Tag Archives: Real Estate Value

How To Make your Waterfront Property Accessible

by Lucy Hudson

The total value of waterfront homes was $134 billion in June 2018, according to an article in Forbes. The same article indicates that due to changing climate conditions, changing tastes, and bounce back of non-waterfront homes, the overall average sales price of homes has gone down. However, waterfront homes are still the epitome of luxury and an enjoyable holiday retreat for people on vacation. So focus should be on making your waterfront home climate change proof and accessible so that it can be more comfortable for both you and potential tenants.

IoT technology for convenience

The easiest way to explain the Internet of Things (IoT) is that it involves smart devices communicating with each other in a network. Smart home devices come in the form of appliances, electronics, and speakers, which enhance independent living — especially for people with mobility problems and disabled people. For example, there are smart coffee makers that automatically start making coffee every morning, and window blinds that open and close themselves. There are also thermostats that adjust themselves automatically and learn your routines, and lights that go on and off without you touching a light switch. You can take control of these devices with an app on your phone, or simply use voice control to turn them on and off.  Personal assistants such as Amazon Echo and Google Home allow you to control various devices using voice control.

An entryway that is friendly to everyone

Placing a mat that says “welcome” at your front door will do nothing to help people with mobility problems get to your door or through it any easier. If a person using a wheelchair cannot access your home via the stairs, then ramps are a great solution. A modular ramp is great for all types of stairs and entrances. These ramps are usually made of high-grade aluminum, are semi-permanent, durable, and easy to maintain. However, if you want to make a ramp one of the primary features of your home, you can opt for a permanent wooden ramp. A permanent ramp is a better option for beachfront elevated homes. The ramps make it easier to get to the door but the entryway should have door frames that are at least 32 inches wide. If not, use offset hinges on the door to allow it to open wide enough to fit a wheelchair.

Don’t forget the bathroom

Accessible features that you can add to your bathroom include showers with rolling seats for people who cannot stand, and grab bars for balance. The shower should also be well lit and have a hand-held shower head with a 60-inch hose. To reduce the risk of slipping in the shower, install a non-slip floor and a walk-in tub. The soap, lotions and other stuff you use in the bathroom should be placed in an area that is easy to reach. In addition, install a riser on a toilet to make it easy for people to use who have trouble bending.

There are many other things that you can install or add into a waterfront home to make it accessible. However, it’s best to start by adding features that make movement in your waterfront home easy for people who are disabled or have mobility problems as they are the most in need of improvements.

An Office Desk With A Calming Water View

by Lucy Hudson

Stress is a significant problem in the modern workplace, and mounting evidence points towards thoughtful office design as the key to keeping workers relaxed, while enhancing productivity. The WELL building standard is created from the concept that the work environment itself can contribute towards stress, but by building an office with plenty of natural light, adequate air flow, green plants, and a pleasant view, this can enhance the mental health of employees. For those lucky enough to live on the waterfront, setting up a stress-free home office in such a peaceful location requires just a little effort.

A Dedicated Office

Separating work from home life can be a challenge, whether you live alone or with pets and kids seeking your attention. A stress-free remote work environment should allow you to take advantage of the benefits of flexible working, without succumbing to any overlaps with your personal life. Begin by setting aside a dedicated room in your home, preferably with that relaxing water view, which can be used solely for work. If you try “hotdesking” from your kitchen table to your living room couch, then you’re bound to run into difficulties.

Choosing Ergonomic Furniture

With this in mind, it’s important to invest in furniture for your home office that provides the best support for your posture as you work. As workers often sit for 8 hours of the day at their desk, the possibility of adopting a hunched position is high. Take care to put your health first and choose a desk and chair arrangement, such as a standing desk that reduces the physical stress on your spine and frame.

Securing Your Home Network

Few things cause as much anxiety in the workplace as the idea of a cyber attack. When you’re setting up your homework environment, you may not have access to an IT department in the same way that dedicated office workers do. Along with keeping your anti-virus up-to-date and following best practices for changing your passwords, take steps to secure your home network by installing a virtual private network connection to reduce the threat of potential vulnerabilities. You should also review your back-up strategy, whether to the cloud or to an external storage device to ensure that your sensitive data is kept 100% secure.

Establishing Boundaries

Make your family members aware of your working hours so that they understand the boundaries and know when you shouldn’t be disturbed. Equally, to prevent clients and other contacts from getting in touch outside of your regular work hours, you may consider using a separate cell phone for business purposes or even installing a business line.

Take Regular Breaks

Regular breaks are essential in relieving stress in any role, but some types of downtime are more effective than others. For example, snacking on unhealthy foods or using the time to vent about a work-related problem can contribute towards further fatigue. Conversely, an effective strategy is to carry out an activity that allows you to mentally disengage from your work-related tasks. As a homeowner with waterfront property, you have the perfect setting to help you enjoy a positive psychological break during the working day. You could choose to meditate, or simply take a walk outside to catch the breeze.

Your water view property is the perfect place to set up a home office. Put some planning into the initial set-up and all that’s left to do is to start working at your own leisure and connecting with nature during those relaxing breaks.

Make Your Waterfront Home Perfect for Your Pooch

by Lucy Hudson

There are very few dwellings that can compete with the sheer splendor of a waterfront home. If you own one of the nearly 69 million pet dogs in the USA, a house near the water can be especially appealing as many dogs innately love playing in the water, according to the American Kennel Club.  Even if your dog is not exactly keen on swimming, he or she can benefit from having a large, natural area in which to play. With the enormous joys of living in a beautiful waterfront home comes the responsibility, however, to make it as dog-friendly as possible. Luckily this can be easily achieved by combining a good dose of dog-owner common sense with a few handy additional tips.

Fresh drinking water is a must

Dogs, like humans, are very much dependent on fresh drinking water for their survival. When living near a large body of water many pet owners make the incorrect assumption that their dog can simply drink water from the stream, lake, or ocean when he is thirsty. Although a dog will inadvertently swallow some water while frolicking in the ocean, it is important to remember that salt water can be very dangerous to canines when consumed in large quantities. Always ensure your dog has plenty of fresh drinking water at his disposal, both inside and outside of your house, and take along a bottle of water and a suitable water bowl when planning to spend extended periods of time away from home.

Have a basic first-aid kit on hand

Living in a waterfront home is a true blessing. There are, however, also a number of hazardous situations that can present themselves to a dog owner, making it essential to be able to treat basic illnesses and injuries in an effective and timely manner. A trip down to the beach is a great adventure for just about any dog who loves to dig in the sand and rush into the water. While waterfront homeowners generally have great respect for the environment, not everyone shares the same sentiment. This sometimes results in the area being littered with a range of harmful objects such as broken glass and fishing hooks that can injure an unsuspecting dog. Or, if you live near the ocean, your dog could possibly incur a painful jellyfish sting which will undoubtedly require some medical attention.

Tiles are better than carpets

The flooring inside your home is a very important consideration if you are a pet owner.   If there is one lesson that living in a waterfront home will teach you, it is that a wet dog and carpeted floors are definitely not a match made in heaven.  As much as you undertake to keep your pooch out of your house when wet or dirty, any dog owner can vouch for that it is a lot easier said than done. A tiled floor is, generally speaking, a much better choice for a waterfront home as it is not just dogs that trample in sand and enjoy spending time in the water. It is important to remember that, although tiled floors are definitely a lot more practical, they can be slippery when walked on with wet feet.  Invest in absorbent mats to put outside your doors and keep a couple of towels nearby to dry both yourself and your dog off before entering the home.

Our canine companions are as deserving of safe, comfortable living spaces as we are. When the necessary precaution is taken to make your home as dog-friendly as possible, your entire family, including your beloved pooches can thoroughly enjoy living in a gorgeous waterfront home.

waterfront home decoration

Make Your New Waterfront Home Sparkle

The news is out: waterfront property isn’t as expensive as it used to be, according to a market analysis by Forbes. That means now may be the time to start looking and thinking about making that big purchase. And once you’ve completed the exciting task of finding and purchasing a waterfront home, there’s another difficult process: decorating. The commanding views and dynamic lighting of a waterfront property can make interior design even more intimidating and demanding than with a landlocked home. There are, however, many well used methods for setting up your new dwelling in a way that harmonizes the beauty of both the interior and exterior – a good idea for anyone interested in living well.

Living/Dining Room

The centerpiece of a beach house will of course always be the water itself, so care should be taken so that each room complements and responds to the view. Nowhere is this more important than in the living/dining room; the rooms that you and your guests will undoubtedly spend the most time. One of the most important design concerns is how light will play out in the room. Think about where and when the light will be best in the house, and how it will move over time. Can you place the dining room table in a space where you won’t be blinded every dinner? Can you set up a nice space for cocktails where the view can be appreciated in the early evening? Use the windows as centerpieces and design out from there. Mirrors can help make spaces feel bigger, brighter, and more open, without distracting from windows. Try to space furniture so that eyes of guests are drawn naturally to the view.

Bedrooms

Both personal and guest bedrooms provide a space to be a little bit more playful with decor, and to develop a theme for the home (just don’t go overboard). Bedrooms can be arranged around windows, but since they are smaller less care needs to be taken when placing furniture. It’s better to focus on picking colors and small objects that complement and highlight the exterior view than to distract with large decorative pieces. Try to treat each bedroom as a subtle response to it’s exterior. A guest bedroom (or street facing living room away from the water) can be a great place for a nice entertainment center incorporating a large screen and state-of-the-art speaker system. Or if you want to have a few spaces that are quirky, guest bedrooms are a natural place for this too.

Kitchen

The kitchen is perfect for working on thematic decor, as well as developing more interior focused design. Because there aren’t usually large furniture pieces in a kitchen, small decorative decisions can have an outsize impact here. The kitchen is also a good space to make unique; a room that says a little about the homeowners. It’s important to keep in mind both functional and aesthetic goals here, as this will be one of the rooms that gets the most use.

Tying it all together

Once you’ve got a theme picked and the furniture arranged just so comes the most exciting part: enjoying the view and fine tuning the details. After the big decisions have been made, setting up a home can be a much less involved, and more fun process of small tweaks and trial periods. All it takes is a bit of work, trial and error, and conscious decision making to find yourself comfortable and relaxed in a new waterfront home.

by Lucy Hudson

Private Until Proven Public: New Law Restricts Public Access to Florida’s Beaches

Private Until Proven Public

 

For many Floridians, there’s only one way to spend the Fourth of July – at the beach. Each year, thousands commemorate our nation’s freedom by flocking to the roughly 600 beaches of coastal Florida.  As fireworks paint the sky shades of red, white, and blue, friends and strangers sit shoulder to shoulder on the shores below – a fitting celebration of the hard-earned rights, majestic natural lands, and solidarity shared by fellow Americans. And Floridians have long taken public beach access as a right.

best fireworks shows

Cape Coral: the largest 4th of July fireworks display in Southern Florida.

On Independence Day this year, however, those in the Sunshine State will have a bit less liberty to celebrate – and a lot less beach on which to do so.  

A newly passed state law allows Florida’s waterfront property owners to restrict public access to the sandy shores that fall within their property lines.  Signed a few weeks ago by Governor Rick Scott – despite the impassioned opposition of thousands of activists and beachgoers from throughout the state – House Bill 631 effectively strips the people of Florida of their right, which has been protected since the state’s inception, to recreational access to the state’s coastal lands.  

Public Access to Florida Beaches: A Brief History

The relationship between public beach access and private property rights is a sticky, often complicated issue that has been the subject of countless legal disputes between private owners and municipal or state governments.

Public trust doctrine – the ancient legal principle that governments may protect certain natural resources for public use – has long maintained the common law right of state governments to hold in trust all beaches for public use. Today, each individual state is responsible for articulating, interpreting, and enforcing the particular guidelines that determine which beach land may be designated as public.

In Florida, coastal land below the “mean high water line” – all parts of the shore that become awash during high tide – have been arduously defended by municipal governments as open to the public, irrespective of private property lines.  Wet sand has always been treated as belonging to the public domain, and while many beachfront property owners have fought to restrict public encroachment on their land, public trust doctrine has routinely been used to maintain the right to public access.  

Local governments have often adopted “customary use ordinances” to preserve these rights, by identifying the state’s long and storied tradition of public use.  In a landmark ruling in 1974 – City of Daytona Beach v. Tona-Rama, Inc. – the court enforced the public’s right to access a privately owned stretch of Daytona Beach by citing the deep, long-established connection between Florida’s coastal lands and its inhabitants: “No part of Florida is more exclusively hers, nor more properly utilized by her people,” the ruling proclaimed, “than her beaches.  And the right of the public of access to, and enjoyment of, Florida’s oceans and beaches has long been recognized by this Court.”

The case also established a legal precedent that would yield enormous influence in similar disputes in the decades that followed.  “If the recreational use of the sandy area adjacent to mean high tide has been ancient, reasonable, without interruption and free from dispute,” the court reasoned, “such use, as a matter of custom, should not be interfered with by the owner.”  The case of Trepanier v. County of Volusia, in 2007, helped establish a means by which customary use could be systematically proven, through “eyewitness testimony, expert testimony, and aerial photographs of the general are of the beach.” Often, just a longtime local’s testimony, together with old family photographs of a trip to the shore, would be enough to establish customary use, and public beach access, within a contested beach region.  

But those days are over.  With the passage of HB 631, it is no longer in the hands of municipal governments to proclaim customary use; now, that capacity belongs solely to judges.  Under the new law, customary use can only be proven in court, on a case-by-case basis, using ample and convincing evidence. Local governments no longer have the legal right to enforce public beach access to private beaches by passing customary use ordinances; the process has been moved to the judicial realm.  

Public beach access

While private property owners previously had to build their case, the onus is now on members of the public to obtain judicial affirmation of customary use.  To put it another way: for years, Florida’s coast was regarded as public until proven private, but now, it is private until proven public. Beachfront owners are now legally allowed to prohibit the public from walking along the sands above the high-tide line, whether by roping off parts of their beach property, constructing fences, or putting up signs.  

Opponents of the new law assert that it benefits a few at the expense of many.  Public beaches, they argue, are the heart of Floridian culture, extending all the way back beyond the state’s beginnings.  Others warn that the ruling will cripple Florida’s tourism industry – the lifeblood of the state economy.

Private beach

Florida Beach Laws Change

It is no coincidence that we celebrate our nation’s freedom and solidarity all along our coastal lands.  In commemorating our nation’s independence, we celebrate the rights afforded to us as a result of our freedom – the hard-fought liberties it is our obligation to preserve.  Chief among them is our right to enjoy the beautiful shores of our nation’s coasts.

As thousands of Americans descend upon the shores of the Sunshine State this Fourth of July – just three days after HB 631 officially goes into effect – we may do well to remember what it is we are celebrating.  We may do well to remember the words to an old folk tune we know so well – a Woody Guthrie song that has been hailed, appropriately, as a national anthem in its own right – and which has become, to many Americans, synonymous with Independence Day celebrations:

“This land is your land, this land is my land

From California, to the New York island

From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf Stream waters

This land was made for you and me

And we may do well to remember an earlier version of the song, with a lesser known but particularly timely verse:

“There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me.

The sign was painted, said ‘Private Property.’

But on the backside, it didn’t say nothing.

This land was made for you and me.”

 

 

Florida’s Sinking Coast – Part 2

Mounting recognition of global warming and its likely effect on the Florida coast has mobilized many people in the state to take action. Though some continue to doubt the existence, much less the severity, of climate change, many Floridians are actively engaged in efforts to mitigate the damage that global warming is expected to inflict on their coast.

The election of Donald Trump as next President introduces a new set of variables, however – and a heightened level of risk – to the situation. Trump has long been a skeptic of human contributions to global warming, and his stance does not appear to have softened at all since being elected. To head his transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency, Trump recently selected Myron Ebell – a prominent climate contrarian – who is expected to help Trump deliver on his campaign vow to repeal the Obama administration’s climate change policies. Climate scientists fear that the Trump administration’s cavalier attitude towards climate change – and of the causal role played by humans – will significantly hasten the consequences of global warming, including the flooding of United States coastal regions.

Ironically, real estate mogul and President-elect Trump owns a slew of South Florida properties, some situated in regions considered to be at risk of disappearing underwater by the end of this century. Whether or not Trump’s personal and business ties to coastal Florida will make him any more sympathetic to the pleas of climate scientists, we may soon find out.

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 22: Aerial view of Mar-a-Lago, the oceanfront estate of billionaire Donald Trump in Palm Beach, Fla. Trump and Slovenian model Melania Knauss will hold their reception at the mansion tonight after their nuptials at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea. (Photo by John Roca/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

President-elect Trump’s Palm Beach estate, Mar-a-Lago.

Regardless of what ends up happening to Florida’s coastal regions, many predict that the publicity surrounding sea-level rise may very well cause property values in those areas to take a plunge.

Even now, Florida’s housing market is already starting to feel the impact of sea-level rise. Compared with a 2.6 percent increase nationally, home sales in high-risk flood zones in Miami-Dade County dropped about 7.6 percent this past year. In the past few years, areas most prone to flooding have had significantly slower sales than other parts of the county. This correlation is in keeping with a nationwide trend: throughout the country, median home prices in areas at high risk of flooding are 4.4 percent below what they were 10 years ago. This is due, in large part, to the astronomical cost of flood insurance. As flood insurance premiums rise, property values fall.

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In addition to the increased publicity about the likely repercussions of sea-level rise in coastal Florida, people are also discouraged from purchasing homes in those regions due to the state’s lax disclosure laws. In some states, such as California, Pennsylvania, and Washington, state and local real estate agents are required by law to provide thorough and accurate disclosure of a property’s past history of flooding, as well as its risk for future flooding. In Florida, however, laws requiring real estate agents to notify purchasers about a property’s likelihood of experiencing natural hazards only apply to a limited stretch of the state’s coast. On top of that, there are no penalties for a real estate agent’s failure to comply. Potential buyers are given no guarantee, and no sense of assurance, that their new property won’t soon be underwater.

Localities across coastal Florida worry that if property values continue to fall, they won’t be able to fund the upgrades needed to protect their towns against rising sea-level. This is because much of their revenue is generated through property and sales taxes, and thus relies on having a large population of homeowners to tax. As concerns about coastal flooding continue to grow, and demand for coastal property continues to decline, these towns will fail to attract new homeowners and their current residents will relocate, causing their populations to shrink. Without sufficient tax revenue, they won’t be able to afford the projects necessary to combat the rising seas, and will thus be forced to flea to higher grounds.

florida-coast-sea-levelhttp://www.environmental-watch.com/2014/05/30/south-florida-at-high-sea-level-rise/

Some owners will decide to unload their coastal property before rising seas render it unlivable or unsellable, and while its value is still relatively high. Others will stay put, and continue to enjoy the wonders of coastal Florida living. Whether dubious of the precipitously rising sea and the dangers it portends, or simply willing to take the risk and live with the consequences, they will keep on living the Florida waterfront dream, one day at a time.

Florida’s Sinking Coast – Part 1

The earth’s ice is melting at an unprecedented rate, and sea levels are rising just as rapidly. According to a recent study, ice melt has caused sea water levels to rise nearly 7.8 inches in the last 150 years alone. With 2016 slated to become the hottest year on record, ice melt and sea level rise show no signs of slowing down.

screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-1-26-36-amhttps://www.inverse.com/article/24039-arctic-antarctic-polar-sea-ice-graph-twitter

Many low-lying coastal areas throughout the world are routinely flooded, and many in the past century have become completely and irreversibly submerged. If global sea level continues to rise at this rate, coastal communities all across the globe may soon meet with a similar fate.

Coastal Florida is one such area. Parts of Miami, as well as other low-lying parts of the state, routinely experience flooding during high tides, and local governments throughout South Florida have already begun spending money on drainage improvements and pumping equipment. But how much will sea levels continue to rise? How quickly? How will this affect a Florida economy so dependent on coastal tourism? And what, if anything, can be done to prevent it?

Many scientists estimate that sea levels will rise somewhere between 3 and 6 feet by the end of the century. In certain low-lying parts of Florida, the shoreline is expected to move about 300 feet inland with each foot of sea level rise. Some worry that such low-elevation Florida cities as Sarasota, Venice, North Port, Bradenton, Punta Gorda, Naples, and Holmes Beach will either turn into islands or become completely submerged within the next 100 years. The following image is a projection, generated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office for Coastal Management, of how Miami-Dade County would likely be affected by a 3-foot rise in sea levels.

slr-seflorida1

In addition to permanently inundating low-lying coastal lands, rising sea levels are also expected to cause a huge increase in storm surge and tidal floods along Florida coastland. Of the 10 urban centers in the United States that are most vulnerable to storm surge – temporary rise in sea level that is caused by storms – Florida is home to over half. Tidal flooding resulting from storm surge typically drains from the land in a matter of days, but the damage it causes is often substantial. Southeast Florida currently experiences an average of 10 tidal floods annually, but within the next 30 years, scientists estimate that the region will be forced to endure a staggering 240 floods annually.

In Florida, sea-level rise is not merely a science issue, says Boca Raton-based oceanographer John Englander, but “a real estate, finance and built-environment issue” as well. Should sea levels rise significantly within the next century, measures currently being taken to prevent coastal flooding – such as elevating infrastructure and buildings, building detention ponds, installing pumps, digging runoff tunnels, and improving storm sewers – will not be enough to keep the coasts above water, and people will be forced to evacuate many South Florida areas. This would inevitably lead to a spike in property value in higher-elevation, inland regions just north of the southern coast, like Highlands, Polk, and Lake counties.

gw-impacts-graphic-coastal-states-at-risk-from-global-sea-level-risehttp://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science_and_impacts/impacts/causes-of-sea-level-rise.html#.WD0gh6IrInU

So what does this mean for property owners along the Florida coast? Well, at this point much remains unclear. Those living in Florida – citizens and government officials alike – can’t seem to agree on the merits of the scientific evidence indicating that sea level rise is real, or if the threat it poses to their coasts is legitimate. As a result, little has been done to prepare the state’s coastal communities for what potentially lies ahead.

Some folks – including builders, architects, realtors, and developers – are skeptical of the supposed dangers posed by rising sea levels, and view the whole thing as overblown. They point out that sea levels naturally fluctuate over time, and view the recent increase as just the current swing of a pendulum that will inevitably head back in the opposite direction.

Others very much believe the warning calls from scientists, and insist that we take heed. They worry that unless action is taken now, taxpayers will end up having to spend a fortune trying to reverse the problem later on down the road. But by then, some fear, it will be too late; much of low-lying Florida will have drowned, tourism revenue will have plummeted, and the state economy will have taken a nosedive.

So who’s right? And what does all of this speculation mean for Florida’s coastal real estate market? Stay tuned for Part 2, as we discuss how sea-level rise is already beginning to affect Florida’s coastal homeowners.

Why Do We Spent 30% More For A Water View?

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“Why is it we’ll pay 30 percent more for a water view? It’s where you want to spend your vacation: on the beach. It’s what you want your home to face,” said marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols during a recent interview with Amanda FitzSimons from Elle Magazine.

Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In , On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do (Little, Brown and Company), marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols asserts that regular interaction with water is as integral to one’s well-being as sunlight, exercise, and diet.

Hot springs and bathing was already use by the Romans and Greeks to heal and to relax.  Nichols uses a combination of of anecdotes and hard data, he makes a persuasive case for water’s healing power.

Among the book’s evidence: a study of college students that concluded spa bathing signifacntly reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol. And in a social experiment at train stations in Japan (where the suicide rate is high), the incidence of jumping onto tracks was completely curbed once aqua-blue lights were installed. One of the book’s most convincing tidbits is a 2006 Irish study that concluded people living within five kilometers of the coast enjoyed higher life satisfaction.

Up for debate is whether this is due to their proximity to water or because people living near water tend to eat more fish and thus have diets higher in omega-3 acids, which have also been shown to reduce depression. Or, to Nichols’ point about waterfront vistas, whether they simply have more disposable income with which to secure a good view.