Free things to do in Miami – a lesson from Flat Stanley
OK, so our 10 year old son David gets a “FLAT STANLEY” from his younger cousin Chris in California (age 7). What the heck is a Flat Stanley is my initial thought? Well turns out it is a cultural project in which children send / mail this character to a friend or family member and the character is to travel around and make a diary of his travels (pictures included) and then gest mailed back to the original sender to be presented in his classroom.
So where to take Flat Stanley? My wife (Isela) and I ponder this question when my wife (my more creative half) decides that; “Hey, we live in Miami and there are a ton of things to do”, let go sight-seeing, and it’s going to be free. FREE!!! My wife has totally lost it!
So off we go.
Guess what she was right. Here are just a few of the sights that Flat Stanley saw and learned about (needless to say, our son David picked up a few pieces of knowledge himself):
The Freedom Tower (being Cuban this one was really special)
Mattheson Hammock Park
Little Havana / Calle Ocho (By coincidence they were setting up for a parade for the Bay of Pigs remembrance, and David met one of the last surviving Cubans from the Bay of Pigs invasion, Stanley got a nice picture)South Beach And our greatest asset the BEACH itself!!
Had a wonderfully packed day with my wife and son and for free, well nearly free; but lunch was well worth the 30 bucks spent in Little Havana.
I can say that we will be doing this again and with a completely different set of freebies in the great city we call home; MIAMI. What an amazing place to live!
As of the first of the year HUD issued new rules regarding Good Faith Estimates (also know as GFE’s). These newly adopted rules called for stricter guidelines for the preparation of GFE’s by lenders, mortgage bankers and mortgage brokers. Obviously the look of the GFE and layout has changed; however, the real change in the rules is how accurate the preparer must be in estimating closing costs and loan origination fees. In the past there were not many guidelines regarding the accuracy of these items. Although, I feel that there are many great mortgage brokers and lenders working in our market; I must also admit that I had many instances where the final HUD at he closing table had significant differences from the original GFE, and trust me, it was never in the favor of the buyer. Although, there is no way to prove it; it would appear that preparers of GFE would under estimate closing costs, prepaid items and origination fees in order to get the buyer / borrower to commit to them, only to later at the closing table, at the 11th hour change-up the numbers. “Well, now what here we are a the closing table, with a ton of deposit money in escrow at risk if we don’t close.” Naturally, this would anger any buyer and anger any agent or broker representing the buyer.
I for one am glad that the new rules are in place. The rules basically state that there is only a small margin of acceptable variance from the GFE to the final HUD for the previously mentioned fees. Also, if these fees do vary by more than the acceptable margin then the lender must absorb the difference. I feel that this will help in more honest and responsible lending.
Lenders are naturally concerned about this rule as they see it as potential losses. Therefore, many lenders have responded by creating “initial fees worksheet”. This worksheet will give an estimate of fees and prepaid items, etc. However, this particular worksheet will be provided prior to application, that is prior to the borrower having their credit pulled, or even providing the property address. The main thing for a buyer / borrower to remember is that this is not a GFE and should not be taken as such. The “initial fees worksheet” offers no guarantees whatsoever.
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South Florida Brokers & Associates, Inc.
According to a recent article in the Miami Herald 2009 was a pretty good year for condo sales in the Downtown Miami area. The article expresses that buyers snatched up good deals at a rate of 7 condos per day. In my opinion this is extremely impressive in light of the downturn in the real estate market in recent years. The article goes on to describe a possible reason for the buying frenzy, that is developer slashing of prices by roughly 33% from an average of 300 per square foot to 200 per square foot. We ourselves can say that we have seen many sales closing in our office in this 200 per square foot for condos off the ocean (areas such as Downtown, Brickell and even Aventura).
However, I don’t believe this means we are out of the woods yet. I also read another report where realty track is depicting the foreclosure filing shooting up by 21%. This may keep the inventory at high levels, meaning good news for buyers who will be able to shop in a market that will still have great deals due to high inventory, but hopefully in a recovering real estate market.
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South Florida Brokers & Associates, Inc.
Today I got several report from reliable sources (NAR, FAR and Realtor.org) that the pending home sales index was significantly down from October 2009 to November 2009.
As most of us know the pending home sales index is an excellent indicator often used to forecast future real estate activity in a market or even nationally. The idea is that the higher this index the lower the inventory will be in the next 30 to 60 days and we all know that the lower the inventory the more likely prices are to increase. Well the same can be said for the reverse; that is to say the lower this index the less homes can be expected to close and if sellers continue to place properties on the market then inventory should increase and prices drop. With that said the November 2009 pending home sale index dropped by 16% from October 2009; however, this may be very misleading. The reality is that there was one big factor that was more than likely artificially increasing the index in November 2009. That factor was the tax credit expiration.
I believe that buyers were rushing to the market in order to make their purchase in time and benefit from the economic relief program consisting of the tax credit. However, the extension of the tax credit may have simply alleviated the pressure of the rush and therefore deflated the pending home sales index.
When we look at additional data we find that the pending home sales index actaully went up significantly form November 2008 to November 2009, this is more like comparing apples to apples. In this case the index rose 15%, according to data gathered and received from realty times.com. This is a clear indication that the marker was certainly headed in a better direction in 2009 over 2008 and I believe that 2010 will be better than 2009.
In addition, prices have been creeping up in most major metropolitan areas.
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