Just Ask Boo Wins!

May 19, 2009

JustAskBoo Logo

Congratulations to JustAskBoo on their great recognition from the Miami Herald as the #1 People’s Pick for the Business Plan Challenge, and #3 overall from the Herald judges! With 192 entries, a third place finish is an incredible achievement! I was so honored to have been quoted in this article, and wish Team JAB many years of success.

Below is the article that appeared in The Miami Herald on Monday.
People’s Pick and third place (tie): Online grapevine wins hearts — and clicks

As the keeper of the e-mail list for her first child’s play group years ago, Province ”Boo” Zamek was soon the go-to person for information dissemination. Along with the time for the next play date, she was adding requests for housekeepers, nannies and handymen and it spread from there.

That sparked an idea. Why not have an online grapevine, supported by advertising and subscriptions, that would help people with their busy lives? So Zamek, who has 15 years of marketing experience, started JustAskBoo, incorporating it in February 2008.

It’s a thrice weekly free newsletter full of referrals and referral requests submitted by the more than 4,500 subscribers or JABbers. There’s also advertising and paid content, such as items for sale, store openings, jobs and charity events. Referrals are archived under 250 categories in a ”Treasure Chest” that is available for a $7.95 monthly subscription fee. About 1,200 JABbers have subscribed.

”Like many entrepreneurs, I saw a niche and filled it,” said Zamek, who tied for third place in this year’s Business Plan Challenge. Zamek, of Coral Gables, also won the ”People’s Pick,” garnering about half of the 2,153 votes cast by MiamiHerald.com readers.

Zamek’s idea is part Craigslist, part Angie’s List, part Daily Candy, but really very different. ”We’re not a blog; we’re not a mom’s website; we’re not about one thing,” Zamek said.

Here’s how she sets her site apart:

• More variety of posts and highly local content, all provided by the members.

• No anonymous comments are allowed.

• While JABbers are encouraged to give favorable reviews of services when they are deserved, they obey the Golden Rule: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

• Nearly all referrals, except for nannies and housekeepers, are archived in the Treasure Chest, available anytime.

Anne Miller, a healthcare consultant in Coconut Grove, said she wished she had a JustAskBoo site when she moved here four years ago. She had started a home renovation and had one bad experience after another.

But since she signed up for the newsletter late last year, she has found a general contractor, an upholsterer, lampshades and the perfect frameless shower door. She also has used the service to give away items and placed an ad for administrative help that got 35 responses.

”It feels more like a community to me than going to the database on Angie’s List,” said Miller. “Having full names mean something to me. I know someone is standing behind their recommendation.”

Plus, she said, it is fun. When the newsletter comes, “I’m always curious what’s in there this time.”

Zamek and her team of three work closely with advertisers to make sure their messages get people in the door. Jennifer Stone, of Coral Gables, said JAB’s advertising director, Zaria Walter, helped her choose lettering and image size for her ad and also suggested catchy wording for a “deal of the day.”

Stone said she got several calls as a result, and that led to new clients. ”I’ll be going back to them for sure,” she said.

Realtor Ashley Cusack of EWM in Coral Gables said her JAB ad ‘is reaching a group I wanted to be reaching very pointedly. So many people say, `I saw that house on JustAskBoo.’ ”

Revenues are running 20 percent above projections, said Zamek. Still, when the economy tanked in March, JustAskBoo lost advertisers.

Zamek, however, did what a lot of business owners wouldn’t do — she hired more help. ”I knew I needed to focus on what is working and what is not working for our advertisers,” she said. She contacted them all and explained why they should give JAB another chance. Now the advertising is back.

”We needed to become their ad agencies. We needed to come up with their strategies. It takes a whole lot of time to do it, but it keeps us successful and them successful,” Zamek said.

Judges were impressed with not only the strength of her management team and advisory board but also that she is already bringing in impressive revenue.

Still, some thought the plan could be easily copied. Zamek counters that it is expensive to build the correct technology, making it hard to replicate.

Right now she’s working on raising money to finish the technology and get licensing deals in place to start in other areas. ”I feel like I am on a springboard. We are very close to entering other cities,” Zamek said.


We are so thrilled to be a part of Just Ask Boo and encourage all of you to visit their website and sign up for their e-newsletter! Become a JABBER!

Coral Gables Market Snapshot – April 2009 – $700,000 to $1,499,999

May 15, 2009
1229 Asturia, $995,000

1229 Asturia, $995,000

The numbers are in for April! And we have some good news in this price range.

The amount of active listings in this price range continues to decline, just as we are seeing across all markets in South Florida right now. We have actually decreased 25% in the number of active listings in the MLS in this price range as compared to this time last year. That’s great news! So we are heading towards a more balanced market.

We have also had an increase in the number of pending sales this month. Compared to last year at this time, we are up 11%!

Coral Gables Market Snapshot – April 2009 – Up to $699,999

May 12, 2009
836 Genoa Street, $549,000

836 Genoa Street, $549,000

The numbers are in for April! And we have some great news in this price range in Coral Gables.

Our inventory has been decreasing steadily over the past year, which is going to help us get back to a healthy, balanced market. Last year there were 196 active listings in this price range, and in April of this year, there were 167 active listings. That’s a decrease of 15% over last year!

The best news of all is that 31 homes pended sale last month. That’s more pending sales in this price range than we’ve had in more than a year. And it’s a 138% increase in the number of pending sales over last year! This brings great hope for May when all of these deals will close!

The early bird gets the worm!

May 11, 2009
8310 SW 62 Place, $399,000

8310 SW 62 Place, $399,000

We listed a very cute home in South Miami in late April and have had so much activity on the home, we can’t believe it! Within 17 days of putting the home on the market, we had 3 offers, two of which were very good ones. We accepted one of them on Friday and are currently under contract. Here are a few of the other interesting numbers on this home – all occurring within the first 17 days of it being put on the market:

– Number of showings: 34
– Number of broker’s at Broker’s Open House: 20
– Number of groups through the one Sunday Open House: 22
– Number of offers on the house: 3
– Number of calls on the home since it went under contract: 8

We are certainly seeing the beginning of a new market with this kind of activity! This home was priced very aggressively and the area is very popular right now. However, we never guessed we would have seen this kind of activity!

To get more information on this home, please click here.

Local Happenings in Coral Gables – May is Museum Month!

May 8, 2009
The Lowe Art Museum, Coral Gables, FL

The Lowe Art Museum, Coral Gables, FL

Did you know? May is Museum Month in Miami! From May 1st to May 31st, membership at any one of the participating museums in Miami-Dade will work as a free pass to any of the others! Whether you just joined the museum or have been a member for years, you can take advantage of this special opportunity to experience Miami’s wonderful museums and cultural exhibits for free!

Curious if your museum is participating? Here is a list of all cooperating museums:
– Art Center South Florida
– Bakehouse Art Complex
– Bass Museum of Art
– The Haitian Heritage Museum
– Historical Museum of Southern Florida
– Jewish Museum of Florida
– Lowe Art Museum
– Miami Art Museum
– Miami Beach Botanical Garden
– Miami Children’s Museum
– Miami Science Museum
– Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)
– The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum
– Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
– The Wolfsonian, FIU

Several of these museums have special happenings going on throughout the month. For additional information, please click here.

Coral Gables Market Snapshot – March 2009 – $700,000 to $1,499,999

May 1, 2009

Well, the numbers are in for March! Here are our findings for Coral Gables in March 2009 on single family homes between $700,000 to $1,499,999.

There are currently 181 active listings in the MLS. There were 7 sales pending as of the end of the month, and 4 homes closed. In the past 6 months, 31 homes in this price range have sold.

At this time last year, there were 225 homes on the market, so we have seen a 19% decrease in the inventory in this price range. This is great news!

The average price per square foot of the sold homes in this price range was $231, versus $326 in March 2008. So the price per square foot of homes in this price range has dropped 29%.

All in all, it’s good news that our inventory has come down so much. And with these declining prices, it means more and more people will be buying again to help turn this market around!

The “A” Word

April 10, 2009

Back in February, we sent comparables to our sellers to make sure that we were still on target with all of our prices, because as we know, price is the name of the game in this market.

Since then, we put one of our listings under contract. The contract price fell between our high price per square foot and average price per square foot on those comps we did.

We just learned that the property did not appraise at the contract price, so we have gone back to reflect on the comparables that we were using. The reality is that when you do comps today, you lose some of the stronger sales that we had on those February comps – those that took place 8 months ago. The sales prices that we’ve had since then are bringing prices down a little bit and affecting our appraisals.

We have since talked to the appraiser and he has agreed to remove one of the houses he used as it isn’t a real comp – we are finding one more apropos for this property. And hopefully we can get this appraisal up…

We are running into this a lot these days – appraisals are not an exact science and they are very subjective, so more and more we have to work with the appraisers to help them get us the results we need.

Opportunity Knocks…

April 8, 2009

We just got a great new listing in Pelican Bay, which is down in South Dade. The home is a foreclosure and was built in 2005. It has 5 bedrooms, 3 baths and is in really great condition. This house is definitely not what comes to mind when you hear the word foreclosure!

The two story house is very clean and has a formal living and dining room, a 2-car garage, separate laundry room, awesome built-out closets in every room, and is in great shape. It’s also located right on a pretty lake! You can enjoy views of the lake from the kitchen, dining room and family room – and it is listed at $295,000. What an incredible opportunity!

Contact me if you’d like to see it. 305-798-8685 or ashleymia@aol.com

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What a day!

April 2, 2009

We hosted a Broker’s Open House at my new listing yesterday – 2495 S. Bayshore Drive in Coconut Grove – and what a turnout we had! We served a delicious lunch and were thrilled with the incredible turnout. We had about 50 agents through the house to see this remarkable new home. Thank you!

Paradise Found.

March 31, 2009

2495 S. Bayshore Drive

2495 S. Bayshore Drive

Graceful. Romantic. Clean & Crisp. Elegant. These are the words that come to mind when I think about the home I just listed with Karen McCammon in Coconut Grove. Located within the gated community of Treasure Trove, it is the only listing available in this wonderful and small enclave of homes.


The 3-story villa-style home features a fabulous, well-planned layout. And graced with an elevator, it makes it very easy to get to the various levels. The serene feeling that this home exudes welcomes you as you enter into the foyer and living room. High ceilings and dark hardwood floors greet you and continue throughout the house. The plantation shutters lend to the organic island-feel that this home exudes.

kitchen1_500 kitchen2_500

No expense was spared in the recent renovation of the kitchen – it is a dream come true! The finishes include Calacutta gold marble countertops, Waterworks fixtures and deep stainless farmhouse sink, handmade Crown Point kitchen cabinets that extend to the ceiling, remarkable Wolf stove and two beautiful SubZero glass-front refrigerators, each with freezer drawers.


The living room is a true beauty with a gas fireplace and tons of charm. You also find a wonderful formal dining room, office and two bedrooms, each with its own bath, on this main level.


Downstairs, a wonderful family room awaits and opens to the inviting pool and patio area, perfect for entertaining. A full guest suite is located downstairs, offering guests great privacy. Limestone floors unfold throughout the downstairs area.


The 3rd floor is comprised of a remarkable master suite – views of Biscayne Bay, Brazilian cherry hardwood floors, two gracious walk-in closets, a large master bathroom and so much more! The additional bedrooms and bathrooms are also located on this level, with great spaces and private bathrooms.

Light-filled. Gorgeous. Refined. Divine. Paradise. This home has it all.

For a photo tour of this home, please click here.