Monday, March 2, 2015

Downtown Condo Market to Cool Down

Investing in real estate requires recognizing trends and FUTURE trends in financial market, foreign currency, supply of condos vs. demand, income to housing ratio, crime rate, etc.  Purchasing on the moment can lead to financial loss.  Here is an article from the Miami Herald alerting a softening of the condo market impacting the downtown Miami area.

Miami Herald, March 5, 2015

Report: Downtown condo market to cool down

A new study confirms the latest chatter from real estate watchers: Miami’s sizzling downtown condo market is cooling down.

Skyrocketing construction costs, overheated land prices and falling foreign currencies have finally caught up with a housing market that boomed after the lean years of the recession.[CLICK HERE to continue reading.]

Read more here:

All Condos Will Lose Views once Construction Begins on Empty Lots Sold

It's official. All three empty lots on the land of Riverfront Condos were sold and highrise construction is planned.

On the northwest lot (formerly the dog field), construction has been delayed due to water testing results. 

The southeast grassy lot closest to the bridge and Miami River was mentioned in the news where developers originally wanted to build a 90+ story building--the tallest in Miami.  But FAA regulations prohibit such a tall building in the air path of airplane jets.  The airport is less than 10 miles directly west of these condominiums.

Construction will create significant noise during the daytime, dust for vehicles and windows.  Construction will take two years to complete once commenced but there are no scheduled ground breaking dates yet.

ALSO--the former parking lot for Florida Power & Light (FP&L), was sold and another highrise is scheduled for construction.  The units of the Mint and Ivy facing north and northwest will lose half or more of their view.

In summary, all three condos will lose views on all sides.  Welcome to the Manhattan of Miami.

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Beware Banks are not lending to CONDO BUYERS in Downtown Miami

The Miami Real Estate market while attractive on the surface due to is tropical location also has its pitfalls.  The dynamic and culture here is unlike the rest of the country.  Here is the latest update.

In condos buildings in downtown Miami, most of them are owned by foreigners as "investments". This is a MAJOR RED FLAG as most banks will not finance any buyer of a condo unit where

 "A minimum 70% of the units sold  must be sold to individuals for use as a primary residence or second/vacation home. A minimum 51% of the units must be for use as a primary or second/ vacation home."  WELLS FARGO

At the Wind, Ivy and Mint, over 70% of the units are bought by foreigners as investment property.

Due to this limitation, sellers are forced to accept cash- only buyers further limiting ability to sell.

Protect your investments--Do the Homework!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Update, Problems at Wind, Ivy, and Mint condos

As sales and rental prices continue to artificially inflate due to rich South Americans plopping their money on condos, we encourage any buyer to consider these facts. This is only reason to offer significantly less than asking price.

1- If a condo listing does not show photos of the unit and only feature amenities, this is a red flag that the unit is in poor condition and will need significant monies invested for improvements.

2- Also note that many listings state the appliances are stainless steel.  THIS IS NOT TRUE. The appliances have a PLASTIC covering with stainless steel appearance.

3- the pool at the MINT  has been under construction for months. What was suppose to take two weeks is now taking seven months (as of June 2013).  This building is only two years old!  A "lemon" is used to used to describe faulty cars, a "lime" is used to describe the MINT condominium. It is plagued with problems and is the most expensive of the three condos. ***As of June 10, it is still under repair***

4- Construction of highrises on the empty lot north of the Ivy will begin soon.  All units facing northwest will lose their view.

5- Chances are the IVY will have to pass a special assessment to pay for upcoming pool repairs, remodel of the lobby (which is in good condition but the board wants to make it fancier), and air condition repairs. The hallways are supposed to be air condition yet half the time it is not functioning.

6- None of the condos are earth friendly.  These are relatively new buildings and recycling is not part of the trash protocol.  Apparently no one has done the math or cares about the tons of plastics and toxins, seeping into our rivers, bays and oceans, killing water life...Shame on the management and board members at the Wind, Ivy, and Mint for the complete disregard.

7- Trash, trash and more trash. The location of the Riverfront condos is in the heart of pedestrian traffic. This also means regular trash at the entrances, outlying areas, and inside the property.  The Riverfront Master Association either ignores this eyesoar or isn't doing their job.  Either way, Fabie Verona of the Continental Group should be fired.  The groundskeeper, Benny, is often seen driving his golf cart making minor repairs. Months ago  he used to be seen picking up area trash. Last week, we witnessed an outside company walking around to pick up trash. With the amount of at entrance of the property, especially Thursday-Sunday evenings, guests are greeted by TRASH--beer bottles, used and unopened condoms, styrofoam food containers, cigarette butts...

Friday, May 24, 2013

The American Dream Lost to Cash Buyers and Unscrupulous Realtors

The rental and sales prices of units at the Riverfront condos have increased this past year as they have throughout downtown.  The trend continues of rich South Americans paying cash for units. This has hampered the ability for local buyers to buy units with financing. Even buyers with excellent credit, able to put down minimum 20-30%, are snubbed by realtors who are holding out for a cash deal from rich South Americans.

We have first hand knowledge of a couple of transactions where "cash is king" and the hard-working American who has saved for years to buy into the "American Dream", loses. In the second incident below, a  listing agent reluctant to show the unit to an interested buyer is a sign of unscrupulous realtors in the real estate mecca of Miami.

One buyer put in an offer for a unit (3707) at the Ivy owned by the developer Inigo Ardid.  Based on recent units sold by developer, Buyer A was confident they would reach a mutually agreed upon sale price. However, upon receiving the counter offer, select paragraphs protecting the buyer were scratched out.  In addition, the developer asked for a $30,000 deposit be paid TO HIM, not in escrow.  While this may be legal, it was a glaring red flag. The buyer rejected the counter offer based on the latter.

In tracking this unit, it later listed a "Contract" pending.  However, the offer failed for unknown reasons and the unit is now listed "CASH ONLY".

In a more recent development at the Ivy, (unit 3607), Buyer B, encountered numerous obstacles in viewing the property. The day it  was listed, the listed agent was contacted to view the unit. Ana D. from Perdomo Associates of Coral Gables (listing agent) indicated she was not available in the next two days to show the unit. After a week passed, Buyer B asked to see the unit again. Apparently, Ana, the listing agent, offered countless excuses for not showing the unit. Buyer B went ahead and submitted an offer.  Her realtor, Diana, left a voice mail, sent an email and even faxed the offer to the listing agent.  24 hours later, the listing agent has yet to acknowledge the offer. The question remains, HAS LISTING AGENT PRESENTED THE OFFER TO THE OWNER?

We encourage buyers to watch for these signs, document them and report them to the main realtors office. 

Please stay tuned for updates.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mint should be Mildew

The Mint, touted as the newest upscale condominium along the Miami River, and supposed gem of the three Riverfront condos, has turned out to be a growing green mess.

We have learned first hand from residents the ongoing nightmares from physical operations to the mistreatment of residents by the manager, Fabie Verona. Could this be another Jade? (The Jade was slated as the most premiere condo in downtown Miami back in 2008 and due to financial instability, physical operations deteriorated rapidly that contractors went so far to pour cement down the pipes--the risks of buying a condo).

The Mint is managed by Fabie Verona, an employee of the Continental Group, one of the largest management companies in South Florida. She has managed this property since day one.  Her days should be numbered for various reasons.

Service dogs provide a life saving service to their owners.  In this country, service dogs are permitted anywhere including restaurants, airplanes, movie theaters, etc.  They are not regarded as pets since they are trained for specific tasks. They are "on duty" and viewed under the law as working dogs.

Living in the Mint is a nice couple. The husband has a service dog, a beagle. The couple did advise BEFORE moving to the Mint from out-of-state of their service dog and provided a medical letter. On one occasion, the husband took the regular elevator, and not the service elevator which is designated for "pets".  The property manager apparently called the police.  The police could do nothing as this was a private matter on private property.   The couple and residents were rightfully outraged. Shouldn't this property manager be trained and educated on U.S. law with regards to service dogs? How does a manager of such a well established management company NOT KNOW that the police do not interfere in private matters such as condominium rules? That is why there is a grievance committee. How does Fabie Verona not know this? Or did she and just wanted to humiliate the husband? Either way, it was unacceptable.  After the incident the couple hired an attorney, who happened to be a quadriplegic.  A meeting was arranged and Fabie Verona failed to keep the appointment and left the attorney waiting for over an hour. We wonder what could possibly be more urgent than a meeting regarding an incident where she called the police? 

Another renter, Pam, had moved in with her daughter along with their chihuahua Pepe.  The Mint does not allow renters to have dogs, only owners.  This was not made aware to Pam or her realtor. This is not uncommon.  According to Pam, Fabie approached her yelling at her that she can not have the dog as it was not permitted. Pam rebutted that she had asked and was explicitly told by her realtor and owner that she could bring the dog.

Two weeks later, we learned that Fabie calmly suggested to Pam that she get her dog registered as a "service dog"! So now the property manager is suggesting that she commit fraud.

These are just two examples of a mountain of problems. 

Residents were becoming anxious and restless. Plans were underway to collectively contact Continental of the gross mismanagement of their property.  Then around this exact time, we learned that Fabie Verona was hospitalized for severe headaches.  Was this staged or was she truly ill? We will never know. But Continental would not be able to fire her after her "medical issue".

On another occasion, a resident Christine) at the neighboring condo, spotted a homeless person sleeping in the bushes.This came on the heels of Christine leaving various messages and sending emails FOR MONTHS urging Fabie to meet with her to share concerns about security. (Background: Christine is an original tenant since the building opened and walks the grounds daily. She sees more on her walks than the security guards; Christine was also a board member of another condo she owns).  According to Christine, her messages and emails WERE NEVER ANSWERED.  Isn't the safety and well-being of resident a number one priority?  Not for Fabie Verona. Christine went to her property manager, Lex, and threatened to go to media if someone did not take her concerns seriously about the common grounds of the condo community.  Fabie refused to meet at 6pm, when Christine returned home from work. It had to be within business hours and Fabie inferred she does not stay beyond 6pm.  (yet she has been seen on property for parties hosted by developer).  Clearly parties were the priority, not safety. Welcome to the Mint.

We've used this phrase before--not everything that shines is gold.  This is definitely the case at the MINT. For a new building, the physical operations continue to deteriorate.

We learned from residents that one morning several units without water for three days and had to take showers offsite. It's always something...

As of April 2013, the pool is empty and work is being done. Residents can not enjoy this major amenity in warm spring  days--it's Miami--it's hot! THIS  IS A NEW BUILDING! Why so many problems???

Yet the Mint continues to be over priced in our opinion. The units are same size as the Ivy. One is paying extra for bigger, shiny lobby.

Our recommendation: replace Fabie Verona or buy elsewhere. The property manager makes all the difference.

Friday, October 7, 2011

"Hit by Car" Trauma (Dogs Off Leashes)

As a dog owner living in condo community for past 10 years, we have seen and heard countless stories of dogs that were spooked by a sudden loud noise and ran off never to be found, or knee-jerk reaction to chase a squirrel, or getting hit by a car in the process of any of the above.  IT HAPPENS.  At the Riverfront condos we see many dog owners let their pets off leashes in the dog field. Now this "dog field" is just that --a field bordered by three inroads. There is no fence.  While dogs run and play fetch in the interior closer to one fence, is one thing. But countless pet owners have their dogs off leashes on the edge of the field, inches from the road with speed demons blazing by. Some of us have warned these pet owners that accidents do happen. That anything can startle the dog and cause them to run suddenly--into an oncoming car-- no matter how well trained. 

Most dog owners think their dogs are well trained. Most are delusional.  There was already one incident of a dog running away spooked by a noise, only to be found later dead, struck by a car. In another horrific incident, a resident at the Wind had a large dog on a leash. The dog saw one of the neighborhood cats (his name was Mr. Big) in the bushes. These cats do not provoke. The dog snapped and aggressively attacked the cat. Witnesses shared how the owner could not control the dog WHILE on the leash! It weighed more than her! The dog viciously attacked the cat and left it in bloody pieces. Neighbors immediately contacted  the condo manager expressing outrage and insisted the dog wear a muzzle thereon. Residents feared the dog could attack their dog or children or even adults.

The developer promised a "dog park" signifying a fence. This would be the proper action. But nothing has been done. The developer and partner companies have invested millions of dollars in aesthetics to sell condos. Safety is still lagging. Per Florida Law and Condo rules and regulations, dogs must be on a leash. Neither is being enforced. An accident is waiting to happen.

We follow several pet blogs written by highly regarded veterinarians. The following : "Avoiding the Hit by Car Trauma" by Dr. Justine Lee. We encourage all dog owners to read this carefully. You love your dog. Be a responsible pet owner and take your dog  to a dog park with a fence to run freely.