Tuesday, December 31, 2013


This 1887 six-level Central Park West and 85th Street NYC townhouse is unusual!  Originally listed last May for $37MM, price has since been lowered to $32.5MM.  There are 12,000 living sq ft.  

A glass and steel staircase looks like a stairway to the stars.

Included are an indoor 60’ lap fresh water pool and home gym.  It is one of very few townhouses still on the Park.

The townhome has 5 bedrooms, 6 full and 2 half baths, an elevator and finished lower level with the pool and gym.  The parlor floor and living area boast double-height ceilings and gallery sized walls.   

Natural light floods the great room from a dome-shaped skylight.  There are professional fitness/massage areas, 2 offices, bow-front window seat in the master suite with panoramic Park views.  

The chef’s kitchen is fit for grand dining, is next to the dining room and zen-bamboo garden for outdoor dining.

A theatre is included.

Interested?  Ask Marilyn for more details.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


The ultimate holiday gift: a 19-room mansion built in 1883 and completely renovated and embellished  in 2005, is located at 12 East 69thStreet, a prime location in Manhattan between 5thAvenue and Madison Avenue.  This pretty limestone mansion is already gift wrapped.  List price is $114,077,000.  The sidewalks and exterior steps are heated.

A fabulous duplex library features a celestial celing mural, 2-story rendition of Kipling’s poem, “If,” built-in black walnut bookcases and burled elm paneling. A spiral staircase connects to the parlor level catwalk to the main library below.

Grand Hall/Living Room, 850 living sq ft, has detailed gilded moldings in the coffered ceilings, a walnut marquetry floor, and Brazilian travertine fireplace.

Kitchen is 40’ wide, has brick and fieldstone walls, a brick pizza oven, butcher block center island and floors made from reclaimed railroad ties.

The museum-quality formal dining room has a carved stone fireplace which is a replica of a dining room at the Palace of Versailles in France.  Floor-to-ceiling windows have mahogany frames.  Black walnut marquetry floor has a “rug border”.  Plaster walls are adorned with golf leaf.

Romantic and lavish guest bedroom on 5th floor has en-suite bath and walk-in closets.

Spa/bathroom resembles a Grecian temple.  Bath tub is Italian onyx with raised soaking rub carved from a single slab of stone; bidet and toilet are carved from matching onyx.  Steam shower is framed by  mosaic tile archway.

Fit for a king, the master bedroom suite features golf-leaf moldings, a sitting area with fireplace, hidden his-and-hers walk in closets and 2ndmaster bath.

Ground floor informal family room/den has a riverstone fireplace and home office area.

The 420 sq ft home theater/media center has sound-proofed walls and red cherry wood balcony.

Lower level indoor saltwater swimming pool is heated.

Three-tiered roof terrace offers a glimpse of Central Park and Upper East Side cityscape.  Imagine watching the July 4th fireworks from here!

Sunday, December 8, 2013


West Palm Beach has the highest 2013 tax bill, 69.7mm with Boca Raton next at $59.1MM), Delray Beach at $47.3MM and Palm Beach Gardens at $47MM.  Palm Beach’s property tax bill of $41MM makes it 5th highest in the county.

Largest tax bill goes to Florida Power & Light ($76.3MM), the Breakers is one of the top 10 taxpayers with the highest tax bill on the island, and includes properties in West Palm Beach.  Other high tax payers include Boca Raton Town Center’s trust, Bell South Communications, U.S. Sugar Corp and the owner of the Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens, Comcast, Boca Raton Reosrt & Club, and Wellington Green mall owners.
·       686,556 property tax bills are mailed out by the tax collector

·       Total tax revenue is $3,025 BB.

Tax Collector is Anne Gannon, whose name you know if you pay property taxes.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


In Q3-2013 eleven in town single family properties were sold compared to seven in same time period 2012.  Average sales price in Q3-2013 was $2,839,091; in Q3-2012 43,003,571.  Prices per sq ft respectively were $667 and $814.

For condos and townhouses, there were 23 sold in Q3-2013 and 27 in Q3-2012, respective average sales prices were $1,251,370 and $1,185,667.  Prices per sq ft respectively were $698 and $428.

The top in town sale was $9MM for a 5-bedroom, 7-bath single family home built in 2000, see photo above, with five homes selling for over $5MM. Total sales volume for the quarter was up 19.2% TO $63.2mm.  Single family sales were $31.2, and condos/co-ops/townhomes accounted for $28.8MM.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


If you have headed north from Okeechobee recently, you have seen large cleared areas in the Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard region, right side of I-95. 

A 900,000 sq ft development is under construction at this $200MM project.  The area covers 80-acres.  Palm Beach Outlets in West Palm Beach, scheduled to open on Valentine’s Day, will have more than 100 retail stores, including DKNY Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th and Kenneth Cole Outlet.  These renderings will give you an idea of how nice it will look... and lure you to come and shop here once it opens.

This was the site of the former Palm Beach Mall.  An adjacent retail center whose opening is planned for next fall will include Whole Foods Market and a Nordstrom Rack.  Dining venues will be included. 

The City of West Palm Beach anticipates about $1MM annually in property taxes from this development.  About 1500 full-time and part-time jobs will be created.  Stay tuned at Facebook.com/Palm Beach Outlet.

Monday, December 2, 2013


There were 16 single family residential sales in Q3-2013 vs. 13 in Q3-2013, a 23.1% increase.  Average sale price declined 14.5% from $3,186,484 in Q3-2012 to $2,725,325 in Q3-2013.

Average square footage declined 19.2% from 4153 in Q3-2012 to 3355 in Q2-2013.  Price per sq ft was down 10.1% from $807 in Q3-2012 to $725 in QA3-2013.

Only one sale in the North End was under $1MM.  Highest sale was for $10.8MM, a 5-bedroom, 5 bath, 3-fireplace home with slate roof, gourmet kitchen, large closets, renovated pool and beach access, pictured above.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Next month, after “Mira” is out of quarantine, visitors can see this beautiful jungle cat, who is 12 years old.  Her elderly owner, founder of the South Florida Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Homestead, has a terminal illness and he contacted state wildlife officials to help him find homes for his animals.

The Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation Society at Dreher Park is excited about their new resident and they say she is very affectionate with humans, and appears to have been well loved and cared for in her last home.  Yet, panthers are known to be solitary animals.  About 80 to 100 panthers remain in Florida, and they are now one of the most rare and endangered mammals in the world.  The Panther National Wildlife Refuges is east of Naples, Florida.  Panthers are at great risk of extinction.

Mira has a few health problems, including curvature of the spine, but otherwise is doing well. General curator Jan Steel says that having Mira, a “pure” Florida panther, is exciting and “It allows us to show the differences between the western cougar or puma and the Florida panther.

Three Malayan tiger brothers, Jaya, Bunga and Penari have left the Palm Beach Zoo for a new home at the Jacksonville Zoo.  Since 1900 the wild tiger population has decreased by more than 95% and there is a Tiger Conservation Campaign among zoos.  The Wildlife without Borders Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund funded 53 projects in 15 countries for these conservation project,  implemented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a federal agency of the Department of the Interior.  Here is more information.  The tiger pictured above is at the Smithsonian Zoo in Washington DC.

The Zoo recently added “and Conservation Society” to its name to stress they provide care for endangered species, which has been part of their agenda for a long time.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


(Reuters) – UNITEDHEALTH GROUP dropped thousands of doctors from its networks in recent weeks, leaving many elderly patients unsure whether they need to switch plans to continue seeing their doctors, the Wall St Journal reported on Friday.

The insurer said in October that underfunding of Medicare Advantage plans for the elderly could not be fully offset by the company's other healthcare business. The company also reported spending more healthcare premiums on medical claims in the third quarter, due mainly to government cuts to payments for Medicare Advantage services.

The Journal report said that doctors in at least 10 states were notified of being laid off the plans, some citing "significant changes and pressures in the healthcare environment." According to the notices, the terminations can be appealed within 30 days.

Tyler Mason, a UnitedHealth spokesperson, was not immediately available for comment when reached by Reuters.

The insurer told the WSJ that its provider networks were always changing and that it expected its Medicare Advantage network to be 85 percent to 90 percent of its current size by the end of 2014.

UnitedHealth is participating in about a dozen new state insurance markets that launched on October 1 to offer subsidized health coverage under President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul.
The insurer said previously it planned to withdraw from some markets in 2014 because of the government funding cuts.

Another top health insurer, Aetna Inc , also warned in October that it expected slowing growth in 2014 in its Medicare Advantage plans.

To find the lowest priced Medicare Supplements, see http://www.naaip.org/insurewithMarilyn and you can sign up there or call 561-638-9818.

Friday, November 15, 2013


The national median home price showed its strongest annual growth in nearly eight years during the third quarter of this year, according to data collected by the National Association of Realtors.  Homes for sale on Palm Beach Island are enjoying increased list and sale prices.

A whopping 144 of the 163 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) tracked by NAR showed gains between the third quarter of this year and the third quarter of last year. In 54 of those MSAs, the increases were in the double digits.

The national median existing single-family home price was $207,300 in the third quarter, up 12.5 percent from $184,300 in the third quarter of last year.

That's the strongest year-over-year increase since the fourth quarter of 2005 when the median home price jumped 13.6 percent.

Condominium and cooperative prices rose 15.1 percent to a median $205,400 in the third quarter.

One reason home prices are rising is that foreclosures and short sales are falling. Short sales are homes sold for less than what the owners owed on their mortgage.

Foreclosures and short-sale homes typically sell at a discount. That can lower the value of nearby homes because appraisers look at all recent sales when they determine a home's current value.

In the third quarter, only 14 percent of home sales were foreclosures or short sales. That's down from 24 percent a year ago.

Across the country, about 2.21 million homeowners had their properties for sale, modestly higher than the third quarter of 2012, when 2.17 million homes were on the market.

That's a 5-month supply of homes for sale, down from a 5.9-month supply in the third quarter of 2012.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Two hundred plus public, private and non-profit organizations in Palm Beach, Broward, St. Lucie, Martin, India River, Miami-Dade and Monroe County formed the group to develop a 50-year plan for the region.

Issues include coastal erosion, environment and other climate issues and regional approaches to economic development, transportation and education.  One member mentioned that an expanded marine industry in West Palm Beach could create jobs and become an international destination for super yachts.

A grant of nearly $14MM has been awarded to South Florida transportation officials to upgrade rail transportation and connect train corridors on Tri Rail and the CSX and Florida East Coast Railway lines.  It will also be used for the All Aboard Florida, a rail service between Miami and Orlando.

According to project officials, three million new residents are expected in Florida in the next 50 years.  For more information see seven50.org.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


In 1979 the Palm Beach Town Council, in order to stop the loss of the town’s historic resources, adopted a Historic Preservation Ordinance.  This ordinance appointed a 7-member Landmarks Preservation Commission, 6 of whom must be town residents, to identify significant structures, check them against a set of criteria and choose the best examples as landmarks of the Town of Palm Beach.  This Commission also determines historic districts and scenic areas.

Criteria for landmark designation includes properties associated with events of historic interest or lives of persons historically significant; outstanding example of architectural design, or significant work of a notable architect or master craftsman.  The Committee also reviews changes and alterations to existing Landmark properties.

Currently there are 246 Landmarked properties, sites and vistas, and ten properties and one scenic vista are now being considered to receive the Landmark designation.  Included are properties designed by Marion Simms Wyeth, John Volk, Treanor and Fatio and examples of a bungalow, Moorish Revival-style, Neoclassical style, Georgian Revival style, Mediterranean Revival and Mission style home.

There are some property tax advantages to being a Landmarked property.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


 Architects and builders are incorporating meditation gardens, yoga and tai chi studios and private chapels into home plans. 

Tea Houses with sparse furnishings are a newer addition to some homes.

Feng shui specialists are called upon to consult with about design principals or to conduct special ceremonies.  Outdoor elements are brought within vision.  Beautiful gardens with plantings and pebbles are featured.  Antique doors are popular.  Water features have become important, such as fountains and waterfalls.  Homeowners want natural materials and light colored woods such as maple, bamboo and oak. 

Asian influences prevail.  Handmade sliding screens and tatami mats are included as well as koi ponds and bonsai trees. 

Tea rooms are places for meditation and for snacks and dinners.  During the Colonial period, private prayer spaces were included within homes, but in the 1960’s, communal worship became more popular.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


If you are selling your home in a community association, have you taken advantage of every possible tax break? Did you include your percentage interest in the many improvements which your association has made over the years?

Let's compare these two situation. You purchased your single family house many years ago for $100,000. Over the years, you have spent $50,000 in improvements and have the bills to document this. This increases your basis for tax purposes to $150,000. You sell the property for $650,000. Your profit (excluding for this discussion sales commissions and settlement costs) is $500,000. Currently, under Federal law, if you are married, file a joint income tax return, and have owned and lived in the house for two out of the five years before sale, you can exclude up to $500,000 of your gain; accordingly, in our example, you will not have to pay any capital gains tax. If you are single - or file a separate tax return - you can exclude up to $250,000 of your profit. The difference - $250,000 - will be taxed. Keep in mind that as of this year, the capital gains tax rate has been increased, and many homeowners will have to pay up to twenty percent of a portion of their gain.

Now let us change this example to the sale of a condominium, cooperative or a house in a homeowner association. Same facts: you bought for $100,000 and sold for $650,000. Since the IRS will consider your profit at $550,000, even if you are eligible for the up-to-$500,000 exclusion of gain, you will have to pay capital gains tax on the $50,000 overage.

However, there are "secret" benefits you probably overlooked - or were not even aware of: the improvements made by your association including the qualifying energy efficiency improvements added to the complex.

According to the Internal Revenue Service "You need to know your basis in your home to determine any gain or loss when you sell it. Your basis in your home is determined by how you got the home.. (IRS Publication 523, entitled "Selling Your Home").

For example, if you bought or built the property, your basis is what it cost you. If it was a gift, your basis is the basis of the person giving you the property. And if you inherited the house, your basis will most likely be the fair market value as of the date of death, called the stepped-up basis.

Let us define some important terms:
·         Gain.Also known as "profit," and the gain on the sale of your home is the amount realized minus the adjusted basis of the home you sold.

·         Amount Realized.This is the selling price of your old home minus your selling expenses. These would include real estate commissions, advertising fees and legal fees incurred exclusively in the selling process.

·         Adjusted Basis.This is your basis in the property increased or decreased by such expenses as settlement fees or the costs of additions and improvements that have been made to your property.

Thus, as can be seen, in order to reduce your gain, (and pay less tax), you want to legitimately increase both your basis and your selling expenses.

Let 's go back to our example. We have agreed that you have made a profit of $550,000 and will have to pay capital gains tax on that additional $50,000.

Your community association has spent a considerable amount of money improving the property. They have added a new roof (or roofs), installed a swimming pool and tot lot, and made other similar improvements.

You own a percentage interest in that association. Generally, (other than for cooperatives) your percentage interest will be found at the end of a legal document known as the "Declaration." The total of everyone's percentage interest in the association should be 100%. In a cooperative, your percentage interest should be reflected on your share certificate or proprietary lease.

Let us assume that the association spent $400,000 in improvements from the time you bought the property, and that your percentage interest is 2.3. If you multiple your percentage interest times the total improvements, you get a figure of $9,200.00, and this amount can -- and should -- be added to your basis as "improvements."

It is surprising to me that many community association owners are not aware of this tax benefit. In most community associations, the records should be available as to the total expenditure for improvements on a year to year basis. Please understand that maintenance and repair items are not added to basis, but capital improvements -- generally items which have a useful life of one year or more -- are indeed legitimate items to be added to basis.

Basis is a concept on which most of us pay little attention. However, as we get older, and become concerned with conserving the majority of our assets, the concept of adjusted basis becomes critical. Each dollar that can legitimately be added to the purchase price (the adjusted basis) generates a savings to the individual community association owner.

What should you do if you sold your property within the last few years and were not aware of this special tax break? Obtain a breakdown of capital improvements for the last three years from your association's property manager. You may be able to file an amended return, but you must discuss the logistics, the practicality and the legality of an amended return with your own tax advisers. You don't necessarily want to red-flag the IRS by filing that additional return.

Reprinted with the permission of the author

Author: Benny L. Kass, Realty Times

Sunday, September 22, 2013


With a contest entry deadline of October 11, 2013 at 11:59 pm, judging will begin for a contest designed to engage students of all ages (from kindergarten to high school) to learn more about Florida’s economic history.  The entry can be art, writing or video.  It is part of the YOUR MONEY MATTERS initiative.  This contest is in honor of Florida’s 500th Anniversary.

Students can be enrolled in any public, private, charter, virtual, home or alternative school for the 2013-2014 school year.  By 12-31-2013, announcements will be made of a total of $2625 awarded to the winning students.  

Find more information at MyFloridaCFO.com/YMM.

This site also features in their games section fun and educational tools to help children save. (http://www.myfloridacfo.com/YMM/Games/Default.aspx

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Proposed tax notices were just sent out to Palm Beach County residents.  The Clerk’s office will accept appeals for property tax appraisals through September 16.
You can challenge market value, classification or an exemption by petitioning the county’s Value Adjustment Board (VAB). Board Members are two county commissioners, one school board member, and two citizen members.  They approve and hire special magistrates to settle disputes. 
The VAB is not affiliated with the Tax Collector or Property Appraiser.  Go to www.mypalmbeachclerk.com and use myVABsystem to file your petition online, schedule hearings and submit supporting materials, or call 561-355-6289 for more information.  Forms can also be submitted in person or by mail.  Filing fee is $15.  To submit in person, go to the Clerk’s Governmental Center or branch locations.  To submit by mail send to 301 North Olive Avenue, Room 203, West Palm Beach FL 33401.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


If you would like to subscribe to my biweekly HOME ACTIONS NEWSLETTER email marilynfjacobs@gmail.com.  Many interesting articles for homeowners.

Monday, August 5, 2013



Put your car keys beside your bed at night.

Tell your spouse, your children, your neighbors, your parents, your Doctor's office, the che
ck-out girl at the market, everyone you run across. Put your car keys beside your bed at night.

If you hear a noise outside your home or someone trying to get in your house, just press the panic button for your car. The alarm will be set off, and the horn will continue to sound until either you turn it off or the car battery dies.

This tip came from a neighborhood watch coordinator. Next time you come home for the night and you start to put your keys away, think of this: It's a security alarm system that you probably already have and requires no installation. Test it. It will go off from most everywhere inside your house and will keep honking until your battery runs down or until you reset it with the button on the key fob chain. It works if you park in your driveway or garage.

If your car alarm goes off when someone is trying to break into your house, odds are the burglar/rapist won't stick around. After a few seconds, all the neighbors will be looking out their windows to see who is out there and sure enough the criminal won't want that. And remember to carry your keys while walking to your car in a parking lot. The alarm can work the same way there. This is something that should really be shared with everyone. Maybe it could save a life or a sexual abuse crime.

This would also be useful for any emergency, such as a heart attack, where you can't reach a phone. My Mom has suggested to my Dad that he carry his car keys with him in case he falls outside and she doesn't hear him. He can activate the car alarm and then she'll know there's a problem.

This may save a life!

Friday, July 26, 2013


The Homeowners’ Policy and Claims Bill of Rights Working Group is a panel developing consumer-protection recommendations that they will offer to the Legislature in next year’s session.

Recently the state levied a $1.26MM fine against the state’s 2nd largest insurer, Universal Property and Casualty Insurance Company for wrongly denying claims and canceling policies without adequate notice.   Universal has 550,000 policyholders. 
Universal was cited for using credit histories of clients to deny claims, long after the underwriting process should have been completed.  A bill was amended to limit use of credit records to deny coverage to 90 days after policy is written, but the bill failed to pass.
Some Florida consumers had had damages claims denied and coverage canceled because of an old credit report, despite having long-held insurance policies with same company.  Some others face lengthy legal proceedings in which they must participate or risk losing their policies.  Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate Robin Smith Westcott cautioned consumers in the middle of a claim or dispute to refrain from immediately signing contracts with contractors, adjusters and other groups offering aid.  He said, “first, contact your insurance company to get the process started”.