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

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Later marriage trends don’t postpone homeownership

NEW YORK – April 24, 2013
A study conducted looked a changing marriage trends in America and how they impact the purchase of a first home.

According to the study, the timing of a first-home purchase hasn’t changed a lot over the years, but an upswing in later marriages means more couples are buying a home before they walk down the aisle – if they ever do – or making a purchase earlier in the marriage.

About one in four married couples between the ages of 18 to 34 purchased their first home together before their wedding date, compared to 14 percent of those ages 45 and older. According to the survey, 35 percent of all married couples purchased their first home together by their second wedding anniversary; 80 percent of these married homeowners said it strengthened their relationship more than any other purchase.

“What we’re seeing is that young couples are switching up the order and purchasing their first home regardless of whether or not they have set a wedding date,” says Dr. Robi Ludwig, a psychotherapist and lifestyle correspondent.

“This is a huge movement within the American culture,” Ludwig adds. “While younger generations may be focusing more on their career, and in turn waiting longer to get married and have children, they are not delaying their dream of homeownership.”

Other survey trends

• 17 percent of all married couples surveyed purchased a home together before their wedding day.

• 72 percent of married Americans in the South waited until after they were married to purchase a home, compared to 60 percent of Americans in the Northeast.

• Only 16 percent of married U.S. adults have not purchased a home together with their current spouse.

Ludwig says the tasks involved with a home purchase can strengthen a marriage. “(Married couples) not only learn about each other’s wishes and dreams during this process, but they also learn how to be practical with each other and compromise,” he says. “Buying a home has more of an impact on a couple’s relationship than any other purchase they will ever make.”

Impact of home buying on a marriage

• 93 percent of homeowners who purchased their first home while married always planned on owning a home after marrying.

• 80 percent said purchasing a home with their spouse did more to strengthen their relationship as a couple and family than any other purchase they have made together.

• Over one-third of married homeowners (35 percent) wish they had taken the plunge (into homeownership) sooner than they actually did.

Ludwig offers the following tips for couples buying their first home together:

1. Decide “needs” vs. “wants,” and be willing to compromise.
Ludwig says it’s common for a couple to uncover conflicting values, interests, likes, dislikes and tastes to come that create tension. But no one gets everything on their checklist, so it’s important to compromise to get a home that pleases both people. Patience, understanding, compassion and compromise are key.

2. Work together to prioritize what’s important in a home.
Make an independent list and compare notes. Even the closest couples are still two people with separate ideas and agendas. Searching for a home can bring up a couple’s different priorities and ideas about life. Working together to decide what is best for a combined future strengthens the bond between individuals and prepares couples to effectively deal with future disagreements.

3. Be open, honest and organized with finances.
This includes the ability to talk about personal savings, debts, budgets and credit ratings. Money is one of the leading causes of marital discord.

4. Think about the future for three, five and even 10 years down the road. Before buying a home, talk about plans for careers, having a family, and what that means in terms of neighborhood and space. For some people, talking about their future needs creates anxiety. Support each other if it does.

© 2013 Florida Realtors®

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Porsche Design Tower Miami opens sales center in Sunny Isles


A rendering of Porsche’s robotic parking garag

The Porsche Design Tower Miami has opened its sales center, Porsche Design Group and Dezer Development announced. The 60-story, 132-unit tower, which will have a robotic garage, will be located at 18555 Collins Avenue. It will launch construction in mid-2013, with move-in scheduled for 2016. The sales center will include small models of the residences, along with a video display of the parking technology. — Alexander Britell

Sky-high parking at Porsche Design tower

April 19, 2013 02:00PM                                    

Porsche Design Tower
Among the most buzzed-about amenities of the Porsche Design Tower Miami, which breaks ground today, is the robotic automobile lift, which allows drivers to pull right up to their doorstep, however many stories high, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Residents will be able to park their cars right outside of their units, according to the Journal.
The 60-story tower will have 132 residences, ranging from $4.5 million to $25 million, according to Gil Dezer, whose company Dezer Development is behind the project. Though construction is not expected to be complete until the first quarter of 2016, half of the units are under contract, representing $400 million in sales, Dezer said in a press release.
The apartments will range in size from 4,200 to 17,000 square feet, and in price from $4.5 million to $25 million. In a nod to Porsche Design and its first foray into real estate, the tower will have a “car concierge” responsible for coordinating washes, detailing, tire rotation and other maintenance. [WSJ] –Emily Schmall

Friday, April 19, 2013

Selecting the Ideal Short Sale Offer

Most real estate professionals equate the term “best offer” with the highest price, and in a normal transaction this is often the case. But in short sales the highest offer received is not always the best offer. Certain offers are much stronger for the purposes of a short sale because they ensure the buyer is committed and able to close. Here’s what we recommend for a strong short sale offer.


1)     Large deposit: Buyers who “put some skin in the game” with large deposits are going to stick around until closing. We recommend obtaining a deposit of at least 10% when possible.
2)     90 day timeline for approval: Most short sales take less than 90 days for an approval but that isn’t a given. Protect yourself and your seller by requesting a 90 day window instead of 45 or 60. Disclosing upfront that you can’t guarantee the speed of the short sale also helps maintain a smooth transaction and cuts down on frustration.
3)     30 day timeline to close:  Again, it’s important to ensure your buyer will come to the closing table. Even after an approval there is no guarantee the short sale will close. Many elements outside our control, such as financing, can delay or kill a deal. In order to make sure there’s enough time to deal with any unforeseen issues, it’s prudent to request an additional 30 days to close.
4)     Early Inspection: By completing the inspection early on, you avoid any “surprises” later on down the line and reduce the possibility the buyer will choose to walk before the closing.
Some of the offers you receive may meet these guidelines and some may not. If you receive an offer that doesn’t and/or is unable to meet the specifications above it may still be worth a look over.
Mark Greene: From the Short Sale Frontlines
Remember- you’ve got an entire short sale team behind you! We’re always available to review offers and help determine which one will be the best for your short sale.

Is housing on a 'sugar high'?

The strong home price increases of recent months are raising questions about whether a new housing bubble is on the way. But analysts still see problems ahead.

Apr 8, 2013
    © Dynamic Graphics/Jupiterimages

    Just a few years ago, no one could have imagined that we’d be writing headlines about rising home prices. The evil "shadow inventory" loomed, and the chance that your underwater home would peek its head above the surface any time soon was slim.

    But real estate is ever surprising, and just a few years after the real-estate bust and plunging values, home prices are rising again nearly everywhere in the United States. "Home prices are on a tear – thanks to the Fed," The Wall Street Journal wrote in Monday’s editions.

    The rising prices mask some of the volatility that still exists in the market. First-time homebuyers have yet to come back to the market in large numbers, partly because they can’t get a mortgage in today’s environment. Many homeowners in hard-hit areas still have homes that are double digits under water. Much of the demand for homes is coming from investors.

    The WSJ noted "murmurs of concern that the Federal Reserve's campaign to reduce interest rates could be giving the housing market a sugar high." But the Fed may not be the only culprit. These are the reasons the WSJ lists for rising prices:
    • The number of homes for sale is at a 20-year low. That is partly because few new homes have been built in the past four years. Would-be sellers are still hesitant to sell at prices well below 2006 levels or fear they can’t get a mortgage to buy another home. And investors are scooping up much of what is offered for sale.
    • Demand is rising. Investors are playing a major factor, but rising rents have encouraged more first-time buyers to enter the market.
    • Low mortgage rates have increased purchasing power by one-third. At a 6.1% interest rate, a monthly payment of $1,000 will get you a $165,000 mortgage, The WSJ calculated. At a 3.5% rate, you can borrow $222,000 and still keep your payment around $1,000.
    Are we heading for a new bubble? Experts interviewed said no. In fact, things may get worse, and the inventory of homes for sale is likely to rise soon.
    "This is not a 2005 market," Rick Sharga, executive vice president of Carrington Mortgage Holdings, said at the real-estate expo in Dallas, as reported by Housing Wire. "A lot of what’s driving home-price increases is lack of available inventory. … Very few markets are anywhere near where we were at the peak."
    By Teresa at MSN Real Estate 

    U.S. hedge funds eye Florida, as they buy up distressed single-family homes

    April 16, 2013 01:00PM                                      

    Warren Buffett
    Hedge funds are snapping up discounted single-family homes in South Florida to feed a growing appetite for rental properties, the Palm Beach Post reported.
    A comment by Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett last year appears to have inspired heavyweight private equity funds like Blackstone Group and the Connecticut-based Starwood Property Group to sink money into the distressed residential real estate market, and, perhaps due to the number of distressed properties available, South Florida has been a favorite spot for such investments, the Post said.
    Buffett told CNBC’s Squawk Box that if he could find a way to manage them, he would buy “a couple hundred thousand single-family homes.”
    Blackstone Group created housing firm Invitation Homes to invest more than $3 billion in single-family homes nationwide, according to the Post. The private equity giant has purchased about 150 homes in Palm Beach County and another 500 in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, the newspaper said, citing property appraiser records.
    “This is a growing market where people, more and more, are becoming renters either by choice or because of economic circumstances,” said Invitation Homes chief operating officer Marcus Ridgway. [Palm Beach Post] --Emily Schmall

    Demand for South Florida property shrinks inventory and drives up prices

    April 18, 2013 10:00AM
    By Emily Schmall                       

    Waterfront properties on Star Island
    Waterfront properties are driving up sales prices in South Florida as inventory — from luxury to low-income — declines, according to first-quarter market reports released today by Douglas Elliman.
    The gain in Miami-area sales prices coincides with a sharp decline in inventory, particularly of distressed properties, which fell 24.7 percent since the same period a year ago, the reports show.
    The median sales price of short-sale and foreclosed condos in the Miami area has jumped from $95,000 to $111,500, a gain of 17.4 percent, while the sales price for the median non-distressed condo rose 7.4 percent, from $256,000 to $275,000.
    South Florida’s 37.8 percent share of the U.S. distressed property market is at its lowest in three years, real estate appraiser Jonathan Miller told The Real Deal.
    “Miami used to be the poster child for distressed inventory. That’s no longer the case,” Miller said.
    As the supply of distressed properties declines, investors are shifting toward a different kind of housing stock, Miller said. The average non-distressed property is 29 percent larger than the average distressed property selling in South Florida, he said.
    International investors continue strengthening South Florida’s coastal communities, Miller said, and without much use of credit. More than three out of four condo sales in Miami in the first quarter were purchased with cash.

    Saturday, April 13, 2013

    Buyers of foreclosures need to act fast

    CHICAGO – April 12, 2013
    Foreclosures are being listed at far less than what they likely eventually will sell for – a marketing strategy that generates high interest and multiple bids, some say. As such, buyers of foreclosures need to be prepared to move quickly and come up with a lot more money.

    For example, Liz Sidorowicz, a real estate professional with RE/MAX Signature, says she helped her client submit an offer for a foreclosure in Mount Prospect, Ill., for $421,000. The home was listed for $350,000, but her client still lost out to a higher bid.

    “I managed to win one out of five last week, but we overbid significantly,” Sidorowicz told The Chicago Tribune. “We got the unit and then it didn’t appraise. So we have to come up with more money down to make the deal fly.”

    Some homebuyers who bid on foreclosures have to learn the hard way just how competitive snagging a foreclosure bargain can be.

    “The consumer gets burned on a house they really like once or twice,” says Michael Goodwin, an agent at Exit Real Estate Partners in Chicago. “After that happens, they get war-hardened. The next time they are ready to pounce. Not very often does it wind up being the first house. It takes them getting slapped in the face.”

    Source: “Buying foreclosures requires patience, and a little more money,” The Chicago Tribune (April 5, 2013)

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

    Matt Damon lists Miami Beach compound for $20M

    April 12, 2013 12:00PM                        

    Images of Matt Damon’s home (credit: Curbed) and Matt Damon

    Actor Matt Damon has listed his Miami Beach home for $20 million, the Wall Street Journal reported. The home measures 12,705 square feet and has 10 bathrooms and seven bedrooms.
    Coldwell Banker’s Jill Eber and Jill Hertzberg, better known as “the Jills,” have the listing for Damon’s home, which has a home theater, a pool house with a roof terrace, a guest house and 170 feet of frontage on Biscayne Bay.
    Damon assembled the home from two separate parcels that he purchased in 2005. He bought one for $10.3 million and the other for $4.2 million, according to records cited by the Journal. [WSJ, 1st item] –Zachary Kussin

    Monday, April 8, 2013

    Miami market strengthens with drop in distressed sales.

    April 08, 2013 12:00PM                        

    New development in Miami
    The Miami real estate market is gaining steam, according to the inaugural Miami Residential Market Report issued today by StreetEasy. Based on sales closed during the first quarter of this year, the report found that the overall median sales price in Miami Dade County has increased for the eighth consecutive quarter. But it’s not just the median sales price increase that’s pushing the market ahead — tight inventory is also pushing up prices.
    “As in so much of the country, inventory has been extremely tight,” said StreetEasy’s head of research Sofia Song in a statement from the firm. “Couple that with increased demand from domestic and foreign buyers, and it’s no surprise to see not only an increase in median sales price, but also an almost 20 percent drop in distressed sales this quarter.”
    Current median sales price in Miami-Dade county ticks in at $172,900, which marks a 4.8 percent year-over-year increase.
    But as far as distressed sales, there were 18.8 percent fewer in Miami Dade compared to last year, the report said. Broken down, condos saw 20 percent fewer distressed sales since last year, and 15.3 percent fewer than in the last quarter of 2012. Houses had 17.1 percent fewer distressed sales since last year and 15.1 percent fewer than the last quarter. The South Beach and the Fisher Island market had the biggest gains in this category: a 41.4 percent year-over-year gain in median price and a 73.5 percent jump in average price, respectively.
    The number of closings jumped 18.5 percent year-over-year, and almost 2 percent quarter-over-quarter, the report shows. Condos saw 21.5 percent more closings year-over-year; single-family homes saw a 27.8 percent year-over-year gain.
    But this doesn’t come without a hitch: new development sales in the county have been lagging. Closings in this category plummeted nearly 46 percent year-over-year and 39.1 percent quarter-over-quarter, according to the report. Upper Miami Beach alone saw a 72.2 percent decrease in new development closings since last year, while Greater Aventura and Bal Harbour both recorded a 69.3 percent decline. –Zachary Kussin

    Sunday, April 7, 2013

    Eight of the 20 best markets for investors to nab single-family rentals are in Florida

    April 05, 2013 02:00PM                        

    Downtown Ocala
    Eight of the country’s 20 best markets for investors to purchase single-family rental homes are in Florida, according to a new analysis by RealtyTrac. Analyzing median price and average rental rates in hundreds of metro areas nationwide, the report determined the top 20 markets for buying rentals, based on markets that give investors the biggest returns on three-bedroom homes.
    Ocala was fourth on the list, with a cash purchase capitalization rate of 10.23 percent in a market where the median sales price for a three-bedroom home is $75,357. Palm Bay placed sixth, with a 9.77 percent cap rate and a median sales price of $91,950.
    Other Florida markets on the list were Jacksonville, Deltona, Tampa, Port St. Lucie, Orlando and Lakeland.
    “Buying single family homes as rentals that actually generate good monthly cash flow has become more difficult over the past year, as institutional investors crowded into the market, snapping up tens of thousands of properties in 2012 alone,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, in a statement yesterday. “But there are still opportunities for the more conservative, individual investor to buy rental homes that generate a healthy return on investment.” –Hiten Samtani

    Tuesday, April 2, 2013

    Hollywood Margaritaville construction delayed again

    Apr 2, 2013, 6:24am EDT   Staff South Florida Business Journal
     Robert Taylorphoto by Mark Freerks               
    Robert Taylor of CB Richard Ellis at 300 Johnson St. in Hollywood, the future site of Margaritaville.

    Construction of the 350-room Hollywood
    Staff South Florida Business Journal
    Construction of the 350-room Hollywood Margaritaville has been delayed again and the project’s developers must now ask the city commission for another extension.
    Hollywood city manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark told The Miami Herald that Margaritaville and The Lojeta Group had until April 10 to begin construction on the project. The developers are to ask the city commission on Wednesday for an additional 60 days to take possession of the land and to finalize the project’s funding plan, according to the Herald.
    Development of the 17-story Margaritaville has hit many delays. It would transform the boardwalk area on Hollywood beach.

    Saturday, March 30, 2013

    Big Predictions for Housing for Next 2 Years


    Home sales are projected to post some big gains in the next two years, according to Fannie Mae’s latest monthly economic outlook.
    Fannie Mae economists predict that existing-home sales will rise by 10.5 percent this year, and by 6.2 percent in 2014. The economists made even bolder projections for new single-family home sales -- growing 15.1 percent this year and 44.1 percent in 2014.
    "We expect home prices to firm further amid a durable housing recovery, continuing to boost household net worth, gradually diminishing the population of underwater borrowers, and reducing incentive for strategic defaults," according to Fannie Mae’s report.
    Fannie Mae projects that mortgage rates will stay low by historical averages this year, but the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will rise from an average of 3.5 percent during the first quarter to an average of 4 percent during the final three months of 2013. During the fourth quarter of 2014, mortgage rates are projected to tick up to a 4.5 percent average.
    Mortgage applications for purchases are projected to increase by 16.8 percent this year and by 17.1 percent in 2014. However, a decline in applications for refinancings will likely cause mortgage originations to be down 14.5 percent this year and by 31.4 percent in 2014, Fannie economists predict.
    Source: “Fannie Mae sees housing upturn as 'intact',” Inman News (March 28, 2013)

    Sunday, March 24, 2013

    Existing U.S. home sales reach three-year high

    March 22, 2013 12:00PM                                 

    Existing home sales across the U.S. grew 0.8 percent in February over the previous month, pushing them to the highest level since November 2009, according to National Association of Realtors data cited by the Wall Street Journal.
    The slight increase raised the seasonally adjusted annual rate to 4.98 million — 10.2 percent higher than in February 2012 — for the 20th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.
    The nation’s inventory also increased to 1.94 million, a 9.6 percent increase from January. And while the huge inventory of homes on the market following the recession had been a drag on the market, the increased inventory is likely coming from homeowners taking advantage of higher home prices, according to the Journal.
    “Now that you’ve had a year of price gains, some uptick in the level of inventory would reflect a better housing market. In some sense it’s a positive sign,” Michael Gapen, an economist at Barclays, said. [WSJ]Christopher Cameron

    Thursday, March 21, 2013

    Buying beats renting in South Florida

    Buying saves consumers more than 50 percent in South Florida, Trulia study says
    Despite the ever-higher number of foreclosures, buying a home still makes more financial sense in much of South Florida than renting one — or so says a new study by real estate data site cited by the Sun Sentinel.
    Buying a home costs more than 50 percent less than renting in Broward and Palm Beach counties, the study shows. In Broward County, the average monthly cost of owning is $773, compared with an average rental rate of $1,638. In Palm Beach County, the average home costs $773 a month to own, while renting will set the average tenant back $1,767, the Sentinel said.
    The trend can also be found across the nation, the study says. The disparity is greatest in Detroit, where owning a home is about 70 percent cheaper than renting. [Sun Sentinel] –Guelda Voien

    Tuesday, March 19, 2013

    Today’s priciest new listing

    March 19, 2013 05:00PM             

    Edition Residences
    Today’s priciest new listing is a three-bedroom, three-bathroom, 4,416-square-foot condominium in Ian Schrager’s Edition Residences that is asking $12.5 million, according to Condo Vultures. The waterfront condo, which is located at 2901 Collins Avenue, #1404, in Miami Beach, features interior design by John Pawson and access to the building’s poolside cabana and resident-only bayfront. Christopher Leavitt of Douglas Elliman has the listing. (Condo Vultures data includes condos and single-family listings in the main metropolitan areas of Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, as well as Monroe County, that are newly listed. Listings are taken from the South Florida MLS.) –Christopher Cameron

    Monday, March 18, 2013

    Florida’s foreclosure rate still nation’s highest

    March 15, 2013 12:00PM             

    Florida has the highest foreclosure rate in the nation
    Florida, home to the most spots of any state in Coed Magazine’s recent list of “15 Trashiest Spring Break Destinations,” can claim another dubious prize: nation’s highest foreclosure rate, the Sun Sentinel reported. The Sunshine State nabbed the top spot for the sixth consecutive month, per a report from foreclosure data service RealtyTrac, the paper said.
    The South Florida region, which includes Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties, also had the highest foreclosure rate among U.S. metro areas. In Palm Beach County, foreclosure filings rose 58 percent year-over-year in February.
    “Florida is still playing catch-up with delayed foreclosures,” Daren Blomquist, a spokesman for RealtyTrac, told the Sentinel. In recent years, banks had delayed foreclosure proceedings due to the so-called “robo-signing” scandal and the anticipated settlement between mortgage servicers and the states. In February, a $26 billion settlement between numerous state attorneys general and the country’s five largest mortgage servicers was reached, and a spate of foreclosures, in Florida and elsewhere, has followed. [Sun Sentinel] –Guelda Voien

    Sunday, March 17, 2013

    Florida Housing Market 'On Fire'

    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®