Archive for April, 2008

Property-Tax Relief Plan No Cure For Home Sales

April 30, 2008

Proposed property tax relief could give a boost to South Florida’s beleaguered real estate industry, pushing skittish home buyers off the fence and easing the burden on commercial property owners, industry leaders said Tuesday.

But observers cautioned the housing market faces a multitude of challenges — the slowing economy, tight lending, skyrocketing foreclosures, too many unsold homes and high insurance rates — that must be resolved before the sector recovers.

‘The proposed tax cut would be a benefit because it would create some stabilization to property owners’ taxes,” said Michael Cannon, a real estate analyst. “But it’s no silver bullet.”

For some time, housing industry executives have cited excessive property taxes as a factor for the troubled residential market. High taxes, on top of expensive homes and burdensome insurance costs in South Florida, have priced some out of the market and stopped others from moving to the region. It’s also chilled in-state moves because buyers fear being assessed at a higher tax rate in a new home.

Ronald A. Shuffield, president of Esslinger Wooten Maxwell, a South Florida brokerage, said lower taxes might inspire some confidence in buyers. Rental activity at his firm has tripled, rising to the highest level he’s seen in three decades. He attributes it to buyers being cautious.

But that could change with the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission’s proposal to reduce tax bills by around 25 percent or more by scrapping most of the local property taxes that go to schools. The proposal, which will go to voters in November, would also cap annual property tax increases at 5 percent for investors, second home owners, commercial property owners and those ineligible for homestead status, which caps on property tax increases at 3 percent annually.

Vanessa Arellano Doctor


Islamic Militant Escapes From Singapore Jail Without Trousers

April 30, 2008

Singapore announced on Monday that a suspected Islamic militant managed to escape from a detention center two months ago mainly because of an unlocked window in the toilet — and fled without his trousers.

Wong Kan Seng, Singapore’s deputy prime minister, told parliament that Mas Selamat bin Kastari flipped his trousers above the cubicle door before escaping through a window.

“The guard had assumed that the urinal cubicle was a secure facility and that Mas Selamat could not escape from it. This assumption was wrong,” he said.

Wong said Kastari had planned his escape “over time” and that the two guards who escorted him to the toilet had “failed in their duties”.

“In my view, the security weakness of this window is the single most crucial factor which enabled Mas Selamat to escape,” he added.

Wong said he was not sure how Kastari managed to get over the double perimeter fence at the center, but said he could have “exploited a weakness” in a section of the fencing.

Kastari, the suspected leader of the Singapore cell of al Qaeda-linked militant network Jemaah Islamiah (JI), escaped in February from a detention center where he was being held for allegedly plotting to crash a plane into Singapore’s airport.

Vanessa Arellano Doctor

Google Named The World’s Most Powerful Brand

April 30, 2008

Search engine giant Google has taken the lead as the world’s most powerful brand with an estimated value of $86 billion (£43 billion), according to new research from WPP-owned research company Millward Brown.

Google was named number one in Millward Brown’s annual top 100 global brand power list for the second year in a row with a 30 per cent year-on-year increase in its value.

Last week, Google posted a 31 per cent surge in quarterly net income and said it is well positioned for growth even if the economy weakens further.

The search engine giant saw its net income climb from $1 billion (£500.9 million) in the three months ended 31 March 2007 to $1.31 billion (£654.7 million) in the three months ended 31 March this year.

General Electric (GE) took the second spot in the brand survey, worth $71,379, while technology giant Microsoft came off in third with a value of $70, 887. Cocoa-Cola remains in the top ten with a value of $58,208, ranked fourth, and China Mobile scrapped into the fifth spot with a value of $57,225.

The top five remained unchanged year-on-year, with each company recording an increase in brand valuation by between 15 per cent and 39 per cent compared with 2007. IBM’s brand value increased by 65 per cent year-on-year to $55.3m, moving the technology company up three places in the BrandZ list to sixth spot.

Apple was the biggest mover in the top 10, and a new entry, moving up nine places to rank seventh, with a massive 123 per cent increase in brand value to $55.2 million, helped by the launch of the iPhone and iTouch devices.

Vanessa Arellano Doctor

Curb Appeal to Effectively Sell Your Home in Sarasota Real Estate

April 30, 2008

Are you going to put your home in Sarasota real estate for sale? Of course, if you will sell your home, you could want to gain the best deal out of it.

Actually, you can achieve the best deal you desire, provided if you prepare your home for sale. Your goal is to sell your home, and in order to sell it, you need to catch and attract the attention of potentials buyers. Now, how can you attract buyers? You can attract them by preparing your home, by making it appealing enough to make the buyers see what is in there in your home.

Before selling your home, you have to prepare it first in order to assure that you’ll gain what you desire. Now that you wish to sell your home, your home is now a product that you need to sell and you need to make this product appealing enough to be sold by potential buyers.

Clean up! Yes, you need to clean your home. Remove all clutter. In order to make it looks new, repaint it. You do not have to spend too much, cheap paints will do. But before repainting it, clean up the walls, doors and windows so you can just use single coat. In choosing paint, use neutral colors. You have to think about the buyers and not your own taste or preference.

The most important rooms in your home are the kitchen and bathroom, so you have to make sure that these rooms are sparkling clean and free from odors. Having unpleasing odors can make buyers move away. You need to make a good impression to buyers.

Remove your personal belongings; you can rent out a storage room in order to have a place for your belongings and stuff. You need to make the buyers feel that they are the ones living in your home, so having your belongings all around can hinder them to envision themselves living in your home.

Clean the yard. This is the first thing that buyers will see, so make it appealing. Remove clutter. Clean the gutter. Mow the lawn. Trim the grass. Water the plants.

Working with a realtor is an option. If it is your first time, it is advisable to work with one in order to have someone to guide you. But, you need to get a realtor that is good enough in selling homes in this market. Take time in getting the right agent. Do not rush things out, especially if you wish to gain the best deal.

When viewing time arrived, it is best to let the agent represent you. Make sure all the lights are on. Put flowers on vase on your table to add appeal. Let the potential buyers view your entire home. In doing all of these things, you will end up getting the best deal with your Sarasota real estate home selling process.

Eliza Maledevic Ayson

How to Treat Depression Naturally and Effectively

April 30, 2008

Most people suffer from depression at some point, since there are lots of reasons why a person can suffer from it. Having depression can affect your life, it can actually ruin your life in the long run.

New research suggests that the swing moods from depression to mania that affect people with bipolar disorder can be tempered with drugs like lithium; it is not helpful adding an antidepressant drug to ease the depression component.

According to a report, depressive episodes are the major cause of disability for people with bipolar disorder which was formerly known as manic depression. But there were few have assessed the benefits of standard antidepressant drugs in treating bipolar depression.

There were 366 patients with bipolar depression who was involved in the study, who were at random selected to receive for 26 weeks, mood stabilizer drugs in blend with a standard antidepressant or inactive “placebo”.

According to a report that the tough recovery was defined as at least 8 consecutive weeks of having a non-depressed and non-manic mood and it was achieved by 23.5 percent of patients in the combination therapy group, which was not notably different from the 27.3 percent of patients in the comparison group. The patients, who had rates of 10.1 and 10.7 percent, respectively were no more probable than to those given only mood stabilizers to experience a manic episode.

But these new findings, according to a related editorial are probable to have slight impact on physicians’ opinions concerning with the use of antidepressants to patients with bipolar disorder.
It was stated that by the study there were strongly beliefs about the efficiency of antidepressants in treating bipolar depression, and their equally powerful risk of inducing mania, will not be put to rest. The findings will lead to lesser use of antidepressant medication in patients with bipolar depression but treatment will continually to be individualized.

Typically, people are being afraid of using prescribed medications due to the side effects that they can gain in using it. Because of this, more and more people are seeking for healthy alternative in treating depression. Yes, you need to treat it before it can give you other illness that can affect your health.
There are plenty of herbal remedies out there that you can use in treating depression. But, it is advisable that you be alert and careful in finding the right one for you. It is best to go with a reputable company or website in order to assure that you’ll be given quality product.

Check out the product first before buying it. Look into its ingredients, formulation and so on. Do a little research about the product.

In taking the herbal remedy, you need to read the label and follow instructions. In order for you to assure that you will see great results with your herbal remedy, you have to follow the directions given to you. Indeed, you need to treat your depression and with the right herbal remedy, you can treat it effectively.

Eliza Maledevic Ayson

Istanbul film fest wraps up with surprises

April 30, 2008

Every year in April that special festival buzz reigns the streets of Beyoglu. It’s not just the good movies that are normally inaccessible any other time of the year, but the fraternity of viewers who inexpiably feel connected after watching a festival film.

And that’s specifically why the Istanbul International Film Festival is more of an audience festival than a public one; you finally run into friends you postpone meeting in the city’s traffic frenzy, you meet new people in cafés near movie theaters and most importantly, the festival allows you to realize that the coming of spring brings along the sensation of rejuvenation that you’ve long been searching for.

Let’s first get to the heart of the matter — namely, the festival’s international and national competition section. The national competition was incredibly prominent this year, thanks to the county’s ever-growing film output, which has expanded without losing touch with quality content. Newcomer Seyfi Teoman’s “Tatil Kitabı” (Summer Book), which had its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year, grabbed the award for best film along with the International Critic’s Prize. The film is a touching coming-of-age story set in the small Mediterranean town of Silifke, supported with a great ensemble cast and mesmerizing cinematography. The best director award was given to acclaimed director Dervis Zaim’s “Dot,” which is a successful reflection of second chances told through the art of Turkish calligraphy. The best actress award was given to Ayça DamgacI for her performance in “Gitmek” (My Marlon and Brando) (my personal favorite in the competition, although it received no other awards). “My Marlon and Brando” was based on Damgacis real-life journey to the border of Iraq to find her lost lover. The best actor prize was awarded to Serhat Tutumluer in Ümit Ünal’s “Ara,” in which he depicted a gay man slowly coming out of the closet — it’s nice to know that we’re growing out of our prejudices.

Moving on to the international competition section, I’m pretty sure it was a difficult choice for the jury headed by master cinematographer Michael Ballhaus. But among the variety of great films — Poland’s “Hope,” Belgium’s “BenX” (it also got a Fipresci prize), the US “Honeydripper,” Denmark’s “Erik Nietzsche — The Early Years” and France’s “Darling” — Turkish director Semih Kaplanoglu received the award for the international feature with this year’s world festival sweetheart “Yumurta” (Egg). Kaplanoğlu had already swept the Golden Orange awards at the national competition in Antalya this past year, but nobody really expected that his film would end its festival season with another glorious result. The hype around “Egg” is amazing; perhaps it is not the most captivating Turkish film of the year, but it definitely creates a resonance in every viewer. A favorite Turkish narrative, the film follows a young poet living in İstanbul who decides to go back to his hometown in Anatolia to find his roots. In the meantime he meets a beautiful village girl and tries to rekindle his failed family relationships. The film’s style is rather familiar to national treasure Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “Uzak” (Distant) and “iklimler” (Climates), with its minimalist and pensive camera movements, still colors and little dialogue. There’s no doubt Kaplanoğlu has a huge smile on his face right now.

In recent years the festival’s glitz and glamour has been provided by its main sponsor, Akbank, through the Gala section, showcasing a batch of crowd-pleasing independents that will most probably get distribution in the country. This year the most exciting and provocative films included Michael Haneke’s American remake of his previous Austrian film “Funny Games,” which follows a brutal weekend in an upper-middle class summer resort; Sean Penn’s adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s best selling book “Into the Wild,” starring up-and-coming actor Emile Hirsch as a young man searching for life’s meaning in nature; Todd Hayne’s “I’m Not There,” which brought another Oscar nomination for Cate Blanchett, who portrayed one of the six versions of Bob Dylan (she truly is magnificent and the only one in the lot who actually feels like Dylan); and veteran Canadian filmmaker’s latest masterpiece “The Age of Ignorance,” a tragicomedy about an ordinary civil servant’s fantasy life.

The Human Rights in Cinema section was also a groundbreaker this year, with very strong films including Ramin Bahrani’s “Chop Shop,” a minimalist yet outspoken film following the daily life of a Latin-American 11-year-old orphan who tries to make ends meet in the mean streets of New York; “PVC-1,” directed by young Greek talent Spiros Stathouloupolos, who depicts in a single shot the struggle of a young woman transformed into a time-bomb; and finally Chinese Li Yang’s latest picture “Blind Mountain,” which focuses on the abduction of a female student who is sold as a wife in northern China. Li Yang had previously made the wonderful “Blind Shaft,” which also premiered at the festival two years ago and was the bitter comedy of a group of mineworkers in provincial China. “Blind Mountain” received the Human Rights FACE prize at the festival for its outstanding story.

Also this year, the festival brought a breath of fresh air in its animation section by solely showcasing the works of Russian animation artist Alexander Petrov, who uses a very different technique in his artistry. Depicting classics such as Pushkin’s poem “The Mermaid” and Hemingway’s “The Old Man and The Sea,” Petrov paints each of his frames on a glass plate using his fingers. The result is an entrancing dreamscape that leaves the viewer in awe.

So the festival season has ended, with some surprises and also fulfilled expectations. It’s a pity we have to wait another year, but then again the organizers of the festival, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Art (IKSV), will bring us a batch of great independents in October with their mid-year Filmekimi, the Istanbul Autumn Film Week.

Florida Luxury Housing Market: A Slow Market Offers Opportunities For Bargain Hunters

April 30, 2008

While the luxury residential markets in Florida continue to sell briskly because of the influx of overseas buyers, mainly Europeans and Canadians, who are buoyed by their strong currencies, housing analysts say that the market here may finally be showing signs of cracking.

News reports have made headlines of billionaire Donald Trump dropping the price on his Palm Beach property by 20 percent, which has led to market watchers saying that the U.S. housing crunch has finally made its way to the wealthy. While the oceanfront mansions and upscale condos here are surprisingly holding fort, one of the most toxic states in the nation’s housing meltdown may finally be showing some signs of wear and tear.

Waning Enthusiasm Or Activity Is Noted On The Luxury Market

In a recent luxury property auction in the city of Fort Lauderdale, the auctioneer took home after home off the block within moments after opening the bidding, since no one made an offer. In one high-rise condo development in the Miami enclave of Williams Island, a 3,100 square foot penthouse which before was listed at $5.6 million, the bidder opened bidding at $5 million, then lowered the price to $3.5 million, then $3 million and $2.5 million until he closed the the auction.

Some housing market observers noted that there’s just not that much enthusiasm or activity in the luxury market,and after the local real estate market peaked two years ago, local brokers noted that high-end real estate was the only aspect propping up the condo market in areas like Miami, which many consider to be one of the most overbuilt and overpriced in the country.

The Slow Market Is Providing An Opportunity For Bargain Hunters

Based on recent statistics, the median price of condos in areas like Miami gained 6 percent last year, while price drops of around 25 percent or more were seen elsewhere in the state amid the U.S. mortgage crisis, rising property taxes and hurricane insurance problems. The shoreline in Miami offers thousands of waterfront developments that have held their value better than cheaper houses and condos inland, where the foreclosure crisis has battered homeowners. In December, the condo markets in Miami had a bad month, when the median price fell 10 percent.

Auctioneers were also reported to have sold “north of 20” of the 50-plus properties on sale at the Fort Lauderdale auction, where the event offered an estimated $300 million worth of that ranged from a $2.45 million, one-bedroom unit located in Fisher Island, to mansions that soared past $15 million. Housing analysts note that the high end residential market is resilient, and certainly the residential market has corrected since the peak of 2005.

However, a lot of properties were quickly pulled from the auction when no one made an offer, and bargain hunters had an open field. One bargain hunter quickly snapped up two bayfront houses located in Miami Beach’s upscale Venetian Islands, getting one for $500,000 and the other for $1 million. These homes previously had prices of $2.75 million and $2 million respectively in mid-2005, based on county records.

Vanessa Arellano Doctor

Helpful Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Hints To Incorporate

April 30, 2008

The process of search engine optimization (SEO) offers a wide array of strategies for Web site owners and online businesses to take advantage of.

The methods and techniques may greatly vary, and may be different in accordance with a specific site. In broader terms, SEO may be geared towards increasing either the total number and/or quality of Web visitors from Search Engines. Visitor quality may be measured by how often a visitor, who uses a specific keyword, leads to a desired conversion action, like making a purchase or requesting additional relevant information. SEO is also available either as a stand-alone service or a part of a much wider and larger marketing campaign.

Since this method often requires making changes to the source code of a site, many say that it’s often most effective when incorporated into the initial phase of development and Web site design, using “Search Engine Friendly” designs, menus, content-management systems and other elements that are easily optimized.

Create A Wonderful And Easily-Navigable Web Site

Because most Web businesses and organizations aim to show up on the first page of search engine results, it would be best to first ask yourself “Is my site really one of the 10 best sites in the world on this topic?” You need to be honest when asking yourself this question, because if your site is not, then you should do something to make it better.

Learn To Diversify your Sources Of Traffic

While search engines like Google may help to bring you 70% of your traffic these days, what if the next big algorithm update hits you hard?, and what if your Google visibility suddenly evaporates tomorrow?

Making good use of newsletters and other subscriber-based content can aid in letting you hold on to targeted traffic and customers, no matter what the search engines do. It’s a fact that creating great content, starting a blog, using social media and local search, would help you attain a loyal audience of loyal prospects and customers, which would let your site make it past the whims of search engines.

Make Full Use Of Press Releases

Creating a healthy relationship with media covering your industry or your local region helps to be a wonderful source of exposure, which includes getting links from credible media Web sites. The process of distributing press releases online can be a potent link-building method, which will help open the door for exposure in news search sites. However, you should remember to only issue a press release when you have something newsworthy to report.

Be Patient And Fully Commit Yourself to the Process

Beginners should keep in mind that SEO isn’t an overnight process, and as search engine algorithms change regularly, the tactics that may have been effective previously may not work this time, therefore before engaging in SEO, you should remember that this requires a long-term outlook and commitment. In addition, this process is not just about instant gratification, as the results often take months to see.

Vanessa Arellano Doctor

Fort Lauderdale Real Estates Taking Advantage of Dollar Decline

April 30, 2008

Since the mortgage crisis of 2006, Fort Lauderdale suffered a total decline in real estate profits due to increased foreclosure activity and low real estate acquisitions. The dollar decline in the U.S. is seen by local real estate experts as a possibility of boosting real estate acquisition in the city.

Ever since the dollar dropped, the prices of homes and real estates in Fort Lauderdale dropped as well. This will probably interest many foreign investors to purchase properties in the city, since its 50% cheaper compared to previous years.

Mortgage Crisis Affects The Housing Market

The rise in foreclosure activity between 2006 and 2007 was due to heavy investors that underwent mass real estate acquisition who failed to pay their mortgage.

Due to the economic crisis, many financial lenders were actually buffing up their requirements that made housing loan acquisition remotely impossible for the average consumer – this act alone reduce the number of home sales per month as people cannot afford their terms.

The year 2008 posts a marginal recovery, which is much better compared to previous years. Statistics shows that the median price of real estate in Fort Lauderdale for January 2008 declined by 14%; Florida Association of Realtors also reported the 33% decline of home sales as compared to last year’s statistics.

Facts and Figures of Fort Lauderdale Real Estate for 2008

There are a total of 5,854 homes for sale in the city with median prices ranging from $350,000 to $380,000. Florida Association of Realtor also reported that there are around 2,972 foreclosed units available selling at $200,000.

Note, however, that the media price of Home for Sale (MLS) decreased by 2.3% as compared to the figures last March of this year. The decrease in price might increase home sales acquisition by a few percent according to real estate experts.

According to analysts, the increasing number of foreclosure will continue to depress housing prices even further for the following months of 2008. Many home buyers are now waiting for the chance of the prices of real estates to decline even further to get the best deals in home acquisition.

The mortgage rates have increased depending on the type a consumer will chose to finance their venture. For 1 year ARM, the interest rate is current at 5.196%, as compared to the previous week’s figures of 5.008%.

The rate increase for higher mortgage types, like those for 15 and 30 years fixed, are from 0.082% and 0.077% respectively. The current rates are now at 5.701% for 15 years fixed, and 6.055% for 30 years fixed.

If the dollar devaluates even further, there is a possibility that home acquisition will increase by both local and foreign investors.

Vanessa Arellano Doctor

Fort Lauderdale Condo Overtaken by Hotel Developments

April 29, 2008

Yes, the boom that we all now from the Fort Lauderdale Condo market is over, it has its good days but now it’s behind all of us. As much as we want to keep the boom in tact, we all know that nothing last forever. It is official by default, the downtown condo market’s known boom has been overtaken by a new trend the hotels. Yes, you heard it right the hotels now are making its way to the scene as developers and investors are focusing their time in making hotels now more than ever. They are very much aware of the condo’s status in the market so they redirect their attention to a different bidding. It is known that the market’s overflow of condos all over Florida has caused the housing market to take a slump.

Yes, the boom that we all now from the Fort Lauderdale Condo market is over, it has its good days but now it’s behind all of us. As much as we want to keep the boom in tact, we all know that nothing last forever. It is official by default, the downtown condo market’s known boom has been overtaken by a new trend the hotels. Yes, you heard it right the hotels now are making its way to the scene as developers and investors are focusing their time in making hotels now more than ever. They are very much aware of the condo’s status in the market so they redirect their attention to a different bidding. It is known that the market’s overflow of condos all over Florida has caused the housing market to take a slump.

More to a fault now, the common knowledge of people is that they tend to focus their attention to what is in demand, what is in the trend or what makes the market shine. It’s like yesterday it was the condo market, the next day it’s the hotel market. It is rather amusing to watch the rise and fall of the market, the huddles and the struggles and all that. Right now, developers are there seeking building approvals for about 4 major high-rise hotels and office towers, on top of that investors are seeking more deals to go down in the hot property right now which is the hotel. It may probably the next big thing in Fort Lauderdale real estate market biggies.

More than 1 million square feet of new office space would also be built. All told, there are plans for almost 1,000 hotel beds in Fort Lauderdale’s relatively compact downtown, city building plans show. Meanwhile, high-end hotel developers were busy re-making the beach. A vertical renaissance swept through the downtown in recent years, filling it with new residential condos and lofts. It is known that right now the departure of the condo developers in downtown Fort Lauderdale and specifically the hotel builders have step their feet in the market. Two of the proposed projects originally were proposed as condos. The city’s rules for developing downtown put a limit on residential growth, and that cap has nearly been reached.

All signs are pointing to a potential hotel boom, with likely millions to spend, the condo market is having a down time, I think the condo market is indeed in a downward slide, in which the people have been rating it as a low-end in the market right now, most probably because of the condo overbuilt it have skim to people’s mind that changes are vaguely needed so that is where the hotel building came to idea. I think it’ll still be too early to tell. Up until we have settle and the numbers are printed by then we can confidently say that we are in a good market.

Jron Magcale