Saturday, August 16, 2014

5 Mistakes First-Time Home Buyers Make

First-timers can be eager to jump into home ownership. But real estate experts say they see them committing the same mistakes, time and time again. Here are some of the most common ones, as identified by experts in a recent CNBC article:

1. They’re unprepared to compete against all-cash offers. Buyers need to be ready to make a quick decision if they’re housing market is heating up. Buying a home is “really like finding a job – it’s going to take a lot of time to prepare,” says Cara Pierce, a certified housing counselor with ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions. “That way, when the deal comes along, you’re ready to pounce on it.” Housing experts say buyers should have already saved as much as possible for a downpayment, repaired any credit report blemishes, and gotten preapproved for a loan as they start their house hunt to put them in a better position to compete.
2. They place a car ahead of the home. Lenders are going to scrutinize applicants’ debt-to-income ratio when assessing how well they can afford a mortgage payment. Consumers’ debt has gone on average from $40,000 in 2010 to $51,000 today, according to David Norris, president and COO of loanDepot, a non-bank mortgage lender. "It would be much easier to own a home if you can show a history of saving and not have gotten yourself into too much debt," Norris told CNBC.
3. They place too much emphasis on online loan information. Online sites can be good for finding out general information about loan products and estimated costs, but experts recommend visiting with mortgage lenders face-to-face to help demystify some of the process and to take into account your specific situationGo to different places and talk to loan officers to get a feel for what the differences are between similar types of loans," says Pierce. "Sometimes a company won't charge an origination fee, but then the interest rate is higher … and in some cases you can put many of the upfront costs—closing costs, title insurance—into the loan, which makes your balance larger."
4. They bank too much on online home values. Some real estate websites are giving buyers a false sense of home values, the CNBC article notes. "If a buyer believes that the actual value of the property is $1.1 million [as listed online] when it's really $1.3 million, it's a real disservice to the client,” says John Barrentine, co-founder and CEO of RED Real Estate Group. “You really should [spend time] with someone that understands the market, someone who's there day in and day out." Home buyers can get the best feel of the market by working with a real estate agent and driving around neighborhoods and get a sense of things about homes that may be less valuable or even more valuable than perceived online.
5. They forgo the home inspection. About 10 percent of homes recently purchased weren’t inspected by a home inspector, according to Bill Loden, president of the American Society of Home Inspectors. Some buyers were trying to cut down on the costs of hiring an inspector to investigate a home – which usually averages about $450 — but defects uncovered later could potentially result in the loss of thousands of dollars. "It takes a trained eye to be able to see the problems that can exist in a home," Loden said. "The inspection can also give the first-time buyer a bit of a schooling on the house and how to maintain it." Buyers should also be prepared to ask questions about conditions that are common to specific areas, such as radon in Midwest; sewers in California; and active clay soils in Dallas that can lead to foundation issues, the CNBC article notes. The home may require additional inspection from a specialist to rule out potential problems.
Source: “8 Biggest Mistakes First-Time Homebuyers Make,” CNBC (July 17, 2014)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Former Hollywood Fashion Center demolished for Wal-Mart

April 3, 2014
Demolition of the long-vacant Millennium Mall in Hollywood is underway, paving the way for a new Walmart Supercenter slated to open in 2015.

About 80,000 cars travel daily past a growing pile of rubble that holds hope for reviving a desolate section of Hollywood.
The debris used to be the Hollywood Fashion Center, one of Florida's first indoor malls when it opened in 1972 at Hollywood Boulevard and U.S. 441. Most recently, it was The Millennium Hollywood's City Place, an indoor flea market. The property has been vacant for nearly a decade.
Now, Dacar Management, a real estate company based in Dania Beach, is demolishing the landmark mall to make way for a Wal-Mart Supercenter. Wal-Mart, along with TD Bank, Pollo Tropical and Taco Bell, all have agreed to move to the corner partly occupied by a GFS Marketplace.
"For us this is a major redevelopment," said Davon Barbour, director of Hollywood's Department of Community and Economic Development. The vacant mall "has been an eyesore, a plague to the community."

It wasn't always that way.
Hollywood Fashion Center once was a bustling shopping destination and one of the city's largest employers, anchored by retailers such as JCPenney and Burdines. But the mall closed after 21 years when its major tenants packed up to go six miles west to a more attractive, just-built shopping center: Pembroke Lakes Mall.
The flea market was the property's "last hurrah," Barbour said. It closed in 2005 for lack of vendors.
Wal-Mart's arrival heralds a rebirth for an important corridor leading to the heart of Hollywood and the beach, Barbour said. The retailer will bring about 300 jobs and generate an unspecified amount of tax revenue for the city.
Barbour also believes Wal-Mart's presence will bring more businesses.
"It's important to have a global retailer move into our community," Barbour said. "It signals confidence in the marketplace and attracts other national tenants."
The 180,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter and pharmacy will sell groceries, clothes, household items and other general merchandise. Wal-Mart will occupy about half of what will be called "The Place at Hollywood." Other parcels will be built for surrounding stores and restaurants.
Dacar Management bought the property about four years ago for $15.8 million, said Alberto Micha, a firm representative.
"Wal-Mart will bring a lot of life into the area," Micha said, adding that at least 165,000 people live within three miles of the development. "We're sure that this will not only be a good investment but a good service to the community. We'll change the face of that area."
Dacar owns several other retail centers in South Florida, including a shopping center on U.S. 441 across the street from the Wal-Mart site. Micha said Dacar also plans to upgrade that plaza.
Mercedes Ramos, 77, rides the bus for about five minutes to get to a thrift store across the street from the new development. She's happy she will soon have a Wal-Mart nearby as an option. Every now and then, the Hollywood resident takes the bus to a Wal-Mart in Hallandale Beach.
"I hope it lasts," Ramos said of the upcoming shopping center.
The owner of a subs restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard also hopes the new development is successful.
"Look at it now," said Don Drybread, owner of Sub Center, pointing to demolition debris across the street. "It's empty, terrible, ugly. People don't want an area that's depressed. They want an area that's happening.
"Hopefully this will give me exposure, no one wants to be on a block where you are the only business."

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Realtors® Oppose Tax Plan to Limit Mortgage Interest Deduction, Real Estate Provisions

WASHINGTON (February 26, 2014) –
The following is a statement by National Association of Realtors® President Steve Brown:

“NAR supports reforms that promote economic growth, but we strongly oppose severely altering the rules that govern ownership and investment in real estate. Real estate powers almost one-fifth of the U.S. economy, employs more than 17 million Americans, and contributes a quarter of all federal and state tax revenue and as much as 70 percent of local taxes.
“We are extremely disappointed with several of the provisions contained in U.S. House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp’s tax reform draft released today, namely proposed limits on the mortgage interest deduction and capital gains, and the repeal of deductions for state and local property taxes. These proposed changes to the taxation of real estate will impact every single American, either directly or indirectly.
“NAR will carefully analyze the details of the Chairman’s plan so we can best educate Congress and the public about how this plan would impact the owners, consumers, and producers of both residential and commercial real estate.”

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Broward home sales down in January

Median prices, inventory levels rise in county last month              February 21, 2014 10:30AM

In a sign that 2014 could indeed be the year when the resurgent housing market cools off, Broward County posted a decline in residential sales last month.
Single-family home sales dropped 4.3 percent in Broward to 989 in January, the Miami Herald reported, citing figures from Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors. Condo sales fell 4.5 percent to 1,132. The median single-family sale price jumped 16 percent to $260,000, while the median condo price surged 23.8 percent to $117,500.
Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors president Marnie Allen dismissed the sales drop-off as a “minor adjustment that is typical of previous Januarys” after homebuyers scramble to close purchases by the end of a calendar year.
An increase in for-sale inventory could slow down the pricing gains, however. Single-family inventory in Broward rose 18.3 percent in January, while condo inventory jumped 19.6 percent. [Miami Herald] — Eric Kalis

Developer: Margaritaville on time, within budget

Jimmy Buffett-themed resort set to open in July 2015      February 21, 2014 11:15AM                                              
Margaritaville rendering
Margaritaville rendering
The Jimmy Buffett-themed Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort remains on track for a July 2015 opening.
Construction of the $147 million resort on five city-owned acres at Johnson Street and A1A has progressed to the fifth floor, the Sun-Sentinel reported. Developer Lon Tabatchnick said the project is on schedule and within budget following the first six months of construction.
Plans for the 349-room resort include seven restaurants and bars, oceanside pools, a wave ride and 35,000 square feet of convention facilities.
Some neighbors, including the adjacent Beach Market store, have complained about a loss of customers since Margaritaville construction began. The Johnson Street parking garage was closed before the project’s groundbreaking, which eliminated 700 spaces frequently used by Hollywood Beach visitors. [Sun-Sentinel] — Eric Kalis