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Top 5 Weekly Best Buys in Fort Lauderdale | Chris Berthelson | Real Living Real Estate

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via Top 5 Weekly Best Buys in Fort Lauderdale | Chris Berthelson | Real Living Real Estate.


‘Buying Naked’ on TLC latest entry into the nude reality TV trend

“Naked and Afraid” and “Naked Castaway” have been surprise hits for Discovery Channel; now it looks like TLC is getting in on the baring-all act with a new series, “Buying Naked.” However, instead of being oddly naked in the woods or stranded in some desperate situation, “Buying Naked” will feature a community where clothing-optional clients are shopping the real estate market with the help of expert realtor Jackie Youngblood.

Pasco County, FL, boasts the largest concentration of nudist communities in the nation, and happily holds the title, “Nudist Capital of America.” Now, TLC follows Jackie and her team as they help “in the buff” homebuyers find their dream house. Prospective homebuyers typically consider such factors as location, layout, and budget, to help influence their decisions. However, finding a home for a nudist goes well-beyond the concerns that come with typical house hunting.

Jackie and her team must keep in mind the hazards that are lurking for their clothing-optional clientele – everything from countertop height to sharp corners and flooring (rug burn hurts!). Routine tasks such as cooking, cleaning and even just walking can present safety risks for the unclothed occupants of the home. Fortunately, Jackie and her team take extra care to uncover the perfect property to accommodate their clients’ unique needs and lifestyles.

In the season premiere of “Buying Naked,” Jackie brings together the “textiles” or clothed conservatives of the Pasco County real estate industry and the nudists of the community for a very hands-on networking event. Meanwhile, the team’s newest recruit, Alex, is put to the test when she enters a nudist community for the first time, and has to prove she’s got what it takes to sell a home to an especially eclectic nudist pair.

The whole “naked” theme that seems to be developing with reality shows is mystifying, at best–are we really that interested in people in the buff, or are we (and networks) just running out of ideas? Whatever the reason, at least the people in this series have a legitimate reason to be naked, as they are, after all, nudists; being naked and testing one’s survival skills has never made any practical sense.

“Buying Naked” premieres on TLC on Saturday, June 28, at 10/9c, and is produced by Paper Route Productions for TLC.


Small businesses more optimistic about economy

WASHINGTON – May 15, 2014 – April’s Small Business Optimism Index rose 1.8 points to a post-recession high of 95.2 – the first time it crossed the 95 mark since 2007.

Seven index components improved, one was unchanged and two fell. The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) compiles the monthly index.

“April’s index did pass the 95 mark that seemed to block any progress in optimism for the past five years,” says NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg. “However, the index is still 5 points below the average reading from 1973 to 2008, and far from what is considered expansion levels.”

While the 95 level seemed to be a cap on optimism that has now been passed, Dunkelberg does not yet consider the recession fully over.

“This reading can only be characterized as a high end recession reading,” he says. “Small business confidence rising is always a good thing, but it’s tough to be excited by meager growth in an otherwise tepid economy. … So while the improvement is welcome, as long as small business owners continue to have negative views about the future, the 95 number may fade.”

Review of April indicators

  • Labor markets. NFIB owners increased employment by an average of 0.07 workers per firm in April (seasonally adjusted), weaker than March but the seventh positive month in a row and the best string of gains since 2006. The remaining 74 percent of owners made no net change in employment.
  • Job creation. Twenty-four percent of all owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period (up 2 points). This suggests that the unemployment will ease a tenth of a point or more. Fourteen percent reported using temporary workers, up 1 point from March. Job creation plans reversed a recent negative trend and rose 3 percentage points to a seasonally adjusted net 8 percent.
  • Sales. The net percent of all owners (seasonally adjusted) reporting higher nominal sales in the past 3 months compared to the prior 3 months improved 4 points to a net negative 2 percent – far better than the negative 31 percent readings in 2009.
  • Expected real sales volumes posted a 2-point decline after a strong 9-point gain in March, falling to a net 10 percent of owners. While down a bit, it is still the third highest reading since early 2012.
  • Earnings and wages. Earnings trends improved 4 points to a net negative 20 percent (net percent reporting quarter to quarter earnings trending higher or lower), the best reading since 2007. Not seasonally adjusted, 15 percent reported profits higher quarter to quarter (up 3 points), and 41 percent reported profits falling (down 1 point).
  • Rising labor costs are keeping pressure on earnings. Two percent reduced worker compensation and 23 percent raised compensation, yielding a seasonally adjusted net 20 percent reporting higher worker compensation. The gains in compensation are now solidly in the range typical of an economy with solid growth.
  • Credit markets. Credit continues to be a non-issue for small employers. In April, just five percent of the owners reported that all their credit needs were not met, 1 point above the record low. Thirty percent reported all credit needs met, and 53 percent explicitly said they did not want a loan. Only 1 percent reported that financing was their top business problem (tied with the record low) compared to 22 percent citing taxes, 20 percent citing regulations and red tape and 15 percent citing weak sales. Small business owners are far more concerned about taxes, regulations and health care costs than financing issues.
  • Inventories. The pace of inventory reduction was steady, with a net negative 6 percent of all owners reporting growth in inventories (seasonally adjusted). Reductions are good if in response to strong sales, but not so good if it is in response to weak sales.
  • Inflation. Seasonally adjusted, a net 12 percent of owners raised selling prices, up 3 points after an 8-point rise in March. Twenty-five percent plan on raising average prices in the next few months (up 2 points). Only 3 percent plan reductions (unchanged) – far fewer than actually reported reductions in past prices. Overall, the report suggests the U.S. economy will see a bit more inflation.

© 2014 Florida Realtors®


Fla.’s housing market shows strength in 1Q 2014

ORLANDO, Fla. – May 12, 2014 – Florida’s housing market reported higher median prices, more new listings, fewer days on the market and a slight uptick in inventory during the first quarter of 2014, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.

Closed sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 50,251 in 1Q 2014, up 2.3 percent over the 1Q 2013 figure.

“The first three months of 2014 show a strong housing market in Florida, with diminishing distressed property sales,” says 2014 Florida Realtors President Sherri Meadows, CEO and team leader, Keller Williams, with market centers in Gainesville, Ocala and The Villages. “More jobs are being created, putting more Florida residents back to work, and our population continues to increase. All of these factors are bolstering the state’s economy and providing a solid foundation for a strong housing market.

“Statewide, new listings for single-family homes over the three-month-period rose 12 percent year-over-year, while new townhouse-condo listings rose 8.2 percent. Home sellers, whether in the single-family home market or the townhouse-condo market, received more than 92 percent, on average, of their original listing price during the first quarter of this year.”

The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in 1Q 2014 was $168,000, up 9.1 percent from the same time a year ago, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. The statewide median price for townhouse-condo properties during the quarter was $135,000, up 16.9 percent over the year-ago figure. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

Looking at Florida’s townhome-condo market, statewide closed sales totaled 24,860 during 1Q 2014, down 0.8 percent compared to 1Q 2013. The closed sales data reflected fewer short sales last month: Short sales for condo-townhome properties declined 55.8 percent while short sales for single-family homes dropped 52 percent. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

“The first quarter statistics reflect the fact that Florida, in part a derivative market, has felt the sting of the northern winter.” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo. “Yet, the market is showing some positive movement. Sales are up, particularly for non-distressed properties. Other data indicate that this is a market that is settling down and returning to more stabilized conditions.”

In 1Q 2014, the median days on market (the midpoint of the number of days it took for a property to sell during that time) was 58 days for single-family homes and 56 days for townhouse-condo properties.

Inventory was at a 5.7-months’ supply in the first quarter for single-family homes and at a 6-months’ supply for townhouse-condo properties, according to Florida Realtors.

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.36 percent for 1Q 2014, up from the 3.50 percent average recorded during the same quarter a year earlier.

To see the full statewide housing activity reports, go to Florida Realtors Media Center and look under Latest Releases, or download the 1Q 2014 data report PDFs under Market Data.

© 2014 Florida Realtors®


Correct grammar may help sell homes faster

Correct grammar may help sell homes faster



SEATTLE – May 9, 2014 – Luxury-home listings that are written in full sentences – without spelling or grammatical errors – move off the market three days faster, and they’re 10 percent more likely to sell for above list price compared to listings in general.

On the other hand, listings riddled with technical errors like misspellings, incorrect homonyms and incomplete sentences sit on the market longest; they also have the lowest percentage of listings that command more than list price, according to a study conducted by online proofreading app Grammarly and Redfin.

For the study, Grammarly examined 106,850 luxury listings in 52 metro areas last year.

“Perfect” grammar listings may indicate the agent is attentive to other details as well, like pricing the home correctly and weighing offers, suggests Karen Krupsaw, vice president of real-estate operations at Redfin.

The analysis also looked at style preferences and found that phrases written in all-capital letters saw the least success in terms of sale price. Common abbreviations that tend to be recognized even by buyers outside the real estate industry, such as “bdrm” for “bedroom,” fared well by comparison.

Source: Wall Street Journal (05/09/14) P. M12; Tanaka, Sanette

© Copyright 2014 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


RealtyTrac: All-cash sales reach new high in 1Q

IRVINE, Calif. – May 8, 2014 – RealtyTrac’s Q1 2014 U.S. Institutional Investor & Cash Sales Report finds that all-cash sales reached a new high in the first quarter, even though the share of institutional investors dropped to its lowest level in two years.

The report shows 42.7 percent of all U.S. residential property sales in the first quarter were all-cash purchases, up from 37.8 percent in the previous quarter and up from 19.1 percent in the first quarter of 2013. RealtyTrac says it’s the highest level since it began tracking all-cash purchases in the first quarter of 2011.

Institutional investors – entities that purchase at least 10 properties in a calendar year – accounted for 5.6 percent of all U.S. residential sales in the first quarter, down from 6.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 and down from 7.0 percent in the first quarter of 2013. It’s the lowest level of investors since the first quarter of 2012.

“Strict lending standards combined with low inventory continue to give the advantage to investors and other cash buyers,” says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “The good news is that as institutional investors pull back their purchasing in many markets across the country, there is still strong demand from other cash buyers – including individual investors, second-home buyers and even owner-occupant buyers.”

Blomquist says the transition from investors to occupants or small investors is running smoothly in most markets as home prices continue to rise. However, he notes some exceptions.

“There are a couple notable exceptions that could be cause for concern: Jacksonville, Fla., where the institutional investor share of purchases was down to 13.5 percent in the first quarter compared to 18 percent a year ago, and where median home prices decreased 1 percent from a year ago in March after 15 consecutive months of annual increases.” He also notes Greensboro, N.C.

Cash sales made up more than half of all sales in Miami, New York, Detroit, Atlanta and Las Vegas.

Among metropolitan statistical areas with a population of at least 500,000, those with the top five highest percentages of cash sales were all in Florida: Cape Coral-Fort Myers, (73.6 percent), Miami (67.1 percent), Sarasota, (65.1 percent), Palm Bay, (64.1 percent), and Lakeland, (61.8 percent).

Other major metro areas with more than 50 percent all-cash sales included New York (57.0 percent), Columbia, S.C., (56.1 percent), Memphis (54.9 percent), Detroit (53.5 percent), Atlanta (53.2 percent) and Las Vegas (52.2 percent).

Other 1Q report highlights

  • 15 percent of all-cash purchases were properties in the foreclosure process; 10 percent were bank-owned properties
  • 11 percent of all-cash purchases were to institutional investors
  • 52 percent of all-cash purchases in March sold to buyers with a different mailing address than the property address, indicating small investors or second-home buyers.
  • The average sales price of an all-cash purchase in the first quarter was $207,668 – 13 percent below the average estimated full market value of the properties that were purchased: $237,900

Institutional investors

The share of institutional investors was up in San Francisco, Dallas, Miami, Atlanta and Las Vegas. Among metropolitan statistical areas with a population of at least 500,000, those with the biggest annual increase in share of institutional investor purchases were Baton Rouge, La., (up 131 percent), San Francisco (up 92 percent), McAllen, Texas (up 62 percent), Allentown, Pa., (up 49 percent), and Omaha, Neb., (up 49 percent).

Other major metro areas with an annual increase in the share of institutional investor purchases included Dallas-Fort Worth (up 45 percent), Miami (up 8 percent), Atlanta (up 38 percent), Minneapolis (up 8 percent), Tampa (up 17 percent), San Antonio (up 25 percent), and Las Vegas (up 24 percent).

Major metro areas with an annual decrease in the share of institutional investor purchases included New York (down 44 percent), Los Angeles (down 80 percent), Chicago (down 41 percent), Washington, D.C. (down 52 percent) and Phoenix (down 14 percent).

Other 1Q findings from institutional investor data

  • 84 percent of all institutional investor purchases were all-cash
  • 35 percent of institutional investor purchases were properties built in 2000 or later; 50 percent were built in 1990 or later
  • 30 percent of all institutional investor purchases were properties in the foreclosure process; 15 percent were bank-owned properties
  • The average sales price of institutional investor purchases in the first quarter was $128,747 – 18 percent below the average “after repair” estimated market value of the homes being purchased: $156,529

© 2014 Florida Realtors®



Review insurance polices: Storm season approaches

WASHINGTON – April 28, 2014 – Spring is usually a time of severe weather when many homes and other property are damaged.

Consumer Reports suggests that a property owner pick a top insurer that is known for top customer service. The magazine also said when there is severe weather damage to a home or other property, owners should be prepared for a fight to make sure their claims are fully paid.

Check your insurance policies now and make sure you know what is and isn’t covered, and, if there are exclusions or other perils, fill in those gaps with additional insurance, such as flood insurance. Make sure you know the limits of your policy in case one of your trees falls on a neighbor’s house.

The magazine also suggests getting to know a contractor to do some minor repairs, which could result in being able to call that person in an emergency.

Consumer Reports said there are some ways a person could save on their homeowner or other property insurance such as shopping periodically for a better deal; not under insuring or not having insufficient coverage; purchasing your home and auto insurance from the same company; increasing your deductible; and eliminating possible risks that could raise your premium.

Copyright © 2014 the Journal-News (Hamilton, Ohio), Ed Richter. Distributed by MCT Information Services.