Thursday, November 29, 2007

Good & Not So Good Real Estate News

Palm Island home sold for $16,400,000

There is good news and bad news in real estate today. Here is the good news; on Miami Beach, there are 2 adjacent islands, namely Palm Island, and Hibiscus Island. Recently 2 ultra-luxury homes on those islands sold for $16,400,000 and $9,000,000 respectively. That is great news, because it demonstrates that people are still willing to spend big bucks for Miami luxury homes, regardless of all of the news reports about the dismal real estate market. Now for the not so good news. A report on CNN stated that foreclosures nationwide were up again in October ( 2% from September), and were up an amazing 94% in October as compared to October of 2006. Last month 50,000 (people/families) were forced out of their homes due to foreclosures. I guess all of this goes right along with the adage, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Today's Real Estate Report

Home prices are falling all over the country. According to the NAR, prices continued to fall during the 3rd quarter of this year, accompanied by declining sales. The biggest declines in home sales are in those areas where the most significant speculative investment took place, including Florida, Arizona, and Nevada. Hardest hit is the Melbourne and Palm Bay area, where the steepest decline in prices was recorded. Median home prices fell in this part of Florida 12.4%. Sacramento California comes in 2nd, with median home prices plunging 10.4%. In stark contrast is the Northeastern part of the United states, where the median home price rose 3.2% during the quarter ending September 30.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Will be back after a short break!

I am heads (and hands and feet) down with the prep for my sister's wedding, hence the absence from posting new delicious stuff...
I will be back next week once the wedding is all done...though, folks who know me by now, also know that I just might peep in and poke in a bit with a quick post during my break!

In the meantime, why not view some whites with a dash of color?

And, also visit this link for an addictive game designed to help end world hunger!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Miami Beach Real Estate - North Bay Road

For a cool $18,900,000, anyone can buy this gorgeous home on Miami Beach.
North Bay Road has some of the most luxurious estates in Miami and all of Florida.
Many celebrities, including the Bee Gees, Jennifer Lopez, and Hulk Hogan have owned homes on North Bay Road. For anyone interested in in this home, call 786-344-8776 for more information.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

15% Recent Home Buyers Have Negative Equity

This is the fourth consecutive quarter that home values have declined nationwide, 5.7% year-over-year, according to a third quarter 2007 home value report released by Zillow earlier this week. That is the largest year-over-year decline in more than a decade. In addition, as of the end of the third quarter, 15.6% of homeowners nationwide who purchased a property in the past 12 months, and 17.5% of buyers who bought two years ago have present home values that are less than the original mortgage amount. In contrast, 1.8% of those who purchased a home five years ago have seen their equity slide into the negative.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I came across this photographer's work on Flickr, and kept coming back to his intense images of his beautiful country - Iran. A country rich in art, architecture, poetry, calligraphy and handicrafts, among other things. And, Abbas has captured all this seamlessly in his photographs...

Imagine such rich colors and craft in your home! You can view more of Abbas's work here to get design inspiration from the Middle East.

Signs Of What's To Come?

Realtors, sellers, and just about everyone else, wish that this real estate crisis had never happened, but it did, and more reports came out today. Last month, applications for building permits dropped to a 14 year low. Furthermore, construction of single family homes shrunk to its lowest level since 1991. That's 16 years. That's not all though. Freddie Mac reported a 2 billion dollar loss amid a worsening real estate mortgage crises, partially created by unscrupulous and greedy lenders looking to make a quick buck. It all sounds so bad, but then again the darkest hour comes right before dawn, and it does seem that people are still spending dollars in Miami. Miami Beach's Lincoln Road Mall was packed with out of towners this past week, and more people are coming for the warm weather and sunny climate. Will that translate into more real estate sales this winter? We shall soon see.

Friday, November 16, 2007

International Spending on the Increase

According to a report on CNBC, international spending is expected to increase in the USA, by 12% in the coming year, due to the shrinking dollar. Europeans are coming here in droves just to shop, because everything is so cheap. One euro buys $1.50, so it's bargain basement time for the Europeans visiting the USA this holiday season, and in the coming year. This is going to hopefully also boost home sales, especially in the Miami area, because Europeans love to come to Miami for vacation, and they are famous for buying up homes and condos during the tourist season. For sellers of real estate, this may well be a good time to bring asking prices down, and in line with present market conditions.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

An ode to color

As we feel the nip in the air (and in some parts of the world, the nip must be quite nippy by now!), we are drawn towards warm colors. Possibly that's one of the reasons why I was so enchanted by Nikhilesh Haval's photography!

Nikhilesh, an Indian based in the UK, specializes in travel, architectural, interiors and events photography. His work has appeared in many well known magazines, and his client list includes many Moroccan clients, as is evident by his rich portfolio.

Such a good way to make a striking red wall even more dramatic

Wall art that accentuates the room colors

Copper Samovar and painted trunk. Mud/plaster fireplace and lovely floor tiles

Who could possibly resist a Greece inspired textured white wall?

Warm tones of orange and yellow

Isn't the chair quaint and modern at the same time?!! Beautiful shade of blue in the tiles

Hint of color against white

Imagine having a cup of subtly flavored chai, while sitting on this diwan (day bed) admiring the gorgeous carpet

Hmm..Art deco?

The stark beauty of black and white

[All images from Nikhilesh]

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Result of Subprime Mortgages

A report by CNN Money said that "According to the Center for Responsible Lending, 7.2 million households have subprime mortgages, and more than 14 percent of those are in default. It projects that one of every five of those loans issued in 2005 and 2006 will end in foreclosure, with 2.2 million families losing their homes".

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Exclusive Fisher Island In Hot Water

I received a very interesting email this morning, informing me that this weekend hundreds of people are going to protest discriminatory and abusive treatment of the workers that clean, maintain, and protect Fisher Island, a neighboring Miami Beach community and one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in the U.S.A.

From Jimbo’s to Fisher Island
Nov 17th: Activist Armada of Small Boats to Take “Private” Beach of Exclusive Fisher Island Public

Visual: A dozen decorated small boats will ferry more than a hundred activists close to shore of Fisher Island. Activists will then swim to island with purple flags and beach umbrellas.

MIAMI, FL—An armada of decorated boats will carry hundreds on Saturday November 17, to the sheltered and until now thought to be off-limits beaches of Fisher Island, named the nation’s most expensive zip code by Forbes and labeled “Fantasy Island” by the New York Times, to protest discriminatory and abusive treatment of the workers that clean, maintain, and protect the island.

Participants will meet at Jimbo’s, the iconic smoked fish and boat dock on Virginia Key at noon. The first wave of boats will leave Jimbo’s at 1:00 p.m.

In a letter to Joseph Kay, president of Fisher Island Holdings, LLC, the company that runs the island, SEIU notified the island of the guaranteed public access to the Fisher Island beach according to the Florida Constitution and Covenant 12 of the Second Substituted Declaration of Restrictive Covenants Governing Development of Fisher Island. The covenant also states that the public shall have access to this beach by means of a “public easement pathway” leading “from the ferry boat landing” to the beach. SEIU asked the island to allow the boats to dock at the Fisher Island Marina and to provide a public pathway to the beach. If not allowed to dock, participants plan on SWIMMING FROM THE BOATS TO SHORE.

WHAT: Boat launch to take “private” Fisher Island beach public
WHO: More than a hundred community activists
WHEN: Saturday, November 17, 12:30 p.m. First wave of boats will leave at 1 p.m.
WHERE: Jimbo’s on Virginia Key to Fisher Island Directions to Jimbo’s: Take the Rickenbacker Causeway to Virginia Key. Take the first left after the light at Mast Academy, and follow the signs.

UPDATE:below view the video of the protest:

I love you the best

Better than all the rest

I love you the best

Better than all the rest

That I meet in the summer

Indian summer

That I meet in the summer

Indian summer

I love you the best

Better than all the rest

Song by Doors

what a nice coincidence! Here are some more Doors! :-D

Grand entry

Door with faux jharokas (window)

Entry way masquerading as a peacock
Ornate door in a soothing shade of green

A door as a door is supposed to be...strong!

And a beautiful entry to a humble abode

And when it comes to doors, you also think about...



and maybe a sentry or two if you like hiding treasures...

This was a glimpse into some of the doors as seen in old palaces and forts in India...more towards North India. In upcoming posts, I will also cover doors from other parts of India :-)

(Images courtesy: Jyothi Karthik Raja and Gul Chotrani @ Pbase; Meanest Indian and k3llissima @ Flickr)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Landlord Foreclosures - Let The Renter Beware

Something very interesting with regards to real estate, but unbeknownst to most renters of homes or apartments, is that renters must be very aware of exactly what they are getting themselves into when they sign a lease contract.

Due to the high rate of foreclosures these days, many apartment buildings, as well as homes are being foreclosed, and the owners of those properties abdicate responsibility to the building or its tenants upon foreclosure. So what happens if you are a renter, and you signed a long-term lease, and subsequently the owner undergoes foreclosure?

You may end up losing your security deposit, and your last month's rent, and you may be forced to evacuate the apartment with very little notice, unless you are careful to take the right steps. Therefore let the renter beware, and research the status of the space he/she/they are about to occupy. Is the landlord solvent? Are the mortgage payments up to date? Have the property taxes been paid? These questions can be answered more easily than a renter may think.

For example, most states have property records available for view right on the Internet. From there, the renter can often find all sorts of good stuff, like the mortgage amount owed on the property, the tax records, and the date the property was purchased. Many properties were purchased in the past few years with the help of unscrupulous mortgage brokers and lenders, by investors who couldn't really afford their purchases, but were able to close the deals by giving sub-prime mortgages to the lender.

As the adjustable interest rate on those mortgages climbed, many owners found, and are finding themselves unable to pay their mortgage loans, and of course the result is foreclosure. The innocent and uninformed renter can be left with no place to live, and a loss of the equivalent of two month's rent. Therefore, a renter should research all of the readily available information before signing a lease agreement.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The day I welcomed Diwali, and You, to our home...

Never have I been such an enthu pataka ('enthusiastic cracker' for the uninitiated) about taking pictures on Diwali! But, I promised you, my beautiful friends and readers, that I will share images from my home, and I being quite the gentle(wo)man when it comes to 'published on net' promises, I did exactly that! And had a lot of fun in doing so too!

Let me re-live with you the beautiful day it was yesterday, when we celebrated Diwali....


Lord Ganesha (made of brass) presides in his niche, content with the offerings of marigold. The two brass bowls belong to my grand mom. The smaller one was used by my mom for her meals when she was a baby and hence holds a very special value for me

In anticipation...during the day:

Took out the brightest of this case, a red bed cover and cushions with gold block print. A recently acquired rug now proudly hangs above our bed. The corner chair in my bedroom is one of my favorite places in our home during winters..

Waiting to be lit up as the dusk falls. Marigold and Orchids. Bougainvillea petals from my garden

And 'this' also waits to be placed at the proper place! 'This' being some of the booty from my recent trip. Iron grill candle holder and various tableware from Boston (Crate and Barrel and Target primarily...I was pleasantly surprised by some of my finds at Target), and Mr. I.M. Aboy magnet from Camden. The mirrors are from Ikea (from an earlier trip) that I got polished to this shade of wood to match the rest of our woodwork

And as dusk falls, the festivities begin:

Three different kinds of lights welcome you to our home! First one is a Bastar iron candle stand, and then we have.. who else but the mighty elephant taking on the load of diyas, and finally, a flaming mashaal (torch) right at my doorstep

And as you step in: a deep pink lantern; cut work diyas in a row; and my latest obsession - hammered brass urn with pink and yellow dried leaf lotuses - all greet you with open arms!

And not to be left behind, some other nooks from my home adorned with tea lights and cane lamp. The silver chowki (small stool on which the tea light stand is kept) was used for some purpose at my wedding (don't remember what purpose!)

But who gave the permission to light up all this fancy stuff? Well, everything was lighted only after we did a small puja (religious ceremony) in front of Lakshmiji (Goddess of wealth) and Ganeshji (God of everything good and auspicious). The figurines on the left are made of terracotta, as is the small house known as 'hatri'. A new set is bought each Diwali...
(And Constance, I lighted a candle for you while we prayed...)

And, finally, we wrap up another Diwali...

Still warm but now vacant chair after family and friends left; solitary lantern providing some warmth to the black cushion; 'not-wanting-to-be-left-out-even-though-I-am-regular-and-not-related-to-Diwali-decor' lamp (my favorite one!); and the metal candle lady (whose head was cut off by the mosaic maker!) looking at the other black cushion push the pink cushion off the couch when it thought no one was looking...

Some afterglow of solitary votive; two (oh %^&*! I have forgotten a word again...what do you call this flower?!!)...well, anyway, the two flowers dozing off on my kitchen counter; brave bastar camel guarding the only two books on my newly built additional book shelf and orchids playing the last game of peek-a-boo with the stairs..

Thank you for visiting me on made this beautiful festival even more special for me this year :-)

P.S: All terracotta diyas and other terracotta items were bought from The Blind Relief Association at N.Delhi, where each year, visually challenged children make these products, while pursuing their education. I strongly recommend (specially if you are in Delhi, or are visiting) to help this non-profit institute by buying at least something made by these children. I can assure you that you will not be disappointed when you visit their workshop. :-)