Victor Vigano

Why is having a real estate agent a great plus for buyers?

In Uncategorized on March 29, 2011 at 13:31

Real estate transactions constitute for many people one of the biggest investments of their life.  Not the moment to afford making mistakes. If at first buying a property seems straight forward as buying apples at the store, beware:  there is a lot more to it than most may think, which may result in less than desirable deals and transactions.

In Florida, in the case of Transactional Brokerage, the real estate agents customarily don’t require any money directly from the buyers he’s helping; it is the seller that contributes to the commissions.  In some cases, where the real estate agency provides extra tools helping agent and customers, a small transaction fee (around a couple hundred dollars at best) may be seen applicable.  While one may think that doing without the help of a real estate professional when buying translates in wonderful savings, the opposite is quite more likely. 

The real estate agent brings expertise to the table: about the market, about the peculiarities of different areas and of the individual buildings, and of the transaction process in general.  Attorneys may help with the paperwork, but as far as understanding the market and knowing how to avoid little or big pitfalls during the negotiations, the agent is best suited.  That could save the buyer thousands of dollars, and usually does. 

The real estate agent, whose help is free or, at most, inexpensive to a buyer, does provide a conspicuous service. The agent is bound by a strict code of ethics; be towards the seller or the buyer, he will provide professionalism and integrity. The agent can focus down on a more complete list of properties in a swift and orderly fashion, saving the buyer much time. The agent may have access to properties not readily accessible or advertised.  The agent uses an internet based listing program, the Multiple Listings Service (MLS), which allows access to a very vast, almost complete compendium of properties on the market (and that have been on the market). The general public may access such property database through various agents’ sites and other specialized sites, such as Trulia.com, but that won’t yield the same complete and updated results as the MLS; also, the research functionalities available to the general public will lack many of the features an agent may enjoy with the MLS. The agent may provide a comparative market analysis (CMA), as well as other information and data not readily available to the general public. The agent can research the houses sold in a particular area in the last year, the zonings, the apartments sold and/or rented in a building and their prices,  the percent of delinquencies in a building, and so on…  All this premium information helps to better pinpoint the true value of a deal, the market value of a property.  The agent will provide introspection into the issues a particular property may have.  A buyer may be naïve of the several technicalities that may influence a property value and marketability: issues such as the 40years building recertification or the unpaid and/or projected special assessments may be overlooked by an unsophisticated buyer, but ultimately could result in a sour deal.  The agent would know, when dealing with new developers units, if the forecasted maintenance is realistic or if it could be expected to grow significantly.    There are just too many aspects to buying a property for most buyers to deal with and to analyze, to be safe.  The agent can guide a buyer through the buying process, effortlessly.  The agent can guide you in regards to value analysis, negotiations, financing, terms, etc..

The agent can help the buyer find:

  • Real estate attorney:  the title to a property may be clouded or have some limitations; an attorney helps to solve such issues.  I also recommend having an attorney following the transaction closely, starting from the initial offer, all the way to the closing. In many cases there are legal complications the attorney may help avoid or sort out, saving hefty amounts at the end.  It is advisable, when owner financing is considered, to be represented by an attorney who reviews the paperwork.
  • Home inspection specialists: apart from the usual property repairs, and depending on the location of the property, you may want to inspect for termites, dry rot, asbestos, Chinese drywalls, faulty structure, roof condition, septic tank, and so on.
  • Lender or mortgage broker:  for those who need financing, you can get pre-qualified, so to understand what properties you can afford looking at.  A good broker will not only find the best lender for you, but will offer different terms to meet your needs.  He will explain which buildings are in good status to receive financing and why.  He will proceed in timely fashion so that you don’t default on your offer-contract deadlines.

Bottom line:

As the majority of properties are listed with real estate agencies, a buyer would still have to deal with an agent  and with the seller  paying commissions to an agency.  Unluckily, while the seller’s agent will conduct the transaction fairly and professionlly, he won’t go the extra mile to help the buyer with most of what was discussed earlier.  There is really no good reason for a buyer not to enjoy the services of a real estate agent.

Why Miami?

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2011 at 11:53

Because it’s a growing city with lots to offer for everyone.

When boasting about Miami one has to pay his respects starting with Miami Beach.

After the days of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack were long gone, Miami Beach diminished to a retiring place for elders.  Its beauty and uniqueness, though, remained untainted and ready to shine once again, when the times were right.   When I first moved here, in 1994, Miami and Miami Beach were pale ghosts of what they are now. Miami Downtown was a financial district, mostly off-limits after hours due to safety reasons (not one of the best spots to be after 6pm).   Miami Beach was riveting with models and photographers, some rich playboys from around the world and few pioneers who saw opportunity, but still lacked its KO punch.  In the morning the streets were deserted until 10am, as people took their time to comfortably wake up, as establishments opened around that time, too.  During the day, cars were few and far between, parking was free almost everywhere and spots always available.   Miami Beach was a little jewel, but remained  undiscovered to most.  Versace, the Estefans and Madonna were among the first who rediscovered its raw beauty and, maybe unwittingly, who helped stir the interest of the masses. 

 Miami Beach was a no brainer success story on the making.  As pivotal spot set between the Americas and with its strong Cuban influence, it became a home away from home for many Latinos. The beach, the beautiful setting and the trendiness made it the vacation retreat for New Yorkers, as well as for all those who lived in busy, cold cities of the North.  A favorite spot for model agencies, Miami Beach was an attraction and became a playground for all those playboys who could afford a permanent vacation in paradise.  The hip and creative mixture of denizens pushed Miami Beach to take the lead as the cutting edge spot for electronic music and nightlife, becoming one of the predominant party cities of the world.  Stars flocked and glamour ran rampant.

The magnitude of the night clubs skyrocketed: from the original hits such as the early Warsaw Ballroom, Level, Paragon, Twist; through the icons such as Living Room, Liquid, Crowbar, Mint and Chaos; to the behemoths such as Mansion, the Opium Garden, Crowbar; touching the zenith with the opening of Club Space (in Miami Downtown), a virtual consecration of electronic music commanding top djs from around the world,  playing for infinite after-hours to reveling crowds. Miami and Miami Beach swiftly grew to top spot also for Europeans and Russian tourists who brought with them more purchasing power and hype.  Soon, as a consequence, all sort of establishments appeared, catering to the most diverse needs and desires. 

At the turning of the millennium, Miami Beach started to assume a different face.  Its raw hipness and untainted creativity slowly yielded to a more conventional status to match the expanded idiosyncrasies a major city would entail. Those who were partygoers established families and had kids.  The Miami Heat and the Marlins grew in fame (not so maybe the Dolphins, who were most famous with Dan Marino).  The city clamped down on clubs, regulating and virtually tapering down the party.  Vacationers saw that Miami Beach had more to offer than being just a quick retreat from the cold or an occasion to dance; they envisioned it as the permanent residence for a life of dreams.   Some started buying their second residences here, turning Miami Beach into their only spot for vacationing; others moved here altogether. Miami Downtown, with its improved safety, upgraded to residential enclave.  Miami and Miami Beach grew, embracing each other synergically, and in the eyes of many who make no distinction with the Metropolitan Miami-Dade County, Miami became one mega-city.  Real Estate flourished.

Then, with banks inflating the money market and the people’s purchasing power with easy loans, the unsophisticated masses promptly rushed to acquire real estate like it was going out of style, riding the “your home is your bank” propaganda.  What was a flourishing real estate marked in Miami turned into a boom phenomenon; new buildings were coming up in quick succession.  As the real estate bubble grew, also Miami grew; and many more called it home.

Eventually, the real estate bubble burst, bringing down the dreams of many but leaving behind important infrastructures and many new residents.  Miami was hit harder than most cities, as everybody rushed to invest in what was hyped to be a gold mine.  The same happened with Las Vegas.  The real estate values plunged and many buildings remained half empty, some completely.  Many people faced hardships with their properties and their finances as they overstretched their investments, or simply because their condo associations faced too many delinquencies, calling for expensive special assessments.  Not the best of times for residents.

But Miami is not Las Vegas, and while there one finds a desert, here one can enjoy the leisure of the beach and the ocean; while there one finds a city saturated with gambling and shows, here one may find a city still sparkling with potential and breadth for business growth; while only some want to live in Las Vegas many desire a life in Miami. Now, the real estate inventory is being slowly re-absorbed, the prices are seemingly at their lowest and Miami is still a growing attraction.  Home prices in Miami are still advantageous when compared to other cities of similar importance. A weak dollar allows for people around the world to once again see Miami as a relatively safe bet.   Miami: a city with a great margin for improvement; a city with an established aura of beauty that meshes with the comforts and quality that a major US city may offer; a paradise found.

Where is best to Live?

In Uncategorized on March 9, 2011 at 18:13

Where we live… the country, the city…constitutes a great part of our quality of life.  There are many reasons why we live where we do.  In most cases we are subdued by some sort of gravitational force: we were born there, our family and friends are there, we know how to find jobs there and we really aren’t the adventurous, savvy type. We are mentally and emotionally pulled in, towards our own home town.  But do we really enjoy a sufficient quality of life?  Today we may be mobile around the world, discovering that friends can be everywhere and family may follow suit.

 There are three fundamental factors we must consider when choosing where to live: a competitive job that allows for an enjoyable quality of life; a safe and stable environment; our ability to integrate with the local community without feeling as an outsider.

There is more to it that may shape our choices, but those three fundamental factors are preponderant and can’t be overlooked.

Having a competitive job is intrinsic to the quality of life that may result. How many hours we put in, the quality of working environment, the purchasing power, both local and abroad, and a reduced commuting all shape the formula to a worthwhile job.  We also want to make sure the job marked is healthy and stable, at least in regards to our field of expertise.

Wherever we go must be safe and stable.  Especially today, with great part of the world witnessing political and economic strife, we want our lives to never be at peril.  Some countries may look nice at a glance, but while the moment portrays an apparent peace the future, there, may unravel in many dangers.  National unity and respect of human rights are paramount.   An equitably distributed wealth among the classes comes as a much appreciated plus.  Also desirable is a modern and efficient medical system. Being in a geographically tranquil area is very important too; earthquakes, floodings and hurricanes are not fun. 

When choosing to live somewhere we want to consider our ability to integrate and be regarded well among the local population.  Being an outsider might be ok while vacationing, but when living somewhere it becomes a burden.  Speaking the local language, being able to learn it or being understood in general is very important. Being accepted and regarded as equal promotes comfortable interactions with others, a strong base for quality of life.  We want to understand the local culture and see if we can adopt it; or is it too far from what we can accept?  Some societies are more free and disinhibited than others; we want to research how we may fare there.  If we like bathing topless at the beach, let’s avoid countries that advocate a strong morality.

Once sure that the fundamental three criteria are met, we may start looking at what else pleases us and makes us happy.  I love the sun and a warm climate, possibly not too humid.  I also love the beach and the ocean.  I appreciate the comforts a decent size city has to offer, like stores and readily accessible everything, at any time.  That is me.  Someone else may wish for somewhere more secluded or community oriented, where  relationships may grow stronger with people far more personable.  I live in Miami Beach and found what I was looking for.