Luxury Miami Real Estate

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550 South Dixie Highway

Coral Gables, FL 33146

Cell: 305-798-8685

Office: 305-960-5330

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Archive for the 'Tips for Buyers' Category

More Thoughts on Ygrene

If you live in Florida, then chances are that you have heard about Ygrene loans. In a nutshell, these are home improvement loans that a homeowner can get with no money out of pocket to improve the eco-friendliness of their homes. Once the work has been done by a Ygrene approved contractor, the owner then begins paying for the work as a part of their tax bill – essentially this is a lien. While this is great for the homeowner I have very mixed feelings about the program as a realtor, and I think that some of my sellers who have gone the Ygrene route in the past would not choose to do so again.

I have had a few listings that have been renovated using Ygrene funds. The houses have all looked great and had things like new impact glass and new roofs, so what could be wrong with that? The problem is that the owners are trying to sell these improvements at a premium without having finished paying for them. Each and every time I have had a Ygrene property, the owner has thought that the buyer would simply take over their tax bill payments. However, that would mean that the buyer would be double paying for the work by purchasing the improvements with the home and then paying off the loan over the course of their home ownership. Frankly, buyers are too savvy for that! Even if they are not so savvy, then their banks will likely not allow them to assume the Ygrene payments.

Eventually what happens is the seller has to pay off the loan prior to selling their home, and that can be a big chunk of change that can also include a pre-payment penalty. Whenever this comes up I always wonder if a home equity loan would have been the way to go to make these home improvements. Every situation varies, though, and I suppose that there is not really a good answer to that question. A seller might not have enough equity in their home to get the necessary funds for repairs, or maybe Ygrene sounded like a great plan because they were going to stay in the house for 30 years but they are now getting a divorce.

Ygrene always seems like a great option, but be sure to do all of your research before committing to this type of program because, although it can do wonders for a house, it is not always the perfect program that it is cracked up to be.

If you are looking to buy or sell a home anywhere in Miami, please call me at 305-798-8685, or visit my website at: Luxury Miami Real Estate

Luxury Miami Real Estate

My focused dedication as a realtor in my home town of Miami for over 25 years, consistently puts me at the top of my field. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell your home, let me help you from start to finish with my results-proven: professional marketing, excellent property exposure and comprehensive experience.

Consistently in the top 10 company-wide at EWM for the past 15 years, my focus is on Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Pinecrest and South Miami — specializing in luxury real estate and waterfront properties. Call me today and let’s get started!

Don’t hesitate to reach out to me, Ashley Cusack at {305.798.8685, email and website}. Senior Vice President, EWM Realty International.

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How Much Can You Trust Zestimates?

Luxury Miami RealtorSo, Zillow has changed the real estate world for buyers, sellers and realtors. A day does not go by that a client doesn’t say, “Well, Zillow said my home was worth this” or “that house is priced too high because Zillow said it was much lower”. It has been a great tool for buyers to gain knowledge of the market, but most realtors cringe when they hear that someone wants to value their house or is determining value on a potential purchase based on a “Zestimate”. It only makes sense, right? How can Zillow truly value a property without being in it and determining finishes and special features. We all know price per square foot is just a way to gauge price, but, as a realtor, when we price a home, we take into account much more than the size of the house, number of bedrooms and bathrooms and lot size. This past week CBS’s Norah O’Donnell asked the CEO of Zillow, Spencer Rascoff, about Zestimates and their accuracy. He said they have a “median error rate” of about 8 percent. Kenneth Harney wrote an article that was in the Miami Herald bringing light to just how far off these Zestimates can be and, while 8% might be the national median, it seems they can be much further off in different areas. He reports that some places in California are off as high as 26% and Somerset County,Maryland has an error rate of an alarming 42%. In the next few days I am going to do a local study and will report back what I find in Coral Gables, Coconut Grove and Pinecrest. Rascoff did say in his interview that Zillow should be considered “a good starting point”, but insinuated it should not be the last word. We all must remember this, it is just a starting point!! For information on new listings or if you are looking to list your home, please call me directly at 305.798.8685 or visit my website: Luxury Miami Real Estate.

Luxury Miami Real Estate

My focused dedication as a realtor in my home town of Miami for over 20 years, consistently puts me at the top of my field. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell your home, let me help you from start to finish with my results-proven: professional marketing, excellent property exposure and comprehensive experience.

As the #7 Realtor company-wide at EWM in 2014, my focus is on Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Pinecrest and South Miami — specializing in luxury real estate and waterfront properties. Call me today and let’s get started!

Don’t hesitate to reach out to me, Ashley Cusack at {305.798.8685, email and website}. EWM Realtors.

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To Buy Or Not To Buy?

Luxury Miami RealtorIf you have been on the fence as to whether this is the time to make that move you have been thinking about or not, let me tell you interest rates are lower than ever! I am continually hearing about outrageous mortgage rates that people are able to secure. Currently, the rates quoted are 3.95% for a 30-year fixed and 3.06% for a 15-year fixed, and a jumbo 30-year fixed is 4.24%. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Use a Realtor?

Luxury Miami RealtorSo, I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but I will toot the horn of most of our industry. In recent years, buyers have been empowered by having access to the MLS through websites like Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com. This is a good thing because buyers are usually well-informed when they show up to see a house. The problem is buyers don’t often realize how complicated a real estate transaction can be. In a market like this, buyers often think they don’t need a realtor’s help to purchase and think without bringing a realtor in they will get a better deal. Sometimes you can, but in reality the expertise a realtor brings to the table can actually save you money. While an attorney will charge you by the hour, you have as much of the realtor’s time as you need at no extra cost. So call your realtor, or if you don’t have one, I would love to help. Visit my website: Luxury Miami Real Estate.

Luxury Miami Real Estate

My focused dedication as a realtor in my home town of Miami for over 20 years, consistently puts me at the top of my field. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell your home, let me help you from start to finish with my results-proven: professional marketing, excellent property exposure and comprehensive experience.

As the #3 Realtor company-wide at EWM in 2012 with over $55 Million in sales, my focus is on Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Pinecrest and South Miami — specializing in luxury real estate and waterfront properties. Call me today and let’s get started!

Don’t hesitate to reach out to me, Ashley Cusack at {305.798.8685, email and website}. EWM Realtors.

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The Skinny on the Pinecrest Real Estate Market

Pinecrest Real Estate
Typically we are finding the market to have leveled out after great growth in the past couple of years, but what is Pinecrest experiencing? I looked at the Pinecrest home market between $1,000,000-$2,000,000, comparing this past quarter and the same quarter last year. I found that inventory is up 16%, which is good because we were slightly off balance last year with a lack of inventory. You have heard me say many times that a balanced market is one with an inventory of 6-12 months. We are just over 12 months at this time. Sales and pending sales are both up 20%. Price per square foot, which is not shown on this graph is neutral at about $300/square foot. This is all good news. The market has gained it’s footing, but not seeing the exorbitant growth we were.

Luxury Miami Real Estate

My focused dedication as a realtor in my home town of Miami for over 20 years, consistently puts me at the top of my field. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell your home, let me help you from start to finish with my results-proven: professional marketing, excellent property exposure and comprehensive experience.

As the #3 Realtor company-wide at EWM in 2012 with over $55 Million in sales, my focus is on Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Pinecrest and South Miami — specializing in luxury real estate and waterfront properties. Call me today and let’s get started!

Don’t hesitate to reach out to me, Ashley Cusack at {305.798.8685, email and website}. EWM Realtors.

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The “January Wave” for Miami Real Estate Listings…

Miami real estate

I love the start of a new year – energy is high, spirits are bright, and people start thinking about selling their homes again! If you’ve been looking to buy and are getting frustrated because of the lack of inventory, don’t give up hope. January is a great month for new listings. Typically we see a reduction in the number of houses hitting the market in November/December as people hunker down for the holidays. For example, in November/December of 2012, only 159 homes and condos were listed in Coral Gables. But then in January 2013, there were 141 new listings. We saw a similar slow down at the end of 2013, and so far there have already been 32 new condos & homes in Coral Gables listed since January 1st. Interested in joining this Miami real estate activity wave? I’d love to talk to you about buying or selling!

Luxury Miami Real Estate

My focused dedication as a realtor in my home town of Miami for over 20 years, consistently puts me at the top of my field. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell your home, let me help you from start to finish with my results-proven: professional marketing, excellent property exposure and comprehensive experience.

As the #3 Realtor company-wide at EWM in 2012 with over $55 Million in sales, my focus is on Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Pinecrest and South Miami — specializing in luxury real estate and waterfront properties. Call me today and let’s get started!

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Miami Real Estate Tools: The Importance of a Home Inspection

Looking with a magnifying glass on the red roofed house over white

It’s Real Estate 101 – the first thing you do when you go under contract on a home is schedule your inspections. This is an important part of the home buying process because it’s when you “get to know” your house. Home inspectors do a thorough check of safety & functionality issues relating to the property (ie. roof, structural, mechanical, electrical, etc). Today, inspectors are almost always licensed contractors and incredibly thorough. They help guide buyers to really understand if issues need to be looked into more deeply or not. Mold inspections are also very common. There’s a little mold in every house so it’s hard to conclude when something is serious or not, but mold inspectors help decipher. The other common inspection is to ensure the septic system is working properly – very important! With 20 years under my belt, I’ve seen the good, bad & ugly. If you need recommendations for the best inspectors, call me!

 

My focused dedication as a realtor in my home town of Miami for over 20 years, consistently puts me at the top of my field. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell your home, let me help you from start to finish with my results-proven: professional marketing, excellent property exposure and comprehensive experience.

As the #3 Realtor company-wide at EWM in 2012 with over $55 Million in sales, my focus is on Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Pinecrest and South Miami — specializing in luxury real estate and waterfront properties. Call me today and let’s get started!

305.798.8685 | ashley@ashleycusack.com | Facebook | YouTube

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How to make a strong offer in today’s market

race car

New listings are flying off the market today faster than Danica Patrick at the Daytona 500. To make sure to keep yourself in the running as a buyer, I offer these tips.

  1. If you see a new listing hit the market that might work for you, make time to go and see it immediately or it will be gone by the time you get there two days later.
  2. If you find a property you like, be swift in your analysis so you can get an offer in quickly.
  3. If you make an offer, put your best foot forward with your first offer. You will be more likely to catch the seller’s attention before there are other bidders. When there are other bidders, the competition is much harder, prices usually go higher and cash almost always wins.

So do your homework, go with your instinct, and get ready to go!

Quick Advice for Buyers

Ticking clock

Now more than ever, it is critical for buyers to enlist the help of realtors for a few important reasons! First of all, homes sell so quickly these days, if you aren’t aware of them the minute they hit the market, they’ll sell so quickly you’ll never know they were available. Secondly, homes are selling BEFORE they even hit the market because realtors talk about their buyers and new listings coming up. If you have a realtor, they can be spreading the word for you. Lastly, the realtor community in Miami is tight. If two identical offers were presented on a house and one buyer had a realtor that the listing agent knew and the other buyer had no realtor, considerable weight would be given to that first buyer just because of the existing relationship between the realtors. So buyers, do yourself a huge favor and get a realtor!

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Miami Real Estate: Buying vs. Renting

Interested to know if it’s better for you to rent than it is to buy? Use this handy tool published by the New York Times to evaluate your own personal situation. It will help you better understand if renting is right for you versus buying.

Interested in renting or buying? Feel free to give me a call at 305-798-8685 or email me at ashley@ashleycusack.com. I am one of the top luxury real estate agents in Miami and I would love to help you.

Miami Real Estate: The Holiday Closing Crunch

Deflated Santa

Despite being the week between Christmas and New Years, it’s been a busy week in our office! We had two closing scheduled for this week, and it’s always tricky when closings take place during the holidays. People aren’t working, offices are short staffed, and everyone wants to close before the end of the year so banks are usually swamped with files and behind on everything! Sure enough, both of our closings have been delayed because of the buyer’s bank (which happens to be the same bank in these two cases), and we have unhappy buyers and sellers.

In the future, if you are buying a house and in negotiations, your “perfect closing date” happens to fall during a holiday week/weekend, think twice about choosing that date. Inevitably things will happen and it can be very  tricky to pull off a closing around a holiday. It’s very hard to make sure everyone is doing what they are supposed to, and I always recommend trying to close during a normal week.

If you are buying, feel free to call me as I am happy to share recommendations of banks we work with that are more reliable than others!