Archive for December, 2010

Friday Fountain Photo

posted on December 24th, 2010 filed under: Fountains

Photo of fountain and Christmas tree at Village of Merrick Park, Coral Gables.

Coral Gables Real Estate Photos -- Fountain at Merrick Park (11) -- Christmas Tree

Merry Christmas.

posted by // Comments Off on Friday Fountain Photo

Real Estate Prices in U.S.: Great Recession v. Great Depression

posted on December 19th, 2010 filed under: Financial Responsibility, Real Estate Market Data

This is awe-inspiring.  Based on data compiled by Professor Robert Shiller of Yale University, this real estate decline has been just as deep as the one before and during the Great Depression.  But the current real estate decline has been far more rapid, accomplishing the same 30% price decline in three years that played out over eight years during the Great Depression.

Shiller U.S. Home Price Index Comparison -- Great Depression -v- Great Recession

Source:  Prof. Robert Shiller, Yale University

No wonder the U.S. banking system was insolvent.  And no wonder the Federal Reserve has taken such extreme measures.

By the way, while I was warning how severe this decline could be, I had to listen to real estate brokers and salespeople here in Miami and Coral Gables claim that I had it wrong.  One prominent broker repeatedly accused Professor Shiller, who was also very bearish, of being not only wrong but dishonest, because Shiller has an interest in a firm that makes a market in options that track real-estate prices.  It was a disgusting display of ignorance and intolerance.  Wonder how many customers that broker’s firm ushered into personal financial hell.

Be careful whose counsel you keep.

posted by // Comments Off on Real Estate Prices in U.S.: Great Recession v. Great Depression

Friday Fountain Photo

posted on December 11th, 2010 filed under: Fountains

Fountain at the newly re-opened Coral Gables Country Club:

Coral Gables Real Estate Photos -- Fountain at Coral Gables Country Club

posted by // Comments Off on Friday Fountain Photo

Coral Gables Country Club Opens for Event Business

posted on December 11th, 2010 filed under: Miami and Coral Gables Living

The Coral Gables Country Club at 997 Alhambra Circle has re-opened for event bookings.  The facility’s new cafe opened about six months ago, and the pool and gym re-opened soon after.

Coral Gables Real Estate Photos -- Coral Gables Country Club Exterior (1)

The facility, owned by the City of Coral Gables, was substantially renovated about ten years ago using the proceeds of hundreds of “lifetime” (really more like 20-year) memberships.  Those lifetime members each lost their $10,000 to $15,000 when the club closed after the relationship between the old manager and the city soured.

Coral Gables Real Estate Photos -- Coral Gables Country Club Exterior (2)

The new club’s business model appears to be very different.  As presented to the city, the operation was to resemble the old club, with a restaurant, a gym, a pool and event spaces.  The main difference was supposed to be that the restaurant would be open to the public (it was only for members before).  As it turns out, there is no restaurant.  Only the small cafe is truly public.  (The gym and pool still require memberships.)

The look and feel of the interior has been changed from traditional to modern.  It’s a rather shocking design, considering that the City of Coral Gables is renowned for its strict regulation of renovations to properties with historic architecture.  Owners of historic homes in Coral Gables face tough scrutiny when they want to make alterations.

Coral Gables Real Estate Photos -- Coral Gables Country Club Interior (2)

The Coral Gables Country Club is one of the city’s oldest and most historically significant buildings.  It served as a sales center for city founder George Merrick when he was touting the promise of paradise.  The idea that Coral Gables would allow this to be done to its own property is bizarre.

Coral Gables Real Estate Photos -- Coral Gables Country Club Interior (1)

Nothing like a faux-wood stripe in black marble to signify elegance, eh?

The interior design is only superficial, of course, and can be restored to something more appropriate someday.  In the meantime, design students have somewhere to go to study what “hideous” and “inappropriate” mean.

Opulence.  I has it.

Coral Gables Real Estate Photos -- Coral Gables Country Club Interior (4)

posted by // 2 Comments »

Pending Home Sales Rose Smartly in October

posted on December 2nd, 2010 filed under: Real Estate Market Data

The Pending Home Sales Index maintained by the National Association of Realtors posted a decent gain for October 2010.  This continues a steady trend of improvement since the predictable collapse of sales immediately after the $8,000 government handout program expired.

Pending Home Sales Index (NAR) -- Chart, Graph -- Nov. 2010

Sales should do fine as long as rates remain low and in the absence of significant further job losses.

But remember, sales and prices are two different things.  And local market dislocations can produce countertrend results.  In particular, sales of luxury homes in Miami and Coral Gables remain AWOL, creating significant risk of further price declines.

posted by // Comments Off on Pending Home Sales Rose Smartly in October