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17Nov/100

Vacation Condos

With winter approaching, it is no wonder that residents of Chicago, New York and other northern cities start making plans to escape the cold weather, even for a few days, to places like Miami, Las Vegas and other hotspots. Finding a place to stay is the first task for anyone seeking to a break from the cold weather, and vacation condos are a great option when trying to get the most “bang for your buck.”

These vacation condos, often found in upscale high rises in prime tourist destinations, are ideal because of their location and relatively low cost. By renting a condo, for the price of a nice hotel room, and sometimes even less, you will get the opportunity to say in a much more spacious condo, and enjoy access to hotel amenities such as state-of-the-art pools and fitness centers.

 The owners of the vacation condos, especially those in resort communities in Florida and elsewhere, are often snowbirds themselves. They buy condos with the intention of renting them out for long periods of the year when they will not be using them. Of course anyone who owns a condo or house can make their property available to vacationers, but it is harder to get the word out as an individual.  In condo high-rises, however, the rental process is handled by the condo management. All the owner has to do is provide a schedule when the condo will be available to rent. The income can go toward the mortgage.  

Many people who find themselves renting condos for regular vacations in Florida or Las Vegas end up buying one of their own, especially if they are attracted to a certain location, and go back there often. Some people buy them as investment properties with the intent to eventually retire there. In the meantime, they are used as second homes or vacation condos. Of course, vacation condos can be found in Chicago and other cities too, so the travel goes both ways

Due to continuing low interest rates, together with the high volume of real estate available for sale, especially in places such as South Florida, Las Vegas, and California, now is as good a time as any to buy a vacation condo. Florida, especially in areas around Miami and Fort Lauderdale, now has some of the most affordable real estate in the country. The Las Vegas area, and Phoenix too, is equally good.

For these reasons, buying a vacation condo now could definitely work out to your advantage economically. In addition to the benefits of renting it out when you are not using it, the property values are sure to increase in the foreseeable future, so investing in condos is still a profitable venture.

19Oct/100

Foreclosure Crisis

While people who watch TV news might get the impression that the foreclosure crisis is just affecting homeowners, but it is striking luxury condo developers all over the United States too. On the bright side for people thinking of purchasing property, it is now a buyer’s market.

In Chicago, for instance, the construction of The Spire, a planned 150-story building, has been on hold since 2008 for financial reasons. The plans called for 1,193 luxury condos to be built, probably by 2013. So far, only a big hole in the ground is in evidence where the tower was going to be, at 400 N. Lake Shore Drive. The chances of it every getting off the ground are slim because the main lender Anglo Irish Bank Corp. recently announced plans to file a $77 million foreclosure lawsuit against The Spire’s  developer Garrett Kelleher of Shelbourne Development Group, claiming that loans made to Kelleher’s development company have been in default for a year. The Dublin-based bank, in fact, is in dire financial straits itself due to the worldwide economic slowdown, and had to get bailed out by the Irish government.

Shelbourne Development is trying to obtain additional financing and restart construction, but observers are not optimistic that the building designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava will ever be completed. It was expected to become one of the world’s largest free-standing structures.

The Spire is merely the biggest project to go by the wayside. Several other developments in Chicago were halted too, and similar stories have happened in New York, Miami, and other cities around the country that have been hit hard by the foreclosure crisis.   

Of course, when you are losing your own house to foreclosure, it doesn’t really matter that upscale developers are having trouble too. But it is just an indication of how wide ranging the problem is. People trying to sell condos and other homes are also in a bind, because property prices are lower due to the large amount of properties on the market now.

This is the reason why it is now a buyer’s market, and anyone interested in buying condos or homes of any kind would do well to start looking in earnest before the market turns around. The foreclosure crisis has resulted in condos and houses are available for sale in nearly every city and town, and many owners are highly motivated to sell as long as the offered price is reasonable.

6Oct/100

U.S. Real Estate Market

Real estate industry observers have noted that more foreign investors than ever are investing in the U.S. real estate market due to low interest rates and bargain prices available in cities such as Miami and New York, Los Angeles and Phoenix, which should encourage Americans to take their lead and do the same.

Investors from around the world, including countries as diverse as Argentina, Canada, Colombia, France, Israel, Italy, Norway and Venezuela account for many of the sales in Miami this year. For instance, it was noted in one report that 262 of the 372 condos in the Viceroy, a new condo tower on Brickell Avenue in Miami, have been sold since January—almost 90 percent to foreigners. The same trend has been seen in cities across the country too.

According to one report, the low prices have spurred foreign investors to invest in the U.S. real estate market rather than the stock market, figuring the chance for eventually seeing sizable profits is much higher with real estate. As one Canadian investor explained it, he is interested in buying condo developments in good Phoenix neighborhoods. He is looking for condos in good neighborhoods that already have renters, and is finding them priced as low as $40,000. He said those prices are much lower in Phoenix than in Toronto, and he expects to be able to sell them for much more than he paid when the economy turns around. In the meantime, he figures he is making as much as $300 per month in profit on each condo.

Latin American investors have traditionally been attracted to cities such as Miami, and the low prices available there now are providing further encouragement. Miami is a short and inexpensive plane ride away from Bogota, Colombia, and one investor from that city said she would rather buy property in Miami than Bogota because her return on investment will be much higher in this country. Property prices in Miami in particular have been cut nearly in half since the high point of the building boom in 2007.  But the foreign investors, who buy using the traditional method as well at real estate auctions, are obviously confident that the economy will turn around in the near future. They expect to be able to get a good return on their investment when prices return to a more normal level.

Nationwide, overseas buyers still only account for about 7 percent of real estate sales, but they are seen as having an overall positive effect on the U.S real estate market. Their numbers are increasing in many cities also. Purchases by China-based buyers are expected to double this year in New York, for instance.

20Sep/100

Miami Condos

If you are looking for a low-maintenance lifestyle, maybe in a popular downtown location or near the beach there is no better place to look than Miami Condos. Living in a condo in Miami can offer many benefits that you will not find in a home in the suburbs.  They can offer more plentiful amenities from beach access, pools, golf courses, lawn maintenance and much more.  All of these things offer a different lifestyle that many find appealing but there are a few things you might want to consider.

  1. Condos usually have an association that has guidelines, some may be casual but others can be strictly enforced.  Get a copy of the rules and guidelines and make sure they will fit in with your lifestyle.  Being at odds with the association and possibly your neighbors can make home a much less appealing place to live.
  2. Many Miami condos come with a variety of benefits but also a cost.  Most associations have fees that cover many of the amenities which convinced you to entertain the idea of condo living in the first place. Some associations charge a small maintenance fee to cover the basics but depending on the extravagance of what are offered in your complex they can run much higher.  Associations are anxious to provide you with their list of fees, what they cover, and what is expected of you as an owner.  One last thing to consider regarding fees is to find out if the association is planning on any improvements or upgrades that can raise costs.
  3. Before you jump at that Miami condo find out about the community you are buying into.  Does it fit the lifestyle you want?  What is the financial status of the condo association?  How many units are vacant?  How many units are rented?  If possible, talk to some of the owners and find out if they are happy living there, how well the complex is being run, or if they have had past problems and how those problems were resolved. You are buying into an entire community and it is important that you know all you can before making a decision.

There are many Miami condos in all types of locales from downtown Miami to Coconut Grove to Key Biscayne offering something no matter your taste or budget.  No matter if you are retiring to south Florida to sit on the beach or find a vacation property there can be no more exciting location than Miami.

13Sep/100

Miami Real Estate Market

Let’s be honest.  The national real estate market is certainly facing its challenges and the Miami Real Estate market is no different but there are some reasons to be optimistic about what is happening across the nation and more specifically in the Miami market.  The lack of new developments has helped to slow a glut in the housing and condo markets for Miami and we are beginning to see prices stabilize.  I am hearing from many potential condo buyers that they expected a big collapse in prices so they could pick up a condo cheap but they now think that collapse may already have happened and prices are stabilizing or may even be starting an upward trend.  We could very well be at the bottom of the housing market which means there is no way to go but up encouraging buyers to get in the market for those great deals before they are all gone.

Market trends can change fairly dramatically and quickly due to several contributing factors.  The Miami real estate market is no different than any other area of the country and trends are an aspect that must be considered no matter if you are a first-time homebuyer or seasoned purchaser.  Knowing where the market is headed and the overall conditions are a very crucial part of making a smart decision.

For many months the Miami real estate market has been showing signs of recovery.  This can be the perfect time for buyers to enter the market looking for distressed homes and we are seeing an increasing number every day looking for short sales, foreclosures or just a motivated seller needing to move their home or condo.  With home prices continuing to drop in all areas of the country including Miami, many buyers are looking for the best deals they can find.

Access to properties has also made it easier for home buyers to find just the right deal.  Many properties are still being listed in magazines, newsletters, and other forms of publication but most homebuyers find it easier to look online.  Information that was once limited to the general public is now available quickly and easily providing many homeowners alternatives in buying or selling a home or condo.

Obviously we are not quite out of the woods yet regarding the real estate market but at least now we see some light at the end of the tunnel.  The real estate industry is used to cycles but this time around we would like to see the down side turn much quicker to the up side.

10Sep/100

A Homebuyer’s Story

Working at OwnACondo.com, people often tell us why they decided to buy a condo or house at this time, and here is just such a homebuyer’s story.

Joan had moved around a bit after college, going where the jobs took here, to Boston and elsewhere. Now that she is back in the Chicago area, she decided that she had enough of apartment living. She heard a lot of gloom and doom from people who said this was not a good time to buy, but she had realized that now really is a good time. After all, she figured, as hard to believe at it is, we have 1963 mortgage rates. Imagine, getting a loan for the same interest that it would have cost almost 50 years ago. That is a hard deal to pass up. Of course the prices of homes have multiplied since then, but so have wages and everything else. But you can still borrow money at the same rate as when John F. Kennedy was president.

Besides the price of the loan, a homebuyer’s story also has to consider house affordability. In this case, Joan was looking at both condos and houses, and she found the ideal single-family house in a southwest suburb. Because she has a large dog, a Dalmatian, she had wanted to buy a house but was afraid initially that she would be limited to buying a condo due to the price. However, due to the low interest rates and the seller’s interest in coming to a deal, she was able to get a nice, two-story house near a park for what she considered a steal. So deals are out there, but sometimes you have to be patient. Joan actually had been looking for several months, and one deal actually fell through, but she took her time and did not get discouraged. All the naysayers were surprised and happy for her when she finally landed her dream house, even in this economy.

Of course, housing affordability varies between cities, so whether in Chicago or Minneapolis, or New York or Miami or L.A., a homebuyer’s story is going to be different.  In Joan’s case, she bought a three-bedroom house for a little more than half of what her sister bought a one-bedroom condo for in suburban New York City a few years ago, but prices have gone down in New York too, and there are deals to be found now in every city. And they are not just on dilapidated, foreclosed properties. Joan’s house was in walk-in condition, and she couldn’t wipe the smile off her face as she turned that key in the door of her new home.

5Aug/100

Condo Conversions

Many people are inclined to think condo conversions—former apartment buildings converted to condos—are limited to modest low-rise buildings with equally modest prices, in middle-class neighborhoods away from the hustle and bustle of downtown. But they come in all shapes and sizes, and locations.

They can be found in luxury high-rises, in the middle of vibrant city centers, as well as suburban subdivisions. Some of the most luxurious condos, in the ritziest neighborhoods of Chicago and other big cities, are actually condo conversions. For instance, the 70-story Lake Point Tower, a landmark building and part of the Chicago skyline on Lake Michigan, is arguably the most prestigious condo high-rises on the Chicago lakefront. But the building known for its black and copper exterior, and unique curved contours, began as an apartment building when it went up in 1968. It wasn’t until 1988 that they were turned into condos. Of course, when Lake Point Tower was made up of apartments, they were upscale, to say the least.  The building has always been known as a popular place to live for celebrities.

Other nearby luxury buildings such as 474 N. Lake Shore Drive, formerly known as North Pier Condos, and Pearson on the Park, all within sight of Lake Michigan and the many restaurants, museums, stores and other attractions that people come downtown to see, began as apartment buildings too and were only turned into condos in the 1990s, when the condo craze took off. The same type of redevelopment has occurred in New York, Miami, Philadelphia and other cities.

Often, some people buying condos automatically consider condo conversions as somehow inferior to condos that have never been anything else. Perhaps because little or no upgrading has taken place and they still look like apartments. Of course, there are instances like that. But more often than not, that simply is not the case. Redevelopers might not change the outside too much, when apartment buildings are converted to condos. If it is not damaged, there is no need to, but if you take a look around inside, you might be pleasantly surprised to find a lot of upgrades, from sound insulation to ultramodern bathtubs, sinks and other fixtures in bathrooms and kitchens.

Extra amenities have often also been added in the many of the condo conversion buildings, especially the luxury buildings. Everything from doormen to pools and health clubs are welcome additions.

So when it comes to condo conversions, as the moral of the story goes, don’t judge a book by its cover—or its name. Investigate and you might find a gem, anywhere from Streeterville to Main Street.

19Feb/100

Condos in Miami

Condos in Miami
The most difficult part about shopping for condos in Miami is narrowing down the search, because the city and Miami-Dade County in general have some of the best condos in the United States, when it comes to location and amenities.
Of course, price and location are always among the most important issues to considering when shopping for a condo. But there are condos available in nearly every neighborhood and price range. In the past 20 years, the skyline of Downtown Miami has been transformed by the numerous high-rise condo towers have sprouted up, and the same has occurred in communities throughout the county. The pace of construction has slowed somewhat in recent years because of the downturn in the economy, but there are more than enough to choose from. And the upside to a bad economy for buyers is that real estate costs have come down considerably across the board.
If living amid the hustle and bustle of Downtown Miami doesn’t interest you, there are many other neighborhoods to choose from too, including Brickell and Coconut Grove, and numerous other attractive communities throughout Miami-Dade County, including Aventura, Sunny Isles Beach, Miami Beach and others.
Of course, beachfront condos are among the most sought after, and usually the most expensive, but the great thing about condos in Miami, or Miami-Dade County in general is that no matter where you live, you are never too far from the beach.

The same can be said for shopping and dining opportunities, and the vibrant nightlife and culture of the area is always within easy reach too. Some of the most upscale condos in Miami are in resort-like communities such as Miami Beach and Sunny Isles Beach, both located on barrier islands just minutes from Miami, but far enough away to feel like an escape from the city.

 Sunny Isles Beach is in northeast Miami-Dade County, between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, on an island between the Intercoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean. Such well known developers as Donald Trump have built fantastic high-rises along the main street of Collins Avenue, within steps of ocean beaches and sheltered marinas.

Collins Avenue also runs south through Sunny Isles to the nearby island community of Miami Beach, situated between Biscayne Bayand the Atlantic Ocean. Most of the condos there are within sight of its world-famous South Beach.

If you are not ready to buy condos in Miami just yet, either as a primary residence or as investment property, there are other options. Many condo developments, including the most upscale, have condos for rent, either on a short- or long-term basis.

11Nov/09Off

Miami Green Condos

There are thousands of homeowners discovering the benefits of environmentally conscious construction and Miami green condos.  Building experts and local developers predict that, as the cost of energy rises, consumer demand for so-called "green buildings" will grow.  Also, as new building technologies come into wider use, the overhead cost of developing green buildings will drop and become the industry standard.  Because green building results in energy cost-saving, healthier surroundings and more durable construction, they're the future of condo construction.   But there are two stumbling blocks.  For green condos to catch on, developers have to gain experience working with the new energy-efficient, cleaner technologies to break the cost barrier.  Second, realtors and developers have to educate consumers on what they are getting when they buy green.

Most consumers want what is considered today as a high-performance home.  In the context of Miami green condos it means a home that is safe, healthy and durable using resources efficiently.  Green condos are actually greener than the greenest single family homes.  With their high residential densities, they take up less space and preserve open land.  In addition, urban condos are closer to metro stations, bus stops and bike trails which discourage people from relying on cars to go everywhere.  Additionally, multi-family buildings are inherently green because fewer resources per unit are used to construct and to operate.

The technology today has exploded to cover almost every aspect of construction, materials, landscaping and energy renewal.  Home and condo builders today boast many green features, including healthier paint and carpeting, recycling of construction waste, lots of natural light, high efficiency appliances and systems, water conserving fixtures, use of renewable materials, minimal water use landscaping and "green roofs" that help moderate temperature while reducing and filtering water runoff.  Architects, developers and builders are all looking at ways to reduce carbon emissions and waste with the long term goal of creating buildings and technologies that produce more energy than they consume.  Builders are aiming to offer condo buyers green buildings in the same price range as what they would expect to pay for an old fashioned, non-green condo in the area.   It is a bold step for the building trades but they are up to the task to produce a high quality product that is cost effective and the market will ultimately embrace Miami green condos

Today some buyers are questioning investing in green condos.  Green condos are not only fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly but save a lot of money.  Who knew that being green could be so economically rewarding?  So what's the question!

8Sep/09Off

Miami Real Estate Market

Let's be honest.  The national real estate market is certainly facing its challenges and the Miami Real Estate market is no different but there are some reasons to be optimistic about what is happening across the nation and more specifically in the Miami market.  The lack of new developments has helped to slow a glut in the housing and condo markets for Miami and we are beginning to see prices stabilize.  I am hearing from many potential condo buyers that they expected a big collapse in prices so they could pick up a condo cheap but they now think that collapse may already have happened and prices are stabilizing or may even be starting an upward trend.  We could very well be at the bottom of the housing market which means there is no way to go but up encouraging buyers to get in the market for those great deals before they are all gone.

Market trends can change fairly dramatically and quickly due to several contributing factors.  The Miami real estate market is no different than any other area of the country and trends are an aspect that must be considered no matter if you are a first-time homebuyer or seasoned purchaser.  Knowing where the market is headed and the overall conditions are a very crucial part of making a smart decision. 

For many months the Miami real estate market has been showing signs of recovery.  This can be the perfect time for buyers to enter the market looking for distressed homes and we are seeing an increasing number every day looking for short sales, foreclosures or just a motivated seller needing to move their home or condo.  With home prices continuing to drop in all areas of the country including Miami, many buyers are looking for the best deals they can find.

Access to properties has also made it easier for home buyers to find just the right deal.  Many properties are still being listed in magazines, newsletters, and other forms of publication but most homebuyers find it easier to look online.  Information that was once limited to the general public is now available quickly and easily providing many homeowners alternatives in buying or selling a home or condo

Obviously we are not quite out of the woods yet regarding the real estate market but at least now we see some light at the end of the tunnel.  The real estate industry is used to cycles but this time around we would like to see the down side turn much quicker to the up side.