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 And here I thought phishing became outdated.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

31 July 2017

When is a lot of Condo Construction in South Florida too much?

Motivated by weak condo sales, developers are increasingly turning from condo* development to apartments*, which could eventually lead to a glut of rental offerings, experts say.

One Florida research firm states that about 10,500 apartment units have been completed in South Florida in the last 18 months, and another 18,000 apartments are scheduled to be delivered during the next two years.

Luxury Florida Homes by Modern Architecture Specialist and Agent Tobias Kaiser

A Miami Downtown Development Authority report showed that in 2017, Greater Downtown Miami will see more rental apartments delivered than condominiums for the first time ever.

The slowdown in home and condo sales in South Florida has led to an overall decline of 26 percent in residential construction in 2017 so far, compared with the first half of last year.

That in turn has affected the construction business in the three Southeast counties Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach. Consequently, the region’s biggest general contractors have or are shifting their business toward rental apartments, offices, airport concourses, schools, bridges and more.

If the numbers above don't impress or scare you enough – depending on your position on growth – here's more: 

Fort Lauderdale, definitely having "Growth" written all over it's agenda as anyone who lives or works there will agree, has over 3,200 apartments and condos scheduled for downtown alone in various approval stages.

The latest is a 32-story rental tower near Las Olas with 374 units. The developer is hoping for city approval by the end of the year.

Add that to such luxury condo projects on Las Olas such as the Gale, the Auberge and the Paramount, or the planned millennial-oriented, mixed-use development along A1A, to be completed by fall 2020, and one must ask oneself where the choke-point is, or if Fort Lauderdale is already past it.

I would love to hear feedback from you, especially if you know or live in the Fort Lauderdale area – is this growth schedule healthy, insane, inevitable? What's your take?

(*for non-US readers: condos or condominiums are owned flats, versus rental apartments. – Photo by istock)

09 June 2017

Market Analysis in Real Estate: Art or Science?

Last week when accepting a new listing (a house to sell), I was reminded again what a sticky task a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) can be. Even though I have done so many in 25 years of practice, I still wonder if it’s art or science or both. Case in point: In summer last year we had found a house for wonderful clients from Argentina. The clients did a great job in tastefully upgrading it and loved living in Boca, but two weeks ago we got the call: the husband had received a fantastic job promotion and thus the couple had to move again; did we have an interest in selling their home?

Preparing for meeting with them, my first impression was that the market hadn’t moved much since their purchase. But: they had upgraded and renovated quite a bit. They have a corner lot with only one neighbour and a golf course on the other side. They have a golf-course view. And: the school districts boundaries in their area have been reassigned, but our clients were lucky and stayed in the A-rated district.

So I started evaluating their house with RPR, a great tool available to real estate brokers and agents that starts with an automated valuation model which can be adjusted. To be on the safe side, I did a cross-analysis through our MLS system, and promptly came up with a different price corridor. So I did the third approach and pulled all relevant data into an Excel spreadsheet. From there I adjusted comparable houses with the parameters licensed appraisers use (which I am not), following UAD guidelines and area specifics. That was rather tedious but finally came up with a result I feel confident about. Photos are done and should be in tonight, so I’ll put the house on the market this weekend and hope my work pays off.

Free Market Analysis for your Southeast Florida Modern Home

Because in the end, the market price is not determined by the Realtor, or by what the seller wants or needs, but by buyer demand. Coming close to that seems to me at least as much art as science.

21 April 2017

On Home Scouting

Often times I get asked how I happen to know a neighbourhood or building that’s not really on the radar, or how I know my way in an area a bit out of the way.

Such as when driving home from the Gulf Coast: Alligator Alley (the highway crossing South Florida) was blocked right at mid-point between the coasts, due to a brush fire. The police diverted all traffic south to Miami–a big pain if heading home ENE towards Boca Raton. When I asked the officer if he instead would let us take the small roads heading northeast, he inquired if and how I knew my way. My answer: I ride my motorcycle often in that area. He was kind and let us through, saving us circa 2 h drive-time. 

Unexpected finds plop into view this way as well: I was riding to the Boynton Inlet on Easter Sunday, took a side road, from there a side road and from there another side road. Voila–I discovered this home, on a handkerchief-sized lot close to the beach.

Modern Florida Homes for sale at http://www.ModernSouthFlorida.com/

And quite a few of the 4,100+ modernist homes I documented in SE Florida made it into my architecture address list that way. I still find new ones, especially when I scout a neighbourhood I haven’t seen yet.

So if you have a horse, a bike or a motorcycle–go ride and explore. Even if you get wet, it’s much more fun than Google Earth.

Photo ©tckaiser

24 February 2017

Alfred Browning Parker – a Must-See Exhibition

South Florida Modernist Addicts:

Cancel whatever you planned, take 2 hours and go see the exhibition on architect Alfred Browning Parker at the HistoryMiami museum - this Saturday or Sunday is your last chance!

The website of the museum http://www.historymiami.org/exhibition/alfredbrowningparker/ is rather unenticing in the description.

In reality the show is very interesting, featuring sketches, models, drawings, furniture, notes and photos, some in spectacular sizes.

(My photos: a sketch for one Parker's commissions, a model for one of his own houses, and a large interior shot centering on a tile floor Parker specified, with a floor-replica and real tile samples in front.)

Enjoy – and share how you liked the exhibition!

Mid-Century Modern Florida Architecture for sale, by Realtor Tobias Kaiser
ModernSouthFlorida.com shows Modern Florida Homes for sale

Photos ©tckaiser

02 February 2017

It's February 2nd

Modern Florida Homes for Groundhogs and other People, on http://www.ModernSouthFlorida.com/

When fluffy adorable rodents do pitifully inaccurate weather forecasts...
it's Groundhog Day!

Time for a good movie...