From remodeling lows to Florida highs

Websites that cater to homeowners who are thinking about remodeling might want to pause and ponder whether they're actually discouraging site visitors from going through the upheaval of, say, renovating the kitchen: A new survey suggests that nearly half of couples who had remodeled admitted that the experience created friction between the partners.

And 12 percent said they were moved to think about divorce or separation because of it.

Clashing design styles were a leading reason for this conflict, according to Houzz, an architecture and interior design website, which found that about one-third of couples admitted to not caring for their significant other's tastes.

If you've ever been through a similar situation, take comfort that you're not alone: 42 percent of survey respondents said they regarded themselves as stuck with furniture and other items (some respondents specified "antlers") that their partners firmly refused to part with.

The Florida report. Thinking of retiring to Florida? Pack plenty of money.

Three recent reports on the Sunshine State's real estate market suggest that: a) housing there has made a miraculous recovery from its incredible bubble pop, or b) people are a little crazy, or c) both.

Consider Orlando, a vacation destination so popular that countless visitors undoubtedly have at least daydreamed about buying a little place or a condo, renting it out to tourists and occasionally returning for theme park getaways.

If that's you, well, too bad you didn't do it when you were thinking about it: Condo prices in the four-county Orlando area have more than doubled in the past three years, according to the Florida Association of Realtors.

The median condo or town house price in July was $104,000, which doesn't sound terribly expensive until you consider that the median condo price in July 2010 was $50,400, the lowest price in the state.

The Orlando Sentinel, a Tribune Co. newspaper, reported that much of the increase apparently was driven by East Coast residents and Midwesterners who paid all cash.

Then there's chichi Naples. The Naples (Florida) Area Board of Realtors reported a 143 percent increase in condo closed sales in the $300,000 to $500,000 price range in the past year.

The overall median closed price in July was $226,000, up from $190,000 one year earlier.

And in Miami, the influence of wealthy Latin Americans on the local real estate market continues to make headlines.

The city's Brickell neighborhood has long been affluent, but the arrival of millionaires from South America drove the neighborhood's average household income to about $115,000 in 2011 from about $78,000 in 2000.

When two high-rises broke ground in Brickell earlier in the decade, the average price per square foot for their condo units was $350.

Now the developers are shooting for a median of $800 a square foot, according to the South Florida Business Journal.

Noise? What noise? Purchasers of condos at a pricey complex in Aspen, Colo., might have to forever hold their peace, insofar as their neighbors go.

The City Council there is considering ordering that a "no complaining clause" be added to contracts at a three-story luxury development to stem legal disputes over noise generated by nearby nightclubs.

The buyers would be asked to acknowledge that they realize they're moving into a commercial area and vow not to "interfere" with business activities, according to the Aspen Daily News.

Halfsies. If you're among those who think we're in the midst of some kind of "normalization" of the real estate market, I offer you the conclusions of Goldman Sachs investment banking firm, which estimates that more than half of all recent real estate transactions nationwide have been all-cash deals, without mortgages.

Its report found that all-cash deals hit 57 percent in the first quarter of 2013, compared with 19 percent in the first quarter of 2005.

Such sales appear to be concentrated at the lower end of the price scale, Goldman Sachs said, and reflect the efforts of investors who are buying more modest homes to rent out.

HousingNews@comcast.net

Twitter @maryumberger

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