Monday, January 28, 2008

Just completed, in North Bay Village, a magnificent project, the 360, still has a few units for sale.
They have recently adjusted their prices and that means great deals for buyers.

One of the most beautiful developments in that great location, here is an overview of the 360 condos:

414 luxury waterfront condominium residences on 6.8 acres

West Tower (A) 15 stories with 279 condominium homes
East Tower (B) 12 stories with 99 condominium homes
Marina Residences: 3 stories with 36 marina condominium homes
Architect: Corwil Architect Inc.

360 Condos Amenities:

Elegant covered entrance
Full time valet service
Elevated pool with spa and bayviews in The West Tower
Bayside Pool and clubhouse East Tower
Private Marina and shorefront promenades
State-of-the-art fitness center with men and women's saunas and locker rooms
Private marina
Gated Entrance
24 hr. guard service at entry gate, each lobby, and roving patrol
Over 6.5 acres of lush landscaping surroundings
Garage Parking.

360 Condos Interior Features

Elegant 16" x 16" Marble Flooring in Kitchen and Foyer
Choice of Designer Selected Carpeting in All Bedrooms and Living Areas
Pre-Wired for Ceiling Fans in All Bedrooms and Living Room
Braced Outlet for Lighting Fixture in Dining and Breakfast Areas (per plan)
Pre-Wired for Cable Outlets in All Bedrooms and Living Room
Pre-Wired with Category 5 High-Speed Wiring for Data/Voice Transmission In All Bedrooms, Living Room and Kitchen
Textured Ceilings and Smooth Walls throughout Living Areas
Impact Resistant, Floor-to-Ceiling Sliding Glass Doors
Ventilated Closet Shelving
Tinted Glass Balcony Railings
Oversized Luxurious Balconies
Full-Size Stackable G.E. Washer and Dryer
High-Efficiency Central Air Conditioning and Heating System
Marble Window Sills
Decora Light Switches
Fire Protection Sprinkler System throughout and Smoke Detectors
Custom Designed Kitchen Features
Stainless Steel G.E. Profile Appliance Package: 22 Cu. Ft. Side By Side
Refrigerator With Ice and Water in Door
Multi-Cycle Pot Scrubbing Dishwasher
Built-In Microwave Oven with Integral Hood and Light
Self-Cleaning Electric Range with Smooth Porcelain Cooktop
Contemporary Custom-Built Cabinetry with Glass Doors and Stainless Finish Pulls
Granite Countertops with Backsplash (choice of 2 colors)
Elevated Breakfast Countertop (per plan)
Stainless Steel Undermount Sink with Moen Chrome Faucet and Food Disposal
Custom Designed Bath Features:
16 x 16 Marble in Master Bath, Floor to Ceiling in Shower
Roman Tub with Whirlpool Jets in Master Bath
Glass Shower Enclosure in Master Bath
36 Raised Custom-Built Double Vanities in Master Bath
8 x 8 White Gloss Ceramic Tile on diagonal in Secondary Baths
Contemporary Custom-Built Cabinetry
Cultured Marble Vanity Tops with Bullnose Edge
Moen Villeto Series Faucets and Accessories in All Baths
Medicine Cabinet
Oversized Mirrors
Vanity Lighting
Halogen Track Lighting

Models description

1 bedroom, 1.5 baths
994 sq.ft. total, 900 a/c

2 bedrooms, 2 baths
1,426 sq.ft. total, 1,252 a/c

2 bedrooms, 2 baths
1,569 sq.ft. total, 1,303 a/c

2 bedrooms, 2 baths
1,395 sq.ft. total, 1,232 a/c

2 bedrooms + den, 2 baths
(3rd bedroom option)
1,752 sq.ft. total, 1,557 a/c

2 bedrooms + den, 2.5 baths
1,873 sq.ft. total, 1,692 a/c

2 bedrooms + den, 2.5 baths
(2 split Masters)
1,966 sq.ft. total, 1,800 a/c

Marina Residence
2 bedroom + den, 2 baths
(3rd bedroom option)
1,737 Sq.ft. total, 1,431 a/c

Please look for more great developments at: is a well recognized website dedicated to bring buyers the most updated and complete information about:

Aventura Condos, Hallandale Condos, Fort Lauderdale Condos, Miami Condos

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Three judgments in Condo Buyers vs Developers lawsuits

I have found some very interesting information in a business law publication.

Daily Business Review January 17, 2008

By: Polyana da Costa

Is there a way out? That's a question many buyers under contract to purchase condominium units in South Florida asked their attorneys as closing time approached.

In an overwhelming number of cases, attorneys said yes to their clients and filed suits against the developers, but now the question is — will that work?

Few court orders — that might serve as precedent to other cases after the appeal process — have come out since a wave of lawsuits alleging breach of contract for many different reasons were filed.
Out of three recent judgments in Florida, one favored the developer and two others favored the buyers:

• D&T Properties v. Marina Grande Associates Ltd. — Palm Beach Circuit Judge Jonathan Gerber issued a final judgment after a nonjury trial in July stating the buyer was not entitled to cancel the contract based on an increase in condo assessments because the buyer could afford the increases. The case is being appealed in the 4th District Court of Appeal.

• Pugliese v. Pukka Development — U.S. Magistrate Judge Frank Lynch Jr. issued a summary judgment in October that found the buyer was entitled to be refunded the deposit because the project was not exempt from the federal Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act.

Meridian Ventures LLC v. One North Ocean LLC — U.S. District Court Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley in December issued a summary judgment favoring the buyer in a similar case. Projects with fewer than 100 units were believed to be exempt from the federal act. The federal court found the two projects were exempt from some but not all provisions in the act.

The two cases favoring buyers also are being appealed and have raised concerns among some attorneys and developers.

Gary Saul, a Greenberg Traurig attorney who represents developers, wrote on the firm's Web site in October that the Pukka case was significant and was being aggressively appealed.

"If the Pukka order is upheld by the federal appeals court, it likely will have a significant impact on the ability to enforce contracts presently utilizing the One Hundred Lot exemption," Saul wrote.

Saul said in a phone interview that the "Pukka decision was contrary to existing Florida case law and the opinion of the director" of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Saul said the firm has won many summary judgment hearings and motions on behalf of developers. He said they were "little victories" and declined to name or discuss the cases in general.

Although the cases being decided will help shape future decisions, it's too early to tell the outcome of hundreds of other lawsuits.

Most likely, buyers will have a difficult time trying to win condo cases, said Tom Ringel, a partner with Markowitz Davis Ringel & Trusty in Miami.

"Most contracts are very one-sided contracts," he said. "They were written for developers and are there to protect developers. While some buildings may have special circumstances, in general it is very difficult to litigate this issue."
Ringel said he has received several phone calls from buyers wanting out of their contracts, but in most instances he does not take the case.

"I don't want to take a case and make them pay if I know they won't win," he said.

Bart Houston, an attorney at Adorno & Yoss in Fort Lauderdale, agrees with Ringel but said there is room for negotiation with developers.

Rather than taking the cases to court, he has recently helped some buyers work out settlement agreements with developers.

The agreements can't be disclosed, but he said they involved buyers accepting refunds less than the full deposit or developers agreeing to give the buyer a discount on the unit.

"It's a case-by-case basis, but I advised them to settle based on my review of the complaint, an estimation of what it would cost to litigate and the amount of the deposit," Houston said.

Fighting to get out of a condo contract can cost buyers anywhere from $10,000 in simpler cases to $60,000 in cases with deposits of about $300,000 to $400,000 at stake, according to attorney Jared H. Beck of Beck & Lee Business Trial Lawyers in Miami. On a contingency basis, most attorneys would charge about 30 percent to 40 percent of the refunded deposit, he said.

The litigation process on most of the condo contract lawsuits is likely to be lengthy — about two or three years if filed in state court and longer in federal court, Houston said.

"The litigation parties that are smart are going to get into mediation pretty quickly," he said.

Developers will be hurt the most by the delay because they won't be able to sell the units while they are being disputed in court, which will make lenders impatient and ask to be repaid, Houston said.

Lenders also have gotten in the way of developers and buyers who want to settle, said Robert Cooper, an Aventura attorney who has filed dozens of lawsuits on a contingency basis for condo contract holders against developers.

"I have talked to a major developer who wants to go to mediation, and the contract requires mediation before a suit is filed, but he said he can't negotiate because of the lender," he said.

Cooper did not disclose the developer's name.

Lenders have assignment rights to contracts as they have rights to the real estate, Cooper said.

"They can't do anything without the lenders' approval, and from what I've heard the lenders are not giving them the cooperation they need to deal with this market," he said.

Cooper has settled about 20 cases, which he considers a small portion of the lawsuits involving multiple buyers that he has filed.

Most of the developers willing to settle are those who have closed on about 70 percent of the units in a building because the main construction loan has been paid off, he said.

Cooper is more optimistic about condo lawsuit outcomes.

Developers' contracts are indeed written in language that favors the developer, Cooper said. But in many cases "developers overreached in trying to protect themselves so much that they created unenforceable contracts."

"I call them illusory contracts, meaning the developer used overreaching language and put in a provision that said they could change anything they wanted including square footage, finishes, colors, anything," he said.

Leading luxury condo builder Related Group used a contract like that in most if not all of its South Florida developments. Based on his review of dozens of local contracts, Cooper said other developers have used the same contract in their developments. He declined to name others.

Other attorneys who did not want to be identified said some projects are known to have "bad" contracts and "good" contracts.

The "good" contracts, in the eyes of attorneys, were well-written to protect the developer without overreaching and make it difficult for a buyer to get out. Among them are the Edgewater, a 307-unit development in West Palm Beach; Vintage at Lighthouse Point, a townhouse community by WCI Communities; Orchid Grove, a development in Pompano Beach by Tarragon; and the Paradiso condo in Miami Beach.

Attorneys say they are being selective despite the large number of lawsuits being filed.

Beck said he is handling several cases on behalf of buyers who want out. But only 10 percent of the numerous inquiries he gets each week represent a viable claim.

"A lot of the cases that don't represent valid claims may end up in court," he said. "But you are also going to see a number of cases where buyers are successful — primarily in areas where something substantial was altered in the project and those that were not delivered in time."

Among the most common claims used in contract cancellation lawsuits are:

• Material and adverse changes — buyers can cancel contracts when "material and adverse changes" were made to condo documents filed with the state. It's up to the courts to decide whether a change was "adverse." Lawsuits claim changes that vary from square footage to condo association fee increases.

In the Marina Grande ruling, the judge found the change was not adverse to the buyer because the buyer could afford to pay.

"Marina Grande will be a very important decision," said Beck, who has been watching the cases closely. "Regardless of whether the courts uphold the result or not, I don't think the buyer's personal situation should have much to do with the decision."

Cooper agreed.

"It's basically the same as leasing a car and having a bill sent to you for twice the amount and being required to pay because you can afford it," he said.

Interstate Land Sales Act — A 1968 federal law to protect land buyers. The law has been applied to condos and has several provisions including fraud related to misrepresentations in the contract, a requirement to give the buyer 20 days written notice in case the buyer is in default and a requirement to file certain property documents before construction. Developers are exempt from the act under certain circumstances, including a commitment to deliver a unit within two years.

"It's very risky to promise a building in two years, and many of those are being challenged in court," Beck said.

In some cases, developers have found their way around the two-year commitment.

"Developers were looking further ahead," Houston said. "If they knew they wouldn't complete the unit, they sent out a letter to the buyer saying 'we've decided to give you an upgrade but we need an extension' and buyers would sign accepting the extension."

One could argue that's deceptive trade, and buyers would have a good chance of winning the case, Houston said.

Many of the lawsuits being filed revolve around the complex federal act and its exemptions.

Some developers believed they were exempt from the act and didn't comply with some aspects of it. Now many attorneys are relying on that to get their clients out of contract.

Please visit my website: www. to find out more about:

Aventura Condos - Sunny Isles Condos - Miami Condos

Citizens Against Excessive Taxes

Cut Property Taxes Now is a very serious citizens initiative which proposal is on the web at:

I consider this tax reduction package one of the most interesting and I tend to support it.

Notwithstanding that I will possibly vote YES on January 29th, to the proposed amendments on the present property tax system, I believe that this new initiative would be the complement needed if we want to really get serious about reforming the system in an equitable way.

The January 29th ballot would be mostly about the "portability" of the "save-our-homes" protection. This will perfect and consolidate a provision that has "saved the homes" of many Florida residents against the continuous greed of local government.

However the inequity of the system is blatant. Non residents, snowbirds, new home buyers, businesses, investors, are paying a much higher share of local property taxes, without enjoying any additional privilege. This could even be a challenge to the constitutionality of the "save-our-homes" protection if we do not address it now.

By limiting the taxation power of cities and counties, the new initiative could be the shot in the arm that Florida Real Estate is desperately needing. And a great relief to our middle class.

In effect, all the roll backs voted by the legislature and even the new January 29th amendment, if approved, can be easily bypassed by simply increasing the tax rates. To explain it more in detail, your home assessed value can stay the same or be reduced but your taxes can still go up if the tax percentage (millage) applied in calculating your taxes is increased.

The new initiatives addresses this loophole.

They need 650,000 signatures by January 29th.

They have about 75,000 now.

You can watch their video at:

You can also make a small contribution on their website:

I am not a friend of any of the people or groups that have put together this initiative.
I have written about the Florida property tax issue and I believe that it is a major problem that affect the lives of all Florida property owners.

If you have any comments, either negative or positive, please post it here.

I am a Licensed Real Estate Professional in Florida.
My website is:

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Property Tax Reform?

On January 29th, 2008, a Florida Property Tax Reform proposal will go on the ballot.
A 60% majority of votes is needed to pass the reforms approved by the Legislators in October.

An extended campaign by Florida's Governor, with the support of Florida Realtors Association is under way.

My opinion?

Although pathetically insufficient and inadequate, I am seriously thinking of voting yes.
Why? The reduction of yearly taxes to the average homestead homeowner will in the best case reach about $ 220 per year. Non residents, investors, business real estate owners will see no improvement at all.

The possibility of the cities and counties bypassing the tax reduction by increasing their tax rate will probably wipe out all effectiveness of even this small relief, and the "drop as a rock" promise will just be a delusion.

However, the portability of the "save our homes" protection has been reasonably addressed and that will be an important factor in the revival of real estate in our state. Some people will be able to upgrade or downgrade on their present homes without the fear of losing this benefit.
How much will that affect the market? It remains to be seen, but it will definitely be a factor.

There are other proposals which could go on a new ballot in November 2008. One of them is the "cut property taxes now" which should limit the maximum of taxes paid to 1.35% per year on the taxable value. This would also cover snowbirds, investors, businesses, and new home buyers. It should be a much more realistic way of addressing the free spending of our
governments, avoiding loop holes and confusions. Somehow in the same way as California has successfully tackled this issue. And it will attenuate the inequity of the present tax laws.

Therefore, since we accomplish just a step ahead and leave the door open to more agressive
solutions, I am seriously thinking of voting yes on January 29.