Our most recent posts

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Accountant keeps Aventura Roots Strong

We have received articles from various professionals in and around the City of Aventura. In order to add to our business educational series, we requested an article from Barry Gurland, CPA of RSM McGladrey. Even after having an office in Aventura's Washington Mutual building for many years, he remains active in the City of Aventura and is a regular at Aventura Marketing Council events, lunches, and breakfasts. He is excited about this blog and the opportunity to contribute to our educational series.

How to avoid three common M&A tax traps

The record pace of mergers and acquisitions (M&As) during the past two years with the number of M&A deals in 2006 estimated at 25,000 dealmakers should plan carefully, because unforeseen tax issues can make an otherwise appealing merger much less palatable. According to a recent national survey on M&A activity, 70 percent of respondents said hidden or unrecorded financial liabilities threatened successful mergers or acquisitions. In that same study, nearly half of respondents cited incomplete tax planning as a significant risk in bringing two companies together.

Structure deals with an eye on taxes

To help minimize tax-related M&A headaches, experts say it's helpful to begin by thoughtfully analyzing how to structure a proposed transaction. In a taxable merger deal, a savvy buyer seeks to acquire only the assets of a target firm, largely because that's a good way to avoid assuming undisclosed tax or financial liabilities while gaining a sizable tax write-off against depreciated assets. Conversely, sellers often want to sell stock, because it's a straightforward transaction subject to taxation only once at a relatively low capital-gains rate.

Bridging gaps between the needs of buyers and sellers often requires creativity, says Bruce Shnider, a longtime M&A attorney and distinguished visiting professor at the University Of Minnesota Law School. For example, he says, parties can structure an M&A deal to allow the prospective seller to issue stock but enable the buyer to treat it as an asset acquisition for tax purposes. Under this arrangement, the buyer receives a "step up" in basis on acquired assets, providing a higher platform for depreciation and amortization deductions, as well as full disclosure on financial and tax liabilities. While the seller must treat any asset sale gains above the tax basis as ordinary income, the bulk of the transaction typically is taxed as capital gains.
In many situations, the amount of ordinary income is trivial, and the parties can adjust the purchase price to take that into account. In such a scenario, the seller enjoys the full benefits of selling stock, and the buyer enjoys the benefits of purchasing assets.

In a tax-deferred arrangement, a seller typically receives most or all of the sale's proceeds as stock in the purchasing company, and the seller will have no tax liability until selling the stock. Because the IRS has relaxed so-called "continuity of interest" regulations in recent years, sellers no longer have to hold stock in the new entity for an extended period. This choice, while complex, can work well in situations where the seller wants to cash out, and the buyer doesn't have a lot of cash for the purchase, Shnider says.

Address common tax traps

Once both parties approve the deal structure, key leaders can dig deeper into other potentially nasty tax traps. Some of these include:

State, local and transfer taxes. If the merging businesses have operational or sales presence in multiple states, this can raise significant issues. The United States alone has more than 7,500 taxing authorities in 45 states and the District of Columbia that impose sales-and-use taxes on the purchase of tangible goods. This means prospective buyers should look closely at how effectively the business has collected, reported and paid sales-and-use taxes to various jurisdictions. If the buyer cannot get good documentation that the seller has paid these liabilities in full, Shnider suggests reopening price negotiations to account for the potential cost or drafting an indemnification clause in the purchase agreement that makes the seller liable for all outstanding tax matters prior to close.

On property tax matters, experts say the buyer should verify any lien records and seek proof of payment for the most recent tax cycle. Even if payments are up-to-date, buyers may face a reassessment of property values after purchasing corporate property, which often leads to a tax increase.

Aggressive tax positions. In concert with a careful review of a target company's current tax liabilities, a prospective buyer should also take time to evaluate the target's overall tax posture. If questionable tax compliance practices go unchallenged, the buyer may risk failing future audits, leaving themselves open to potentially sizable tax liabilities. Note this major tell-tale warning sign: any existing target company correspondence with taxing authorities about unresolved payment issues.

While a seller may offer explanations of these unresolved payments, the buyer needs to recognize how that opens the door to potential tax liabilities, penalties and interest, which can add up to a material number, Shnider says.

Golden parachute provisions. Many companies offer executive pay agreements through which a change in control can accelerate vesting of deferred compensation or require the payout of a large severance package. Such "make-whole" provisions — if not properly managed — can deliver a nasty tax surprise.

For example, if a public company pays an executive $100,000 a year and awards that employee $299,000 in severance after a change in control, there is no tax liability. But, if the payout exceeds three times base pay, the company loses the ability to take a compensation deduction and faces a 20 percent "excess parachute" tax penalty. That problem becomes even more costly for companies with "gross-up" provisions, in which the business agrees to cover any excess income taxes that key executives incur.

Privately held firms can mitigate excess taxation of golden parachutes if shareholders vote to approve the payouts. However, this requires the target company to fully disclose the names of all executives eligible for such payments, as well as the specific compensation arrangements for each. It also requires each executive to sign a document waiving the right to any payments sparked by a change in control unless the shareholders approve the payments.
To manage this process, Shnider says it's important to identify key employees at a target company with sizable change-in-control compensation packages. By taking this step before a deal closes, the buyer and seller can review the list and identify creative ways to rework existing compensation packages to meet executives' needs.

"In a perfect world, these things should be identified earlier rather than later, because the tax consequences can really affect how much a buyer is willing to pay for all the parachutes and gross-ups," Shnider says. "Mergers and acquisitions is a strange and often unique world, and no matter how smart a company's executive team or in-house staff may be, they need to get the right outside help if they don't have a lot of M&A experience."

For More information contact
Barry T. Gurland
RSM McGladrey
100 NE 3rd Ave
Fort Lauderdale Florida 33301
954-356-5758

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

U.S. Customs Cracks Down

Aventura Florida has many residents that are in International businesses and have contact with various ports in and around Miami. Those Aventura Florida residents will appreciate this next article written by Florida attorney, Jennifer Diaz. This is part of our series to keep Aventura Florida informed and knowledgable regarding various business issues and topics.

Keep in mind that these articles are NOT meant to substitute direct communications with an attorney. In fact, there are many attorneys, or some call them lawyers, that are located in Aventura Florida. You might know a name of an Aventura Attorney or the name of a law firm in Aventura. Either way, contact an Attorney if you have any questions.

Here is the article. Enjoy.

U.S. Customs Cracks Down on "Gate Outs"

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (Customs) is now requiring marine terminal operators to secure a bond against "gate out" violations. "Gate out" violations occur when cargo selected by Customs for inspection is offloaded from arriving vessels to marine terminals, and then delivered directly from the marine terminals, thereby avoiding Customs inspection entirely. Customs is now requiring all terminal operators and carriers to post bonds because of repeated "gate out" violations. The bond will guarantee payment of penalties incurred for "gate out" violations. Marine terminal operators have until January 20, 2007 to comply with this new bond requirement.

Customs has the authority to issue civil monetary penalties for "gate out" violations pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1595a(b). The penalty amount for such a violation is equal to the domestic value of the merchandise, and Customs has the authority to assess penalties against any party who is deemed to be responsible for the unauthorized removal or delivery.

Experienced customs and international trade attorneys may assist with mitigating penalties and in some cases even may get Customs to cancel penalties entirely. Mitigating factors that Customs considers include inexperience, general good performance, low error rate in the handling of cargo, and remedial action taken to prevent future violations.

Marine terminal operators affected are those who engage in commerce with containers and cargo arriving from foreign destinations, either public or private. The only exception is for those who exclusively deal with bulk cargo.

The new regulation requires marine terminal operators to have either an International Carrier Bond or a Marine Terminal Operator Bond filed at the port where the affected terminal is located. The amount of the bond must be at least $100,000, but is at the discretion of the local Customs Port Director. If a marine terminal operator already holds an International Carrier Bond, the bond amount must be at least $100,000. The minimum amount can be raised to $250,000 if it is deemed necessary by the local Port Director, specifically for marine terminal operators who have already incurred violations for allowing cargo to exit the terminal bypassing Customs authorization. The $250,000 limit may only be set based on terminal operators past performance, with approval of the Office of Field Operations in Customs Headquarters.
If marine terminal operators work out of more than one port, the International Carrier Bond or a Marine Terminal Operator Bond must be filed at each port where the operator has a facility. Separate bonds for each facility are not required.

Marine Terminal Operators without a bond by January 20, 2007 will not be permitted to handle international container shipments. The only exception is for Marine Terminal Operators owned by foreign corporations, and documentation from a surety that the foreign corporation has applied for the bond must be provided to the Port Director.

Customs & International Trade Department
Becker & Poliakoff, P.A.
www.becker-poliakoff.com

Tel: 954.987.7550
Fax: 954.985.4176
For further information, please contact:
Jennifer R. Diaz, Esq. or Peter A. Quinter,
Esq.jdiaz@becker-poliakoff.com
Tel: 954.985.6807

The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free, written information about our qualifications and experience.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Aventura Scent: The Power of Scent

I am not a scientist by any means, but I’ve been interested, and have researched the different ways scents affect people’s emotions, thoughts, and even actions. There are so many different ways that Aventura residents can use scents to positively shape things in their lives.
People don’t realize how strongly they are affected by different smells. The olfactory sense, which is the sense of smell, is interpreted by the part of the brain that is concerned with our emotions. Our emotions affect our thoughts, and therefore our actions. Even if a person is not conscious of it, the smell of something will affect their emotions. Smells are processed by the limbic system of the brain. This is an older, primitive part of the brain used to detect danger, fire, poison, or prey. Because the smell is recognized in the limbic area, it translates to a feeling or emotion and very often to a reaction. Scent has been an increasing tool being used in marketing because of its proven positive affects on sales.
You may be asking yourself why I’m interested in this, and the answer is simple. I want to live, work, and play in positive environments. I also want to share my thoughts about this subject to hopefully help Aventura residents become more successful at home, and in business, because success breeds happiness!
Having a friendly aroma has a positive, appealing, and emotional effect.
Let’s start making Aventura smell better!
Add some aromas to any part of your life and see (smell) the positive effects it has!

Here are some links to articles that I have read, and where my information is from.

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=51943
http://www.unilever.com/ourbrands/aroundthehouse/articles/incorporatingthepowerofscent.asp
http://www.brandweek.com/bw/news/leisuretrav/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1002726460

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Kite Runner AMC Aventura 24

This weekend several epic films will be hitting the big screen at AMC Aventura 24 in the Aventura Mall - The Kite Runner, National Treasure and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The Kite Runner is the film I'm going to see at the Aventura Mall this weekend.

No, I didn't read the book. I saw the cool cover at Border's Books, but have zero time to dive into a new story. Instead, I did some research on the Internet and I'd like to share that information with you.





Story Summary -

The Kite Runner tells the story of Amir, a well-to-do Pashtun boy from the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul, who is haunted by the guilt of betraying his childhood friend Hassan, the son of his father's Hazara servant. The story is set against a backdrop of tumultuous events, from the fall of the monarchy in Afghanistan through the Soviet invasion, the mass exodus of refugees to Pakistan and the United States, and the Taliban regime.

Assef's vow comes true during the day of Amir's favorite sport: "kite fighting". In this sport, children fly their kites and try to cut each other's kite. Hassan has a gift to know where the cut kite will land before it is even cut. Amir wins the tournament, and Baba's praise, with his kite the last one flying, but when Hassan goes to fetch the last cut kite, a great trophy, Assef and two henchmen are there instead. Hassan tries to protect Amir's kite, but Assef beats Hassan and sodomizes him. Amir hides and watches Hassan and is too scared to help him. Afterwards, Hassan becomes emotionally downcast. Amir knows why but keeps it a secret, and things are never the same between the two. After hearing a story from Rahim Khan, Amir decides it would be best for Hassan to go away. Amir frames Hassan as a thief but Baba forgives him, even though he admits to committing the crime - and despite the fact that Baba believes that "there is no act more wretched than stealing". Hassan and his father Ali, to Baba's extreme sorrow, decide that it's time to leave. All Amir wanted was his Baba to be proud of him and getting Hassan out of the picture was the only way.

-Wikipedia

IMDB

Director:Marc Forster
Writers (WGA):
David Benioff (screenplay)
Khaled Hosseini (novel)

Steven Colbert and Khaled Hosseini

Turnberry Isle Golf Resort in Aventura

Several weeks ago I posted a story regarding the conflict between Turnberry and Presidential Holidays, it appears that the dispute was resolved or at least a settlement was reached. I came across an article in the Canadian Press explaining the plight of these two parties. The entire article is posted below.

Basically, the Turnberry Isle Resort & Club in Aventura, Florida will be the host of this year's LPGA Pro-Am and gain tremendous exposure and endorsement deals; while the Presidential Holidays Southeast will have to deal with over 500 pissed off customers that were looking forward to spending Passover at Turnberry in Aventura. You do the math!

These types of civil conflicts are the realities of business. I can almost guarantee that the total amount of money Turberry lost from their Passover reservations and the settlement is less than what they will earn by hosting the LPGA and the prestige that it brings to their new golf club. It's a numbers game; someone made the conscience decision to absorb the negative publicity of this lawsuit because the dollar value was to good to turn down.

At the end of the day, we're all in business to make money. I'm just glad my reservations weren't cancelled - it's always a pain to reschedule.

This tournament will put the City of Aventura on the map. I'm confident that most Aventura residents, local businesses, and real estate will benefit from Turnberry's decision.

Enjoy the article...

LPGA IN FLORIDA:

The LPGA Tour finally worked out the details for its new tournament in South Florida, announcing Tuesday that the Stanford International Pro-Am will be played April 24-27 at Turnberry Isle Resort & Club in Aventura, Fla.
The $2-million tournament will be the first pro-am on the LPGA Tour since 2001.

Stanford Financial, the title sponsor, got involved in the LPGA beyond getting its name on the tournament. The company will make a donation to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for every eagle made on the LPGA Tour, a program that it started last year on the PGA Tour when it took over title sponsorship in Memphis, Tenn.

It also signed an endorsement deal with Morgan Pressel, who joins a Stanford Financial stable that includes Vijay Singh, David Toms and Camilo Villegas.

The new event was held up by a scheduling conflict at Turnberry Isle.
The resort already had been booked that week by Presidential Holidays Southeast, which was hosting a Passover event for more than 500 Orthodox Jews. The Sun-Sentinel reported last week that Presidential Holidays received a financial settlement from the resort, and the Passover event will go somewhere else.

THE PUBLICITY IS STARTING ...here's another article - Aventura LPGA

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Jewelry was the Theme of the Evening

Where were you yesterday evening?

I was at the party at the International Jewelers Exchange in Aventura. In addition to tons of great priced high quality jewelry under one roof, a guest celebrity arrived - the beautiful multi-talented Gizelle D’Cole . She made sure to meet all the guests and took many photos with eager fans. The evening was a fantastic mix of hors d'oeuvres, champagne, and JEWELRY.



These elements created a cocktail enjoyed by Aventura’s high society. This event was filled with excitement and every retailer engaged in conversations with guests. The jewelers love to show off their products and specialties – many guests tried on diamond bracelets, gold necklaces, Swiss watches, and elegant rings. That being said, last night the City of Aventura was definitely the capital of the Jewelry world.




Pictured in the center - Ron (Roni) Stern, celebrity jeweler, Stern Diamonds will be participating in this year's Trumpet Awards.

I look forward to attending their next event in Aventura. This evening was certainly a success enjoyed by all.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Dolphins finally score their first win of the season

MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins finally won one, thanks to a break and a big play in overtime.After Baltimore Ravens kicker Matt Stover missed a 44-yard field-goal attempt in the extra period, Greg Camarillo turned a short completion into a 64-yard touchdown and the Dolphins beat the Ravens 22-16 yesterday.

read more digg story

UF turns down thousands of Capital One ticket requests

Due to an extremely high demand for tickets to the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, the Gator Ticket Office is being forced to refund nearly 11,500 tickets to its fans for the Jan. 1 game vs. Michigan.

read more | digg story

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Real Estate in Aventura

Another great article submitted by an Aventura resident. You send it, we post it...

Real Estate in Aventura

There have been several posts on this Aventura Florida blog relating to real estate in Aventura. I decided to review each of the Aventura real estate posts and concluded that there is not a post regarding the decision to buy or sell real estate in Aventura. That’s when I knew taking the time to submit an article would have value. The goal of this article is to provide readers a highly rated destination on the topic of Aventura Florida real estate.

The City of Aventura Florida Blog is the key website for you to educate yourself when making a decision to invest in or sell Aventura real estate. Selling a home in Aventura Florida is a choice that is usually made by owners that wish to upgrade their current Aventura condo, while some return to their home country or state. Buying real estate in Aventura can be tricky and must be done carefully. The City of Aventura Florida Blog provides the most comprehensive Aventura real estate analysis which has been created to educate the residents of Aventura Florida who either own, rent, are buying, or selling real estate in Aventura.

I was impressed with the post regarding Florida short sales. It’s a great overview of short sales in Florida. This will prove to be relevant as pre-foreclosures, foreclosures, lis pendens, and short sales in Aventura are increasing daily. Furthermore, the various posts about the mortgage industry in Florida are very helpful. This article should be just as valuable for Aventura Florida residents.

If you are looking for an exciting place to live, Aventura is the right place. There are many amazing restaurants in Aventura. Also, there are plenty of shopping options available at the Aventura Mall. Those families looking for a great school, Aventura has a charter school that is highly rated. Aventura Florida is a city that has it all and is a perfect place to call home. When you are searching for Aventura real estate or any Florida real estate it’s advised that a professional real estate agent assist you in the process.

I have put together a short list of great links that are very helpful when doing research about the City of Aventura in Florida. I recommend that these links be added to the sidebar of this website. If you agree, please send an email to the blog contributors.


Aventura City Map


Aventura Building Permits


Aventura City Commission


Aventura Community Development


Aventura Community Services


Aventura Programs


Aventura City Contacts


I hope that these Aventura city links are useful for the residents of Aventura. These links are key areas on the website that I visit on a weekly basis. Sorry I had no time to take cool pictures of Aventura, but since most of you live here you know what the city looks like. I anticipate that this Aventura city overview will be helpful and give you some insight and valuable content regarding Aventura Florida.

That’s all I got for my first article submission, hope you liked it.

– Jerry Goldschmitz, Aventura resident since 1999

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Real Estate's Hot Trend

The hottest financial tool for our senior population these days is their real estate. Yes, I said real estate. I would like to apologize to the so called “senior” population I am referring to, because it seems that these days the number of years a person has under their belt doesn’t necessarily make them a senior citizen! Sorry for digressing. As I was saying the reason real estate is the hottest tool for a “senior” is because of the comeback of the reverse mortgage product that is available. I should say products as there have been many features added to it. I am privileged to have the ability to offer these products through one of my associates to the very large “senior” population we have in the South Florida community. The reverse mortgage products that are out in the market can effectively help the children of many of the “seniors” by relieving the financial burdens, or constraints that they may have. Below is a very interesting, and detailed article I thought was worth sharing.


The hottest mortgages? They pay you
Lenders have rolled out reverse mortgages with larger payouts and lower fees, giving older Americans new ways to take advantage of their home equity. But the options can be confusing.
By The Wall Street Journal
It may sound hard to believe, but one part of the mortgage market is hot: reverse mortgages. That's giving older homeowners more options to tap the equity in their homes but also opening the door to more confusion and mistakes.
Only a year ago, homeowners interested in reverse mortgages had little to choose from beyond the plain-vanilla government-backed products that have long dominated the market. Such mortgages essentially allow homeowners at least 62 years old to sell a large chunk of their home equity back to a bank or another lender in exchange for a lump sum, monthly payments or a line of credit.
Now, nearly a dozen large banks and mortgage lenders have launched reverse-mortgage products with lower fees and larger payouts. One lender has reduced the minimum age requirement to 60; others are making loans on second homes and vacation rentals. "Jumbo" reverse mortgages, for houses valued at as much as $10 million, are becoming more common.
With a reverse mortgage, instead of the borrower making payments to the lender, the lender makes a payment or payments to the borrower. The borrower keeps control of the house and doesn't have to repay the money as long as he or she lives there. When the homeowner dies or moves out, the loan is typically paid off by selling the house, and any money left over goes to the homeowner or the homeowner's estate.
A better life in retirement
The product is evolving from meeting basic needs to fulfilling the desires of a new generation of retirees, from funding a vacation getaway or recreational vehicle to renting a Paris pied-à-terre. The new options, though, mean more potential for confusion among consumers and a bigger chance that they could miss out on getting the best loans for their situations.
And as home prices fall around the country, some homeowners stand to be disappointed. "We're seeing people apply for a reverse mortgage and find out their home is worth 5% less than they thought," says Jeff Taylor, the vice president of Wells Fargo's senior products group in Greensboro, N.C.
With so many competing offers to choose from, homeowners could easily wind up paying more in fees and interest rates than they should. Fees are typically steep -- more than 5% of the home's value -- and most borrowing limits are capped based on where the homeowner lives. Fees are paid upfront or financed, while interest rates affect how much of your equity the lender ultimately takes.
Calculator: Are you saving enough for retirement?
Reverse-mortgage lenders traditionally have charged variable interest rates. Now, fixed rates are available, but they may cost you more, says Barbara Stucki, the director of the National Council on Aging's home-equity initiative.
Because of all the choices, homeowners need to be "a lot more strategic" in how they shop for reverse mortgages, Stucki says, factoring in how they want to take the payments and how much money they want to take upfront.
The boom in reverse mortgages helped Ronald Prast, a 74-year-old Phoenix retiree. When he first applied two years ago, he was told by a loan officer that he wasn't a good candidate; government rules would have allowed him to cash out only a small portion of the value of his half-million-dollar home. But last November, when Bank of America introduced a reverse mortgage that allows homeowners to borrow as much as 65% of a property's value, up to $10 million, Prast and his wife, Carolann, quickly signed up.
The couple's house, for which they paid $105,000 in 1981, was appraised at $540,000, Prast says. They used an initial draw of $208,000 to pay off their outstanding mortgage, a home-equity loan, one year's property tax and loan fees, freeing $21,000 a year formerly used to make mortgage payments for travel and indulgences such as paying for a granddaughter's semester in Australia. They also have a credit line worth $75,000 that they are setting aside for medical expenses.
"We were comfortably well off, and we wanted to release some of the funds we had tied up in our home," Carolann Prast says.
Taking out a reverse mortgage to travel or spoil grandchildren is a far cry from just a few years ago, when such products generally were considered loans of last resort for seniors to avoid foreclosure or simply cover living costs such as prescription drugs or hospital bills.
In the past, the reverse-mortgage market has been constrained by having one main buyer, Fannie Mae. But a half-dozen investment banks, including units of Lehman Bros. and Bank of America, have started buying reverse mortgages in the past few years, with plans eventually to package and sell them.
Last month, Ginnie Mae, the federal agency charged with making real-estate investment more attractive to institutional investors, announced plans to roll out a standardized government bond issue backed by reverse mortgages -- a key step in creating a secondary market that could help lower borrowers' costs and increase the loans' availability.
Though reverse mortgages represent less than 1% of the overall U.S. home-loan market, valued at about $10 trillion, the number of federally backed reverse mortgages surged 41% in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Bank of America plans to expand its Arizona test of reverse-mortgage products nationwide within six months, says Colin McCormick, the bank's top reverse-mortgage executive. In April, BofA announced it was buying the reverse-mortgage business of Seattle Mortgage, the third-largest reverse-mortgage lender by number of loans.
Questions to consider
The new products -- and new bells and whistles -- mean that homeowners considering a reverse mortgage are facing more homework than ever. There are two questions they should ask first:
What index does the loan use? It could affect your cost. Financial Freedom, the Irvine, Calif., reverse-mortgage unit of IndyMac Bancorp, launched a product in October that bases its interest rate on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR, index. Reverse mortgages traditionally have used the CMT (Constant Maturity Treasury) index, which is based on Treasury bonds.
Using the LIBOR index should lower interest rates "over the long run" for reverse-mortgage users, says Michelle Minier, Financial Freedom's chief executive. But the borrower may have to give up "a small measure of cash, from 2% to 5%," to get the lower rate, she adds.
Still, consumers should investigate products that use the CMT index. Different products tack on varying amounts of extra interest to whichever index they use. One product might add 0.65 percentage point; another might add 2 points.
What are the fees? Fees typically run up to 7% on government-backed loans -- in which the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insures lenders' and borrowers' risk -- but are as low as 2% on proprietary loans. If you're seeking a lump-sum payout for a reverse mortgage on a high-value home, some lenders are willing to eliminate or reduce the upfront costs. And if you borrow less, you can often lower your fees, too.
But you may pay higher interest rates in exchange for lower fees, says David Certner, the legislative-policy director for senior advocacy group AARP.
For a 62-year-old Atlanta couple with a $500,000 house, for example, Financial Freedom's proprietary product would provide up to $148,289 with a 7.79% interest rate. The homeowners would pay fees worth 1.4% of their home value, or $7,000.
The same couple could get only $140,596 through a FHA-backed home-equity conversion mortgage, or HECM, from Financial Freedom. In contrast, the interest charged is only 4.93%. But they would pay a higher fee -- 5.2%, or $13,262 -- based on the federal lending limit for their area, which is $252,890.
If a couple used the money as a line of credit, though, the balances would earn different rates of interest depending on the loan. For instance, the credit line for Financial Freedom's proprietary loan would increase by 5% a year, compared with 6% for its HECM product. But those rates, being variable, would be subject to change.
This article was reported and written by Kelly Greene and Valerie Bauerlein for The Wall Street Journal.
Published Dec. 10, 2007

For details regarding reverse mortgages email us your contact information.

South Florida Short Sales

NOW AVAILABLE ON AUCTION condoforeclosuretours.com

Search recent Short Sales, Foreclosures, and Pre-foreclosures in Aventura click on this link -----> Short Sales, Foreclosures, and Pre-foreclosures in Aventura <----- at the bottom left of that page you can scroll through all available apartment condo short sales. You're likely to find a good deal.



We all know the real estate market in Aventura and South Florida is changing. There have been many questions relating to short sales and preforeclosures, so we asked Richard Becker, an attorney in South Florida, to submit an article regarding this topic. This is what he sent us. Enjoy. If you find this article helpful, pass it on.


Overview of Short Sales and Preforeclosure

The increase in foreclosures throughout South Florida, specifically North Miami Beach and Aventura, combined with the current decrease or deflation of property values, has led to a rise in short sales. A short sale in real estate occurs when a loan against a property is higher than the property’s current market value. For example, if at the height of the market boom in 2005 you purchased a home for $400,000 you probably put 10% down and used an adjustable rate mortgage to finance the remaining $360,000. Now, in 2007, with the recent drop in values, the home is only worth $300,000 and you, as the owner, are upside down on the property. You owe more on the mortgage than the home is worth.

If the rates on your adjustable loan went up in the past few months or you recently experienced some hardship making it impossible for you to keep up with your monthly mortgage payments, you’re in danger of going through a foreclosure. You may have begun missing payments or have already received a Lis Pendens Notice. Unfortunately, many people in this scenario freeze like a deer in headlights and are unable to take action. They ignore the letters and notices and simply allow the foreclosure to happen. They never look at alternative options which may be available, such as negotiating with the lenders to catch up on payments, refinancing the loan, selling the home through a short sale or filing for bankruptcy. Each option has its own benefits. For example, if your hardship is only temporary or you expect to receive a large sum of money in the near future, a negotiation with the lender may be a great alternative for you. If, on the other hand, this is not a viable option, trying to sell the home though a short sale may be the way to go. If the short sale goes through, the lender will agree to sell the home for less than you owe. Going through with the short sale can help you build your credit score back up faster than if you are forced to have a foreclosure on your report. Finally, since there are never any guarantees when it comes to selling a home or being accepted by the bank for a short sale, there is always the option of filing for bankruptcy.

Every scenario is unique and every option can have a variety of ramifications on you and your future. It is strongly recommended that if you are having difficulties making your monthly mortgage payments that you contact a specialist so that you may discuss your options in further detail.

The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements.

Submitted by:

Richard Becker, Esq.
305-508-7202

After doing some research on this subject, I came across a great clip on YouTube. Take a look...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Trademarks and Copyrights with U.S. Customs

It won't take you long before you notice that the City of Aventura has a large International population. Also, there are many local residents that do a lot of International business. It's very common that individuals have various businesses which involve importing and exporting goods passed U.S. customs. That's why we decided to contact Jennifer Diaz of Becker & Poliakoff, regarding her relevant article. We're pleased to be able to post this great informative article; we anticipate it will be a popular read by the residents of the City of Aventura.

This issue was requested by one of our readers via email. Since we believe that this could benefit a lot of people in Aventura, Florida, we made it a post. If there's a topic that you'd like us to cover, please send us an email and we'll do our best. Enjoy the post...

Global Trends and Customs:
Why Record Trademarks and Copyrights with U.S. Customs?
By Jennifer Diaz and Peter A. Quinter
jdiaz@becker-poliakoff.com
pquinter@becker-poliakoff.com
TEL 954.985.4101
FAX 954.985.4176


Many companies mistakenly believe that registering a trademark or copyright with the U.S. Government provides the same protection and remedies as recording those materials with U.S. Customs. The processes achieve two different goals. The reason to register a trademark or copyright with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is to give the public notice of one’s ownership of the trademark or copyright. On the other hand, the purpose of recording a trademark or copyright with U.S. Customs is to partner with U.S. Customs to prevent the unauthorized importation of merchandise which bears a recorded trademark or copyright. U.S. Customs prevents counterfeit products from entering or exiting the United States when registered trademark or copyright holders record their trademarks or copyrights with U.S. Customs.

When a trademark or copyright is recorded with U.S. Customs, infringing merchandise may easily be detected by U.S. Customs at all 317 official ports of entry across the country. Once a trademark or copyright is recorded with U.S. Customs, the owner’s information is entered into an electronic database accessible to over 40,000 U.S. Customs officers in the United States and overseas. U.S. Customs uses this information to target suspect shipments for the purpose of physically examining merchandise which ultimately prevents the importation or exportation of infringing goods. To make sure a trademark or copyright is properly recorded with U.S. Customs, consider consulting an attorney who is familiar with the process.

Advantages to Recording a Trademark or Copyright with U.S. Customs

The first and most obvious advantage to recording a trademark or copyright with U.S. Customs, is that U.S. Customs will monitor and seize infringing merchandise at the ports of entry so that the trademark or copyright holder does not have to locate and prosecute every unauthorized importer, distributor, retailer illegally using its trademark or copyright. In 2005, U.S. Customs seized over $93 million worth of merchandise which infringed Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). Clothing, handbags and footwear comprised over forty percent of the total merchandise seized, accounting for over $39 million worth of merchandise. Counterfeit pharmaceuticals, cigarettes, toys, and consumer electronics were a close second, accounting for thirty nine percent of the seized merchandise, worth over $27 million. At the midpoint of 2006, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security already seized almost 6,000 shipments—up seventy two percent over the same period in 2005.

Second, U.S. Customs has the authority to issue monetary fines against anyone who facilitates the attempted introduction into the U.S. of seized and forfeited counterfeit merchandise.

Third, U.S. Customs may go to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and request that those involved in the illegal activity be criminally prosecuted under the Trademark Counterfeiting Act of 1984. First time violators of this Act are subject to penalties of up to ten years imprisonment and/or a $2,000,000 fine, while repeat offenders are subject to 20 years imprisonment and/or a fine up to $5,000,000.

Fourth, U.S. Customs may coordinate and participate in raids on counterfeit production facilities internationally. U.S. Customs officers located at American Embassies around the world routinely cooperate with foreign law enforcement agencies and share information for the criminal prosecution of manufacturers and exporters of counterfeit merchandise located overseas.

U.S. Customs e-Recordation System

Trademark and copyright recordations may now be filed online with U.S. Customs’ new Intellectual Property Rights e-Recordation (IPRR) online system. Before logging on to record a trademark or copyright, a trademark or copyright holder should be extremely knowledgeable with the Customs regulations found in 19 CFR Part 133, and the specific questions that will be asked on the application. Otherwise, consider consulting an experienced Customs attorney already familiar with the process.

The following is a checklist of the information you should have on hand before submitting your electronic trademark or copyright application.

• Description of trademark or copyright registered with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office
• U.S. Patent & Trademark Registration Number
• Country of manufacture of protected goods bearing the trademark, or Country of manufacture of genuine copies or phonorecords of the protected copyright work
• Name(s) of any parent companies, subsidiaries,or other entities, that are under common control with, or share any type of ownership interest or relationship with, the U.S. trademark owner, or names of all parties authorized to use or reproduce the copyrighted work.

When filing a trademark through Customs’ e-recordation website, it is advisable to attempt to obtain "gray market" protection from U.S. Customs. "Gray market" goods are foreign-made articles bearing a genuine trademark or trade name identical with, or substantially indistinguishable from, one owned and recorded by a citizen of the United States or a corporation or association created or organized within the United States which are imported without the authorization of the U.S. holder.

Conclusion

It is extremely beneficial for a company to record its registered trademark or copyright with U.S. Customs, as U.S. Customs may be a company’s greatest, and most cost effective ally when it comes to trademark and copyright enforcement.

For further information, please contact:
Jennifer R. Diaz, Esq.
jdiaz@becker-poliakoff.comTel: 954.985.6807
Peter A. Quinter, Esq.
pquinter@becker-poliakoff.comTel. 954-985-4101
Customs & International Trade Department
Becker & Poliakoff, P.A.
www.becker-poliakoff.com
Tel: 954.987.7550
Fax: 954.985.4176
800.432.7712

The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free, written information about our qualifications and experience.


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Restaurant and Wine Review

Aventura residents, I know how much all of you enjoy eating at great restaurants. Most of those restaurants, that we all enjoy, offer guests a wine list. I don't know about you, but there's a lot I can learn about wine and food. So, City of Aventura Blog has teamed up with Vino Verve. Vino Verve is the best source online for making wine fun and education about wine quick, simple and easy. Their blog covers all types of wine in all types of situations. It was a real treat that they offered to review a few wine lists from restaurants around the City of Aventura. You can check the blog at - http://vinoverve.blogspot.com/ Here's the article submitted by Rory from Vino Verve.


Aventura Restaurants - Wine List Review

Maintaining a wine list is a difficult, and very important task for those of us in restaurant operations. Beverage sales can be 30 to 40 percent of total revenue, and often closer to half of what ends up on the bottom line, and wine sales can help drive those numbers in the right direction. Yet most restaurants take the quality of their wine program for granted. Recognizable brands from familiar regions (California, Italy) that produce wine that is very, shall we say, available (X Brand California Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet and X Brand Pinot Grigio), tend to populate wine lists of restaurants that don't expect their guests to try new things or broaden their wine drinking horizons. An insider may even wonder who is writing the list. Often times it appears to be the distributor who is represented by 75% to 100% of the selections.

So, when asked to evaluate a wine list, I take into consideration a couple of factors. First, is there anything that I would want to drink? Second, is there any effort put into the list itself? In a city like Aventura, with an affluent, sophisticated local population, I would expect to see an aggressive approach to a wine program as a differentiating factor. Guests should expect that the restaurant have someone that knows more than they do about wine and that person may be the one that can transform their experience into a memorable one (and keep them coming back again and again).

All that said, I have looked at the online wine selections from a few Aventura restaurants and have the following comments:

Bar Rosso - REVIEW COMING SOON - Mrs. Vino interview about this Aventura restaurant
Restaurant & Vinoteca
19004 NE 29th Ave Aventura, FL 33180


P.F. Chang's China Bistro
17455 Biscayne Boulevard
N. Miami Beach, FL 33160
(305) 957-1966

Chinese is notoriously difficult to pair with wine because of the spice and oil used in much of the preparations. I think that Charles Krug Sauvignon Blanc is a pleasant choice. The list is small and not too adventurous. I would like to see more from Germany, Alsace.

Prezzo Restaurant & Martini Bar.
Loehmann's Fashion Island
18831 Biscayne Boulevard,
Aventura FL 33180
Phone: 305.931.5775

Italian food should not be consumed without wine, so the selections are more important (than an Asian concept). I would order Sanford Pinot Noir. There are some decent to good wines on the list but overall not very interesting or fun. The list is very typical and could also be a list at an Italian restaurant in any suburban community.


I find that as we develop more of a wine culture in this country the quality of the wine program becomes as much of a draw as the atmosphere and the food. I find myself choosing a restaurant based on the selections that I may choose from for my wine. Aventura can benefit from more strong wine lists. It's good for business.


By: Rory, Vino Verve - http://vinoverve.blogspot.com/




I hope all of our readers enjoyed this Aventura restaurant and wine list review. After reading this great post from Vino Verve, I decided to do a few searches on YouTube. I discovered there are plenty of videos about wine and food. Most of the clips were very serious and boring; however, I'm sure you'll agree that this wine tasting video is an exception. Enjoy.

90+ point rated wines under $20

Here's a list of Restaurants in Aventura. I will be adding reviews for each restaurant.

BARRIO LATINO
3585 Ne 207 St - Aventura,FL 33180

Barrio Latino is a great spot for latin cuisine. The atmosphere is perfect for the family or a first date. There's a great outdoor patio in the front of Barrio Latino. They also have a flat screen television behind the bar, great for watching the game.

I really like the black bean soup and the fresh salads. Barrio Latino is worth trying if you have that desire for some latin flavor. A perfect restaurant in Aventura that you're sure to enjoy.

59TH LEX
19555 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33180
ALEX AND TAMARA TERRACE DELI
20191 East Country Club Dr - Aventura,FL 33180
ANTHONYS COAL FIRED PIZZA OF AVENTURA
17901 Biscayne Boulevrad - Aventura,FL 33160
ASAKA JAPANSE REST
20355 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33180
ASIAN CHAO
19501 Biscayne Blvd 1437 - Aventura,FL 33180
AVENTURA ENTERPRISES LLC
18831 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33160
BAGEL COVE
19003 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33180
BANANA ROYAL ICE CREAM
3575 Ne 207 St b-6b - Aventura,FL 33180
BELLA LUNA RESTAURANT
19575 Biscayne Blvd 1097 - Aventura,FL 33180
BEN JERRYS
19575 Biscayne Blvd 789 - Aventura,FL 33180
BORDERS CAFE
19925 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33180
BOSTON MARKET 3213
21175 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33180
BURGER KING 4972
2711 Ne 187 St - Aventura,FL 33180
BURGER KING 6224
20403 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33180
CAJUN GRILL
19575 Biscayne Blvd 1377 - Aventura,FL 33180
CAROLES KOSHER
3585 Ne 207th Street - Aventura,FL 33180
CHARLEYS GRILLED SUBS
19501 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33180
CHE PASTA
19575 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33180
CHEESECAKE FACTORY
19501 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33180
CHEF ALLEN
19088 Ne 29 Ave - Aventura,FL 33180
CHICKEN KITCHEN
19501 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33180
CHILIS GRILL BAR 396
19975 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33180

CHINA BISTRO AT WATERWAYS
3565 Ne 207 St Ste a5 - Aventura,FL 33180

Are you looking for kosher food in Aventura? You'll find it at China Bistro.

China Bistro is a kosher chinesse food restaurant in Aventura Waterways Shoppes. It's not your typical kosher restaurant. It's a large casual fine dining restaurant that caters to families and those seeking a kosher meal in a nice environment. The food is very tasty and they even have a full Sushi bar. My only complaint is the service - it needs a lot of work. The service staff needs some serious training. Since the food is great people don't seem to mind the bad service, the restaurant is packed all the time.

CHUCK E CHEESES
20335 Biscayne Blvd l-1 - Aventura,FL 33180
CLASSIC RESIDENCE BY HYATT AT AVENTURA I
19333 West Country Club Drive - Aventura,FL 33180
CLASSIC RESIDENCE BY HYATT IN AVENTURA
19333 W Country Club Drive - Aventura,FL 33180
COSI
19501 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33180
COSI AVENTURA COFFEE SHOP
19501 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33180
COUNTRY CLUB GRILL
19999 W Country Club Dr - Aventura,FL 33180
COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT AVENTURA
2825 Nw 191 St - Aventura,FL 33180
CREPEMAKER
19575 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33181
CREPEMAKER
19501 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33180
DLITES
20695 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33180
EATS TREATS INC
20801 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33160
EINSTEIN BROS BAGELS 778
18815 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33180
EMPLOYEE CAFETERIA
19735 Turnberry Way - Aventura,FL 33180
EMPLOYEES CAFETERIA
19999 W Country Club Dr - Aventura,FL 33180
FRATELLO RISTORANTE
20475 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33180
FUJI HANA RESTAURANT
18757 Biscayne Blvd No 740 - Aventura,FL 33180
HAAGEN-DAZS ICE CREAM
19575 Biscayne Blvd 1459 - Aventura,FL 33180
HAMPTONS CLUB
20281 E Country Club Dr - Aventura,FL 33180
HARRYS DINER
19575 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33180
ISLAND SHOPPE
7900 Island Boulevard - Aventura,FL 33160
IVY AVENTURA RESTAURANT AND LOUNGE
19004 Ne 29 Ave - Aventura,FL 33180
JOHNNY ROCKETS
19501 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33180
JUICE AND JAVA
20335 Biscayne Blvd l26 - Aventura,FL 33180
KAMPAI JAPANESE RESTAURANT
3565 Ne 207 St b-12 - Aventura,FL 33180
THE FAMOUS KOSHER DELI
20301 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33180
LA VALENTINA
19501 Biscayne Blvd 783 - Aventura,FL 33180
LE BON BISTRO
19575 Biscayne Blvd 1429 - Aventura,FL 33180
LITTLE TASTE OF CUBAAMERICAN CAFE
19501 Biscayne Blvd Bay 1401 - Aventura,FL 33161
MAMA BS
19501 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33180
MAMA SBARROS
19501 Biscayne Blvd 375a - Aventura,FL 33180
MIDDLE EAST CONNECTIONS
19575 Biscayne Blvd 1433 - Aventura,FL 33180
MOES BAGELS
2772 Ne 187 St - Aventura,FL 33180
ORIGINAL PANACAKE HOUSE THE
21215 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33180
PARADISE CAFE
19575 Biscayne Blvd 1417 - Aventura,FL 33180
PAULS BAKERY
19575 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33180
PILAR RESTAURANT
20475 Biscayne Blvd g-1 - Aventura,FL 33180
PITAS PLATTERS
19062 Ne 29 Ave - Aventura,FL 33180
PIZZA ROMA
19090 Ne 29 Avenue - Aventura,FL 33180
POINT CAFE AQUA GRILL
21125 Yacht Club Dr - Aventura,FL 33180
POINT PLACE CAFE
21125 Yacht Club Dr - Aventura,FL 33180
POOL BAR AND GRILLE
7900 Island Boulevard - Aventura,FL 33160
PORTO VITA VILLA GRANDE CLUB
20105 Ne 38 Ct - Aventura,FL 33180
POTATO SACK OF AVENTURA
19575 Biscayne Blvd 1413 - Aventura,FL 33180
POTTERY BAKERY
19575 Biscayne Blvd Ste 3201 - Aventura,FL 33180
POWER SMOOTHIE
20335 Biscayne Blvd 39 - Aventura,FL 33180
PRITIKIN LONGEVITY CENTER
19735 Turnberry Way - Aventura,FL 33180
Q LOUNGE
3575 Ne 207 St Ste B-11 - Aventura,FL 33180
RUBY TUESDAY 2145
18801 Biscayne Blvd B - Aventura,FL 33180
SALSA GRILL
19575 Biscyane Blvd 1409 - Aventura,FL 33180
SARAHS TENT RESTAURANT
18955 Biscayne Blvd A5 - Aventura,FL 33180
SARKU JAPAN
19575 Biscayne Blvd 1421 - Aventura,FL 33180
SIGNATURE DINING ROOM LOUNGE
19999 W Country Club Dr - Aventura,FL 33180
SNACK BAR
19667 Turnberry Way - Aventura,FL 33180
STEPHANS
19695 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33180
SUBWAY
18711 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33180
SUBWAY 2052
20695 Biscayne Blvd - Aventura,FL 33180
TANGO GRILL
19575 Biscayne Blvd 1425 - Aventura,FL 33180
TRATTORIA ROSALIA
19505 Biscayne Blvd 793 - Aventura,FL 33180
TROPICAL EXPRESS
19575 Biscayne Blvd 1393 - Aventura,FL 33180
VERANDA VERANDA PREP
19999 W Country Club Dr - Aventura,FL 33180
WEBER CAFE
3575 Ne 207 St - Aventura,FL 33180

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Discount Jewelry Website for Aventura Residents

Thank you City of Aventura Blog readers for your support in making this blog the most relevant and important blog in the City of Aventura. The purpose of this post is to give our readers a special discount - a thank you gift. It's the first of many, so keep checking back to our site.

We have been covering a wide array of topics and have recently teamed up with several other bloggers to help spread the word about the City of Aventura and to cover several stories. There have been posts in the past regarding Jewelry stores in Aventura and even a spotlight on a Jeweler. During the holiday season Jewelry stores become mobbed with people and traffic; getting to and from those Jewelry stores can make the travel time unbearable.

So when I recently met an executive from an online Jewelry store, I had our Aventura readers in mind. We got talking and I mentioned this blog. He was very interested in how we could work together. It was simple, I asked him to give my readers a discount on his website and I'd let him plug his site for the holiday season. Seems fair, right? He agreed. So here's the plug... http://www.discountjewelryltd.com/ Enjoy the discount!


Discount code for City of Aventura Blog readers:


"AVENTURADISCOUNT" - 2 uses per customer with a $40 minimum purchase


Discount Jewelry Ltd is committed to offering our customers the finest in designer jewelry from world class manufacturers at discount prices. Our goal is that you should not find any piece of jewelry we sell at a lower price, ANYWHERE!


Discount Jewelry Ltd and its fulfillment companies have over 35 years experience in the fine jewelry and precious metals businesses. Our philosophy in this business is straightforward. If you conscientiously strive too offer a beautiful, well made piece of jewelry, at a discounted price, gift boxed, with FREE insured shipping, you will have many satisfied customers.

Discount Jewelry Ltd offers a wide array of fine jewelry; rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, pendants, charms, pins, accessories and men’s, in diamond, precious and semi precious gemstones, gold, platinum and silver designs, ALL at discounted prices of up to 65% off suggested retail.

Our experienced customer service professionals will be happy and eager to help you with choosing, answering questions or addressing any concerns you may have about our merchandise. Please feel free to provide us with any feedback you have concerning your shopping experience with us as well as any suggestions to make your future visits to our web site more enjoyable. (You may contact customer service at 1-800-737-5320 or at mailto://customerservice@discountjewelryltd.com).

Please join our long list of satisfied and repeat customers by browsing our web site and making a purchase soon. Visit us on the web at: http://www.discountjewelryltd.com/ or call us at 800.737.5320.

Discount Jewelry Ltd would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our past, present and future customers a wonderfully joyous and healthy holiday season. Bless you all.


Technorati Profile

Friday, December 7, 2007

THE GOLDEN COMPASS AMC AVENTURA 24

The Golden Compass is coming out this weekend. This film is expected to be an epic fantasy adventure, thrilling audiences with its amazing story, special effects and graphics. It will be a popular pick at the AMC Aventura 24 movie theatre in the Aventura Mall. Make sure to get to the Aventura Mall early to buy your tickets and to get a good seat. There will likely be a huge line.

In case you are not aware of THE GOLDEN COMPASS film, here's a brief overview as posted on Wikipedia.

"The Golden Compass is a fantasy film based upon Northern Lights (titled The Golden Compass in the US), the first novel in Philip Pullman's trilogy His Dark Materials, and was released on December 5, 2007 by New Line Cinema. The story concerns Lyra, an orphan living in a fantastical parallel universe in which a dogmatic dictatorship, the Magisterium, threatens to dominate. When Lyra's friend is kidnapped, she travels to the far North in an attempt to rescue him."



The film stars Nicole Kidman. Take a look at this clip.



A recent article highlighted the controversy surrounding this film - click here to read about it. The topic was covered on Fox News, take a look at this clip. I suggest we all go see the movie and decide for ourselves.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Bush unveils plan to help subprime borrowers

In response to Michael's post today about the importance of keeping Aventura residents informed, I thought this mortgage announcement should be posted instantly.

“There is no perfect solution,” President Bush said Thursday as he announced an agreement hammered out with the mortgage industry. “The homeowners deserve our help. The steps I’ve outlined today are a sensible response to a serious challenge.”

To view the entire article click - read more


Bush's mortgage plan

City of Aventura Mortgage Report

Today an article ran in the Miami Herald regarding mortgage fraud. It's vital that our readers know what's going on in the mortgage industry. The City of Aventura is a new town that has experienced recent growth. I'm confident that there are many Aventura residents exploring a first mortgage or refinancing in response to the city's development. This makes mortgage news highly relevant to Aventura real estate and the residents that are buying and selling condos in the area.

I hope you find this article as informative as I did. Enjoy.

Seven more arrested in mortgage fraud

BY MONICA HATCHER
mhatcher@MiamiHerald.com

Seven new suspects accused of mortgage fraud were rounded up by police, as Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez unveiled new legislation to increase criminal penalties for people convicted of real estate fraud.

The proposal would allow property appraisers to revalue assessments in neighborhoods plagued with fraud, where inflated values have driven up property taxes for nearby homeowners. It would also create a statewide mortgage fraud task force.

''A lot of people think . . . [mortgage fraud] is just a way of making money, that it's a business, it's an industry. But they are going to find out very differently, '' Alvarez said at a news conference. ``If you've done it, you might be in trouble.''

Launched in September, the Miami-Dade task force is a partnership of lawmakers, law enforcement and business leaders formed to devise ways to combat and prevent the widespread mortgage fraud that slammed South Florida during the real estate boom.

Subcommittees have been meeting over the last several months to craft reform measures, including educational outreach, an industry code of conduct and legislation. The task force recently released a standardized complaint form the public can use to report fraud. State Senators Gwen Margolis, D-Bay Harbor Islands, and Alex Villalobos, R-Miami, and state Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami, introduced the measures and said they will back them in Tallahassee next year.

Amid the real estate market slowdown and record foreclosures that have cast a spotlight on questionable loans, police said they had received more than 1,000 complaints of suspected mortgage fraud in Miami-Dade.

Included in the recent spate of arrest is Mariana Navarrete, 44, the registered owner of Confin Home Mortgage & Loan and United Consultants Group, who was arrested last month and accused of recruiting family members to steal the identity of an employee and using it to take out loans.

CONTINUE READING - CLICK HERE


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

China’s Turtles, Emblems of a Crisis

As you all know our blog mascot is the Tortoise. Therefore, when I came across this article in the New York Times I felt obligated to make it a post. It's about the saga of the last two Yangtze giant soft-shells that exist and they are in China. The threatened state of wildlife is a result of pollution, hunting and rampant development. To read the full article in the New York Times, click on "read more."

read more | digg story

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

City of Aventura, Fl. 33180 Fashion Report

Fashion Against Global Warming Available Right here in Aventura, Florida 33180

While many companies begin to “go green,” clothing companies have started taking responsibility for their contribution to the degradation of our environment. One company taking a step forward to raise awarness is C&C California. This corporation realizes the strong influence it has on a large consumer base. C&C California introduced Limited Edition Organic Tees. Their design contains written slogans of simple solutions for the everyday excesses that contribute to global warming.




Help demonstrate that style and sustainability make great partners. There are many boutiques in the City of Aventura that make these great pieces available - start influencing those around you.

Jessie's Boutique
20533 Biscayne Blvd
Aventura, FL 33180
United States of America
305-933-8198

TUPELO HONEY
3585 N.E. 207 ST.
AVENTURA, FL 33180
United States of
305-936-9300

Submitted by: Valerie Kwaterka

I like the idea that fashion and environmental awarness can come together. Like everything else, going to the extreme can get out of hand. Check out the movie clip.

Friday, November 30, 2007

City of Aventura Residents Have a Heart

Aventura residents, Paul and Mercedes Lederman, have given of themselves to help an animal who couldn't help herself. They found LOLA on the streets of the City of Aventura and she was sick, covered in fleas, hungry, and traumatized. Despite her poor condition they recognized the spark of life inside this animal. It took a split second and they rescued this dog. Lola was immediately taken to an animal hospital and she got the care she desperately needed. Her life was in danger and she had over 300 ticks on her. She was in shock when they found her and the theory is that she was broken hearted due to having been separated from her puppies. The vet bills have piled up and she needs further medical attention in order to continue the healing process. They're happy to report that now Lola is happy, healthy, and has a full belly.

Take a look at her transformation.

BEFORE



AFTER

A MESSAGE FROM LOLA'S FOSTER PARENTS -

Lola needs attention, help and we are doing our best.
We are trying to collect some money, to pay all her doctors bills.
We think we found her a home, but meantime we are the foster parents.
we rescued her with all of our love and good intentions, but not thinking of the financial part.
We appreciate if you can start sending this around to your friends and families, maybe with a little help here and a little there, we be able to keep helping her and others.
Thank you all .

To come to Lola's assistance, please send an email to: lolasfund@gmail.com
Please include your name, the amount you wish to donate and we will send you a link to contribute via paypal.


You can also send payment to the following address.
Please send checks or cash to:


3615 NE 207th Street #3103 Aventura, FL 33180
make checks payable to: Mercedes Lederman


I FEEL FORGOTTEN

I feel forgotten; I'm all alone
Where are the parents that I can call my own?
I feel forgotten, aren't you aware
I have no family, only foster care

In the mirror, I'm almost grown
It doesn't mean that I still don't need a home
Where are the people, who should be there?
My aunts and uncles, aren't they looking for me here?

I'm still waiting, you will see,
My mother promised, she would come and visit me
I feel forgotten, lost in the crowd
People wonder, why I'm angry and get loud

I feel forgotten, I want to hide
Why am I out here with no one by my side
I feel forgotten, lonely nights and lonely days
Why even try, no one wants me anyways

THANK YOU PAUL AND MERCEDES LEDERMAN!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Top 20 Ways to Come Up With Amazing Ideas

Since I started this blog many people have been asking me how I came up with the idea. Also, several people have been asking me how I come up with ideas for posts. Today I was asked these questions by two different people. So, I'd like to share an article that contains very helpful excercises to keep your ideas fresh.

These are tips and tricks that can be applied to any industry. Please let me know if any of these points help. I appreciate any and all feedback to posts. Thanks. Remember to subscribe to the blog and pass it on.

1. Carry a notebook. Seriously, carry it everywhere. I can’t tell you how many awesome ideas I’ve lost simply because I forgot to bring my notebook. And you know why I can’t tell you? Because I didn’t write them down. Carry your notebook everywhere, always have some kind of writing implement, and write things down immediately. Of course, you may need to pull your car over to avoid an accident … or just start riding mass transit instead, to avoid that problem. Another good article on capturing ideas.

2. Keep a list. I have a simple Google Doc that I can pull up at any time with a few keystrokes (I use AutoHotKey to open all my most commonly used documents and programs instantly). On this list, I write down all my ideas. When I need to write a post, I am never short of ideas. Actually, I have dozens more ideas than I can ever use, so if anyone needs any, let me know. Just $5 an idea.

3. Exercise. OK, you’re going to skip past this one. That’s OK. I’m not saying you have to start exercising to have amazing ideas, but from personal experience, exercise is one of the absolute best ways to come up with ideas. It seems it is literally impossible to go for a run or a walk without coming up with an idea that will knock you on your butt. Which is why I now wear padded running shorts.

4. Driving. There’s something about the mindlessness of driving that allows me to come up with some of my better ideas in the car. To make this work, you have to drive slower than some of the maniacs out there (try it, it’s calming), and ignore the rude antics of your fellow drivers. Concentrate on avoiding an accident, but don’t worry if someone cuts you off or is driving slower than your average toddler can walk. Just stay in your Zen zone, and watch the ideas come to you effortlessly.

5. Read a lot. I’m reading a book every day, several times a day. It might take me a week to finish the book, but that’s because I take my time and enjoy the book. In addition, I’m always reading stuff on the Internet. Reading is one of the very best ways to find new ideas. And yes, you have to read the articles, not just the pictures.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort & Club Sued

A tour company that puts on Passover holidays for Jewish people from around the world claimed that worshippers are being passed over for the glamour of pro golf. Click on "read more" to view the entire article.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Habitat for Humanity at Greynolds Park

The Greynolds Park Gods were smiling this past Friday because of the Lumpy Sue Music Festival. The City of Aventura has parks, such as Founders Park, but Greynolds Park is in a league of its own. Greynolds Park is one street over from Aventura, off of West Dixie Highway. Click on this link to learn more about this amazing local park - Greynolds Park. I encourage all Aventura residents to embrace Greynolds Park as their own.

The Lumpy Sue Festival has been going on for over ten years and helps raise money for Habitat for Humanity. This year's Lumpy Sue was a great time of music, family, friends, fun and sun. Greynolds Park is the perfect atmosphere for a mellow festival. Everyone who attended added to the positive experience.

There were lots of local musicians sharing their tunes and words of wisdom with the crowd. Everyone enjoyed the music and danced under the sun.







Here's a list of some of the musicians that played.


Yoni
Ellen Bukstel
Andy Waks
Jacob Groten
Mary Huddleston & Michael Waxman
Shauna
Diane Ward
Ratt

One of the greatest things about having the festival at Greynolds Park is the castle. This castle is rumored to have magical powers to make your wildest dreams come true. Visit the castle and see for yourself - the Wizard is there on Tuesday afternoons. Here's a photo of some of the crowd hanging out by the castle while listening to the live music.

This really was a huge success and I'm excited to attend next year's Lumpy Sue Festival. I had a great time with my friends and even made some new ones. I'd like to share a few of the photos I took that day. Hope you get an idea of the great time we all had.




Watch a clip of Habitat for Humanity in action.








As you can tell this Festival was a blast! Everyone had a great time and lots of money was raised for Habitat for Humanity. I'd like to thank all those who were involved in the planning and preparation for this event - THANKS FOR MAKING THE FESTIVAL A REALITY!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Aventura Mall Shopping and Art

The images are from the Aventura Mall's installation of the works of Julian Opie. I found some great info on Julian Opie on Wikipedia. I posted the content I found, click here to see for yourself - Julian Opie.

There's also cool stuff on the website - http://www.julianopie.com/

Julian Opie was born in London and raised in Oxford. After the Dragon School, Oxford, he spent some time at Magdalen College School, Oxford. He is a graduate of Goldsmiths College (1979–82) and achieved some early gallery success, which was an incentive for slightly younger artists in the same college, such as Damien Hirst to do likewise. His highly stylised deswalork, derived in part from Patrick Caulfield and Michael Craig-Martin, involves the reduction of photographs (or short films) into figurative reproductions (created using computer software). In his portraiture, the human face is characterised by black outlines with flat areas of colour, and minimalised detail, to the extent that an eye can become just the black circle of the pupil, and sometimes a head is represented by a circle with a space where the neck would be. In this way, Julian Opie tries to present the complexities of the human form by reducing it to its mere basics.




New York City



PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC




As a successful artist who exhibits internationally, Opie uses computers in art for other works. His famous Imagine you are... series, demonstrated how activities such as driving, walking and climbing could be represented by simple reductions. In addition, Opie uses sculpture and light installations to present items of everyday life.




“ I am simply using that which is available to describe that which is experienced. ”




Julian Opie's style was brought into the public eye when he was asked to design the cover for the British band, Blur's best of album. On the cover, the band members (clockwise from top left) Graham Coxon, Alex James, Dave Rowntree and Damon Albarn are transformed into Opie's style.







Julian Opie, as one of the leading figures in computerised art, also implements computer technology by cutting out the outlines and coloured shapes, sometimes on vinyl, as in large display banners at Tate Britain. Opie is a former trustee of the Tate Gallery and exhibits with Lisson Gallery and Alan Cristea Gallery in London. His studio and workshop is based in Shoreditch, London. He was the subject of a film by Illuminations in their theEYE series, in which they profile contemporary visual artists in Britain. He was also the subject of a book by Mary Horlock published by Tate Publishing as part of their Modern Artist series.
Recently, Julian Opie has been met with controversy due to his more daring subject matter of pole dancers, a key part of his exhibition at the Alan Cristea Gallery. He typically reduces them to cartoon-esque figures.




AVENTURA MALL