Home Buyers Flock to Florida Cities Devastated by Hurricane Ian
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Home Buyers Flock to Florida Cities Devastated by Hurricane Ian

‘It’s pretty much business as usual,’ one agent says; area damaged by storm had experienced sharp price run-up

By ROBYN A. FRIEDMAN
Wed, Oct 19, 2022 8:44amGrey Clock 3 min

Less than a month after Hurricane Ian caused widespread devastation to southwestern Florida, investors and other buyers are scouring for housing deals in a region where home prices have soared in recent years.

Demand remains strong from both locals and out-of-staters, according to residential real-estate agents in Naples, Fla., and other areas near the path of the Category 4 storm. They say they have received numerous inquiries from people still interested in relocating to the Sunshine State, or hoping to pick up distressed properties.

“It’s pretty much business as usual,” said Kelly Baldwin, an agent for Coldwell Banker in Longboat Key, Fla. “I haven’t had anyone reach out who wants to stop their home search.”

The costs associated with fortifying a home against wind and flooding, along with rising premiums for homeowner and flood insurance, are enough to cause some longtime Florida residents to leave.

But some investors with plenty of cash are expressing interest. Friley Saucier, a global real-estate adviser at Premier Sotheby’s International Realty in Naples, is working with a wealthy individual planning to spend as much as $50 million on distressed real estate in areas that suffered damage from Ian.

“He called me after the storm,” she said. “I’ve spent a week calling agents and others trying to find properties that are off-market because these homes are still being dried out and remediated, so they’re not yet listed.”

Rick Lema, whose primary residence is in Narragansett, R.I., owns a home in a mobile-home park in Englewood, Fla., about midway between Sarasota and Fort Myers, that was damaged by the storm. A cash buyer, he started driving around local neighbourhoods the day after the storm, before he repaired his own home, to look for distressed waterfront homes and commercial properties.

Mr. Lema had been looking for investments previously, but felt that “prices were through-the-roof ridiculous.” Now, he believes owners of damaged properties will jump at the opportunity to unload their holdings. “If they were asking $1 million before the storm, I’ll offer $750,000,” he said.

Certainly, some potential buyers are thinking twice after the damage caused by the storm, which is expected to be between $40 billion and $64 billion for flood and wind losses to Florida residential and commercial properties, according to an estimate by data firm CoreLogic. What is more, 62% of U.S. residents who plan to buy or sell a home in the next year are hesitant to move to an area with climate risk, according to a recent report by brokerage Redfin.

Some with plans to settle in the area are now reconsidering. Kurt Kuemmerle, 60 years old, a carpenter who lives in Marmora, N.J., owns a piece of land in Port Charlotte, about 30 miles northwest of Fort Myers. He said he always thought he would build a home there for retirement with his significant other, Robin Konschak. But now he plans to sell the land.

“We realised that southwest Florida is far too dangerous to live in permanently,” Ms. Konschak said.

Yet many others are undeterred. Connie Langenbahn, 62, a retired school-bus driver, and her husband, Gregg Langenbahn, 61, are leaving their home in Cincinnati in November to become permanent residents of southwest Florida. The couple said they would live with their daughter in Sarasota, Fla., while they shop for a home, a process they began two years ago.

“The hurricane scared my husband, but it’s been my dream my whole life to live in Florida, and I’m not giving up,” Mrs. Langenbahn said.

The two are hoping to spend no more than $450,000 for a three-bedroom, two-bath home. “I’m hoping that prices don’t go up higher now because people need homes,” she said.

Some housing analysts think they will, at least for the short term. “We most likely will see an increase in prices almost immediately, driven mostly by continued strong demand and a storm-induced inventory shortage,” said Ken H. Johnson, a housing economist at Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business.

“While pricing might be erratic for the first few months, the demand for living along a coastline with warm weather and a business-friendly economy seems to have led to quick economic recoveries after recent past hurricane strikes,” said Dr. Johnson.

Few areas in the U.S. have seen prices run up this much already. According to the Naples Area Board of Realtors, the median sales price for a single-family home increased by 24.9% between August 2021 and August 2022, the latest month for which statistics are available, to $725,000. Condominium prices increased by 34% during the same period.

A study released Oct. 11 by Dr. Johnson and Eli Beracha, Ph.D., of Florida International University, found that the Cape Coral-Fort Myers metropolitan area was the nation’s most overvalued housing market in August—before Hurricane Ian—with buyers paying an average of 70% over the area’s long-term pricing trend.

“Due to the devastation, there won’t be a lot of homes to sell for a while,” said Kristen Conti, broker-owner of Peacock Premier Properties in Englewood, Fla. Lack of supply, combined with the demand for homes by both end-users and investors, will cause home prices to increase for 12 to 18 months, she said.



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Should AI Have Access to Your Medical Records? What if It Can Save Many Lives?

We asked readers: Is it worth giving up some potential privacy if the public benefit could be great? Here’s what they said.

By DEMETRIA GALLEGOS
Tue, May 28, 2024 4 min

We’re constantly told that one of the potentially biggest benefits of artificial intelligence is in the area of health. By collecting large amounts of data, AI can create all sorts of drugs for diseases that have been resistant to treatment.

But the price of that could be that we have to share more of our medical information. After all, researchers can’t collect large amounts of data if people aren’t willing to part with that data.

We wanted to see where our readers stand on the balance of privacy versus public-health gains as part of our series on ethical dilemmas created by the advent of AI.

Here are the questions we posed…

AI may be able to discover new medical treatments if it can scan large volumes of health records. Should our personal health records be made available for this purpose, if it has the potential to improve or save millions of lives? How would we guard privacy in that case?

…and some of the answers we received. undefined

Rely on nonpartisan overseers

While my own recent experience with a data breach highlights the importance of robust data security, I recognise the potential for AI to revolutionise healthcare. To ensure privacy, I would be more comfortable if an independent, nonpartisan body—overseen by medical professionals, data-security experts, and citizen representatives—managed a secure database.

Anonymity cuts both ways

Yes. Simply sanitise the health records of any identifying information, which is quite doable. Although there is an argument to be made that AI may discover something that an individual needs or wants to know.

Executive-level oversight

I think we can make AI scanning of health records available with strict privacy controls. Create an AI-CEO position at medical facilities with extreme vetting of that individual before hiring them.

Well worth it

This actually sounds like a very GOOD use of AI. There are several methods for anonymising data which would allow for studies over massive cross-sections of the population without compromising individuals’ privacy. The AI would just be doing the same things meta-studies do now, only faster and maybe better.

Human touch

My concern is that the next generations of doctors will rely more heavily, maybe exclusively, on AI and lose the ability or even the desire to respect the art of medicine which demands one-on-one interaction with a patient for discussion and examination (already a dying skill).

Postmortem

People should be able to sign over rights to their complete “anonymised” health record upon death just as they can sign over rights to their organs. Waiting for death for such access does temporarily slow down the pace of such research, but ultimately will make the research better. Data sets will be more complete, too. Before signing over such rights, however, a person would have to be fully informed on how their relatives’ privacy may also be affected.

Pay me or make it free for all

As long as this is open-source and free, they can use my records. I have a problem with people using my data to make a profit without compensation.

Privacy above all

As a free society, we value freedoms and privacy, often over greater utilitarian benefits that could come. AI does not get any greater right to infringe on that liberty than anything else does.

Opt-in only

You should be able to opt in and choose a plan that protects your privacy.

Privacy doesn’t exist anyway

If it is decided to extend human lives indefinitely, then by all means, scan all health records. As for privacy, there is no such thing. All databases, once established, will eventually, if not immediately, be accessed or hacked by both the good and bad guys.

The data’s already out there

I think it should be made available. We already sign our rights for information over to large insurance companies. Making health records in the aggregate available for helping AI spot potential ways to improve medical care makes sense to me.

Overarching benefit

Of course they should be made available. Privacy is no serious concern when the benefits are so huge for so many.

Compensation for breakthroughs

We should be given the choice to release our records and compensated if our particular genome creates a pathway to treatment and medications.

Too risky

I like the idea of improving healthcare by accessing health records. However, as great as that potential is, the risks outweigh it. Access to the information would not be controlled. Too many would see personal opportunity in it for personal gain.

Nothing personal

The personal info should never be available to anyone who is not specifically authorised by the patient to have it. Medical information can be used to deny people employment or licenses!

No guarantee, but go ahead

This should be allowed on an anonymous basis, without question. But how to provide that anonymity?

Anonymously isolating the information is probably easy, but that information probably contains enough information to identify you if someone had access to the data and was strongly motivated. So the answer lies in restricting access to the raw data to trusted individuals.

Take my records, please

As a person with multiple medical conditions taking 28 medications a day, I highly endorse the use of my records. It is an area where I have found AI particularly valuable. With no medical educational background, I find it very helpful when AI describes in layman’s terms both my conditions and medications. In one instance, while interpreting a CT scan, AI noted a growth on my kidney that looked suspiciously like cancer and had not been disclosed to me by any of the four doctors examining the chart.

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This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

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