How we rank…
America’s cleanest city . . . Miami As Ranked by Forbes for its year-round good air quality, green spaces, and clean drinking water. Also, Miami is the only major “subtropical” city in conInental U.S.; average temperature 75 F/ 23 C
Happiest City to Work . . .Miami was named the “Happiest City to Work” for the second consecuIve year in 2016.
Miami’s growing startup/technology scene and all-year sunny weather were key factors in the high raIng. (Source: Career Bliss – January 2016)
Most international city in the United States … Miami. About 51% of the Miami population is foreign born. Miami’s concentration of foreign-born residents is more than double the national average of 19.4%. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)
Most-searched U.S. city for international home buyers . . . Miami is the top U.S. destination for foreign home buyers. (Source: Realtor.com, Trulia.com- March 2016)
2nd-fastest growing economy among large U.S. cities . . .Among all cities, Miami had the 17th best economy. Miami’s growing population, startup network, tech industry and new businesses fueled the high rankings. (Source: Wallet Hub – September 2015)
4th-healthiest city in America . . . Miami’s clean air, access to quality health care, rate of smokers, walkability and amenities were key factors in the ranking. (Source: Livability – April 2015)
4th-fastest growing neighborhood in America …Downtown Miami, which grew from 40,000 to 80,000 residents from 2000 to 2015, is an American boomtown and is projected to have a five-year household growth of 14.9 percent (Source: Realtor.com – April 2016)
2nd-best place in America to start a business . . .South Florida finished second behind Austin, Texas for the best location to start a business. (Source: American City Business Journals study of small-business vitality, April 2016)
5th-most walkable city in the United States . . . Miami finished with a walk score of 75.6, trailing only New York (87.6), San Francisco (83.9), Boston (79.5) and Philadelphia (76.5).(Source: Walk Score – April 2015)
5th-greenest city in the United States . . . Miami’s air quality, transportation, energy sources for heating in homes, and housing density contributed to the ranking. Miami trailed only Honolulu, Washington, D.C., Arlington, Va., and San Francisco. (Source: NerdWallet – May 2015)
6th-best air quality in the United States . . . Miami had a median air quality index of 43, tied with Seattle, Hialeah and Fort Lauderdale. Only 8 cities had a better air quality index than Miami. (Source: 2014 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s daily Air Quality Index)
Top destination for migrating New Yorkers . . . About 22,000 New Yorkers migrated to Miami between 2009 and 2013. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)
6th-best city for Hispanic entrepreneurs . . . Two South Florida cities, Hialeah (No. 6) and Miami (No. 15), were ranked among America’s best cities for Hispanic businesses (Source: WalletHub – April 2016)
2nd-highest proportion of Hispanic owned businesses in the United States . . . Miami finished with the second-highest proportion of Hispanic-owned firms with 69.2 percent, more than twice the U.S. average rate. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 Survey of Business Owners)
12th-most important city in the world for the ultra-wealthy . . .In the United States, Only New York and Miami are at the top for where ultra-high-net-worth individuals want to live, work and invest.(Source: Knight Frank- March 2016)
You’re Ready for Solar Power, but Should You Lease or Buy?
In 2015, the United States reached 27.4 gigawatts (GW) of solar power capacity. That’s enough power to serve 5.4 million homes, making 2015 the biggest solar year yet. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) predicts that residential installation of solar power in the U.S. will break more records and double that capacity this year.
Between energy savings and tax breaks, adding a solar array to your home has never been more attractive or affordable. It’s also a viable investment that both saves money and adds long-term value to a property. But when it comes to installing a solar array on your home, you may be wondering whether it’s better to buy or lease the system. To help you determine which option makes the most sense for you, we’ve put together a quick overview of solar purchasing and leasing options.
The Difference between Buying and Leasing
Ownership is the number one distinction between leasing and purchasing a solar photovoltaic (PV) system. When you use cash or a solar loan to buy solar panels, you’re making payments toward owning the system outright. When you lease a solar system, the third party you’re leasing from actually owns the array and you’re just paying to use it. This difference may seem small, but it becomes significant in regard to tax credits, system maintenance, and long-term returns.
Federal and State Solar Regulations
One thing that can make a huge difference in your approach to solar financing is the regulatory climate in your state or region. Overall, 2015 was a good year for solar power. Hawaii became the first state to set a goal to achieve 100 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by 2045 – requiring the adoption of renewable energy statewide – while Vermont set a similar goal of 75 percent.
In addition, costs for solar installation and manufacturing continue to drop, making solar more accessible to homeowners across the country. Solar leasing is also becoming a more popular option. Overall, solar power is a positive investment in every state, with returns ranging from 3.9 percent to more than 35 percent.
It’s not all great news, though. Kansas recently repealed their RPS law, leading other states to consider following suit. Another significant factor is the pending expiration of state and federal incentive programs. At the close of the last year, Congress extended the 30 percent federal energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC) through 2019, but that benefit rate will drop sharply in the years that follow.
States also heavily regulate power purchase agreements (PPAs), a special type of solar financing – similar to regular leasing – in which a third-party provider installs solar panels on a home, and all the homeowner pays for is the power they use. PPA regulations are abound, and some states don’t allow them at all, so you’ll want to check both state and municipal regulations before looking into a PPA-financed array for your home.
When to Buy a Solar Array
Homeowners who purchase a solar panel system tend to be focused on long-term financial benefits. If the following circumstances apply to you, purchasing a solar system outright might make the most sense:
- You have cash available to invest or are in a good position to take on the debt of a loan.
- You want to reduce state and federal tax liability, or you want to benefit directly from the tax credits and rebates that are available.
- You may be considering selling your home soon and want to increase the market value by installing solar panels.
- You are willing to take on the cost and responsibility of maintaining a solar system over a number of years (while noting that many systems come with a protection plan or warranty that may cover anywhere from 20 to 30 years of regular wear and tear).
- You want to take advantage of Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs), which can be sold to power companies to fill their requisite renewable energy quotas.
When to Lease a Solar Array
Those who choose to lease a solar system are usually more concerned with the environmental impact of their energy consumption and are attracted to immediate cost-savings. If the following statements reflect your feelings, leasing an array could be the best choice:
- You want a simple way to use solar power without hefty upfront costs.
- You are motivated by using renewable energy more than maximizing the long-term financial benefits of a solar panel system.
- You don’t want to take out a loan or don’t have the cash on hand to purchase a system outright.
- You aren’t eligible for available solar tax incentives, or you are discouraged at the thought of sorting out all the details necessary to claim tax credits and rebates.
- You value the ability to upgrade equipment when your lease expires.
- You don’t want to take on the cost and responsibility of maintaining a solar panel array.
Whether you’re interested in buying or leasing, the great news is that harnessing solar power for your home no longer requires a steep initial cash investment. As you identify your overall goals and consider the available financing options, use a solar cost calculator to weigh the potential costs and benefits of adding solar to your home.
Downtown Miami is America’s fourth-fastest growing neighborhood, according to a new Realtor.com analysis. Realtor.com looked at places where job opportunities abound, new households are forming, and new homes are being built to meet the growing demand.
Downtown Miami finished No. 4 because of its massive urban development and population growth. Projects such as Miami Worldcenter and Brickell City Centre have brought tens of thousands of new residents to the area. Millennials are attracted to the increased nightlife options, restaurants, shopping, ability to walk to work, free Metromover rail system and much more.
A Thriving Metropolis
Once a quiet 9-to-5 job district, downtown Miami has transformed into one of America’s most exciting, thriving areas. A growing population of young professionals are living, working, and playing in downtown, which today boasts the highest concentration of cultural institutions in the Southeast and almost 400 restaurants and bars.
Downtown Miami’s stunning amount of recent commercial real estate development and world-class cultural additions have helped alter South Florida’s image. South Florida is no longer a resort town known only for its beaches. Today, South Florida is a leading global center with world-class amenities. Several of these amenities sit in downtown along picturesque Biscayne Bay.
The breathtaking Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and the internationally-acclaimed Perez Art Museum opened in downtown in 2006 and 2013, respectively. South Florida’s new science wonderland — the $300 million Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science — is being built adjacent to Perez Art. When the science museum opens in the summer of 2016, Downtown Miami will feature three of America’s top cultural facilities, all within close proximity.
Downtown’s commercial real estate boom has also resulted in more restaurants, hotels, and retail centers. Downtown, which had few stand-alone restaurants 20 years ago, now features 392 restaurants and bars. Several new hotels, including the 54-story Epic Hotel & Residences and the luxury JW Marriott Marquis, and condo buildings have opened within the last six years.
Downtown’s growing population — 80,000 live in Greater Miami — will have plenty of shopping opportunities as more than 2 million square feet of retail is planned. About half of that retail space belongs to the Miami Worldcenter, which will comprise 27 acres of retail, residential and hospitality uses in the heart of downtown Miami. It’s expected to open in 2017.
All Aboard Florida, the downtown Miami-to-Orlando passenger train, is also being built with 163,000 square feet of commercial and retail space. When All Aboard Florida starts running trains in 2017, it will only add another dimension to one of America’s fastest evolving downtowns.
New Hotels Coming to Downtown Miami
Downtown Miami’s improved public transit and surging population are attracting major hotels to the area. Four new hotels will open in downtown Miami by 2018. The developments are further signs of downtown’s transformation into one of America’s top metropolises, a place where world travelers can be in close proximity to art and culture.
The new Langford hotel and ME Miami, which is part of Spain’s ME by Meliá brand, will open in downtown this spring. A 250-room Yotel hotel and Miami Worldcenter’s two-tower hotel with 1,700 rooms have plans to open in the coming years.
Downtown’s public transit, cultural institutions and growing population are encouraging many of these developments. Miami’s Metrorail Orange Line now takes travelers from the airport to downtown. Also, All Aboard Florida is building a MiamiCentral downtown station, which will run 32 trains a day to Orlando with stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach by 2017.
The new downtown hotels will be in close proximity to world-class art and culture. Downtown has the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and a new waterfront art museum. A new science museum will open later this year.
Downtown’s growing population is a chief impetus for the development.
The number of downtown residents grew from 40,000 to 80,000 from 2000 to 2015, according to the Miami Downtown Development Authority. Most of the growth is coming from millennials. Residents ages 25 to 44 comprise half of the downtown’s population.
The investments in Miami’s urban core are bolstering South Florida’s already strong tourism industry while encouraging more international and domestic consumers to relocate to one of America’s most dynamic cities.