Home buying in Coconut Grove, Coral Gables.... (Miami, Fisher Island: sales, real estate)
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I did a quick search and didnt quite find what I was looking for.
My wife and I moved here and are in the process of looking for our first house. Very little experience in real estate. We are planning to be here no less than 5 yrs and probably not much longer than that.
We are considering Coconut Grove and Coral Gables. Im wondering what the "hidden" caveats of buying a house are here in Miami or anywhere. We would love to find a foreclosed home and fix it up.. well, nothing to serious..
We spoke with someone on the sidewalk the other day and they mentioned that Coconut Grove property taxes are double Coral Gables, and that East of the Dixie Hwy you are a "Wind/Storm Insurance" no mans land.. or some sort thereof. Whats the deal with homeowners insurance in these parts of town. Do you have to have (Flood, wind, storm, .. )
Many of the houses seem to have a propane tank and a septic tank. How will that effect resale? ( Im guessing that if all houses have it , then not much) How much does it cost to fill a propane tank , roughly?
What other tidbits are out there?
I dont trust real estate agents because I believe their interest is the higher selling price. Is that a wrong assessment?
Thanks for the help, Ill take any info anyone is willing to pass on. Sorry if this has been covered before but my 6 wk old daughter wont let me peruse any longer.
I agree with you in that real estate agents have a vested interest in making a sale, however, you could learn a lot from them regarding the area and ask LOTS of questions, then find one who you feel comfortable with to do business with.
Not all of Coral Gables is on septic tank; most of the homes surrounding the downtown section is on City sewers and most use electric power. I lived in the Miracle Mile area for over 30 years and am most familiar with that neighborhood - and I'd not hesitate to relocate back there someday !
It would be my personal preferance for CORAL GABLES only because I know their police department and fire department are superior. The police response time is within minutes!!
Coconut Grove uses the Miami Police department and their response time could be much longer if you had need to call them.
Just FYI, Coconut Grove is located within the city of Miami. Coral Gables is an incorporated city...with quite stringent regulations. Both are quite expensive. Living in the Grove, you might be very close to ghetto type areas. You have to be careful about your location. Also, traffic going through the Grove can be absolutely horrendous.
What's wrong with a propane tank & septic tank? We have both. MOST homes in the most expensive areas of CGables have them. Frankly, we put in propane so I could cook with a gas cooktop and we could have gas in the case of losing power.
We could have installed a permanent tank, but that was more $ and had to be 10' from our AC compressors, so we went with "removable" ones. We needed a concrete pad and it's strapped into the wall -- it's not going anywhere. It's designed to be wheeled out when replaced, not filled in place. We had it installed in April, we moved in early May and just replaced/refilled it. $65.
I agree that police & fire in CGables are litereally ONE OF the best departments in Florida.
I don't know what your budget is, but I've noticed older some need TLC homes around UM for ~$450k. Remember in CGables, they are VERY strict with permiting. Things like replacing windows need to be done above board. Landscaping, kitchen cabinets, sinks, etc you can get away with, but anything electrical or plumbing-wise, especially major, you need to let the city know.
I'm not sure what issues insurance-wise there are SE of US1, but we are ~15' above sea level near UM and in an X flood zone. We do not need to evacuate for hurricanes. Do we save $$? Don't know. We don't need flood insurance but I think windstorm is the same.
There ARE deals out there and home sales seem to be picking up, but prices haven't quite hit bottom yet (from what I've read).
Shop smart and you can pick-up a great deal on a home to enjoy and fix-up a bit and maybe even make a bit of money!
(I'd also look at the Roads area, much cheaper and cute homes in a generally safe area.)
I lived in the Grove and worked in the Gables. I would say it depends a little bit on your family situation and personality. You mentioned you were married, but didn't say if you had kids, were planning to have kids, were empty nesters, etc.
The "personality" of these two places couldn't be more different: The Gables is a bit of an uptight place, where you can't change a roof tile without approval. If you don't trim your shrubs to within 1 milimeter of code, the city will send someone around to do it for you - and send you an exorbitant bill. Lots of lovely high end homes in the Gables, lots of middle-end condos, and some middle-end homes. If you want a neighborhood that is right next to the Gables and has a lot of the charm and access of the Gables, but is significantly less expensive, try Coral Gate. It's technically in the City of Miami, but borders on the Gables.
Coconut Grove is entirely different. It's on the water, for one thing. If you can afford to live on S. Bayshore Drive and walk to the marina, there is nothing else to think about! The Grovenor House is a ***MAGNIFICENT*** condo building on the water; there are single family homes along S. Bayshore Drive as well. The Grove was an artsy-fartsy place in the 60's, full of hippies and artists. Now, it is yuppified and expensive, but retains its "funky", casual feel. In the Grove, you wouldn't DARE trim your overgrown greenery, or you'd get an earful from the neighbors -- it's the exact opposite of the Gables! The Grove also has a very lovely, walkable downtown. And it's a 5-10 minute drive to the Gables.
I would choose the Grove, near the water, but if you had to live in the Gables it's hardly a hardship.
... Remember in CGables, they are VERY strict with permiting. Things like replacing windows need to be done above board. Landscaping, kitchen cabinets, sinks, etc you can get away with, but anything electrical or plumbing-wise, especially major, you need to let the city know...
This is not a joke: if you tell them you are doing crown molding they will charge you a fee per linear foot.
You can bash the Gables' code enforcement all you want....... but the bottom line is - that's exactly what makes Coral Gables "The City Beautiful".
I've never really considered it THAT bad. We've NEVER been cited for anything other than our nasty old garage door which needed painting -- and that was just a warning.
After we bought our house in 98, we wanted to paint it a non-approved color. We went in front of the board, showed them the color and one of the idiots up there asked "WHY would you want to paint your house this color?"
Whatever, they approved it anyway.
Frankly, it DOES go a little overboard sometimes (the whole no pick-ups rule for example), but I'd rather make sure my neighbors don't park some nasty old RV in front of their house or do major structural work w/o a permit and suffer some inconveniences myself.
But, to each their own.
LOL. Did you ever visit eastern europe during, or just after, communist times? There was ONE approved paint color for apartment buildings: Puke green up to about 5 feet, then white above 5 feet. It was the UGLIEST thing you ever saw. But, every comrade had to have the same color. NO NON-APPROVED COLORS will be tolerated! Violators will dissappear in the middle of the night. Tall poppy syndrome - that's the one that gets its head cut off.
The very phrase "a non-approved color" tells you everything you need to know about the mentality of the Gables. What will they cite you for next? Chewing gum in class? It's a little like living in a co-op building in NYC where you need three of your nosy yenta neighbors to approve before you can plug in a toaster. It's not for me.
As far as the "City Beautiful", I can name you a lot of UGLY condo buildings in the Gables. Ever seen the David Williams? Can you say "1971"? There's a lot of nice neighborhoods too, but it's not remarkable. We're not talking Star Island or Fisher Island.
Let's not get carried away with the Eastern Europe comparisons. There ARE over 200 "approved colors"
City of Coral Gables Web Site (http://www.coralgables.com/CGWeb/dep_bnz_colorchart.aspx - broken link)
AND they DID approve our "non-conforming" color. No heads were lopped off (yet!).
My mother-in-law has lived in a rickety old Spanish for 45 years and has NEVER been cited, nor have we in 10 (minus the warning which we deserved). Personally, I find their rules & regulations a lot less stringent than your average gated community -- but like I said, to each their own.
Last edited by planetsurf; 10-31-2008 at 03:38 PM..
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