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This video of manatees was taken from Onyx on the Bay in Edgewater close to Miami Beach and Biscayne Bay on 11/19/2018.

Wildlife is abundant in Edgewater and includes manatees, dolphins, pelicans, birds of prey, sting rays, and more.

You can enjoy jet skis, kite surfing, yachting, boating, fishing, and paddle boarding on the bay as well. To learn more about Edgewater call:

Brian C. Smith- EWM Realty International \
Edgewater | Miami Beach | Luxury Real Estate

#Edgewater #OnyxOnTheBay #MissoniBaia #Elysee #StarLofts #IconBay #BayHouse #Paraiso #LuxuryLifeStyle


Below is a recent article from the MIAMI Association of REALTORS (MIAMI) and the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system. I am proud to work at EWM the #1 Brokerage in Miami-Dade.

Total Miami Home Sales Surge a Year after Hurricane Irma

by | Oct 19, 2018
Total Miami-Dade County home sales surged 35.7 percent last month a year after Hurricane Irma brought minimal damage and stalled hundreds of sales in September 2017, according to a new report by the MIAMI Association of REALTORS® (MIAMI) and the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system.

Print Version

MIAMI — Total Miami-Dade County home sales surged 35.7 percent last month a year after Hurricane Irma brought minimal damage and stalled hundreds of sales in September 2017, according to a new report by the MIAMI Association of REALTORS® (MIAMI) and the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system.

Miami-Dade single-family home sales jumped 43 percent year-over-year, from 684 to 978, in September. The condo market continued trending upward with 29.5 percent more sales in September 2018 vs. September 2017. Miami condo sales have risen in seven of the last nine months.

“Miami is one of the most resilient communities in the world and our real estate market embodied that resiliency by bouncing back as expected from stalled transactions in September 2017,” said MIAMI Chairman of the Board George C. Jalil, a Miami broker. “The sales growth continues a trend of increased Miami home sales, particularly in the existing condo market.”

Miami Single-Family Home Sales Jump 43 percent
Miami-Dade County single-family home sales increased 43 percent year-over-year, from 684 to 978. The Miami market has registered 9,851 single-family home sales year to date, an increase of 0.7 percent from this time last year.

The largest segment of growth for single-family home sales is the $200,000 to $600,000 range. The segment recorded 757 single-family home sales, an increase of 49 percent from September 2017.

Miami Existing Condo Sales Have Increased in Seven of the last Nine Months
Miami existing condo sales increased 29.5 percent year-over-year in September, from 804 to 1,041. The Miami market has registered 10,531 existing condo sales year to date, an increase of 5.2 percent from this time last year.

The largest segment of growth for existing condo sales is the $150,000 to $300,000 range. The segment recorded 539 condo sales, an increase of 47.7 percent from September 2017.

Sales Dollar Volume Jumps 42.6 Percent to $900 Million
Total sales volume increased to $900 million from $631.1 million in September 2017. Existing condo sales volume increased from $304.7 million to $374.3 million (an increase of 22.8 percent). Single-family home total dollar volume rose 61.1 percent, from $326.4 million to $525.7 million.

Luxury sales played a significant role in the rise of the total sales volume. Miami single-family $1 million-and-up luxury sales jumped 62.2 percent, from 45 to 73 transactions. Existing luxury condo sales increased 25.6 percent, from 43 to 54 transactions.

Luxury single-family home sales have now increased for five consecutive months. Luxury existing condo sales have increased in five of the last six months.

Lack of access to mortgage loans continues to inhibit further growth of the existing condominium market. Of the 9,307 condominium buildings in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, only 12 are approved for Federal Housing Administration loans, down from 29 last year, according to Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and FHA.

Nearly Seven Consecutive Years of Price Appreciation in Miami
Miami-Dade County single-family home prices increased 7.5 percent in September 2018, increasing from $335,000 to $360,000. Miami single-family home prices have risen for 82 consecutive months, a streak of nearly seven years. Existing condo prices rose 1.3 percent, from $234,500 to $237,500 in September. Condo prices have increased in 85 of the last 88 months.

Low mortgage rates make purchasing a home more affordable. According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage increased to 4.63 percent in September from 4.55 percent in August. The average commitment rate for all of 2017 was 3.99 percent.

Miami Distressed Sales Continue to Drop, Reflecting Healthy Market
Only 6.8 percent of all closed residential sales in Miami were distressed last month, including REO (bank-owned properties) and short sales, compared to 9.1 percent in September 2017. In 2009, distressed sales comprised 70 percent of Miami sales.

Total Miami distressed sales increased 1.5 percent year-over-year, from 135 in September 2017 to 137 last month.

Short sales and REOs accounted for 1.6 and 5.2 percent, respectively, of total Miami sales in September 2018. Short sale transactions increased 3.2 percent year-over-year while REOs increased 0.9 percent.

Nationally, distressed sales accounted for 3 percent of sales (lowest since NAR began tracking in October 2008), down from 4 percent a year ago.

Miami Real Estate Selling Close to List Price
The median number of days between listing and contract dates for Miami single-family home sales was 47 days, an 14.6 percent increase from 41 days last year. The median number of days between the listing date and closing date for single-family homes was 91 days, a 1.1percent decrease from 92 days.

The median time to contract for condos was 70 days, a 4.1 percent decrease from 73 days last year. The median number of days between listing date and closing date decreased 7.5 percent to 111 days.

The median percent of original list price received for single-family homes was 95.6 percent. The median percent of original list price received for existing condominiums was 94.7 percent.

National and State Statistics
Nationally, total existing-home sales fell 3.4 percent from August to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.15 million in September. Sales are now down 4.1 percent from a year ago (5.37 million in September 2017).

Statewide closed sales of existing single-family homes totaled 21,087 last month, up 17 percent compared to September 2017, according to Florida Realtors. Statewide closed condo sales totaled 8,492 last month, up 14.6 percent compared to a year ago.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types in September was $258,100, up 4.2 percent from September 2017 ($247,600). September's price increase marks the 79th straight month of year-over-year gains.

September was the 81st month-in-a-row (over six and a half years) that statewide median sales prices for both single-family homes and condo-townhouse properties increased year-over-year. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes was $251,610, up 4.9 percent from the previous year, according to Florida Realtors. The statewide median price for condo-townhouse units in September was $182,500, up 5.5 percent over the year-ago figure.

Miami’s Cash Buyers Represent almost Double the National Figure
Miami cash transactions comprised 35.4 percent of September 2018 total closed sales, compared to 43.5 percent last year. Miami cash transactions are almost double the national figure (21 percent).

Miami’s high percentage of cash sales reflects South Florida’s ability to attract a diverse number of international home buyers, who tend to purchase properties in all cash. Miami has a higher percent of cash sales for condos due to lack of financing approvals for buildings.

Condominiums comprise a large portion of Miami’s cash purchases as 48.9 percent of condo closings were made in cash in August compared to 21.1 percent of single-family home sales.

Balanced Market for Single-Family Homes, Buyer’s Market for Condos
Inventory of single-family homes increased 9.8 percent in September from 6,060 active listings last year to 6,652 last month. Condominium inventory increased 4.1 percent to 15,435 from 14,834 listings during the same period in 2017.

The increase in inventory is for properties above $300,000 for condos and for properties above $600,000 for single family homes.

Monthly supply of inventory for single-family homes increased 10.7 percent to 6.2 months, which indicates a balanced market. Existing condominiums have a 13.6-month supply, which indicates a buyer’s market. A balanced market between buyers and sellers offers between six and nine months supply of inventory.

Total active listings at the end of September increased 5.7 percent year-over-year, from 20,894 to 22,087. Active listings remain about 60 percent below 2008 levels when sales bottomed.

New listings of Miami single-family homes increased 73.9 percent to 1,682 from 967. New listings of condominiums increased 59.9 percent, from 1,429 to 2,285. The numbers are impacted from the stalled transactions after Hurricane Irma in September 2017.

Nationally, total housing inventory at the end of September decreased from 1.91 million in August to 1.88 million existing homes available for sale, and is up from 1.86 million a year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 4.4-month supply at the current sales pace, up from 4.3 last month and 4.2 months a year ago.

To access September 2018 Miami-Dade Statistical Reports, visit

Note: Statistics in this news release may vary depending on reporting dates. MIAMI reports exact statistics directly from its MLS system.

Brian C. Smith- EWM Realty International
Edgewater | Miami Beach | Luxury Real Estate


Jorge Perez of Related Group is finishing close-out now on Paraiso Bay, one of four towers, in the Paraiso development in Edgewater.

Paraiso Bay

Gran Paraiso

One Paraiso

Paraiso Bayviews

At the heart of the luxury development you will find Amara, "The Quintessential Miami waterfront restaurant" from James Beard Award-winning Chef and restaurateur, Michael Schwartz. I consider myself a food snob and I enjoy Amara's brunch. I will return often to try more dishes and with confidence share this positive experience with family and friends.

Brian C. Smith- EWM Realty International

Edgewater | Miami Beach | Luxury Real Estate


#JorgePerez #MiamiLifestyle #LatinCuisine #TopRestaurant #FineDining #NewConstruction #Edgewater #Brunch


  • We MUST continue to remain vigilant and educate our customers to always verify wire instructions verbally. Never to trust email (whether it appears to be from you, the closing agent, or any other trusted party in the transaction). Customers should not wire any funds without independently verifying they have correct information and are dealing with a legitimate individual.

NAPLES, Fla. – Oct. 31, 2018 – When Maryland residents Roger and Shirl Lynn Butschky sold their home in East Naples more than a year ago, they didn't get their money after the closing.

Every dime – more than $450,000 – went to a fraudster who sent bogus new wiring instructions to the couple's title company at the last minute without their approval or knowledge, according to court documents and a report filed with the Naples Police Department.

The Butschkys sued Dunn Title in Naples and several of its employees for negligence and breach of fiduciary duty in 2017, seeking damages and a jury trial. The lawsuit is still pending in Collier Circuit Court.

Real estate wire fraud, a form of cybercrime that intercepts money transfers in home sales, is nothing new. It can take many forms. Local experts say Southwest Florida is ripe for such scams because of its wealth and plentiful supply of high-end homes.

Title fraud is common

"It's common. It actually happens all over the country – this title fraud," said Amanda De Medeiros, fraud line coordinator for the Lee County Sheriff's Office. Last year the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center received more than 300,000 complaints, with reported losses of more than $1.4 billion. The real estate sector was heavily targeted with 9,645 victims, who lost more than $56.2million.

In 2016, the number of fraudulent wire transfer scams reported by title companies and closing agents to the Internet Crime Complaint Center increased by 480 percent. The crime has been reported across the country – in every state.

Many title companies, Realtors, real estate lawyers and banks have tightened their rules and procedures for closings to try to fend off fraudsters. Still, sellers and buyers should stay alert, especially as a sale draws closer.

"Just stop for a minute and think about things and double check and triple check. Pick up the phone and have a conversation with your title agent," said Bryan Oglesby, director of public relations and outreach for the Better Business Bureau serving West Florida.

In the Butschkys' case, the FBI got involved after the couple's money came up missing. After investigating the fraud, the FBI recovered less than $30,000, so the couple still lost more than $421,000 on the sale of their home, according to court documents. "It's very unfortunate. They lost a lot of money," said their attorney Michael Petruccelli, with offices in Naples and Fort Lauderdale.

Wiring instructions changed

According to court documents, the scammer posed as a legal representative for the transaction in an email sent to the closing agent and asked for a change in the money transfer instructions, claiming the request came from the Butschkys' son. No such directions came from the couple's son. "That was from the fraudster," Petruccelli said. In their lawsuit, the Butschkys accuse the title company and its employees of not having the proper policies and procedures in place to avoid such scams and failing to meet industry standards in their handling of the closing.

Additionally, the couple claims Dunn Title's employees should have spotted red flags that ought to have put them on high alert before following the new wiring instructions. Court documents show there were three attempts at changing the instructions for the money transfer. After two other banks refused to clear the funds because the sellers' names didn't match up with the bank account numbers, Iberia Bank finally accepted the money anyway, which then quickly disappeared.

Email hacked

In a report filed with the Naples Police Department, Michelle Roman, the closing agent for the transaction, said she didn't suspect anything until she learned the Butschkys hadn't received their money a few days after their home sold. She said that's when she contacted the IT department at Dunn Title, which looked over her computer and concluded her email had been hacked. Roman reported Dunn Title was "a victim of a scheme to defraud" to the Naples police and she wished to prosecute on the title company's behalf. In a court filing, Roman and the other defendants argue the lawsuit should be dismissed for several reasons. Their arguments include the suit wrongly lumps the defendants under a single count of negligence and assumes a fiduciary duty that doesn't exist between Dunn Title and the sellers. Omega Title Naples LLC – doing business under the name Dunn Title – had a contract with the buyers, not the sellers. Roman no longer works for Dunn Title. She chose to leave the company, but she's still in the title business in Naples. She declined to comment.

Title company too busy

In sworn testimony, Roman said mistakes were made at Dunn Title because it didn't have enough employees to handle the workload. Management, she said, refused to hire more staff, claiming the office was "not making any money."

Dunn Title's chief executive and owner Scott Dascani disagrees. "She did have enough staff in my opinion," he said in a phone interview. "She felt like she didn't. Everybody is entitled to their opinion."

Dascani, who is also a named defendant in the suit, blames the Butschkys' lawyers, Threlkeld & Cetrangelo in Naples, for the mistake, although the sellers aren't suing the firm. He said he's convinced the fraudster obtained detailed information about the closing by hacking into the law firm's email first. "My heart goes out to anybody that's gone through this. It's terrible," Dascani said. He believes the Butschkys will get their money back, but there's a legal process they need to go through for the insurance companies that cover these types of losses to react, he said.

Schemes get more sophisticated

Dunn Title has gotten more cautious with closings since falling victim to the scam, Dascani said. But he noted the title fraud schemes are getting more sophisticated, with the fraudsters now taking over the mobile-phone accounts of their victims by gaining access to their SIM cards.

"If I could take everybody back in time to receive the paper check at closing, we wouldn't have this situation," Dascani said. "Unfortunately, it's the times we're in." Over the past year a few victims have reported title scams to authorities in Southwest Florida, while other cases of the fraud have flown under the radar. In January, Domenic Costantini, a Naples Realtor and residential builder, filed a report with the Collier County Sheriff's Office, saying he and his client were targets of wire fraud. According to the report, a scammer sent an email that looked like it came from Costantini to one of his buyers with instructions for a wire transfer needed for a closing. The buyer followed the instructions and sent the money, only to discover the email didn't come from Costantini and the money didn't go to the real title company. The Sheriff's Office didn't disclose how much the buyer lost. The information was redacted from the incident report made available to the public. Costantini couldn't be reached for comment about the outcome of the case.

A lucky break

Naples real estate attorney Liz Hazelbaker almost fell victim to wire fraud in February after selling her house in North Naples, but she never reported it to authorities. She and her husband had provided instructions to the title company to pay off a $400,000 loan on the day of the closing, with money from the sale. Two days before the closing, a scammer – posing as the couple's bank – sent an email to the title company with new wire instructions. As a result, the money went to the wrong bank on the day of the closing.

"The day after closing, I called our bank to make sure they had received the $400,000 and they said no. I called the title company and they sent me the wire confirmation. This is when I realized the money went to a Chase Bank account and not to our bank. We were able to get the money back from Chase – luckily," Hazelbaker said. She was lucky to get the money back because she had friends working in the law department at Chase Bank, who got the account flagged and locked down to protect her money, she said. "Normally the money gets yanked immediately into a foreign account, and once it leaves the U.S. there is nothing that can be done," Hazelbaker said. "These scammers try to get it out as quick as possible."

A growing problem

She fears title schemes might be a growing problem in Southwest Florida.

"When I was talking to other legal people about this, they were like 'this happens all day, every day,'" Hazelbaker said. "It just made me want to throw up. It's like every day, people's money is getting stolen. It's the new bank robbery. You're not stealing from the bank, but the customers." She's not eager to sell or buy another house anytime soon.

"I'm not going to do a real estate transaction for a while," she said. "I'm still really freaked out by the whole thing."

Since she was scammed she's heard more horror stories including one from a friend who owns a title company in Cape Coral who paid a client $200,000 because of wire fraud. That's the amount a fraudster stole by impersonating his client in an email and changing the wiring instructions on a sale, Hazelbaker said.

"I think it's getting worse, and I think people are hearing about it more. I had never heard of it and I'm actually an attorney," she said.

How to avoid a title scam

·Never accept a change to an agreed transaction based on an email.

·If someone tells you there's a new plan, especially one that involves thousands of dollars, check it out before you send a dime. Call your agent or title company and make sure the new directions are legitimate.

Tips to spot a phishing scam

  • Do not click on links or open files in unfamiliar emails.
  • If a company usually contacts you by phone, be suspicious if you suddenly start receiving emails or text messages.
  • Just because an email looks real, doesn't mean it is real.
  • If something seems suspicious, check the company's website or call them.
  • Email is not a secure way to send financial information.

Brian C. Smith- EWM Realty International

Edgewater | Miami Beach | Luxury



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