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Serving South Florida

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For over 35 years

Posts Tagged ‘Highland Beach Homes’

Florida’s Housing market: Rising Prices In June

Florida’s housing market reported higher median prices and fewer days to a contract in June, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®. Closed sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 27,086 last month – slightly higher (0.4%) than the June 2015 level of 26,973 closed sales.

“Florida’s housing market is experiencing tight supply and pent-up demand.  That is affecting the pace of sales and putting pressure on statewide median prices. Florida’s economic growth, rising jobs outlook and acclaimed quality of life continue to draw new residents eager to call the Sunshine State home.

Home sellers continued to get more of their original asking price at the closing table in June: Sellers of existing single-family homes received 96.3 percent (median percentage) of their original listing price, while those selling townhouse-condo properties received 94.6 percent (median percentage).

The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $225,000, up 10.8 percent from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors research department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. The statewide median price for townhouse-condo properties in June was $164,000, up 8.6 percent over the year-ago figure.

In June, statewide median sales prices for both single-family homes and townhouse-condo properties rose year-over-year for the 55th month in a row.  According to the National Association of Realtors®(NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in May 2016 was $241,000, up 4.6 percent from the previous year the national median existing condo price was $229,600.  In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in May was $518,760; in Massachusetts, it was $353,000; in Maryland, it was $282,257; and in New York, it was $212,500.

Short sales for townhouse-condo properties declined 43.2 percent while short sales for single-family homes dropped 37.2 percent. Closed sales may occur from 30- to 90-plus days after sales contracts are written.

“Much of 2016’s slowdown in sales growth is due to the dwindling inventory of distressed properties throughout Florida,” said Florida Realtors® Chief Economist Brad O’Connor. “In June of last year, about 20 percent of sales across all property types were of the distressed variety. This June, by contrast, only 10 percent of sales were distressed. These declines are not due a lack of demand, but rather, a clear lack of supply. Florida’s distressed properties continue to slowly but surely work their way through the pipeline.

“If distressed properties are taken out of the equation, sales growth among non-distressed properties – the traditional market – remains quite strong. Non-distressed single-family home sales were up 13 percent year-over-year in June, while non-distressed sales of townhouses and condos rose by 7.6 percent.”

Inventory was at a 4.3-months’ supply in June for single-family homes and at a 6-months’ supply for townhouse-condo properties, according to Florida Realtors.

Why Fla. is the Best State for Retirement

Sunshine, beaches and a laid-back lifestyle have made Florida one of the top destinations for retirees looking to live out their golden years in peace and comfort.

Now a new study from has named the Sunshine State the best place in the U.S. to retire based on its affordability, quality of life and healthcare. The website pointed out that nearly a third of non-retirees have no retirement savings or pension and said it made its choices to help retirees find the states that offered the most bang for their buck.

Rounding out the top five for 2016 after Florida were Wyoming, South Dakota, South Carolina and Colorado.

At the bottom? Vermont, Connecticut, Hawaii, Washington D.C. and Rhode Island.

Here are the top six reasons why Florida is the best place to retire, according to WalletHub.

Hole in one!
From Seminole Golf Course in Juno Beach (the state’s top ranked links, according to GolfDigest) to Trump National Doral, Florida has the most golf courses per capita in the nation.

Looking for new friends? You won’t be lonely in the Sunshine State, which has the highest percentage of people aged 65 or over of any state.

Out on the town
It’s not Broadway, but theatergoers in Florida have more and better options than ever before. The state has the sixth-most theaters per capita in the U.S.

Help at home
The cost of hiring a nurse and other in-home help can break the bank for many seniors. But Florida has the eighth-lowest cost of in-home services of any state.

Low taxes
Many retirees don’t realize they may need to pay federal and state taxes on Social Security income and withdrawals from IRA and 401(k) funds. Florida’s low taxes make it the 10th-best state for retirees come tax season, according to WalletHub.

A night at the museum
Miami’s burgeoning cultural scene means locals don’t have to travel to New York for their museum fix. From the Pérez Art Museum Miami to the under-construction Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science to HistoryMiami, South Florida museums are on the upswing. Nationwide, Florida has the 15th-most museums per capita.

So what are you waiting for? Florida is calling.


Miami Herald, Written by Nicholas Nehamas

2016 Florida Homestead Exemption Reminder

It’s not too early to file for a property tax exemption for next year;  filing now
will allow Florida  property owners to beat the rush that normally occurs early in the year
as people try to beat the March 1 deadline.

Any Florida property owner with legal title to a home and who uses it as his or 
her permanent, primary residence by Jan. 1 is eligible for this exemption.   Homeowners
making their first claim at this time should contact their respective county property
appraiser’s office to find out how best to file for the exemption — many offices
offer applications online or will mail applications to residents. Homeowners may
also file for a homestead exemption in person, bringing along the deed to their
property or a property tax bill — something to prove they own the home. Most property
appraisers’ offices will accept applications for homestead exemption until the March
1 deadline. Please call your local county property appraiser’s office to find out
more.Visit the link found on my web site for contact information.

Here are the criteria to see if you qualify and the documentation you will need 
to provide along with your application:

$25,000 Homestead Exemption

Every person who has legal or equitable title to real property in the State of Florida
and who resides thereon and in good faith makes it his or her permanent home is 
eligible to file for Homestead Exemption. First time applicants are required to 
furnish their social security number, and should have available evidence of ownership(
i.e., deed, contract, etc. )  If title is held by the husband alone, a wife may 
file for him, with his consent, and vice versa. If filing for the first time, be
prepared to answer these and other questions:

1. In whose name or names was the title to the dwelling recorded as of January 1st?
2. What is the street address of the property?
3. Are you a legal resident of the State of Florida? (A Certificate of Domicile 
or Voter’s Registration will be proof if dated prior to January 1st.)
4. Do you have a Florida license plate on your car and a Florida driver’s license?
5. Were you living in the dwelling which is being claimed for homestead exemption
on January 1st?

Additional $25,000 Homestead Exemption for persons 65 and older

Every person who is eligible for the homestead exemption described above is eligible
for an additional homestead exemption up to $25,000 under the following circumstances:
(1) the county or municipality adopts an ordinance that allows the additional homestead
exemption which applies only to the taxes levied by the unit of government granting
the exemption; (2) the taxpayer is 65 years of age or older on January 1 of the 
year for which the exemption is claimed; (3) the annual household income of the 
taxpayer (defined as the adjusted gross income as defined in s. 62, United States
Internal Revenue Code of all members of a household) for the prior year does not
exceed $20,000 (beginning January 1, 2001, this income threshold is adjusted annually
by the percentage change in the average cost-of-living index); and, (4) the taxpayer
annually submits a sworn statement of household income to the property appraiser
not later than March 1.

$500 Widow’s Exemption

Any widow who is a permanent Florida resident may claim this exemption. If the widow
remarries, she is no longer eligible. If the husband and wife were divorced before
his death, the woman is not considered a widow. You may be asked to produce a death
certificate when filing for the first time.

$500 Widower’s Exemption

Any widower who is a permanent Florida resident may claim this exemption. If the
widower remarries he is no longer eligible. If the husband and wife were divorced
before her death, the man is not considered a widower. You may be asked to produce
a death certificate when filing for the first time.

$500 Disability Exemption

Every Florida resident who is totally and permanently disabled qualifies for this
exemption. If filing for the first time, please present at least one of the following
as proof of your disability: A certificate from a licensed Florida physician or 
a certificate from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

$5000 Disability Veteran

Any ex-service member disabled at least 10% in war or by service-connected misfortune
is entitled to a $5000 exemption. If filing for the first time, please present a
certificate from the United States Government.

$500 Exemption for blind persons

Every Florida resident who is blind qualifies for this exemption. If claiming exemption
based on blindness, a certificate from the Division of Blind Services of the Department
of Education or the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or the Federal 
Social Security Administration certifying the applicant to be blind is required.
“Blind person” is defined as an individual having central vision acuity 20/200 
or less in the better eye with correcting glasses, or a disqualifying field defect
in which the peripheral field has contracted to such an extent that the widest diameter
or visual field subtends an angular distance no greater than twenty degrees.

Service-connected total and permanent disability exemption

Any honorably discharged veteran with a service-connected total and permanent disability,
surviving spouses of qualifying veterans and spouses of Florida resident veterans
who died from service-connected causes while on active duty as a member of the United
States Armed forces are entitled to an exemption on real estate used and owned as
a homestead less any portion thereof used for commercial purposes.

Persons entitled to this exemption must have been a permanent resident of this state
as of January 1st of the year of assessment.

Under certain circumstances the benefit of this exemption can carry over to the 
veteran’s spouse in the event of the veteran’s death. Consult your appraiser for

If filing for the first time, please bring a certificate from the United States 
Government or United States Department of Veterans Affairs as your proof of a service-connected
disability or death of your spouse while on active duty.

Exemption for totally and permanently disabled persons

1. Any real estate used and owned as a homestead, less any portion thereof used 
for commercial purposes by any quadriplegic shall be exempt from taxation.
2. Any real estate used and owned as a homestead, less any portion thereof used 
for commercial purposes, by a paraplegic, hemiplegic or other totally and permanently
disabled person, as defined in Section 196.012(10), F.S., who must use a wheelchair
for mobility or who is legally blind, shall be exempt from taxation.

Persons entitled to the exemption under number two (2) above, must be a permanent
resident of the State of Florida as of January 1st of the year of assessment. Also,
the prior year gross income of all persons residing in or upon the homestead shall
not exceed the amount of income, set forth in section 196.101(4), F.S., adjusted
annually by the percentage change of the average cost of living index issued by
the United States Department of Labor. Gross income shall include United States
Department of Veterans Affairs benefits and any social security benefits paid to
the person. A statement of gross income must accompany the application.

If filing for the first time, please bring a certificate from two (2) licensed doctors
of this state or a certificate (per s. 196.091, F.S.) from the United States Department
of Veterans Affairs.



Homebuying Tips and Advice

Buying a house is a difficult process — there are large sums of money involved, the transaction costs and hassle of moving mean that you can’t just buy another house if you don’t like the one you end up with. The best you can do is to educate yourself in all aspects of the house hunt, keep a clear head, and buy a house that best fits your criteria.

There are plenty of articles full of useful tips for first-time homebuyers. I am not going to repeat them. Instead, I will list the lessons I have learned over the past 30 years of working exclusively with buyers that are not often covered.

Think long-term and think re-sale: Are you planning to have kids? Will you be taking care of elderly relatives? You might be planning to live in your first home for only a few years or plan on using it as an income producing property. In that case, who is your target audience when it comes time to sell or rent the house? If you buy a house in a very bad school district or a house with all the bedrooms upstairs when you are ready to sell the house, you will be narrowing the field of potential buyers.

Make a list of items to check when looking at properties: Home-buying is an emotional process. Ideally, you should set aside all your emotions when evaluating a house. Practically, that is impossible. Instead, make a checklist of your must-haves, nice-to-haves or absolutely nots. Then print copies of this checklist or keep it on your tablet. Every time you visit a house, take the checklist along with you; take photographs so you can cross each item off your list. If you fall in love with the house aesthetics but find your checklist shows that the house has none of your must-haves, it will at least make you pause and think.

All the old advice about buying your first home is true. Some examples — have an emergency fund, save for a down payment of 20 percent and closing costs, get your credit into a better shape, and don’t buy more than you can afford.  When budgeting for the house, don’t stop with principal, interest, taxes and insurance; add in utilities, cost of commuting and upgrades and replacement costs for aging roof or appliances. Ask the seller for copies of the utility bills and inquire of the utility companies about budget plans. Will the gas budget for your car go up if you are moving further away from the places you frequently visit? Budget all of these expenses and see if you can still afford the house.

Get Pre-approved:  Why would you want to waste time looking at houses you can’t afford?  Doing the pre-approval process ahead of time is vital. If there is something negative on your credit report, it’s best to find it early in the process, so you have time to correct it.

Ask for the homeowners and condo association documents before you make a decision: If your long- range plan is to rent out the house once you move, then you better insure that there are no rental restrictions that would preclude you from your desired goal. Thoroughly understand the Covenants and Restrictions of any area you are purchasing to ensure that they are in keeping with your lifestyle.

Be sure to read your contract before you sign it: A house is probably the largest purchase you will ever make in your life, so make sure you understand the terms of your contract. If you don’t understand any of the terms, ask your mortgage broker and your real estate agent. Either should be fully knowledgeable to address your contractual questions. I strongly advise that you retain an attorney to handle your closing, review title and loan documents, note title objections, and hold your deposit monies.

Learn about the neighborhood demographics: Do you have kids and are looking at homes without young families?  Are the majority of the residents renters and not homeowners? Define the type of neighborhood you want to live and make this one of your top priorities on your checklist.

Look beyond the staging: The psychology of staging does work; staged houses look far better than houses that are still being occupied. When you are considering a house, mentally try to remove the staging. Pay more attention to the layout of the house and the structure itself. Ugly wallpaper and paint can be easily fixed later.  Does your furniture fit the scale of the room?  Does the house have a functional kitchen?

Indecision:  Ever heard of the saying “Curiosity killed the cat”? Well, here’s another one, “Indecision killed the deal.” Not moving on a house fast enough and taking too much time to make a decision on buying the house is common as well. This indecision gives someone else the opportunity to scoop ups that home before you have a chance to make an offer.  A multiple offer situation is good for the seller, but not so much for the buyer. In this competitive real estate market with low inventory and high buyer turnout, you need to move quickly in order to get the house that you want.

Only checking online sources for mortgage rates and available homebuyer programs?  As much as everyone loves to do everything from their computer or smartphone today, this is one thing that should be done in person or with a phone call. It is always best to call a local mortgage lender and sit down in person with them to talk about the most current rates and programs available. Many of the lenders that you find online are not local and only have teaser rates on their websites. If you choose a mortgage lender that doesn’t have a local presence, a lot can change once they get the paperwork in front of them at the closing table. Insist of using an appraiser that is knowledgeable and does most of their work in area of the property.

Learn as much as you can about real estate, your budget, and your local housing market, but realize that buying a house is all about compromise, and a lot of doubt! No house is PERFECT but if you keep at it the odds are very good that you will find a house that suits your needs and will be a wonderful home for you and your family or your investment goals.