Friday, July 8, 2011

Miami, Florida Real Estate Market

The Miami, Florida real estate market continues to be strong on the buyers side, with a large amount of short sales and foreclosures coming forward every week. Prices have held steady in the last 6 months.  In April 2011, 829 homes and condos sold with sales prices that were 89% of the asking price.  The area’s average sales price was $510,000 and the median price was $280,000.  Homes were staying on the market for 128 days on average.

There are currently 42,620 condos and homes for sale in the Miami-Dade County metropolitan area.  In addition, inventory levels continue to rise with many new condos and developments being completed.  These inventory levels should continue to rise for approximately another 12 months.  In the past few years, trends show that January 2008 was the worst month in many years for sales in Miami area.  Still, sales have increased about 12% since the beginning of 2011, even though they are still down 44% from this same time period a year ago.  Pending sales, those units that are currently under contract have increased almost 100% since December 2007, however, this is still 1% lower than a year ago.

Miami continues to be a very attractive area for those looking for real estate as an investment, so long as the buyers can hold property for at least the next 3 to 5 years.  Waterfront property especially will continue to be the best investment for those looking at real estate to increase in value.  Resort areas such as Miami and Miami Beach are always in high demand.  In the next few years, they will continue be highly sought by baby boomers, snowbirds, investors, celebrities, buyers and foreign buyers.  Because the dollar is very weak in Europe, it is likely that there will be increased investment from foreign nationals.  In addition, it is expected to see more investment from other foreign countries where there is political unrest and unstable economies.  There are few major cities in the U.S. that have the appeal of the Miami area, and its location is easily accessible from South America and Europe.  On average, property prices are low when compared to other major cities in the U.S. like New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Top Miami, Florida Restaurants

Miami, Florida is a world class city, and has numerous world class restaurants that feature cuisines from every continent, nation and culture.  A few are quite remarkable, such as Petit Rouge, located at 12409 Biscayne Boulevard in Miami.  This restaurant is truly a gem in the South Florida area, and focuses on French fare with a menu that includes all of the standard offerings.  Petit Rouge is small, with only seating for around 50 people at 20 tables, and so space is tight.  Still, there is a lovely space for outdoor dining.  Reservations are a good idea on the weekends.

The house specialty dishes are fabulous and really shine to highlight the culinary prowess of CIA-trained chef and owner Neal Cooper.  There is truly no bad choice on the menu, and diners should branch out beyond the usual steak frites to get a sense of the exquisite French cuisine.  While prices may seem steep, it should be noted that portions are larger than typical French dishes.

The Miami Spice menu is a great place to start for first timers.  For a starter, the Classic Escargot should not be missed, with its eight plump escargot swimming in an aromatic sauce of garlic, parsley and butter.  The Mussels are an excellent choice as an entrée.  They are firm and succulent, cooked in a Provencal sauce that is a light broth with onions, white wine and delicate spices.  The sauce is a wonderful accompaniment to use for dipping their freshly baked baguette. The Mussels are served with crisp, perfectly cooked fries.

Another unique spot for Miami dining is at Buena Vista Bistro, located at 4582 NE 2nd Avenue.  While a
little off the beaten path, it is an excellent and charming restaurant that is not to be missed.  The staff is helpful and the rotating menu always features fresh and tasty options for all cuisines and palates.  Buena Vista Bistro is a comfortable and unpretentious cafe, with sophisticated and flavorful dishes.

Local favorites include the Scallop Carpaccio, a light and fresh option for lunch.  The Crab Cakes are perfectly prepared and allow the flavor of the crab to come through wonderfully.  The Rib Eye Steak is grilled to perfection, the Sweet and Sour Tuna is fabulous, and the Seared Scallops have an exceptionally golden finish without the least bit of chewiness.  For dessert, don’t miss the Profiteroles with delectable chocolate sauce and the Creme Brulee is decadently creamy with just the right crust of caramelized sugar on top.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Climate and Storm History of Miami, Florida

Miami, Florida experiences a tropical monsoon climate, otherwise known as Köppen climate classification Am.  This translates into hot and humid summers and short, warm winters, with a distinct drier season in the winter months.  Miami’s sea-level elevation, location along the Atlantic Coastal, subtropical position, and proximity to the Gulf Stream are all instrumental in shaping the city’s climate.

January temperatures average around 67 degrees Fahrenheit, and the winter season features mild to warm temperatures.  Cool air usually settles after a cold front passes through from the west, and this produces most of the rainfall, which is still very minimal.  Low temperatures occasionally fall below 50 degrees, it is rare to see them dip below 35 degree.  Winter highs generally range between 70–77 degrees.  The wet season develops in May, and wraps up in mid-October, and this period is characterized by temperatures in the mid 80s to low 90s degree range.  High humidity accompanies these temperatures, though the heat is often minimized by afternoon thunderstorms or a sea breeze that develops off the Atlantic Ocean.  Most of the year’s average 56 inches of rainfall occurs during this period.  Extreme temperatures were recorded at 27  degrees Fahrenheit on February 3, 1917, and 100 degrees on July 21, 1940.  Miami has never recorded an accumulation of measurable snow, but has once recorded snow flurries, on January 19, 1977.

Hurricane season in Miami officially runs from June 1 through November 30.  Still, hurricanes, tropical storms and tropical depressions can develop beyond these dates. The most likely time for Miami to be hit is during the peak of the Cape Verde season, mid-August through the end of September.  Tornadoes are uncommon in the Miami area, though a tornado struck the city in 1925 and again in 1997.

Fun Activities and Historic Landmarks of Miami, Florida

Miami, Florida is known throughout the world as a center for exciting entertainment venues, theaters, museums, and spacious parks.  The most recent addition to the Miami arts scene is the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.  Visitors and tourists can enjoy the second-largest performing arts center in the United States outside of the Lincoln Center in New York City.  The Arsht Center is also the home of the Florida Grand Opera and the Ziff Ballet Opera House, the Knight Concert Hall, the Carnival Studio Theater and the Peacock Rehearsal Studio.  The Arsht Center attracts many world-renowned operas, ballet troupes, concerts, and musicals from the far reaches of the globe, and is Florida's grandest performing arts center.phitheater for outdoor music events.

For outdoor lovers, Miami’s tropical weather allows its residents and tourists plentiful outdoor activities throughout the year.  The city’s extensive harbor has numerous marinas, as well as rivers, bays, canals, and - of course - the Atlantic Ocean, which make watersports, boating, and fishing popular activities.  Biscayne Bay also has numerous coral reefs which offer fascinating snorkeling and scuba diving excursions.

There are over 80 parks and gardens in Miami.  The largest and most popular parks are Bayfront Park and Bicentennial Park, the latter being located in the heart of Downtown and home of the American Airlines Arena and Bayside Marketplace.  Other city parks include Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Morningside Park, Virginia Key, and Watson Island, and Key Biscayne which encompasses Crandon Park and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park).

Other popular attractions in the Miami area include Jungle Island, Zoo Miami, the Miami Seaquarium, Coral Castle, St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church, and the Charles Deering Estate.  Sports fans can enjoy a watching one of Miami’s four professional sports teams:  the Miami Dolphins, the Miami Heat, the Florida Marlins, and the Florida Panthers.

City of Miami, Florida: General Information

Miami, Florida is a city located on the Atlantic Coast toward the southeastern tip of the state.  It is the county seat of Miami-Dade County, which is the most populous county in Florida and the ninth-most populous county in the United States with a population of 2,500,625.  Miami is the 42nd largest city proper in the United States, with a population of 399,457.  It is the principal city of the South Florida metropolitan area, and the most populous metropolis in the Southeastern United States.  In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau estimates in 2009, Miami's metro area is the seventh most populous in the United States, with a population of 5,547,051.

The Miami metropolitan area includes Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, which together had a combined population of more than 5.5 million people.  As of the U.S. Census of 2000, there were 362,470 people living in 134,198 households, and there were 83,336 families residing in the city. The population density was 10,160.9 people living in each square mile, and 148,388 housing units at an average density of 4,159.7 per square mile.

Breaking down the 158,297 households, 26.3% of them had children under the age of 18 as residents, 36.6% were married couples who co-habitate, 18.7% had a female head of household,  and 37.9% were unrelated sharing the household.  Of all households, 30.4% were made up of individuals, and 12.5% were individuals 65 years of age or older and living alone.  The average household size was 2.61 people, and the average family size was 3.25.

Miami’s age distribution was spread out with 21.7% of resident being under the age of 18, 8.8% were from 18 to 24 years old, and 30.3% ranged from 25 to 44 in age.  Rounding out the age groups, 22.1% of Miami’s residents were aged from 45 to 64 years, and 17.0% were 65 years of age or older. The median age of all Miami residents was 38 years.  For every 100 females in Miami,  there were 98.9 males, and for every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.3 males.

History of the City of Miami, Florida

The area which is now Miami, Florida was first inhabited for more than one thousand years by the Tequestas, a tribe native to the region.  In 1556, it was claimed for Spain and a Spanish mission was constructed one year later.  By 1836, Fort Dallas was built as a strategic fort instrumental in the Second Seminole War, and the Miami area subsequently became a site of numerous battles.

Miami holds the distinction of being the only major city in the United States which was conceived by a woman, Julia Tuttle.  Ms. Tuttle was a local citrus grower and a wealthy Cleveland native.  She was instrumental in subsequently convincing Henry Flagler, a railroad tycoon, to expand his Florida East Coast Railroad to the region.  For this development, Ms. Tuttle became known as “The Mother of Miami.“  Miami was officially incorporated as a city on July 28, 1896, and at the time had a population of just over 300.

Miami prospered during the 1920s with an increase in population and infrastructure.  However, this progress was significantly weakened after the collapse of the Florida land boom of the 1920s followed by the 1926 Miami Hurricane and the Great Depression in the 1930s.  By the time World War II began, Miami played an important role in the battle against German submarines, due to its protected waters and being situated on the southern coast of Florida.  In addition, the war helped to expand Miami's population, and by 1940, 172,172 people lived in the city.

After Fidel Castro rose to power in Cuba in 1959, many Cubans sought refuge in Miami, in some cases join family members who were American citizens.  This influx of immigrants further increased Miami’s population.  During the 1980s and 1990s, various crises struck South Florida, including the Arthur McDuffie beating and the subsequent riot, numerous drug wars, Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and the Elián González uproar.

Despite the sometimes negative spin on events, during the latter half of the 20th century, Miami became a major international, financial, and cultural center.  Miami as a metropolitan area exploded from just over one thousand residents to nearly five and a half million residents in just 110 years (1896–2006). The city’s nickname, “The Magic City,” is based on this rapid growth:  Winter visitors would remark that the city grew so much from one year to the next that it was like magic.