Sunday, December 13, 2009

Miami Beach's North Shore added to National Register of Historic Places

Move over South Beach. Here comes North Beach, which was just listed in the National Register of Historic Places. When this happened in South Beach, the Art Deco district was born. North Beach is mostly residential area that spans Collins Avenue in the northern part of Miami Beach. It includes the commercial strip of AIA [Collins Ave]. North Beach district is just south of Surfside, which also includes homes built in the mid 1950s, and is a couple miles south of Aventura.

My father, Gilbert M. Fein [1919-2003] is noted along with well-known architects of the time for their unique designs, which were coined MIMO or Miami Modern for the mid century modern designs of the times. There is a also an area designated the Gilbert M. Fein Conservation District near South Beach along West Avenue around 14 street.

Some of the unique features he told me about include cheese holes, as shown in Temple Menorah and 'tail fin' which looks like the tail fin of the Cadillac at the time.

According to the article on the front page of The Miami Herald on Dec. 12, the Miami Beach city officials hope this designation will spur development and improvements in this area of the city as the designation allows property owners to apply for tax credits for renovations.

For information on condos and houses for sale in this area, or for more information, please contact me.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Florida homeowner tax breaks upheld in court

Homeowners in Florida benefit from a provision called 'Save Our Homes' which prevents the amount taxed on their primary residence to rise more than 3% a year. This benefit has helped long time homeowners realize significant tax savings that otherwise would have made it impossible for many to stay in their homes during the recent housing boom of rising home values. Last year the legislature passed a law allowing homeowners to 'port' these savings when they buy a new primary residence in the state. Some challenged the law.

The courts weighed in and homeowners win. See this article from the Florida Association of Realtors. If you want to know your tax savings if you are considering a move, contact me.
Court again upholds Fla. homeowner tax breaks

Here is the link
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Nov. 18, 2009 – An appeal court Tuesday rejected another challenge to state constitutional amendments that give property tax breaks to Florida’s primary homeowners, but not to owners of second homes.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Rates below 5%, tax credits for homebuyers extended and expanded.

It is my goal to stay up to date on all the changes in real estate to share with my clients and customers so that they can make informed decisions when buying and selling real estate. It is a great time to buy. It is a challenging time to sell. This year I have sold 9 of my listings and have 3 more under contract. Home sellers: Ask me how.

Considering moving to a larger home or moving?

It truly is fine times for home buyers. The $8,000 for new homebuyers was extended and $6500 for homebuyers who were in their home for more than 3 years was added.

Click on the link below for the brief issued by the National Association of Realtors that explains who qualifies and other details.$FILE/government_affairs_tax_credit_ext_chart_110409.pdf

The link below is an article from the Florida Association of Realtors on interest rates for home loans.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Homebuyer Tax Credit passes House and Senate

This just in from the Florida Association of Realtors... WASHINGTON – Nov. 5, 2009 – The $8,000, first-time homebuyer tax credit has not yet been extended beyond its Nov. 30 end date, but it’s very close to gaining a longer life.The extension was added as an amendment to an existing bill, HR 3548, that extends unemployment benefits. The U.S. Senate passed that bill on Wednesday and, after debate, the U.S. House passed HR 3548 this afternoon. It now needs only President Obama’s signature to become law, and the White House has indicated it will sign it, perhaps as early as tomorrow. Until the president signs the bill, however, it is not law.In addition to extending the tax credit for first-time homebuyers under the current rules, the bill adds a smaller tax credit for move-up homebuyers who have lived in the house for five of the past seven years. The bill also increases the income limits of homebuyers from $75,000 (single) to $125,000; and from $150,000 (married) to $225,000.Florida downpayment assistanceAfter the president signs the bill and extends the tax credit, the Florida Homebuyer Opportunity Program – a downpayment and closing costs assistance program relating to the federal tax credit –automatically gets extended too. The state still has about $28 million available for homebuyers. The money is essentially a loan to first-time buyers; they receive it upfront, use it for a downpayment or other costs, and pay it back once they get their federal refund.For more information on the Florida Homebuyer Opportunity Program, visit the Homebuyer Center on

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Housing marekt resales report released today.

Conflicting Reports on Housing Market Today. Sales Down Nationally. Up in Florida.
Location, Location, Location
is the only constant when evaluating the housing market.
Want to know what is going on in your neighborhood?

Today, housing market sales statistics were released, as they are every month by the National Association of Realtors. The media and many industry experts follow these statistics to look for signs of market recovery or other indicators.
If you are buying or selling, it's important to remember that location, supply and demand and a number of other factors drive the real estate market. What's happening in one city can be very different from another -- even in the same county. That's why it is so important when buying or selling to work with a Realtor who knows the immediate area well.
For example, the National Association of Realtors reports that nationwide, existing home sales [resales] dropped 2.7% in August from the month before and are up just 5.1% from the prior year. Median sales price, as expected, is down 12.5% from prior year. Source National Association of Realtors.
In Florida, resales continue to rise, marking 12 months in a row that sales activity have increased in a year-to-year comparison, according to the Florida Association of Realtors. Existing home sales rose 28 percent statewide over prior year.
In Miami Dade County, the number of existing home sales declined by about 18% from July to August of 2009 and increased over 30% from same month prior year.
In Aventura, the number of sales for condos and townhouses increased by just one over last year and increased about 15% from same month prior year.
The numbers are as different as the neighborhoods they represent.
So, when you read or listen to the media hype, know that it depends on where you live or where you want to buy. If you really want to know what's going on in a particular neighborhood. Ask a Realtor.
If you are interested in Miami Dade or Broward Counties, from Miami Beach, north to Aventura, Surfside, Bay Harbor, Bal Harbour, North Miami Beach, Sunny Isles, Hallandale to Hollywood, ask me.

Search Properties For Free at

Want to be among the first to learn about new listings or recent sales in your desired neighborhood? E-mail Lori Fein at and include the neighborhood, type of home [condo, single family, townhouse], number of bedrooms and any other criteria you desire, i.e. pool, garage.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Immigration population slowing

Wow. For years we have read and experienced first hand the growing number of new residents in the area that come from other countries. Our new friends and neighbors created an unprecedented growth spurt for Florida.

Now I read that the trend is stalling. Miami-Dade County's population, which has grown steadily over the years, hasn't changed much since 2006, according to data released yesterday from the annual American Community Survey. The impact on the real estate market may be felt down the road as prices and sales are driven by supply and demand.

There have been a lot of articles on the subject over the last two days. This one from Florida Association of Realtors is easy to read and important to note:

Friday, August 28, 2009

Property Taxes

Those of us who own property in Miami-Dade County should have received our property tax notice this week. With all the talk and news about declining property values, you may wonder why your tax bill didn't decline, too.

Although many homes' ASSESED VALUES were reduced, there many be an INCREASE in the millage rate. Otherwise it may be that the assessed values are based on last year.

The Miami-Dade County property tax bill is based on 'market value' which is defined by sales of comparable property nearby. Values of 2009 tax bills are based on what a property was worth January 1, 2009, which means the county property taxes are based on sales from last year. That means if your property value has declined this year because of falling prices, your tax bill won't represent those changes.

Background information:

Real Estate Taxes are collected on an annual basis by the Tax Collector's Office. The tax year runs from January through December and taxes are due before April 1 the following year with discounts applied if paid earlier.

Explanation of distribution of property taxes can be found with 2009 proposed mileage at

Want to know more about Homestead Exemption?

Do You Want to Try to Appeal Your Tax Bill?

If you think your tax assessed value does not reflect the market price of 2008, you can try to appeal your taxes. It's important to have documented evidence of an error and follow the guidelines carefully. In Miami-Dade County, file a petition with the Miami Dade County's Value Adjustment Board before the Sept. 18 deadline. Pay your property taxes and if your case has merit, you will receive a reimbursement for part of what you paid.
Here is a website to guide you:

Portability -- Another opportunity for property tax savings

Thinking about selling your home and moving to a larger home in Florida to take advantage of lower property values? Buying a larger, higher priced home today should more than make up for the equivalent lower property value of your current home. Since 2008, homeowners may be able to transfer (or port) the savings they have accumulated (known as the Homestead Assessment Difference) to another homesteaded property up to $500,000. Ask me how!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mariner Village and Harbor Village Townhouses for sale

Here are the townhouses currently listed for sale in Mariner Village and Harbor Village in the Waterways the Southeast Florida Multiple Listing Serivce. Want to see photos and descriptions? Go to and click on search properties or ask me. Email your request to or call me if you have questions about anything you see. Thank you.

What's new in the City of Aventura

Aventura tennis players: Founders Park tennis courts will be closed for fence repairs on Friday, August 7, 2009 and they are expected to reopen at 8 AM on Saturday, August 8, 2009.

The City of Aventura supports the observance of National “Stop on Red” Week from August 2 – 8 and reminds motorists in the City to always stop on red traffic lights. Also, don't forget to stop on red when making a right turn.

Want more updates from the City of Aventura? Go to

Friday, July 10, 2009

Mortgage rates drop again!

Mortgage rates dropped a second straight week! Great news for homebuyers. Add the $8k tax credit for first time homebuyers and motivated home sellers and foreclosures and buyers are making steals and deals. See below from the FLorida Association of Realtors.

McLEAN, Va. – July 10, 2009 – Average rates for 30-year mortgages fell for the second-straight week, but still remained above record lows reached earlier this year, Freddie Mac said Thursday.The average rate for a 30-year fixed home loan was 5.2 percent this week, down from 5.32 percent last week, Freddie Mac said. At this time last year, the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage averaged 6.37 percent.Rates on 30-year mortgages fell to a record low of 4.78 percent earlier this year, spurring refinance activity.But rates then rose as high as 5.6 percent in June after yields on long-term government debt, which are closely tied to mortgages rates, climbed as investors worried that the huge surplus of government debt hitting the market could trigger inflation.Since then, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note has fallen back from an eight-month high of 4.01 percent reached in June to 3.38 percent on Thursday.Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, said rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell for the second week in a row to the lowest level in six weeks “amid market concerns over a weakening labor market.”“The weak employment situation coupled with declining home values in many markets has added to greater defaults on home equity loans and lines of credit,” Nothaft said.The American Bankers Association reported that the number of home equity loans that were 30 days or more delinquent rose to a record high of 3.52 percent in the first quarter, Nothaft noted.Freddie Mac collects mortgage rates on Monday through Wednesday of each week from lenders around the country. Rates often fluctuate significantly, even within a given day.This week, the average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.69 percent, down from 4.77 percent last week, according to Freddie Mac.Average rates on five-year, adjustable-rate mortgages were 4.82 percent, down from 4.88 percent a week earlier. Rates on one-year, adjustable-rate mortgages fell to 4.82 percent from 4.94 percent.The rates do not include add-on fees known as points. The nationwide fee for 30-year and 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 0.7 point, while the fee for five-year and one-year adjustable rate mortgages was 0.6 point.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Florida's $8k program effective today but not available yet, according to FAR

This just in from the Florida Association of Realtors re:
Florida’s $8K program effective today but not available yet

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – July 1, 2009 – Florida created a program to help first-time homebuyers get their federal tax credit early, allowing them to use up to $8,000 toward a downpayment. The effective date for the program is July 1; however, it will probably be another few weeks before the funds are available. As a result, some Realtors struggling to help homebuyers find the system confusing. While most first-time homebuyers qualify for the tax credit (given by the government as an income tax rebate regardless of tax owed), they once had to buy a home first, submit the info to the IRS through their tax return, and wait for the $8,000 rebate. To help these buyers get the money early enough to use it as a downpayment, the State of Florida created a program of bridge loans, the Florida Homebuyer Opportunity Program (FLHOP), where money can be borrowed from the state and then paid back after the new homeowner receives his tax credit.

If you want to take advantage of the $8k tax rebate for first time home buyers [or if you haven't bought or lived in your primary residence for more than 3 years, call me or start your search on line at

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Condo owners in Florida, including Aventura condos, Miami Beach condos, Sunny Isles Beach Hallandale condos

Owners of a condo or a townhouse with condo associations, take note re: HO-6 “WALLS IN” INSURANCE

This just in from Michele J. Baena, Senior Home Mortgage Consultant,
Florida Home Finance Group, LLC, An Affiliate Of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage….

As of July 1, borrowers must obtain Homeowners - 6 (HO-6) “walls-in” insurance for all condominium projects with attached units. Most borrowers will not be familiar with walls-in insurance requirements or will think their monthly association dues cover the needed insurance.

Typically, Condominium Associations do not insure the interior of the condo unit. It is the responsibility of the condo owner to properly insure interior improvements, such as: kitchen cabinetry, bathroom or lighting fixtures, upgraded flooring, extensive sound systems and appliances.

Insurance Requirements:

Walls-in coverage is required for all improvements and betterments within the condo unit. In most instances, coverage is provided by a separate, borrower-maintained and borrower-provided HO-6 policy (or comparable policy).

The amount of coverage is determined by the borrower’s hazard insurance provider.
The policy must indicate that claims (settlements) for damage to the unit will be paid on a replacement-cost basis.
The maximum deductible allowed is 5%.

NOTE: If a Condominium Association’s master insurance policy provides walls-in unit coverage, the borrower does not need to obtain insurance (see next section). The master policy must include replacement coverage of improvements and betterments the borrower makes on the unit.

If a borrower disputes the need for their individual borrower-provided HO-6 policy because they believe their Condo Association’s master insurance policy covers their individual unit, they can follow up with their Condo Association, Property Manager, REALTOR or builder to verify coverage is included in their master policy. If the borrower is informed coverage is provided, they will need to obtain:

Declaration (of Condominium, CC&Rs, or Master Deed)
Articles of Incorporation
Recorded Condo Plan/Plat/Survey Map
All applicable recorded/executed items

It will then have to be submitted for verification., APPLY ON LINE

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Why Buy Now? -- Fein Times in Real Estate

Why buy now?

Interest rates remain low, but may rise over time, the number of homes and condos on the market far exceed demand driving down price and the first-time home buyer credit of up to $8,000 expires the end of this year.

Interest rates: Mortgage rates jumped from about 4.5% to 5.4%. Not yet a deterrent but a call to act soon. The monthly cost already have increased about $55/month. Not a lot but it rates are projected to rise over time. Why buy now? a 1% increase in interest rates can wipe out a 10 percent drop in home price in a 30 year mortgage. Check out this YouTube video that provides a simple explanation on mortgage interest rates: or cut/paste:

Months of Inventory a Market Indicator:
Months of inventory is the number of months it will take to sell all the listings in a given market or neighborhood. Important to note in this equation is a large number of listings are priced well over current market price and the sellers won’t accept less. If those listings were eliminated, ‘months of inventory’ would decrease even further. A balanced market, meaning it is neither a buyer or seller’s market, according to industry analysts, is about six months of inventory. One factor suggesting the bottom is either here or near is the # of months of inventory is shrinking.

First time homebuyer tax credit of up to $8k?
Scroll down for an earlier blog post.

Your competition for that home or condo you want is heating up!

Florida’s existing home sales rose in May – the ninth month in a row that sales activity increased in the year-to-year comparison, according to the latest housing data released by the Florida Association of Realtors® (FAR). Also, for the first time in many months, the statewide median sales price in May for existing homes and for existing condos rose over the previous month’s figure.

Prudential Florida Realty Steps Up With Its Own Stimulus Package
Two major hurdles keeping today’s homebuyers on the fence even when market indicators show it’s a buyers market may be fear -- employment stability and concerns that prices may continue to decline. Prudential Florida Realty stepped in to overcome both obstacles.

The "Homebuyer Employment Guarantee" is a mortgage payment relief program facilitated by the in-house mortgage company, Florida Home Finance Group, an affiliate of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. It is designed to protect homeowners from the most common cause of missed mortgage payments and foreclosures: Involuntary unemployment and /or disability. A $620 investment paid by either the buyer or seller will: Cover up to $2,000 per month, for 24 months for Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance PITI. Total maximum benefit payout is $16,000 over all.

Afraid you buy the house and need to sell before you have earned equity? Buy a ‘Price Guaranteed Listing’ by Prudential Florida Realty. If you need to sell within three years and the price declined, I won’t charge you the listing commission.

First time homebuyer tax credit of up to $8k?
Go to, my blog, for more information. Since I posted that blog, a number of bills have been introduced in the House and the Senate that lobby for an expansion of the measure. Among the proposed changes:
Setting a new cap of $15,000.
Extending the tax break into mid-2010.
Making the benefit available to all home buyers, not just first-timers.
Offering a separate tax credit to $3,000 for borrowers who refinance.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

First time homebuyer $8000 Tax credit

Mortgage rates are at an all time low, sellers are motivated, owning a home is a great investment in your future, and can lead to many, many years of happy memories.

And now….. Another great reason to buy a home now – an $8,000 tax credit for first time homebuyers!

If you qualify and buy your primary home residence before December 1, 2009, then you’re eligible for the credit—allowing you to deduct 10% of the purchase price of your home up to $8,000 when you file your taxes. A lot of people thought the $8,000 tax credit would be available for closing costs or to supplement the down payment of the purchase. Not so unless you live in Florida.

In Florida, the buyer can now access a down payment program (DAP) that is funded by the State of Florida based on a bill the Governor signed May 29. However, don't get too excited as it comes with strings attached, according to Michele Baena, Senior Home Mortgage Consultant, Florida Home Finance Group, LLC, An Affiliate Of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.

She reminds us that the buyer can only use the down payment assistance [DAP] with an FHA loan and the Buyer must still come up with the first 3.5% down payment from their own funds (just like they do today). The DAP can be used to pay for closing costs, pre-paids, discounts points to lower rate or additional down payment. Lender also has to review tax returns carefully to make sure borrower will be eligible for the $8000 tax credit. DAP will also need to be counted as a second lien at the time of purchase and may have a monthly payment calculated into the ratios.

Michelle offers a simpler solution that accomplishes the same thing as the new legislation and is a lot less complicated.

Have the buyer go FHA and come up with their own 3.5% down payment (Gift or otherwise) just like you would have to under the new legislation. Have the SELLER pay the closing costs and pre-paids. Once the loan closes the buyer can wait until they file their 2009 tax returns in 2010 or they can easily file an amended tax return right after closing at no cost and get the $8000 tax credit right after they close.

If you use conventional financing, [most often you will need 20% down], or if you pay cash for the purchase, you would file an amended tax return for the $8,000 tax credit.

Want more information about the tax credit? Go to or, from the National Association of Realtors, for more information.

Ready to get started and search for your new home in South Florida, go to to search properties for free.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Stay tuned for great information on Aventura condo, townhomes and living!

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This is a test of great blog posts coming up!!!!