The Real Deal New York

Miami Briefs

April 28, 2008 05:20PM

Crane accident prompts new rules

A crane collapse at the end of March at the construction site of a Miami high-rise killed two workers and injured four. The crane fell 30 floors at the site of a luxury condo called Paramount Bay and crashed through the roof of an adjacent two-story house that Bovis Lend Lease, the project’s contractor, was using for storage. The house had also been used in the film “There’s Something About Mary.”

The event expedited an ordinance regulating crane inspection and operator certification originally introduced in 2006. Prior to the law’s passage, tower cranes and their operators did not require licenses. The new measure requires workers to pass both
written and practical examinations before using cranes.

Foreclosures up in South Florida

The number of new foreclosures in Miami-Dade County was up 14.9 percent to 2,231 in the first quarter of 2008 compared to the previous quarter, according to a report by real estate research firm This figure represented a 126 percent increase from the first quarter of 2007, when there were 987 new foreclosures. Miami had a higher number of new foreclosures per household than the three other cities surveyed in the report: New York, Los Angeles and Seattle.

Meanwhile, the Cape Coral-Fort Myers metro area had the highest foreclosure rate in the country in February, according to a report by research firm RealtyTrac. The area’s 3,739 homes in foreclosure represented about one per 84 households, a rate almost seven times the national average.

Palm Beach home sells for $81.5M

Sidney Kimmel, movie producer and founder of the Jones Apparel Group, received the full asking price of $81.5 million for his Palm Beach mansion after only 24 days on the market. The price set a record for the county.

The 80-year-old billionaire had bought the 5-acre waterfront property for $5.5 million in 1993 and added a limestone villa. Around the same time as Kimmel’s sale, Donald Trump reduced the asking price on his Palm Beach estate to $100 million from $125 million after two years on
the market.

State proposes property tax change

Florida’s Taxation and Budget Reform Commission approved a proposed property tax amendment to appear on the November ballot, which would reduce the amount of property tax used for school budgets, and cut real estate tax by about 33 percent in Miami-Dade County and 36 percent in Broward. The state legislature will have to decide where money to replace the lost revenue will come from, but it is likely to include sales tax hikes and budget cuts elsewhere.

Also, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to approve a bill that would close a loophole that has helped real estate investors save millions of dollars in property taxes since a state Supreme Court ruling in 2005. Since the ruling, companies have forgone paying a 0.7 percent documentary sales tax on trophy properties. The bill awaits approval by the Senate Finance and Tax Committee.

Palm Beach prices show uptick

The median price of a single family home in Palm Beach County was up slightly to $344,600 in February, from $343,200 the month before, according to the Florida Association of Realtors. Condo prices in the county were also up slightly, to a median of $159,300. The median price for a single family home in Martin and St. Lucie counties fell slightly to $172,900, from $175,300 the month before. The median condo price on the Treasure Coast dropped 37 percent to $126,700, from $200,000 in January.

Home resales were generally down in February from the year before, to 401
in Palm Beach County in February and
360 in Broward, according to the Florida Association of Realtors. The median price also fell in both counties year over year, down 15 percent to $307,700 in Broward, and down 8 percent to $344,600 in Palm Beach County.

GL Homes closes on 1,000 acres

GL Homes has closed on a purchase of 1,068 acres of land for $117 million. The land, which lies west of Delray Beach, was under contract during the real estate boom, but didn’t close until last month. According to plans submitted to county officials in 2005, GL plans on allowing half the land to remain farmland in accordance with county rules. Industry leaders said the company may be stocking up on land for use after the recession when land becomes scarce again.

West Palm Beach initiates foreclosure assistance program

West Palm Beach has announced a $1 million program to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. The program, which is being fueled by a developer-funded city trust fund and grant money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will offer up to $10,000 in emergency assistance to eligible city residents. Alternatively, the new Foreclosure Assistance Center will help owners sell their homes if they are worth less than the value of their mortgage.

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