4 Florida cities tops for seriously underwater homes

IRVINE, Calif. — July 30, 2015 — RealtyTrac released its second quarter (Q2) 2015 U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report, which listed four Florida cities at the top of the list for homes seriously underwater – properties where the homeowners owe at least 25 percent more than the home’s current market worth.

Areas (population greater than 500,000) with the highest percentage of seriously underwater properties included Florida markets such as Lakeland (28.5 percent), Cleveland, Ohio (28.2 percent), Las Vegas (27.9 percent), Akron, Ohio (27.3 percent), Orlando (26.1 percent), Tampa (24.8 percent), Chicago (24.8 percent), Palm Bay(24.4 percent) and Toledo, Ohio (24.3 percent).

In addition, RealtyTrac looked at underwater homes that are also in the foreclosure process.

In the same Florida cities, over half of the homeowners going through foreclosure were seriously underwater:Lakeland (54.8 percent of foreclosures seriously underwater), Tampa (51.7 percent), Palm Bay (51.5 percent) and Orlando (51.2 percent).

Statewide, 23.6 percent Florida of homeowners with a mortgage were seriously underwater in the Q2 2015 – a drop from 23.8 percent in the first quarter and 30.3 percent year-to-year.

On the flipside, RealtyTrac found that 17.6 percent of Florida owners with a mortgage were “equity rich” with at least 50 percent equity. That’s a slight drop for the first quarter’s 17.8 percent but an increase from 15.9 percent year-to-year.

Looking only at homes in foreclosure, 62.8 percent in Florida were seriously underwater, while 18.6 percent, even though going through foreclosure, were equity rich.

“Strong South Florida price increases over the past few years have moved many homeowners from negative to positive equity. We would encourage the remaining distressed homeowners to ask for a Broker Price Opinion (BPO) regarding the value of their property – many may be surprised at their improving value,” says Mike Pappas, CEO and president of Keyes Company in South Florida.

National numbers

Nationwide, 13.3 percent of all properties with a mortgage were seriously underwater in Q2, an increase from 13.2 percent of all homes in the first quarter. However, they dropped from 17.2 percent year-to-year. At the peak of the foreclosure crisis in 2012, the percentage was 28.6 percent.

“Slowing home price appreciation in 2015 has resulted in the share of seriously underwater properties plateauing at about 13 percent of all properties with a mortgage,” says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

“However, the share of homeowners with the double-whammy of seriously underwater properties also in foreclosure is continuing to decrease and is now at the lowest level we’ve seen since we began tracking that metric in the first quarter of 2012,” he adds.

© 2015 Florida Realtors®

Sneak peek: Renderings of the Estates at Acqualina

Amenities will include ice skating rink, bowling, theater and “Wall Street Trader’s Club”

July 30, 2015 03:35PM

– See more at: http://therealdeal.com/miami/blog/2015/07/30/inside-look-renderings-of-the-estates-at-acqualina/#sthash.EswYkf77.dpuf

Developers of the Acqualina Resort & Spa and the Mansions at Acqualina have released new renderings of the Estates at Acqualina, The Real Deal obtained. Estates at Acqualina, a 5.6-acre, 50-story waterfront project at 17901 Collins Avenue, will include 264 units, starting at $3.9 million up to $40 million. An amenities villa will include an ice skating rink, bowling, a movie theater, a children’s game room, a computer and electronics room, and a “Wall Street Trader’s Club” with a ticker tape. Outside, the project will feature a sculpture garden, walking trails, and six pools —  with a FlowRider for surfing, bocce court, dog park, soccer field and basketball court. Construction will begin next year, with completion expected in 2019. GSF Acquisition, an affiliate of Eddie, Jules and Stephanie Trump, is the owner and developer of the project. The Trumps (with no relation to Donald) also developed Williams Island in Aventura and Luxuria Residences in Boca Raton. — Katherine Kallergis – See more at: http://therealdeal.com/miami/blog/2015/07/30/inside-look-renderings-of-the-estates-at-acqualina/#sthash.EswYkf77.dpufAqualina No. 1Aqualina No. 3 Aqualina No. 2

Foreclosures moving quickly through the courts

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – July 30, 2015 – Question: I have been unable to make my mortgage payments for the last four months. I figured I had more time before I had to worry about the lender coming after me. But to my great surprise, I was just served with a foreclosure lawsuit. This was much faster than I expected. Should I be concerned? – Chester

Answer: Yes. You need to take this lawsuit seriously if you want to save your home. A lot has changed in the way the courts have been dealing with foreclosure lawsuits over the past year.

Previously, lenders and the courts were inundated with cases, which resulted in foreclosures dragging on for years. But as time went on, the backlog diminished. Now cases often are measured in months, not years.

In Florida, the state had extra money to set up special foreclosure divisions in which additional staff and senior judges were hired to hear cases. But now the funding has been cut because the foreclosure crisis is winding down.

Lenders, while still working with borrowers, seem to be more particular about offering loan modifications. These changes mean that borrowers who can’t pay need to start trying to work things out with the lender as soon as the problem occurs. People who are served with a lawsuit need to immediately find an attorney who can mount a defense and try to get the lender to work things out.

Simply put, there is no more time to waste.

About the writer: Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He is the chairperson of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is an adjunct professor for the Nova Southeastern University Paralegal Studies program.

The information and materials in this column are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed. Nothing in this column is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

Copyright © 2015 Sun Sentinel, Gary M. Singer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

4 Fla. cities tops for seriously underwater homes

IRVINE, Calif. — July 30, 2015 — RealtyTrac released its second quarter (Q2) 2015 U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report, which listed four Florida cities at the top of the list for homes seriously underwater – properties where the homeowners owe at least 25 percent more than the home’s current market worth.

Areas (population greater than 500,000) with the highest percentage of seriously underwater properties included Florida markets such as Lakeland (28.5 percent), Cleveland, Ohio (28.2 percent), Las Vegas (27.9 percent), Akron, Ohio (27.3 percent), Orlando (26.1 percent), Tampa (24.8 percent), Chicago (24.8 percent), Palm Bay(24.4 percent) and Toledo, Ohio (24.3 percent).

In addition, RealtyTrac looked at underwater homes that are also in the foreclosure process.

In the same Florida cities, over half of the homeowners going through foreclosure were seriously underwater:Lakeland (54.8 percent of foreclosures seriously underwater), Tampa (51.7 percent), Palm Bay (51.5 percent) and Orlando (51.2 percent).

Statewide, 23.6 percent Florida of homeowners with a mortgage were seriously underwater in the Q2 2015 – a drop from 23.8 percent in the first quarter and 30.3 percent year-to-year.

On the flipside, RealtyTrac found that 17.6 percent of Florida owners with a mortgage were “equity rich” with at least 50 percent equity. That’s a slight drop for the first quarter’s 17.8 percent but an increase from 15.9 percent year-to-year.

Looking only at homes in foreclosure, 62.8 percent in Florida were seriously underwater, while 18.6 percent, even though going through foreclosure, were equity rich.

“Strong South Florida price increases over the past few years have moved many homeowners from negative to positive equity. We would encourage the remaining distressed homeowners to ask for a Broker Price Opinion (BPO) regarding the value of their property – many may be surprised at their improving value,” says Mike Pappas, CEO and president of Keyes Company in South Florida.

National numbers

Nationwide, 13.3 percent of all properties with a mortgage were seriously underwater in Q2, an increase from 13.2 percent of all homes in the first quarter. However, they dropped from 17.2 percent year-to-year. At the peak of the foreclosure crisis in 2012, the percentage was 28.6 percent.

“Slowing home price appreciation in 2015 has resulted in the share of seriously underwater properties plateauing at about 13 percent of all properties with a mortgage,” says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

“However, the share of homeowners with the double-whammy of seriously underwater properties also in foreclosure is continuing to decrease and is now at the lowest level we’ve seen since we began tracking that metric in the first quarter of 2012,” he adds.

© 2015 Florida Realtors®

No-money-down green upgrades paid via property taxes

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – July 23, 2015 – Under the Florida Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, homeowners can pay for energy-efficient upgrades with no money down and relatively low interest rates, currently 6.5 to 7.5 percent. Homeowners then pay off the loan in installments as part of their personal property tax bill.

The Florida Legislature created the program in 2010 to help owners make the move to energy efficient products, such as solar energy, windows, doors, air-conditioning units or wind mitigation improvements, such as new roofs. The product must be attached to the house, so appliances don’t qualify.

To date, 13 counties have signed onto the program along with a number of cities.

In general, an energy-efficient upgrade can be paid off over its expected life, but the owner could opt for a shorter timeframe if preferred.

Since the loan is paid through a homeowner’s property tax bill, any remaining payments for the energy upgrade can be passed off to the next homebuyer, though a seller has the option to pay it off at the time of sale. Under the Florida PACE law, a seller must disclose the existence of any remaining debt, though a record of it will also appear in county tax records.

The program works for both residential homeowners and commercial projects, but some of the details, such as interest rates, vary.

“The program comes at no cost to local governments,” says Jonathan Schaefer, program manager for the Florida PACE Funding Agency. He says it can be adopted by either county or city governments.

While authorized by the Florida Legislature, the PACE program doesn’t rely on tax money. It’s funded and operated privately by agencies, such as the Orlando-based Florida PACE Funding Agency.

Florida PACE Funding Agency Contractor Kirk Francis told The Orlando Sentinel that he sees one big benefit to the program: “A lot of folks don’t have the money laying around to make these (energy upgrades). If it’s secured by the property, even people who don’t have strong credit can possibly qualify.”

For more information or see if a Florida county or city participates in the program, visit the consumer-facing PACE website.

Information for local governments about the program can be found at the Florida PACE Funding Agency website.

© 2015 Florida Realtors®

Why isn’t the condo market rebounding?

NEW YORK – July 23, 2015 – While construction of single-family homes and multifamily rentals is on the rebound, condo construction sunk to new lows. Any rebound in the condo construction market has been delayed by stringent rules on condo mortgages that took effect post-housing crisis, and stronger demand among young people for rentals.

Condo construction in the first quarter comprised only 5.5 percent of all construction of multifamily housing – the lowest ratio since the Commerce Department began tracking the data in 1974. Historically, condo construction falls at a 24 percent average.

Condos traditionally offer higher returns for investors than apartments.

“Many developers would rather be building condominiums,” says Peter Bazeli, senior vice president at New York-based real estate consulting firm Weitzman Group. “With condos, you’re paying down debt with every closing and then putting money in your pocket right away.”

But many factors hamper the condo market’s recovery. For one, economists say young adults have been flocking to rentals instead, and condos typically cater to entry-level buyers. Also, construction loans limit the supply of condos built. Developers say they can get a construction loan for about 75 percent of the cost of building an apartment complex, but only about 50 percent for a condo complex because lenders deem it a higher risk.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) tightened its lending standards from 2008 to 2012, which has made condo funding even tougher, too. In order for the FHA to insure mortgages in a condo complex, at least half the units must be owner-occupied, and no more than half can be FHA-insured. For condo projects under development, at least 30 percent of units must be under contract for sale before the FHA will start backing mortgages.

Economists say those factors have kept the condo market sluggish and still far from recovery. The median condo resale price in May was $216,400, about $15,400 less than its pre-crisis peak in June 2005. On the other hand, the median resale price for single-family homes in May was $230,300 – only $600 less than its pre-crisis peak in July 2006.

But some developers see glimmers of a condo rebound forming.

“Rising apartment rents provide renters more reason to buy instead of renting,” the Journal reports. “Job growth is improving for young would-be buyers. And real estate lobbyists say they are making inroads in Washington to build support for easing the FHA restrictions on condo mortgages.”

Source: “Condos Left Behind in Housing Rebound,” The Wall Street Journal (July 21, 2015)

Flagler Village – Related Group sells downtown Fort Lauderdale apartment complex for $149MJul 16, 2015, 1:24pm EDT

The Related Group’s expansion into the luxury apartment market paid off big as it sold the Manor at Flagler Village in Fort Lauderdale for $148.89 million.RD Flagler Village, an affiliate of the Miami-based developer best known for its condo projects, sold the 382-unit complex at 501 N. Federal Highway to T-C The Manor at Flagler Village, an affiliate of TIAA-CREF. That equates to $389,764 a unit for the property, built in 2014.

With units ranging from one to three bedrooms, the Manor at Flagler Village totals 734,444 square feet on 5.3 acres. Amenities include a pool, summer kitchen, club room, fitness center and private dog park.

It’s part of the recent apartment boom in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Related Group also built New River Yacht Club, and will build a second phase of that project. Icon Las Olas is currently under construction.

TIAA-CREF is big on Broward rentals, as it paid $52.1 million in October for the Veranda Apartments in Plantation.

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Are bidding wars here to stay?

WASHINGTON – March 12, 2015 – The housing bubble was known for bidding wars as buyers with a limited number of for-sale homes sent prices soaring over list prices.

Even though the housing meltdown is in the rearview mirror, however, bidding wars have not returned to pre-recession levels. They haven’t disappeared in some markets – and they aren’t likely to go away anytime soon, new research suggests.

Before the housing bubble, about 3 to 4 percent of U.S. homes sold through a bidding war, according to new research published in the journal Real Estate Economics. In the study, researchers evaluated National Association of Realtors® data dating back to the 1980s.

During the peak of the housing bubble, they found, nearly 30 percent of homes in metro Washington, D.C. sold via bidding wars – the highest share of any other metro analyzed. In Los Angeles, 26 percent of homes sold via bidding wars during this time; 23 percent in Las Vegas; and 22 percent in Baltimore and Norfolk, according to the study.

Since the housing crisis, the percentages have dropped considerably, but they remain elevated, according to the analysis.

“The persistence of this suggests that people have decided that this is a good way to think about selling these kinds of goods, selling houses in a more auction-like way,” says William Strange, an economist at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, and a co-author of the study.

Today’s bidding wars don’t take place in only areas with limited inventories of for-sale homes, researchers note. They suggest that real estate professionals may be strategically listing homes below their value to spur bidding wars.

“With the rise of bidding wars, we shouldn’t think that the housing market – like other markets – is just going to keep doing things in the old traditional ways forever and ever,” Strange told The Washington Post. “There are going to be changes.”

Source: “A Legacy of the Housing Bubble That Won’t Go Away: Bidding Wars,” The Washington Post (March 10, 2015)

© Copyright 2015 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

Consumers say getting a mortgage is easy

McLEAN, Va. – March 12, 2015 – Fifty-four percent of Americans say that they believe getting a mortgage is easy – a record high number for Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey, which is a monthly poll of about 1,000 Americans’ attitudes toward the housing market.

The February 2015 survey cites a strengthening employment sector and consumers’ growing economic confidence as key to their improved attitudes about the housing market.

“Continuing improvements in consumer attitudes in this month’s National Housing Survey lend support to our expectation that 2015 will be a year of the economy dragging housing upward,” says Doug Duncan, chief economist at Fannie Mae. “The share of consumers who think the economy is on the right track rose to a record high since the inception of the survey nearly five years ago, and for the first time exceeded the share who believe it’s on the wrong track.”

Duncan says consumer confidence is getting a big boost from employment growth, which also leads to increasing optimism over the ease of getting a mortgage.

“We continue to see strength in attitudes about the current home buying and selling environment and consistently high shares of consumers saying they expect to buy a home on their next move,” Duncan notes. “At the same time, we still need to see further growth in consumer optimism toward personal finances and income for more robust improvement in housing market attitudes.”

Additional findings from February’s survey

The average 12-month home price change expectation remained at 2.5 percent.
The share of respondents that says home prices will go up in the next 12 months declined to 46 percent, while the share that says home prices will go down dropped to 6 percent.
The share of respondents surveyed that say mortgage rates will rise in the next 12 months returned to 48 percent.
The number of those surveyed that say it’s a good time to buy a home remained at 67 percent in February; the number that say it’s a good time to sell fell by 4 percentage points to 40 percent.
The percentage of respondents that expect their personal financial situation to improve over the next 12 months dropped to 46 percent.
The percentage that says their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago dropped 5 percentage points to 24 percent.
Source: “Consumer Optimism Toward the Economy Reaches New All-Time Survey High,” Fannie Mae (March 9, 2015)

© Copyright 2015 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688