Morris Massre's Blog

Thoughts on South Florida Realty and the Planet in General

Housing’s Perfect Storm Erupts in Florida

South Florida's Perfect Real Estate Storm

South Florida’s Perfect Real Estate Storm

Housing Perfect Storm is Upon us

Housing Perfect Storm is Upon us

Welcome to Florida; The Hurricane State

Welcome to Florida; The Hurricane State

Some thought Hurricane Wilma of 2006 fame was the perfect storm that started the housing meltdown in South Florida.  Well, if you coupled that with mortgage fraud, rising home prices that were out of control, and unscrupulous realtors, mortgage brokers, and appraisers, then maybe it was.  I believe that it was simply the beginning of the end.

Today we have a perfect storm of other sorts.  I like to think of it as the perfect storm for our housing recovery.  Whether or not you like it makes no difference.  Housing is the single factor in the US economy that dictates whether or not we fail or succeed economically as a country.  Not Wall Street, not the auto industry, and not banking.  This is why everyone should be paying close attention to the market, especially here in your own backyard.  Housing’s success or failure has a domino affect on America’s economy.  Choosing to ignore it is simply not the right attitude. 

Sometimes I wonder if the Native Americans had it right all along because they had no concept of ownership of any kind, including their own country.  This is why they never had to worry about defaulting on a loan.  They shared in everything willingly.   And that is why it was so easily manipulated away from them though.  On the one hand they never had to worry about a mortgage payment, insurance, HOA dues, or even cutting the grass.  On the other hand, this type of cultural mentality led to their loss of land.  One could argue that there simply were not enough Indians to stop the influx of White immigrants flowing into the country and that it was bound to happen anyway, but if there were some kind of national government in place perhaps a deal could have been arranged to avoid the takeover. There is no going back now and we have to live with the current economic conditions.   

But Indians did not use money at the time, so an economic collapse due to housing would have been impossible.  But it sure would be nice to not have to think about money or bills for a while.  Today’s society has no concept of sharing because we are all out for ourselves when it comes to home ownership and getting the best deal possible.  Nobody cares about whether or not the sale of their over-priced home will have impact on the rest of the community as long as they get what they want.  Hopefully, we have learned from our mistakes and will be more conscience of  our actions in the future. 

What South Florida is experiencing now is not unlike pre-meltdown housing numbers, but make no mistake about it, everything has changed in the way we conduct business.  The perfect housing storm arises first from rising seller prices.  Although not enough to bring a lot of homeowners from the abyss, it is still enough to rescue many others.  Another factor that has been taking hold are buyers who are coming to the US to invest for various reasons, although mostly political.  All of the political and economic unrest in various parts of the world have led to foreign investment in US housing.  These buyers are coming in droves too, and this has led to a shortage of inventory, thus driving up demand and prices.  In particular, Canada, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, and China are the biggest movers and shakers in the home buying business. 

American buyers, on the other hand, are driven more by simple economics like interest rates.  Foreigners do not have to worry about that because they buy with cash, but with Americans who finance it is the single biggest factor in the purchase of a home.  Give out zero percent interest rates like the auto industry and the run on housing would be so great that we would surely run out of homes to sell in record time. 

So, given the fact that we have a great deal of buyers for homes, low interest rates, higher home values, and a shortage of inventory all point to a housing perfect storm.  This time, however, it is all for the better. 

 

 

Filed under: Real Estate, , , , , , , ,

South Florida Shadow Inventories Leave More Questions than Answers

The debate as to whether or not South Florida’s struggling housing market is back on track or not is still up in the air as far as I am concerned.  If you asked one hundred agents here you would get a different answer from them all, but most would hinge on either a big time yes or a slowly but surely approach.

The problem with getting an accurate account of the recovery is simply tied into the shadow inventories, or the foreclosed homes that the banks are holding back on so as to not flood the market.  By doing so, the real estate market is left with a smaller inventory of homes, which generates multiple offers and higher demand.  Personally, as more of a listing agent than a buyer’s agent, I like the idea.  However, I do not like the false hope that it provides my customers.  Let’s face it, getting a loan today is like pulling teeth, so continuing to lower interest rates can only go so far.  So that pretty much leaves sellers with a whole lot of investment buyers, most of whom are foreigners.  On the other hand, if the market were to be saturated with thousands of foreclosed homes that would be a disaster as well.  Buyers would indeed come out of the woodwork like roaches, but their offers would be lower than usual, thus leaving the traditional sellers on the outside looking in because they are not the better deal.  This would probably also kill short sales since they close so much faster. 

I remember in 2006 and prior to when all the media could talk about was when the bubble was going to burst on the housing market.  Nobody paid attention to the warnings.  It was as if they wanted it to happen so that they would have something to talk about.  But now all they can talk about is the so called recovery.  What will the media talk about when that happens?  Make no bones about it – this is indeed an investor driven real estate market and without investors as buyers the South Florida market would look like Detroit.  It will lead to another bubble, however, that of the rental market because the area is being flooded with rentals now and landlords are gouging like tomorrow will be the end of the world.  It is sad at how people take advantage of others in their most time of need.  John Steinbeck’s, “The Grapes of Wrath” is a classic example of how the market collapsed during the depression and how those with took advantage of those without. 

So, as far as I am concerned the real estate recovery has to be divided into different parts of the country.  Some are better off than others, but Florida has a long way to go because it was probably the most greedy during the heyday.  The deeper you go into a real estate tragedy in terms of pricing and inventory, the longer you have to climb out.  Only time will tell how Floridians will bounce back from the deepest depths of the real estate abyss.  No media giant can ascertain that.

Filed under: Real Estate, , , , , , , ,

Death of a realtor

It was only a matter of time, the death of the realtor as we know it. I know this because I am one. There was once a time when the majority of the public counted on realtors for help. But, over the last decade the real estate landscape has been altered by factors that realtors simply have no control over.
Does the public really need realtors anymore? Only those that are either too busy or have no knowledge of the business hire realtors today. The factors that have contributed to our downfall and the way in which we do business are as follows; Tighter lending rules by banks. Before the housing meltdown everyone was lending money like it was going out of style, but banks today are much stricter because they do not want to get burned again. If you cannot get a loan you cannot buy a home. This leaves realtors with mostly cash buyers that are hard to come by. Lenders are tightening the noose even more in 2014 as evidenced in this article from HousingWire.com. http://www.housingwire.com/articles/28192-headwinds-ahead-for-housing
Buyers and sellers alike also have a great deal of access to realtor’s listings in the MLS via websites such as Trulia and Zillow. Sellers can even advertise on some of these housing sites, which begs me to wonder why on earth would the websites that are trying to help realtors actually hurting them?
The internet, of course, opened up all kinds of doors for buyers, renters, and sellers. Instead of calling an agent they can simply go to any of a numerous real estate sites and conduct a search on their own, study photos and videos, investigate taxes and maintenance fees, and even make an offer. This essentially eliminates the Multiple Listing Service that agents use because those same listings are taken from there and posted on these various sites while we as realtors still have to pay dues to the local, state, and national boards.
Unscrupulous realtors who only look out for themselves are a back breaker for any of us who take this business seriously and treat it with the utmost professionalism. Unfortunately, there are way too many of them, especially in South Florida because this area of the country is ripe with fraud. As an industry we also make it too easy for anyone to obtain a license. It is not about the quality of the realtors out there, but for those at the state level, the quantity of agents they can collect dues from. These same realtors go so far as to charge a very low fee for service for sellers who want their home listed in the MLS, but want to save the 3% on the selling or listing side. Every time one of these realtors collects $250. to list a home in the MLS they are hurting the another realtor that much more.
The fickle housing market has a tendency to change like the weather. I have come to realize that America’s economy depends heavily on the housing market because the industry employs so many people on so many levels that most people do not even realize. Every time the market takes a nose dive every realtor and those they do business with feels it. It has a negative trickle down affect. What else can a realtor do when the market tanks? There is no golden parachute for us. We have to wait it out and hope the market makes a comeback as quickly as possible.
If a bad economy coincides with a housing meltdown, as we discovered in 2006, then we have a recipe for disaster. The downturn can last for years. When this happens most realtors who cannot wait it out leave for another industry, usually something that just pays the bills because they are not qualified for anything else. And since housing dictates a large part of the economy, one cannot rehabilitate without the other.
Lastly, greed comes to my mind when I think of our death. A buyer always wants a property for as low as he can get it, even if it requires dirty tactics. The seller wants more than his property is worth. It is a never ending cycle in which the hired realtor is always trapped in the middle. What matters is what is fair and how it will affect those in your neighborhood later on down the road, but everyone is always thinking of himself. If things do not go their way then the realtor is to blame, so next time they attempt a sale on their own to eliminate us and try to make even more money off of those unsuspecting buyers.
Everytime you eliminate a realtor from your property sale consider this; You have just put a small business out of business and small business is the backbone of this country. Without small business you are left with nothing but big box stores and the internet.

Filed under: Real Estate, South Florida, Thoughts on Life, , , ,

Remembering 1972 Munich Olympic Games Massacre

Forty years ago members of a Palestinian terrorist organization found a way into the Olympic Village in Munich Germany and kidnapped 11 Israeli athletes in the hope of using them as hostages in a prisoner swap.  However, a botched German rescue went horribly wrong and all of the hostages were murdered as they sat in a helicopter with their arms and legs tied together awaiting departure for the airport and hopefully their release. 

The Face of Terrorism

Several movies on the subject have been made since, all of them heartbreaking.  Until “Munich” came along.  The difference?  “Munich” was based on the aftermath of the murders and how the Israeli Mossad went after the freed terrorists that were captured by the Germans.  What this movie proved, however, was that as much as the Israelis wanted blood for the murders they did not want it at the cost of becoming murderers themselves.  Years later the ultimate leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Yasser Arafat, would be seen shaking hands with Yitshak Rabin in Washington in his attempt at peace.  He even received a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.  Suddenly, everyone forgot about all the people he killed and Munich, even though “Black September,” a branch group of the PLO, claimed credit.  A detailed account of what happened that fateful day in 1972 can be read here, including the thoughts and interviews with olympian Mark Spitz.

http://msn.foxsports.com/olympics/story/munich-olympics-israeli-athletes-terrorist-attack-forty-years-later

The London games mark the 40th anniversary of this horrific mark on olympic history.  And what does the International Olympic Committee have to show for it?  Absolutely nothing.  Jacques Rogge, the International Olympic Committee’s President, feels as if the opening ceremonies are not the place to remember such a tragedy.  I wonder, where is the proper place?  These men were an integral part of the Olympic family and deserve the repsect and honor of their peers, especially during this time as an anniversary date of the massacre.  Who is he to make such a decision when the rest of the democratic world thinks otherwise?  Let’s face it;  His decision is based on two things, racism and politics.  If this were any other Christian or Muslim country that faced such a horrific incident every effort would be made to honor their athletes, but because they were Jews and Israeli’s to boot, there is no way Rogge or the IOC is going to upset the fragile balance of Olympic harmony with their Muslim neighbors who have threatened to boycott the games if such a memorial service is performed.

Only Fox News has the Chutzpah, or guts, to bring attention to these courageous men who died.  See reporter Jen Floyd Engel’s story here.  http://msn.foxsports.com/olympics/story/honoring-those-killed-in-munich-massacre-with-moment-of-silence-is-necessary-072212

 

Botched Rescue

And finally, Bob Costas plans on adding his own on air commemoration prior to the games.  I am so glad that at least one news organization has still retained some semblance of the right kind of morals and values that the IOC and the Arab world doesn’t.  The shame of it all.  These are human beings competing in what are supposed to be the one moment when the world puts all of their differences aside and competes as one, regardless of politics and religion. But the Arab world doesn’t see it that way and the IOC, like the United Nations, capitulates to their every demand.  They should all be ashamed of themselves for such indifference and outright racism.  They should reach down deep into their hearts and do the right thing for once in the hope that this remembrance shall never be allowed to happen again.  Read the Bob Costas story here.   http://msn.foxsports.com/olympics/story/bob-costas-plans-to-honor-israelis-killed-in-munich-072312

 

Casket of Israeli Athlete Carried by American Soldiers

Filed under: Israel, , , , , ,

Rebuilding America’s Real Estate Market Begins in its Downtowns

1950's Columbia

A vintage 1950’s era black and white photo of Main St. in downtown Columbia, SC tells a story of a city’s past. You will notice the hustle and bustle that used to be. The other is the new Mast General Store that now occupies what used to be Lourie’s Men’s Store in the downtown area today. With the advent of the suburbs and malls people slowly moved out of the city and the downtowns across the country began its slow decent into oblivion. I vividly remember as a student at the University of South Carolina in the 1980’s how dead the area was. And I often wondered what it would take to bring it back because the suburbs were actually too far away as the college campus was downtown. I figured that something like South Beach in Miami would have to happen. That took lots of cafes, bars, and retail, something Columbia was seriously lacking.

What it takes are some smart and gutsy business people to come in and take a chance by opening a business there. Well, this finally started to happen last year when Lourie’s Men’s Store, a staple of the downtown area for years, finally closed its doors. Businessmen and politicians from the area stopped shopping. But low and behold, the Mast General Store took a chance and took the bottom of the old store and The Lofts apartments took the top. By doing so the two managed to bring people back downtown. More and more young professionals who are more and more disenchanted with the price of gas are making the move to downtown and walking to work. It seems that hybrids and smaller cars just were not working anymore. As it turns out, the apartments are renting at a fast pace because the demand has returned.

Now, some may call this gentrification, but in the case of Columbia, it can’t be because nobody was living there anymore. This, however, may now be the case in Miami, Florida.

I bring up Columbia as an example of what can be. I now live in Pembroke Pines, Florida, a suburb of Miami, and found that this too can happen in downtown Miami. If you have never been there, the heart, Flagler St., isn’t much to look at and pretty much shuts down after 5pm. My grandfather used to roam these streets in the 1940’s as a carpetbagger and the place used to hustle. He would not recognize now. But the good news is that others like me are starting to recognize the potential in the downtown area and are taking a chance in bringing back some of the old buildings by converting them into apartments, much like the The Lofts. One such building is Flagler First, a loft style apartment building exclusively represented by Fortune International Realty. The prices are more than reasonable and start at $94,000. for a loft or one bedroom. (See photo)

Flagler First

This too is a prime example of young professionals making their way back into downtown areas to be closer to work. And the main reason, besides the drive, is the price of gas. Everyone has now realized that the price is what it is and it’s not going to change. Wishful thinking. Now comes acceptance. Why buy and smaller car when you can just sell your bigger house in the suburbs, get rid of your car altogether, and walk to work? The savings are incredible when you think about it. In this case, gentrification may actually be a good thing. How else are you going to bring downtown Miami back?

If you think that this may be you and you are considering this type of move, contact me, Morris Massre, for more information about Flagler First and a viewing. You will be surprised at what can be. Visit my website for more information about me and other properties at http://www.myfloridarealty.net

The Lofts Apts.

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Yom HaZikaron Should be in the USA too

Yom HaZikaron

Yom HaZikaron

You may not like what I am about to say concerning Memorial Day, but it has to be said. I am appalled by what this holiday has become in the US. When it should be about memorializing the dead soldiers who fought in all of our wars, it has become all about barbeques, sales at the mall, and traveling. Even commercials on television, while sporting red, white, and blue, are pushing everything from shoes and shorts to cars and jewelry. It disgusts me to say the least, and should do so to you as well. This should be a sad holiday, not a celebration.

These people died for you for crying out loud. They deserve more than this. I propose a nationwide moment of silence at a specific time tomorrow as designated by the federal government, where everyone stops what they are doing and says a silent prayer. Am I insane you say? Not really. Actually, I got the idea from the country of Israel, where they do this exact thing. Just google it. My wife was there just a couple of weeks ago with a group of middle school kids when one day horns, like those you would find in tornado alley, were sounded and everyone everywhere stopped, even if they were in their cars on the highway, and stood where they were to honor their fallen. They do this for holocaust victims as well. She said that the kids were amazed at the fact that so many would do so much for their soldiers when back home in America nothing like this was done. The holiday in Israel has the same name also, although over there it’s pronounced in Hebrew as Yom HaZikaron. (See picture insert) If this doesn’t blow you away, nothing will.

Pass this message along to all fellow bloggers and help me feature it too Activerainers! I want to get the message out to all American soldiers that we do indeed care about the fallen and will be saying a prayer for all of them, for all wars fought, wherever they may be buried. And, to let the living know that we will not forget them should they also fall.

Filed under: Israel,

Why It’s Great to be a USC Gamecock

Beat Clemson

Being a Gamecock fan is about as easy as being a Chicago Cub.  So much hope and promise every year and then we are let down.  My journey as a fan began in high school.  Up until then I was as big a Clemson fan as one could be.  But one evening in front of a television changed all that.  I was about 16 and a USC baseball game of all things popped up on the screen.  So I watched it out of curiousity and was instantly hooked.  You have to remember that back then in the early ’80’s you basically got sports on Sunday and even that was limited.  There was no ESPN.

Later that year my best friend and I watch our first bowl game, Cocks vs. Mizzou.  I really liked what I saw even though they lost.  As a matter of fact, the Cocks lost their first eight bowls before they finally pulled one out in the Carquest Bowl.  I started looking into everything Gamecock by then and made the journey to Columbia in 1980 to see George Rogers steamroll over the Pack.  If you grew up in South Carolina you either went to Clemson or USC, period.  I wasn’t even thinking about other schools.  It was as if they did not exist.

By the time I graduated I was off to Columbia and followed Gamecock sports of all kinds while there, even the sports nobody else pays attention to like swimming.  What I found was that USC was more than just a football, basketball, or baseball school.  It had so much more to offer.  The soccer program is incredible and has had the same coach for decades.  But having the time to constantly go to every game in every sport is exhausting.  It is not until after you graduate that you realize you are an even bigger fan now than when you were actually in school.  I just didn’t have the time to be as big a fan while attending school.   But today, even my WordPress handle is associated with a South Carolina great, Shoeless Joe Jackson of 1918 White Sox baseball fame.

I arrived in the ’80’s when USC was an independent, almost unheard of today, unless you are Notre Dame.  We could never win a conference championship in anything.  But in ’84 we really had something going when we won 10 football games, but blew our shot at a national title by losing to Navy of all schools.  They haven’t won 10 since then and it was really all downhill after that when Joe Morrison died.  Things didn’t start to come together again for the football program until Spurrier arrived.  No, Holtz did not make a difference.  He was dedicated to the Irish first and foremost and did nothng to endear himself to the fans other than winning 9 games once.  He never beat Florida and had a losing record against Clemson.  In other words, his heart was always in South Bend.  Spurrier had his chance for 10 wins in 2010 too.  It was as if God himself was a Gamecock fan and was giving him and the team chance after chance by scheduling more games, including a conference championship in Atlanta and a Chick Fil A bowl game against FSU.  In the end it turned out to be the letdown loss to Kentucky, after a big lead, that prevented the 10 wins season.

Spurrier really adopted the city and the school in a big way, however.  He goes to other games and gets involved.  To see him smiling and cheering at the College World Series in 2010 sealed his loyalty to me.  Everything he has done to turn the program into a consistant winner is visible everywhere from the incredible new uniforms to the recruting of literally some of the best talent in the country.  No other coach could have landed Lattimore, Jeffery, and Clowney to USC.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Up until 2010 the football program only won one conference title and that was the 1969 ACC championship.  The once proud basketball program under Frank McGuire’s influence had fallen on tough times, and periodically showed flashes of brilliance in ’95 and ’96 when they won the SEC two years in a row.  They were bounced from the tournament in the first round both years.  For those of you who don’t know McGuire, he was the man at St. Johns and then UNC prior to Dean Smith’s arrival.  He even won a national championship there.  He made USC a powerhouse in the ACC  throughout the ’70’s.  I had the greatest pleasure of meeting the man face to face right before he died and purely by accident.  I was dining at a local restaurant in Myrtle Beach and a friend of mine was there.  He asked me if I wanted to meet McGuire.  Do I?!!!  He introduced us and Mcguire and I sat and talked for about an hour about Gamecock basketball.  It was a moment I would never forget.  The man is truly a legend.  He loved the Gamecocks too and had a great deal of influence on the program even after his retirement.

Baseball and soccer, on the other hand were always powerhouses.  But nobody ever talks about that.  The problem with the Gamecocks was they were always the bridesmaid, but never the bride in both sports.  The soccer team played in a national title game against Virginia and came up short and the baseball team made it to the finals three times before finally winning it all in 2010 in dramatic fashion in what has to be the most exciting college baseball series of all time when you consider the fact that they won it all after losing the opener and then sweeping everyone else, including Clemson twice.  Even Spurrier was there.  Holtz was invited in 2003, but was a no show.  This baseball team made history by being the last national championship team to win the last game at historic Rosenblatt Stadium.  I watched every single game they played in for ten straight nights thinking they were going to blow it.  So many times they were on the brink of elimination, only to fight back and pull it out each time.  Then in 2011 they did it again.  This time they blew through the regionals, super regionals, and then the World Series and became only the sixth team in NCAA history to win two championships in a row and broke the series record of consecutive wins in a postseason.  Nobody is laughing at the Gamecocks anymore.  The best part was whereas in 2010 they had to beat arch nemesis Clemson twice to advance, this year they had to beat arch nemesis II Florida twice as well.  There is something about orange I just hate.  And that was sweet satisfaction.

Although not  the first national championship for the university in it’s illustrious history, it was the first for the men in a major sport.  Now everyone knows who the Gamecocks are.  And now that the Gamecocks have won the SEC East  football crown with a win over hated Florida and the soccer team took home the Conference USA title in the same weekend it appears that the chicken curse has indeed finally been lifted.  This is a major accomplishment considering the level of talent in both conferences.

Living in Florida now I have to hear it all the time from the Gator fans.  But now I can rub it in their faces because the Gamecocks have indeed arrived.  USC is truly a wonderful university in many ways and I still go back just to reminisce.  What the rest of the country doesn’t know about the school is that the sports facilities are incredible and rival those of some professional sports.  It sits in the middle of downtown Columbia and is within walking distance of everything happening.  It has a balanced mixture of old and new buildings

Gamecocks

with a beautiful setting at it’s center, the horseshoe.  And no, not just Southerners go to school there.  A lot of kids from the Northeast also attend.  The school is also at or near the top in business, journalism, and engineering.  Walking through downtown Columbia is like taking a trip through time with it’s brick pavered sidewalks, mix of older buildings, and the 100+ year old clocks that adorn the streets.  It’s really such a nice way to spend an afternoon just walking and enjoying the scenery.  And fraternity row is simply majestic with it’s large fraternity and sorority houses lining the streets.  Ah, to be a student living and attending school there today would just be fantastic.

The best advice I can give anyone who is attending college at USC today is to enjoy it and savor every minute of it.  Suck it all in and get involved in as much as possible by visiting everything the university has to offer.  For instance, USC is the sole owner of all Movietone news reels and anyone can feel free to walk in to the theatre and watch it all day.  Why is this important?  Because Movietone is a large piece of American history.  Before television and the internet, Americans got their news by attending a movie and having the news flash on the screen prior to it starting.  The university is also home to the most comprehensive research collection for the study and teaching of F. Scott Fitzgerald. It is housed at the Thomas Cooper Library.
Yes, it is getting easier and easier to be a University of South Carolina Gamecock fan today. I appreciate the university and all it has to offer more today than I ever did as a student probably because I have a better appreciation for history now.

GO GAMECOCKS!

Filed under: Gamecocks, University of South Carolina, , , ,

Israel Is For Investors

From the mind of Richard Meier comes his latest project in Tel Aviv. Named after it’s designer, Meier, this new construction condo scheduled for completion in three years is a 32 floor masterpiece with panoramic views of the city and the mediterranean.

According to the current plan, the residential tower will be 32 stories high, or 150 meters, with a five stories lobby incorporating seating and hosting areas.
A total of 20,300 sq m will be reserved for residential use, including all technical services, lobby, lounge and other residential facilities.

Each 785 sq m flat can either be a single apartment or be divided into two, four or five apartments, on the first 10 floors. The condo also
offers penthouse plans as duplex and triplex.

The design and technology of the tower will be based on innovative systems to incorporate environmentally friendly living.

This photo gives you an idea of the breathtaking views from Meier.  It’s just a short walk to the beach too. 

Forget about what you have heard in the media.  Israel is as peaceful a country as one will ever see and extremely friendly towards it’s visitors, especially Americans as they are the country’s closest ally.  Tel Aviv is Israel’s largest city and you could literally see the rest of the country in a week by car. 

Contact me for more information at 954-214-6014 for more detailed information and pricing or visit my website at http://www.myfloridarealty.net/

Thanks for visiting.

Filed under: Israel, Real Estate, ,

New Construction in Israel

I know what you are thinking. And no, what you see happening on CNN, Fox, etc. is truly NOT the face of Israel. As a matter of fact, the real estate business there is booming and there is no bubble because banks lend little, if any, money for residential sales. In fact, most of the buyers of the new projects on the Mediterranean are foreigners. Citizens of the country have to actually win the lottery just to buy a home.

Do not let threats from Iran or any of the other wacky Arab countries deter you from investing in Israel. I have been there four times and have never felt threatened. I actually find it to be quite a lovely and relaxing country that is incredibly friendly towards Americans especially. Getting around is a snap as everyone speaks English and all signage is in four languages. The security at all levels there is unmatched anywhere in the world. Why? Because there are no politically offensive or incorrect messages or policies that the federal government cares about using. Security is paramount and if you do not like the steps taken to ensure that, you can leave. We as a country can learn from that.

This brings me to my real estate point. If you like Miami Beach or Brickell, this is for you. The architecture is very similar with the art deco look,  and the amenities spectacular. But the best part of this project, Aviv, are the views of the Mediterranean. Underground parking abounds as well. This is about a two year project and deposit are being taken here with me at Fortune International Realty.  All contracts are assignable as well. 

Tel Aviv New

This building in particular is six floors with retail on the ground level and a garden area on the roof with shared “safe rooms” for everyone.  I liken these rooms to those of Americans in the 1950’s who had a bomb shelter in their back yard.  You can never be too safe in the government’s eyes.  Parking is underground and the beach is a ten minute walk.  Contact me at 954-214-6014 for additional detailed information.

Filed under: Real Estate, , , , , , ,

Realtors Not Dead Yet

I sometimes wonder if realtors really are a dying breed.  In the old days before the internet people would always look for an excuse not to use an agent, but in the end always did.  Today they don’t even have to use an excuse.  There is plenty of free help out there online and television on the nuances of selling or buying a home.  And we do not help ourselves by giving anyone with a breath a license in a week.  I can’t think of any other business that does that.  You should have to earn it and go through much more rigorous training.  This will weed out the deadbeats.

Perhaps we are our own worst enemy too.  Cutting commissions, shafting our brethren, seeking out shortcuts to get rich quick, breaking all the rules and laws, and so on.  I liken this to when I was a kid.  My parents were in retail and had lots of competition who were always doing the same exact things just mentioned.  So my father took it upon himself to contact each of his competitors and offer a solution to the war.  Why not everyone just carry the same items at the same price and let the customer decide for himself who he or she wants to buy from?  This same philosophy can and should apply here.  Yet it doesn’t because everyone is looking out for him or herself.

If we band together and give the customer the service and attention they deserve they will stick with you.  No need to sell yourself short.  The more you do, the more respect you lose from the customer.  Once the public realizes this, and they will, they will come back to using agents the way they used to.  Afterall, how much attention can a computer give a customer?  As far as customers are concerned, the only good a computer should do for them is give them information on all of the qualified agents in their area.  If a client took the time to research who they are interviewing and eventually hiring they just might eliminate a lot of headache later on down the road.  Anyone can claim they are a “specialist,” but we all know that’s just branding.  Does the customer know that?

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