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BUYING OR RENTING? HERE IS YOUR 2018 REAL ESTATE STUDY

Florida has an attractive real estate market, whether it’s the prices, tropical temperatures, lower taxes and more. However, with so many incentives, there is the doubt: what neighborhood to buy? How is the market for renters? Bendixen & Amandi International, in collaboration with the Miami Herald, have surveyed about 100 brokers, agents, and analysts to help answer these questions.

For those who rent, Downtown Miami continues to be the number one choice. Those with tight budgets may consider the neighborhoods of Homestead, Miami Shores, and Kendal. Investors: pay attention to the Design District. Although it remains popular, Miami Beach buyers, have to watch out for inflated prices.

Below is a summary of the study:

 

Prices

When asked if prices are feasible for buyers, on a scale of 1 to 10, the answer was 7. A big difference compared to last year’s results of 4.6. According to the June report of the Miami Association of Realtors, the average price of a single-family home increased from $335,000 to $355,000 year-over-year. In condominiums, the average price rose 2.1%, from $235,000 to $ 240,000.

The positive result found in the research can be explained as an oversupply of unsold condos and a growing number of new rental buildings – two factors that should make sellers and landlords adjust their asking prices to remain competitive.

“You’re starting to see the repercussions of overbuilding,” said Peter Zalewski, founder of Cranespotters, a website that tracks condo development in South Florida. “The supply of rental apartments is going through the roof, and the cranes come down, rents are going to come down, too. And there’s a 32-month supply of condos in downtown Miami alone, so the only way you’re going to move to a condo in this market is to lower your price. ”

While in the luxury market, half of the interviewees said that the inventory is high and the market is stagnant. However, this is not everybody’s opinion. Daniel de la Vega, president of One Sotheby’s International Realty, for example, said that the properties are being sold for 15-20% less than the asking price but that they are being sold.

“You have seven months ‘supply in the million-dollar single-family home market and 70 months’ supply at the over- $ 10 million range, so there’s a lot of inventory,” he said. “But these properties are still selling, and the [luxury] market is going to continue to appreciate. It will just be at a normal pace, nothing drastic. ”

Location

The large number of apartments being built, approximately 4,800 new apartments for rent according to a study by Integra Realty Resources, and another 5,062 under construction explains why Brickell, Downtown, and Midtown are the top of the list of the most attractive areas to rent. For buyers, the winners are Coral Gables, Miami Beach, and Coconut Grove.

For the fourth consecutive time, Miami Beach was named an overvalued neighborhood with a median price per square foot of $520, according to Zillow. Brickell clocked in second at $ 497 per square foot, while the luxury enclaves of Sunny Isles Beach ($ 554) and Key Biscayne ($ 753) tied for third.

“Brickell has a majority of the properties that are condos,” a broker from Miami commented for the study. “They are always overvalued, because they are catering to offshore buyers.”

 

Feds Bust Five in $73M Fake Air Jordan Bust

You don't need to be a sneaker head to know the value of Air Jordans. Since their release 1984, annual releases of Nike's signature product are anxiously awaited, and some editions of the shoe can cost thousands of dollars on the secondary market. And if you can fool someone into thinking some fake Air Jordans are some real Air Jordans, you're making that profit instead of Nike.

You're also breaking the law. Federal prosecutors are claiming five New Yorkers -- Miyuki Suen, Jian Min Huang, Songhua Qu, Kin Lui Chen, and Fangrang Qu -- were part of an international counterfeit ring putting hundreds of thousands of fake Air Jordans on the street, and tens of millions of dollars in their pockets.

From Generic to Counterfeit

According to the federal charges (one count each of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods and trafficking in counterfeit goods), the scheme was fairly complex:

[T]he Counterfeit Sneaker Ring imports containers filled with sneakers manufactured in China. These sneakers are produced to resemble Air Jordan sneakers in design and color, but, significantly, are "generic." That is, these sneakers are imported into the United States without the inclusion of logos that are trademarks registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Once the Generic Air Jordans arrive in the United States, they are altered within the New York area to add trademarked logos to the shoes. Once this alteration takes place, the shoes are considered "counterfeit." Thus, the Counterfeit Sneaker Ring arranges for the importation of Generic Air Jordans, the addition of USPTO-trademarked logos and marks to Generic Air Jordans to make them Counterfeit Air Jordans within the United States at a significant profit.

By Christopher Coble, Esq. 

Do I Need Proof of Citizenship to Open a Bank Account?

Last month, Bank of America reportedly froze access to a Kansas couple after they failed to provide proof of U.S. citizenship. Josh Collins and wife Jessica Salazar Collins disregarded a form the bank mailed them in June asking whether Collins (who was born in Wichita) was a citizen, assuming it was a scam.

The couple's access was restored after Collins provided a driver's license, but the incident left many people wondering why the bank was asking for proof of citizenship in the first place, and others wondering if you need to be a U.S. citizen to open a bank account.

Citizen, Customer Information

Bank of America spokesperson Diane Wagner told The Kansas City Star the request was part of routine updates to customers' information. "If we don't hear from a customer in response to our outreach," she said, "as a last resort, we may restrict the account until we can confirm it is in compliance with regulatory requirements." In a statement last month, the bank asserted it is "required by law to maintain complete and accurate records for all of our customers and may periodically request information, such as country of citizenship and proof of U.S. residency."

However, federal law doesn't prohibit banks from opening accounts for non-U.S. citizens, and must only request and confirm their name, date of birth, residential address, and Social Security number. Some banks may request citizenship information as part of efforts to curb international money laundering. But there is no statute prohibiting banks from opening or giving access to accounts without proof of citizenship.

SSN, ITIN, ID

Many banks will ask for a valid photo ID and Social Security number when opening a checking or savings account. However, tourists, permanent residents, and even undocumented immigrants may still be able to open a bank account if they can provide a passport, individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN), alien identification card number, or any other government-issued document that proves your nationality or residence.

An ITIN is issued by the IRS to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number but who don't have, and aren't eligible to obtain a Social Security number. ITINs are issued regardless of immigration status, and you can fill out a form W-7 to request one.

You may also have to provide proof of address, for which a utility bill, lease, current driver's license, municipal ID should suffice.

If you've been denied access to your account based on your citizenship, or are having trouble opening a bank account due to citizenship issues, contact and experienced banking attorney for help.

By Christopher Coble, Esq

When Is It Too Late to File for or Modify Child Support?

In just about every divorce involving children, some child support arrangements will be made. But not every divorce is the same, and not all go as planned. And even if a child support agreement seems perfect at the time, circumstances can change.

Whatever the reason, you may find yourself trying to file a child support agreement, enforce or modify an existing one, or end your current child support obligations. But when is it too late? Here's a look.

Too Late to Create?

It's generally never too late to create a child support agreement. While most arrangements are negotiated during the divorce process, there's nothing that can prohibit exes from handling other issues first and hammering out child support later. You will want to be careful about waiting too long, though, because child support determinations are often made with each party's financial situations in mind, and the sooner those arrangements are made, the more accurate they can be and the sooner you'll receive the money (or, conversely, the sooner you'll know what you need to budget).

There are two ways you can go about creating child support arrangements: you can either go to family court and request a child support order from a judge (which may require multiple hearings, filings, and financial evidence), or you and your ex can negotiate a child support agreement on your own. Even if you come to your own agreement, however, you'll want to file it with the court, so it will be enforceable against both parties.

Too Late to Modify?

Child support agreements are not always set in stone, and as personal circumstances change, the amount a parent must pay or is owed can change as well. Obviously, these kind of life changes don't occur on a specific timeline, so there are no hard deadlines for child support modifications. Some child support agreements may have clauses that invite both parties to renegotiate payments at certain intervals -- otherwise you'll need to request a child support modification from the court or your ex. Courts will normally modify a child support order if there is a substantial change in your or your child's circumstances, so requests should be made as soon as possible after those changes.

Too Late to Collect?

Everyone wants to know when child support obligations end. Generally speaking, it's when the child turns the age of majority in your state, usually 18. But some states tie child support to high school graduation, and some child support agreements can cover college tuition as well. It's important for both parties to know, however, that it's never too late to collect back child support payments. While a child turning 18 may end child support obligations going forward, if a parent missed payments before the child turned 18, they are still on the hook for those payments.

States and the federal government are pretty serious when it comes to enforcing child support orders and non-payment can result in seized or revoked driver's licenses, passports, wages, tax refunds, or even jail time. Enforcement measures can continue after the child turns 18, although states may have varying statutes on the time a parent has to collect after the child turns 18.

Child support issues are often complicated, both legally and emotionally. If you have questions regarding child support obligations, you should contact an experienced family law attorney in your area.

By Christopher Coble, Esq.

Should I Talk to My Spouse During Divorce?

Every divorce is different. Some separations are quaintly referred to as a "conscious uncoupling." Others are wars. There is no one-size-fits-all divorce, unfortunately, as every marriage is unique.

Some couples can calmly talk about their issues, even if it means divorcing. Some spouses may not feel safe in the same room as their soon-to-be exes. So how do you know when you should talk to your spouse during a divorce, and when it's best to maintain radio silence? Here are some factors to consider.

Anything You Say...

There are distinct advantages to a collaborative divorce, as well as some drawbacks. On the one hand, increasing communication and utilizing mediation and negotiations to settle your divorce can save money and time, and provide a resolution both parties are happy with. On the other hand, you may be unwilling or unable to work with your spouse, and without a judge's involvement, it may be harder to get accurate information regarding assets and custody.

There's a chance that communicating with your spouse during a divorce can make the process fast, cheap, and painless. Then again, your spouse may use anything you communicate against you later in the divorce proceedings. So, even if you choose to communicate with your spouse, choose your words (and actions) wisely.

Getting Social

Communication doesn't always occur face-to-face, and far too often we let our social media presence speak for us. Don't make that mistake. Whether it's ripping your spouse on Facebook to friends and family, or seemingly innocuous Instagram posts (3 a.m. selfies from the club on a school night), your actions on social media can speak louder than words.

Family Time

Obviously, kids complicate any divorce. Custody issues, child support issues, and communication issues can provide flashpoints for the most amicable divorce, and how you and your spouse co-parent during the divorce can speak volumes when it comes to resolving those issues. Communicating positively with both your spouse and your children (and not bad-mouthing your spouse to your children) can help matters. However, if personal safety, for you or your children, is at stake, don't sacrifice your own security for the sake of speaking to a dangerous spouse.

Whatever you decide, an experienced attorney can facilitate communication during a divorce. Contact one today.

By Christopher Coble, Esq

McDonald's Drinks Spiked With Opioids and Cleaning Products

 

If one were to pay attention to such things, they would know that drinking Coca-Cola (or any high-fructose corn syrup soda for that matter) is not good for you, even under the best of circumstances. And we're not sure if you've heard, but McDonald's doesn't have the greatest rep when it comes to its coffee.

But when the Diet Coke is laced with an opioid, and the latte is more cleaning solution than steamed milk, things get even worse. Just ask two McDonald's customers who got a lot more than they bargained for in their beverages.

Drive Thru Dangers

Trevor Walker ordered two McDonald's happy meals for his kids, and two chicken sandwich meals for he and his wife, including two Diet Cokes. One of those Diet Cokes, as Walker would later find out, was laced with buprenorphine -- a heroin substitute, an opioid to treat opioid addiction. Fortunately for Walker and his children, he was home, composing an email when the drugs took hold, and was able to put his 8-year-old in charge of his one-year-old and fire off two frantic texts to his wife before he finally collapsed:

"Something is vey [sic] wrong with me. I am having sensations in my arms and everything is moving slowly. I'm feeling scared. I don't know what to do."
"I'm so scared I'm trying to be calm. I need you."

Walker's wife found him on the floor, and neighbors helped get him to a hospital. Walker, is, for the most part, fine now, but still suffers from severe anxiety and post-traumatic stress following the incident, according to his lawsuit against McDonald's. Walker claims the fast food chain is liable for breach of implied warranty, negligence, and negligent infliction of emotional distress after tracing the tainted beverage to a particular employee whose social media posts suggest he was both a drug user and no stranger to "disrespecting McDonald's customers through the Drive-Thru window."

The employee and his manager-brother have since quit McDonald's, but not before destroying all the video surveillance from the day Walker was poisoned.

Caffeine and Cleaner

Sarah Douglas ordered a latte for herself, but knew something was wrong from the first sip. "It wasn't a latte at all," Douglas told the CBC. "I opened up the lid of the coffee and out pours this pungent smell of chemical." Douglas immediately returned to the McDonald's and confronted management about the drink, only to discover that two lines used to clean out the machine with an acid cleaning solution were still hooked up to the latte machine, and the milk supply line was connected to the cleaning solution.

Douglas was eight months pregnant at the time.

She contacted poison control and was checked out and cleared by her physician, thankfully. From her interactions with the staff it didn't sound like it was the first time such a mistake had occurred, and although Douglas hasn't filed a lawsuit like Walker (yet), she wants some positive repercussions to come from her experience. "This needs to be more than a slap on the wrist," she said. "We need to take it more seriously when we are dealing with food handling, I mean, to put a lid on something that doesn't look like a latte, that should be your first indication."

By Christopher Coble, Esq.

NYC Makes Jail Phone Calls Free

 

You may have heard you get one free phone call when you're arrested. You may not have heard how much phone calls from prison can cost after that, or how much cities, counties, and telecommunications companies are making off those calls.

One fewer city, however, will be profiting from jail phone calls. New York City is making phone calls from its jails free. On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a bill into law eliminate the charges, and eliminating about $5 million per year in city revenue from such calls.

Ring Ring, From Sing Sing

The New York Times broke down some of the figures associated with the current calling regime:

Currently, calls from Rikers Island cost 50 cents for the first minute and 5 cents for each additional minute to local numbers. There are 26,000 calls from the city's jails every day that generate more than $20,000 in daily revenue, according to an analysis by the Corrections Accountability Project, which advocated for the bill. The Department of Correction already provides free phone calls in certain circumstances: Indigent people could make three free phone calls per week, and sentenced inmates could make two per week.

The cost of phone calls from jail, especially for those who are in pre-trial detention and have yet to be convicted of a crime, has come under scrutiny recently, and an attempt by then-President Barack Obama's FCC to cap those fees stalled in 2016.

"It cost us a lot of money to call home," said Lawrence Bartley, who was released from prison three months ago, "for Christmas, for my kids' birthdays, helping them out, for moral support, being a father, to help them make decisions." Bartley claims his family spent thousands on phone calls during his 27-year sentence. Bianca Tylek, the director of the Corrections Accountability Project, told the Times the new law was a "game-changer." "People who are incarcerated, and especially people who are incarcerated pretrial without conviction, should be able to contact lifelines without cost," she said.

Can You Hear Me Now?

But not everyone is a fan of the change. Specifically, the correction officers' union, whose president Elias Husamudeen warned:

"Now the gangs will definitely be able to continue to run their operations from inside the jails. They will definitely be able to continue to communicate free of charge with the other members of their gangs who may not be in jail ... This is just one more nail in the coffin of creating safer jails, to be honest with you."

Whether that threat will materialize remains to be seen -- the law doesn't go into effect for another 270 days.

By Christopher Coble, Esq.