Can Life Insurance Protect Your Mortgage?

March 31st, 2015

Can Life Insurance Protect Your Mortgage?

By: Angela Colley

Can Life Insurance Protect Your Mortgage?


No one enjoys discussing life insurance, but if your family relies on your income to cover the bills, you need a life insurance policy to protect them if something should happen to you.

If you’re a homeowner, life insurance is even more important. Many types of life insurance safeguard your home and protect your family from foreclosure, but there are angles you’ll have to consider before you sign up.


Mortgage life coverage

After you buy a home, you’ll likely receive several letters telling you to safeguard your house by purchasing mortgage life coverage or mortgage protection service.

These packages are simply a marketing spin on standard life insurance. If something happens to you, your life insurance payout will pay off your mortgage so your family won’t have to worry about possibly losing the roof over their heads.


Decreasing term life insurance

Decreasing term life insurance coverage matches up with the outstanding balance on your mortgage. As you pay off your mortgage and your balance decreases, so does the amount the policy will pay out.

While this type of policy is effective at protecting your family over the life of your mortgage, once you pay off your mortgage, your policy becomes void and you receive no payout.

Holding only decreasing term life insurance has a major downside. Because its purpose is to pay off your home loan, the life insurance policy’s beneficiary is your mortgage lender, not your heirs. For this reason, many people choose a whole life insurance program.


Level term life insurance

Level term life insurance offers policyholders the option of purchasing a policy from an insurance company that matches or exceeds the amount of their mortgage. In case of death, a fixed payout goes to the beneficiaries who can use the money at their discretion, including paying off the mortgage. This offers two major benefits: The coverage amount doesn’t decrease as time goes on, and your heirs can spend the money as they wish.

Deciding on a type of life insurance can be difficult. You’ll have to consider your family’s needs as well as your financial situation. Speak with a financial adviser about your particular situation to help you reach a concrete decision.


Sources images and credits,


Ralph Magin, GRI, CRB - Keller Williams Elite Properties
Broker Associate – 35 Years Experience
305.935.2696 Fax 305.328.9267

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Pérez Art Museum Miami

March 27th, 2015

Pérez Art Museum Miami


Pérez Art Museum Miami

The Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) is a contemporary art museum that relocated in 2013 to the Museum Park in Downtown Miami, Florida. Founded in 1984 as the Center for the Fine Arts, it became known as the Miami Art Museum from 1996 until it was renamed in 2013 upon the opening its new building designed by Herzog & de Meuron at 1103 Biscayne Boulevard. PAMM, along with the $275 million Patricia Frost Museum of Science and a city park which are being built in the area with completion scheduled for 2015, is part of the 20-acre Museum Park (formerly Bicentennial Park)

Since the opening of the new museum building at Museum Park, the museum has seen record attendance levels with over 150,000 visitors in its first four months. The museum had originally anticipated over 200,000 visitors in its first year at the new location. At its former location on Flagler Street, the museum received on average about 60,000 visitors annually.

Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) is directly served by rapid transit at Museum Park Metromoverstation and by Metrorail via transfer at Government Centerstation.

Pérez Art Museum Miami

The focus of the museum is 20th century and contemporary art, as well as cultures of the Atlantic Rim, which it defines as the Americas, Western Europe and Africa. At the time of the new building’s opening, the museum’s holdings included 1,800 objects, nearly 500 of which were acquired in 2013, including pieces by John Baldessari , Olafur Eliasson  and Dan Flavin. In its permanent collections, there are second half of the Twentieth Century and Contemporary works by Purvis Young , Joseph Cornell, Kenhinde Wiley, James Rosenquist, Frank Stella, and Kiki Smith . Much of the museum’s current collection has been donated, with 110 works coming from Jorge M. Pérez,among them pieces by the Cuban painters Jose Bedia Valdes  and Wilfredo Lam , as well as the Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Damian Ortega, the Uruguayan Joaquin Torres-Garcia  and the Colombia Beatriz Gonzalez . In 2013, museum trustee and Miami developer Craig Robins pledged 102 paintings, photographs, sculptures and other works from his personal collection.

Pérez Art Museum Miami

In 2012, Pérez pledged $500,000 to establish an acquisitions fund for African-American art, matched shortly after by the Miami-based John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. In 2014, the museum launched the Ambassador of African American Art programme, its first-ever affiliate group, which invites donors to contribute directly to the fund.

After the opening of the new museum building, the museum has seen over 150,000 visitors in its first four months and 300,000 visitors in its first 12 months.According to The Art Newspaper’s annual survey of museum attendance, the “old” Miami Art Museum (PAMM’s predecessor) attracted 54,295 visitors in 2012 — a weak showing in a metropolitan area with a population of five million people

Pérez Art Museum Miami

As the Miami Art Museum, the museum had an annual operating budget of $6 million. After the inauguration of the new building and the museum’s renaming, the budget has increased to $16 million per annum, with a rapid increase of staff and curators. In 2013-14, Miami-Dade County provided $2.5 million of this (up from $1.9 million the previous year)

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Broker Associate – 35 Years Experience
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Mortgage Basics: What Is a Mortgage?

March 26th, 2015

Mortgage Basics: What Is a Mortgage?

By:Angela Colley


Mortgage Basics: What Is a Mortgage?


A mortgage – a loan to finance the purchase of your home – is likely the largest debt you’ll ever take on. A mortgage is actually made up of several parts – the collateral you used to secure the loan, your principal and interest payments, taxes and insurance.

Since most mortgages last 15 to 30 years of monthly payments, it helps to understand the working parts.


When you agree to a mortgage, you’re signing a legal contract promising to repay the loan plus interest and other costs. Your home is collateral for that loan.

If you don’t repay the debt, the lender has the right to take back the property and sell it to cover the debt, a process known as foreclosure. In a foreclosure, you will lose your home and you will likely damage your credit rating, affecting your ability to buy a new home in the future.

Principal and Interest 

The principal is simply the sum of money you borrowed to buy your home. To lower your principal amount upfront, you can put down a percentage of the home’s purchase price as a down payment. Typically, lenders require you to make a down payment equal to 20 percent of the home’s purchase price to get a mortgage.

Interest is what the lender charges you to use the money you borrowed, usually expressed as a percentage called the interest rate. In addition to the interest rate, the lender could also charge you points and additional loan costs. Each point is one percent of the financed amount and is financed along with the principal.

Principal and interest comprise the bulk of your monthly payments in a process called amortization, which reduces your debt over a fixed period of time. With amortization, your monthly payments largely go toward paying off the interest in the early years, and gradually reduce the principal later on.


In addition to your principal and interest, your mortgage payment will likely include taxes. The taxes are property taxes your community levies based on a percentage of the value of your home. These taxes generally go towards financing the costs of running your community – for example, to build and maintain schools, roads and other infrastructure, and to provide certain public services.

Generally, if your down payment is less than 20 percent, your lender considers your loan riskier than those with larger down payments. To offset that risk, the lender sets up an escrow account to collect those additional expenses, which are rolled into your monthly mortgage payment.

Even if you don’t have an escrow account, you’ll likely have to pay property taxes as long as you live in your home.


Lenders won’t let you close the deal on your home purchase if you don’t have home insurance, which covers your home and your personal property against losses from fire, theft, bad weather and other causes.

If your home is in a federally designated high flood-risk zone within a flood plain and you are signing for a federally insured loan, federal law mandates that you must buy flood insurance.

If you choose a conventional loan and put down less than 20 percent of your home’s total value at closing, your lender will likely require you to pay private mortgageinsurance. PMI protects the lender from you defaulting on the mortgage. You will have to make PMI payments for two years or until your mortgage balance shrinks to 78 percent of the home’s original purchase price.

If you choose a loan backed by the Federal Housing Administration, you will have to pay mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance works the same as PMI, however, you will have to make these payments for 11 years or for the life of the loan, depending on your loan terms and down payment amount.

Sources credits and images :,


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Ralph Magin, GRI, CRB - Keller Williams Elite Properties
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“This Is How We Celebrate” Miami Beach 100th

March 25th, 2015

“This Is How We Celebrate” Miami Beach 100th “This Is How We Celebrate” Miami Beach 100th

March 26, 2015 – Thursday


A lot is in store this month to celebrate Miami Beach Centennial Birthday! As Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine puts it, “This is how we celebrate!”. “The historic centennial events celebrate our legacy and mark the start of the next 100 years by increasing awareness for a global climate initiative with Miami Beach, not only rising above but leading the way.”


100 Hour Celebration

Signifying the city’s 100 years of history and legacy is the 100 Hour Celebration which kicked off last Sunday. There were events for fitness, elegance, fashion, food and music!

“This Is How We Celebrate” Miami Beach 100th

Among the series of exciting events within the week was the First Annual Miami Beach Concours D’Elegance celebrating 100 years of automotive history. It’s a gathering of quintessential cars by national and foreign collectors that’s held every year across the world. It’s the first for the city to hold such event.


A five-day Funkshion Fashion Show also commenced last Sunday with Day 1 presenting a summer swimwear collection by Colombian fashion designer Liliana Montoya. The 100-hour Celebration also included Love on the Sands of South Beach where 100 couples got married or renewed their vows at the beaches of Miami, the World Class Tennis Exhibition, the Miami Beach Food truck and music fest and TV Marathons in many different public locations.


Iconic Music Festival

What’s a birthday without the live music, people and a party? Highlighting the celebration is the iconic Hard Rock music festival. The event is officially known as Hard Rock Rising Miami Beach Global Music Festival 2015 with celebrity friends coming to join in the event. The star-studded line up includes Andrea Bocelli, Barry Gibb, Gloria Estefan and many more! The celebration starts at 3pm ’til midnight and will be held at the 8th Street and Ocean Drive.

Trends and Memorabilia

Be hip for the celebration and grab your Miami Beach Centennial collectibles too. Shirts, tank tops, caps, mugs, pins, coins and more are up for selling. These are limited edition merchandise commemorative of the centennial event.

What are you waiting for? Grab your tickets now and join in the biggest party in #SoMiami!


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Broker Associate – 35 Years Experience
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6 Tips to Position Yourself as an Ideal Renter

March 24th, 2015

 6 Tips to Position Yourself as an Ideal Renter

By: Patricia-Anne Tom

6 Tips to Position Yourself as an Ideal Renter


Searching for rental housing can be stressful in a competitive market. Multiple prospective tenants turn up for the same showings. Properties available one day are gone the next.


If you prepare, you can take steps to sway a potential landlord your way and secure a rental.


Here are six tips to help position yourself as a desirable tenant:


1. Gather Evidence

Most landlords will require potential tenants to fill out a rental application. Be proactive and show up to your first meeting with the landlord with all of your information in hand. This should include details on how to reach you, current landlord information, employment history, as well as contact information or letters from personal references.

Establishing that you have a good credit score by obtaining your credit report in advance can be helpful, too. Landlords check credit reports, references and employment histories to determine whether potential tenants will be reliable in paying rent.

Having all of these documents ready ahead of time is a way to demonstrate that you will be a responsible renter.


2. Be Punctual

Your ability to arrive at an appointment on time is an indicator of whether you will meet rental payment deadlines.


3. Dress to Impress

When it comes to selecting a tenant, landlords admit that first impressions matter. A clean, pressed outfit helps to illustrate that you are likely to keep a home neat. It might be wise to make sure that your car is equally presentable. As you pull up to a property, some landlords will see your vehicle as another indication of how well you would take care of their property.


4. Offer Incentives

A good way to show a potential landlord that you are serious about renting a place is to come to your meeting with cash or a checkbook so that you can immediately put down money for any application fee or deposit. If you have a pet, you also can suggest a higher security deposit as reassurance that your furry friend won’t wreak havoc in the home.

However, be cautious about putting down a large security deposit before signing a lease. Scammers sometimes use the guise of collecting fees and a security deposit upfront to take your money.

Offering to sign a longer lease also can be attractive to landlords who want to reduce turnover.


5. Communicate Clearly

During the interview, speak clearly and confidently to emphasize how you will be a good tenant. A landlord wants a tenant he or she can communicate with should problems arise. Yet the landlord is not seeking someone who will yammer on or constantly contact him with minor annoyances about the apartment that the tenant can resolve.


6. Maintain Your Image

Selling yourself as a stellar tenant shouldn’t end once you have secured a rental. Make sure to pay your rent on time, keep the apartment clean, and do not make excessive noise that disturbs the neighbors. Especially don’t do anything that would violate the lease terms, such as bringing home an animal when your lease says “No pets.”

By being a model tenant during the landlord interview and, hopefully, after you move in, you can have greater certainty that the landlord will value you when it comes time to sign or renew the lease, or return your full security deposit.



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Ralph Magin, GRI, CRB - Keller Williams Elite Properties
Broker Associate – 35 Years Experience
305.935.2696 Fax 305.328.9267

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March 23rd, 2015

Jade Beach Condo


17001 Collins Avenue, Sunny Isles Beach, Florida 33160

Located in one of Miami’s well-loved ocean fronts, Jade Beach Condo is the ultimate beachfront oasis. It stands in a distinctive 51-story oceanfront tower which has an impressive Porte Cochere that offers a panoramic drop off plaza and overlooking view of both the city and the ocean. Its 3-story Grand Entrance Lobby immediately gives you the feel of what the condo has to offer by welcoming you to a breathtaking direct ocean and pool views! It’s dramatic entrance features an impressive cascading fountains, lush landscaped stepping gardens, reflecting pools and Versailles-like staircase. Perfect for in-house entertainment or for relaxing after-day retreat, its residential units feature floor-to-ceiling glass and generous terraces maximizing its scenic view. Situated along Collins Ave, the complex is conveniently just minutes away from Miami’s city life and world class shopping district.

This building, along with its sister complex, boasts of cutting edge but immaculately laid-out design that highlights the comfort and magnificence that only a luxurious lifestyle could offer.

Building Summary

  • Community: Sunny Isles Beach
  • Architect: Carlos Ott
  • Views: OceanFront
  • Year Built: 2008
  • Status: Immediate Occupancy
  • Bedrooms: 1, 2, 3 & 4
  • Residence Size: 1085 – 3733 sq. ft.
  • Pet Friendly: Yes
  • Walk Score: 80 (Very Walkable)
  • Total Residences: 248
  • Number of Stories: 53
  • Price Range: $890,000 – $10,000,000

Jade Beach Condo

Jade Beach – Residence Features

  • Smart Home technology including wireless touch screen monitor and multi media computer for interactive communication
  • Floor-to-ceiling glass and generous terraces offering panoramic views
  • Snaidero wood and glass kitchen cabinets with granite countertops and stainless steel backsplashes Miele and Sub-Zero stainless steel kitchen appliances
  • Top-of-line European designer fixtures and faucets in bathrooms
  • Infinity-edge whirlpools, and separate shower with body sprays in master bath
  • Spacious Walk-in closets
  • Washer and dryer

Jade Beach Condo

Jade Beach – Services & Amenities

  • Infinity-edge boat shaped Sunrise Pool overlooking the ocean, and Sunset Pool with views of the Intracoastal and city, for all-day enjoyment
  • Private Beach Club with café and cabanas
  • Children’s splash deck with interactive water features
  • Oceanfront pool deck with spacious hot tub, pool services, pool bar, and children’s play room
  • State-of-the-art health club with aerobics, cardio and weights
  • Technogym™, the cutting edge in personal physical training with digital technology, high-tech machines and private access to TV and radio
  • Spa with lounge area, massage and treatment rooms, sauna and steam rooms
  • Front desk with round-the-clock concierge, security services, and mailbox experience
  • Twenty-four hour Business Center with private offices and conference rooms
  • Media and community rooms with views of the ocean and pool deck
  • Personal resident storage facilities with air conditioning.


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Ralph Magin, GRI, CRB - Keller Williams Elite Properties
Broker Associate – 35 Years Experience
305.935.2696 Fax 305.328.9267

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Historic Ward Rooming House

March 20th, 2015

Historic Ward Rooming House

By: Shayne Benowitz

Historic Ward Rooming House

Crossing into Overtown from downtown Miami, visitors are greeted with a mural by Purvis Young on the overpass wall at NW 3rd Avenue and NW 11th Street. It reads “Welcome to Overtown” with shades of yellow, green, pink and blue depicting a neighborhood, as well as some of Young’s signature images, like wild horses and angels. Young is often considered the “unofficial historian of Overtown,” as his folk art verging on abstract expressionism, illustrates life in Miami’s inner city from the 1960s until his death in 2010 for all to see. He’s a symbol for the culture that lived on in this fractured neighborhood after two interstates were built through the middle of it, displacing more than 20,000 black residents in the 1960s.

Prior to that, Overtown was a thriving community once nicknamed “Little Broadway” thanks to the legendary performers who graced its theaters and nightclubs, including James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke and Ella Fitzgerald. Today, only a few buildings from the neighborhood’s heyday are still standing. The Lyric Theater reopened in 2013 on its centennial. It’s the oldest theater in Miami and the sight of many legendary performances. Another piece of Overtown history is the Ward Rooming House. Built in 1925 by Shaddrack and Victoria Ward, it served as a resting place and safe haven for both blacks and Native Americans.


The Black Archives History and Research Foundation is on a mission to preserve and revitalize Overtown and they’ve worked closely with the city to restore the Ward Rooming House. It was designated a historic site by the City of Miami in 2006. Today, it acts as the official Visitor Center of Overtown and also houses a gallery and exhibition hall. Its location at 249 NW 9th Street is central to the shopping, dining and entertainment district that Overtown is redeveloping today.



With its gallery and exhibition space, the Ward Rooming House often hosts events bringing the community together and sharing it with visitors. The Black Archives puts on a monthly Expressions event, featuring music and entertainment. In April, to celebrate National Poetry Month, Expressions was hosted by poet and spoken word artist Rebecca “Butterfly” Vaughns. The evening featured other local spoken word poets, open mic, live jazz and neo-soul music and a DJ set. Drawing on the culinary heritage of the neighborhood, Jackson’s Soul Food catered the event with a special chicken and waffles dinner. The venue allows for both indoor and outdoor programming, and the Black Archives knows how to take full advantage of the space for a dynamic night of culture and entertainment.

The Overtown Rhythm & Arts Festival is an annual event, now in its third year, anchored by the Ward Rooming House Visitor’s Center and the surrounding blocks on NW 3rd Ave. between NW 9th and 11th St. It’s an all day free festival in late June showcasing music, art, food and an interactive children’s village. The festival is a celebration of the community’s rich musical history.


While the Ward Rooming House serves as a reminder of Overtown’s history, it’s also a symbol for the future. Its location in the heart of the Overtown Folklife positions it at the epicenter of commerce and activity in the community today. The village was conceived by the Black Archives as a pedestrian-friendly stretch of blocks, full of shopping, dining and sightseeing. Explore the mural art of Purvis Young at the Culmer/Overtown Public Library, close to the beautifully landscaped Gibson Park. The crosswalks are painted in colorful designs, as well, and there’s a community garden nearby.

Dine at Jackson’s Soul Food for a not-to-be-missed meal combining the flavors of the American South and the Caribbean in this legendary restaurant. Other classic spots to eat include People’s Bar-B-Que, Jerry & Joe’s Pizza and Moore’s Grocery & Bakery.

For shopping, stop by Moselle’s Boutique, Remix Apparel and a variety of barbershops for an authentic experience. Other historical sights, aside from the Ward Rooming House and the Lyric Theater, include Historic Mount Zion Baptist Church, St. John Baptist Church and the Black Police Precinct & Courthouse Museum.

Overtown is a neighborhood with a rich history in the midst of revitalization. Thanks to the ongoing work of the Black Archives, and other groups, like the Overtown Rhythm & Arts Festival and the Overtown Music Project, its rich history is being celebrated today in order to preserve it for generations to come.

Sourcers images and credits :

Ralph Magin, GRI, CRB - Keller Williams Elite Properties
Broker Associate – 35 Years Experience
305.935.2696 Fax 305.328.9267

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My Offer Was Accepted — Now What?

March 19th, 2015

My Offer Was Accepted—Now What?

By: Craig Donofrio

 My Offer Was Accepted—Now What?


Having your offer accepted feels great—but for most home buyers, it’s just the beginning. There is still a lot more to be done before you’re over the front threshold. Here’s a rundown of what comes next.


1. Apply for a loan

Unless you’re paying in cash, you’ll need to apply for a mortgage loan (if you’re already pre-approved, good for you). If you’re not pre-approved, meet with at least two or three lenders and compare their loan options. Be prepared to ask questions, and be completely open with the lenders about your finances.


2. Home appraisal and inspection

The next step is getting your home appraised and inspected.


Your lender will require your house be appraised by a professional, who is usually provided by the lender. The appraisal gives you a detailed report on the value of the home. If the home’s appraised value is less than the purchase price, you will need to either make a greater down payment or negotiate with the seller to lower the price. A lender won’t give you a loan for more than the appraised value.


A home inspection tells you if the home has any issues. Inspections aren’t always required, but you should absolutely get one even if you’re not getting a loan. Go over the inspection report in detail with the inspector to make sure you’re familiar with any problems, their severity, and the estimated cost to fix them. Additionally, you may also want to get your home checked for radon and pests, which are additional costs.


If the inspector finds problems, you may be able to get the seller to pay for necessary repairs or lower the price to adjust for the cost.


3. Get your funds ready

Make sure the funds you need for closing and in reserves are both accessible. If you need to pull money from an investment, do it right away. Keep the paperwork for the transaction to show your lender you liquidated funds to get your down payment.


4. Find homeowners insurance

In most cases, buyers are expected to pay for homeowners insurance upfront, before closing. Depending on where you live, you might need extra insurance, like flood coverage. Shop around at several different insurance companies for the best rate. Your lender will need proof of insurance before approving your mortgage.


5. Final walk-through

You will be allowed to do a final walk-through of your new home 48 hours before closing.


This allows you to make sure any items that should be there, as per your contract, remain. It also lets you check the condition of the home to make sure no extra damages have occurred. If you find anything different from what you agreed upon, you may postpone the closing to give the seller time to fix the problem.


It’s important that you catch every issue during the final walk-through. If you spot them after closing, they’re going to be your problem.


6. Closing

This is the day when you sign the mortgage documents and officially gain ownership of the property. Most likely your Realtor® will be there, as well as the seller, the seller’s Realtor, the closing officer, and perhaps the mortgage broker.


You will need to bring ID and a cashier’s check to pay closing costs, which you will know in advance (and if they look different, don’t be afraid to walk away). Your spouse will also need photo ID. (In some states, spouses are required to attend and sign papers even if they aren’t on the mortgage.) Check with your Realtor about the details of your closing.


***Updated from an earlier version by Laura Sherman


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Ralph Magin, GRI, CRB - Keller Williams Elite Properties
Broker Associate – 35 Years Experience
305.935.2696 Fax 305.328.9267

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Centennial Miami

March 18th, 2015

Centennial Miami

This month-long celebration of Miami Beach’ 100th birthday on March 26, 2015 features an array of events.


Centennial Miami


Miami Beach: Evolution of a City

In honor of the city’s centennial, the author of Lost Miami Beach and a local historian Carolyn Klepser, will give a talk about the early history of the beach from its days as an isolated outpost to its life as a roaring tourist mecca in the 1920s.

Come early to see a special selection of rare books and images in The Wolfsonian library that relate to the presentation, on view 6–7 p.m.

Date: Thursday, March 19, 2015 – 7:00pm

Location:Wolfsonian-FIU, 1001 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL


The Broadway Concert Series

Gracing Miami’s musical scene this month is a “Disney Legend”Lea Salonga, a singer and an actress known for her powerful voice and perfect pitch. Fans of all ages recognize Lea as the singing voice of Princess Jasmine in Aladdin and Fa Mulan and Mulan II. But Lea is best known for her Tony Award winning role in the Miss Saigon. She has also won the Olivier, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Theatre World Awards, in the field of musical theatre and was also the first Asian to play Eponine in the musical Les Misérables on Broadway and returned to the beloved show as Fantine in the 2006 revival. She’s here and will perform at Aventura as part of The Broadway Concert Series!

Centennial Miami - Broadway


Aventura Arts & Cultural Center

Tickets available at TicketMaster

THU, MAR 19, 2015    – 8:00 PM

DOORS OPEN One hour prior to event


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Explore Miami and find your home here now! Check out available homes and condo units for sale. Contact, Ralph Magin, trusted real estate agent, at 3305-935-2696 or visit for real estate inquiries.


Ralph Magin, GRI, CRB - Keller Williams Elite Properties
Broker Associate – 35 Years Experience
305.935.2696 Fax 305.328.9267

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Who Really Needs a Real Estate Option Contract?

March 17th, 2015

Who Really Needs a Real Estate Option Contract

Who Really Needs a Real Estate Option Contract?

By: Craig Donofrio

Traditionally, when sellers put their home on the market, they can consider many buyers and sell to whomever they want. But when an option contract is introduced to the mix, that all changes—the buyer gets the exclusive right to buy the property but is not obligated to do so. Here’s how real estate option contracts work.

The basics of option contracts

A real estate purchase option is a contract on a specific piece of real estate that allows the buyer the exclusive right to purchase the property.

Once a buyer has an option to buy a property, the seller cannot sell the property to anyone else. The buyer pays for the option to make this real estate purchase. The option usually includes a predetermined purchase price and is valid for a specified term, such as six months to a year. However, the buyer does not have to buy the property, whereas the seller is obligated to sell to the buyer within the terms of the contract.

Options have to be bought at an agreed-upon price. If the buyer doesn’t buy within the time frame, the seller keeps the money used to buy the option.

Advantages for buyer

A real estate purchase option can be great for buyers. For example, if you want to buy a lot of land to build a new home, a purchase option can be used to keep the lot available for a certain amount of time, until you have funding.

The landowner cannot sell the plot to anybody else during the term of the option. At the end of the term, the landowner must sell the land at the price agreed upon, even if property values have risen in the interim. However, some option contracts may include terms that put a cap on the property’s price, or include other factors to determine the final price.

Advantages for investor

Investors can use real estate options to secure high-profit investments at relatively low risk. Here’s an example: An investor notes that a specific plot of land is in a prime location for further development, such as subdivisions or a shopping plaza. Instead of purchasing the land outright and then selling it to developers, he purchases exclusive rights to the land through an option.

With the option in place, he approaches investors and developers, offering them the land at a much higher price than his locked-in option purchase price. Once his higher offer is accepted, he either sells the option itself for the purchase price or purchases the land and then flips it to the developer, pocketing the difference.

Lease options and their risks

Tenants interested in buying a rental property can use a lease option, also known as a rent-to-own arrangement. A lease option can be tricky and technical, so it’s in your best interest to get a lawyer to go over it.

A lease option allows the renter to purchase the property after a predetermined rental period, which the buyer pays to obtain. The lease option could determine a purchase price or state the property will sell at market value. A portion of the rental payments—which will likely increase due to the addition of a new premium—can be applied to the future purchase. All of these terms will be in the lease option contract.

You will lose money on a lease option if you don’t buy the property. The owner can pocket the additional rent premium and rent option costs if you don’t buy. For this reason, you should carefully review and weigh your options. In addition to a lawyer, meet with a financial planner to make sure you will be able to buy the property before the term ends.

***Updated from an earlier version by Dini Harris

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Ralph Magin, GRI, CRB - Keller Williams Elite Properties
Broker Associate – 35 Years Experience
305.935.2696 Fax 305.328.9267

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