05 July 2019

The Modernist Angle Blog is Moving

Like most people, I hate moving. You probably feel the same.

Moving a blog or website is even worse. But when better digs or better conditions are beckoning, it is hard, if not impossible, to say "no".

Modern homes in Florida, transmogrified or not, offered for sale by ModernFloridaHomes.net

So: for reasons that have something to do with my new office transmogrifier and the upgraded Fluxmaster (if I got that right), The Modernist Angle is moving into the same modern quarters as its website sibling, Modern Florida Homes.

Please visit – the doors are wide open!

Calvin + Hobbes © Bill Waterson

04 July 2019

To a Happy Independence Day!

Modern Homes in Florida for sale - luxury, waterfront, mid-century and contemporary

Independent: c(1): Not requiring or relying on others, not subject to control by others (Merriam-Webster)                   

Today, the US commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence: Thirteen American colonies regarded themselves no longer part of the British Empire but as a new nation: the United States of America. 

A Salute to the Union is fired at noon by any capable military base.

In that spirit: to a Happy Independence Day!


Photo tckaiser 

23 June 2019

Sculptural Luminaries, Inspired by Nature

The first - the Coral

Ten years at sea would have a profound impact on anyone’s life. For New Zealand-based designer David Trubridge, it inspired him to create furniture and lighting that expresses his close connection to the sea, to nature in general, and to his deep commitment to environmental stewardship.

Trubridge graduated from Newcastle University in England in 1972 with a degree in naval architecture. He
David Trubridge
taught himself to make furniture while he worked as a forester in rural Northumberland.

Then in 1981, Trubridge, his wife Linda, and their two small sons set out on a yacht named “Homepipe” determined to navigate their way through the Caribbean and the Pacific. They’d sold everything they had to buy the boat that would be their home for a decade.

When the family ultimately settled in Whakatu, New Zealand, Trubridge began to work on furniture designs that would be the basis for his small business. When he introduced “The Coral” pendant light in 2004, that small business gained the attention of the international media and, in turn, the international market. His small business wasn’t so small any longer.

The Kina
“The Coral” wasn’t originally intended as a light. It was just a form Trubridge created out of plywood by repeating a geometric polyhedral 60 times. Trying to find a use for this fascinating form, he stuck a light bulb in it one day. And so began a series of “sculptural luminaries, inspired by nature,” such as…
·       “Navicula,” which recalls the microscopic diatoms that float in the ocean
·       “Kina,” which references the inner shell of the sea urchin that wash ashore on New Zealand beaches
·       “Flax,” inspired by the long leaves of the indigenous flax plant
·       “Snowflake,” which Trubridge designed after a trip to Antarctica
·       “Ulu,” based on the leaf of a certain Tahitian tree
·       and so on…

The Navicula

A Problem and Its Ingenious Solution
Most of David Trubridge’s lighting pendants are quite large – one of many reasons why they work so well in open, clean-lined modernist interiors. “Navicula,” for example, is 22” x 8” x 57”. “Snowflake” is 31” x 16” x 31”. The “Sola” pendant is a 31” x 31” x 31” globe. Made of plywood and other lightweight materials, the large pendants aren’t heavy. But imagine the shipping charge for pieces of that size, which would have to be passed along to the buyer, thereby dramatically raising the price. Beyond the cost, Trubridge was also concerned about the carbon footprint such shipping would entail.

The Kit
So he devised a clever solution: He would ship his giant designs as kits of parts that buyers would assemble when they arrived. That way, the lights could be shipped economically in flat boxes. And the environmental impact? Trubridge now holds Life Cycle Assessments (LCA’s) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs).

According to the website (www.davidtrubridge.com), Trubridge and his company are also dedicated to sourcing sustainable materials. “Wherever possible, all timber is from sustainably managed plantations in New Zealand or the United States. Wood is left natural where appropriate, with natural non-toxic oils being used in place of harmful solvents. From a design point of view, the products use only the minimal amount of materials and are generated with a focus on longevity.”

The Hinaki, inspired by fish traps

Trubridge’s work has been featured in numerous international publications. In 2008, Express magazine named him one of the top 15 designers in the world. In 2012 the Pompidou Centre in Paris acquired his “Icarus” installation for its permanent collection.  

Where are they?
David Trubridge collections are available through retail stores, some of which will assemble the pendants for you for a small fee. The website lists three Florida cities with Trubridge retailers: Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Pensacola. Go to the Where To Buy page to find those and all other retail sources.


To see all of Trubridge’s collections, visit www.davidtrubridge.com.

07 May 2019

The #1 Tool for Consumers to Find a Home

Modern Florida Homes, your specialist for buying and selling modern homes in Florida

Home buyers have an incredible array of sources at their fingertips when looking for a new home, thanks to websites such as Homes.com, Realtor.com, local broker websites with search capabilities, and of course the 800 pound gorilla in the room: Zillow, which had gobbled up Trulia.com and now offers identical searches on both websites.

What is it like to search?

I recently researched property in another state, and had an educational experience using above sites and a few more.

Educational insofar, as I am – being a real estate broker and Realtor*– so used to the multiple listing service (MLS) with all its options that I very quickly discovered: not one single consumer website gave me everything I needed to conduct my search.

Three examples:

• Only two sites allowed me to draw a map outline of the area I was interested in. Realtor.com once had that capability, but inexplicably took it away. – Shame on them.
• Second example: I was searching for property with garage OR carport (which typically can easily be enclosed and converted into a garage). Not one of the consumer sites I used can perform an EITHER-OR search.
• Third example: Homes.com until recently allowed filters to be applied as “must-have” or “nice-to-have”. However, that clever feature was deleted a month or two ago. – F, sit.

And Zillow? Most of our residential clients also search that site. But what is not known to home-buyers is that Zillow recently went out of the frying pan into the fire. Voluntarily.

Modern homes for sale in Florida – ModernSouthFlorida.com 
What happened?

Previously, a few unethical real estate agents posted bait-and-switch properties on the internet, even after they were rented or sold. To stop that unethical and infuriating practice – a laudable endeavor – Zillow decided to switch from manual property entry for Realtors® to an automatic feed from MLS data.

That idea was good, but not great: any brokerage wishing to participate now has to grant a blanket authorisation for all of the firm’s listings. Note: a blanket authorisation. Many brokers, including me, do not agree with that policy. But: Realtors® represent over 90 percent of all residential properties for sale.

As a result, all of a sudden Zillow's number of Realtor-listed properties dropped substantially. Consumers looking for homes or condos on Zillow now see only some part of what is actually available for sale. No disclaimers on the page: understandably, the site does not publish what percentage of homes dropped out, so not tick off consumers. I wouldn’t even dare to guess how many homes a consumer is missing when looking on Zillow.

So without intention, the big Z strengthened its competition, namely Realtor.com. That site now should have the most complete list of properties for any home buyer, since:

1)  it represents the most property inventory – Realtors and all of their listings
2) with the most accuracy – Realtor.com is automatically fed multiple times every day from every MLS system in the country.

Unfortunately its filtering capabilities are sub-par, though similar to most consumer real estate sites. But: filtering becomes an issue when you, the consumer, are looking for something specific, such as a modernist home among 22,000 single family homes for sale in Southeast Florida alone (wink wink).

What to do?

You may know the saying “the best boat you ever have is your friend's boat”.

In this context, it translates into “the best home-searching website is your friendly Realtor’s MLS”, running a search for exactly the home you want.

And to stay in the marine analogy: while it’s good form to bring beer or wine when invited to a boat outing and help hosing the boat down afterwards, you are not expected to hose down your real estate agent. Buying the property he/she found for you through him/her is enough. Of course, wine or beer is always a nice addition.


* a Realtor® is a real estate agent or broker who has MLS access through his/her membership at the local Board of Realtors®. Every Realtor® has a real estate license, but not every licensee needs to have MLS access, for example commercial practitioners. 

Photo © Tobias Kaiser, illustration © learntospeakthai.net

18 April 2019

Sun Power in the Sunshine State: Worth it?

Today’s thin solar panels hug this modern home’s roof, unseen from ground level.

“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”

Who do you think said that? If you don’t already know, you’ll never guess.

It was Thomas Edison. In 1931.

Well, Mr. Edison, we didn’t have to wait for oil and coal to run out. Scientists and engineers have tackled solar power -- the natural energy of the sun to produce electricity -- and dramatically improved the technology it involves over the past two or three decades. Today, the prospect of running our homes on the power we generate from our own, stylistically unobtrusive solar energy system is not “futuristic” or “weird” but pretty much mainstream.

Here's a statement from the National Council for Solar Growth (NCSG) that will amaze and, we hope, delight you -- unless you're the CEO of a coal or oil producer:

"Recent renewable energy reports suggest that by 2050, solar energy will be the most widely used source of electricity across the globe."

The solar energy industry has also created two new professions: solar installers and solar engineers. If you’re considering a solar energy system for your renovation or new home, you will meet both pros as you work together to answer three key questions:

1.     What kind of system will I need?
2.     What’s it going to cost up front?
3.     What’s my return on investment?

Many factors will determine what type of solar system you need, from your house’s form and orientation on your property to whether you want to generate part of your energy needs from your solar system or an abundance.

If you produce more energy than your house needs, you can use it to power an electric car, for example. Or you can feed it back into the grid for credit from the utility company. This is called Net Metering. For example, both Duke Energy in North Carolina and Florida Power & Light have Net Metering programs. A solar aggregator will have to handle this for you for a small fee, but you’ll still come out on top. Imagine the utility companying owing you money instead of the other way around. To see the average cost of a system and its installation in Florida city by city, check out EnergySage.com.

Obviously, the type of system you choose will determine the up-front costs. But here’s where the up-front savings, via rebates and tax credits, kick in. Solar rebates, paid by the State, can be as much $2,000 right off the top. Also in Florida, residents don’t have to pay sales tax on their systems. That’s a seven percent savings right there. Here’s another perk from the Sunshine State: Adding value to your home via a solar energy system will not increase your property tax.

Now add the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) to those perks and incentives. The ITC allows you to deduct 30 percent of the entire cost of purchasing and installing a rooftop solar energy system from your federal taxes. (Unfortunately, under the current policy that percentage will start to drop as of January 1, 2020, but not to the point of discouraging the process.)  

These are a few ways to offset the up-front costs of a solar energy system. What about long term costs and ROI?

According to the NCSG, five years is the average time it takes for a solar system to pay for itself. After that, the more energy you generate from your system, the less money you pay to a utility company. The solar engineer who will come to assess your home and energy needs will help you make sure free or nearly free energy is in your future. 

But don’t forget another reason for choosing solar: the environmental impact. Unlike fossil fuel power, solar is clean, renewable, and sustainable, relying upon one of the most natural resources in the world: the sun. It has no negative impact on the planet whatsoever. Even the energy used to produce photovoltaic cells is paid back soon after. And as this billboard asserts: