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 Sellers' 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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Real Estate Scent Sense

There is an old wives’ tale that says that baking a batch of chocolate chip cookies just before a showing or even during an open house will sell the home. The thought process behind this is that if it smells warm and comforting, then buyers will automatically feel at home and want to buy the house. As it turns out, though, cookies and other baked goods require a lot of mental power to process and actually detract from showings: if a buyer is trying to determine whether those are snicker doodles or sugar cookies in the oven, then they really are not thinking about the property’s finer attributes.

Although the cookie trick is a dud, it is important for any house that is on the market to smell pleasant. I cannot tell you how many times I have shown my buyers another realtor’s beautiful but smelly listing and have them walk out only to comment about the odor – not about the house. There are certain smells that can really permeate a property such as cigarette smoke, mold, stinky pets, and teenagers (!) that some homeowners simply get used to living with, but boy can they deter potential buyers!

As a realtor it is never easy to tell sellers that their home is malodorous; however, I have had to do so in the line of duty. I do have some tricks up my sleeve that I can share with sellers to de-funk their house. One quick way to do so is to sprinkle baking soda on carpets, let it set, and vacuum it to pull out smells. There are also fabric refreshing products that serve the same purpose. If you have a serious odor issue from cigars or accident-prone pets, then your only solution might be to replace window treatments, floor coverings, and even painting.

Most listings on the market are of the non-smelly variety, but I still like to burn a clean-smelling candle or have nice scented oil diffusers perfume the air. Something simple and crisp like lemon or basil can definitely enhance a property’s appeal – so clean smells, but save your figure and hold the cookies!

If you need help buying or selling a home give Ashley Cusack a call at 305.798.8685, or visit her 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.

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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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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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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To Short Sell or Foreclose, That is the Question!

South Florida Foreclosures & short sales

While the Miami real estate market has gotten stronger and prices are starting to rebound, many people are still under water with their mortgages and the ever-burning question remains: should I short sell or let the bank take the property in foreclosure?

I am here to tell you that there are indisputable reasons to try to get the bank to work with you on a short sell and NOT to get foreclosed on. Many people believe that if the bank isn’t going to waive their deficiency, they should stay as long as possible and let the bank take it. Historically, banks moved very slowly and while there were some very severe repercussions, staying seemed like a good idea. On June 6, 2013 Rick Scott signed into law House Bill 87 reducing the statute of limitations for filing from 5 years to 1 year. The courts are now committed to moving this process along faster and will see about 5,000 foreclosure cases monthly, so there will be less consideration for upside-down borrowers. The judgment against you can last 10 years, but did you know it can be renewed for another 10? That’s a long time to be bogged down with this!

A short sale also puts you in the driver seat and allows you to work with the bank. There are so many fine details to the short sale. If you are in a position of having to decide between a shore sale or foreclosure you should talk to your accountant and an attorney that specializes in short sales.  If you have a home you need to sell in short sale, please don’t hesitate to call me. I am happy to share my knowledge and experiences in this area!

 

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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Making an Old Spanish home feel young

Old Spanish Coral Gables living room

I love our most notable style of architecture in Coral Gables and actually live in an Old Spanish home myself, but often these homes feel dark and tired. I’ve always found, and often recommend to my clients who are listing their houses for sale, that bright colors should be used as well as fun fabrics to help give some youth to these old, wonderful houses! To add some color and vitality to my living room, I used Lilly Pulitzer to help give it a fresh and fun feel. It made such a difference and now my living room looks so much more inviting. Even though the furniture is typically not included when you sell a house in Coral Gables, adding a pop of color and eclectic style in your furnishings will broaden the appeal of your home to buyers. Thinking about selling an Old Spanish home? I’d love to help!

 

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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Let Your House Take Center Stage!

Multiple Red Layered Stage Theater Drape Background

Realtors have different beliefs about what sellers should do to their homes before selling – painting vs. not painting, removing family photos or leaving them up, etc. However, there’s one thing we all agree on. It’s almost always harder to sell an empty house than a furnished one! People like to see homes with furniture in them so they can envision themselves living there. I’ve always been a big believer in staging homes. Finding the right stager is important and it’s worth knowing that you will need to spend some money to stage your home well. However, that investment almost always equals more dollars for you when you sell. Staged homes sell for 10-15% more on average than empty ones and they also sell faster. If you’re considering selling an empty home or your furniture is looking tired, you definitely should consider staging before you list. Give me a call for more information!

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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As Seen On The MLS in South Florida…

In a quick search of some new real estate listings today, I came across two different houses with some pretty amazing photography. Isn’t a picture worth 1,000 words? And if you’re taking photos of real estate for sale, don’t you want those words to be positive and make a buyer want to live there? If so, why would you use this photography? What were these realtors thinking???

I have always believed that photography is one of (if not THE) most important things I do for my listings. People know a house before they even walk in because of the pictures we take for our homes. I always try to put my best foot forward – and I’m continually shocked by the things I see on the MLS!

Bad photography 2

Are they trying to sell a car or a house? Why wouldn’t the photographer get out of the car to take this shot? I’m speechless.Bad photography

Not sure I want to buy a house that’s roped off with caution tape – nor do I want to know why it’s roped off! Interesting…

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Miami Real Estate Tip: Leave Politics Out of It!

politics

Just a helpful, friendly tip for all the sellers around town:

Don’t put a presidential sign in your yard when you’re trying to sell your house.  Nobody needs to know your opinion, and it certainly has the potential to do more harm than good.  Leave politics out of real estate!