Posted by: realtormarkpalace | November 26, 2013

Foreclosures Fall to 5-Year Lows

National foreclosure pre-sale inventory is at its lowest point since 2008, Lender Processing Services reports.
The inventory—which reflects the number of loans that are in some stage of foreclosure—represents 2.54 percent of all mortgaged homes in LPS’ October data. That marks a 3.23 percent drop month-over-month, and a nearly 30 percent year-over-year drop. LPS’ data reflects about 70 percent of the mortgage market.

The National Association of REALTORS® reported last week that distressed homes are making up fewer of the total existing-home sales recorded in the past year. Sales of distressed homes—which include foreclosures and short sales—made up 14 percent of October sales, down 25 percent year-over-year.

Distressed sales tend to sell at a discount. NAR reported that foreclosures sold for an average discount of 17 percent below market value in October. Short sales were discounted 14 percent below market value.

Source: “Foreclosure Inventory Falls to 5 year Low,” Mortgage News Daily (Nov. 22, 2013) andNational Association of REALTORS®

Image

http://www.palaceproperties.com

Advertisements
Posted by: realtormarkpalace | July 1, 2013

Some Florida laws become effective July 1

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – June 28, 2013 – A few new Florida laws – ones passed by the Florida Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott – have an effective date of July 1 and go into effect on Monday.

Laws effective July 1, 2013

• Tax loophole closes. Language was included in different bills to close a tax loophole used by for-profit affordable housing builders that form non-profit subsidiaries primarily to pay lower property taxes. (HB 437).

• Squatters find it more difficult to claim ownership of an abandoned house.
 Lawmakers strengthened Florida’s adverse possession laws. Starting Monday, a claim of adverse possession requires 1) payment of all outstanding taxes and liens levied by the state, county or municipality within one year; and 2) submission of information to the county property appraiser: contact info, date the adverse possession claim began, legal description of the property, and dates when outstanding taxes and liens were paid. Filing this return, however, does not give an adverse possessor an enforceable interest in the property. Squatters who don’t file a return may be charged with trespassing. If an adverse possessor leases the property to a third party, he can be charged with theft. (HB 903)

• Citizens Property Insurance Corp. gets new rules.
 Some rules in a massive law impacting the state-owned insurer become effective at different times. However, a few kick in on Monday: 1) A rule requiring all new applicants to go through a clearinghouse to establish if they’re eligible for Citizen’s coverage; and 2) the addition of a consumer advocate in the Citizens Board of Governors. (SB 1770)

• Rules eased for renting with a homestead exemption. Under current law, a homeowner who rents his home for any length of time in two consecutive years can lose his homestead exemption. Starting Monday, a “safe harbor” allows people to rent their homestead up to 30 days a year without losing the exemption. However, rentals that exceed 30 days for two consecutive years jeopardize the homestead exemption in year two. Note: The law doesn’t address how many days beyond the 30-day threshold triggers abandonment of homestead. A Department of Revenue opinion allows rentals up to six months every other year if proof of substantial residency and other conditions are met. (SB 342)

• Residential landlord tenant changes.
 Some changes were made to Florida’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, including a change to the disclosure language landlords who rent five or more dwelling units are required to give. While the law becomes effective July 1, use of the revised disclosure is not mandatory until Jan. 1, 2014. In addition, the new law contains provisions about screens, recurring tenant violations of a lease, evictions after acceptance of partial rent, non-renewal notice requirements, writs of possession and the transfer of security deposits from a previous owner to a new landlord. (HB 77)

• Green energy tax incentives.
 A new law creates rules to implement the tax break for solar energy devices installed on or after Jan. 1, 2013. The bill does not, however, shield windstorm mitigation upgrades from property taxes. (HB 277)

• Online pre-licensing courses for appraisers.
 Before Monday’s effective date, appraisers could only take post-licensing classes via the Internet. (SB 1398)

© 2013 Florida Realtors®

 

Related Topics: Florida Le
Posted by: realtormarkpalace | June 20, 2013

Marketing to baby boomers? Sell low taxes

ORLANDO, Fla. – June 20, 2013 – Retiring baby boomers may like Florida’s sunshine, beaches and warm weather – but the big draw is low taxes. It may not be as nice as a beach photo in advertising, but “low taxes” is important to note if trying to market homes to people age 50 and older.

An analysis by West Palm Beach-based Newsmax also finds that Florida’s lack of an income tax can harm other higher-tax states. California, for example, recently created a services tax; and a man from Philadelphia, Pa., said he pays lower Florida property taxes and can afford twice as much house as he could in his hometown.

Based on Census Bureau data, states without an income tax appear to be growing at twice the rate of the nine top U.S. tax states. Overall, no-income-tax states grew 15 percent compared to an overall national growth of 10 percent, according to Newsmax.

Beyond home sales, relocating baby boomers offer another benefit to the Sunshine State: a stronger economy. The analysis finds that boomers retiring to Florida also bring money, and sometimes lots of it.

© 2013 Florida Realtors®  www.PalaceProperties.com

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | June 20, 2013

Fla.’s housing market continues momentum in May 2013

Existing-home sales rise in May with strong price increases.

ORLANDO, Fla. – June 20, 2013 – Florida’s housing market continued its upswing in May, with higher closed sales, more pending sales, rising median prices, more new listings and a lower inventory of homes for sale, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.

“Home sales continue to increase, it’s taking less time for sales to close, and median sales prices are on the rise,” said 2013 Florida Realtors President Dean Asher, broker-owner with Don Asher & Associates Inc. in Orlando. “This is the 17th month in a row that we’ve seen the statewide median sales prices increase year-over-year for both single-family homes and for townhome-condo properties.

“Sellers are seeing this momentum in Florida’s housing sector and it’s prompting many to decide now is the time to list their property for sale. Statewide, new listings for single-family homes increased 10.2 percent in May, while new townhome-condo listings rose 7.1 percent.”

Statewide closed sales of existing single-family homes totaled 22,375 in May, up 18.7 percent compared to the year-ago figure, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

Meanwhile, pending sales – contracts that are signed but not yet completed or closed – for existing single-family homes last month rose 30.8 percent over the previous May. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $171,000, up 15.9 percent from the previous year.

According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in April 2013 was $193,300, up 11 percent from the previous year. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in April was $402,760; in Massachusetts, it was $315,000; in Maryland, it was $258,093; and in New York, it was $218,875.

The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less. Housing industry analysts note that sales of foreclosures and other distressed properties downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes.

Looking at Florida’s year-to-year comparison for sales of townhouse-condos, a total of 11,201 units sold statewide last month, up 11.5 percent compared to May 2012. Meanwhile, pending sales for townhouse-condos last month increased 18.3 percent compared to the year-ago figure. The statewide median for townhouse-condo properties was $128,000, up 13 percent over the previous year. NAR reported that the national median existing condo price in April 2013 was $189,500.

The inventory for single-family homes stood at a 5-months’ supply in May; inventory for townhouse-condos was at a 5.4-months’ supply, according to Florida Realtors.

“The numbers continue to move in the right direction,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo. “We remain concerned about the rise in the percentage of sales accounted for by all cash buyers. These numbers understate the true condition of the market in that a great many sales are conducted directly with the financial institution holding the property, and thus do not appear in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

“But those crying doom-and-gloom who read this growth in investor activity as the sign of a new bubble are far off-base and simply don’t understand the texture of the current market.”

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.54 percent in May 2013, down from the 3.80 percent average recorded during the same month a year earlier.

To see the full statewide housing activity report, go to Florida Realtors website Research & Statistics page and click on the Research page; then look under Current Market Reports and get the statewide May reports. Or go toFlorida Realtors Media Center and download the May 2013 data report PDFs under Market Data.

© 2013 Florida Realtors® http://www.PalaceProperties.com

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | May 31, 2013

Key West Realtors win federal copyright case

KEY WEST, Fla. – May 31, 2013 – A federal district court in Florida awarded $2.7 million to the Key West Association of Realtors® Inc. (KWAR) in a copyright infringement action against Robert Allen.

Attorney Steven Robert Kozlowski, who represented KWAR in the case, says the size of the award for the association sends a strong message in favor of copyright owners.

KWAR brought the copyright infringement action against Allen in 2011. Since at least 2007, KWAR said, Allen has operated websites, including KeyWestMLS.com, made up almost entirely of content, data and images reproduced from KWAR’s MLS.

“Rob Allen was not a member of the association and has never had a license to copy or display the content of the association’s MLS database,” said KWAR General Counsel Wayne LaRue Smith in a statement released Wednesday. “The association attempted to get Mr. Allen to cease and desist from his infringing activities in 2010, but he ignored the requests. At that point, the association was determined to hold Mr. Allen accountable.”

The case closely parallels two other cases outside Florida being litigated between American Home Realty Network, which operates the Neighborcity website, and two large regional MLSs: Metropolitan Regional Information Systems in the mid-Atlantic region and Regional Multiple Listing Service of Minnesota (dba NorthStar MLS).

Those cases also involve allegations of unauthorized copying of MLS listings for display on a website operated by American Home Realty Network, as well as the use of those listings to generate buyer referrals, says National Association of Realtors General Counsel Laurie Janik. “The main difference is that the defendant in the Florida case did not even show up to contest the allegations, whereas the cases being brought against [American Home Realty Network] are being vigorously defended,” Janik says.

In the Florida decision, “the court’s imposition of the maximum amount of statutory damages … was warranted by the evidence and for the purposes of future deterrence,” Kozlowski said.

“Awarding a lesser amount of damages would not serve the purpose of the Copyright Act in deterrence of further wrongful conduct by defendant,” said Justice James Lawrence King in his May 22 decision. “Absent the maximum statutory award of damages, future potential infringers of plaintiff’s MLS copyrights will only see the potential benefit of high commissions from ill-gotten leads. As such, the maximum statutory damage amount is necessitated to deter the future conduct of defendant Allen and others.”

Source: Stacey Moncrieff, Realtor® Magazine

© 2013 Florida Realtors®

ORLANDO, Fla. – May 28, 2013 – In communities across Florida, 96 young people are getting phone calls of congratulations and finding out that “the check is in the mail.” Why? These students — high school graduates about to enter their first year of college and others already enrolled in a college or university — recently were notified they received scholarships through the Florida Realtors® Education Foundation Inc.

A not-for-profit corporation established by the state Realtor association, the Florida Realtors® Education Foundation Inc. provides real estate-related educational scholarships and grants. The Foundation’s Board of Directors awarded $118,800 in scholarships to help pay for higher education expenses for 96 deserving young people in the 2013-2014 school year. All recipients are Florida residents and will be attending community colleges, four-year universities, graduate programs or law schools both in-state and out-of-state. Many students wish to pursue careers in real estate.

“It’s amazing how $1 can make such a huge difference in the lives of so many bright young people and their families,” says Phyllis Choy, 2013 chair of Florida Realtors Education Foundation Inc. “And it all started with a dream of our late past president Chuck Bonfiglio, and the generosity of every member of Florida Realtors in annually providing $1 in dues dedicated to the Education Foundation Student Scholarship program. Thanks to him and to our members, the reality of helping these deserving students realize their goals for the future is a perpetual dream come true.”

The Education Foundation’s student scholarships also were made possible through an initial “seed money” contribution from Florida Realtors in 2009 under the direction of then-president Cynthia Shelton. Through this, the fourth year of the program, Florida Realtors will have helped 368 students continue their education and realize their goals for the future by awarding a total of $674,300 in scholarship funding, Choy says.

Scholarship recipients are enrolled at institutions of higher learning throughout the state, such as Florida State University, University of Florida, University of Central Florida, Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University, University of Miami, Florida Atlantic University, Florida Gulf Coast University, University of South Florida and Stetson University School of Law, as well as other colleges throughout the U.S.

A variety of criteria was considered for successful applicants including: academic achievements, financial need, relationship to the Realtor family and contributions to family, school and community.

© 2013 Florida Realtors®

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | May 23, 2013

Florida Realtors will help Okla. tornado victims

ORLANDO, Fla. – May 23, 2013 – The tornadoes that devastated Moore, Okla. – a suburb of Oklahoma City – left at least 10 Realtors homeless, according to the Oklahoma Association of Realtors. In addition to the impacted members of the Realtor family, more than two dozen people were killed, 300 injured and over 30,000 homes destroyed.

In response to the tragedy, the chair and trustees of Florida Realtors Disaster Relief Fund met this morning and voted to send $100,000 to the victims. The Oklahoma Insurance Department says that a preliminary estimate of damages suggests that final costs will be more than $2 billion.

“We don’t use the word ‘family’ lightly when we talk about the Realtor family,” says Richard “Dick” Darling, chair of Florida Realtors Disaster Relief Fund. “We live in Florida and feel a kinship to our Oklahoma brethren who are suffering today. We only hope our donation will help Realtors and other victims cope and move forward as quickly as possible.”

Florida Realtors Disaster Relief Fund was first created in 1992 to help victims of Hurricane Andrew, and re-created in 2004 following Hurricane Charley to help Realtors within the state following a disaster. Today it remains an ongoing Florida Realtors charity designed to help association members following a major disaster. On occasion, money from the fund is also donated for disasters outside the state.

“The Disaster Relief Fund has been, quite literally, a lifesaver for Realtors in Florida,” says Darling. “But while we always welcome donations following a tragedy, we can help those in need more quickly if Realtors donate before a hurricane, tornado or other natural disaster strikes. Our sincere thanks to anyone willing to help Realtors and others in need by giving generously to the Florida Realtors Disaster Relief Fund.”

The Florida Realtors Disaster Relief Fund will accept donations and coordinate contributions from anyone, both statewide and nationally, who care to contribute. Donations are tax deductible and may be submitted securely online through Florida Realtors website.

If you prefer to mail in a tax-deductible donation, make the check payable to “Florida Realtors Disaster Fund, attention Dave Garrison,” and send the check to:

Florida Realtors® Disaster Relief Fund
PO Box 725025
Orlando, FL 32782-5025

© 2013 Florida Realtors®

tropical paradise!

tropical paradise!

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | May 23, 2013

Fla.’s housing market shows strong gains in April 2013

Related:

ORLANDO, Fla. – May 22, 2013 –Florida’s housing market reported more closed sales, rising median prices, increased pending sales, more new listings and a lower inventory of homes for sale in April, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.

“Buyer demand is rising, but the inventory of homes continues to be tight in many areas across Florida,” says 2013 Florida Realtors President Dean Asher, broker-owner with Don Asher & Associates Inc. in Orlando. “That’s putting some upward pressure on prices. April is the 16th month in a row that we’ve seen the statewide median sales prices increase year-over-year for both single-family homes and for townhome-condo properties.

“In another positive sign for Florida’s housing market, sellers received over 93 percent of their original listing price in April, whether they were selling a single-family home or a condo. Now is a good time for sellers who have been waiting on the sidelines to enter the market.”

Statewide closed sales of existing single-family homes totaled 20,662 in April, up 17.4 percent compared to the year-ago figure, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

Meanwhile, pending sales – contracts that are signed but not yet completed or closed – for existing single-family homes last month rose 31.9 percent over the previous April. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $165,000, up 14.2 percent from the previous year.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in March 2013 was $185,100, up 12.1 percent from the previous year. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in March was $378,960; in Massachusetts, it was $290,000; in Maryland, it was $241,413; and in New York, it was $220,000.

The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less. Housing industry analysts note that sales of foreclosures and other distressed properties downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes.

Looking at Florida’s year-to-year comparison for sales of townhouse-condos, a total of 11,183 units sold statewide last month, up 13.6 percent compared to April 2012. Meanwhile, pending sales for townhouse-condos last month increased 22.7 percent compared to the year-ago figure. The statewide median for townhouse-condo properties was $128,000, up 16.4 percent over the previous year. NAR reported that the national median existing condo price in March 2013 was $178,900.

The inventory for single-family homes stood at a 5.2-months’ supply in April; inventory for townhouse-condos was at a 5.6-months’ supply, according to Florida Realtors.

“To a certain extent, the real estate story remains the same: prices and sales are up and inventory is low,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo. “We are also seeing a continued stabilization of the distressed property market with short sales down, and foreclosure and REO (real estate owned) sales essentially unchanged. But there is also a bit more to the story.”

He explained, “Because the government is selling foreclosed properties in bulk and also using online auctions, our sales numbers actually understate the vigor of the market. The increased importance of government sales in this market is reflected in the continuing fall in inventory in MLS listings.” MLS stands for multiple listing service.

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.45 percent in April 2013; lower than the 3.91 percent average during the same month a year earlier.

To see the full statewide housing activity reports, go to Florida Realtors Media Center  and look under Latest Releases, or download the April 2013 data report PDFs under Market Data.

© 2013 Florida Realtors®

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | April 23, 2013

Florida’s housing market on upswing in March

Related:

ORLANDO, Fla. – April 22, 2013 – In March, Florida’s housing market reported increased closed sales, more pending sales, higher median prices and a reduced inventory of homes for sale, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.

“Florida’s housing market continues to demonstrate its recovery – March marks the 15th consecutive month that the statewide median sales prices for both single-family homes and for townhouse-condo properties rose year-over-year, according to Florida Realtors’ data,” said 2013 Florida Realtors President Dean Asher, broker-owner with Don Asher & Associates Inc. in Orlando. “The median price is up more than 15 percent for both single-family homes and for townhouse-condos.

“Meanwhile, buyer demand is increasing, but supply continues to be constrained in many areas. In March, the median days on market (the midpoint of the number of days it took for a property to sell that month) was 57 days for single-family homes and 61 days for townhouses and condos. That means 50 percent of homes on the market in Florida sell in two months or less.”

Statewide closed sales of existing single-family homes totaled 19,631 in March, up 9 percent compared to the year-ago figure, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

Meanwhile, pending sales – contracts that are signed but not yet completed or closed – for existing single-family homes last month rose 23.4 percent over the previous March. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $160,000, up 15.2 percent from the previous year.

According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in February 2013 was $173,800, up 11.3 percent from the previous year. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in February was $333,880; in Massachusetts, it was $278,000; in Maryland, it was $224,048; and in New York, it was $220,000.

The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less. Housing industry analysts note that sales of foreclosures and other distressed properties downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes.

Looking at Florida’s year-to-year comparison for sales of townhouse-condos, a total of 9,957 units sold statewide last month, up 1.1 percent compared to March 2012. Meanwhile, pending sales for townhouse-condos last month increased 10.6 percent compared to the year-ago figure. The statewide median for townhouse-condo properties was $120,000, up 15.9 percent over the previous year. NAR reported that the national median existing condo price in February 2013 was $172,500.

The inventory for single-family homes stood at a 5.3-months’ supply in March; inventory for townhouse-condos was at a 5.8-months’ supply, according to Florida Realtors.

“We continue to be encouraged by the depth and breadth of the housing recovery,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo. “State numbers are up in virtually all important categories and down where they should be down. Even with the difficulty of access to financing for households, we still see the growth in the market continuing for at least the next 18 months.

“Inventory remains an issue, but this is fast becoming a sellers’ market and as sellers realize this, we expect inventories to rise as we approach the last quarter of 2103. Over the long term, we need to correct the imbalance between investors and owner-occupier households that has developed because of financing issues if the market is to prosper for a long time.”

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.57 percent in March 2013, down from the 3.95 percent average during the same month a year earlier.

To see the full statewide housing activity report, go to Florida Realtors website and click on the Research page; then look under Latest Housing Data, Statewide Residential Activity and get the March reports. Or go to Florida Realtors Media Center  and download the March 2013 data report PDFs under Market Data.

© 2013 Florida Realtors®  www.PalaceProperties.com

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | April 12, 2013

Breaking Down the Shadow Inventory

By Sarah Parr

A recent CoreLogic report shows some more hope for the housing industry as it reveals that the shadow inventory of homes in the United States dropped 28 percent since 2010 to 2.2 million housing units. CoreLogic used the number of homes held as REOs (real estate-owned) by mortgage servicers, but not yet listed on multiple listing services (MLS), seriously delinquent homes and properties in foreclosure to determine the shadow inventory figure.

Identifying the shadow inventory

The U.S.’s shadow inventory consists of a range of properties not listed on the market. Half of the shadow inventory consists of vacant properties in some phase of foreclosure that homeowners have abandoned, also known as “zombie foreclosures.” Many homeowners leave homes when they can no longer afford their monthly mortgage and assume foreclosure is imminent. Another part of the shadow inventory is composed of the homes held by banks, but not up for sale yet, and homes that owners would like to sell eventually, but are holding off putting on the market.

How it began

RealtyTRAC says the nation’s large shadow inventory grew because of the finalization of the National Mortgage Settlement last year that resulted in a 59 percent increase in properties in foreclosure. The settlement invigorated pending foreclosure cases, as banks re-filed or were required to work with homeowners on alternatives to foreclosure. As Pine Castle foreclosure lawyers would reveal to you, shadow inventory mostly grew in judicial-process states since these states are inclined to possessing a buildup of foreclosure cases. In these states, foreclosure cases are handled primarily by the court system.

The impact on real estate

Real estate market analysts initially feared that a simultaneous release of shadow inventory properties on the market would greatly reduce prices. Nevertheless, shadow inventory properties have slowly been listed, and decreased inventory has led to price increases in some communities, Reuters reported. Single investors and investment firms have also prevented the market from being flooded by purchasing large quantities of these homes when they are first listed, according to TIME.

The presence of shadow inventory can create an unclear situation for sellers and for predicting when a local housing market can anticipate full recovery. Shadow inventory can also cause housing data to underestimate the total amount of housing inventory. Even so, there is a silver lining: future buyers can expect a steady flow of inventory on the market in the near future, especially in Florida. Presently, Florida has a nice chunk, 16 percent, of the nation’s shadow inventory. Once some of these properties go through the judicial-foreclosure process, Florida will see a solid increase in housing inventory. Lawmakers are also looking to remedy Florida’s foreclosure process with various measures. The housing market will benefit greatly from an increase in supply for those eager to buy.

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | April 12, 2013

Thank you Tom!

fresh customer testimonial! we LOVE testimonials! thank you Tom!

My brother and I were put in contact with Mark and Palace Properties through some friends. Mark was highly recommanded by our freinds. Since we live in Europe we wanted to do some thorough preparations. We were in contact with Mark several times (phone and email) planning our trip to Florida. He always gave rapidly responses and was very helpfull in all ways.

We went for a 6 day trip where our goal was to purchase a property and have all nesessary paperwork finalized. Believe it or not but Mark and his Palace Properties delivered! We found exactly what we were looking for and Mark pulled all the right strings and had the process fixed and closed before we left back home to Europe. He even used a day in helping us buying and installing  furniture for the house!

We are deeply gateful to Mark and Kelly’s effort to meet our needs. They are extremely customer oriented and we wouldn’t hesitate a second in using their services again.

Tom & Erik

March 2013

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | April 10, 2013

On tap today! First-ever ‘Rally for Homeownership’

Be part of the Rally for Homeownership

Follow all the Great American Realtor Days events through Florida Realtors News, Facebook and Twitter (hashtag #rallyintally).

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – April 9, 2013 – Tomorrow at 1 p.m., Realtors from around the state will converge en masse on the Florida Capitol Courtyard for Florida Realtors®’ first-ever “Rally for Homeownership.” As a group, Realtors will highlight the link between Florida’s housing market rebound and the accompanying boost in economic performance.

The Rally is part of Great American Realtor Days, a two-day annual event when Florida Realtors’ members meet lawmakers to discuss pending real estate legislation and other issues that impact Floridians and Sunshine State visitors.

Florida Realtors 2013 President Dean Asher, broker-owner with Don Asher & Associates Inc. in Orlando, and state Rep. Matt Hudson (R-Naples), a real estate broker, will lead the “Rally for Homeownership,” which will also include a salute to U.S. military families and their service to America. The Rally will feature a surprise announcement – a powerful and emotional reminder that homeownership remains an important part of the American Dream.

Rally participants will emphasize the importance of home sales to the state’s economy. Construction and existing home sales spur productivity in a “domino effect,” creating jobs for millions of Floridians.

According to the Florida Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research, real estate remains the No. 1 economic generator in the state. Real estate, rentals and leasing accounted for $117.4 billion, or 15.6 percent, of Florida’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2011. Add in construction, and it accounts for $147.4 billion, or 19.6 percent, of the state’s GDP in 2011.

As homeownership increases, Florida’s economy strengthens with it.

© 2013 Florida Realtors®

http://www.PalaceProperties.com

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | March 8, 2013

Forget ‘improving’ or ‘rebound’ – Fla. is ‘on fire’

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – March 8, 2013 – Lesley Deutch, senior vice president at John Burns Real Estate Consulting, said the “Florida market is on fire” in her latest update on the state’s housing market.

Deutch says she traveled the state recently and visited more than 20 communities. While recovery reports differ between Florida cities and urban areas, she reports five major trends:

1. Land prices. While the price of land continues to rise quickly statewide, Orlando feels the most pressure. Deutch says she saw some submarkets where “land and finished lot prices have now surpassed peak levels.” In Orlando, she sees developers buying raw land “just to gain a position and market share.”

2. Home prices. Some communities, such as Orlando and Naples, are seeing 1- to 2-percent new-home price increases monthly, Deutch says. The hallmarks of a seller’s market have also returned, such as lotteries. She expects a 2013 price increase of at least 10 percent in many Florida markets.

3. 55-plus market. Deutch reports a 20- to 25-percent jump in potential buyers interested in active adult living, according to builders in Southwest Florida. She also notes a boost in customer traffic in second- and third-tier markets.

4. Foreign buyers. It’s more than Miami, Deutch says. While in Orlando, she visited a sales office that had three active buyers: One from Brazil, one from Germany and one from China.

5. Foreclosures. While the state has a notoriously long foreclosure process, Deutch says banks are slowly releasing foreclosures. But investors continue to buy new foreclosures shortly after they hit the market.

© 2013 Florida Realtors®

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | February 26, 2013

U.S. new-home sales jump to highest in 4½ years

WASHINGTON (AP) – Feb. 26, 2013 – U.S. new-home sales jumped in January from the previous month to the highest level since July 2008, a sign that the housing recovery is accelerating.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that new-home sales rose nearly 16 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 437,000. The percentage increase was the largest in nearly 20 years. And December’s sales were revised higher to 378,000 from 369,000.

Steady job creation and near-record-low mortgage rates are spurring more Americans to buy houses. Sales of previously occupied homes rose to the highest level in five years last year.

At the same time, the number of previously occupied homes for sale is at a 13-year low. That shortage creates more demand for new homes. Builders began construction on the most houses and apartments in four years last year.

The supply of new homes for sale was unchanged last month at 150,000. That’s barely above August’s total of 143,000 – the smallest supply of new homes on records dating back to 1963.

At the current sales pace, it would take just 4.1 months to exhaust the number of new homes for sale, the lowest in eight years. Low inventories should encourage more construction.

Though new homes represent less than 20 percent of the housing sales market, they have an outsize impact on the economy. Each home built creates an average of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in tax revenue, according to data from the National Association of Homebuilders.

The increase in home building has helped boost construction hiring. The industry has gained 98,000 jobs since September, the best stretch since the spring of 2006.

Still, the increases in new-home sales are coming from depressed levels. Sales plummeted to a record low in 2011. And sales are still well below the 700,000 annual level that economists consider healthy.

The biggest gain in new-home sales was in the West, where they soared 45.3 percent. The supply of previously occupied homes in that region has fallen sharply. Sales jumped 27.6 percent in the Northeast, 11.1 percent in the Midwest but only 3.2 percent in the South.

A separate report Tuesday showed that home prices accelerated in December. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 6.8 percent in December compared with the same month a year earlier. That’s up from November’s 5.5 percent gain over the previous November.

Rising home prices can fuel the housing recovery by encouraging people to buy before prices increase further. They can also bring more sellers off the sidelines.

Higher home values also make homeowners feel wealthier, building confidence and encouraging more spending. And banks are more likely to provide mortgage loans if they are confident that home prices are rising.
AP Logo Copyright © 2013 The Associated Press, Christopher S. Rugaber, AP economics writer.

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | February 22, 2013

Fla.’s housing market continues upswing in Jan. 2013

NAR: Jan. existing-home sales hold with steady price gains

ORLANDO, Fla. – Feb. 21, 2013 – Florida’s housing market reported increased sales, higher median prices, more pending sales and the continued shrinking of inventory levels in January, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.

“This year started out strong for Florida’s housing market,” said 2013 Florida Realtors President Dean Asher, broker-owner with Don Asher & Associates Inc. in Orlando. “Homes sales continue to rise, mortgage rates remain near historic lows and the inventory of for-sale homes is lower than it’s been in years. Plus, the time it takes for a home to sell is dropping; the median days a home is on the market declined about 15 percent for both single-family homes and for townhome-condo properties. However, overly restrictive credit requirements remain an obstacle for many potential buyers, who find it difficult to access affordable financing options.”

Statewide closed sales of existing single-family homes totaled 13,679 in January, up 11.7 percent compared to the year-ago figure, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

Meanwhile, pending sales – contracts that are signed but not yet completed or closed – for existing single-family homes last month rose 31 percent over the previous January. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $145,000, up 12.4 percent from the previous year.

According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in December 2012 was $180,300, up 10.9 percent from the previous year. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in December was $366,930; in Massachusetts, it was $303,500; in Maryland, it was $243,741; and in New York, it was $229,000.

The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less. Housing industry analysts note that sales of foreclosures and other distressed properties downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes.

Looking at Florida’s year-to-year comparison for sales of townhouse-condos, a total of 6,670 units sold statewide last month, up 2 percent compared to January 2012. Meanwhile, pending sales for townhouse-condos in January increased 17 percent compared to the year-ago figure. The statewide median for townhouse-condo properties was $112,000, up 18 percent over the previous year. NAR reported that the national median existing condo price in December 2012 was $184,100.

This is the 13th month in a row that statewide median sales prices for both single-family homes and for townhouse-condo units have increased year-over-year, according to Florida Realtors’ data.

The inventory for single-family homes stood at a 5.6-months’ supply in January; inventory for townhouse-condos was at a 6.2-months’ supply, according to Florida Realtors.

“I’m particularly impressed with the rise in percentage of list price received by sellers,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo, referring to the January data. Sellers of single-family existing homes in January received an average of 92.2 percent of their original list price; sellers of townhome-condo units received an average of 93 percent.

“This can encourage other potential sellers to come forward, thus easing the market’s inventory crunch,” Tuccillo noted. “But, despite the progress of Florida’s housing market, it’s still being held back by the difficulty consumers have in accessing credit.”

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.41 percent in January 2013, down from the 3.92 percent average during the same month a year earlier.

To see the full statewide housing activity report, go to Florida Realtors website and click on the Research page; then look under Latest Housing Data, Statewide Residential Activity and get the January reports. Or go to Florida Realtors Media Center and download the January 2013 data report PDFs under Market Data. (http://media.floridarealtors.org/market-data)

© 2013 Florida Realtors®

http://www.youtube.com/palaceproperties

http://www.PalaceProperties.com

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | February 13, 2013

Man builds most energy-efficient home he can

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Feb. 11, 2013 – Saving money was never on Dennis Kaech’s mind when he built his Olympia, Wash., home. But saving energy was.

“I wanted to see how many crazy things you could put in a house,” Kaech said on a recent winter day in his light-filled home on the city’s west side.

By “crazy things” he means energy producers and heat conservers. Kaech, 69, is a retired high school science teacher. Fun for him is a day spent calculating how many kilowatts he can save with a new heating system.

Kaech has spent $350,000 on the house. But it’s not a gold plated palace with luxe finishings. The money is inside the walls, under the floors and on the roof. He wanted to build the most energy-efficient home he possibly could. He appears to have succeeded.

“I’d probably get 50 cents on the dollar,” Kaech said of his investment – if he sold it today.

The home features a windmill, solar panels, passive heat storage and enough insulation for a colony on Mars.

Kaech bought the property in 1978 but didn’t begin construction until 2008 after tearing down the previous home on the site. In November, he moved in.

The house is open and inviting – mostly. Directly behind a bank of south-facing windows is a formidable rock wall. It’s not some horrible blueprint screw-up. Kaech designed the house that way. The rock wall, recycled from the previous house’s chimney, is heated by solar rays and by a wood burning stove. In the evening, the wall releases heat back into the house.

They aren’t the only heat-holding rocks in the house. A concrete box underneath the living room holds more than four tons of rock. It absorbs excess heat and then releases it as the house cools.

The walls of the wood-framed home are built like a layer cake. Underneath HardiePlank siding is a layer of foam insulation acting as a thermal break, followed by house wrap over subpaneling. Inside the 2-by-6 framing, Kaech installed 4-inch batts of fiberglass insulation and had a 2-inch layer of blown-in foam insulation. Lastly, sheetrock followed.

The walls have a total combined R-value of 31. R-value is a measure of a material’s ability to block heat transfer. The higher the R-value the better the insulation is. Building codes require a minimum of R-20 for exterior walls. For his north and west facing walls Kaech used prefabricated insulated panels manufactured by Premier Panels of Fife. He also minimized windows in the north walls – an energy saving move.

The downstairs holds a modest living room, kitchen, bathroom and garage while the upstairs holds his loft bedroom, bathroom and a separate living area. The living space totals 1,400 square feet.

Both levels have 2-inch thick concrete floors. Hidden in them are 0.5-inch wide tubes filled with water that provide radiant heat. A water heater, set at 105 degrees, is dedicated to the system. Ceiling fans push heat back down toward the living spaces.

Complicated enough yet? It’s only the beginning. The radiant heat system and domestic water supply are both heated using geothermal technology. It’s not the kind of steaming hot geothermal you see at Yellowstone. The system uses plain old Olympia ground heat.

Four horizontal holes were drilled on Kaech’s property and filled with tubes containing water. It’s a closed loop system that absorbs heat from the ground (which is usually at 50 degrees) and then, using a heat pump, transfers the energy to the radiant heat and domestic hot water systems. Think of it as the opposite of a refrigerator.

“It only raises the tank 5 or 6 degrees per hour,” Kaech said. But that’s enough to get the hot water tank to 115 degrees. That may be enough for a shower but not to do dishes. Not to worry: he has a backup – or two.

A set of solar panels on the roof runs heated water (up to 200 degrees even in January) to a transfer system (another closed loop) that heats the domestic water system in conjunction with the geothermal. A third and final backup is provided by standard electrical coils.

Those aren’t the only solar panels on Kaech’s roof. Panels of photovoltaic cells produce 4,680 kilowatt hours of electricity per year.

In the summer Kaech’s system creates more electricity than he can use. The excess is sent to the power grid. Puget Sound Energy doesn’t pay customers for excess kilowatts but they will credit accounts – making a battery superfluous. In the winter, when short grey days produce less electricity, Kaech can use those banked kilowatts.

A look over Kaech’s bills shows the results. In December 2012 PSE delivered 584 kWh while his system produced 81 kWh. But in August Kaech’s system produced 663 kWh. (Kaech was not yet living in the house in August and PSE delivered only 99 kWh).

Banked kilowatts – if there are any – are zeroed out in April. But Kaech said he’ll never be a net producer. He expects the panels, over the course of a year, to provide half of his electricity needs.

The entire solar system cost Kaech $36,000 for parts and installation. That might seem like a high up-front cost but when one starts to do the math the figure doesn’t seem so daunting.

First, the federal government gave Kaech a 30 percent tax credit off the installation costs. Additionally, because the solar system was manufactured in Washington (by Silicon Energy of Marysville), for every kilowatt he produces until 2020 the state (via PSE) pays him 54 cents. In the most recent year-long period he made $2,611.

Solar energy is often thought of as clean energy (compared with emission spewing power plants) but its production is not necessarily so.

“It’s green in theory but to build a silicon cell takes a lot of energy,” Kaech said.

A windmill that rises above the home was supposed to add to the green electrical system but it has never functioned correctly. It’s a sore point for Kaech – one of the home’s few failures.

What is green in Kaech’s home is his sewer system. The home has two effluent lines. A grey line drains bathroom sinks, tubs, showers and washing machines while a black line drains toilets, kitchen sinks and dishwashers. The grey line feeds into a 1,000-gallon cistern (along with rainwater from gutters) that can be used to water landscaping. The black line goes to the city’s sewer system.

While the rest of us sweat over heating bills, Kaech reclines in his 75 degree home, heated only by his wood stove and an occasional morning boost from the radiant floor system. He only has one regret.

“I should have built it when I was younger.”

Copyright © 2013 The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.) Distributed by MCT Information Services.

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | February 12, 2013

Fla.’s housing market gained strength, momentum in 2012

NAR: 4Q home prices see strongest increase in seven years

ORLANDO, Fla., – Feb. 11, 2013 – Florida’s housing market wrapped up 2012 with more closed sales, higher pending sales, higher median prices and a reduced inventory of homes for sale compared to the year before, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.

“Throughout 2012, we’ve seen increasingly strong signs that the state’s housing market is in solid recovery,” says 2013 Florida Realtors President Dean Asher, broker-owner with Don Asher & Associates Inc. in Orlando. “These positive fundamentals in the housing sector continue to attract potential homeowners and investors; however, they’re facing a limited inventory of available for-sale homes in many areas. Florida’s economy is growing, more jobs are being created and mortgage interest rates probably will stay favorably low for some time – which will help drive the housing market forward in 2013.”

Statewide closed sales of existing single-family homes totaled 204,414 in 2012, up 8.5 percent compared to the year-ago figure, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations.  In the fourth quarter, closed sales of single-family existing homes totaled 52,624, up 21.2 percent from 4Q 2011. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

Meanwhile, pending sales – contracts that are signed but not yet completed or closed – for existing single-family homes rose 17.6 percent in 2012 compared to 2011’s figure. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in 2012 was $145,000, up 9 percent from the previous year. Looking at 4Q 2012, the statewide single-family existing-home median price was $150,000, up 11.1 percent from the same quarter a year ago.

According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), the preliminary national median sales price for existing single-family homes for all of 2012 was $176,600, up 6.3 percent from 2011 – and the strongest annual price gain since 2005. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes for 2012 was a preliminary $319,340; in Massachusetts, it was $298,000; in New York, it was $215,000; and in Illinois, it was $139,000.

The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less. Housing industry analysts note that sales of foreclosures and other distressed properties downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes.

Looking at Florida’s year-to-year comparison for sales of townhouse-condos, a total of 101,876 units sold statewide in 2012, up 2 percent from 2011. Pending sales for townhouse-condos for the year increased 6.2 percent compared to 2011. The statewide median for townhouse-condo properties in 2012 was $106,000, up 17.8 percent over the previous year.

For 4Q 2012, closed sales of townhouse-condos totaled 24,743, up 14.3 percent from 4Q 2011; pending sales of townhome-condos rose 21.6 percent over the same quarter a year ago. The statewide median for townhome-condos in 4Q 2012 was $111,900, up 24.3 percent from 4Q 2011.

The inventory for single-family homes stood at a 5.5-months’ supply for 4Q 2012; inventory for townhouse-condos was at a 6-months’ supply for the same period, according to Florida Realtors.

Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo said, “To an extent, we have seen these numbers before in monthly reports, but it’s often good to step back and look at the statistics from a more aggregated level. They clearly show the robustness of Florida’s housing recovery in sales and the beginnings of what we see as a sustained growth in prices. Of particular interest is the growth in cash sales. This is indicative of the growing interest of investors and foreign buyers in Florida real estate, but also points to the difficulties presented by the current financing climate that households wishing to buy face.”

The interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.66 percent for 2012, down from the previous year’s average of 4.45 percent, according to Freddie Mac.

To see the full statewide housing activity report, go to Florida Realtors website and click on the Research page; then look under Latest Housing Data, Statewide Residential Activity and get the 2012 and 4Q 2012 reports. Or go to Florida Realtors Media Center and download the 2012, the 4Q 2012 and general statewide metropolitan statistical area (MSA) data report PDFs under Market Data.

© 2013 Florida Realtors®

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | February 2, 2013

Florida Realtors 2013 Leadership Academy

ORLANDO, Fla., February 2013 –Florida Realtors will hold its 5th annual Leadership Academy program beginning in March, with Melbourne Realtor at the helm.

Mark Palace, Owner-Broker of Palace Properties International in Indian Harbor Beach, Florida is chairing this years’ Leadership Academy Committee, which recently selected 14 Realtors from all over the state from a field of over 70 applicants to participate in the program.  “We are very excited about this year’s program and its participants,” says Palace.  “My committee did a wonderful job of interviewing and selecting these future leaders; we’re looking at running a great class this year!”

The Leadership Academy was established in 2008 to identify emerging Realtor leaders ready to get involved, make a difference and enhance their leadership skills.  The goal of the Academy is to empower its participants to develop the skills needed to lead a committee, a Realtor association or a community activity.

As directed by Mr. Palace and his Vice Chairman Francisco Angulo, Broker Associate with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate in Miami Beach, members of the Leadership Academy will participate in classroom activities, group and independent study sessions, team-building and goal-setting exercises, leadership techniques and communication skills enhancement.  In addition, they will collectively work on their class project, which this year, is designed to great a greater awareness of organ donation.

In addition to chairing the Leadership Academy Committee, Mr. Palace also serves on Florida Realtors Strategic Planning Committee and its board of directors, and is a 2009 graduate of its Leadership Academy.  He also served for several years on the association’s Global Business Committee, Resort & Second Home Specialists Forum and International Operations Committee.  He is a graduate of the Melbourne Area Association of Realtors 2005 Leadership Academy as well as the National Association of Realtors 2010 Leadership Academy.  An active Realtor and real estate investor, Mr. Palace speak nine languages, is a surfer, musician, writer, tri-athlete, and world traveler in addition to many his years of civic and professional volunteer service including serving as President of the International Students’ Union at the University of Oslo, Norway.

The 2013 Leadership Academy participants include: Aaron Bosshardt from the Gainesville/Alachua County Association of Realtors; Amy Worth Paul from the Sarasota Association of Realtors; Anand Patel with the Greater Tampa Association of Realtors; Brandi Gabbard at the Pinellas Suncoast Association of Realtors; Carmen Vasquez from the Naples Area Board of Realtors; Cheryl Lambert of the Realtors Association of Citrus County; Diana Galavis from the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors; Georgina Blanco with Miami Realtors; Gus Grizzard of the Realtors Association of Lake and Sumter Counties; Ileana Bogaert with the Marco Island Area Association of Realtors; Karen Swanbeck from the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach; Kevin Pickett, also with the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach; Theodora Uniken Venema from the Orlando Regional Realtors Association; and Veronica Malolos with the Osceola County Association of Realtors.

Florida Realtors® formerly known as the Florida Association of Realtors® serves as the voice for real estate in Florida.  It provides programs, services, continuing education, research and legislative representation to its 118,000 members in 64 boards/associations.  Florida Realtors® Media Center website is available at http://media.floridarealtors.org.

DSC_0014

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | January 31, 2013

Outside remodeling has biggest return on investment

WASHINGTON – Jan. 30, 2013 – Homeowners looking for the most return on their investment when remodeling should consider exterior replacement projects. According to the 2013 Remodeling

Cost vs. Value Report, Realtors® rated exterior projects among the most valuable home improvement projects.

“Realtors know that curb appeal projects offer great bang for your buck, because a home’s exterior is the first thing potential buyers see,” says National Association of Realtors (NAR) President Gary Thomas. “Projects such as siding, window and door replacements can recoup more than 70 percent of their cost at resale.”

According to the Cost vs. Value Report, Realtors judged a steel entry door replacement as the project expected to return the most money, with an estimated 85.6 percent of costs recouped upon resale. A steel entry door replacement is also the least expensive project in the report, costing little more than $1,100 on average.

A majority of the top 10 cost-effective projects nationally are exterior replacement projects; all are estimated to recoup more than 71 percent of costs.

Three different siding replacement projects landed in the top 10, including fiber cement siding (expected to return 79.3 percent of costs), vinyl siding (72.9 percent) and foam backed vinyl (71.8 percent). Two additional door replacements were also among the top exterior replacement projects. A midrange and upscale garage door replacement were both expected to return more than 75 percent of costs.

According to the report, two interior remodeling projects, however, could also recoup substantial value at resale. A minor kitchen remodel is ranked fifth and expected to return 75.4 percent of costs. Nationally, the project’s average cost is just under $19,000.

The second interior remodeling project in the top 10 is the attic bedroom, with 72.9 percent of costs recouped. With an average national cost of just under $48,000, the attic project adds a bedroom and bathroom within a home’s existing footprint.

On the other side of the value spectrum, the least effective home improvement project is a home office, which would recoup less than 44 percent of the installation cost.

To read the full project descriptions and access national and regional project data, visit http://www.costvsvalue.com.

© 2013 Florida Realtors®

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | January 21, 2013

Home construction in 2012 highest in 4 years

WASHINGTON (AP) – Jan. 17, 2013 – U.S. builders started work on homes in December at the fastest pace since the summer of 2008 and finished 2012 as their best year for residential construction since the early stages of the housing crisis.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that builders broke ground on houses and apartments at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 954,000. That’s 12.1 percent higher than November’s annual rate and nearly double the recession low reached in April 2009.

For the year, builders started work on 780,000 homes. That’s still roughly half of the annual number of starts consistent with healthier markets. But it is an increase of 28.1 percent from 2011. And it is the most since 2008 – shortly after the housing market began to collapse in late 2006 and 2007.

Steady job gains, record-low mortgage rates and a tight supply of new and previously occupied homes available for sale have helped boost sales and prices in most markets. That has made builders more confident.

“The strong rise in single-family starts is a clear indication of builder confidence in the sales outlook,” said Pierre Ellis, an economist at Decision Economics, in a note to clients.

In December, the pace of single-family home construction, which makes up two-thirds of the market, increased 8 percent. It is now 75 percent higher than the recession low reached in March 2009.

Apartment construction, which is more volatile, surged 23 percent last month.

Applications for building permits, a sign of future construction, inched up to a rate of 903,000 – a 4 1/2-year high.

Confidence among homebuilders held steady in January at the highest level in nearly seven years. But builders are feeling slightly less optimistic about their prospects for sales over the next six months, according to a survey released Wednesday.

In November, sales of previously occupied homes rose to their highest level in three years, while new-home sales reached a 2 1/2-year high.

Those factors have helped make homebuilders more confident and spurred new home construction. But homebuilders’ are still warily watching the current standoff in Washington between President Barack Obama and Congress over several approaching budget deadlines, including the need to boost the nation’s $16.4 trillion borrowing limit.

Though new homes represent less than 20 percent of the housing sales market, they have an outsize impact on the economy. Each home built creates an average of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in tax revenue, according to data from the homebuilders association.
AP LogoCopyright © 2013 The Associated Press, Martin Crutsinger, AP economics writer. All rights reserved.

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | December 23, 2012

Fla.’s housing market continues upswing in November

NAR: Nov. existing home sales, prices maintain uptrend

ORLANDO, Fla. – Dec. 20, 2012 – Closed sales, pending sales, median prices and average prices rose in Florida’s housing market in November, while the inventory of homes and condos for sale shrunk, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.

“The sizzle is back,” said 2012 Florida Realtors President Summer Greene, describing the state of Florida’s real estate market. “With home sales strongly trending up and the supply of homes for sale drying up, the market is hot. And we expect these trends to continue into 2013 with the jobs market improving, low mortgage rates continuing and consumer confidence getting stronger.” Greene is regional manager of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Florida 1st in Fort Lauderdale.

Statewide closed sales of existing single-family homes totaled 17,072 in November, up 24.4 percent compared to the year-ago figure, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department and vendor partner 10K Research and Marketing. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

Meanwhile, pending sales – contracts that are signed but not yet completed or closed – for existing single-family homes last month rose 45.8 percent over the previous November. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in November was $150,000, up 11.2 percent from a year ago.

According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in October 2012 was $178,700, up 10.9 percent from the previous year. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in October was $341,370; in Massachusetts, it was $287,000; in Maryland, it was $239,802; and in New York, it was $209,000.

The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less. Housing industry analysts note that sales of foreclosures and other distressed properties continue to downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes.

Looking at Florida’s year-to-year comparison for sales of townhome-condos, a total of 8,079 units sold statewide last month, up 18.3 percent compared to November 2011. Meanwhile, pending sales for townhome-condos in November increased 30 percent compared to the year-ago figure. The statewide median for townhome-condo properties was $112,000, up 23.1 percent over the previous year. NAR reported that the national median existing condo price in October 2012 was $177,500.

The inventory for single-family homes stood at a 5.1-months’ supply in November; inventory for townhome-condo properties was at a 5.3 months’ supply, according to Florida Realtors. Industry analysts note that a 5.5-months’ supply symbolically represents a market balanced between buyers and sellers.

“Particularly striking in this market is the degree to which prices have risen,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo. “This might be expected to be the case for median prices as investors absorb the inventory at the lower end of the market, but average prices are up dramatically as well – and that suggests we’re seeing real appreciation occur in the marketplace, another sign of how solid Florida’s real estate recovery has become.”

The interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.35 percent in November 2012, down from the 3.99 percent averaged during the same month a year earlier, according to Freddie Mac.

To see the full statewide housing activity report, go to Florida Realtors website and click on the Research page; then look under Latest Housing Data, Statewide Residential Activity and get the November report. Or go to Florida Realtors Media Center (http://media.floridarealtors.org/ and download the November 2012 data report PDF under Market Data.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | December 19, 2012

Buyers more optimistic about market’s future

SEATTLE – Dec. 18, 2012 – Redfin surveys active buyers to gauge attitudes about the current real estate market. In its latest survey, Redfin found improved attitudes about the direction of home prices and whether it’s a good time to buy.

Overview

• 71 percent of homebuyers surveyed believe that home prices will increase in their neighborhood in the next year, up from 61 percent last quarter and more than double the 34 percent who expected rising prices in the first quarter survey

• 33 percent saw rising home prices as a major concern, up from 23 percent last quarter

• 22 percent were concerned about a weak economy, down from 27 percent in the third quarter

• 57 percent cited low interest rates as a reason to buy now, down seven percentage points from last quarter and sixteen percentage points from the first quarter – but it’s still the most common motivator for buying now

• 59 percent indicated that low inventory was their top concern with buying a home, consistent with last quarter’s rate

• 37 percent of respondents said they’re first-time homebuyers, down from 48 percent last quarter

• 5 percent of respondents are concerned about the “fiscal cliff” and possible changes to the U.S. tax code’s Mortgage Interest Deduction.

Over the past year, Redfin says its survey has showed increasing faith that home prices will continue to rise and, at the same time, worry over those rising prices. Low inventory has been a constant source of frustration for buyers.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

ORLANDO, Fla. – Dec. 12, 2012 – Florida’s residential real estate market will continue its upward trend into 2013, though the pace of recovery may be slower than the U.S. as a whole, according to leading U.S. economists speaking today at Florida Realtors® 2013 Real Estate and Economic Forecast Conference in Orlando.

“Florida’s housing market is back, with great possibilities for the future – but those possibilities are only beginning to be realized,” said Dr. John Tuccillo, chief economist for Florida Realtors.

Along with Tuccillo, conference speakers included Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist for Fannie Mae; Leslie Appleton-Young, vice president and chief economist for the California Association of Realtors (CAR); and Pat Reass, a state-certified residential real estate appraiser at Appraisal Group MidFlorida LLC in Winter Haven.

Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan said, “We believe the housing market is on firm footing. … Most of the improvement we’ve seen has come from the supply side of housing. Distressed properties are coming down from about 5 million to more like 3 million.”

Mortgage rates should remain low and not change much in 2013, he added, while banks likely will continue to maintain high lending standards and a tight credit environment.

“The trend has been established for the housing recovery, but robust growth awaits more jobs and a stronger economy,” Duncan said. “Three years into the recovery, the current economic expansion is the weakest since World War II. Just over half of the jobs lost in the Great Recession have been recovered.”

The real estate market “bottomed out in late 2008,” Tuccillo said, according to Florida Realtors’ market data, data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and other market research sources.

“Since the beginning of 2009, we’ve clearly seen a regrouping and a recovery underway,” he said.

Median sales prices are consistently rising for both existing single-family homes and condo-townhome units across Florida. However, he noted the state’s active distressed property (foreclosures and short sales) market is putting pressure on prices, resulting in smaller gains and a slower rate than what is being seen in California and the U.S. as a whole.

Other signs of Florida’s steadily improving residential market, according to Tuccillo:

• Months’ supply of single-family homes is below 6 months
• Latest data (October 2012) shows 44 percent of closed sales were paid in cash, signifying strong demand from investors
• Foreign buyers make up 19 percent of closed sales in Florida (October 2012)
• Traditional (non-distressed) sales now make up over 50 percent of Florida’s closed sales
• Closed sales include fewer REOs (real estate-owned) and more short sales
• Shadow inventory has been declining since 2009, though it remains a key factor in the state’s housing market going forward since Florida is a judicial foreclosure state (meaning foreclosures go through a court process)

Comparing Florida’s residential market to California’s and to the U.S. as a whole, CAR Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young agreed that the nationwide housing market is back.

“The latest NAR data shows very strong closed sales and rising prices,” she said. “Low inventory is currently a challenge for the nation, for California and also for Florida in many areas. There’s just not enough property for sale, particularly with investors buying properties for cash (29 percent of the market in California; 25 percent of the U.S. market). For California, we’re calling 2012 the return of the traditional seller to the marketplace – in October 2012, 63.4 percent of our total sales were from equity or traditional sales.”

In California, the current months’ supply of existing single-family homes is 3.1 months, Appleton-Young noted. While the state is still dealing with lender issues such as tight credit, problems are being resolved at a faster pace, she said, and home prices are rising as a result.

Looking ahead to 2013, Appleton-Young said, “There is a tremendous amount of pent-up demand for housing. The number of new units is improving, but it’s still low and isn’t enough to meet pent-up demand. The housing recovery is gaining strength, but the long-term viability of the market and its recovery depends on jobs.”

Where will Florida be in 2013? Assuming that the national fiscal problems are not resolved but are “postponed,” Tuccillo said he expects employment in the state to grow by 10 percent in 2013; residential sales to increase by 10 percent; prices (same sales index) to rise by 5 percent; commercial activity to revive; and inventory to grow as the market improves.

“I think the improvement in the market and rising prices will bring more potential sellers back into the market,” he said. “Signs point to a better year in 2013.”

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

 

Related Topics: Economi
Posted by: realtormarkpalace | November 12, 2012

Florida Realtors® supports recovery efforts after Sandy

ORLANDO, Fla. – Nov. 12, 2012 – Florida’s Realtors® reached out to fellow Realtors and others in the Northeast who are reeling from the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, pledging a $200,000 donation from the Florida Realtors® Disaster Relief Fund to go to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) Realtor Relief Fund and help with recovery efforts.

The contribution was announced Sunday during NAR’s 2012 Convention and Trade Expo, which concludes today at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

“With a heavy heart, all of Florida’s Realtors have watched the toll Sandy has taken on your families, homes and businesses,” said 2012 Florida Realtors President Summer Greene, regional manager of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Florida 1st in Fort Lauderdale. “Florida knows first hand the devastation these storms cause both on and off the coastline – we understand and appreciate the tenacity it takes to rebuild and carry on for your families, friends and communities. As always, Realtors are leading the efforts to clean up and restore people’s lives and livelihoods. Please know that our Realtor family is standing strong beside you, ready to lend a hand and help in whatever way we can.

“The Florida Realtors Disaster Relief Fund was created almost 20 years ago to support and provide assistance to people in need after a natural disaster. On behalf of our 115,000 Realtor members, I am privileged to announce we have sent $200,000 to the Realtor Relief Fund to help our Realtor colleagues in the Northeast, their families and their communities in this time of turmoil.”

Said Dick Darling, the current chairman of the Florida Realtors Disaster Relief Fund and an Orange City Realtor, “Here in Florida, we’ve been there – we know exactly what they’re going through in the Northeast in the aftermath of this superstorm. We extend our heartfelt understanding and appreciation of the effort that must be put forth for their recovery. We have sent them this financial assistance to help them along the way.”

For more information about Florida Realtors Disaster Relief Fund or to make a contribution, go to Florida Realtors’ member website.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | November 12, 2012

Housing market uptrend expected through 2014

 

ORLANDO, Fla. – Nov. 12, 2012 – The housing market recovery should continue through the coming years, assuming there are no further limitations on the availability of mortgage credit or a “fiscal cliff,” according to forecast presentations at a residential forum at the 2012 Realtors® Conference and Expo. Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), said the housing market clearly turned around in 2012.

“Existing-home sales, new-home sales and housing starts are all recording notable gains this year in contrast with suppressed activity in the previous four years, and all of the major home price measures are showing sustained increases,” Yun said. “Disruption from Sandy likely will be temporary, notably in New Jersey and New York, but the market is likely to pick up speed within a few months with the need to build new homes in damaged areas.”

Yun sees no threatening signs for inflation in 2013, but projects it to be in the range of 4 to 6 percent by 2015. “The huge federal budget deficit is likely to push up borrowing costs and raise inflation well above 2 percent,” he said. Rising rents, quantitative easing (the printing of money), federal spending outpacing revenue, and a national debt equal to roughly 10 percent of Gross Domestic Product are all raising inflationary pressures.

Mortgage interest rates are forecast to gradually rise and to average 4.0 percent next year, and 4.6 percent in 2014 from the inflationary pressure.

With rising demand and an ongoing decline in housing inventory, Yun expects meaningfully higher home prices. The national median existing-home price should rise 6.0 percent to $176,100 for all of 2012, and increase another 5.1 percent next year to $185,200; comparable gains are seen in 2014.

“Real estate will be a hedge against inflation, with values rising 15 percent cumulatively over the next three years, also meaning there will be fewer upside-down homeowners,” Yun said. “Today is a perfect opportunity for moderate-income renters to become successful homeowners, but stringent mortgage credit conditions are holding them back.”

Existing-home sales this year are forecast to rise 9.0 percent to 4.64 million, followed by an 8.7 percent increase to 5.05 million in 2013; a total of about 5.3 million are seen in 2014.

New-home sales are expected to increase to 368,000 this year from a record low 301,000 in 2011, and grow strongly to 575,000 in 2013. Housing starts are forecast to rise to 776,000 in 2012 from 612,000 last year, and reach 1.13 million next year.

“The growth in new construction sounds very impressive, and it does mark a genuine recovery, but it must be kept in mind that the anticipated volume remains below long-term underlying demand,” Yun said. “Unless building activity returns to normal levels in the next couple years, housing shortages could cause home prices to accelerate, and the movement of home prices will be closely tied to the level of housing starts.”

“Home sales and construction activity depend on steady job growth, which we are seeing, but thus far we’ve only regained half of the jobs lost during the recession,” Yun said.

Yun projects growth in Gross Domestic Product to be 2.1 percent this year and 2.5 percent in 2013. The unemployment rate is showing slow but steady progress and is expected to decline to about 7.6 percent around the end of 2013.

“Of course these projections assume Congress will largely avoid the ‘fiscal cliff’ scenario,” Yun said. “While we’re hopeful that something can be accomplished, the alternative would be a likely recession, so automatic spending cuts and tax increases need to be addressed quickly.”

Regardless, Yun said that four years from now there would be an even greater disparity in wealth distribution.

“People who purchased homes at low prices in the past couple years, including many investors, can expect healthy growth in home equity over the next four years, while renters who were unable to get into the market will be in a weaker position because they are unable to accumulate wealth,” he said. “Not only will renters miss out on the price gains, but they’ll also face rents rising at faster rates.”

Also speaking was Mark Vitner, managing director and senior economist at Wells Fargo, who said the fiscal cliff is the biggest situation that needs to be addressed. “Beyond concerns about the fiscal cliff, the economic improvement seems to be broadening,” he said. “Housing will strengthen in 2013 even if the economy weakens, because there is a demand for more construction, and the demand for apartments is rising at a faster rate than the need for more single-family homes. Unfortunately, apartment construction is focused on about 15 submarkets, so additions to supply will be uneven.

Even with declining market shares of foreclosures and short sales, Vitner said they would continue. “Distressed homes right now are like an after-Christmas sale – most of the best stuff has been picked over, but make no mistake, they’ll be with us for a while.”

Yun projects the market share of distressed sales will decline from about 25 percent in 2012 to 8 percent in 2014.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

http://www.PalaceProperties.com

tropical paradise!

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | October 12, 2012

U.K. buyers must act quickly to secure Fla. property bargains

ORLANDO, Fla. – Oct. 10, 2012- Property prices are currently low in Florida, making it the best time to buy in years, but could soon be on the rise.

“Now is the time to buy in Florida. We’re starting to see the beginning of the shift from a buyer’s to a seller’s market,” says Dr. John Tuccillo, chief economist for Florida Realtors®. “Sales numbers and home prices have both been rising, and we expect the trend to continue as more international buyers take note of the opportunities here, and the market’s recovery gains traction. There are some real residential bargains to be found for British buyers.”

For United Kingdom buyers, bargain prices look even better thanks to the best dollar-pound exchange rate in six months.

Florida appeals to international buyers for its subtropical weather, beaches and attractions, but many of these buyers also see investment potential, particularly within the rental market. Some would-be landlords enter the market even when they don’t plan to vacation in their house, seeking out Florida property that already has tenants.

Florida sales to international buyers accounted for over a quarter of all U.S. international property market sales last year, according to the National Association of Realtors®, and Florida’s popularity is still rising among international investors. Florida Realtors recent research revealed buyers from Canada, Brazil and Venezuela are now joining British buyers in taking advantage of Florida’s property bargains.

Florida Realtors research finds that the median price for a single-family Florida home is £91,000, with Orlando the most popular destination for Brits. In Orlando a four-bedroom home with private pool and garden can be snapped up for around £125,000 – 75 percent of a similar-sized home in the U.K.

“Buyers who have been waiting on the sidelines should see this as a sign to jump in before the market escapes them again,” says Florida Realtors® President Summer Greene, regional manager of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Florida 1st in Fort Lauderdale. “We understand this is a big step, so to help international buyers understand Florida’s potential, we’ve put together a few tips and tricks for Brits looking to buy.”

Tips and facts on buying Florida property

• Visit fl.living.net to contact a Realtor in Florida and get more information.

• Florida’s property purchase system is different than the U.K.’s and can be confusing. Appropriate professional guidance is essential.

• There are no restrictions on foreign purchases of U.S. real estate, and international buyers can apply for conventional mortgage financing.

• When calculating how to buy a Florida home, include escrow fees and closing costs – part of the purchase costs – in calculations.

• Do your homework and consult several currency exchange companies in the U.S. for the best exchange rate, which can save thousands.

• If you choose to rent the property, note that Florida is one of the few U.S. states with no state income tax.

• Understand the homeowner taxes and U.S. tax process, which can be complex and may involve payments to at least four different levels of government: local, regional, state and federal. A Realtor can help explain this.

• U.K./U.S. visa regulations allow international visitors to stay up to three months at one time without getting an alternative visa. Arrange passports, visa and residency status before travelling to the U.S.

Representatives from Florida Realtors, including Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo, will be speaking at the Property Investor Show in London on Oct. 11-12, 2012, at the ExCeL London Exhibition and Convention Centre.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | October 9, 2012

Homebuyers frustrated by low inventories

ORLANDO, Fla. – Oct. 8, 2012 – Low inventories of for-sale homes are becoming a problem for homebuyers. Almost every major market in the U.S. has posted double-digit decreases in available listings.

“The buyers tend to become a little frustrated as they are seeing homes that they want to ‘think about’ – and before they can even get home to discuss it, there are already multiple offers on the property,” Sheri Moritz, a real estate broker with Keller Williams’ Wake Home Team in Raleigh, N.C., told Inman News. In Raleigh, inventories have fallen 21 percent in the past year, according to Realtor.com data.

“I counsel buyers to be patient and not get discouraged; that it may take extra time to find the suitable property,” says Tom Avent, broker-owner at Tom Avent Real Estate in Fresno, Calif., which has posted a 43.1 percent drop in inventories in the past year. “I have also seen some buyers give up looking, frustrated with low inventory and losing out in multiple-offer bidding.”

Multiple-bid situations are common in many markets. But surveys show that homebuyers lose their enthusiasm when faced with competition for a property, according to a recent survey by Redfin. Seven in 10 of homebuyers reported that they’ve faced competition on at least one of their offers recently, but 31 percent say they would back off when faced with a multiple-offer situation for a home.

Charles Roberts, a director at the Denver Board of Realtors® and co-owner of Your Castle Real Estate, says that “urgency” is the new landscape greeting homebuyers.

“Gone are the days of looking at 50 homes and taking months to make a decision,” Roberts says. “If there’s a good property on the market, buyers need to act quickly, and yes, sometimes bid above asking price. The educated, thoughtful clients are getting great deals with astoundingly low interest rates. The clients that are still insisting on putting offers at 80 cents on the dollar are getting shut out of the market. They either learn that that strategy doesn’t work anymore or they keep on renting. Our job as real estate agents is to teach them what the market looks like and guide them in their decision-making.”

Source: “Low Inventories Thwarting Buyers,” Inman News (Oct. 1, 2012)

© Copyright 2012 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | September 26, 2012

167,398 foreclosed Floridians could receive check

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Sept. 25, 2012 – Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced that about 167,398 Florida borrowers who lost their home to foreclosure would receive a claim form to determine if they deserve money under the $25 billion national mortgage foreclosure settlement.

To be eligible, a homeowner must have gone through foreclosure between Jan. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2011, and had mortgages serviced by Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo – the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers.

The settlement, which took effect in April, earmarked about $1.5 billion for 2 million borrowers nationwide. The amount of money any individual homeowner receives depends on the number of borrowers who participate.

Claim forms must be returned by Jan. 18, 2013. Most should have already received a postcard saying they’re eligible, and the claim form with instructions should arrive within the next few weeks. Bondi urges people to return the forms as soon as possible, however. They can also be submitted online.

Bondi expects checks to be in the mail by mid-2013.

Borrowers who have questions or need help filing a claim can call the settlement administrator toll-free at (866) 430‐8358 or email administrator@nationalmortgagesettlement.com. The information line is staffed Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central Time.

“Payment won’t stop other legal claims.
Eligible borrowers do not need to prove financial harm to receive a payment, nor do they give up their rights to pursue a lawsuit against their mortgage servicer or to participate in the Independent Foreclosure Review Process being conducted by federal bank regulators,” Bondi says in a news release. “However, any payment received may reduce payments borrowers may be eligible to receive in any other foreclosure claim process or legal proceeding.”

More information about the program under federal bank regulators is available atwww.independentforeclosurereview.com.

Borrowers who did not receive a postcard notice but believe they may qualify should contact the settlement administrator.

“Beware of scams,” Bondi says. “Borrowers should not need to pay anyone to file their claim. All homeowners should be aware of settlement-related scams. Do not provide personal information or pay money to anyone who calls or emails you claiming that they are providing settlement-related assistance. If you believe someone is conducting a settlement-related scam, contact the Florida Attorney General’s Office at (850) 414-3990.”

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | September 26, 2012

Case-Shiller: Home prices up again in July

NEW YORK – Sept. 25, 2012 – The July 2012 Home Price Index released today by S&P/Case-Shiller finds solid price increases in 16 of the 20 cities studied.

“Case-Shiller looks at the same homes over time and compares historical sales prices,” says Florida Realtors Chief Economist John Tuccillo. “As a result, it’s highly accurate – an apples-to-apples price comparison. As a tradeoff for accuracy, however, it’s important to note that it’s a lagging measurement. The data released this morning are already about two months old. Still, the price increase and month-over-month upbeat data suggest that the housing market recovery seems to have legs.”

Case-Shiller’s July report found a 1.5 percent price increase in its 10-City Composite, and a 1.6 percent increase in its 20-City Composite. For the third consecutive month, all 20 cities and both composites recorded positive monthly changes. It would have been a fourth month had April prices not fallen by 0.6 percent in Detroit.

Tuccillo offers another note of caution: “The Case-Shiller Index provides an accurate reading for home prices using a cross-section of U.S. cities,” he says. “However, only two Florida cities are included in its data – Miami and Tampa. As a result, the data can’t be extended to cover statewide home price changes. As every Realtor knows, each market is unique.”

In Miami, the data show that home prices rose 2.1 percent from June to July. The June report found a one-month increase of 1.6 percent. Year-to-year, Miami prices rose 5.3 percent.

In Tampa, home prices rose 0.9 percent from June to July compared to 2.0 percent in its June report. Year-to-year, Tampa prices rose 3.6 percent.

“The news on home prices in this report confirm recent good news about housing,” says David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Single family housing starts are well ahead of last year’s pace, existing home sales are up, the inventory of homes for sale is down and foreclosure activity is slowing. All in all, we are more optimistic.”

Federal Housing Finance Agency

A second home price index released this morning also shows positive data, though the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Index looks only at mortgages held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – roughly half of all outstanding mortgages.

FHFA’s July House Price Index found that home prices rose 0.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from June to July, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s monthly House Price Index. For the 12 months ending in July, U.S. prices rose 3.7 percent. The index is 16.4 percent below its April 2007 peak and roughly the same as June 2004.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | September 6, 2012

Homes selling quickly, time on market down

WASHINGTON – Sept. 5, 2012 – A new measure shows the typical amount of time it takes to sell a home is shrinking.

The time it takes to sell a home currently – 69 days in July, down 29.6 percent from 98 days in July 2011 – is in the range of historic norms for a balanced market, according to NAR. It’s also well below the cyclical peak reached in 2009.

The median reflects a wide spectrum; one-third of homes purchased in July were on the market for less than a month, while one in five was on the market for at least six months.

“As inventory has tightened, homes have been selling more quickly,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “A notable shortening of time on market began this spring, and this has created a general balance between home buyers and sellers in much of the country. This equilibrium is supporting sustained price growth, and homes that are correctly priced tend to sell quickly, while those that aren’t often languish on the market.”

At the end July, there was a 6.4-month supply of homes on the market at the current sales pace, which is 31.2 percent below a year ago when there was a 9.3-month supply.

NAR says that its research has determined that a balanced market generally has a median selling time of slightly more than six weeks, making the current market appear balanced.

In balanced market conditions, home prices generally rise 1 to 2 percentage points above the overall rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index.

“Our current forecast is for the median existing home price to rise 4.5 to 5 percent this year, and about 5 percent in 2013, which is somewhat stronger than historic norms because of the inventory shortfall most pronounced in the low price ranges,” Yun says.

Inflation (CPI growth) is projected at 2.1 percent for 2012 and 2.3 percent next year.

From 1987 through 2011, analysis of the NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers series showed the typical time on market was 6.9 weeks, while the existing-home sales series showed an average supply of 7.0 months – just above the high end for a balanced market.

NAR’s new measure of days on market shows a longer selling time than earlier findings that measured traditional sellers of non-distressed homes. The new series includes short sales that typically took three months or longer to sell.

“Factoring out short sales, the median time on market for traditional sellers appears to be in the balanced range of six to seven weeks,” Yun says.

During the peak of the housing boom in 2004 and 2005, when inventory supplies were historically low at an average 4.3 months, the median selling time was 4 weeks. Prices in that time rose at an annual rate of 10.3 percent.

In the economic downturn, time on market for non-distressed sellers peaked at 10 weeks in 2009 with a 10-month annualized supply. The median price fell 12.9 percent that year, the biggest annual decline on record.

“Ironically, if housing construction doesn’t pick up to normal levels within two years, supply shortages could be sustained for an extended period and lead to above average appreciation,” Yun says. “Therefore, any unnecessary hindrance to housing starts, such as excessive local zoning regulations or stringent bank capital rules for construction loans, should be carefully re-examined.”

NAR’s new days-on-market figures will be included in future existing-home sales releases. It’s derived from a monthly survey for the Realtors Confidence Index.

The median time on market can be misleading at times, however. If an abundance of fresh listings enters the market, it could skew the average downward.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Inventory is down… prices are up… the market always changes…

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | August 27, 2012

Fla. has 26% of all U.S. international sales

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Aug. 27, 2012 – Florida Realtors® released its “Profile of International Home Buyers in Florida 2012” today. The survey, conducted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), found that almost one in five Florida sales in the 12-month period ending in June involved an out-of-country buyer.

Researchers say that the 2012 results closely resemble those in 2011. It’s based on a survey taken by over 1,500 members of Florida Realtors.

The international real estate market – defined as non-resident foreigners who buy residential real estate in the U.S. – is important to Florida. Nationwide, 51 percent of all foreign sales take place in only four states – Florida, California, Texas and Arizona. Of those four states, Florida has the largest share: 26 percent of national sales to foreign buyers closed in the Sunshine State.

Overall, 19 percent of Florida home sales (by dollar volume) went to foreign buyers.

Report highlights

• Nearly all international sales were cash – 82 percent of transactions.

• The median price paid by international buyers was $194,700 compared to an overall Florida median price of $125,100 and a U.S. median price of $167,758.

• Canadian buyers tended to buy in the lower price range; European and Latin American buyers bought at a higher price range.

• Foreign buyers see the U.S. residential housing market as a good value, thanks, in part, to favorable international exchange rates.

• In the 2012 survey, Canadians led the way as United Kingdom buyers faded a bit. Brazil and Venezuela have increased as sources.

• Condos account for 45 percent of properties, townhouses 10 percent and detached single-family homes 36 percent.

• 61 percent of surveyed Realtors said that they worked with an international client in the past 12 months, down from 77 percent.

The complete Profile of International Home Buyers in Florida 2012 is available online.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

More info at http://www.PalaceProperties.com

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | August 10, 2012

Florida Realtors webpage: Vote Yes on Amendment 4

ORLANDO, Fla. – Aug. 9, 2012 – Florida Realtors rolled out a new webpage –

Vote Yes on Amendment 4 – yesterday during the 2012 Florida Realtors Convention & Trade Expo in Orlando.

The page offers resources Realtors can use to promote Amendment 4 to fellow Realtors, family, friends, clients and the general public. It includes:

• TaxWatch study. TaxWatch – a nonpartisan, nonprofit public policy research institute – published an analysis of Amendment 4 and found it would benefit the Florida economy in a number of ways. The complete report is available.

•  Take 5 video. Florida Realtors Senior Vice President of Public Policy John Sebree succinctly explains how Amendment 4 will help the economy grow and benefit Floridians.

• “What you can do” list. Article suggests 10 ways Realtors can help promote passage of Amendment 4.

• Yes on 4 flyer. Information can be shared in print form.

• Yes on 4 logo. Support for the amendment can be added to Realtors’ websites, social network sites and more by downloading the Amendment 4 logo.

• Advertising campaign. An edgy campaign from the group fighting for Amendment 4 passage, Taxpayers First, offers videos and other promotions.

Amendment 4, if passed by 60 percent of voters in the November 2012 election, offers three primary benefits to Floridians: New homebuyers would receive a property tax break for the first five years; second-home owners and commercial interests would have their maximum appraised value go up no more than 5 percent per year; and current homeowners caught in a market where home values are declining would not need to simultaneously face higher property taxes if the Florida Legislature takes action (passage of Amendment 4 would give lawmakers the ability to address this tax quirk.)

If passed by voters, Amendment 4 would take effect on Jan. 1, 2013. It would:

• Provide an additional homestead exemption for first-time Florida homebuyers equal to 50 percent of “just value” of a property, up to the median “just value” of a homestead property in that county. The first-time buyer exemption would phase out over five years.

• Reduce the maximum annual “assessed value” increase cap for nonhomestead property from the current 10 percent (on non-school levies) to 5 percent, and extend nonhomestead “assessed value” caps through the 2022 tax year (which also does not apply to school levies).

• Provide legislative authority to eliminate the Save Our Homes “Recapture Rule.”

The “Vote No on 4” webpage can be viewed on Florida Realtors’ Legislative Center.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | August 2, 2012

Cheaper to buy than rent for two-year stays

MIAMI – Aug. 2, 2012 – While Realtors continue to find fault with Zillow Inc.’s local home estimates, consumers made it the most visited real estate website in July 2012. As a result – right or wrong – Zillow influences buyer and seller behavior.

And a recent announcement from Zillow might lead more buyers to knock on real estate agency doors: According to the site, the average national homebuyer will save money over renting if he or she stays in a home for only three years. And in at least four Florida cities, a homeowner only needs to stay two years to make ownership the preferred option.

In Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa, a homebuyer needs to stay less than one year and eight months to make ownership the best financial option; in Orlando, he or she needs to stay less than one year and nine months.

Zillow says it analyzed the “breakeven horizon” in more than 200 metros and 7,500 U.S. cities. All possible costs associated with buying and renting were incorporated into the analysis, including down payment, mortgage and rental payments, transaction costs, property taxes, utilities, maintenance costs, tax deductions and opportunity costs, while adjusting for inflation and forecasted home value and rental price appreciation.

The Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro ranked as Zillow’s most favorable for buying. In the San Jose metro, where home values are among the highest in the nation, a buyer must commit to living in their home for 8.3 years before they can expect to break even.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | July 31, 2012

Home prices rose in all major U.S. cities in May

WASHINGTON (AP) – July 31, 2012 – U.S. home prices rose in May from April in every city tracked by a leading index, a sign that increasing sales and tight inventories are supporting a modest housing recovery.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index released Tuesday showed increases in all of the 20 cities tracked. And a measure of national prices rose 2.2 percent from April to May, the second increase after seven months of flat or declining readings.

Chicago, Atlanta and San Francisco posted the biggest monthly increases. Detroit, San Diego and Charlotte posted the smallest gains.

Phoenix, one of the hardest-hit cities in the housing slump, posted the strongest year-over-year gain in home prices. Still, prices there remain more than 50 percent below their peak, reached in summer 2006.

The increases partly reflect the impact of seasonal buying. The month-to-month prices aren’t adjusted for seasonal factors.

In the past year, the 20-city price index has dropped 0.7 percent, the smallest decline since September 2010. That’s much lower than the 1.8 percent year-over-year decline in April.

Many economists were encouraged by the widespread nature of the increases.

“The fact that most regions … have seen gains in recent months is a positive sign that the gradual improvement in housing conditions is becoming broader-based,” Peter Newland, an economist at Barclays Capital, said in a note to clients.

David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P s index committee, cautioned that the trend would need to continue into the summer and fall to ensure that it isn’t just a reflection of strong springtime and early summer sales.

“The housing market seems to be stabilizing, but we are definitely in wait-and-see mode for the next few months,” he said.

Economists also said that prices may be higher because foreclosures are making up a smaller share of home sales.

The S&P/Case-Shiller monthly index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. It measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The May figures are the latest available.

The housing market is recovering, but at a slow and uneven pace. Sales of new homes fell in June after reaching a two-year high in May. Sales of previously occupied homes also fell last month but were higher than a year ago.

Builders are getting more confident, partly because they’re seeing more interest from potential buyers. Builders broke ground in June on the most new homes and apartments in four years.

Even with the gains, the index is 33 percent below its peak reached in the summer of 2006, at the height of the housing boom. Based on the 20-city index, home prices are now at about the same level as in early 2003.

The supply of homes for sale remains very low, which has helped stabilize prices. At the current sales pace, it would take six and a half months to exhaust the supply of previously-occupied homes. That’s just above the six months economists consider healthy.

There were 144,000 new homes for sale in June, only slightly higher than the 143,000 in May, which was the lowest supply on records dating back to 1963.

Despite the modest gains in housing, the broader economy has weakened in recent months. Employers have added an average of only 75,000 jobs a month in the April-June quarter. That’s much lower than the average of 226,000 added in the first three months of this year.

Housing added to economic growth in the second quarter, but the sector isn’t large enough to make a big difference. The economy expanded at only a 1.5 percent annual rate in April-June, below the first quarter s 2 percent pace. Both readings are much lower than the fourth quarter’s 4.1 percent growth.
AP LogoCopyright © 2012 The Associated Press. Christopher S. Rugaber, AP economics writer.

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | June 28, 2012

Supreme Court Upholds Health Reform

Supreme Court Upholds Health Reform

DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | THURSDAY, JUNE 28, 2012

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act means the law’s underwriting and rating reforms that are already in effect will remain in effect. Those reforms include the ability of young adults to stay on their parents’ policies and the reduction in Medicare Part D copays, among others.

Reforms going into effect in 2014 also remain on track. Those include the ban on denying coverage on the basis of a preexisting condition and on setting insurance premiums on the basis of health status or gender.

In its 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court said the health reform act’s individual mandate provision, requiring individuals to have health coverage, could not be supported under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, but the majority held that the tax imposed on those who don’t buy insurance is constitutional under the taxing powers granted Congress.

“The most straightforward reading of the individual mandate is that it commands individuals to purchase insurance,” Chief Justice John Roberts says in the decision. “But … the Commerce Clause [of the Constitution] does not give Congress that power. It is therefore necessary to turn to the Government’s alternative ar­gument: that the mandate may be upheld as within Congress’s power to ‘lay and collect taxes.’”

Roberts wrote the majority decision and was joined by Justices Ginsberg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan in upholding the law.

The Court also upheld provisions of the law that expand eligibility for Medicaid to a larger number of low-income individuals, but specified that the law’s provision denying federal Medicaid funding to the states that don’t expand eligibility is not acceptable.

NAR is reviewing the decision and will be providing more information on the impact of the ruling to its members.

— NAR

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | June 22, 2012

Fla. housing market continues positive track in May

Related:

ORLANDO, Fla. – June 21, 2012 – Pending sales, closed sales and median prices rose, while the inventory of homes and condos for sale dropped in Florida’s housing market in May, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.

“The recovery in Florida’s housing market and economy continues to grow stronger and stronger,” said 2012 Florida Realtors President Summer Greene, regional manager of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Florida 1st in Fort Lauderdale. “Realtors across the state are reporting increased activity – in May, statewide pending sales were up 43.1 percent for existing single-family homes and up 33.4 percent for townhome-condo properties. In some areas, a shortage of for-sale inventory is resulting in multiple bids from buyers and rising price conditions.

“Now, more than ever, successful buyers and sellers are realizing the value of working with a Realtor who knows their local markets.”

Pending sales refer to contracts that are signed but not yet completed or closed; closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in May was $147,000, up 8.9 percent from the year-ago figure, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department and vendor partner 10K Research and Marketing. The statewide median for townhome-condo properties was $112,000, up 14.3 percent over May 2011.

The national median sales price for existing single-family homes in May 2012 was $182,900, up 7.7 percent from the previous year, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in May was $312,110; in Maryland, it was $259,207; and in New York, it was $208,000.

The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less. Housing industry analysts note that sales of foreclosures and other distressed properties continue to downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes.

Statewide sales of existing single-family homes totaled 18,723 in May, up 7.2 percent, compared to the year-ago figure. Looking at Florida’s year-to-year comparison for sales of townhomes/condos, a total of 9,995 units sold statewide last month, up 5.4 percent from those sold in May 2011. NAR reported the national median existing condo price in May 2012 was $180,000.

Last month, the inventory for both single-family homes and for townhome-condo properties stood at a 5.5-month supply, according to Florida Realtors.

“Some very positive trends have been developing in the Florida market, and the May numbers indicate those trends are continuing,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo. “Closed sales, pending sales and prices – both average and median – are strongly above where they were a year ago. In fact, average prices have increased in 11 of the past 12 months.

“In addition, home sellers are receiving a higher percentage of their asking price, a trend we’ve seen for nine months. Perhaps the most striking characteristic of this market has been the dramatic drop in inventories. Now, Florida is in what is generally considered a balanced market – that is, one that favors neither buyers nor sellers.”

The interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.80 percent in May 2012, down from the 4.64 percent average during the same month a year earlier, according to Freddie Mac.

To see the full statewide housing activity report, go to Florida Realtors website at www.floridarealtors.org, and click on the Research page; then look under Latest Housing Data, Statewide Residential Activity and get the May report. Or go to Florida Realtors Media Center at http://media.floridarealtors.org/ and download the May 2012 data report PDF under Market Data at: http://media.floridarealtors.org/market-data.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | June 19, 2012

Homes no longer yours for a steal

WASHINGTON – June 18, 2012 – It’s not something that economists routinely track, but it provides a rough sense of what’s happening in local real estate markets. Call it the lowball index.

A year ago, according to researchers at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), one out of 10 members surveyed in a monthly poll complained about lowball offers on houses listed for sale. In the latest survey – conducted during March among a sample of 4,500 agents and brokers across the country and not yet released – there were hardly any. Instead, the focus of volunteered comments has shifted to declining inventory levels – fewer houses available to sell – and multiple offers on well-priced listings.

A lowball offer typically involves a contract submitted to a seller where the price proposed by the purchaser is 25 percent or more below list. Lowballs increase sharply when there’s a glut of properties available, asking prices are out of sync with local economic realities, and values are depressed or uncertain. Buyers figure: Hey, why not? Maybe I’ll get lucky.

Based on the latest survey results, that sort of strategy is not a winning move in many communities this spring. In fact, in local markets where inventories are tight and competition for homes rising, realty agents say that buyers looking to steal houses by lowballing their offers are ending up at the back of the line – their contracts either rejected out of hand or countered close to the original asking price.

In high-demand, high-cost markets that have rebounded from recession slumps, sellers are now firmly in control; they pay scant attention to lowballers. Jayne Esposito, an agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Los Gatos, Calif., says that multiple offers are “the rule, not the exception,” in her area, and many transactions end up with final contract prices higher than the listing. “Sure, I’ve had a few buyers try to lowball and they wouldn’t listen,” she said in an interview, “but that didn’t work out well for them.”

Similar trends are under way in more moderately priced markets. Wes Neal, an agent at Prudential Olympia in Olympia, Wash., said “lowball offers are down a lot because we’re seeing more homes come on the market that are more realistically priced” – sellers have absorbed the hard lessons of the recession years about what the market can bear. Even when buyers submit shockingly low bids, sellers no longer are so insulted they send the contract back without a counter-offer. Now they negotiate aggressively and the final number ends up close to the original asking price.

For example, Neal said, a buyer recently came in with a bottom-fishing offer of $150,000 on a house listed for $250,000. Though the seller was irritated, after a series of negotiations the lowball buyer settled for a final price of $230,000.

Outside Washington, D.C., in the Northern Virginia suburbs, well-priced houses in good locations move fast, sometimes pulling in multiple offers within 48 hours of listing, says Chris Ann Cleland, an agent with Long & Foster Realtors. Sellers who encounter the occasional outrageous lowball offer reminiscent of the recession years tell listing agents “don’t even bother” with them. After all, there’s an excellent chance there will be a realistic offer shortly – maybe more than one.

In the suburbs south of Chicago, Judy Orr, an agent with Classic Realty Group in Orland Park, Ill., says lowball frequency and efficacy depend on the specific neighborhood or town. “We still see them, and we try to work with them” in communities where prices are soft and the impacts of tough economic times persist, she said. Elsewhere, though lowball offers are down, she urges sellers to stick with it and negotiate. Recently a lowballer came in $40,000 below the asking price. Through negotiations with the buyer, Orr managed to close the gap to just $2,000 below asking.

Marnie Matarese, an agent with J Wood Realty in Sarasota, Fla., said that while lowball offers are far fewer this spring, some out-of-town buyers still appear to be under the impression that all Florida real estate remains depressed. They insist on submitting offers that make no sense in today’s environment. But Matarese has no problem with this – “You can’t blame a buyer for trying to get a good deal,” she says, but the fact remains: They usually risk losing the house.

The take-away here: Rolling lowballs at sellers may have been an effective approach between 2008 and early 2011. But in 2012’s environment – at least in rebounding markets – it could be counterproductive if you truly want to buy.

Update: Following a recent column on FHA’s controversial tightening of rules on collection accounts, the agency postponed the effective date of the policy change to July 1 from April 1.

Copyright © 2012 Chicago Daily Herald, Ken Harney, via ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | June 19, 2012

Inventory of unsold homes lowest in 5 years

SANTA ANA, Calif. – June 18, 2012 – CoreLogic’s monthly report on home sales, released last week, finds that the level of unsold inventory hit its lowest point in five years.

CoreLogic analysts say negative equity has become a positive force in the real estate marketing. Homeowners who owe more on the mortgage than the currently value of their home choose not to sell right now. That has increased selling prices by limiting the number of homes on the market.

Key findings include:

• The Home Price Index (HPI), including distressed sales, posted two consecutive months of year-over-year increases in April 2012 – the first such increase since the summer of 2010 when the housing market was benefitting from tax credits.

• Single-family construction activity increased 2.3 percent in April, and it’s up 25 percent over the last six months.

• Months’ supply of unsold homes fell to just more than six months in April 2012 and is currently at the lowest level in more than five years.

• As the flow of REOs has slowed over the last 18 months, negative equity has become a positive force in real estate markets by restricting supply in the face of increasing demand.

• The housing market has transitioned from pricing dynamics driven by economic weakness and high shares of distressed sales to one of restricted supply, which will likely exist for some time to come – a reason for optimism in many hard hit markets.

A complete copy of the June CoreLogic MarketPulse report is available online.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

 

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | June 12, 2012

Florida Realtors Education Foundation awards $173,500 in scholarships

ORLANDO, Fla. – June 12, 2012 – Hearing “the check is in the mail,” is welcome news for 120 well-deserving young people who live in communities across Florida. Why? Because these students — high school graduates about to enter their first year of college and others already enrolled in a college, or university — recently were notified they received scholarships totaling $173,500 through the Florida Realtors® Education Foundation Inc.

The Florida Realtors® Education Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation established by the state Realtor association. Its real estate-related educational scholarships will help pay for higher education expenses for these students in the 2012-2013 school year. All recipients are Florida residents and will be attending community colleges, four-year universities, graduate programs or law schools. Many students wish to pursue careers in real estate.

“With this year’s awards, the Florida Realtors Education Foundation Student Scholarship Program will have helped 270 deserving young people continue their education and plan for a better future since its inception,” said Chuck Bonfiglio Jr., chairman of Florida Realtors Education Foundation Inc. “These student scholarships are one way that Realtors across the state give back to the community. We are proud to be able to provide much-needed financial support to families struggling to pay for their children’s college dreams. It’s our investment in the future.”

Scholarship recipients are enrolled at institutions of higher learning throughout the state, including Florida State University, University of Florida, University of Central Florida, Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University, Florida Atlantic University, Florida International University, University of South Florida, University of West Florida and Stetson University, as well as other colleges.

A variety of criteria was considered for successful applicants including: academic achievements, financial need, relationship to the Realtor family and contributions to family, school and community.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | June 12, 2012

NAR: International sales continue to climb in U.S. market

WASHINGTON (June 11, 2012) – Due to low prices and the relative weakness of the dollar, international buyers continue to identify the U.S. as a desirable place to own property and make a profitable investment.

According to the National Association of Realtors® 2012 Profile of International Home Buying Activity, total residential international sales in the U.S. for the past year ending March 2012 equaled $82.5 billion, up from $66.4 billion in 2011. Total international sales were evenly split between non-resident foreigners and recent immigrants.

The survey asked Realtors® to report their international business activity within the U.S. for the 12 months ending March 2012.

“Today’s advantageous market conditions have drawn more and more foreign buyers to the U.S. in recent years, signaling how desirable and profitable owning property in this country can be,” said NAR President Moe Veissi, broker-owner of Veissi & Associates Inc. in Miami and 2002 president of Florida Realtors®. “Low housing prices, a good inventory condition and increased buying power with today’s exchange rates help attract international clients.

“Foreign buyers also have the advantage of working with a Realtor. Realtors who specialize in serving international clientele have a truly global perspective; they know what hurdles foreign buyers face when purchasing property in the U.S., and have the expertise and knowledge that comes from working with clients from different cultures and real estate practices.”

International buyers bought homes throughout the country, but four states accounted for 51 percent of the purchases – Florida, California, Texas and Arizona. Florida has been the fastest growing destination of choice, accounting for 26 percent of foreign purchases. California was second with 11 percent and Texas and Arizona accounted for seven percent.

Proximity to the home country, the presence of relatives and friends, the convenience of air transportation, and climate and location are all important considerations to prospective foreign buyers. Locations on the East Coast generally attract European buyers, while Asian buyers tend to purchase on the West Coast, particularly California.

Florida attracts a diverse set of international buyers including South Americans, Europeans and Canadians.

Meanwhile, Texas remains popular among Mexican buyers. Within markets in an individual state, it is not unusual to find concentrations of people grouped by nationality.

“Foreign buyers recognize that owning a home in the U.S. has many benefits, both financial and social,” said Veissi. “Many purchase property as an investment, vacation home or to diversify their portfolio. In addition, many recent immigrants view homeownership as an important accomplishment. They believe that being a homeowner is one of many ways they become established in the U.S. and attain stability, security and a sense of community.”

International buyers came from all over the globe, but Canada, China (The People’s Republic of China including Hong Kong), Mexico, India and the United Kingdom accounted for 55 percent of all international transactions, according to the survey. Canada and China remain the fastest-growing home countries. Canada accounted for 24 percent of international sales while China accounted for 11 percent, up from nine percent in 2011. Mexico was third with eight percent of sales and India and the U.K. both accounted for six percent.

Forty-five percent of international purchases were under $250,000. In addition, there appears to be a gradual increasing trend toward purchases in the $250,000 to $500,000 price range. In 2012, this range accounted for 30 percent of purchases, up from 28 percent in 2011. The average price paid by an international buyer was $400,000 compared to the overall U.S. average of $212,000.

Several reasons account for why the average international home price is higher than the average overall price. The international client is typically wealthier than the domestic buyer and is looking for a property in a specialized niche, for example, a larger property suitable for multi-generational living or a property that establishes the individual’s presence and standing in the community.

Many homes purchased by foreign buyers are used as a primary residence. Vacation and rental use are also major reasons for a purchase. More than half – 66 percent – of survey respondents reported international buyers purchased detached single-family homes. About half of international buyers, 52 percent, preferred to buy in a suburban area and about a quarter, 23 percent, bought in a central city/urban area.

Sixty-two percent of international purchases were all cash, which has increased since 2007. International buyers still experience many financing challenges when purchasing a home in the U.S.

In fact, among transactions that failed, Realtors reported that in 26 percent of the cases financing issues were the problem. The difficulties facing foreign buyers in trying to obtain a mortgage include lack of U.S.-based credit history and hurdles in meeting mortgage requirements. Other reasons for not purchasing properties were cost/taxes/insurance and immigration laws.

Twenty-seven percent of Realtors reported having worked with international clients this year. Fifty-two percent of Realtors reported that international transactions accounted for one to 10 percent of their total transactions, while 27 percent reported that they made up more than 10 percent of total transactions. Realtor specialization on the buyer’s side of the market – such as foreign language capabilities, cultural affinity or orientation with the prospective purchaser and experience in explaining the U.S. real estate – appear to be important in working with foreign buyers.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | June 11, 2012

IBHS study says Fla., Va. have best building codes

TAMPA, Fla. – June 11, 2012 – Florida and Virginia ranked highest in a new comparison study that examined residential building codes and enforcement systems in the most hurricane-prone states.

The two states scored 95 out of 100 possible points in the survey conducted by the Tampa-based Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS). Florida and Virginia got top marks because of strong statewide residential building codes, plus an effective regulation and enforcement process, according to the report.

The study, “Rating the States: An Assessment of Residential Building Code and Enforcement Systems for Life Safety and Property Protection in Hurricane-Prone Regions,” details how states can improve their building code systems in order to better protect their citizens, as well as how citizens can understand the need for stronger building codes.

Of the 18 states along the Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico analyzed in the study, Mississippi was at the bottom of the list. Mississippi doesn’t have a statewide building code.

“Building codes are minimum building performance standards that are designed to reduce deaths, injuries and property damage caused by severe weather,” said Julie Rochman, IBHS president and CEO. “Homes that are built using stronger building codes should be less vulnerable to the effects of severe weather events, which should make property damage less likely and less intense.”

In the case of high-wind events, such as hurricanes, studies show that modern building codes can make a difference in reducing the amount of storm-related damage. When Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida in 1992 as a Category 5 storm it left behind a trail of devastation totaling more than $24.5 billion (in 2011 dollars) in insured damage, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

A study done by IBHS, the University of Florida and the FEMA Mitigation Assessment Team following Hurricane Charley, which struck Florida in 2004, found that modern building codes reduced the severity of losses by 42 percent and loss frequency by 60 percent.

However, Rochman said just having a modern building code is not enough.

“Good building codes have little value if they are not well-enforced,” she said. “Independent studies of damage following Hurricane Andrew and the 1994 Northridge Earthquake in California revealed that lax code enforcement needlessly increased total damage. Plan reviewers and building inspectors are vital to the success of building codes.”

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | June 8, 2012

U.S. 30-year mortgage drops to record-low 3.67%

This week, 77% of the industry experts polled by Bankrate.com believe mortgage rates will rise over the next week or so; none think rates will fall, and 23% believe rates will remain relatively unchanged.

WASHINGTON – June 8, 2012 – Average U.S. rates on 30-year and 15-year fixed mortgages this week fell to fresh record lows for the sixth straight week. Cheap mortgages continue to help boost prospects for home sales this year.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the 30-year loan dropped to 3.67 percent. That’s down sharply from 3.75 percent last week and the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s.

The 15-year mortgage, a popular refinancing option, declined to 2.94 percent. That’s down from 2.97 percent last week.

Rates on the 30-year loan have been below 4 percent since early December. The low rates are a key reason the housing industry is showing modest signs of a recovery this year.

A drop in rates could also provide some help to the economy if more people refinance. When people refinance at lower rates, they pay less interest on their loans and have more money to spend.

A Federal Reserve survey issued Wednesday showed the economy growing moderately in most regions of the country this spring as companies continued hiring. Manufacturing and home sales improved in most of the Fed’s 12 regional districts, as did residential and commercial construction.

In April, sales of both previously occupied homes and new homes rose near two-year highs. Builders are gaining more confidence in the market, breaking ground on more homes and requesting more permits to build single-family homes later this year.

Mortgage applications rose by 1.3 percent during the week ended June 1, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported Wednesday, mainly because more people applied to refinance their homes. Applications to buy a home actually fell for the fourth straight week.

A better job market also has made more people open to buying a home. But a dismal jobs report for May from the government last Friday fanned fears that the economy is sputtering.

U.S. employers created only 69,000 jobs in May, the fewest in a year, and the unemployment rate ticked up.

The Labor Department also said the economy created far fewer jobs in the previous two months than first thought. It revised those figures downward to show 49,000 fewer jobs created. The unemployment rate rose to 8.2 percent in May from 8.1 percent in April, the first increase in 11 months.

The pace of home sales remains well below healthy levels. Economists say it could be years before the market is fully healed.

Many people are having difficulty qualifying for home loans or can’t afford larger downpayments required by banks. Some would-be homebuyers are holding off because they fear that home prices could keep falling.

Mortgage rates have been dropping because they tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which fell last week to a 66-year low. Uncertainty about how Europe will resolve its debt crisis has led investors to buy more Treasury securities, which are considered safe investments. As demand for Treasurys increase, the yield falls.

To calculate average rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country on Monday through Wednesday of each week.

The average does not include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.

The average fee for 30-year loans was 0.7 point, down from 0.8 last week. The fee for 15-year loans also was unchanged at 0.7 point.

The average rate on one-year adjustable rate mortgages rose to 2.79 percent from 2.75 percent last week. The fee for one-year adjustable rate loans was steady at 0.4.
Copyright © 2012 The Associated Press, Marcy Gordon, AP business writer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | June 7, 2012

Amendment 4 would create jobs, boost economy

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – June 7, 2012 – A proposed constitutional amendment that will appear on Florida’s November 2012 ballot would create jobs, grow Florida’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and increase Floridians’ personal income if passed, according to an independent analysis by Florida TaxWatch, a nonpartisan, nonprofit public policy research institute. TaxWatch published its results in a report, Fiscal and Economic Impact of Amendment 4.

According to Florida TaxWatch’s analysis, Amendment 4 – if passed by the required 60 percent of Florida voters – would create 19,483 private, non-farm jobs over a 10-year period (2013-2022). At the same time, Florida GDP would increase by approximately $1.1 billion, and personal income would increase by more than $5.3 billion.

Passage would also have a significant impact on the state’s real estate market. The report estimates that between 319,861 and 383,810 additional home sales would close over the 10-year period if Amendment 4 passes.

“I am overwhelmed by the positive impact this amendment would have on jobs in Florida,” says Florida Realtors Senior Vice President of Public Policy John Sebree. “It’s certainly worth fighting for a constitutional change that results in nearly 20,000 new jobs. I’m excited about the fairness this amendment would bring to Florida’s tax structure, and thrilled the TaxWatch study confirms that it will have such a positive impact on the state’s economy.”

TaxWatch points out another advantage of Amendment 4 that cannot be analyzed in dollars and cents – a yearly nonhomestead property tax cap reduction from 10 percent to 5 percent. That change, according to TaxWatch, promotes investment. If businesses know they won’t face property tax increases greater than 5 percent per year, they’ll invest in more Florida properties. The only potential downside to this, TaxWatch says, is that it could encourage investors to jump into the market earlier in some economic cycles. While that would immediately boost the market, it could also create an investment slowdown later in the cycle and give them an advantage over late investors.

“The increased economic activity … in this analysis is the result of the savings from Amendment 4 being distributed throughout the economy,” says Florida TaxWatch Chief Economist Jerry D. Parrish, Ph.D., executive director of the Center for Competitive Florida and author of the study.

“From an economist’s standpoint, these findings are not surprising because the proposed Amendment 4 would reduce uncertainty for both personal and business investment – and when individuals and businesses can better estimate their future costs, including property taxes, they are more likely to invest.”

If passed by voters, Amendment 4 takes effect on Jan. 1, 2013, and would:

• Provide an additional homestead exemption for first-time Florida homebuyers equal to 50 percent of “just value” of a property, up to the median “just value” of a homestead property in that county. The first-time buyer exemption would phase out over five years.

• Reduce the maximum annual “assessed value” increase cap for nonhomestead property from the current 10 percent (on non-school levies) to 5 percent, and extend nonhomestead “assessed value” caps through the 2022 tax year (which also does not apply to school levies).

• Provide legislative authority to eliminate the Save Our Homes “Recapture Rule.”

For more information on Amendment 4 and efforts to make it part of the Florida Constitution, visit FLTaxpayersFirst.org

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | June 7, 2012

Home rentals: ‘Never saw anything like this’

PHOENIX – June 6, 2012 – Steve and Jodi Jacobson bought their Phoenix-area “dream home” in 2005. They built flagstone steps to the front door. They tiled the kitchen and bathroom. They entertained often, enjoying their mountain views.

“We put our soul into that house,” says Steve Jacobson, 37.

Then, home prices tanked more than 50 percent. Steve, a software quality assurance engineer, suffered pay cuts. In 2010, foreclosure claimed the home and their $100,000 downpayment.

The Jacobsons didn’t lose their desire to live in a single-family home, however. They now rent one, like many other former homeowners displaced by foreclosure.

Unlike traditional apartment renters, these new American tenants are older and have kids, U.S. Census Bureau data indicate. As they move from homes they owned to ones they rent, they’re changing neighborhoods for better and for worse. They’re fueling a land rush as investors snap up homes, mostly in markets hard-hit by foreclosure, to rent to them. And their growth – in cities from Florida to California – has implications for home builders, school districts and companies that will jockey for the dollars they used to invest in homes, Wall Street analysts and demographic researchers predict.

“We’ve never seen anything like this,” says John Burns, CEO of John Burns Real Estate Consulting.

The foreclosure crisis will drive 3 million former homeowners to rent single-family homes between 2010 and 2015, Burns estimates. Single-family home rental was the fastest-growing part of the rental market from 2005 to 2010, Fannie Mae says, citing U.S. Census data. Its continued growth is “unprecedented,” Burns adds.

“In the next five to 10 years, you’ll see tens of billions, if not hundreds of billions, of dollars of private equity” pouring into the single-family rental business, says Justin Chang, principal of investment firm Colony Capital.

In the past six months, Colony has bought more than 1,000 homes to turn into rentals. Most are in Arizona, California and Nevada, though Colony expects to expand into Texas, Georgia and Florida. In the next year, it will invest at least $1.5 billion in single-family rentals, Chang says.

The new tenants are “a family, two kids, a dog and a fish bowl,” says Gregor Watson, managing director of 643 Capital Management, which has 400 single-family rentals, most in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Jacobsons’ neighborhood of 484 homes – The Arbors in Gilbert – typifies the trend. About 38 percent of the homes appear to be rentals. That’s twice the percentage of the entire 3,900-home Power Ranch subdivision, says Stephanie Fee, manager of the Power Ranch Community Association. She says the number of rentals in The Arbors has grown. “The neighborhood has kind of turned,” she says.

Homes in The Arbors – mostly two-story stuccos spaced a few feet apart – were built less than a decade ago. Some were initially purchased as rentals, but most attracted first-time buyers, Fee says. Their values climbed with the housing bubble, then fell when it popped.

Since 2008, eight of 40 homes on the Jacobsons’ street went through foreclosure, according to data from ForeclosureRadar. Public records indicate four appear to be rentals, because property tax bills go to different addresses. Other nearby homes have also become rentals in recent years, homeowners say.

A neighborhood’s evolution

“These used to be all owner-occupied,” says Daniel Vandenberg, 28, an environmental consultant who bought his house in 2007 and lives on the same street as the Jacobsons. Most houses near him are now rentals, he says.

Vandenberg says the street “still looks nice” and is in better shape than a few years ago when more homes were vacant. The homeowners’ association maintains much of the neighborhood, including its parks, community pools, lakes and playgrounds. Trash bins can’t be out for more than 24 hours. Cars can’t be parked on streets overnight.

Yet, the combination of rentals and declining home values has taken a toll on The Arbors’ appearance, other homeowners say. On a recent Friday night, a home that neighbors said was a rental sat vacant. Its garage door hung crooked and part-way open.

“You see fewer people taking care of yards, more parked cars, more people working on cars,” says Arbors homeowner Michael Grandy, 35. He moved into the neighborhood in 2008.

Michelle House, who bought her Arbors home in 2009 for $163,000, says she’s now surrounded by rentals and people she no longer knows. She picks weeds left in yards. While the community is still “nice,” it’s not the owner-occupied neighborhood she thought she’d bought into. She also worries that rentals will harm home values.

Some cities have recently taken steps to limit the spread of rentals, fearing the same thing.

The city of West St. Paul, Minn., recently adopted a law limiting single-family home rentals to 10 percent of homes on a block. If blocks already had more than that, they were grandfathered in.

“Neighbors were complaining the homes weren’t kept up,” says Jim Hartshorn, community development director of West St. Paul, population 19,800. He says the city was hard-hit with foreclosures.

Mankato and Northfield, Minn., also passed block rental limits in recent years. Another Minnesota college town, Winona, did so in 2005.

The Minnesota limits are at the “leading edge” of efforts that could grow, given the foreclosure crisis, says Anthony Sanders of the Institute for Justice, a non-profit public-interest law firm. It’s representing Winona homeowners in a lawsuit against the limits. “There’s just a fundamental right to be able to rent out your property,” Sanders says.

Even some homebuilders are wary about too many rentals.

Blandford Homes in Power Ranch recently stopped selling to investors, given ample demand from regular homeowners, says Blandford sales manager Jerry Lilly.

“You just don’t want a neighborhood full of rentals,” he says.

Preliminary data from a study of home values in the late 1980s and early 1990s show that they decline slightly as rentals increase, says Edward Coulson, a Penn State University economist who is doing the independent study. A decade ago, he did a similar study, paid for by the Fannie Mae Foundation. It found that a 10 percent increase in a neighborhood’s ownership rate led to an approximate 3.6 percent rise in home values.

In some cases, investor-owned rentals could help neighborhoods, says Paul Willen, a senior economist in the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. In lower-income areas, for example, such owners might have more money to maintain homes than other owners can.

He says the growth of big-time investors in the single-family rental market is a “transitory thing” because it’s more expensive to manage them than multi-family housing. “The end game for investors is to sell these homes profitably in three to five years to owners,” Willen says.

A temporary state

Burns expects that 70 percent of those who lose homes to mortgage distress will own again. A recent Harris Interactive survey, commissioned by Coldwell Banker, found that 83 percent of renters want to own a home.

In the meantime, the growth of single-family home rentals will reverberate through communities and the economy.

The rentals can mean shifting student populations that present more challenges for schools, says Roger Freeman, superintendent of the Littleton Elementary School District in Avondale, Ariz., in the Phoenix region.

Half of his district’s 5,000 students are new this year, a far higher percentage than normal. Foreclosures are part of the reason, he says.

“Everything slows down” when new students enter a classroom, Freeman says. Parents are less likely to be involved in schools if they’re not sure they’ll be there for long, he says.

The move toward a “rentership society” is bad for homebuilders, says a report from Morgan Stanley, but it’s good for home furnishing retailers. People buy furnishings when they move, whether they rent or buy, the report says.

More renters will present opportunities for other companies, says a study from the Demand Institute, which studies consumers. Without mortgages to pay, they may have more money to invest. That will affect financial-services firms, the study says. Tenants may need to rent storage space, should their rental homes be smaller than those they owned. Home improvement retailers will benefit as investor-owners repair homes to rent, the study adds.

The new tenants in The Arbors have already changed their spending.

Jessica and Mark Pierce started renting there 28 months ago. They lost their $550,000 home, 11 miles away, in a short sale in 2009 after a job loss. The home sat on a quarter-acre lot. It was an “oasis with 18 palms,” says Jessica Pierce, 37, a career consultant. The couple enjoyed dinner parties with neighbors. “Our kids knew each other,” Pierce says.

Now, they rent a smaller home. Their neighbors, whom Pierce doesn’t know by name, can peer into her backyard. From her kitchen table, Pierce points out broken floor tile. She hasn’t been inspired to get the landlord to fix it. The couple doesn’t spend money on plants, new carpet, fresh paint, new tile – as they would if they owned, Pierce says. They’re also socking away money for a downpayment and counting the days until they can own a home again.

“I just feel like I’m in someone else’s home,” Pierce says.

The Jacobsons aren’t so wistful about homeownership. For 19 months, they’ve rented. Their home is neat, their furnishings are fashionable. Yet, their backyard is dirt and weeds, just as it was when they moved in. They keep the shades drawn. Instead of paying $2,100 a month to own, they pay $1,243.38 to rent. Instead of spending weekends fixing up their home, occasionally, they go to a jazz club.

“I guess that was fun,” says Jodi Jacobson, 38, recalling weekends at their former home. “But do we have any vacation memories from that time? No.”

If they buy a home again, it’ll be smaller, they say. “I would never put so much of my income again into a house,” Steve Jacobson says.

© Copyright 2012 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc., Julie Schmit

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | May 25, 2012

U.S. 30-year FRM falls to record 3.78%

More than half of the experts (55%) polled by Bankrate.com this week expect rates to remain steady over the short term. Only 9% predict a decline, however, with the remaining 36% foreseeing an increase.

WASHINGTON – May 25, 2012 – The average U.S. rate for the 30-year fixed mortgage fell to a record low for a fourth straight week. Cheap mortgages have helped boost home sales modestly this year.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the rate on the 30-year loan dipped to 3.78 percent. That’s down from 3.79 percent last week and the lowest since long-term mortgage tracking began in the 1950s.

The average rate on 15-year fixed mortgages, a popular option for refinancing, held steady at 3.04 percent, matching the record low hit last week.

The average rate on the 30-year loan has been below 4 percent since early December. Lower rates are a key reason the housing industry is flashing signs of a recovery five years after the bubble burst.

In April, sales of both previously occupied homes and new homes rose near two-year highs. Builders are gaining more confidence in the market, breaking ground on more homes and requesting more permits to build single-family homes later this year.

A better job market has also made more people open to buying a home. Employers have added 1 million jobs in the past five months. The unemployment rate has dropped a full percentage point since August, from 9.1 percent to 8.1 percent in April.

Still, the pace of home sales remains well below healthy levels. Economists say it could be years before the market is fully healed.

Many people are having difficulty qualifying for home loans or can’t afford larger down payments required by banks. Some would-be homebuyers are holding off because they fear that home prices could keep falling.

Mortgage rates have been dropping because they tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. Uncertainty about how Europe will resolve its debt crisis has led investors to buy more Treasury securities, which are considered safe investments. As demand for Treasurys increase, the yield falls.

To calculate average rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country on Monday through Wednesday of each week.

The average does not include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.

The average fee for 30-year loans was 0.8, down from 0.7 last week. The fee for 15-year loans was 0.7, unchanged from last week.

The average rate on one-year adjustable rate mortgages was 2.75 percent last week, down from 2.78 percent the previous week. The fee for one-year adjustable rate loans was 0.4, down from 0.5 last week.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press, Martin Crutsinger (AP Economics Writer). All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | May 10, 2012

New Fla. web page explains septic tank law

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – May 9, 2012 – The Florida Department of Health (DOH) unveiled a new website designed to help Floridians and local governments understand new septic tank requirements outlined in House Bill 1263, which the Florida Legislature passed earlier this year. Florida Realtors backed the change, which eases a mandatory septic tank inspection.

The new law gives local governments flexibility, though that means septic tank laws can change from county-to-county. To help Floridians and local governments understand the new rules, the DOH developed an informational webpage with information on services and how the law may impact their areas.

Previously, inspection of a septic tank was required every five years; but the new law gives local governments a choice on adopting an evaluation program for their area. Some counties – those with a “first magnitude spring” must decide how to handle septic tank inspections by Jan. 1, 2013. All other counties may choose to adopt an evaluation program at anytime.

A spring is any point where water rises to the surface from underground. A first-magnitude spring is a large one, generally identified as one that discharges at least 100 cubic feet of water per second or almost 65 million gallons each day. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection lists 33 first magnitude springs in 19 counties: Alachua, Bay, Citrus, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Leon, Levy, Madison, Marion, Suwannee, Volusia and Wakulla. It also lists first magnitude springs in three cities: High Springs, Fanning Springs and Weeki Wachee.

So far, only one county with a first magnitude spring has opted out of septic tank inspections. Hernando County, home to Weeki Wachee Springs, voted yesterday to nix inspections, though the issue could be revisited.

If a local government favors septic tank inspections, the law outlines the way it should be done and the mandatory qualifications for an inspector.

For more information, visit the Florida Department of Health webpage or call your county or city commission, or local county health department.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | May 3, 2012

Fla. second-best U.S. state for business

NEW YORK – May 3, 2012 – An annual survey of CEOs conducted by Chief Executive Group finds that Florida is the second-best U.S. state for businesses. The same survey in 2011 ranked Florida third.

Gov. Rick Scott cited the magazine’s results last year in his efforts to increase the number of jobs in Florida. In a letter, he jokingly told Texas Gov. Rick Perry that he was aiming for the No. 1 spot. The 2012 results still found Florida falling short of that goal, but it’s now nipping on Texas’ heels.

According to Chief Executive, the one-level boost in Florida’s ranking results from pro-business laws enacted since Scott came into office, including business tax and regulatory reforms, a 2.1 percent unemployment drop and 140,000 private sector jobs.

Texas received points for the quality of its workforce that, according to Chief Executive, is second only to Utah.

North Carolina, Tennessee, Indiana, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia and Utah rounded out the top 10 states that are best for business. California landed at the bottom of the list.

The results are based on responses from 650 business leaders that graded states where they did business.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | April 19, 2012

Fla.’s housing market shows positive trends in March

ORLANDO, Fla. – April 19, 2012 – Florida’s housing market had increased pending sales, higher median prices and a reduced inventory of homes for sale in March, according to Florida Realtors® latest housing data.

“With the continued steep decline of inventory, historically low interest rates and buyers no longer willing to wait on the sidelines, Florida’s real estate market continues on its road to recovery,” says 2012 Florida Realtors President Summer Greene, regional manager of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Florida 1st in Fort Lauderdale. “The latest numbers show that pending sales are up almost 30 percent for single-family homes and almost 20 percent for townhomes and condos.”

Pending sales refer to contracts that are signed but not yet completed or closed; closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in March was $139,000, up 10.3 percent from the year-ago figure, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department, and vendor partner 10K Research and Marketing. The statewide median for townhome-condo properties was $105,000, up 20.8 percent over March 2011.

The national median sales price for existing single-family homes in February 2012 was $157,100, which is slightly higher than the previous year, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in February was $266,660; in Massachusetts, it was $255,000; in New York, it was $220,000; and in Maryland, it was $212,301.

The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less. Housing industry analysts note that sales of foreclosures and other distressed properties continue to downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes.

Statewide sales of existing single-family homes totaled 18,370 in March, down 5.7 percent compared to the year-ago figure. Looking at Florida’s year-to-year comparison for sales of townhomes/condos, a total of 10,012 units sold statewide last month, down 12.4 percent from those sold in March 2011. NAR reported the national median existing condo price in February 2012 was $153,000.

In March, there was a 5.9-month supply of single-family homes in inventory and a 6.0-month supply for townhomes/condos, according to Florida Realtors.

“The encouraging trends we’ve seen in the Florida housing market are continuing, with very strong pending sales and decreasing inventory,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo. “The large jump in median sales prices for both single-family homes and condos is a sign that buyers are now looking at higher priced properties, while it’s becoming tougher to find properties at the lower end of the market.”

The interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.95 percent in March 2012, down from the 4.84 percent average during the same month a year earlier, according to Freddie Mac.

To download the full statewide housing activity report, go to the Research page of floridarealtors.org at http://www.floridarealtors.org/Research/index.cfm and look under the header “New statewide housing reports.”

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | April 5, 2012

Fla. home prices rising

SANTA ANA, Calif. – April 4, 2012 – CoreLogic today released its February Home Price Index (HPI) report. Excluding distressed sales, month-over-month prices nationally increased 0.7 percent in February from January, but fell year-over-year by 0.8 percent if distressed sales are backed out of the equation and 2.0 percent if they’re included.

In Florida, however, prices rose in February 2012 compared to February 2011 whether distressed sales were included or not. The CoreLogic HCI found that Florida home prices rose 4.7 percent overall, and 1.6 percent without distressed sale numbers. Distressed sales include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions.

Even with the declines, however, the national housing market shows signs of improvement.

“House prices, based on data through February, continue to decline, but at a decreasing rate. The deceleration in the pace of decline is a first step toward ultimately growing again,” says Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Excluding distressed sales, we already see modest price appreciation month over month in January and February.”

“Non-distressed home sale prices, which represent two-thirds of all sales, have appreciated by just over 1.0 percent since the beginning of the year,” adds Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic.

HCI highlights February 2012

• Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest home price appreciation were: West Virginia (+8.6 percent), Michigan (+5.8 percent), Florida (+4.7 percent), Arizona (+4.5 percent) and South Dakota (+4.1 percent).

• Including distressed sales, the five states with the greatest depreciation were: Delaware (-11.2 percent), Connecticut (-7.9 percent), Rhode Island (-7.8 percent), Illinois (-7.1 percent) and Georgia (-6.6 percent).

• Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the highest appreciation were: South Dakota (+5.9 percent), West Virginia (+5.6 percent), Maine (+4.5 percent), Utah (+3.7 percent) and Montana (+3.6 percent).

• Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the greatest depreciation were: Delaware (-8.7 percent), Connecticut (-4.9 percent), Nevada (-4.6 percent), Vermont (-4.0 percent) and Minnesota (-3.3 percent).

• Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to February 2012) was -34.4 percent. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -24.6 percent.

• The five states with the largest peak-to-current declines including distressed transactions were Nevada (-60.2 percent), Arizona (-49.8 percent), Florida (-48.6 percent), Michigan (-44.0 percent) and California (-43.7 percent).

• Of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population, 67 are showing year-over-year declines in February, nine fewer than in January.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | March 29, 2012

NAR: Investment, vacation home sales up in 2011

WASHINGTON – March 29, 2012 – Sales of investment and vacation homes jumped in 2011, with the combined market share rising to the highest level since 2005, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).

NAR’s 2012 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey, covering existing- and new-home transactions in 2011, shows investment-home sales surged 64.5 percent to 1.23 million last year from 749,000 in 2010. Vacation-home sales rose 7.0 percent to 502,000 in 2011 from 469,000 in 2010. Owner-occupied purchases fell 15.5 percent to 2.78 million.

Vacation-home sales accounted for 11 percent of all transactions last year, up from 10 percent in 2010, while the portion of investment sales jumped to 27 percent in 2011 from 17 percent in 2010.

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said investors with cash took advantage of market conditions in 2011. “During the past year investors have been swooping into the market to take advantage of bargain home prices,” he said. “Rising rental income easily beat cash sitting in banks as an added inducement. In addition, 41 percent of investment buyers purchased more than one property.”

Yun said the shift in investment buyer patterns in 2011 shows the market, for the large part, is able to absorb foreclosures hitting the market.

“Small-time investors are helping the market heal since REO (bank real estate owned) inventory is not lingering for an extended period,” he said. “Any government program to sell REO inventory in bulk to large institutional companies should be limited to small geographic areas. Even where alternatives are needed, it’s best to rely on the expertise of local businesses, nonprofit organizations and government.”

All-cash purchases have become fairly common in the investment- and vacation-home market during recent years: 49 percent of investment buyers paid cash in 2011, as did 42 percent of vacation-home buyers. Half of all investment home purchases in 2011 were distressed homes, as were 39 percent of vacation homes.

“Clearly we’re looking at investors with financial resources who see real estate as a good investment and who aren’t hesitant to use cash,” Yun said. Of buyers who financed their purchase with a mortgage, large downpayments were typical. The median downpayment for both investment- and vacation-home buyers in 2011 was 27 percent.

“Given the tight credit in recent years, many would-be normal home buyers for owner occupancy declined,” Yun said.

The median investment-home price was $100,000 in 2011, up 6.4 percent from $94,000 in 2010, while the median vacation-home price was $121,300, down 19.1 percent from $150,000 in 2010.

Investment-home buyers in 2011 had a median age of 50, earned $86,100 and bought a home that was relatively close to their primary residence – a median distance of 25 miles, although 30 percent were more than 100 miles away.

“The share of investment buyers who flipped property remained low in 2011, and many of those homes likely were renovated before reselling,” Yun said. Five percent of homes purchased by investment buyers last year have already been resold, up from 2 percent in 2010. The typical investment buyer plans to hold the property for a median of 5 years, down from 10 years for buyers in 2010.

The typical vacation-home buyer was 50 years old, had a median household income of $88,600 and purchased a property that was a median distance of 305 miles from the primary residence; 35 percent of vacation homes were within 100 miles and 37 percent were more than 500 miles. Buyers plan to own their recreational property for a median of 10 years.

Lifestyle factors have consistently been the primary motivation for vacation-home buyers, while the desire for rental income drives investment purchases. Vacation homes purchased last year were more likely to be in suburban or rural areas; investment homes were concentrated in suburban locations.

Eighty-two percent of vacation-home buyers said the primary reason for buying was to use the property themselves for vacations, or as a family retreat. Thirty percent plan to use the property as a primary residence in the future, and only 22 percent plan to rent to others.

Half of investment buyers said they purchased primarily to generate rental income, and 34 percent wanted to diversify their investments or saw a good investment opportunity.
Sixteen percent of vacation buyers and 14 percent of investment buyers purchased the property for a family member, friend or relative to use. In many cases the home is intended for a son or daughter to use while attending school.

Forty-two percent of vacation homes purchased last year were in the South, 30 percent in the West, 15 percent in the Northeast and 12 percent in the Midwest; 1 percent were located outside of the U.S.

Forty-four percent of investment properties were in the South, 23 percent in the West, 17 percent in the Midwest and 15 percent in the Northeast.

Eight out of 10 second-home buyers said it was a good time to buy. Nearly half of investment buyers said they were likely to purchase another property within two years, as did one-third of vacation-home buyers.

Currently, 42.1 million people in the U.S. are ages 50-59 – a group that has dominated second-home sales since the middle part of the past decade and established records. An additional 43.5 million people are 40-49 years old, while another 40.2 million are 30-39.

“Given that the number of people who are in their 40s is somewhat larger than the 50-somethings, the long-term demographic demand for purchasing vacation homes is favorable because these younger households are likely to enter the market as their desire for these kinds of properties grows, and individual circumstances allow,” Yun said.

NAR’s analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data shows there are 8.0 million vacation homes and 42.8 million investment units in the U.S., compared with 75.3 million owner-occupied homes.

NAR’s 2012 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey, conducted in March 2012, includes answers from 2,241 usable responses about home purchases during 2011. The survey controlled for age and income, based on information from the larger 2011 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, to limit any biases in the characteristics of respondents.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | September 18, 2014

Three days only: Tax-free holiday on some appliances

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Sept. 16, 2014 – While Florida’s school-sales-tax holiday makes headlines in August, a lesser-publicized tax holiday on energy-efficient appliances takes place this weekend, Sept. 19-21.

The tax holiday covers qualifying Energy Star and WaterSense products, and sales tax won’t be collected on the first $1,500 of the price during the tax-free weekend. Energy Star products use at least 10 percent less energy, and WaterSense products use at least 20 percent less water.

The list of qualified products includes selected ceiling fans, dishwashers, freezers, refrigerators, light bulbs, clothes washers, bathroom sink faucets, showerheads and more. Consumers are limited to one tax-free purchase of any item that costs more than $500, and it doesn’t apply to any rentals or repairs. There are no quantity limits on items that cost less than $500.

The holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 19, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 21.

Qualifying Energy Star Products

  • Air purifier
  • Ceiling fan
  • Clothes dryer
  • Clothes washer
  • Dehumidifier
  • Dishwasher
  • Freezer
  • Light bulbs (packages)
  • Refrigerator
  • Room air conditioner
  • Swimming pool pump
  • Water heater

An Energy Star item must be designated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Department of Energy as meeting or exceeding the requirements under the Energy Star Program. An Energy Star label must be affixed to the product.

Qualifying WaterSense Products

  • Bathroom sink faucet
  • Faucet accessory
  • High-efficiency toilet or urinal
  • Showerhead
  • Weather or sensor-based irrigation controller

A WaterSense item must be recognized as water efficient by the WaterSense Program sponsored by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. A WaterSense label must be affixed to the product.

For more information, visit the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services website.

© 2014 Florida Realtors®

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | June 3, 2014

Foreclosures drop to lowest level since 2007

NEW YORK – June 2, 2014 – Over the last 12 months, completed foreclosures have fallen to the lowest level since the Great Recession began in 2007, according to CoreLogic’s April National Foreclosure Report, which shows completed foreclosures at 599,000 nationwide.

Completed foreclosures – the total number of homes actually lost to foreclosure – was 46,000 nationally in April, down 18 percent from April 2013.

However, foreclosures still remain elevated by historical standards. Before the housing decline in 2007, completed foreclosures averaged 21,000 per month between 2000 and 2006. Since September 2008, there have been about 5 million completed foreclosures nationwide.

In April, about 694,000 homes were still in some stage of foreclosure, known as foreclosure inventory. Inventory levels are down 35 percent year-over-year. The foreclosure inventory in April represented 1.8 percent of all homes with a mortgage, according to CoreLogic’s report.

At the current pace, “it will take 14 months to move all of the foreclosed inventory through the pipeline,” says Sam Khater, deputy chief economist for CoreLogic.

“We have now registered two and a half years of continuous decreases in the number of homeowners who are in some stage of the foreclosure process,” adds Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “This consistent decline means fewer Americans are experiencing the distress of delinquency and default.”

Every state – except for New York and the District of Columbia – reported double-digit year-over-year decreases in foreclosures, according to CoreLogic.

The following five states have the highest foreclosure inventory (as percentage of all mortgaged homes):

  • New Jersey: 6 percent
  • Florida: 5.4 percent
  • New York: 4.6 percent
  • Hawaii: 3.1 percent
  • Maine: 3 percent

Meanwhile, the five states with the lowest foreclosure inventories are Alaska (0.4 percent); Wyoming (0.4 percent); North Dakota (0.5 percent); Nebraska (0.5 percent); and Minnesota (0.5 percent), according to CoreLogic’s April report.

Source: CoreLogic

© Copyright 2014 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

 

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | May 20, 2014

Brevard property values keep climbing

 

 140 8LINKEDIN 3COMMENTMORE

The Space Coast housing recovery looks like it’saccelerating.

The latest evidence: newly released data from Brevard County Property Appraiser Dana Blickley, showing an increase of more than 8 percent in the taxable value of property in the county, compared with year-earlier figures.

“I was pleasantly surprised by that number,” Blickley said. “I see what is appearing to be a normal, positively responding real estate market.”

This is the second straight year of property value gains, following five years in a row of declines after an overheated real estate market tumbled.

The current estimated taxable value of properties in Brevard is $27.9 billion. That’s up from the $24.6 billion low two years ago and up from $25.7 billion last year.But it remains far below the peak of $40.7 billion in 2007.

Blickley said the gains in the taxable value of properties in the last year were not consistent across the county. She said the Suntree/Viera area and the beaches have shown the strongest gains.

Also helping boost the increase was the addition to the tax rolls of about $1.1 billion in commercial and residential property in the last year. By far the biggest single addition was the new Florida Power & Light Co. power plant off U.S. 1 in Port St. John, which added more than $750 million to the tax rolls, Blickley said.

Mitch Riback, president of the Space Coast Association of Realtors, said the data from the property appraiser correspond with what he is seeing in the Brevard real estate market.

Riback, quickly noted however, that there are key differences between “appraised value” and “market value.”

The market value is simply what the majority of potential buyers looking at a home would be willing to pay for it.

The appraised value for taxing purposes is lower than the market value because it deducts such things as the cost of selling a home. Florida law also limits how much the appraised value of property can increase each year. Certain exemptions, such as the homestead exemption, lower the taxable value of properties below their appraised value.

Latest-available figures show that, in Brevard County, the median selling price for a home — the point at which half the homes sell for less, half for more — was$132,000 in March, according to Florida Realtors, an industry organization. That’s up more than 10 percent from the previous year’s median figure of $119,900.

Those differences between market and appraised value notwithstanding, Riback said the appraiser’s estimates are good news, particularly for such markets as Palm Bay.

“I used to tell some of my friends up north they could come to Palm Bay and get a nice deal on a house for $60,000 to $70,000,” Riback said of the market conditions two years ago. “Now, those properties are more like $120,000.”

At one point several years ago, Blickley said, as many as 80 percent of residential property transactions involved foreclosures or short sales. That figure now is down to about 30 percent.

Property owners who aren’t buying or selling will be affected as well. For many people, their home is their biggest asset, so, as the value of their home rises, so does their overall financial worth.

A higher taxable value doesn’t necessarily mean a higher tax bill next year. That also will depend on the tax rates set by local governments, such as the county, school board and cities.

Blickley said taxing authorities have several options:

• They can adopt the same property tax rate currently in effect. Under current conditions, that would, in many cases, raise a property owner’s tax bill because of rising property values, thus allowing the taxing body to collect more taxes to pay for services.

• They can roll back the tax rate to a point at which they would collect the same amount of property taxes, because of the rising property values.

• They can set the property tax rate somewhere in between, so the rate is lower, but property tax money collected is higher.

• They can raise the property tax rate above the current level, which will allow them to collect even more revenue, both from the higher tax rate and from rising property values. Because of political pressures to keep taxes in check, that scenario is unlikely.

 

Contact Berman at 321-242-3649 or dberman@floridatoday.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ByDaveBerman

TAXABLE VALUE GAINS

There was an overall 8.24 percent gain in the estimated taxable value of property in Brevard County, as it relates to the county’s general fund, raising the estimated taxable value to $27.86 billion. The biggest increases were in unincorporated Brevard. But all 16 Brevard cities and towns also showed gains. Here are the figures for individual municipalities, their estimated 2014 taxable value, and percent gains from 2013 taxable value:

 

MUNICIPALITY 2014 TAX VALUE % CHANGE FROM 2013
CAPE CANAVERAL $854.7 MILLION 5.92
Cocoa $773.9 million .13
Cocoa Beach $1.38 billion 5.62
Grant-Valkaria $292.6 million 3.16
Indialantic $284 million 7.21
Indian Harbour Beach $661.3 million 5.88
Malabar $184.2 million 2.72
Melbourne $3.45 billion 4.37
Melbourne Beach $288.5 million 7.19
Melbourne Village $35.3 million 1.02
Palm Bay $2.64 billion 5.63
Palm Shores $50.4 million 8.06
Rockledge $1.05 billion 4.89
Satellite Beach $651.2 million 6.23
Titusville $1.32 billion 3.24
West Melbourne $968 million 7.45

 

Source: Brevard County Property Appraiser Dana Blickley

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | May 20, 2014

Consumer group says insurers pocket too much profit

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – May 19, 2014 – State regulators are taking it too easy on insurance companies, a consumer group says.

That’s certainly not the narrative you’ll hear from the insurance industry. But Americans paid a record amount for property and casualty insurance in 2013, $478 billion in earned premiums, and it’s excessive, argues the Consumer Federation of America.

“The data make it indisputably clear that insurance companies are overcharging their customers in order to rake in huge profits,” said J. Robert Hunter, the group’s director of insurance and a former consultant to Florida regulators.

Property and casualty insurers are sitting on a record surplus of $653 billion, the largest even after adjusting for inflation, Hunter said. Pre-tax income in 2013 was $64 billion – only 2006 and 2007 had higher profits, by his count.

Fair profits are fine, Hunter said. But he finds it “unacceptable for insurance companies to be squeezing so much profit out of consumers who are required by laws and financial institutions to buy coverage.”

Low- and moderate-income Americans struggle to afford auto insurance, he said, and many homeowners in states like Florida find property insurance takes a bigger bite from the family budget than they bargained for.

“Huge profits like those realized in 2013 raise serious questions about the adequacy of state regulation of insurance,” Hunter said.

In rebuttal, an industry-funded organization says there’s a problem with picking good years to complain about profits and forgetting about bad years.

“The point is that profits and profitability in the property-casualty insurance industry are highly volatile – exactly what you’d expect in an industry that bears risk from every catastrophe wherever and whenever they occur,” said Bob Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute in New York.

If profitability was about 10 percent in 2013, it’s worth remembering it was nearly zero in 2008 during the financial crisis, Hartwig said.

“A profitable insurance industry is a financially strong, stable and sound insurance industry – one that millions of policyholders every year can count on to pay their claim in their time of greatest need,” he said.

Such debates can seem like an academic exercise at times, because insurance is often regulated at the level of individual companies operating in a particular state. Regulators approve, or don’t, highly technical filings that can run hundreds of pages.

But there’s evidence a little public attention on such topics can matter. Consider the property insurance market in Florida. The state’s chief financial officer, Jeff Atwater, sent a letter asking insurance commissioner Kevin McCarty why rates heading into 2014 were not coming down if a key cost for insurers – reinsurance that helps pay claims after bad storms – was falling sharply.

McCarty said his office would work to make sure such changes were “appropriately reflected in homeowners rates.”

Coincidentally or not, several insurers decided to refile rates. By January, about half the state’s top 30 insurers had filed for rate decreases, from 0.1 percent to 9.3 percent.

That’s welcome, though by a big margin, Floridians still pay more for home insurance than anybody else in the country, according to the latest number from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

And car insurance in Florida might benefit from heightened public scrutiny too. A 2012 law pushed by Gov. Rick Scott reduced the benefits insurers must pay in personal injury protection claims, but 12 of the state’s top 20 carriers raised overall rates for 2014, records show.

Copyright © 2014 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.), Charles Elmore. Distributed by MCT Information Services.

 

Posted by: realtormarkpalace | November 26, 2013

‘Resurgent housing sector’ to lead 2014 recovery

WASHINGTON – Nov. 25, 2013 – Mortgage giant Freddie Mac is expecting a good 2014 for housing. Economists predict a much stronger economic recovery will take hold next year, “led by a resurgent housing sector,” according to Freddie Mac’s November U.S. Economic & Housing Market Outlook report.

Despite rising interesting rates and home values, Freddie Mac economists believe “housing will remain generally affordable in most parts of the country.”

“Even if rates were to go to 5 percent next year, housing in most of the country would remain affordable,” Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, notes in the report. “Large metro areas along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts are already expensive for the typical family, so rising rates will have a bigger effect there. But in most of the country, incomes and home prices are such that rising rates by themselves will not be enough to end the recovery. What we need is some better income growth.”

Economic growth is expected to be in the 2.5 percent to 3 percent range – more than half a percentage point better than what is expected for this year. Economic growth will help spur more jobs, and Freddie economists predict that the unemployment rate will fall below 7 percent by mid-2014.

Freddie predicts that in 2014 single-family home sales and housing starts will reach their highest levels since 2007.

Buyers will likely face increasing borrowing costs, with mortgage rates expected to continue to rise in 2014, Freddie predicts. Mortgage rates have climbed about a full percentage point since early May.

“We look for fixed-rate mortgage rates to creep higher in 2014, gradually moving up throughout the year and ending at close to 5 percent,” Nothaft notes. “However, expect some volatility in the short-term from renewed concerns about the debt ceiling or other fiscal policy.”  

Source: Freddie Mac November 2013 U.S. Economic & Housing Market Outlook

© Copyright 2013 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

http://www.PalaceProperties.com

 

Older Posts »

Categories