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Florida Real Estate News

Coronavirus college closures leave students unsure about housing

After Cornell University announced on Tuesday evening that the school, which has roughly 15,000 undergraduates, would transition to online instruction, and asked students to leave campus after spring break, students were in a state of confusion. “‘Frenzy’ is probably a good word,” says Manisha Munasinghe, a 26-year old computational biology graduate student.

Campus life across the country is quickly changing due to the coronavirus, which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, with more than 1,080 confirmed cases in the U.S. As the list of institutions that have canceled in-person classes and moved to online instruction grows —including Harvard, University of Maryland, and Rice University in Houston—administrators are also closing dorms due to fears of the spreading coronavirus. Housing has suddenly become an immediate concern. What happens to students who depend on the dorms for a place to live? Where will they go if they do not have alternative options at hand, or family support nearby? Harvard alone has roughly 6,700 undergrads, 97 percent of whom live on campus all four years.

Cornell said students would be able to gain exceptions to stay in student housing via an official petition, but Munasinghe says nobody is sure what that means, or how it will work. International students are especially concerned about what it might cost to get back home.

“It’s especially disappointing for graduating students,” Munasinghe says. “Seniors are devastated they’ll miss out on their last semester with friends, and it’s unclear if graduation and commencement will even happen.”

“Every conversation he’s overheard today on campus is about this, and there’s lots of frustration and confusion,” says Jeff Pea, a 24-year old Cornell graduate student from California studying reproductive biology.

“Students have reacted with a mix of emotions,” says Joseph Anderson, president of Cornell’s Student assembly. “There has been fear from international students about their visa status. A lot of low-income students don’t know if they can afford flights home. LGBTQ students who aren’t accepted by their families are also extremely concerned. There is also a lot of confusion as to how some classes will continue virtually, as some classes are not conducive to a virtual setting and students worry about their academic success.”

These closures are only exacerbating the existing challenges many college students face around housing insecurity and homelessness. According to surveys and research from the Hope Center at Temple University, roughly 60 percent of community college students, and 48 percent of four-year college students, face housing insecurity—defined as an inability to pay rent or utilities, or the need to move frequently—while 18 percent of community college students, and 14 percent of four-year college students, have been homeless at some point during college. Furthermore, many students depend on their colleges for food as well as employment.

Joe Murray, a dean at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, says that his school is currently working on a plan for what to do about coronavirus. Out-of-state students as well as international students present a particular challenge, because many can’t afford to quickly return to their home country. Traditionally, universities would keep housing open even during periods when there is no in-person classes being held, he says.

“All that could change if a student is diagnosed in the hall with the virus,” he says. “This is all new territory,” he says.

Since these campus closures are happening on or near spring break for many schools, the timing adds another challenge for students.

“All travel for FAU employees have now been restricted, regardless of location,” Murray says. “Even with no symptoms, they likely face a self-imposed 14 day isolation upon return. Returning spring break students are going to be a big concern. Some schools have already announced all-online classes for the remainder of the spring term so that students do not return to campus after spring travels.”

Some schools have made the transition to online instruction without deciding to close down their dorms. Northeastern University in Boston, which announced a transition to online classes on Wednesday, is currently not asking students to vacate residence halls.

”We are seeking to preserve the essence of a Northeastern education—including current co-op placements—while also taking prudent steps to reduce the risk of infection within our community,” President Joseph E. Aoun said in a statement.

To help universities navigate this tricky situation, the Hope Center recently released guidance for administrators and school leaders, which focuses on extending support services and highlighting how many students depend on schools for food, healthcare, and other essentials. The report suggests universities take such steps as sharing information about alternative food options and helping students apply for benefits; making sure campus health centers are open and can provide emergency coverage for screening and treatment (or guidance to where these services can be accessed); offering emergency aid to help pay bills or pay for travel home; and providing loaner laptops and free wi-fi hotspots so all students can keep up with online classes.

“Scarcity and stress reduce executive functioning,” the report notes. “Your students will have more difficulty planning and navigating bureaucracy during this time. Reduce their barriers to support whenever possible.”

In many cases, students, teachers, and community members, who are unsure of what’s happening in a rapidly shifting environment, have started their own networks to help student looking for a place to stay. Munasinghe, the Cornell student, set up a public Google Doc so graduate students (who tend to have their own off-campus housing) can offer support to undergrads. More than 40 people have volunteered everything from temporary housing to storage space and rides for those with homes nearby since Munasinghe shared the document this morning.

Figuring out how to deal with the nut-and-bolts of moving with the help of such a community-based effort (which was based on a similar shared-resource document organized by Harvard students) can help at a time when students are facing so much uncertainty.

“People are worrying about exemptions, or if they getting tuition refunded,” she says. “There’s a lot they’d like to see the university do, and it’s unclear what they’re going to do.”

Source: Curbed (

Florida Real Estate News

How colleges are trying to address homelessness among students

When Sara heard she was accepted to Florida Atlantic University in 2017, she was happy and excited, like so many high school seniors receiving acceptance letters. She wasn’t a bad student by any means, but wasn’t the valedictorian, either, so she was grateful for the opportunity. She planned to study criminal justice, and was thrilled about moving into the dorms. But unlike many of her fellow students, Sara wasn’t sure how any of her educational expenses—especially housing—would be covered, because she had to pay for it all herself.

Sara (who asked that only her first name be used for this article, to protect her privacy) was in foster care until she was 16, when she was placed with a family in Pembroke Pines, Florida. When she applied for college, her foster parents said that if she didn’t continue to live at home, they wouldn’t support her financially. Sara made the choice to go to FAU, which was an hour away, and since she didn’t want to commute, she decided to be fully independent and live on her own.

Sara, now 21, is part of a growing population of students at community colleges and four-year universities facing housing insecurity and homelessness, which puts them at great risk of failing to graduate. For students facing housing insecurity and homelessness today, the challenges go beyond being scrappy and surviving on the cheap, says Joe Murray, an assistant dean at FAU. Today’s students struggle with expenses and levels of precariousness that far exceed what students in previous generations faced, and that’s especially true when it comes to housing.

“Just think about something as simple as move-in day,” he says. “All these parents come with U-Hauls full of stuff for their kid’s dorm rooms, and then you have a foster youth with a garbage bag of clothes, the only thing they may own.”

Much of the stereotypical college experience centers around living spaces, such as a student’s first dorm room or first rental apartment shared with friends. But colleges are increasingly admitting more and more students like Sara, who don’t have the resources to pay for housing. That’s led to more programs like FAU’s Educate Tomorrow, which has helped her and other students who are at high risk of being sidetracked from their education by housing issues.

Murray says that of the school’s 30,000-plus students, roughly 100 to 150 are foster children or were previously homeless, and 77 were enrolled in Educate Tomorrow last year. It’s indicative of how the homeless problem, which worsened during the recession, has only been exacerbated by a lack of housing supply, which is forcing rents up and pushing renters out of their homes.

FAU’s program helps students like Sara navigate everything from applying for loans to providing a $500 stipend to decorate their dorm rooms. Since launching in 2014, the program has helped raise the graduation rate of this segment of the student population to 46 percent, compared to the national average of roughly 4 percent. Murray says he won’t rest until that rate is 100 percent.

“They have no other safety net,” he says. “If they’re not graduating from college, they’re back on the streets and the narratives aren’t good. They don’t have parents to move back in with.”

Sara found the program particularly useful when figuring out her own housing situation.

“The biggest challenge was just figuring out how to navigate student life in general,” she says. “All the paperwork that comes with financial aid and applications, it can be scary if you don’t have someone to guide you.”

That guidance enabled Sara to become self-sufficient, something that proves difficult for many students in her scenario, who often face uncertainty and housing insecurity. Through Educate Tomorrow, she was able to navigate financial aid applications with a counselor and land a job at the student union. That gig, along with student aid and loans, helps her pay for her education and room and board.

“The guidance is there,” she says. “Fall semester freshman year, I didn’t know what I was going to do, and didn’t do my best in class, and that’s when I leaned on them the most for support.”

Homelessness in higher education

At universities and community colleges across the country—places whose mission is to provide opportunity and upward mobility—many students face the specter of poverty and not having a place to sleep. Roughly 60 percent of community college students, and 48 percent of four-year college students, face housing insecurity (defined as an inability to pay rent or utilities, or the need to move frequently), according to research from the Hope Center at Temple University. The same survey also found 18 percent of community college students, and 14 percent of four-year college students, have faced homelessness. That precariousness is on full display now, as a number of schools have told students to leave campus and finish the semester online due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Many who can’t get home to their parents, or don’t have parents to go home to, are scrambling to figure out if they can find and afford housing.

“It’s really a fairly large-scale problem, and I always worry that people don’t appreciate how many students we’re talking about,” says Howard Bell, senior vice president of Starfish, a division of the education technology company Hobsons that works with schools to help assist students facing these challenges. “Higher education comes with its challenges, and that’s fine. But we’re dealing with the fact that, systemically, we’re not helping these students at all.”

Bell, along with other school administrators and advocates, identifies many contributing factors in addition to the rising cost of education. When students turn 18, they lose many social supports, like free school lunch, and may then struggle to provide for themselves. Federal educational aid is intended to cover tuition, not housing, food, and transportation, all necessary expenses for full-time students. And then there’s the changing student population. More Americans are attending college, including those with lower incomes and those who are older and looking to switch careers (more than a third of the nation’s population has completed four years of college or more). More than one in five undergraduate students are parents. Community college students, who are often commuters and don’t have the option of on-campus dormitories, are particularly affected by rising housing costs, especially in urban areas. The existing school aid and financing system, geared toward 18-year-old high school graduates with middle-class backgrounds and family support, seems increasingly antiquated and ineffective in light of these shifts.

Dreams for Change, a nonprofit in San Diego, California, operates a parking program that creates a safe place for local students and other homeless people to sleep in their cars at night. CEO Teresa Smith says that it’s become truly challenging to help the changing community college population in particular. “They can’t ever catch a break,” she says. “In the days of old, college kids could get by with ramen and pasta, and shove five people into one apartment. Today, there’s no places to do that. That means a lot of people get pushed out.

“When we started, I thought this was a recession-based issue and that it would get better as the economy recovered,” she says. “I’m seeing the complete opposite.”

The parking lot Dreams for Change operates for homeless San Diegans includes amenities and services meant to make the prospect of crashing in your car overnight a little more bearable. Those who park here have access to bathrooms with running water, food, refrigerators, a grill to cook, a little office shack to do work, and case managers for supportive services. Smith says of the 70 or so vehicles that park here on a busy night, probably five of them are inhabited by students at nearby universities. Nearly three-quarters of people who use the lot have a source of income.

The fact that students need to utilize the lot is indicative of the challenges they, and schools, face getting to graduation while navigating financial hardships. Smith says many of them feel embarrassment, shame, and isolation around their circumstances.

Colleges and legislators are beginning to address some of the financial barriers holding back many college students, creating food banks, allowing safe parking for the homeless on campus, and creating programs, like FAU’s, that target at-risk populations. But the solutions often only address the results of the housing problem, not the roots of the issue.

She points to many social safety net programs that could be altered or changed to help students. Free school breakfast and lunch, as well as SNAP benefits, are harder to access in college, and could be altered to be easier for full-time students to utilize. Increasing minimum wages would go a long way toward helping working students. “The Living Wage campaign isn’t spoken about as a tool to help college completion, but it definitely is one,” she says.

The majority of action on student poverty is focused on providing emergency food, and happening at the state level, though there is some congressional legislation aimed at campus food insecurity. California, for example, passed AB 74, a $19 million fund to create test programs across the state to support housing-insecure students.

“It’s overwhelmingly about food,” she says. “There are a few exceptions, but not as much is being done to address housing. It’s just that much more expensive a problem to solve.”

The Amarillo model

One of those exceptions is Amarillo College. In many ways, the small Texas community college isn’t much different than similar institutions around the country; it struggles with lower budgets and resources, and a more situationally diverse student body. But it also has Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart, who sums up his approach to helping students as “operationalizing love.”

“We know who our student is and what she needs from us,” he says. “We’ve named our typical student Maria, know what her needs and struggles are, and more than anything, Maria needs us to love her to success.”

Lowery-Hart is going the extra mile to help all of Amarillo’s Marias get through school. He spent a winter weekend homeless so he could better relate to the experiences of his students. He’s also pioneered a program to help students facing economic insecurity that, for all its talk of love, is firmly based in analytics, data, and strong return on investment.

“What I heard from students was that what kept them from being successful in the classroom had nothing to do with the classroom,” he says. “The top 10 things impeding their academic progress were life issues. If students are struggling to put food on the table, cover living arrangements, and cover transportation costs, federal aid doesn’t cover what it really costs to go to college.”

With that in mind, the Amarillo model focuses on rapid reaction. Students facing housing insecurity or homelessness can quickly access food pantries and supportive services. Lowery-Hart and his staff also utilize predictive analytics to figure out which students may need help (during our interview, he referenced a dashboard he had on his office computer, which tracks at-risk students, their academic performance, and their use of school services to help determine who needs extra support). In addition, and perhaps most importantly, Lowery-Hart and his staff are ready to provide emergency housing and loans at a moment’s notice. If a student who is a working mother needs a motel for a week, the school foots the bill. If someone needs long-term housing, Amarillo College and city officials have Housing and Urban Development vouchers set aside. Need a loan to fix the car you need to get to class? Or $100 to pay an electric bill that’s overdue? Lowery-Hart is happy to step in.

And he’s found a clear financial incentive behind doing good. The school spends roughly $600,000 a year on personnel and services, and another $100,000 to $150,000 in emergency aid, which has increased retention rates by 12 percent. Completion rates at Amarillo have risen from 25 to 53 percent in just the last five years, and that decrease in dropouts offers a 16-to-1 return on investment, in terms of tuition that ends up getting paid.

“Even if you don’t see this as a social justice issue, see it as an economic one,” he says. “We know clearly that our students are one emergency away from dropping out, and if they ever drop out, the likelihood they come back is in the single digits. They have one shot at changing the trajectory of their lives.”

He’s found that these students often have a different perception of themselves than outsiders might.

“People who work two part-time jobs think they’re struggling, not in poverty,” he says. “They don’t have time to figure out how to access resources. They think the resources are for people who are really struggling, and they don’t understand that they’re working, and need those resources.”

In Los Angeles’s Boyle Heights neighborhood, a program run by the nonprofit Jovenes (Spanish for youth) has a similar focus on catching students before they slip through the cracks of the existing safety net. The organization—which got its start in the 1980s and ’90s helping foster youth from Central and Latin America find housing and emergency shelter—began approaching community colleges in 2016, looking to help some of the teenagers they assisted apply for college. It was “eye-opening” to discover how many community college students needed help, says Eric Hubbard, the organization’s director of development and strategic partnerships.

“We simply weren’t aware of the large number of students experiencing homelessness,” he says. “So we started to look at the problem and figured we should expand our services to provide housing opportunities, tailored to the students, to meet them where they are and help them maintain school as a core focus.”

Jovenes created what it calls college-focused rapid rehousing. Using rental subsidies, it helps students find housing near their college campus (Jovenes has partnerships with East Los Angeles, Cerritos, and Rio Hondo Community Colleges, all of which are in Los Angeles County). The nonprofit pays full or significant portions of the monthly rent, and offers services such as financial planning, academic support, and mental health services. Like the Amarillo model, the Jovenes program is predicated on a holistic view of student support, and believes that housing is just part of a suite of services that can, when combined, keep students from getting sidetracked by financial issues. So far, Jovenes has worked with about 80 students in this program, 67 of whom have graduated or remain enrolled. Hubbard proudly noted that current community college graduation rates in the state are 70 percent, so this program is keeping up with the state average.

“With foster youth in general, half will go to community college and roughly 10 percent will graduate,” says Hubbard. “We see a growing population of young folks doing the right things by investing in their education, but facing the challenges of homelessness that create significant barriers to success.”

How do solutions for students scale up?

While awareness of the issue has increased, along with the number of specialized programs meant to help students at risk of housing insecurity, there’s still a long way to go to provide students everywhere with the tools to succeed. Higher education in this nation has always prided itself on being a stepping stone for success, a sure route to betterment and a good job. But for those facing financial strain, arguably the students who would benefit most from a degree, housing issues can still be a barrier in many places.

“The schools that can try to launch these support programs have a financial cushion,” says Goldrick-Rab. “It’s dangerous for those who don’t have a cushion, especially community colleges. ‘You want me to try what? We’re about to lay off faculty.’ We’re living with the result of massively underfunding these schools.”

But for those who can find a program, they can be a lifeline. Sara at FAU, who will graduate this spring with a degree in political science, says that the Educate Tomorrow program has helped her navigate a stressful situation as an independent adult, without feeling ashamed of her situation.

“It doesn’t make you feel like you’re an outcast or a black sheep,” she says.

It’s also provided a home when she needed it: Last week, during the school’s spring break, she called from her dorm room, where she stays during school recesses and the summer.

“I know how to handle stressful situations and how to deal with adversity with being an adult,” she says.

She knows exactly what she’ll be doing this August, after graduation: Starting a masters program in higher learning, with the goal of eventually starting her own support group for refugee and immigrant students.

Source: Curbed (

Florida Real Estate News

Here’s where coronavirus will impact the housing market the most

The spread of COVID-19 has decimated entire sectors of the American economy, bringing industries like airlines to a halt and rendering almost 10 million Americans unemployed. The housing market is at risk from a number of different angles too, but it’ll be months before we know where and to what extent housing suffers.

In an attempt to see what markets might be most vulnerable to the economic fallout of the novel coronavirus, ATTOM Data Solutions, a real estate data provider, analyzed 483 counties in the United States—those with a population of at least 100,000 and at least 100 home sales in the first fiscal quarter of 2020—and ranked them according to how at risk they are.

ATTOM concludes that much of the East Coast—New Jersey and Florida in particular—has the most counties with housing markets vulnerable to the novel coronavirus, while the West Coast and Midwest have a better chance of a limited impact.

“It’s too early to tell how much effect the coronavirus fallout will have on different housing markets around the country, but the impact is likely to be significant from region to region and county to county,” says Todd Teta, chief product officer with ATTOM Data Solutions. “From [our] analysis, it looks like the Northeast is more at risk than other areas. As we head into the Spring home buying season, the next few months will reveal how severe the impact will be.”

A Zillow study revealed that in previous pandemics in Asia, the volume of home sales dropped dramatically but prices remained relatively steady. An analysis by consultant and academic Mike DelPrete shows a similar scenario playing out in Asian cities that were hit early by COVID-19.

While this general trend will likely hold in the U.S. too, there’s no such thing as a national housing market, and conditions in an individual city can run counter to the rest of the country.

ATTOM took three factors into account for its analysis. The first is the percentage of houses in the county that got a foreclosure notice in the fourth fiscal quarter of 2019. The second is the percentage of houses in the county that are “underwater”—the homeowner owes more on the house than what the house is worth.

Counties that rank high in these factors are more likely to see a pile up of foreclosures than counties that rank low as unemployment rises and shelter-in-place orders extend. With people who’ve gotten a foreclosure notice, the coronavirus may be the event that pushes them into foreclosure. Homeowners who are underwater may decide to just let their house go into foreclosure rather than pay more than it’s worth, a phenomenon that played out en masse after the financial crisis in 2008.

The third factor is the percentage of local wages needed to pay for homeowner expenses. This is a market affordability measure. In areas where affordability is low, homeowners are already vulnerable to any change to their income.

While these factors layout general conditions, there are still a number of other things to consider. Some local jobs markets will be more vulnerable to pay cuts and layoffs depending on how diversified they are. For example, if a county’s economy is heavily dependent on the airline industry—which has practically come to a halt since the pandemic hit—that county’s housing market would be vulnerable to the sudden loss of wages, even if it ranked favorable according to ATTOM’s three factors.

How local governments have responded to the pandemic will also go a long way toward its housing market’s fortunes. If local leaders didn’t take it seriously soon enough, it could be under shelter-in-place orders longer than it otherwise would be, delaying the economic recovery and thus stability to its housing market.

There is also a huge wild card in the housing market that has implications for every city: the mortgage industry. Federal regulators announced in March that it was offering up to a year of mortgage forbearance to those impacted by the economic fallout of COVID-19. That helps homeowners stay in their homes, but mortgage servicers still have to come up with the money to pay mortgage bond investors those mortgages are tied to.

If the federal government doesn’t act fast to solve this problem, the entire mortgage system could collapse and trigger a financial crisis. If that happens, the housing market as a whole could end up in a similar situation to the aftermath of 2008.

Source: Curbed (

Florida Real Estate News

COVID-19 paused the housing market. What happens next?

The economic fallout from the spread of COVID-19 has put the housing market in the United States on pause.

New home listings have dropped precipitously. Mortgage lending has gotten even more strict, making it harder to get a home loan. In March, home sales dropped 9 percent nationwide compared to the previous month, according to Redfin. The drop in April is certain to be even more dramatic.

But what will the housing market recovery look like once the pandemic passes and the economy reaches its new state of normal? A number of new reports explore how it might play out.

Academic and real estate consultant Mike DelPrete looked a new home listings data for five markets in varying stages of sheltering in place—New York City, Portland, Austin, Seattle, and California’s East Bay, which includes Oakland and Berkeley. He concludes that new home listings bottom out after just a week of sheltering in place, and stay at that bottom for 3 to 4 weeks before gradually starting to rise.

This suggests that the housing market recovery on a graph would be shaped like a checkmark—a sharp immediate decline to a bottom and then a slow recovery back to pre-pandemic levels. According to DelPrete, New York City is currently still at the bottom point, while Seattle, Austin, and the East Bay have started to move up in terms of new listings.

Pageview data from Zillow seems to support this general theory. When the pandemic hit, Zillow saw a 19 percent year-over-year drop in pageviews nationally on March 22. As of April 15, the seven-day trailing average for pageviews nationally was up year-over-year by 18 percent. This suggests the buyers and sellers are resuming their home search and will be ready to buy and sell again when quarantines lift.

But Zillow pageview data varies across markets. In New York City, one of the hardest hit cities in the world, pageviews are currently still down by 2 percent year-over-year. But Austin is up 35 percent year-over-year, Los Angeles is up 32 percent, and Houston is up a whopping 56 percent. This suggests that cities with big year-over-year jumps have pent up demand for housing.

Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist for homebuying platform Haus, forecasts that the pandemic will cause a sharp drop during the spring and a noticeable rebound in the summer. He believes this will be followed by another dip in the fall as a result of a second wave of the novel coronavirus, and then something of a return to normal in spring 2021. He forecasts a 35 to 45 percent drop in home sales over the next three months, and as much as a 50 percent drop in single-family building permits for the rest of the year.

Notably, he doesn’t expect home prices to fall by much, if at all. In the worst scenarios, he says home prices may fall between 1 and 2.5 percent in markets in the West Coast, Nevada, and Florida. This is consistent with what’s become the conventional wisdom around the housing market during the pandemic: home sales will drop dramatically during shelter-in-place orders, but prices will be largely unaffected.

Of course, predictions and forecasts made in the midst of the pandemic should be taken with a grain of salt because there are so many uncontrollable variables. It’s unknown how long the pandemic will last, whether there will be a second wave of it in the fall or winter, or how well federal and state officials will manage the crisis.

There is also the unresolved issue in the mortgage industry surrounding mortgage forbearance. Federal regulators have offered up to a year of mortgage forbearance for homeowners effected financially by the pandemic. While this provides relief for homeowners, it also stops money from flowing through the mortgage industry. If this problem is mismanaged and parts of the mortgage industry fail, it would certainly slow down the housing market recovery.

Source: Curbed (

Florida Real Estate News

All-white Sarasota home with lap pool asks $4M

Miami may be the capital of glitzy, over-the-top beach homes, but there’s another Florida locale stocked with eye-catching architecture: Sarasota. Located on the state’s southwestern coast, Sarasota is known for the Sarasota School of Architecture, a regional style of modern design that flourished in the post-war era.

While the Sarasota School populated the area with midcentury architecture designed by renowned modernists like Paul Rudolph and Victor Lundy, there are also plenty of newly built homes that work hard to fit into the prestigious landscape. Take this four-bedroom, four-and-a-half bath home in the Cherokee Park neighborhood.

Built in 2018, the home was designed by Guy Peterson, a prolific Sarasota architect known in Florida for designing sleek residences with enviable indoor-outdoor living, and his most famous home—the dramatically perforated Spencer House—was featured on The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes, the delightful BBC Two show that streams on Netflix.

Like the Spencer House, this 4,559-square-foot home is all white with long horizontal planes. Each room features expansive walls of glass and many have doors that lead out to a west-facing covered patio and kitchen. Polished concrete floors might be too austere on their own, but the design balances them with warm, custom wood cabinetry and thoughtful lighting.

Outside next to the pool you’ll find a guest house with two additional suites, and the backyard also comes with gardens, a bocce ball court, and a three-car garage. Love what you see? 1775 Cherokee Drive is on the market now for $4,000,000.

A foyer with a large photo of a skyline on the right, concrete floors, and a runner.

Polished concrete floors in the foyer are warmed up by wood accents.

A living room with a couch, four chairs, coffee table, and built-in wooden cabinets.

The living room has built-in cabinetry and access to the expansive patio via sliding doors.

An open-concept kitchen and dining room with a wooden table, eight chairs, and views out to the pool.

The open kitchen and dining area boasts wood cabinetry, soapstone countertops, and pool views.

A white bed sits on a large white and beige rug in a master bedroom.

The master bedroom showcases floating walls and recessed lighting.

A long lap pool at dusk has a white boxy guest house at one end of the pool.

Outside, a two-bedroom guest house sits next to the long lap pool.

Source: Curbed (

Florida Real Estate News

For $7.9M, pretty much your own private waterpark in Key Largo

Memorial Day weekend is usually the kickoff to pool season in the U.S., but amid the novel coronavirus pandemic it’s unclear whether many city pools will open this summer. Let’s cope with this disheartening reality by ogling a home with one of the most impressive pool setups we’ve ever seen.

Located in Key Largo, Florida, just south of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, this six-bedroom, seven-bath property just hit the market with 1.62 acres of resort-style amenities, including a striking white and blue lighthouse that towers over the pool area.

It’s true that the main home’s decor feels slightly out of place with a ranch-inspired theme, sliding barn doors, and chandeliers, while the guest cottages are done up in kitschy ocean accents. But let’s face it, you buy this property for the outdoor space.

A resort-style pool area with rocks, palm trees, and a suspension bridge that leads to a lighthouse.

The pool area features waterfalls, elaborate rock facades, and a suspension bridge that leads to a slide.

Tiki huts provide shade from the Florida sun, multiple outdoor kitchens (and an outdoor pizza oven!) give you a place to prep food, and several outdoor TVs and an outdoor speaker system keep you entertained. Recreation on the property includes a volleyball court, tennis court, and shuffleboard area, plus hammocks for lounging.

Still, we can’t take our eyes off that pool. The zero-entry pool looks more like a waterpark than a backyard fixture, with rock waterfalls, a suspension bridge that leads to a waterslide, and cabanas for changing and showering. All of this sits on 700 feet of ocean frontage, and the listing includes two boats, a boat slip, and boat lifts. Love what you see? 101 Oleander Circle is on the market now for $7.9M.

An aerial view looking out at a boat slip with palm trees and a pool.

The listing comes with 700 feet of oceanfront, two boats, and a boat lift to help with access.

A bright blue picnic table sits under a tiki hut next to a pool.

Next to the zero-entry pool you’ll find tiki huts with dining tables and games.

A dining room table with bright blue chairs, a chandelier, and views out to the pool.

The main house features more rustic interior elements like sliding wood doors.

A living room with animal rug, leather couch, and a TV.

The living room area of the main house still has a bright blue fan, but continues the ranch-inspired decor.

A yellow day bed with fish linens sits in a white and blue guest cottage with kitchenette.

The guest cottages are compact and set up to sleep visitors in beach-themed rooms; some have small kitchenettes.

Source: Curbed (

Florida Real Estate News

’70s Orlando House With a River in the Backyard Asks $865K

PRICE: $865,000
LOCATION: Orlando, Florida

Although just 13 miles northeast of downtown, 5743 Rocking Horse Road feels like a world of its own, nestled in four forested acres along the Little Econlockhatchee River. The area is a ten-minute drive to the University of Central Florida via a University Boulevard lined with eateries. It’s also a gateway to the wealth of natural wonders further north and east, including Lake Jesup (known to have a high concentration of alligators) and the Little Big Econ and Charles H. Bronson state forests. Of course, fishing and canoeing in the backyard river is always an option.

SPECS: 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2,490 square feet, 4 acres

Duane Stark, a local architect who led the expansion of the Orlando Public Library’s main branch downtown and worked on the Orlando International Airport, designed this house as his personal residence in 1973. The home seems to rise from the land, extending plenty of connections to the natural surroundings. The partially double-height living room comes with a fireplace, as well as a glass door leading out to a large deck and a bridge to a screened-in gazebo by the pool. Meanwhile, a soaring staircase spirals up to the master suite, which has its own fireplace and a door that opens out to an elevated walkway and deck.

Double height living room

Large windows frame the living-room fireplace.
John Unrue

Kitchen with wood cabinets and green walls.

The kitchen has access to the outside as well.
John Unrue

Glass dining table in dining room.

A formal dining room sits adjacent to the kitchen.
John Unrue

Spiral staircase next to large windows

A spiral staircase leads to the master suite.
John Unrue

Living area with carpet and two chairs.

The master-suite sitting area has a door that opens out to an elevated deck.
John Unrue

Deck filled with furniture.

An expansive first-floor deck provides plenty of outdoor entertaining space.
John Unrue

Small river with trees.

The Little Econ River winds through the property.
John Unrue

Source: Curbed (

Florida Real Estate News

A Foreclosure Crisis Could Still Happen

When the coronavirus pandemic hit in March, millions of Americans almost instantly lost their jobs, and millions more have since joined them. More than 32 million people are now receiving some form of unemployment benefit.

Sensing that the sudden collapse of the economy could put millions of homeowners on the street in the middle of a pandemic, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) implemented measures in March to ensure that doesn’t happen. Protections include a moratorium on foreclosures for anyone on a mortgage backed by the federal government and up to a year of forbearance for those suffering financial hardship. The economic fallout from the pandemic has been dramatic, but when it comes to homeowners, this hasn’t been 2008.

The protections have worked: June saw the fewest active foreclosures since 2000. But with the moratorium set to expire on August 31, mortgage-delinquency rates are jumping as the pandemic rages on, showing that any lapse in government policy could cause a minor housing crash.

Even after the foreclosure moratorium expires, homeowners on a government-backed loan will have a forbearance option to fall back on, so there’s no need to panic just yet. But digging into mortgage-delinquency data shows how much water is building behind the dam that is these government backstops.

In January, just 3.22 percent of mortgages were in delinquency. By May, that number shot up to 7.76 percent — about three points shy of where the delinquency rate peaked during the financial crisis of 2008, which was at 10.57 percent.

Prior to the the pandemic in March, the number of mortgages in forbearance was fewer than 100,000. Currently, there are roughly 4.5 million mortgages in forbearance, although this is obviously a reflection of homeowners having the option of forbearance, but it gives you a sense of the scope.

Not every homeowner in forbearance is past due on their payments; some went into forbearance as a precaution, or just because they could. Some homeowners were in forbearance and have since gotten out, either because there didn’t end up being a need or they got a new job. For June, 21 percent of mortgages in forbearance were current on their payments, but as the pandemic goes on, more will enter into serious delinquency that would normally trigger a foreclosure.

These are national numbers, and each city is its own housing market. A foreclosure crisis in Dallas wouldn’t necessarily impact the market in Seattle. Looking at delinquency by city shows that the biggest jumps in delinquency have occurred in places hit hardest by the pandemic, either by the virus itself or the economic fallout — cities in Florida, along with the Northeast, California, Texas, Las Vegas, and some cities in the Deep South.

Taken together, this data shows that if not for the FHFA’s actions, a serious foreclosure crisis would be under way. If at any point the protections are rescinded, that problem could still materialize. Given the erratic response to the virus from federal, state, and local governments — in addition to a potentially explosive national election — it’s hard to take any federal policy as a given over the next year.

Look no further than recent housing-market forecasts for proof. With the forbearance option available for up to a year, economists have baked into their models a wave of foreclosures in the spring of 2021, which they say would cause a very rare drop in U.S. home prices.

Source: Curbed (

Florida Real Estate News

Drop, Cover, and Hold On — Then Tweet

Early yesterday morning, NASA blasted a new Mars rover into space from Florida’s Cape Canaveral. The vehicle, named “Perseverance,” was designed and assembled at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) just outside Los Angeles, and 20 minutes before lift-off, as reporters interviewed engineer MiMi Aung, an earthquake hit.

“They panned over to JPL, and she said, ‘Sorry, we just had an earthquake here,’ and she sounded quite nervous,” says Celeste Labedz, a doctoral student of geophysics at the California Institute of Technology who was watching the NASA livestream while visiting family in Nebraska. “My first instinct was: Time for Twitter.”

In Los Angeles, Twitter is the first — and best — place to confirm that the shaking you felt was actually an earthquake. (Maybe it’s the fear that comes with living in earthquake country, but it’s surprisingly easy to confuse the rumble of a truck or the thud of construction equipment with the sudden slip of a fault miles below the Earth’s surface). Like a badge of pride, everyone who felt it, no matter the hour, will shout into Twitter: EARTHQUAKE!!! They’ll describe what the shaking felt like in their neighborhoods. They’ll try to make you laugh with quips about how unprepared they were or DJ Kahled memes. Journalists and scientists like Labedz will log on to report the epicenter and the magnitude, and they’ll all ask “Did you feel it?” They’ll also politely correct you when you’ve spread an earthquake myth.

“I love Earthquake Twitter,” says Mika McKinnon, a disaster researcher who studies science communications. “It means slowly but surely L.A. is building up community resiliency.”

Twitter is abuzz whenever there’s a natural disaster, but Earthquake Twitter is totally unique to California, McKinnon says. Unlike other states and countries —including Japan and Argentina, which are struck less often but with more ferocity — California gets thousands of low-magnitude earthquakes every year. Lucy Jones, queen of Earthquake Twitter, referred to yesterday’s quake as the “garden variety” type. Still, the experience is scary every single time. But because these small quakes don’t inflict damage, we can banter and commiserate — and yesterday, we could show off.

“There was an earthquake during an interplanetary rocket launch, so the entire East Coast was watching, and we got to be all dramatic about it,” says McKinnon. “And we’re on this beat where we’re finding the news pattern gets worse, and then it gets worse, and it gets worse … The earthquake sounded bad, but in reality, it was a magnitude of four.”

For a fleeting moment, the entire city experienced the same exact thing at the same exact time. Earthquakes are one of the most communal experiences one can have in Los Angeles. Yesterday’s hit the northern San Fernando Valley — some 22 miles from Downtown Los Angeles — but the shaking was felt all the way out in the desert. At a time when we feel particularly isolated from one another, Earthquake Twitter is oddly comforting.

After my bedroom in West Hollywood stopped rocking, and the trinkets that had bounced on the nightstand settled, and our nervous Pit Bull returned to her bed, I removed the pillow I had placed over my head and grabbed my phone — not to check on my parents, shamefully, but to join in on what has now become a post-earthquake ritual. For the next 30 minutes, my Twitter feed was rapidly flooded with one earthquake tweet after another, and I couldn’t get enough.

There was the very affirming tweet: “Earthquake in LA!” The tweet with bravado: “IT’S NOT EVEN A 5.0 … CALM TF DOWN, PEOPLE.” The this-is-how-it-felt-where-I-live tweet: “That was quite an early morning shake. Short but jolting in Hollywood. For a second, it felt like an elephant was running across my roof.” The dramatic tweet: So far today: Earthquake in SoCal, POTUS floats election delay, Herman Cain dies. Not yet 8:00 am.” The very-L.A. tweet: “Just committed to moving to the Valley. Was that earthquake the welcome wagon?” And, of course, the celebrity tweet: “twitter is at it’s finest right after an earthquake.”

After months of feeling alone, I felt less alone. And after months of missing out on all of the summer experiences that make me feel connected to Los Angeles — the Top Deck at Dodger Stadium, movies at Cinespia, and too-packed beaches — in a dark, convoluted way, I suddenly felt tethered to the city again. And then I fell back asleep.

Source: Curbed (

Florida Real Estate News

Expect More Piles of Garbage — Proverbial and Otherwise — as NYC’s Budget Crisis Unfolds

To the delight of the city’s rat population (and the dismay of the rest of us), garbage was not getting picked up as quickly as usual this summer. Facing a sudden budget shortfall resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council cut $106 million from the Department of Sanitation’s budget in June, leading to reduced trash collection. The mayor has since walked back some of the cuts under pressure from business executives. But the piles of garbage — literal and proverbial — may only grow bigger. This may be the beginning of a prolonged budget crisis for the city.

New York is facing an estimated $13.5 billion revenue loss through 2022. Typically, it takes three or four years for a recession to impact the city’s tax revenue. But because the pandemic closed businesses and confined people to their apartments (or drove them out of town) almost overnight, there was an immediate impact on the city’s tax collection. “This [crisis] came fast and furious,” said Maria Doulis, vice-president of the Citizens Budget Commission. “It was unprecedented to suffer a steep decline in current-year revenue in the middle of the fiscal year. Now it’s very serious.”

Beginning in mid-March, sales and income-tax revenue fell precipitously, requiring the state to make immediate adjustments to the budget. At the end of June, the City Council and the mayor agreed to a budget for 2021 that included a variety of cuts and shifts that would save the city $1 billion. But there are no easy answers for what comes next. Making matters worse: de Blasio and Cuomo don’t get along, the NYPD’s political grip on City Hall remains firm, and it is possible that Donald Trump might be reelected.

The wealthy leaving the city

The New York Times estimates that roughly 5 percent of New York City residents left town this spring and summer. This is evident in Manhattan’s housing market, where vacancies are rising, rents are falling, and sales prices are (finally) in decline. Seeing their work dry up, some moved to places where rent is cheaper to wait out the crisis. Many of the most affluent spent lockdown in second homes which now — after more than six months —could technically be considered their primary residences. The “flight to the suburbs” narrative is a bit overblown, but it’s still happening some in New York City. The longer it takes for these people to return (or be replaced by other high-earning professionals), the more damage the city’s budget will endure — damage that could lead to drastic cuts to services like trash pickup and the subway system. Those cuts, in turn, could incentivize more New Yorkers to leave the city (either temporarily or permanently), creating yet more holes in the budget — a vicious cycle.

Rich people may be part of the reason the city is unaffordable, but they also pay a lot in taxes and tend to spend more when they eat out, shop for clothing, hire personal trainers, buy art, remodel their homes, or go to the opera. In the worst-case scenario, this cycle spirals out of control, ushering in a new depression rivaling the mid-1970s crisis that almost led New York City to bankruptcy.

Where those well-off people reside — and where they end up paying taxes — will have an outsize effect on city (and state) budgets. Personal income taxes made up 13.8 percent of all revenue for the city in 2016, and workers earning more than $500,000 paid 47.7 percent of the city’s personal-income tax. On the state level, personal-income taxes made up 30.7 percent of revenue in 2016, and workers earning more than $500,000 paid 46.2 percent of New York State’s personal-income tax. If the city and state can no longer collect taxes from the wealthiest residents — many of whom have decamped to homes in Connecticut and Florida — their budgets will have to compromise dramatically. Sales-tax revenues would presumably fall as well, and property-tax revenues might fall, too, should the loss of population cause home valuations to drop across the board.

New York City has been steadily losing population for a few years now — in part because it has become unaffordable. And recent legislation aimed at taxing the wealthy — like the 2019 “mansion tax” and the new cap on state and local tax deductions implemented by the Republican tax law in 2017 — may offer further incentive for wealthy New Yorkers to relocate.

Cuomo versus de Blasio

The mayor and the governor are both Democrats, but they are hardly chummy. The two openly feuded over MTA funding in 2017 and even wrestled over who had the authority to shut down the city when the pandemic hit in March. Their relationship — or lack thereof — could have huge consequences in the coming budget crisis.

While the State Legislature has given the Metropolitan Transit Authority and Cuomo the authority to borrow money to cover short-term operating expenses during the pandemic, it has so far balked at the idea of giving that authority to de Blasio — despite his repeated pleas to borrow $15 billion. Cuomo has lectured the city on the ills of borrowing to cover operating expenses, but the city has had borrowing authority since the 1970s and hasn’t yet fallen into fiscal oblivion. It took out $2 billion in loans, for instance, in the aftermath of 9/11.

Trump to City: Drop Dead

Might the city get a bailout from the feds? The city benefited from a federal-aid package earlier in the pandemic, receiving $1.9 billion. But Congressional efforts to pass another aid package have stalled.

More concerning is President Donald Trump’s hostility toward his home city, which he abandoned early in his presidential term for Florida. Trump, in his reelection campaign, has declared that he is the only man who can save the suburbs from the carnage in the “Democrat cities.” Carnage that is, to a large extent, nonexistent. His Department of Justice labeled New York City an “anarchist jurisdiction” this month. But walking the streets of Manhattan, where many New Yorkers are happily sipping $25 cocktails at outdoor streeteries, one might wonder where — exactly — the “anarchy” is.

Can we tax our way out of this?

New Jersey recently raised taxes on millionaires, and a group of lawmakers is pushing New York State to do the same.

But raising taxes on millionaires at this particular moment in time could backfire, given that the budget crisis has been largely triggered by … millionaires leaving the city to avoid paying taxes here. The fear is that rich people have the resources to pick up and move, and you don’t want to drive even more of them to Palm Beach for good. There are other options as well. For instance, taxing marijuana — but we’d have to legalize it first, and it wouldn’t be a silver arrow for the city’s budget problems even if it was legalized.

Or stick it to the labor unions?

If the city can’t find the money, it will have to resort to more cuts. The revised 2021 budget — announced in June — doesn’t actually contain all that many, according to Doulis, and the plan calls for that $1 billion to be found in unspecified labor savings. A failure to find those savings could result in as many as 22,000 layoffs, according to de Blasio. The Citizens Budget Commission notes that more than 95 percent of municipal employees don’t pay anything toward their health-insurance premiums, and a modest contribution would result in $531 million in savings. The unions would no doubt have something to say about that.

The revised budget also cut $474 million from the NYPD budget. Most of that comes from specifying a one-time reduction in overtime expenses that won’t recur; overtime spending for the NYPD has ballooned in recent years, from about $600 million in 2014 to $820 million in 2020. Amid a wave of protests across the country sparked by George Floyd’s murder in May, activists have been calling for cuts to NYPD’s budget. But it’s a politically thorny path to take for de Blasio, particularly given his fraught relationship with the cops.

In fact, almost every path forward for the city is thorny. And external factors beyond the mayor’s control will ultimately determine how the budget crisis pans out. Chief among these factors is, of course, how the pandemic unfolds. If the city is forced into another lockdown, it’s not hard to see how the situation could spiral out of control.

In other words, be prepared to deal with more garbage.

Source: Curbed (

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    About Florida Active Agent

    Our Broker is originally from the UK and has 14 Years experience in national and international real estate sales and marketing. He is a Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist and has the CRE designation here in Florida. Having worked in many overseas countries he has a unique perspective

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