Future convention center in Cape Coral

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If it is up to a small group of citizens, a convention center in Cape Coral could become a reality in the not so distant future.

I read an article online the other day and it was said that Councilman Chris Chulakes-Leetz spoke of working with a group of citizens to present a proposal to construct a convention center in Cape Coral. Last week the group unveiled its plan to a group of citizens and business leaders at City Hall.

The brainchild of Cape Coral resident, Martin Brady, the group announced the idea of the Cape Coral housing a 16,000 to 18,000 convention center and entertainment complex in the city, “Anything you can do outdoors and anything that can be done outdoors can be done at the complex we are imagining,” said Chulakes-Leetz.

The group says the area of land in North Cape Coral known as Academic Village would be the perfect spot for such a venue. Academic Village is located on 170 acres of city owned property at the corner of Del Prado Boulevard and Kismet Parkway. The area was in the spotlight in 2010 as the proposed location for the failed Swim Center.

Brady, a retired firefighter from Philadelphia, moved to Cape Coral in 2005 and began working for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. During this time he realized the city was missing something in his opinion, “As I drove around I realized this city has a lot of parks. Everything here was planned around children and young adults. There was nothing for adults.”

It wasn’t until Brady and a few friends attended a boat show at the Harborside Convention Center in Fort Myers that he realized what Cape Coral truly needed, “We went to the boat show and had to park a mile and a half away from the venue and had to be shuttled in, making numerous stops on the way. Another thing I noticed was they basically closed all the streets in downtown Fort Myers for the show and upsetting many local business owners doing so. I thought North Cape Coral has a vast amount of land and would be a perfect location to host these types of events and conventions.”

During this same time, the city began discussions with a private company regarding the idea of building a Swim Center in North Cape Coral. Brady said he decided to wait and see what happened with the swim center before moving ahead with presenting his idea of a convention center. Once the swim center was defeated, Brady began putting together his plan for the convention center.

Brady says he has spent the last 1.5 years working on the plan and feels the convention center would be a major economic boom to the city, “Do you know how many industries and companies have events and conventions throughout the year? The American Medical Association, the Boy Scouts, big trucking companies, any type of industry that is out there, anybody that sells anything, where do they go? They go to conventions.”

Brady also stated that when people attend conventions, it is not just the conventions they attend, but many of the surrounding businesses as well. Brady says because of this it would cause the need for such businesses as hotels, restaurants and other service oriented businesses.

Something Cape Coral resident Mike Kumbier, who has worked the last 27 years in the RV industry as a manufacturer’s representative completely agrees with, “A convention center like this would add a lot to the Cape. It would bring industry back into the Cape and put people to work. Really, that is what we need to see happen.”

According to a recent study conducted by the Convention Industry Council, the meetings industry was responsible for $263 billion in spending in 2009. The study also related 1.7 million jobs in the United States to the meetings industry.

Brady along with Chulakes-Leetz says the center will not only house conventions and other events, but it could also serve as an emergency evacuation center during times of disaster. Brady says school gyms are not made for housing people after a storm and the convention center could store ready to eat meals, have a 3,000 gallon water tanker available, air conditioning, first aid, cots, and everything else needed for creating a well equipped evacuation center. Brady also says by creating the evacuation center grants from state and federal government agencies could help offset the cost of construction on the convention center.

The city currently owns the land the proposed convention center would be built. Chulakes-Leetz says in order to finance the construction of the center it would have to be financed by bonds and hopefully federal and state funding, “This would be the citizens investing in their own city.”

Chulakes-Leetz said the city would retain ownership of both the center and the land and would outsource the running of the center to private companies. The revenue generated from events, souvenir and food sales would go back to paying the bonds off and once those are paid money generated from the center would become a revenue stream for the city.

In order to make the convention center a reality, Chulakes-Leetz says it would have to be something the citizens of Cape Coral actually want. Chulakes-Leetz said he would like to see a referendum on the initiative before 2013. The councilman says he has been in touch with the Lee County Elections office and said it would be possible to do a mail referendum to get a vote on the initiative.

Those in attendance seemed cautiously optimistic about the reality of Cape Coral getting its own convention center, “I think it is a great start. I would love to see something like a convention center come to the city of Cape Coral. Who wouldn’t? There is a long road to go, though,” said Cape Coral Construction Industry Association Executive Director Heather Mazurkiewicz.

Brady says the next steps will be to put together the framework and further define the overall vision of the project, “This is the shot in the arm this city needs. This will make Cape Coral a destination for thousands each year.”

The group says it plans to meet again at the end of October and the meeting will be open to the general public.

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Comments (0) Aug 30 2011

Fraud with a Smartphone

Posted: under Realtor® Tools.

The Florida Land Title Association recently reported an incident to its members where a title agent fell victim to a fraud scheme involving a Smartphone and a new app that allows a check to be deposited by using the Smartphone’s camera to take a picture of the front and back of the check.

A couple was issued a check for closing proceeds. They then left the agent’s office but returned several hours later and asked the agent to wire the proceeds instead. The agent took the check back, voided it (rather than stopping payment on it) and wired the proceeds to the couple’s account. The agent did not realize that the couple had already deposited the check using a Smartphone, causing a shortage in the trust account. 

More and more banks, and even online payment sites like PayPal, offer downloadable applications for Smartphones that use the phone’s camera feature to take a picture of the front and back of a check and deposit it into the payee’s account. The real danger in this technology is there are no markings on the check indicating whether it has been processed because the image is only scanned and not run through a machine as it would have been had it been deposited at an ATM or with a bank teller.

The key to preventing such a scam is to protect your checks as if they were cash while they are in your office and also to refuse to exchange them for other forms of payment after they have left your office. Also, keep signed checks within your sight during the closing. Leaving signed checks on the closing table while you leave for a moment may allow a party to take a picture of the front and back of the check with a Smartphone and deposit it. Upon returning to the room, you might then be asked to wire the proceeds instead. This scam may not be caught until it is too late because the check will have been deposited without being removed from the closing room.

Please check with your title underwriter or the Florida Land Title Association for more information about fraud prevention related to closing transactions.

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Comments (0) Aug 27 2011

Cape Coral low ball offers

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Low-ball offers from Cape Coral homebuyers seems to be the norm these days. But as economic and stock market woes continue, some buyers are using it as an opportunity to submit even lower offers.

“Buyers are going to use every point of leverage they can to get a lower price,” Glenn Kelman, chief executive of Redfin Corp., told The Wall Street Journal.

For example, homebuyer Anne Gordons says she reduced bids on two homes he submitted in Cape Coral, Fl., because of the stock markets plunge. She and her husband had originally offered $460,000 for a home listed at $525,000, and this week submitted a new offer of $425,000.

“Unless we get a steal, we’re not going to buy any house,” Gordons says.

Analysts say that the Federal Reserve’s vow to keep short-term interest rates near zero until 2013 has reduced the urgency of buyers. It gives buyers “comfort that they are not missing out on low interest rates if they wait,” says John Burns, a home-building consultant in Irvine, Calif. “That has tilted even more power toward homebuyers.”

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Comments (0) Aug 23 2011

IRS Taxes tips for home sellers

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Here are ten tips from the IRS to keep in mind when selling your Cape Coral home.

  1. In general, you are eligible to exclude the gain from income if you have owned and used your home as your main home for two years out of the five years prior to the date of its sale.
  2. If you have a gain from the sale of your main home, you may be able to exclude up to $250,000 of the gain from your income ($500,000 on a joint return in most cases).
  3. You are not eligible for the exclusion if you excluded the gain from the sale of another home during the two-year period prior to the sale of your home.
  4. If you can exclude all of the gain, you do not need to report the sale on your tax return.
  5. If you have a gain that cannot be excluded, it is taxable. You must report it on Form 1040, Schedule D, Capital Gains and Losses.
  6. You cannot deduct a loss from the sale of your main home.
  7. Worksheets are included in Publication 523, Selling Your Home, to help you figure the adjusted basis of the home you sold, the gain (or loss) on the sale, and the gain that you can exclude.
  8. If you have more than one home, you can exclude a gain only from the sale of your main home. You must pay tax on the gain from selling any other home. If you have two homes and live in both of them, your main home is ordinarily the one you live in most of the time.
  9. If you received the first-time homebuyer credit and within 36 months of the date of purchase, the property is no longer used as your principal residence, you are required to repay the credit. Repayment of the full credit is due with the income tax return for the year the home ceased to be your principal residence, using Form 5405, First-Time Homebuyer Credit and Repayment of the Credit. The full amount of the credit is reflected as additional tax on that year’s tax return.
  10. When you move, be sure to update your address with the IRS and the U.S. Postal Service to ensure you receive refunds or correspondence from the IRS. Use Form 8822, Change of Address, to notify the IRS of your address change.

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Comments (0) Aug 23 2011

5 reasons why you home doesn’t sell

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If there has been no action on your residence which is for sale, chances are it is as a result of 1 or all of the factors we have listed below. If the Realtor you might have hired has not gone more than these guidelines, possibly it is time to reevaluate why your house is just not selling.

Overpriced!

This really is the most common reason for a home not selling. Unrealistic property owner objectives can cause this even with the best of Agents guidance. A Seller that will not listen to their Agent, are losing both their times if your residence is valued greater than the competition. The 1 thing you Do not need to do is overprice your residence!

The Condition

When there are numerous houses within the marketplace for sale, buyers will keep searching until they discover that ideal move-in prepared property. If your house will be the identical cost as the competition, but they’ve new kitchen/baths/carpet or hardwood floors, they will get the action. If your price may be the very same, but the competition has much more bedrooms, a lot more baths, or perhaps a finished basement, you might be giving the buyers the benefit of seeing yours and then acquiring the 1 that they are going to get more for the same money. You want to make the biggest impact on any buyer viewing your house.

Showing Times

When you have limited times when a home buyer can view your property, you are performing a dis-service to your self, the buyer and the Real estate professional who desires to obtain your house sold. We know it can be tough to show at a moments notice, but you never ever know when the proper buyer will appear. Should you can’t show it as a result of work schedules, you could wish to supply your Realtor using a important to ensure that no appointment will probably be missed. Other Agents will have a tendency to show houses when you can find not too many restrictions and they know they are able to acquire access to easy.

Net, Net, Net

That is appropriate, if your Realtor will not market your property on the net, you could not be obtaining the very best marketing and advertising value. Though all listings should be on your local MLS, your Realtor need to also have their very own web sites and other ways to promote your property online. This really is the top form of advertising your house for sale.

Location Is Nonetheless Key

It is still accurate, as far as Real Estate is concerned ~ the top locations, best schools, and curb appeal with the neighborhood is still crucial. Even so, not each and every property could be Mid-Block location, or handy to all things, and have the very best of almost everything. It is possible to make your home stand out from the crowd by enhancing your own curb appeal, generating improvements towards the interior and by pricing it lower then the rivals. We recently had a listing exactly where the backyard faced a large commercial developing. By pricing it correct and producing some small interior upgrades, ours sold as well as the 1 across the street is nonetheless in the marketplace. Make your house outshine the other people.

Also, believe about Staging your residence. Your home will stand out among the competition as a stager will showcase your home to its best advantage and this can re-force the buyers decision that your home may be the proper option.

Bear in mind, the longer an over-priced house remains on the market, the lower it’s final selling cost will probably be. Step into the buyers shoes and you will see that you wouldn’t wish to invest a lot more cash on a comparable property and you can’t anticipate others to be any diverse.

Most essential ~ listen closely to your Real estate professional. They sell homes everyday and have the experience to lead you inside the right direction for a closed sale!

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Comments (0) Aug 22 2011

To be or not to be…a landlord? That’s the question.

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I read an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday about the renting market versus the owning market. While the scene is in California, this can be very similar here in SW Florida and especially in Cape Coral and Lehigh Acres.

Agustin Gutierrez, a construction worker from this town in the hills northeast of San Francisco Bay, lost his job in 2009, then, 10 months later, he lost ownership of his home.

Now, the husband and father of 4 rents the identical five-bedroom ranch from McKinley Capital Partners, an investment company that is at the forefront of a brand new breed of big-money landlords.
McKinley, which has acquired more than 300 foreclosed single-family houses in the Bay Area over the past two years, lately teamed up with Och-Ziff Capital Management Group LLC, a new York hedge fund, with plans to buy at least 500 more foreclosed houses in the subsequent year. Those homes, too, will probably be rented to people like the Gutierrez loved ones.

Acquiring foreclosed homes as investment properties has long been dominated by mom-and-pop investors. But now hedge funds, private-equity firms, pension funds and university endowments are dipping into that market place. The attraction is double-digit returns at a time when most bonds along with other income investments yield extremely small.

Essentially the most well-liked strategy is for a large investor to team up with a neighborhood organization that scouts out houses and finds the renters. The hope would be to flip the homes within the future when prices recover.

“It’s kind of the Wall Street meets Principal Street phenomenon,” says John Burns, an Irvine, Calif.-based real-estate consultant who has discussed investing in single-family rentals with hedge funds. “The Major Street guys need to have the capital, and Wall Street requirements the expertise.”

At the finish of May possibly, 3.five million loans had been at least 90 days delinquent or in foreclosure, based on investment bank Barclays Capital. In the very same time, the country’s house ownership rate has fallen, to 65.9% inside the second quarter of 2011 from its peak of 69.2% in 2004, based on figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau final month. That drop has produced millions of new renters and helped push the vacancy rate for rental housing down by about two percentage points, to 9.2%.

“The single-family rental market is truly very large,” said Dennis McGill, director of investigation at Zelman & Associates, a study firm that follows the housing market place. “The average American says, ‘If I’ve got two kids and a dog, I can’t live in a one-bedroom apartment.’”

Zelman lately issued a report saying that in Arizona, Florida and Nevada, states hard-hit by the foreclosure crisis, the number of families renting a single-family house increased 48% from 2005 to 2010.

Huge institutional investors could eventually help stabilize the marketplace by soaking up the huge overhang of foreclosures, which could allow housing to begin healing. However, the number of single-family houses being bought by institutional investors is still small compared to the millions of distressed properties. The biggest players in the industry are deploying hundreds of millions of dollars, not the billions necessary to make a major dent.

The federal government has a significant role as well. The Obama administration is currently considering ways of selling foreclosed houses to investors who agree to rent them out. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration own a lot more than half of all unsold foreclosed houses.

Being a landlord can be a costly hassle for significant investors. Unlike apartment complexes, which concentrate hundreds of rental units in one place, investors must obtain hundreds of single-family houses that are miles apart, each with separate maintenance problems. Tenants can be troublesome.

“You could have a bad tenant who doesn’t want to pay their rent, or maintain the pool,” says Guy Johnson, an investor who buys foreclosed properties in Nevada, Arizona and California and rents some of them out. “A hedge fund manager doesn’t want to have to be their own plumber or electrician.”

Purchasing foreclosed properties isn’t easy either. Investors sometimes have to pay thousands of dollars in “cash for keys” payments to the previous homeowners in order to entice them to leave the property, and foreclosed homeowners often damage their houses before they are evicted.

Private-equity giant Carlyle Group LLC tried its luck with the single-family property market two years ago but abandoned the strategy late last year after concluding that the returns weren’t big enough. Carlyle’s method was different. The organization formed partnerships with nearby asset managers in California that bought and flipped houses, rather than renting them.

For now, a lot more investors are plunging into the single-family rental marketplace. McKinley, the Oakland, Calif., business that owns Mr. Gutierrez’s house, has already begun to use Och-Ziff income to purchase houses. Its model would be to acquire houses at an average price of about $100,000 apiece, put between $10,000 and $25,000 in renovations into them, and set the rental rate of the house so that it produces a return of 8% to 12% annually. This often works out to a rent of roughly $1,200 per month.

McKinley and Och-Ziff could see additional returns from selling the houses at a higher price after a few years, once the market place has improved. “Two years ago no one thought you could scale this business or that it could be institutionalized,” stated Gregor Watson, a principal with McKinley. “Now, you can get extremely good yields. It’s a quite good long-term strategy.” He declined to comment on the Och-Ziff investment. Och-Ziff also declined to comment.

Other significant investors have formed rental-housing partnerships.

G8 Capital, a private-equity fund based in Ladera Ranch, Calif., has bought 3,000 houses across the country since 2008, mostly to flip them. It decided last year to begin pursuing a hold-and-rent technique. It has since bought 250 foreclosed houses as rentals. Carrington Property Services LLC, a Santa Ana, Calif.-based property investment business that manages about 4,500 houses nationally, is in talks with investors to raise funds for a real-estate investment trust, to be called Residential National Trust, which would acquire foreclosed houses for rental. The company plans to purchase as many as five,000 far more rental homes in markets including Chicago, Miami, Phoenix and Las Vegas.

Waypoint Genuine Estate Group, an Oakland, Calif.-based firm, has bought 700 houses within the past two years as rental properties. Doug Brien, a former place kicker for the New York Jets who is now managing director of Waypoint, says that his company has approached pension funds, university endowments and big private investment groups about investing in his fund. In July, he says he closed on a financing deal from an Ivy League university endowment, but declined to name the university.

“At some point, there is going to be a shortage of housing,” Mr. Brien mentioned. “Everyone is realizing that single-family buy-and-hold is the way to go.”

In November, hedge fund manager William Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management LP released a report arguing that single-family rental properties are an “under-owned asset class” that would make “an intelligent investment for institutional investors.” Pershing Square predicted that investing in single-family houses and holding them as rentals for 10 years could produce double-digit investment returns, even if U.S. residence costs only improved marginally.

All the activity is fueling a renewed debate over whether investors are good or bad for the housing industry. In the early days of the housing bust, some community groups discouraged banks from selling foreclosed houses to investors for fear they wouldn’t take proper care of the properties. Some communities riddled with foreclosed houses became slums.

Alan Mallach, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution in Washington, argues that instead of running from investors, local governments should provide subsidies to investors who buy, rent out and are good landlords for foreclosed properties. “If a neighborhood has a high rate of residence ownership, that’s obviously better,” he stated. “But in some markets, there was so much inventory coming on the market place that the sheer number of properties was destabilizing those markets.”

Mr. Gutierrez, the Vallejo construction worker, now pays $1,800 a month in rent, compared to the $2,500 per month he was paying to cover the cost of his mortgage when he owned the house. He says it bothers him that he no longer owns his property, but is happy to pay less and says his new landlords are good property managers.

He bought the house in 2003 for $340,000 using a $322,700 loan. He refinanced the house 5 times, driving up the total amount of debt on the house to $400,000. He lost the house to foreclosure in 2009. McKinley paid about $155,000 for the house that year.

“It’s confusing, because sometimes I think it’s my house, but I have to remind myself that it’s not,” mentioned Mr. Gutierrez, who says he doesn’t plan to try to repurchase the house. “It’s sad, but it’s what happened to a lot of men and women.”

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Comments (0) Aug 06 2011

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