Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Limited Edition Living at its BEST

With only ONE luxury residence per floor, the oceanfront Regalia Condominium in Sunny Isles Beach (also known as Regalia Miami) is one-of -a-kind truly Limited Edition Living that is destined to be one of the finest and most sought after oceanfront residencies in all of South Florida.  The 39 exclusive residences feature unobstructed 360 degree views of the Atlantic Ocean, Intercostal Waterway and all of South Florida from the floor to ceilings windows and 360 degree 10 foot deep wrap-around terrace that that surrounds your entire residence.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Once America's Most Expensive Home, Miami's Versace Mansion Fetches $41.5 Million At Auction

After sitting on the sale block for more than a year, Miami’s famed Versace Mansion has finally found a new buyer. The Ocean Drive estate, officially dubbed Casa Casuarina, fetched $41.5 million at auction on Tuesday.
The mansion, once owned by fashion designer Gianni Versace, had been shopped around to both wealthy house hunters and commercial real estate investors, offering buyers the option to use it as either a single-family residence or as a commercial venue. Representatives of the property expected it to dash sales records at auction, surpassing the record $47 million a rich Russian splashed out in 2012 for Miami’s most expensive home.
At $41.5 million, the sale may be considered a bit disappointing: afterall, it represents a 67% discount off of the lofty $125 million first asked for Casa Casuarina when it hit the sale block in June 2012. The Ocean Drive estate had also been a regular fixture on FORBES’ list of America’s most expensive homes for sale.
Still, the brokers are happy with the results. “We are very pleased to have had the opportunity to manage the sale of this iconic property,” says Lamar Fisher, chief executive of Fisher Auction Company, the Pompano Beach, Fla.-based auction house that orchestrated the sale.  “This beautifully appointed estate drew significant attention from prospective buyers from around the world.”
Ultimately, the winning bid went to VM South Beach LLC, an investor group that already held the mortgage on the property and includes Jordache jeans’ Nakash family. VM South Beach beat out  FORBES 400 billionaire Donald Trump‘s $41 million bid, according to the Miami Herald, and is expected to operate the manse as a hotel. The investor group also owns the Hotel Victor next door.
Casa Casuarina headed to auction after an onslaught of legal woes landed it in bankruptcy court earlier this summer. Fisher Auction Company handled the sale in partnership with the property’s listing agents, The Jills of Coldwell Banker Previews International.
Casa Casuarina spans 23,000 square feet of living space, tucked behind gates on Miami Beach’s bustling Ocean Drive. It was built in 1930 and the design was inspired by the Alcazar de Colon, the colonial palace where the family of Christopher Columbus once lived.
Gianni Versace bought Casa Casuarina in 1992 and spent an estimated $33 million on improvements. In 1997 he was tragically shot to death by serial killer Andrew Cunanan on the mansion’s doorstep.
After his murder, the home sat vacant until 2000 when telecom mogul Peter Loftin purchased it from Versace’s heirs for $19 million. Under Loftin’s management Casa Casuarina was restored and then leased out as a boutique hotel.
But lawsuits, unpaid property taxes and defaulted mortgage notes ultimately led to its demise, with Loftin’s Casa Casuarina LLC filing Chapter 11 earlier this year in an effort to avoid foreclosure.
Versace’s former mansion has 10 bedrooms, 11 bathrooms and an observatory, all finished with hand-painted walls and fresco-adorned ceilings.  The grand entry is flanked by twin sweeping staircases that have since been replicated in newer projects like England’s (once foreclosed-upon) Updown Court. Outside a  mosaic-tiled courtyard leads to an opulent 54 foot-long pool lined with 24 karat gold. All of the property’s furnishings, artwork and hand-painted murals came  with the sale.
“We have said all along that this property was the Mona Lisa of real estate,” says Jill Eber, one-half of The Jills real estate duo. “This is not only the most well-known property on South Beach, but it is known world-wide for its elegance, style and attention to detail throughout every room.”

Builders boost single-family home construction

WASHINGTON – Sept. 18, 2013 – U.S. builders started work in August on the most single-family homes in six months and requested permits to construct even more in future months. The figures suggest housing remains a driver of economic growth despite higher mortgage rates.

Construction of single-family homes started rose 7 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 628,000, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That’s the fastest rate since February. And builders sought 627,000 permits to construct future single-family homes, 3 percent more than July and the best pace since May 2008.

Overall, builders broke ground last month on houses and apartments at an annual rate of 891,000. That’s up from a rate of 883,000 the previous month. The gain in single-family homes was offset by a decline in volatile demand for apartments.

Total permits fell to a rate of 918,000 from 954,000 in July, also because of a decline in apartments.

Still, several economists noted that single-family homes represent the bulk of the market. They made up 70 percent of homes started in August. Ted Wieseman, an economist at Morgan Stanley, said their value is two to three times that of an apartment building. That suggests residential construction should boost economic growth again in the July-September quarter.

“The fact that the trend in single-family starts and permits continues to improve … supports our view that construction activity will continue to increase through year end,” said Joseph LaVorgna, an economist at Deutsche Bank.

Housing starts are 19 percent higher than a year ago. The housing market has been recovering steadily over the past year, helped by lower mortgage rates and steady job growth. The gains have contributed to economic growth at a time when consumers and businesses have spent more cautiously.

But mortgage rates have risen more than a full percentage point since early May. Some economists say higher rates may be starting to slow the recovery’s momentum. In July, new-home sales plummeted to the lowest level in nine months.

Mortgage rates could rise even further if the Federal Reserve decides later Wednesday to slow its $85 billion-a-month bond purchase program. Most economists expect the Fed will announce that it will reduce its purchases by $10 billion. The bond purchases have kept long-term interest rates low.

The average fixed rate on a 30-year mortgage was 4.57 percent last week. That’s near the highest level in two years. Still, rates remain low by historical standards. And most economists expect the housing recovery to withstand the increase in borrowing costs.

Homebuilder confidence remained at its highest level in nearly eight years in September, according to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders. But builders are starting to worry that sales may slow in the coming months if rates keep rising, the survey found.

Though new homes represent only a fraction of the housing market, they have an outsize impact on the economy. Each home built creates an average of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in tax revenue, according to NAHB statistics.
AP Logo Copyright © 2013 The Associated Press, Christopher S. Rugaber, AP economics writer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Special Report: Real estate provisions

WASHINGTON - Jan. 2, 2013 - Yesterday, the House and Senate passed H.R. 8, legislation to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff." Following are real estate-related provisions of the bill, which President Obama plans to sign into law today:

• Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act extended to January 1, 2014. In place since 2007, the act provided a tax break for homeowners who struggled through financial hardship such as a foreclosure, and were granted mortgage debt forgiveness. In the past several months, National Association of Realtors (NAR) issued numerous calls to action urging its million-plus Realtor members to ask lawmakers to extend the tax break for another year. More than a quarter of all transactions involve distressed properties, the NAR said in its plea. "Homeowners shouldn't be forced to pay a tax on money they've already lost with cash they never received."

• Deduction for mortgage insurance premiums for filers making below $110,000 is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012.

• The 15-year straight-line cost recovery for qualified leasehold improvements on commercial properties is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012.

• The 10 percent tax credit (up to $500) for homeowners for energy efficiency improvements to existing homes is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012.

• "Pease limitations" that reduce the value of itemized deductions are permanently repealed for most taxpayers but will be reinstituted for high-income filers. "Pease" limitations will only apply to individuals earning more than $250,000 and joint filers earning more than $300,000. The thresholds are indexed for inflation so will rise over time. Under the formula, filers gradually lose the value of their total itemized deductions up to a total of a 20% reduction.

First enacted in 1990 and named for Ohio Congressman Don Pease, who proposed the idea, the limitations continued throughout the Clinton years. The limitations were gradually phased out starting in 2003 and eliminated in 2010. Reinstitution of these limits has far less impact on the mortgage interest deduction than a hard dollar deduction cap, percentage deduction cap or reduction of the amount of mortgage interest deduction that can be claimed.

• The capital gains rate remains at 15 percent for individuals earning less than $400,000 per year and couples earning less than $450,000. Any gains above these amounts will be taxed at 20 percent. The $250,000/$500,000 exclusion for the sale of principle residence remains.