Brightline Brings New Era of Premium Train Travel to South Florida

It’s been 122 years since a train brought this much excitement to South Florida. That was when Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway reached Biscayne Bay and launched the development of “Mayaimi,” turning an unknown swath of coastal land into what would become one of the most famous cities in the world. A good idea is timeless, so it’s no surprise that All Aboard Florida’s Brightline, the 21st-century reincarnation of Flagler’s creation, was an instant success when it debuted this year to much fanfare. The only privately owned, operated, and maintained passenger rail system in the United States today – the first of its kind in over a century – carried its first passengers between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach in January 2018. Service debuted to Miami in May, and Orlando is next on the line, with its launch expected in 2021. The express service with a focus on hospitality brings a premium alternative to the frustrating, time-consuming struggle of driving South Florida’s congested roads. Brightline travels between Miami and Fort Lauderdale in 33 minutes ($10 Smart, $15 Select each-way), between Miami and West Palm Beach in 75 minutes ($15 Smart, $25 Select each-way), and between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach in 40 minutes ($10 Smart, $15 Select each-way). The travel time and cost to Orlando from the 3 other stations has not yet been confirmed. The American-made trains have 19-inch (Smart) and 21-inch (Select) wide seats; Free WiFi; outlets and USB jacks in all seats; food and beverage service including alcohol; storage for

U.S. home prices up 7 percent annually

Home prices nationwide are up both year over year and month over month, according to CoreLogic’s latest U.S. Home Price Index. National home prices have appreciated year over year by 7 percent from October 2016 to October 2017. The increase in home prices is closely correlated to both the lack of supply and the strengthening economy. The acute lack of supply of homes for sale has pressured home prices upwards across the country, largely in areas where both existing and new home inventory have not kept up with buyer demand. That being said, home prices are projected to increase 4.2 percent by October 2018. This is great news for homeowners who have gained equity in their home over the last year. Now may be the best time for homeowners who have been on the fence as to whether or not to sell. The increased sales price of their home may help them cover a down payment on their dream home. Likewise, concerns of affordability come up whenever home prices increase. Fortunately, mortgage rates remain historically low. Future home buyers who are willing and able should take advantage of current rates and lock in a low monthly housing cost. Renters are already paying for someone else’s mortgage; might as well pay for their own. Now may be a good time to enter the housing market before interest rates increase in 2018. The Monica Betancourt Group, “MBG”, is a group with members who are  fluent in not only several languages but also fluent in several different cultures. This fluency

How will proposed tax reform legislation affect Miami real estate?

The U.S. Senate passed tax reform legislation early Saturday morning, following a marathon voting session overnight. The bill was approved just before 2 a.m. and will head to conference where House and Senate negotiators will work out the differences in their bills. It has been a hot topic in recent months and it is very probable that you have heard how it might affect real estate as a whole – but what about real estate here in the state of Florida – even Miami?   First, it is important to understand what proposed aspects of the tax reform legislation affects real estate. Home Mortgage Interest Deduction: Senate retains the current limit for the deduction to interest paid on the first $1 million of the loan. House cuts the limit in half to $500,000 for new home purchases. Property Tax Deduction: Both House and Senate limit itemized deductions for property taxes capped to the first $10,000 paid. Tax-Free Gains: Under the current tax code, sellers filing jointly can exclude up to $500,000 of gains from a home sale (up to $250,000 for single filers) tax-free, provided they have lived in and used the property as their principal residence for an aggregate of two years of the preceding five. To qualify under the new Senate bill, sellers would have to live in their homes for five of the preceding eight years, and they can only use the provision once every five years. Deductibles: Deductibility for second or vacation homes – eliminated Deductibility for home equity loans – eliminated Deductibility of moving

300 Biscayne expected to be Miami’s tallest building

Standing at 1,041 feet tall, 300 Biscayne is promised to be Miami’s tallest building, as well as the tallest residential tower south of New York. Located in downtown Miami, the highly anticipated ultra-luxury development is set minutes away from the new Miami World Center and several of Miami’s cultural attractions. New renderings from 300 Biscayne’s official website showcase a new look for the development. The exterior renderings, produced by ArX Solutions, show an impressive staggered tower that looks like a building comprised of ‘stacked-boxes’ dominating the skyline. The luxury residential project’s initial approved plans portrayed two towers with what appeared to be several walkways connecting them. The 800,000 square foot ultra-luxury tower will feature a five-star hotel brand in addition to about 500 residences, as well as the second wellness-focused spa of its kind. Moreover, a 20,000-square-foot sales center is currently under construction and will be available in the near future. Another large residential project is also planned to rise adjacent to 300 Biscayne. Consisting of nearly 700 “smart apartments,” 400 Biscayne is also in the plans of the same development team. Contact us today if you’d like to learn more about this project, and/or are looking to buy or sell. The Monica Betancourt Group are local specialists who have helped many clients with real estate needs achieve their real estate goals.

Why listing your home this holiday season is a good idea

Conventional wisdom states that selling a home during the spring and summer months is the best time. Because of this, many people assume that selling a home during the holiday season – that period from Thanksgiving week to New Year’s day – is not the best time. And though it’s true that many buyers do plan their home purchases during those months, that does not mean that all serious buyers disappear after Labor Day. If you’re home is for sale right now, your are actually in a great position to sell your home faster and for more money by taking advantage of the unique opportunities the holiday selling season offers. Motivated Buyers People who are looking for homes during the holiday season are serious buyers and are ready to buy now. The desire to own a home does not stop when the holidays come. Many times those buyers have been looking during the busy spring and summer months and just haven’t found that perfect home yet, or perhaps are relocating to start a new job in the new year. Companies are still hiring throughout the holidays and need their employees in their new positions as soon as possible. Whatever their reason, anyone who takes time out of their busy holiday schedule to shop for a new home is serious about buying now. Less Competition Many homeowners consider taking their homes off the market during the holiday season, and most new sellers will decide to wait until the first of the year or even springtime to list their

Will South Miami’s Sunset Place renovation happen?

It had seemed earlier this week that downtown South Miami was not getting the proposed redevelopment of The Shops at Sunset Place anytime soon – if at all. By a 3-2 vote on Monday night, commissioners voted against the special zoning that would have allowed redevelopment of the portion of the mall that sits along U.S. 1. Surprisingly, a day later there was a consensus among the commissioners to reconsider the plan in response to pleas from South Miami residents and business owners. It is still yet to be seen if the motion would pass to allow time to revisit the proposal and negotiate elements of the plan that initially concerned some commissioners. The principle owner and developers need a unanimous vote in favor of the changes to move forward. If approved, original plans for the site include demolishing parts of the mall on the U.S. 1 end to add an 18-story hotel and apartment building while widening sidewalks, adding more trees, and giving the mall a more contemporary look. The Shops at Sunset Place The outdoor mall was purchased for $110 million back in October 2015 by Federal Realty, Grass River Property, and The Comras Company from Simon Property Group. Located at the intersection on South Dixie Highway (U.S. 1) and Red Road (57th Avenue), The Shops at Sunset Place opened in 1999. Prior to the mall being built, the property was the site of what used to be The Bakery Centre, which opened in 1986 on the site of the old Holsum Bread Bakery. It was

Get Turned On: Home Automation is on the Rise

“Clap-on! Clap-off! Clap-on! Clap-off! The Clapper turns things on and off from anywhere in the room. I always remember that 80’s commercial – granny lying in bed, clapping off the lights in her room without having to get up. How ingenious, I thought. Call me lazy, but the moment I saw that commercial, I knew the Clapper was for me. I think I even put it on my Christmas list that year, but alas never got one. Thirty years later, The Clapper is still with us (available at Target for $16.39) but technology has gotten a lot more complicated and sophisticated. Now, even our cars light up and unlock their doors as they see you are approaching. Home Automation Home automation is definitely on the rise. This is the era of ‘smart homes’. It is projected that by 2020, 55% of households will be ‘smart’. A 2016 study found that nearly half of Americans already own or are planning to install smart technology in their homes. Home automation has certainly made life a lot easier. Even remotely, it allows you to control your home’s security, manage your home’s energy consumption, see what is happening in and around your home while you are away, and control the thermostat, appliances and lighting in your home from almost anywhere. Clapping is no longer necessary, now your cell phone, iPad or voice command technologies are the new control devices. As high-tech homes are becoming more popular and commonplace, we as professional Realtors must keep up, educate ourselves about different

Millennials: Home Buying Powerhouse

Millennials Power The Real Estate Market. For the fourth consecutive year, millennials are the largest group (33%) of home buyers in the nation, (66% of which are first time buyers) and Miami is one of their top ten destinations to buy. According to a recent study Miami ranks as the second most desired U.S. city for millennials to live in, not only because of the sunny weather but for diversity of job opportunities and its start up culture. What Millennials are buying If you are considering selling your home in the near future, it’s important to know what millennials are looking for. For one, they are doing away with a starter home from the get go, demanding more square footage (2000 to 2600 sq ft) with 3+bedrooms. Also gone: the fixer-upper. Millennials don’t want to bother with renovations.They want turn-key and smart homes. Open floor plans and gourmet/chef kitchens are ‘de rigueur’ as well as outdoor space for gardening, especiallygrowing vegetables. The pursuit of a healthier lifestyle is spurring this trend for gardening, which has now become a $36.9 Billion industry. South Miami offers great choices for Millennials Millennials are finding South Miami, with its varied real estate opportunities and great schools, a fantastic place to put down roots. For more detailed information on South Miami living, feel free to reach out to us at any time. Call The Monica Betancourt Group at 305-632-7248

How mortgage rates may be influenced by the next Fed chair

On Thursday, President Trump will announce his nomination to head the Federal Reserve. This is important because the person he selects will have an influence on the wealth of home owners and buyers in the years to come. Rumors and speculation have been circulating around by several news organizations that Jerome “Jay” Powell, Federal Reserve Governor since 2012, is Trump’s choice for Fed chair. If this is true, Powell will replace current Fed chair Janet L. Yellen whose term expires next year. Powell would represent a relatively moderate choice for Trump, and while not as dovish on monetary policy and financial regulation as Ms. Yellen, he is not considered to be as radical as other individuals under consideration such as Kevin Walsh and John Taylor. He has steadily supported Ms. Yellens approach, and so it is expected that he would be unlikely to attempt significant changes in the Fed’s course. How mortgage rates may be influenced by the next Fed chair Consequentially, mortgage rates are affected when the Fed and its chair increases or decreases short-term interest rates. When the Fed hikes the Fed funds rate, it often triggers an indirect increase in mortgage rates. Yellen has been a supporter for gradual rate increases, which in recent months have caused slight changes in to the interest rate in which mortgage borrowers pay. It is still uncertain whether the trend will continue after her successor takes over. Furthermore, raising the interest rates too aggressively would send rates higher – that can hinder some buyers and affect

Dog Gone Real Estate

What do dogs have to do with real estate Good school? ✅ Central location? ✅ Dog friendly? ✅ What millennial consider when buying a home. Yes! Dog friendly real estate has become an important consideration in millennials’ home buying decisions, ranking high on their “must have” lists alongside updated rooms, open floor plans and home offices. Googling “dog friendly real estate” brings up a slew of articles ranging from ‘sell your home by promoting it as pet friendly’ to Zillow’s pet friendly apartment searches, to Realtors specializing in this particular field. Since 2013, Realtor. com has a rental app called #AskOtis that provides information on dog friendly rentals as well as other ‘tail wagging good news’. Recently, a client of mine was seriously considering buying the less appealing home rather than the one she really liked because it was in close proximity to the neighborhood dog park. The traditional, shaded fenced yard would no longer ‘do’- what Cleopatra really needed, she insisted, was social interactions with other pooches. Sound crazy? Real facts about the millennial buyer Not really, especially when a recent Harris Poll on behalf of Sun Trust Mortgage found that 33% of millennials’ home buying decision is influenced by their dog. Dogs ranking as the top motivators of first time buyer, outranking marriage (25%) and the birth of a child(19%) by several notches. This year alone, according to the American Pet Products Association, Americans will spend over $69 billion on their pets. Talk about pet power! As a dog lover and dog owner