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Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 3 Comments

Values Up in The Bridges and Seven Bridges

Entry to The Bridges; image by Google

The Bridges and Seven Bridges are bright spots on the real estate market for 2016. Our analysis of MLS data shows that prices are rising in those two communities.

A great example of this is the house at 8200 Lost Creek Lane in the east end of The Bridges. It sold new for $812K in 2014 and sold again in 2016 for $1.1M, an increase of nearly $300,000. Upgrades explain some of the differences (the 2016 listing included a golf cart and furniture) but it doesn’t look like $300K in added value.

8200 Lost Creek Lane sold for $812K in 2014; it was resold in 2016 for $1.1M. The house has 5 bedrooms and 4 1/2 baths in 4200 square feet, a backyard pool, and a location close to the Florida Turnpike. Image from County Appraiser.

Overall the average price for the 49 transactions in 2016 was just under $1.1M, up from $985K for 36 transactions in 2015 and $936K average of 19 transactions in 2014. Measured in dollars per square foot, the average for 2016 was $252/sq.ft., up from $241 in 2015 and $225 in 2014.

2016 was also the first time an MLS sale in The Bridges exceeded $2M. 16840 Crown Bridge Drive sold for $2.4M, up from its $1.9M sale price (not through MLS) in 2014.

16840 Crown Bridge Drive has 6 bedrooms, 6 full and 2 half baths in 7600 square feet under air (over 10,000 total) on a cul de sac lot with over 180º of water views.

It should be noted that a pool was added before the current sale, which is mentioned in the listing and shows up on the latest Google Maps satellite image (apparently taken within the past few weeks).

Image from Google.

Transactions in 2016 ranged from $660K for a 4 bedroom, 3 bath house (2500 square feet) up to the $2.4M. Of the 49 MLS transactions, 29 were under $1M and 20 were over $1M.

Another good example to understand price changes is 8652 Lewis River Road. The house sold in 2015 listed with four bedrooms for $870K. A year later it sold for $960K (up $90,000). The 2016 listing included five bedrooms and noted $135K in upgrades. It is unclear how much of the upgrades, if any, were included in the 2015 listing which indicated “top of the line” upgrades already.

8652 Lewis River Road; image from County Appraiser.

On the numbers alone it appears that transaction prices are up in The Bridges and Seven Bridges. A source tells us that new home sales are slowing in Seven Bridges but we can’t confirm that and it certainly seems like volume is up.

Both developments are gated communities from GL Homes, one of the leading builders in the area (also active in other parts of Florida). New homes there include impact glass, natural gas connections, and lawn care provided by the association. Reported HOA fees range from near $400/month up to the mid-$500s. They are located just north of the Boca/Delray line.

Map showing location of Seven Bridges (left of Lyons) and The Bridges (right of Lyons). Image and map data by Google.

Seven Bridges is newer and has an additional gate on US-441. The main gate is on the west side of Lyons Road. Across Lyons is the main gate for The Bridges, which extends to the Turnpike. Stone Creek Ranch and Mizner Country Club are to the north. The Oaks is a little south of Seven Bridges.

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Sprint Slowly Screws

Sprint Corporation has gone out of the way to make customers hate them. What follows is a tale of false promises and repeatedly delaying tactics. It is comical that a company named Sprint screws its customers slowly.

It all started a couple years ago when a friend working for Sprint encouraged us to sign up with the company for a business plan. It sounded good and was mostly okay. One issue was the quality of phone service at our home.

We were told Sprint was about to upgrade the nearest tower and all would be just fine. While that upgrade did happen, it took more than a year longer than we were originally told.

As our 2-year contract was coming up, a new Sprint representative contacted us about signing up for a new deal. Her name is Soledad Soto, aka Soly Soto. The photo below appears to be her:

Soly Soto from her Facebook profile.

Yes, it seems really appropriate that she’s sticking her tongue out in this photo, because that’s how she and her company have treated us.

Ms. Soto tried to sell us on various plans that would upgrade our phones and, of course, cost us more money. Since we don’t need new phones, our main goal was and is to reduce our monthly cost. She kept sidestepping this and trying to sell us on different plans. But finally she sent the following in an e-mail on October 25th:

Hello Warren,

If you can wait until 11/25/2016 you will be out of contact for 4 lines. In which your plan will drop down to $100 automatically because 4 of the lines instead of paying $35.00 you will then pay $10.00. Until then this is the best plan we have.

While her e-mails were inconsistent and confusing, we understood that each of the four lines coming out of contract would drop $25/month, for a total savings of $100/month ($35/line dropping to $10/line is $25/month per line). This is typical – you get a “free” phone with your plan but the monthly rate is increased by a certain amount per month for two years to pay for the phone.

November 25th came and went. Our bill did not go down. We never heard from Ms. Soto again. She did not respond to follow-up e-mails. We figured it would be corrected on the next bill but it wasn’t.

Since Ms. Soto was not responding, I ended up speaking with William Addison on January 6th, and followed up by sending him e-mails. Mr. Addison confirmed that our bill was supposed to drop by $100/month, and that we were due to get a $110 credit ($100 for the current bill and $10 for the three days from the previous bill).

Mr. Addison called me again on the 11th saying that the problem had not been resolved yet but he was working on it. I followed up to document the conversations, but Mr. Addison never responded to any e-mails.

Today I checked my Sprint account online. The latest bill is due in four days and the issue has not been corrected.

So I called Sprint. First I spent about 45 minutes on the phone with “Tyrone.” I have no idea why this simple issue would take so long but I kept waiting and waiting. He kept telling me he was taking care of it, and then that he had to clear it with a supervisor. Then he told me his supervisor set it to credit our account on the next bill.

“Why not on the current bill?”

Of course Tyrone had no answer to this question. Finally I’d had enough and asked to speak to a supervisor. After another substantial delay “Archie” came on the phone.

This is where it really starts to go downhill. Archie now tells me that my monthly rate is not supposed to drop by $25/month for each line out of contract. He doesn’t know why previous reps told me that. He does not have access to the e-mails between myself, Ms. Soto and Mr. Addison (even though Tyrone spent 45 minutes or so working on this and told me did see the e-mails). When I asked Archie for his last name he refused to tell me.

After multiple phone calls with four different employees of Sprint, I realized that they are never going to give me a straight answer and they’re not going to honor any promises they make. I told Archie that we’re not going to pay this bill. We are going to shop for new phone service with a different company (which will probably screw us just as badly when they get the chance).

I told Archie they had 24 hours to get this straight and hung up. My phone showed I had been on the phone with them for over an hour, all to resolve what should be a very simple issue following what previous Sprint reps had told me would be done.

The conversation was about an hour ago. After I started writing this I ran an errand and came back to finish the article. My Sprint account now shows two credits totaling $95 (not the $110 I was promised). The monthly rate does not appear to have changed.

It also indicates “new activity will be displayed in 15 minutes.” It is possible that more credits might appear, and/or that the plan rates might be fixed. But this was a very unpleasant experience. There is no conceivable reason for Sprint to take this long to resolve an issue and to refuse to give straight answers or honor their promises.

This does not bode well for the company either. The current market cap is $34 Billion with the stock trading around $8.50/share. If the company is this poorly run, expect the stock to fall.

This author does not own stock in Sprint, nor in any of its competitors.

Posted in Business | Tagged , , | 44 Comments

Prices in The Oaks Continue Decline

Home prices in The Oaks were down in 2016 when compared to the two previous years. After excluding foreclosure-related transactions, the average sold price was $1.16 million in 2016, down from $1.21M in 2015 and $1.25M in 2014.

The Westgate model in The Oaks, with over 6500 square feet of living space; image copyright Warren Redlich 2015.

Looked at on a dollars per square foot basis, the average in 2016 was $221/sq.ft., compared to $229/sq.ft. in 2015 and $246/sq.ft. in 2014, or a roughly 10% drop in the past two years.

2016 was a busy year in The Oaks there with 50 total transactions, up from 35 in 2015 and 29 in 2014. Fifteen of the 45 non-foreclosure transactions went for less than $1M down to as low as $730K. There were a couple of even cheaper foreclosure-related transactions with one Chinese drywall house going for only $315K.

17566 Grand Este Way sold for $2.35M. Image and map data by Google.

On the high end only one house sold for over $2M in 2016. Just built, 17566 Grand Este sold for $2.35M with 5 bedrooms and 6 1/2 baths in 5900 square feet, it works out to nearly $400/sq.ft. That’s more than $100/sq.ft. higher than any other house sold in 2016. It’s unclear why the buyers paid so much for the house.

The Oaks is a gated community on the north side of Clint Moore between US-441 and Lyons Road. We have been in The Oaks many times and it definitely feels high end with gorgeous houses and true luxury amenities. The southwest part of the neighborhood borders the Thomas Produce property which will potentially be developed in the near future.

Satellite image showing The Oaks outlined in red. Image and map data by Google.

Homes in The Oaks are facing pricing pressure from new homes in the nearby Bridges and Seven Bridges communities, along with Azura and Royal Palm Polo on Jog Road. Various other issues also impact pricing, including the high association fees, concerns about what will happen with Thomas Produce, and the hangover from the Chinese drywall problem. With all of that said, there are some remarkable bargains in The Oaks if you want a house over 4400 square feet.

Call Warren at 888-733-5299 if you’d like to buy or sell a house in The Oaks.

Posted in Real Estate | Tagged , | 4 Comments

40+ Violations for Two East Boca Restaurants

Basilic Vietnamese Grill; image by Google

Basilic Vietnamese Grill on Federal Highway and Whistle Stop on Spanish River Blvd had the worst inspections for the start of 2017. Whistle Stop had 43 total violations including 5 marked high priority. Basilic had 40 violations but with 12 of them marked high priority – including a stop sale and rodent droppings – it seems more serious.

  • All potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) foods in reach-in cooler cold held at greater than 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Flip top cooler next to stove steak 46°,shrimp 44°-45°,tofu 44°-45°
  • All potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) foods in walk-in cooler cold held at greater than 41 degrees Fahrenheit.Rice noodles: 51°, soup 53°. Raw chicken 50°, raw chicken wings 52°, lettuce 50° according to manager door was open due to a big delivery ambient temp 54°. One hour later ambient 47°F. Operator requested to move all the cook food to other working coolers or freezers.
  • Dishmachine chlorine sanitizer not at proper minimum strength. Discontinue use of dishmachine for sanitizing and set up manual sanitization until dishmachine is repaired and sanitizing properly. Chlorine 0ppm, operator changed the sanitizer solution, 100ppm. **Corrected On-Site**
  • Employee failed to wash hands before changing gloves and/or putting on gloves to work with food. Prepping meat failed to washed hands before putting gloves in, employee washed hands and put gloves on **Corrected On-Site**
  • Employee switched from working with raw food to ready-to-eat food without washing hands. Employee touched food without proper handwashing, employee washed hands **Corrected On-Site**
  • Employee touched bare body part and then engaged in food preparation, handled clean equipment or utensils, or touched unwrapped single-service items without washing hands. Employee prepping food touched face then keep prepping food, operator notified, employee washed hands **Corrected On-Site**
  • Potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food cold held at greater than 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Bean sprouts at the prep area at 72f, two hrs on prep area according to mgr, moved to a cooler. Garlic fresh with oil 80°, held at the prep area for more than 4h. Stop sale issued
  • Potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) hot held at less than 135 degrees Fahrenheit or above. Fried Sweet potatoes at 75f at the prep area, explained time control procedure, operator time marked the food. Cooked rice noodles 70-73f and cooked meat 50-60f less than 4h on the prep area, food was discarded **Corrected On-Site**
  • Raw animal food stored over ready-to-eat food in reach-in cooler. Eggs on top of cut lettuce, operator removed eggs from it **Corrected On-Site** **Repeat Violation**
  • Raw animal food stored over ready-to-eat food. Fridge near blade meat over ice cream
  • Rodent activity present as evidenced by rodent droppings found. By dishwashing machine 5 dry rodent droppings found
  • Stop Sale issued on potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food due to temperature abuse. Rice noodles 70°-73°, garlic fresh with oil 80°, held at the prep area for more than 4h.

Basilic had two follow-up inspections within a few days after the bad inspection. These were far from perfect and another follow-up is expected.

Closer to home we were sorry to see one of our local favorites in West Boca, Saito’s (Glades & Lyons) with a big number 27 violations. On the bright side there were only four high priority violations and they weren’t terrible. No follow-up was required by the inspector.

The other notably bad inspection was for the Chipotle in Turtle Run on 441 in Coral Springs. They were temporarily closed on January 9th, apparently due to:

Wastewater backing up through floor drains. Observed underneath the three compartment sink. Observed employees traveling and standing in water on floor while washing dishes and retrieving clean dishes for prepping.

On the good news side of things, Burt & Max’s reopened in Delray Marketplace. We ate there on Friday and had a good meal. Their inspection on January 6th showed only 3 violations.

Perfect inspections were reported for a few of the facilities in the Polo Club community, Boca Woods, and inside the Marriott at Town Center Circle. Stonebridge Country Club had a near perfect inspection with just two minor violations.

Jersey Mike’s Subs in Somerset Shoppes (Glades & Lyons) had a near perfect licensing inspection with only one minor violation. Capital Grille at Town Center also did well with just one violation.

As usual our spreadsheet is below. We missed last week so we did two weeks together.

Download (PDF, 57KB)

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Saturnia Prices Flat

19551 Saturnia Lakes Drive has been on the market for well over a year but has not sold yet. Currently listed at $850K, the house has 5 bedrooms and 4 1/2 baths in over 4700 square feet. It’s a bargain compared to the house that sold next door (below). Call Warren at 888-733-5299 if you want to see it. Image copyright Warren Redlich 2016.

Home prices in Saturnia were flat in 2016 when compared to 2015. After removing foreclosure-related transactions the average price was $636,000, slightly below the 2015 and 2014 averages of $638K for each year.

19557 Saturnia Lakes Drive was the largest Saturnia transaction in 2016. The house sold for $801,500. The ranch home has 4 bedrooms and 3 baths in 3200 square feet. The house has major upgrades and the price works out to nearly $250/sq.ft., far more than the community average. Image and map data by Google

On the bright side prices were up four percent on a dollars per square foot basis, rising from $180/sq.ft. to $188/sq.ft.

In 2015 the smallest transaction was at $500K. That slipped in 2016 with three houses going for less, and the cheapest all the way down to $455K. 2015 was an unusual year with more transactions (30) and a tighter price range ($500K to $790K). In 2016 there were 23 transactions with a broader range, and 2014 was even wider with one house going for over $1M.

19084 Skyridge sold for $455K. The four bedroom, three bath house has just over 2600 square feet of living space. Image and map data by Google.

Saturnia is a gated community at the far west end of Yamato Road. It is across the street from highly rated Eagles Landing Middle School and Sunrise Park Elementary, and it is zoned for Olympic Heights High. The west side of the neighborhood borders the Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge and the land to the north is unlikely to ever be developed. South County Regional Park is to the east. Most houses range in size from 4 bedrooms in 2600+ square feet up to 5 or 6 bedrooms with some over 4000 square feet.

Saturnia satellite image and map data by Google.

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