Wednesday, November 04, 2009

What will $150,000 buy you in Aventura today?

What about a three-bedroom in Aventura at Villa Dorada? This 1,380 sq. ft. of inside space is a Penthouse, with two full bathrooms.

Or a two-bedroom, two baths – 1,251 Sq. Ft. at The Del Prado ? You can choose more two bedrooms at the Coronado Towers, The Parc Central, the Bonavida, the Clipper, the El Dorado, the Ensenada Condos, The Venture, the Bravura, the Admiral Port, the Flamenco.

You could also buy a one bedroom townhomes at the Aventi or the Village by the Bay town homes, or at the Turnberry on the Green condos, the Venture or the Biscayne Cove.

Amazing! Who would have thought a couple of years ago! Because Aventura is one of the most "chic" locations in South Florida, with entertainment, great dining venues, the best shopping, and outstanding schools.

Of course, the inventory of these bargains is shrinking every day. Smart buyers from overseas, Europe, Canada, South America, and also from the Northeast, with cash in hand are gobbling the best deals.

Great investment opportunity. Just in case you were missing it.

I am a real estate professional at United Realty Group Inc.
You can visit my website: where you can search for Hallandale Beach Condos, Sunny Isles Condos

Thursday, October 01, 2009


I just received the following news about the City of Hallandale, where I live. The City Commission's special meeting held on September 24, 2009, for the purpose of passing the 2009/10 budget decided:

1) A motion presented by a commissioner to keep taxes equal to last year was defeated.

2) The motion to increase tax millage rate to 5.9 from last year's rate of 4.9818 (19.72% increase in the tax millage) prevailed (3-2 vote). That is the percentage applied on the appraised value of our homes to calculate property tax. This was the recommendation of the City Manager. More interesting facts:

3) The City of Hallandale has approximately 429 employees (full and part time).

4) 152 employees are paid $100,000 or more in total compensation.

5) 39 employees are paid $ 150,000 or more in total compensation.

6) 6 employees are paid $200,000 or more in total compensation.

7) The yard waste recycling program for single family homes will be eliminated. Hallandale City Manager recommends that residents just throw their landscaping and yard waste in their normal garbage bins. This is clearly a backwards step in the recently affirmed goal of recycling. No more making mulch off yard waste. The city will just throw more garbage in the landfill, no problem. By the way, if you want to know how much I pay in water and trash removal every month, it'll make you cry.

8) A new position was created: The Director of Public Utilities with a total compensation package of about $146,000. Exactly what we needed. The City already has a Department of Public Works, which was perfectly handling this kind of duties. But apparently in these hard times, we really need to split a department in two so we can add $146,000 to city budget!

I don't think that I should mention commissioners by name here. Or say who voted what. This is not the purpose of these comments.

But next time you pay your higher property taxes, even though the value of your home has sharply dropped, remember the reasons. The City of Hallandale has stuck us with the doctrine that thousands of new condominiums were built so that "we can increase our tax base".

Did we wrongly understand that it implied a potential reduction of our taxes?
However, our traffic problems are worse than ever. Our quality of life is degrading by the day. Everything is going down, except our taxes.

How many employees, you said? How much they make?

Come on, is Hallandale becoming the new Paris, the new New York?

I am a real estate professional at United Realty Group Inc.
You can visit my website: where you can search for Hallandale Beach Condos, Sunny Isles Condos

The more it changes...

The more it changes, the more it looks the same!

In America, and especially in Florida we have lately be very well trained into accepting our destiny in complete silence and infinite patience. Like the lamb on its way to the slaughterhouse. In few words, just suck it up.

Remember how we were promised by our governor, backed by our State Congress, that our insurance, our taxes will "drop like a rock" ? Remember?

Here you go:

Read the news, fresh from

Florida home insurance rates on rise again
The respite from rapidly rising insurance rates is ending for Florida homeowners.
State regulators approved an average 19 percent statewide increase for Federated National Insurance. The insurer, a subsidiary of 21st Century Holdings in Lauderdale Lakes, has 30,889 policies in Florida. Northern Capital Group was approved for a 10 percent hike on the policies it has taken out of Citizens Property Insurance, the state-run insurer. Both companies said the rate increases will cover higher reinsurance costs and make up some of the revenue they’ve lost due to higher wind mitigation credits they must provide.
Nearly half a dozen companies have applied for rate increases or are working on filings. United Property & Casualty has asked for a 12 percent average statewide increase. Southern Fidelity and its sister company, Capitol Preferred, have requested a 7.2 percent average statewide increase. In July, Citizens began to submit its filing for its first rate increase in three years. Its rates have been frozen since 2007. Citizens is limited to a 10 percent increase, due to a new law passed in May. But its initial staff analysis found that some areas of the state could be due rate decreases.
“Insurance Commissioner [Kevin] McCarty told the governor and Cabinet last week that insurance companies now need to shore up their claims-paying abilities through modest rate increases,” said Lisa Miller, former deputy commissioner and consultant to many Florida-based insurance companies

From - Oct. 1, 2009

I am a real estate professional at United Realty Group Inc.
You can visit my website: where you can search for Hallandale Beach Condos, Sunny Isles Condos

What a ripoff!

I read the following article in a report from

Read it carefully. It looks like insurance companies which only sell the Flood insurance coverage provided through FEMA, (a Federal Agency) are keeping almost HALF of the money collected.

Let's analyze this: Agents of private insurance companies, who also sell hurricane insurance, and homeowner insurance, offer the flood insurance coverage as an additional and almost universally requested coverage. These insurance companies are basically order-writers. This service costs the government's insurance company almost 50% of the money collected. It's like you as a salesperson at a bakery's counter would keep fifty cents on every dollar collected! Believe me, selling these Flood insurances to people who must buy the other type of home insurance does involve any marketing effort.

But that is something that we have grown accustomed to. Insurance companies just keep feeding on our stupidity, our acceptance of their and our government's corruption. Because how else can we qualify the conduct of FEMA which for so many years has been condoning this ripoff!

Does this ring a bell?

Here is the report I read:

Criticism mounting over flood premiums

Congress is expected to extend the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for another 12 months even though the program continues to be in debt and accused of lacking adequate controls. The NFIP, which is run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), also has been criticized for shifting too much money to the insurance sector. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report revealed that FEMA does not have a system in place to track the profits earned by insurers in the program, nor a way to determine if those profits are appropriate. “There are certain things to be learned,” says Insurance Information Institute President Robert Hartwig. “If the price charged for the service rendered does not cover the cost, you will ultimately run a taxpayer-financed deficit.” NFIP earns about $2.3 billion in premiums per year, but insurers retain about $1 billion. Auditors discovered that FEMA does not examine insurers’ actual expenses when determining what share of the NFIP premiums they will receive. GAO also noted that the insurers involved in the program do not actively sell flood insurance, but merely offer the coverage only when policyholders ask for it. Auditors also note that FEMA has not done enough to prompt insurers to market flood coverage to a broader group of policyholders.

From - Oct. 1, 2009

I am a real estate professional at United Realty Group Inc.
You can visit my website: where you can search for Hallandale Beach Condos, Sunny Isles Condos

Friday, September 25, 2009

Opposing the Drilling


Read in the Sarasota Herald Tribune - September 23, 2009

Sarasota County opposes drilling

Sarasota County commissioners voted unanimously to make stopping a proposed offshore drilling bill a legislative priority in 2010. Pristine beaches should trump oil exploration, Sarasota County leaders said Tuesday in opposing any oil exploration in Florida waters. Oil drilling promises to be a major issue in the upcoming state legislative session.

Top legislators -- most from inland counties -- are pushing a plan to allow oil exploration within 10 miles of the shore. The County Commission voted unanimously to make stopping the oil bill a legislative priority in 2010. Commissioners even changed the language of the resolution to remove any ambiguity.

It now reads: "Do not pursue offshore drilling in Florida waters." "I would support that," said Commissioner Nora Patterson. "Pretty straight," added Commissioner Shannon Staub. Instead of oil, the county's legislative agenda calls on state leaders to support alternative energy options like solar energy and to "build a green economy through aggressive energy policies."

The Legislature did not pass a major renewable energy bill proposed by Gov Charlie Crist last year. Crist's proposal -- known as a renewable portfolio standard -- would force power companies to generate a percentage of their electricity from renewable sources such as solar energy.

I agree. Leave our beaches alone. Our oceans and water are already enough polluted. And our agonizing coral reefs are desperately asking for a break.

Henry B. Nathan is a Florida Realtor at United Realty Group Inc.
Visit my website:
where you can search for Aventura Condos, Florida Condos, Sunny Isles Condos,

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My cousin's internet shops in Israel

My two cousins Mireille Simhon and Viviane Nathan are active on the internet with beautiful collections of clothes. It's BESOGRAIM Etsy Shop.

Besograim means "within parenthesis" (or between quotes). In French it is "entre parentheses"

My cousin Mireille had a great French restaurant in Jerusalem. A "parve" eatery, and that means that she couldn't serve meat or poultry. It was set up in a historical old house and it was a well-known landmark for many years. She had recently to close it for some landlord-related issue. I had some great meals there.

The two cousins have been living in Israel for many years. Viviane is a writer, and before moving there, she won some literary prizes in Latin America.

I just want to give them some support and wish them good luck.

I have another cousin who is in jewelry. She does great stuff. I will eventually post her link here.

Check Besograim now:


Whatever they do, they have always done it right.
Good luck, cousins.

I am a real estate professional at United Realty Group Inc.
You can visit my website: where you can search for Hallandale Beach Condos, Sunny Isles Condos

Saturday, September 12, 2009

An update

It's been some time since I posted my outrage regarding a Bank overcharging their mortgage customer for an unnecessary flood insurance.
What happened next?
After about three months of phone calls with Bank's employees who kept assuring the customer that everything was fine, he hadn't yet received the refund for the insurance amount unduly charged to his account.
The last news I got was that the bank finally sent him a statement indicating that they would charge not charge him for the insurance. But no news about the refund of all these months of insurance charges.
He will keep calling the bank. I guess.

Henry B. Nathan is a Licensed Florida Real Estate Agent and Mortgage.
Visit my websites:

Monday, July 20, 2009


It was a Monday morning and I get a call from one my clients in France. A couple of years ago, he has bought a nice condo in a new building in South Florida.

He only financed about half of the value ($150,000) with one of the largest US banks at a fixed rate.

He is not complaining about the huge drop in the value of his property due to the terrible market. He pays in time his mortgage and the property taxes that the bank withdraws every month from his account. For the time being, he is renting his apartment since he can't travel. One day, he will eventually spend his vacations in Florida. I assist him in the rental , even though the rent hardly covers his taxes and condominium fees.

He calls me a week ago. All of a sudden, the bank is charging him about $550 more PER MONTH. He just noticed it from his statements, when he observed the dwindling balances. They have already charged him the extra amount for three months and he just found out.

I go through his file and find that the loan has a fixed interest rate for thirty years. So it can't be a rate adjustment. He pays directly his condominium fees, so I also discard a possible increase in these charges. Mystery!

I advise him to call the bank from France. I get another call from him the next day.

It appears that the bank claims to have sent him a couple of notices that they needed an update of his flood insurance policy and since he did not respond, they proceeded to contract a flood insurance which cost is what they were charging him on top of his usual monthly payment. He never received them, perhaps because he changed address in France a year ago.

$ 550 per month is about $ 6,600 per year, for Flood Insurance. The bank claimed that they had an insurance company issue a new flood policy covering any loss due to a flood in this new building.

The building policy actually covers this risk and it was exhibited when my client took the mortgage loan with this bank, and it was provided by the condominium association, as it is the usual procedure.

Apparently, the bank wants the condo association to provide them every year with the proof of renewal of the flood insurance.

Are they so careful with their stockholders' money? Are they so, but so attentive to every little detail that could avoid any loss to their bank?

Sure. So conscientious that the whole country's economy was almost busted by the mortgage crisis that these same great banks caused. So conscientious that billion after billion they lost most of their investors' money in "subprime" loans.

They are so diligent that, of all the delinquent borrowers, one of their few clients religiously paying his mortgage is suspected of negligence and summarily hit with this incredible charge.

I proceeded to call my own insurance agent to find out what it would cost for a similar condo to be insured against flood. He represents one of the largest insurance companies in the US. He quoted me an approximate cost of

$200 A YEAR.

Now, which is that company that the Bank chose to issue a flood insurance costing his customer 33 times as much as the normal premium?

Do I have a reason to suspect collusion and bad faith? Do I have a reason to be indignant as was my French customer?

In good mood he told me that French banks are not much better.

Of course he called the bank, and solved the problem. In a few minutes, the condo association faxed the bank their flood policy and the "problem" was cleared. I hope the bank will refund my client the abusive charges.

But the bottom line is that this kind of thing shouldn't happen in the first place.

Why? Why do we have to fight every day against these giants who are the beneficiaries of our business. These enormous corporations who get Federal money at unbelievably low rates, and pay ridiculously low interests to their depositors, only to lend it back to them, often at usury rates.

I asked my insurance agent if he knew an insurance company who would charge a $6500 premium to insure a small condominium. All I got was a hearty laugh and his suggestion that if I find out what insurer the bank is using to "protect his clients" please find him a job there; they must be making an awful amount of profit.

What a joke!


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Henry B. Nathan is a Florida Licensed Real Estate Agent.

Please visit my website: where you can search for Hallandale Beach Condos, Sunny Isles Condos