Sunday, May 26, 2013

Condo at Jade Ocean asking $4 million

Today’s priciest listing

May 24, 2013 03:00PM               
Jade Ocean in Sunny Isles Beach

Today’s priciest new listing is a four-bedroom, four-bathroom condominium at Jade Ocean asking $4 million. The 2,485-square-foot home is located at 17121 Collins Avenue, Unit 3001, in Sunny Isles Beach. It features marble floors and built-in closets. The complex has a spa, fitness center, screening room and a children’s play room.  Listings are taken from the South Florida MLS.
Mark Maurer

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Prices climb for vacant lots in South Florida

May 10, 2013 03:00PM                      

2.55-acre lot at 20 Casuarina Concourse in Coral Gables (Source: StreetEasy)

Demand for waterfront property in South Florida is so high that the price for vacant parcels of land is rising along with it, the South Florida Business Journal reported.
Available lots are not all snapped up, but they are getting scarcer. In Coral Gables, a vast and exclusive vacant lot at 20 Casuarina Concourse in Gables Estates has a $13.5 million asking price, the Business Journal said. The trend can be seen in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Meanwhile, many are tearing down existing homes and building anew.
Detroit Tigers pitcher Anibal Sanchez is tearing down his Old Cutler Bay home at 275 Solano Prado in Coral Gables, which he bought in May for $4.5 million, said Toni Schrager of Avatar Real Estate Services.
A home’s physical, functional and economic value, as well as its age and surrounding property values, factor in to the price a buyer would pay for a teardown, author and developer Frank McKinney told the newspaper.
 [Business Journal] – Mark Maurer

5 Ways to Spring Clean Your Credit Report

Spring Clean your credit report in advance of kicking off your house hunt. It’s stressful to have little credit report glitches get in your way and hold up the process after you’re already in heated house hunt mode. 

Getting out in front of potential financing issues by doing a DIY credit cleaning gives you the chance to remove all those glitches and obstacles to a smooth loan approval, underwriting and home buying transaction. 

Here’s how to do-it-yourself:

1.  Do one scan for flat-out errors.  Go to and order your credit reports from all three reporting bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Look for accounts that aren’t yours, that have long been closed or otherwise are erroneously reported (e.g., payments listed as late that were actually on-time, a short sale listed as a foreclosure, etc.). Follow the instructions on the reports to dispute such report errors immediately - both online/on the phone and in writing. 

Be prepared that it might even take several rounds of disputes and submissions of documents proving your case to ultimately clear everything up - if you experience this, make sure to loop your mortgage pro in after the first dispute round, rather than waiting months and months to even make the first call.  It might be the case that the hard-to-dispute items are simply not making much of a difference to your ability to get a home loan. 

2.  Do another scan for small reporting inaccuracies you think don’t make a difference - but do.  In particular, you’re looking for things like:
  • delinquencies that should have aged off
  • balances listed as higher than they truly are
  • limits listed as lower than they really are, and
  • short sales/foreclosures that are improperly dated, among other things. 

Paying bills late or not at all is only one thing that dings your credit report and score. Having a maxed out credit account (loan, line or card) limits is another.  So, if your credit report shows your balances as higher than they actually are or your limits as lower than they actually are, this by itself can actually impair your credit score. 

These sorts of little, technical errors can, cumulatively, create a serious, negative impact on your credit score. They are very common - and commonly overlooked by consumers who are looking primarily for big, bad errors and wrong reporting that might indicate identity theft or other nefarious goings-on.  So take a second tour through your credit reports looking for inaccurate balances and limits.

In the same vein, triple-check the dates of any delinquent payments, collections, short sale(s), foreclosure(s), or bankruptcies that are legitimately reported. Another common error is for these sorts of derogatory credit marks to have been dated inaccurately.  Delinquencies should age entirely off your report after 7 years, and bankruptcies after 10.  The precise date of a short sale or foreclosure can actually make or break your ability to qualify for a home loan - so make sure it is reported accurately.

3.  Pay the right things off - and take care not to pay off accounts you need to show your responsible use of credit. A few things that most lenders will demand you settle, bring current or pay off entirely before you can buy a home:
  • accounts in collections
  • state and federal tax liens
  • past home loans or lines of credit in default that were not extinguished through foreclosure or short sale (e.g., second loans, home equity lines of credit, etc.)
  • defaulted federal student loans (for FHA loan applicants).

If you do have to negotiate with any such creditors for settlements or repayment plans, consider including the way they report the account as one of the negotiables in your settlement deal.  Consult with your mortgage professional about how you should ask the creditor to report the resolution as part of the settlement - you might not get it, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask.

Your mortgage pro can also help you understand how you should sequence and prioritize the various items on this little laundry list. For example, some lenders might allow you to simply extinguish a tax lien at closing, while most FHA loans won’t allow for a credit pre-approval while you have a defaulted federal student loan on your report.

But do exercise some caution when you start paying off debt in preparation for home buying. Some house hunters take the opportunity to pay all their debt off and close out old, unused accounts, thinking it will document their readiness for the financial responsibilities of homeownership.  Not so: credit scores are optimized when they show that you (a) have credit available to you, and (b) are responsible in how you use it.  The ideal for the FICO score calculations is to be using roughly 30 percent of the credit available to you on your accounts.  So don’t pay them entirely off, and whatever you do, don’t close accounts that are open and/or current. 

That said, don’t go out charging up a storm trying to bring zero balance accounts up to 30 percent credit limit usage.  A flurry of new charges can upset your debt-to-income ratio and be seen by the FICO calculating robots as a sign of potential financial distress.

4.  Get your mortgage pro to help.  Up to now, you’ve been working on the reports that you can pull yourself, for free, as mandated under the federal Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) through These reports are free and are the smart starting point for your credit Spring Cleaning, but they have two important shortcomings:
(1) They are almost never identical to the report your lender will actually use as the basis of your mortgage application, and
(2) They do not include the FICO credit score on which lending decisions are based.

So, once you’ve dealt with any major or minor reporting errors you detect on the free reports, get your mortgage pro in the loop (if you haven’t already) and ask them to pull your report and FICO score, and help you to troubleshoot it.  From the report, they can tell you whether you’ll have any challenges qualifying at the price range you desire and, if so, they can help you put a plan of action into place for finishing up your credit fitness program.

Many mortgage pros have software or expertise that can power a set of recommendations about what you need to do to complete your credit report Spring Clean, like paying 3 particular accounts down by a specific dollar amount, each.  Also, they generally have access to Rapid Rescore or similar programs that will have your report updated and your credit score revised within a day or two after you pay a bill down or execute your mortgage broker’s other score-boosting advice. (By contrast, it can take 30 days or more it can take for your score to be updated if you dispute your report on your own.)

5.  Ask about augmenting your report with non-traditional “tradelines,” if needed.  If you simply don’t have much credit because you like to pay cash, kudos to you for managing your finances responsibly.  Increasingly, lenders will allow borrowers to use non-traditional accounts to document their credit history.  If you can document your history of paying your rent, health insurance, or even child care bills on time, every time, for at least 12 months, talk to your mortgage professional about whether you can use any of these accounts to prove yourself creditworthy to mortgage lenders. 

By Tara-Nicholle Nelson | Broker in San Francisco, CA

Thursday, May 2, 2013

South Florida housing values continue to climb, S&P/Case-Shiller index says

April 30, 2013 01:00PM                                

S&P/Case-Shiller Home Indices February 2013

According to Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index, South Florida’s housing stock appreciated 10.8 percent in February from the year before, the Sun-Sentinel reported, marking 14 consecutive months of increases.
As in half of 20 metro areas surveyed, South Florida showed double-digit increases in home prices over the last year. The Phoenix area saw the biggest jump, with a 23 percent gain year-over-year.
“Despite some recent mixed economic reports for March, housing continues to be one of the brighter spots in the economy,” said David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, in a statement.
Broward County’s median price for existing homes in March was $242,500, a 26 percent increase from a year earlier, according to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors. In Palm Beach County, the median price last month hit $249,894, 28 percent higher than a year ago, the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches reported.
The median price of a single-family home in Miami-Dade County soared 25.1 percent to $225,000 in March from $179,850 a year earlier, the Miami Association of Realtors said.
The median price of a Miami-Dade condo jumped 19.3 percent year over year, to $167,000 from $140,000. [Sun-Sentinel]
Emily Schmall

Florida House passes foreclosure reform bill

April 30, 2013 02:00PM                                            

A home for sale, pre-foreclosure

The Florida House of Representatives passed a bill late Monday to speed up foreclosures and unclog backed-up courts, the Florida Current reported.
The bill, HB 87, would enable the mortgagee to move the court to hold a hearing to show cause, a procedure by which a court can require defendants in a real estate foreclosure action to demonstrate why a foreclosure judgment should not be entered.
The controversial reform, hotly debated among members of the Florida Bar Association,  would also prevent those foreclosed on fraudulently or in error from getting homes back if they have already been sold to a third party, the Current said.
Opponents say people struggling to hold onto their properties will lose an important recourse, but the bill also contains provisions to protect homeowners, according to the Current.
Supporters of the bill say it is needed to reduce Florida’s backlog of foreclosures, which continue to flood the market, depressing home values. The average foreclosure takes more than two years to make it through the court system.
“Florida is number one in foreclosures. That is not a distinction we wish to have,” Rep. Charles McBurney, R-Jacksonville, told the Current.
The bill now goes to the Senate. Similar legislation passed the House last year but didn’t make it through the Senate, the article said.
Emily Schmall

Florida ripe for property flips, report says

May 02, 2013 01:00PM                     

Biggest flipping profits (Source: RealtyTrac)

Five of the top 10 cities for turning a profit from flipping houses are in Florida, according to RealtyTrac’s latest foreclosure report.
The foreclosure data provider picked the top 25 municipalities nationwide in which a seller’s rate of return is the highest from flipping a single-family home, defined as purchasing a property and selling it within 90 days. The data are based on the flipper’s gross profit, which is the difference between the average purchased price and the home’s flipped sale price later on. Investors are expected to have even better luck with flipping homes this year.
Flippers earned an average $64,976 in Orlando, or 63 percent gross profit, the report said. The next best markets for flipping were Las Vegas (53 percent), Phoenix (44 percent), Tampa (43 percent) and Memphis (42 percent). In Miami, flipped homes were purchased for $138,064 and sold for $189,291, netting investors 37 percent gross profit.
Florida is ripe for flipping because of the wide gap between foreclosure sales and regular sales, which makes a flip of a foreclosed home more profitable, and because housing prices are quickly rising, according to RealtyTrac economist Jake Adger.
The most single-family flips last year happened in Phoenix, with 10,589, RealtyTrac noted.
Emily Schmall