Monday, March 21, 2011

See Fort Lauderdale Real Estate by Boat!

While Venice is not known as the Fort Lauderdale of Italy, Fort Lauderdale is called the Venice of America, and for good reason. There are over 144 miles of waterways in Broward County. If you are in the market for a waterfront home or condominium, I am happy to show you the area by boat. I have been a boater in the area since I was 15. Whether your interest is a condominium or home with Intracoastal, Ocean, New River, Middle River or canal views, or dockage for a kayak or super yacht, seeing the area from the water gives you a great perspective hard to imagine by land.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Piece of Florida Sunshine for Canadians

The cars in a parking lot at Walmart in Hallandale Beach south of Fort Lauderdale tell the tale. About 1 of out every 10 vehicles is from Canada. It's February; the weather is warm in Florida, so many are visiting tourists. But other Canadians are putting down roots.

One recent transplant, Doug Flood says, "If there ever was an 11th [Canadian] province, it probably would be Florida."

Canadians are the largest single group of foreign homebuyers, accounting last year for some 8 percent of total residential sales in Florida.

The maple leaf has long been a familiar symbol in Florida beach communities, on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. But over the past several years, Canadian visitors have increasingly become homebuyers.

Canadians are buying property to rent ou to generate cash flow. In most major centers in Canada, you can't buy property and be cash-flow positive. Not even close.
If you're Canadian, you have very low interest rates at home if you want to borrow against your house. You've have a foreign exchange par, dollar-for-dollar. Prices down here that are 40 to 50 percent lower than what they were five at the peak of the boom in 2005.

Canada Avoided The Housing Crash

Canada largely avoided the collapse in housing prices that devastated American homeowners and the U.S. economy.

Because of tighter financial regulations, things like subprime lending and securitized mortgages are unknown in Canada. Foreclosures are rare. So Canadian real estate steadily appreciated while property values in Florida, Arizona and other hard-hit U.S. markets went into the tank.

Brian Ellis, with Florida Home Finders of Canada, a real estate company based near Toronto, says, "It's put a lot of us in a very, very strong position in that we do have a lot of equity in our homes. And now, we can take some of that equity out, pay cash for either an investment property or a second home in the state of Florida."

Ellis holds seminars in Ontario and Quebec for people interested in buying homes in Florida. His company mostly markets new homes in developments where prices are good and where it can assure clients there are no hidden problems, such as underfunded homeowners associations or Chinese drywall.

Most buyers, Ellis says aren't planning on moving to Florida. They're investors, "all looking at buying property to rent out today to generate cash flow." Ellis says you can't do that in most major cities in Canada. "You can't buy property and be cash-flow positive. Not even close," he says.

Who's Buying

There are wealthy Canadians buying multimillion-dollar beachfront homes. And there are people like Dennis Kivlahan, who recently bought a two-bedroom condo in Fort Myers, Fla., sight unseen.

Kivlahan is a high school history teacher from Ajax, Ontario. He used money from a home equity loan to pay $56,000 cash for the property in Florida.

"I liked the price. It was a very straightforward sale," he says. "We went on vacation there myself, my wife and children. And I saw the unit about three months after I purchased it."

Kivlahan is renting it out with the idea of possibly moving to Fort Myers when it's time to retire.

It's not just individual homebuyers taking advantage of low Florida prices. The Minto group, a Canadian homebuilder, recently bought nearly 1,000 lots near Tampa.

For Canadians, it is an investment and something more — a reminder in the depths of winter, they own a place where it's actually warm.

In a recent phone interview from his home in Ajax, Kivlahan said, "You know right now, as we speak, it's about minus 20 with the wind chill, so I wouldn't mind being down there."

That as much as anything explains why, through boom and bust, Florida real estate eventually always bounces back.

Real Estate Taxes in Broward Made Easy

Real estate taxes in Broward Dade and Palm Beach Counties are often confusing to buyers. Here is a general guideline that will help you determine what your taxes will be on a purchase.

The existing tax bill on a property can vary greatly, depending on how long the sellers have owned it, what they paid, and whether they have homestead exemption, or other types of exemptions that reduce their tax bill. Don’t try to value a property based on the current tax assessment, it won’t make sense.

If you buy a property in 2011, your taxes will be the same as what they were for the seller. In 2012, your property will be re-assessed, and generally your taxes will be about 2.25% of the sales price. To get a more precise estimate of your future property taxes in Broward County, visit

There is no penalty charged for out of area property owners, but there are advantages to naming a residential property in Florida as your homestead, or primary residence. To do that you must be able to demonstrate that the property is your primary home. If it is, then you receive a reduction in your tax assessment and your taxes can only go up 3% over the prior year.

If your property is your homestead there is a list of other possible exemptions you may be eligible for. Go to to learn more.

For all of your Greater Fort Lauderdale real estate needs, contact:

Rob Rose
R.L. Rose & Co., Realtors
217 NE. 2 Street
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301
Office (954) 467-3305
Mobile (954) 328-9700

"Helping People Make Southeast Florida Home For Over 30 Years"

Out Of Town Buyer?

Being an out of town buyer in today’s southeast Florida real estate market can be a challenge. Desirable, well-priced properties are selling better than they have since the market crash that started in the Summer of 2005. It is often the case that good properties aren’t available during a buyer’s short visit to the area. Looking at sales in Broward County in the last 90 days, I see that well-priced properties, properties listed within 10% of recent comparable sales, are selling fast. Foreclosures are getting offers over list in a third of the cases. I sold one last week within hours of it coming on the market, with multiple offers coming in.

Here are some ways I am able to help my clients find the best property, at the best price, as an out of town buyer.

I can set you up to get automatic emails of any property that may be of interest to you as it comes on the market. All listings, including foreclosure properties, are listed on a MLS system in this area. If a property that meets your criteria is listed today, comes back on the market, or has a price reduction, you will automatically get an email alert of it. If you would like to subscribe to this service the best way to begin is to answer the questions found on my Buyer Survey at:

Keep in mind, I don’t necessarily see the properties you are receiving. Please email me with any questions you may have on a property as soon as you receive them. As a native of the area with over 30 years in real estate, there isn’t a condo, city or neighborhood in Broward that I am not familiar with. I will give you invaluable, unglossed information to help you make an informed buying decision.

If a property is something you are seriously interested in I can make a custom video of it that can be viewed online. You will probably find that this gives you a very good picture of a property. I have sold many properties this way to out of town buyers. Due to the time involved in accomplishing this, please only ask that this be done until you have looked at all available information and pictures and are serious about the possibility of a purchase.

If you decide to make an offer on a property site-unseen, I can provide details on recent comparable sales and advise you on the sales history of the property, the situation of the seller, and other pertinent information to determine the best offer price and strategy. I will then prepare an offer that can be signed by you via email.

In the best case scenario, you would have a week or two to come to the area to see what you have contracted to buy. This way you are not coming to the area to see a property that you find has already sold when you arrive. There are a number of ways to structure an offer where you would have the ability to cancel the purchase within a short time frame, without specifically adding a clause that the contract is contingent on your personal inspection on some future date; terms that sellers typically won’t accept, and don’t accept if it is a foreclosure.

Of course, I offer this incomparable level of service only to buyers who are loyal to me as their Realtor. My time and knowledge are valuable commodities that I try not to give away. My website at should give you a sense of my knowledge of and experience with greater Fort Lauderdale real estate.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Is Your Agent Really Working For You?

I was taught long ago that the role of the Realtor representing a seller was to get the best price possible for their property. In today’s soft market, I have seen many instances where the agent managed to get the seller to accept a price considerably lower than true market value, costing the seller thousands of dollars. Of course, many sellers are stressed and anxious about the possibility of further decline in value, but like a shark that smells blood, self serving agents can feed on that vulnerability by further instilling fear aimed to make a weak offer sound attractive.

I recently had an agent encourage me to accept an offer on a property I have listed at $195,000, for $100,000. He explained that $100,000 is current market value and that I should take it. A week later this property sold for $175,000. Who is this agent working for?

I live in a townhouse complex where two different Realtors have convinced sellers to accept offers that caused everyone in the complex to lose at least $25,000 in value by getting the sellers to take considerably less than they could have gotten.

One of these agents has been very successful listing properties that have already been on the market and not sold, normally because they were over-priced. Looking at the MLS sales history of this agent, he consistently manages to sell properties 10 and 20 percent below market value. For this he is paid three to six percent of the sales price?

Another agent has sold three units under market value. Using the first and second of these sales as a comparable sale to demonstrate why the seller should take less. This was done by the same firm who encouraged me to take $75,000 less than an offer I got a week later.

More times than not, listing agents tend to list properties too high. That is as unprofessional as listing them too low, the main difference being in the second instance the Realtor gets paid but costs the seller money he didn’t have to lose, and in the first the Realtor wastes everyone’s time.
There is of course a middle ground. That is a property that is priced well with a seller prepared to be patient while the buyer is found. For my money, a Realtor who is able to identify the right price and obtain it has earned his commission.

As an example, I recently listed a townhouse in an eight unit community for $325,000. The last sale in the complex was a foreclosure at $285,000. I received three offers at or under $285,000 from agents who pointed to that sale, and even argued that prices had decreased since then. I sold the property for $315,000. As the sellers Realtor, I could have pushed the buyer to accept $285,000 or even less, and argued persuasively in favor of that due to the market. I would have been paid and avoided the risk of being fired for not selling it quickly (often the case with the first listing agent), and the seller would have lost $30,000. To me, that is not doing my job. Many agents would also be concerned that the property wouldn’t appraise at the higher price, but I was able to provide comparable sales of units in the area that supported the sales price.
Self-serving Realtors know that a seller faced with a short sale situation or a foreclosure are desperate. Sellers of short sales often don’t think about the possibility of a deficiency judgment against them after the sale, for the difference between what their lender netted from the sale and what it cost them. They are usually too stressed over the trauma of the sale. While the market is soft and sellers are at a disadvantage, be sure when you choose a Realtor, that they are on your side and not costing you money. In one of the examples I site, a potential judgment $30,000 less than it could be in the future is significant, and not something your Realtor should ignore in pursuit of a quick commission.