what your credit history says.

Sometimes a required meeting with a housing counselor helps you fully understand the ramifications of alternative financial products, such as a HUD reverse mortgage or possible federal and local grants that might be available for your situation. When you meet with a housing counselor, they’ll show you the various loan options available and explain how each one works, what the requirements are for approval and how it can impact your finances now and in the future.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) offers advice on owning a home, keeping a home and loan options. Their website offers links to HUD-approved housing counselors to help you through the process.

If you are working with a housing counselor, let your real estate professional know. We can coordinate our search with the recommendations from your housing counselor so that your home buying experience is optimal for you. Knowing ahead of time helps us define the parameters in our search to show you the very best options for your home purchase.

Compliments of Virtual Results