22 March 2018

On Modern Architecture and Motorcycle-Riding

I wrote about the obvious benefits and clear connection between motorcycle riding and modern(ist) architecture before. But perhaps you didn’t read that post here, possibly you forgot about it, or maybe you even consider riders a loud bunch of stinky low-lives out to pilfer the local Savings and Loan bank.

Not so.

On Saturday, trying to avoid everything St. Patrick, I ran errands on the bike and then went riding in a nearby area. Did I get lucky.

In one single quiet residential street, I discovered fourteen (!) mid-century homes, some of them even sporting one of my favourites details, a butterfly roof. So today I checked the whole neighbourhood in our broker property database MLS, and found a plethora of mid-century modern homes. A few sold examples are shown below to give you an idea.

The catch: prices in this rather small area have jumped by leaps and bounds – 46% in the last 4 years, now reaching from the $350Ks to $900Ks – and are forecast to go up another 10% this year.

The other catch: I can't tell you about the location on my blog. Modern homes make up under 3 percent of all single family homes for sale in our area, and are not easy to find. Specialising in preserving, promoting and brokering modern architecture, I can not give the secret sauce away for free: brokering is the part that pays the bills. But if you’re interested in buying or selling, I’d be delighted to speak with you.

Luxury mid-century modern homes in Florida, offered by estate agent  Tobias Kaiser

Searching for a modern home in Florida? Contact broker and modern specialist Tobias Kaiser

Mid-century modern Florida architecture specialist Tobias Kaiser, MSc, CIPS at ModernSouthFlorida.com

Architecturally significant modern homes in South Florida at ModernSouthFlorida.com

Boca Raton modern architecture by real estate broker and modern home specialist Tobias Kaiser - ModernSouthFlorida.com
Photos: SEF-MLS

02 February 2018

Happy Groundhog Day!

Groundhog Day – brought to you Modern Florida Homes specialist Tobias Kaiser

Earlier this morning, a sleepy-looking Punxsutawney Phil predicted 6 more weeks of winter.

Time to watch the movie. Again.

11 January 2018

The Annual Check: Modern and Modernist? And: why should you care?

Many years ago when I was to start my blog “The Modernist Angle”, my wife and I – we work together – discussed those two terms at length. What may seem like a First World problem is actually a bit like cooking: if you’re sloppy in the details, it comes back to bite you later.

And even though sometimes folks frown upon me, a native German, throwing around words I barely understand and can hardly pronounce in my native language, not to speak of English, there is a reason we prefer “Modernist” over “Modern”.

We found an interesting discussion where the pros differentiate between those two carefully, the former referring to a style or aesthetic, while the latter – modern – meaning something “current”:

“Takeaway lesson: There's an important difference between 'modern' and 'modernist'. Modern means nothing more than 'current' or 'recent'. Modernist means... the ideology of modernism... an aesthetic movement that emerged in Europe during the interwar period”. (Ray Sawhill, on the Visual Resources Association Forum)

Even more to the point:

“Modernist is ultimately a more valuable and specific term for us than the more generic Modern. Modernist is our stylistic term of choice, whereas Modern seems more like a state of mind.” (– Dane A. Johnson, Visual Resource Coordinator, College of Architecture and Design, Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, MI, on the Visual Resources Association Forum)

Thus, a mid-century design by Breuer or Mies as an example should really be referred to as Mid-Century Modernist. Though nobody does that, as a client reminded me when he snubbed all homes older than five years, regardless of their modernist style.

Florida Modern Homes, by www.modernsouthflorida.com
Two homes newly built in 2017. Both are Modern (or “recently built”), but only one is Modernist.

With my own firm’s mission being “Brokering, Promoting and Preserving [...insert the M-word here] Homes and Architecture”, an important step was to check the use of the two terms on the web. “Modern” was the clear favourite, especially from a business perspective.

So we use “Modern” in the website name and mission statement, but on social media as well as in a verbal context where we can discuss, explain and elaborate, we prefer “Modernist” as the correct and more precise term.

Good question to ask your favourite architect, isn’t it? And what are your thoughts?

17 November 2017


Key Takeaways:

1. Do not fall for “my [insert document name] is stored securely on this site [insert url]”

2. The website “sdcc.cf” is a known phishing site. If you have an up-to-date browser, it’ll likely warn you of it.

3. Existing "client" names – in case you google your inquiries – do not mean that this is the person out to scam you.

The 411:

Recently I was emailed by a couple who’s house-hunting in Florida.

Their story: supposedly they’re living in LA, and go by the names of Hannah and Kurt Nilsson. She’s a housewife, he works on an oil rig in the Baltic sea. They originally planned to buy in January so not incurr a penalty on their investment account, but now they’d like to buy before the end of the year, up to $1.5m. He would like to come to FL in the next few days, after having returned from a stint on the rig.

While I couldn’t quite locate Hannah, Kurt exists, even in multiple forms: Kurt Nilsson is a very common name in Sweden, and one of the nicest Kurts I found online is a judge on the dog-breeder circuit. Not very likely a phisher.

When Proof of Funds did not arrive attached to one of their emails but “stored securely” on a website, Firefox warned me immediately before even opening the URL. If one is truly brave one can check out the site: it asks for your log-in with Gmail, Dropbox, Yahoo, Faceboook etc. credentials. – Yeah right. And here I thought phishing became outdated.

As I – grinning and very politely – pointed out that their bank statement is stored at a phishing site, something went "poof!" and the "buyers" vanished. Such a pity.

So, do watch it please, however convincing the story may be at first.

31 October 2017

Halloween Treat: Buyer’s Market In South Florida

As I had anticipated in a previous post, the property market in South Florida is now firmly favouring home buyers.

Hurricane Harvey (Texas), Hurricane Irma (Florida) and Hurricane Maria (thankfully never made landfall) on the TV screens every minute every day was enough to scare a lot of buyers away.

The September numbers for closed sales (closings taking place) were down 37 percent. That is not astonishing, as closings are routinely postponed as soon as an area is “in the box”, a large rectangle of drawn around a hurricane that moves with it.

Much more telling are pending sales, meaning the number of sales contracts being signed by a buyer and a seller:

42 percent fewer contracts were signed this September versus September 2016. Colleagues from various offices confirm this tendency for the current month as well.

While only few properties for sale were taken off market, all these homes and condos now encounter far fewer buyers.

So while the timing is bad for sellers, it's an invitation for buyers: they face much less competition and often a seller willing to negotiate a bit more than a short while ago.

So if a home (or condo) purchase in South Florida is on your radar, right now is a very opportune time to make it happen.

Please don’t wait too long then if you want to discuss a purchase – and a happy and fun Halloween!

South Florida - A Buyer's Market, by Tobias Kaiser / ModernSouthFlorida.com

(Pumpkin Camper ©unknown)

01 September 2017

Happy Labor Day with "Poolside Gossip"

Modern Homes in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach, Florida by real estate agent Tobias Kaiser

What better photo illustration to toast the Labor Day weekend could I possibly find than Slim Aaron's iconic "Poolside Gossip", shot in January 1970 in Palm Springs at a Kaufman house?

The whole scene looks so perfectly created that one may wonder if it's an illustration rather than a photo.

Not so. From Modernism Week to the blog Kelly Golightly, there are plenty of articles written on the shot. One of the most detailed and fun pieces to read about it appeared in the NY Times in 2015

And while there are – to my knowledge – no Kaufman designs anywhere in South Florida, there are over 550 modernist homes available right now, including a Rufus Nims and several Alfred Browning Parkers. Have a look and enjoy.


"Poolside Gossip", Palm Springs 1970 © Slim Aaron

16 August 2017

In Enemy Territory?

Last weekend I needed a cable for our TV, and I needed it right away. The closest store was a BrandsMart USA, which carried what I needed. But I left the store without a cable: it was a whopping 66% more than at Target – already bad enough.

Florida modern homes for sale at ModernSouthFlorida.com

Even worse: the BrandsMart store had a nasty vibe and aggressive energy to it; I was accosted by sales people left and right who didn’t listen to my wishes. It felt like I had entered enemy territory.

I’m a grown boy and can hold my own, but I couldn’t wait to get out. Target was downright soothing in comparison: calm, quiet, friendly personal; I was reminded why Target calls their customers “guests”.

Did you ever have a similar experience? Did you leave a nasty store too? Or worse, did you ever meet a real estate agent or broker who exuded an aggressive “I need a commission – and I need it NOW”-attitude?

If so, run for the hills.

If you don’t like the Realtor you plan to work with – independent of his or her qualifications – there is no sense in being in such an important business relationship together, over months, revealing a lot of your personal and financial details, with hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars at stake.

Find and work with an agent you like, who you connect with, who listens. Both the transaction and you personally will be much better off.

Doesn’t that make more sense than tiptoeing through enemy territory?

Graffiti @Nasty-FR