Real Estate, Community News & More from My Desk to Yours

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

New Population Estimates Highlight Nation's Fastest-Growing Cities

Compare growth from 2012 to 2013 for top 300 fastest-growing cities:

Miami ranks 168th up 0.8% 3,429 more people 2012: 414,221 2013: 417,650

Read more at governing.com.

Fla.'s housing market: Prices, listings rise in April

Florida's housing market reported higher median prices, more new listings and a slight rise in inventory in April, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®. Closed sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 21,385 last month, up 4.1% over the April 2013 figure.

"Florida's strengthening economy and increased jobs outlook are positive signs for continued growth in the state's housing market," said 2014 Florida Realtors®President Sherri Meadows, CEO and team leader, Keller Williams, with market centers in Gainesville, Ocala and The Villages. "Statewide, new listings for single-family homes in April rose 9.2% year-over-year, while new townhouse-condo listings rose 1.4%. This increase in listings shows many Florida homeowners are continuing to regain equity in their homes. Potential sellers who were on the sidelines now believe the time is right to put their residences on the market.

Read more at floridarealtors.org

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The United Arab Emirates: A Rising Star in E-Government

Once considered a backwater in the Middle East, the UAE today is highly developed. Dubai, one of the UAE’s seven states, hosts some of the world’s tallest and most impressive buildings. Governed by a Supreme Council made up of seven emirs who appoint a prime minister and cabinet, the UAE started down the e-government path in 2001 when it launched an electronic card to collect service fees. Since then, the kingdom of 9 million has continued to build its e-government reputation, which was solidified earlier this year when the tech giant Accenture placed it third in its annual roundup of leading digital governments.

A lot of UAE’s success has to do with its management style. It’s taken an approach that states and their local partners might find interesting: Government departments in the UAE’s principalities can create any new online services they want, while the central authority focuses on building the common parts that all departments need, like payment and customer support. This hybrid approach results in standardization, best-practice sharing, cost savings and fast deployment.

Read the full article at TECH TALK at Governing.com . . .

Real Estate Agents Less Critical of Appraisers

 In 2010, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) conducted surveys that found more than 40% of respondents saying they had problems with appraisals. But today, May 19, 2014, realty agents say the appraisal landscape has improved somewhat.

In 2010, Realtors said appraisers too often used bargain-priced foreclosures and short sales as "comparables" for valuing houses that were not in financial distress. In addition, NAR membership complained in 2010 that some appraisers traveled far beyond their area of geographic competence and, when they did, were out of touch with local market conditions. Worst of all, critics said too many poorly trained appraisers that had flooded the industry during the boom years were getting the bulk of the valuation assignments from appraisal management firms.

In the most recent survey, however, NAR pollsters found that the share of members reporting major issues with appraisal results was down to 24%. While that is still almost a quarter of all agents in the sample, it's a substantial drop from just a few years ago.

Pat Turner, an appraiser in the Richmond, Va., metro area, said "the sheer number of appraisers has plummeted in the past few years and a lot of the less-competent, poorly trained [ones] have left the business in the wake of the Great Recession."

Source: Florida Realtors

How Early Should We Teach Financial Literacy?

What’s the difference between saving money and investing it? How do you create a budget? To Chicago Treasurer Stephanie Neely, these basic financial questions are best addressed first not with adults -- they should be asked of kids.

“If you get to them in high school, by then it’s too late to change behaviors,” she said during an interview in her City Hall office earlier this month. “With financial literacy, it really is never too early.”

Neely, who is in the middle of her second four-year term, has recently launched her push to make financial literacy a regular piece of the curriculum for Chicago’s grade schoolers. She has imported a program created by the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education in partnership with BMO Financial Group called Talk With Our Kids About Money Day, or “Two-Kam,” as Neely and her staff call it. On April 30, Chicago became the first U.S. city to implement the program, which is starting in about 100 city schools.


Read More at Governing.com . . .

Monday, May 12, 2014

Coral Gables plans to spend $1M on two Sculptures for Traffic Circles

Letter to the Editor MIAMI HERALD May 9th, 2014
The recent departure of our last city manager hopefully heralds the end of an autocratic style of government which minimized the flow of information and marginalized the input of citizens. While optimistically wishing that I am correct, I am concerned. In the City’s “E-News” of May 7, there is another “announcement” about expensive public art pieces being planned for the two “Segovia Circles” at Biltmore Way and Coral Way.
 
 
This is a project conjured up by the departed manager without broad-based input. In fact, it appears that someone in the city has narrowed the list of “artists” to five “semi-finalists.” This is reportedly a $1 million-plus project which has never had a public airing with the citizens who live in the area. The circle at Coral Way it the main entrance to the Greenway Drives – one of our classic historic neighborhoods bordering Granada Golf Course. One would think that the residents should have a voice in determining if (1) they desire to have large art work in the circles and (2) if so, what type of art work. After all, this will impact the vision and value of our homes.
Those of us who live on the Greenways already host one of the City’s most active outdoor centers in our front yards. We have golfers, joggers, skate-boarders, bikers, walkers, walkers with pets (large and small), excessive on-street parking caused by catering events at the Country Club as well as overflow rush hour-traffic (morning and evening) from Coral Way. The homeowners take this activity in stride seven days a week from before dawn to well into the evening.
You would think that the City government might consider that it would be appropriate to give us the courtesy of weighing in on “nice-to-have” but certainly not essential projects which will impact our quality of life. I strongly support art in public places, but I might suggest that the city focus, instead, on solving the crime problems which greatly impact our standard of living.
Isn’t it time to go back to the days of open, participative government with a warm, embracing administration where citizens can be heard?
Jeannett Slesnick, Coral Gables

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/05/09/4108016/letter-coral-gables-management.html#storylink=cpy

5 Good Things Happening Right Now in Housing

There’s no two ways about it – the last few weeks, at least by headline standards, have been a pretty rough period for the housing market. From faltering home sales to slowing home-price increases, there’s been a negative story on housing lurking around ever corner thus far in 2014.

Is housing really doing that poorly, though? And are there grander trends taking place that bely the urgent tone of those headlines? Here are five things currently going on in housing that we can be proud of:

1. Home sales are finally balancing out
2. Delinquencies are way down
3. Negative equity is also way down
4. What mortgage rate increase?
5. Nowhere to go but up

Read more at: http://miamiagentmagazine.com/5-good-things-happening-right-now-housing/#sthash.GbXCt3g4.dpuf

Friday, May 9, 2014

New College Grads See More Job Opportunities

As they don their caps and gowns, college graduates this spring are finding more reason to celebrate: It's the best job market since the Great Recession.
New graduates are fielding more job opportunities than last year or even last fall, college career counselors said.
"Students are much more confident, much more optimistic about their opportunities for employment at graduation," said Sandra Jakubow, director of the career development center at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.
Nationally, employers say they plan to hire 8.6 percent more Class of 2014 graduates than they hired from the Class of 2013, according to a new survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
In South Florida, unemployment is the lowest in five years — 6.4 percent in the Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade metro area — and new jobs are being created across most industries.
 
Read more at Sun-Sentinel.com

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Now More Than Ever, Cash is King in Real Estate


A study released Thursday shows that almost two-thirds of Florida housing sales in the first quarter of this year were done in cash. That is the highest rate in the nation and well above the national average of 42.7%, according to the study by the research firm, RealtyTrac. More from AP and McClatchy.

Source:  FLORIDA TREND
See also:
» More South Florida homebuyers making cash purchases
» Cash still king in Orlando housing market

Image Source

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The States Where Residents Can't Wait to Move Away

New data is out on the states people want to leave, and it's tailor-made to troll all your Facebook friends from Illinois and the northeastern Amtrak corridor.

Gallup asked people around the country whether they would move away from their states, given the chance. As it turns out, half of Illinois residents and 49 percent of all Connecticutians (Connecticutese? Connecticuters?) want to change states. In addition, it looks like a good chunk of the northeastern seaboard is just itching to pack up a U-Haul.


Montanans, Hawaiians, and Mainers are least likely to say they'd want to leave, with fewer than one-quarter of those residents saying they'd move. Altogether, only 33 percent of all Americans surveyed said they'd leave their current states.

Read more . . .