Daily Real Estate News | Monday, June 30, 2014

Home shoppers may find there’s good reason to breathe a sigh of relief this summer, according to the real estate brokerage Redfin. They pointed to higher inventories, fewer bidding wars, and slowing home prices as welcoming signs for home buyers this year.

In particular, home buyers this summer are finding:
1.More options: Inventories of existing-homes are 6 percent higher than year-ago levels—currently representing a 5.6-month supply at the current sales pace, according to May housing data from the National Association of REALTORS®. The higher inventory levels of homes for-sale means that buyers have more choices this summer.
2.Less competition: As inventories rise, buyers also are facing fewer bidding wars. Bidding wars are down by double-digit margins in many markets this year, according to Redfin, which conducts an annual bidding war report. In March, 63.4 percent of offers written by Redfin agents across 19 markets faced competition from other buyers, down from a bidding war peak of 73.4 percent a year prior, according to Redfin’s report.
3.Price rises are slowing: The median existing-home price for all housing types in May was $213,400—a 5.1 percent rise above May 2013, NAR reports. Home prices rose by double-digits last year. In 2013, home prices rose 11.5 percent over 2012, according to NAR. “Home buyers are benefiting from slower price growth due to the much-needed, rising inventory levels seen since the beginning of the year,” Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.
4.Low borrowing costs: Mortgage rates are averaging about 4.1 percent, less than half the historical average of a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, which is 8.7 percent, Redfin reports. “For a $500,000 house, this is worth more than $500 a month in mortgage payments,” savings, Redfin notes on its blog.

Source: “4 Reasons Why Homebuyers Can Breathe a Sigh of Relief,” Redfin blog (June 27, 2014)

Congratulations to all of Le Tour de France riders!! It’s been a very long rough 3 weeks. What an accomplishment.

IN PARIS today– 29-year-old Sicilian Vincenzo Nibali won the Tour de France today,  becoming the first Italian in 16 years to win cycling’s greatest race. He not only won the tour but also 4 stages during the tour. Nibali is only the sixth rider to win all three Grand Tours – France, Italy and Spain.  Second place Christophe Peraud and third place Thibaut Pinot became the first Frenchmen to reach the Tour podium since 1997. All together 3 Frenchmen were in the top 10 finishers.

Tejay van Garderen, the highest-placed rider from the USA,  finished fifth overall.

<p>Maillot Jaune : Vincenzo Nibali<br />
Maillot Vert : Peter Sagan<br />
Maillot à Pois : Rafał Majka<br />
Maillot Blanc : Thibaut Pinot</p>
<p>#TDF – <a href=http://www.letour.fr”; width=”503″ height=”336″ />


Maillot Jaune : Vincenzo Nibali
Maillot Vert : Peter Sagan
Maillot à Pois : Rafał Majka
Maillot Blanc : Thibaut Pinot

#TDF – http://www.letour.fr

SHIRTS LEADER – TOUR DE FRANCE 2014 Jersey yellow: Vincenzo Nibali green Jersey: Peter Sagan Maillot à Pois: Rafał Majka Maillot Blanc: Thibaut Pinot #TDF – http://www.letour.fr


Florida Home Sales in June Spike 14.6% Over Last Year

According to the Florida Realtors, Florida’s housing market reported more closed sales, higher median prices, increased new listings and a rise in inventory in June 2014. Closed sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 23,181 last month, up 14.6 percent over the June 2013 figure.

“June marked the 31st month in a row – more than 2 ½ years – that median sales prices rose year-over-year for both single-family homes and townhome-condo properties,” said 2014 Florida Realtors President Sherri Meadows. “The state’s steadily improving jobs outlook and rising influx of people continue to have a positive impact on Florida’s housing market. Statewide, new listings for single-family homes in June rose 12.4 percent year-over-year, while new townhouse-condo listings rose 3 percent.”

The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $185,000, up 5.2 percent from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis (IDA) department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. The statewide median price for townhouse-condo properties in June was $141,000, up 8.5 percent over the year-ago figure. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in May 2014 was $213,600, up 4.9 percent from the previous year; the national median existing condo price was $212,300. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in May was $466,320; in Massachusetts, it was $347,900; in Maryland, it was $273,912; and in New York, it was $219,000.

Looking at Florida’s townhouse-condo market, statewide closed sales totaled 9,594 last month, up 3.1 percent compared to June 2013. The closed sales data reflected fewer short sales last month compared to the previous year: Short sales for condo-townhouse properties declined 60.3 percent while short sales for single-family homes dropped 51.9 percent. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo said, “June was a very strong month for both the single-family and the townhouse and condo markets in Florida, and we are very encouraged by the data. But a look at one month alone does not ever truly describe the market. So when the strong June report is balanced by a somewhat weaker May, the picture of a market settling-in emerges.

“We are generally seeing slower increases in both sales and prices, and a rising level of inventories. All of this points to a continued steady, manageable growth in the Florida housing market.”

Inventory was at a 5.6-months’ supply in June for single-family homes and at a 5.8-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 4.16 percent in June 2014, up from the 4.07 percent average recorded during the same month a year earlier.

WPC News | Florida State Single Family Homes Townhouses and condos market data June 2014

Source: Florida Realtors

- See more at: http://www.worldpropertychannel.com


house tax form 300x195 Get to Know the Capital Gains Tax Exemption

Bill and Mary. A married couple, they sold their primary residence last year and made a profit. The profit they made on their home sale is subject to a federal capital gains tax—enter the capital gains tax exemption.

The profits Bill and Mary earned on the sale of their home are not taxed because they qualified for a capital gains tax exemption.

Simply put, the capital gains tax is the tax you pay on the profit from selling your home.

Here are some other facts about capital gains taxes:
◾With the home-sale exemption you can exclude up to $500,000 of any profits from your capital gains taxes as a married couple and up to $250,000 as an individual.
◾You can add capital improvements (money spent on improving the value of your home) to the cost basis of your home. This, in turn, lowers the total profit you pay taxes on.
◾In order to take the home-sale exemption from your capital gains taxes, the property you’re selling must be your principal residence.
◾There is no limit to the number of times you take the home-sale exemption from your capital gains taxes.

These are only a few things to know about the capital gains tax exemption and selling your home.

Be sure to get all the details about how capital gains affects you. Go to http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p523.pdf

For those of you that golf, you might appreciate this article I came across this morning from http://www.worldpropertychannel.com. Take a few minutes to go on “mind vacation” without leaving your desk. I’m surprised that Pebble Beach between Monterey and Carmel, California and none in Florida made the list.

Top 10 'Exotic' Golf Courses in the World


By Steve Winston | July 11, 2014 WorldPropertyChannel.com
I’m not a very good golfer. Yet, I probably spend more time on the links than just about any professional golfer in the world…because of the fact that I spend so much time in the rough, searching for my ball!

Nonetheless, I’ve been to some of the most beautiful – and “exotic” – golf courses in the world.  And here’s my list of the Top 10…

No. 10) OITAVOS DUNES, CASCAIS, PORTUGAL – The Algarve region gets more publicity. But the scenic village of Cascais, a lesser-known fishing village fast becoming a hideout for the International Set, also offers great golf. And plenty of natural beauty, too. Oitavos Dunes, a hotel/golf club, is in Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, with stunning vistas anywhere you look. And you’re close to both Lisbon, and to the scenic coastline, dotted with timeless villages.

No. 9) LOS SUENOS MARRIOTT OCEAN & GOLF RESORT, COSTA RICA – At the edge of a lush rainforest with several micro-climates, the La Iguana Course at the Marriott offers plenty of side-shows…among them monkeys, macaws, and, yes, iguanas. The par-72 course has a challenging Ted Robinson-designed layout, with panoramic views of the Pacific, along with stands of banana trees, orchids, and other exotic native plants. The Marriott itself is designed in Spanish-Colonial style. It offers six restaurants, and a very-cool network of pools connected by canals, bridges, islands…and swim-up bars.

No. 8) PUNTA ESPADA GOLF COURSE, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - If you stay at the luxurious Sanctuary Capcana you’ll have easy access to Punta Espada Golf Course, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course right on the ocean. In fact, part of it is right in the ocean! One of the holes requires a 250-yard shot over the water…to a narrow green sticking out into the Caribbean! And if you like this course, stick around for a while – the Sanctuary Capcana’s building another Jack Nicklaus Signature Course.

No. 7) THE PORT ROYAL GOLF CLUB, HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA, USA – Hilton Head is a slice of Old South Carolina…a lush, tree-filled island where the natural beauty is everywhere, and sophisticated elegance is the standard. The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa is renowned for its Port Royal Golf Club, and it’s been named to the list of “Top 75 U.S. Golf Resorts” by Golf magazine. One of three 18-hole courses, the Robber’s Row Course is set atop Civil War battlefields on the marsh side of this former plantation, and dotted with historical markers. For example, the embankments between holes No. 2 and No. 3 and No. 13 were dug as fortifications by Southern soldiers. (They didn’t do much good, though, as Union troops captured Hilton Head Island in just a few hours.)

No. 6) THE LINKS AT FANCOURT, SOUTH AFRICA – This golf resort is reminiscent of an old Victorian cottage – a very large old Victorian cottage – sticking out in the middle of the South African veldt and mountains. Its setting is breathtaking – there’s no other word to describe it. Once an airfield, The Links is located along South Africa’s Garden Route, and its grounds reflect that designation. One of three courses at the resort, The Links was designed by South African native son Gary Player…who still refers to this course as his greatest design achievement.

No. 5) KAURI CLIFFS-MATAURI BAY, NEW ZEALAND – Designed by David Harman, this par-72 championship course includes five sets of tees, which makes it extremely challenging even for the pros. Fifteen holes overlook the Pacific Ocean…six of which are played alongside cliffs plunging sharply into a turbulent sea below. And the three inland holes wind through farmland, marsh, and forest…making it even more difficult to concentrate on the course when there’s so much natural beauty around!

No. 4) CABO DEL SOL GOLF COURSE, HILTON LOS CABOS BEACH & GOLF RESORT, CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO – The Cabo San Lucas peninsula, sticking out from the bottom of California, is a different side of Mexico, filled with scenic villages, seaside underground caves, and enormous, striking rock structures buttressing the sea. Guests at the Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort, alongside the Sea of Cortez, have access to Cabo Del Sol Golf Course, a Jack Nicklaus Signature design carved into 1.5 miles of craggy rock outcroppings on the coast. The course features mountainous terrain, tees atop mesas, and holes right along the beach, and two holes – the 5th and 17th – are considered among the world’s best. Jack Nicklaus himself has called Cabo Del Sol Golf Course the best course he’s ever seen.

No. 3) THE COEUR D’ALENE RESORT, COEUR D’ALENE, IDAHO, USA – When you play here, you’re playing on a challenging, 6,800-yard course with views of beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene – and the forested mountains climbing up from its shores – from every hole. And you’re also playing the most unusual golf hole in America. The 14th hole at the Coeur d’Alene Resort is the only floating green in the world. That’s right – it sits right in the lake! Not only that, but it can actually be moved, and it can also be made larger or smaller…all by computer. You’ll approach it in a classic mahogany boat called “Putter.” And, after you leave the course and it shuts down for the evening, some divers will approach the 14th hole, too, to attempt to retrieve some of the 35,000 balls that end up in the lake very year!

No. 2) BAHIA BEACH GOLF CLUB, ST. REGIS BAHIA BEACH RESORT, PUERTO RICO - It’s hard to think of a lusher topical setting than this one. The Bahia Beach Golf Club is situated on a former coconut plantation at the foot of El Yunque rainforest. It boasts a scenic 7,014-yard layout enveloping 80 acres of saltwater lagoons, with the mountainous Rainforest in the background. Fifteen of the 18 holes have water features, and the course weaves around lagoons before emerging onto the coast for holes 16-18. The course is recognized as a certified Silver Signature Sanctuary by Audubon International. And the resort offers hiking trails through a 483-acre nature reserve. Oh, and one other tidbit – the course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr.

And now, my personal favorite for the Top “Exotic” Golf Course on Earth (What’s yours?)…

No. 1) THE BROADMOOR RESORT, COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO, USA – The Broadmoor is one of America’s greatest resorts, surrounded by the magnificent peaks of the Colorado Rockies. Sitting at an altitude of 6,230 feet, it’s this year’s winner of Golf magazine’s award of “No. 1 Golf Resort in North America.” And its Mountain Course – one of three championship courses here – was designed by two of the immortals, originally by Arnold Palmer, and re-designed by Jack Nicklaus in 2006. It’s considered one of the most scenic – and challenging – in the world. On this course, you’ll have close-up views of 10,000′ Cheyenne Mountain, and of the legendary Pike’s Peak (14,110′, and the inspiration for the song “America the Beautiful”), on which – if you’d like a closer look – you can take a ride on the cog railway to the top, for some hot donuts, and a 360-degree panorama offering views into seven states!

I know golf is a very-personal game (even if, like me, you spend most of your time searching for your ball!). And everyone has his/her own favorite course. So let the debate begin! We welcome your comments!


for more see: http://www.worldpropertychannel.com

The French National Day marks the beginning of the French Revolution with the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789.  French flag









The celebration of this great day includes parades, parties, fireworks, concerts, wreath placing at the cemeteries, and the oldest and largest military parade in Europe. The military parade, began in 1880, is held on the morning of 14 July,  and since 1918  it has traveled down the length of the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

Claude Monet’s painting entitled, Rue Montorgueil, Paris, Festival of 30 June 1878.


Bastille day is celebrated in many countries including Belgium, South Africa, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Hungary, the United Kingdom and the USA. Here in St Petersburg, Florida, the French American Business Council of West Tampa celebrated Bastille Day at Cassis, an American Brasserie on Beach Drive. A special Menu was prepared by French Chef Jeremy Duclut and served with glasses of Marquis de la Tour from Loire Valley. Fiona Frensche performed favorite songs by Edith Piaf, Juliette Greco, Josephine Baker, Jacques Brel and more. Her cabaret style renditions of the French classics bring back memories of Montmartre in the 1920’s with Moulin Rouge as the setting. Ah, mais oui.

Sorry that this was late getting out but my computer decided it needed a day off to celebrate as well. Finally got it up & running again. Better late than never?


From Forbes.com, Lifestyle 7/03/2014

You want to buy a home, but you don’t want to pay 20% more for a brand new home with all the bells and whistles already built in. It just so happens that you’re pretty handy and are willing to trade in some ‘sweat equity’ for a great deal on a house that just needs a little TLC. Buying a place that needs some upgrades is a tried and true formula for getting more house for your money. However, not all “fixers” are the same, and not all of them are going to be right one for you.

There are houses for sale and in need of repair on every other block. How do you know which one is a potential money maker for you? Most properties that are fixers generally fall into one of these three categories- including the one you want to run far, far away from:


This is the house that just needs a bit of clean up. The sale price is discounted slightly because the sellers and their agent know that there is work to be done. For whatever reason, the sellers didn’t want to invest anymore time or money in the house prior to sale. Things like new paint, carpet, countertops, lighting, landscaping and a few new appliances will give this cosmetic fixer the face lift it needs. A few dozen trips to the home improvement store should do it!



It may be downright ugly, but it is beautiful to you! It has all the right things wrong with it. This is the fixer that needs more extensive repair and remodeling work than the ‘Cosmetic Fixer’ mentioned above. If you can see its potential beauty, and are willing to commit to the work, you will get the deal that others miss.

Some hallmarks of a ‘downright ugly fixer:’

  • No Current Curb Appeal: It’s easy to create with fresh front door paint, new house numbers, mailbox, flowering plants and fresh landscaping
  • Great Bones In Bad Shape: Good construction and architectural lines that have been underutilized or un-accentuated
  • Dark Interiors Cloaked In Ugly Decor: These turn off other buyers, but this is gone as soon as the moving vans pull away with the seller’s possessions
  • Outdated Kitchens: Upgrading your kitchen will be one of the biggest expenses, however, it gives you the biggest return on your dollar
  • Outdated Bathrooms: There are so many great options for bathroom upgrades now at your local home improvement store. You may need to bring in a plumber and tile guy but it will be worth the effort.
  • A House With Pets, Smokers Or Other Bad Smells: Nasty smells aplenty turn off other home shoppers, but a revamp of carpets and drapes and new paint will usually take care of that smelly issue.
  • Leaks In The Roof & A Water-Stained Ceiling: These can really turn away potential buyers – but you will most likely be putting on a new roof, so that will usually eliminate the source of the problem
  • Lots Of Small Rooms, Creating A Choppy Or Claustrophobic Feeling: Look for potential to remove a non-load bearing wall that could open up a kitchen to a living room or den, giving you that all desirable open floor plan.


When I say ‘a house with the wrong things wrong’, this is the one I mean. This “tear down” house with “broken bones” is the money pit you must run from. If a house has major structural, geological, or severe foundation or environmental problems, you don’t want it. I repeat – you don’t want it. Even if you get the house on the cheap, some problems never go away and are sometimes impossible to fix, no matter how much money you throw at them. This is a Pandora’s Box you do not want to open, because you will never see that money back.

Some telltale signs of a ‘tear down:’

  • Structural Problems That Are Beyond Repair Economically
  • Major shifting due to poor foundation work
  • Unsolvable drainage issues and flooding of the basement
  • Illegal room additions that appear to be not to code, especially bathrooms
  • Major fire, earthquake or flood damage
  • An unstable hillside near the house or slipping or shifting due to soil erosion or flooding
  • Overwhelming asbestos or severe mold issues

BUYERS: What’s a deal breaker for you in a fixer-upper house?

From Forbes.com, Lifestyle 7/03/2014



Today is Canada Day, the National Day of Canada, which celebrates the July 1st, 1867 anniversary of the joining of the 3 colonies into one single country which formed Canada. Originally, it was called the British North America Act but now it is called the Constitution Act of 1867.

There will be the usual celebrations for Canada Day-parades, carnivals, festivals, barbecues, air and maritime shows, fireworks, and free musical concerts throughout the country. Canada Day is also celebrated in front of the Canada House in Trafalgar Square in London, England, Hong Kong, Afghanistan, Mexico, Shanghai, Mumbai, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Detroit, New York and many other cities around the world.

So wave that beautiful Maple Leaf  flag proudly!

For a list of Canada Day 2014: July 1 celebrations across the country, please see http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/canada-day-2014-july-1-celebrations-across-the-country-1.2692931






Buyers who are looking to purchase property in a country where they aren’t currently citizens or legal residents will almost certainly have to move funds into that country — and will have to pay a host of fees to transfer their money. Are all of these fees necessary, though? And are consumers paying too much for the charges that are unavoidable?

No and yes, says Mike Ward, CEO of USForex, a company that specializes in transferring large amounts of funds across borders. Companies like USForex (a subsidiary of OZForex, based in Australia), Moneycorp and Currencies Direct exist to serve international consumers who want to purchase real estate or make sizeable investments in other countries. These kinds of businesses have had a presence in nations such as Canada and the United Kingdom for a while now, but have recently expanded their operations into the U.S.

Ward argues that consumers tend to overpay when they use traditional commercial banks for these transfers, in part because those institutions almost always saddle them with unnecessary fees.

“Banks can execute those transfers, but they won’t provide guidance and they’ll charge more than they have to,” he said. “There are lots of fees, but there are also lots of other options.”

According to Ward, these are the charges that typically pop up when transferring large amounts of money across borders:

▪ Margin or spread fees: These fees, which are unavoidable, are assessed on the actual currency conversion. However, conventional banks will typically charge more basis points on the transactions, amounting to about 3-5 cents per dollar, whereas the charges from money-transfer companies usually total around 1 cent per dollar.

▪ Wire transfer fees: These generally run between $20-100. Both commercial banks and money-transfer businesses can charge these fees, though they’re sometimes waived by the latter.

▪ Intermediary bank fees: These are charged by financial institutions that help facilitate money moves from a bank in Country A to a bank in Country B. Working with a company that focuses exclusively on international fund transfers can help consumers avoid these fees altogether.

▪ Delivery fees: A somewhat nebulous transactional charge that’s either reduced or done away with when consumers don’t work with traditional banks.

Obligatory caveat emptor note: While they focus exclusively on moving funds internationally financial transfers, working with money-transfer companies may not always be a superior experience to doing business with commercial banks. Make sure you and your clients perform your due diligence before going with either approach.

Brian Summerfield

Brian Summerfield is Manager of Business Development and Outreach for NAR Commercial and Global Services. He can be reached at bsummerfield@realtors.org.


I have been compiling this list of home improvements and the general percentage that is recouped when you sell your home. Of course, the percentage rates will vary slightly depending on your location and your market.

Percentage of your investment that is recouped at resale:

150% for  Remodeled Kitchen
A kitchen update can reward a seller with a sizable payback. Just remember though; splurging on fancy finishing materials or sophisticated equipment may cut into your profit. Keep it simple and don’t update over what is common in your neighborhood.

100% for Revitalized Lawn and Garden
A beautiful green lawn and a modest but colorful flowerbed will entice potential buyers. The few hundred dollars invested may yield several thousands in profit.

100% for Fireplace
Especially if it is energy efficient, such as a gas-powered model, a fireplace holds the promise of cozy family gatherings around the warmth of the hearth. Location will  make a difference too-Florida & California will not yield as much.

90% for Second Bathroom
All it takes is a simple 5×9 foot extra bathroom to make mornings more civilized for most families. But don’t count on a return on extras like a heat lamp, sauna or whirlpool tub.

80% for Room Addition
For the most attractive return of your investment dollars later on, the added room should be today’s most popular rooms-family room or a third bedroom.

80% for Remodeled Bathroom
A master bathroom is on many buyer’s list, so invest here. If you own only one bathroom, install two sinks or a double vanity to handle the morning crowd.

70% for Expanded Master Suite
To keep costs down, try to find extra space to create this wish list item by combining existing rooms and spaces. Heavy structural work entailed by adding square feet diminishes your return.

70% for Deck
Outdoor living space is a desirable asset no matter where the locale. No maintenance decking material leaves lots more leisure time, too.

50% for Exterior Paint
Sprucing up tired siding, trim, etc., can take years off the look of an older house, which helps curb appeal and may help your home sell quicker.

50% for Finished Attic
You can expect to recoup more of your investment if you make sure the renovation does not detract from the aesthetics of your home. It is especially attractive as an extra bedroom in a small house or office but it must be well insulated.

40% for Finished Basement
If you live in an area where there basements, his is a great way to gain added living space without building a costly addition. If the basement has an access door to the outdoors, the project becomes more valuable. Unfortunately, in Florida & California, you don’t find too many basements!

40% for Heating and Cooling Systems
Replace it only if your old system is dysfunctional. Depending upon a buyer’s priorities, a new energy efficient furnace/AC may or may not be a selling advantage.

35% for New Windows and Doors
Buyers appreciate changes that improve the look of a house, so attractive new French doors, for example, may be a plus. Energy efficient units are an ecological boom, but may be a resale bust.

30% for Garage
Don’t go overboard to blend it into your home’s architectural style. Its desirability increases if you live in a part of the country with a harsh climate.

0% for Swimming Pool
Unless you live where the sun always shines, such as Florida, this luxury item can detract from your resale profit.

Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist


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