South Florida housing prices have hit bottom, Zillow analysts declare…..

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

There are three little words South Floridians have longed to hear since the housing slide began: “We’ve hit bottom.”

Analysts at the online real estate database Zillow are declaring just that for Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties in a report to be released today that shows tri-county home prices bottomed out in the latter part of 2011.

Although the first quarter Zillow Home Value Index was down 2.3 percent in Palm Beach County on a year-over-year measure to $140,600, small increases in monthly and quarterly measures were enough for senior Zillow economist Svenja Gudell to predict an end to free-falling prices.

“The last two years we’ve seen the rate of decline slow and now we’re seeing this uptick for the first time, where instead of sloping down, the curve is sloping up,” Gudell said.

Of the 30 largest metropolitan areas measured by the Seattle-based Zillow, 14 were declared to have hit bottom either at the end of 2011 or between January and March of this year, including Orlando and Tampa.

The optimism was echoed by Florida International University real estate economist Ken Johnson, who began predicting a bottom in November when prices hit 2002 levels.

“It just makes really strong financial sense to buy right now,” Johnson said. “We can’t go down anymore.”

Zillow’s index considers the value of all homes, not just those that sold during the measurement period, and South Florida Realtors are often skeptical of the company’s South Florida data. Zillow’s website states that as of February, its estimates were within 5 percent of the actual sales price of a South Florida home just 27 percent of the time. About 49 percent of the time the estimates were within 10 percent of the price.

Zillow estimates the national home value during the first quarter of 2012 was $146,200, a 3 percent decrease from the same time in 2011, and predicts the country as a whole won’t hit bottom until the end of the year.

That’s more in line with some other reports released this week that offered mixed signals on the state of the housing market.

Nationwide, new home sales in March fell from the previous month, according to a U.S. Department of Commerce report released Tuesday, while the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index was down 3.5 percent in February from the same time in 2011.

South Florida, however, was a bright spot in Case-Shiller, showing a 0.6 percent bump up from January and a 0.8 percent increase from February 2011.

Gudell said investors are driving South Florida’s price increases, which Zillow estimates will climb 5.6 percent in the next year.

Still, there are 373,550 foreclosure cases backlogged in Florida’s courts that could depress prices once they hit the market. Johnson said he’s less concerned about the so-called shadow inventory because people are finding creative ways to dispose of current foreclosures, such as with bulk sales.

“They may hinder the speed of the bounce-back, but I don’t see prices coming down anymore,” Johnson said. “My hopes and intuition tell me it will be a slow but steady recovery.”

Broward condo prices rise 7.1 percent

April 23, 2012 09:45AM

Broward County condominium sales prices rose for the 14th time in 15 months in March, up 7.1 percent over the same month in 2011, according to a report from the Miami Association of Realtors. The median sales price for condos in March increased to $75,100, while the median sales price of single-family homes jumped 8 percent. “The Broward County real estate market continues to experience positive trends, as sales remain at strong levels, prices rise and inventory sharply declines,” said Rick Burch, 2012 president of the Broward County Board of Governors of the Miami Association of Realtors. “The resurgence of the local real estate market benefits the economy, the business community and residents at large.” — Alexander Britell

Feds: Mortgage fraud increased in 2011

VIENNA, Va. – The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) – a task force created by President Obama that includes 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and others – released its full 2011 update of mortgage loan fraud.

According to FinCEN, banks and lenders submitted 92,028 “mortgage loan fraud suspicious activity reports” last year, a 31 percent increase over the 70,472 submitted in 2010.

Florida ranked third in states for mortgage fraud per capita; California and Hawaii took the top two spots. On a county-by-county analysis, California took four of the top five spots. Only South Florida’s Broward County made the list, coming in at No. 4.

While the number of suspicious activity reports has risen, FinCEN suggests that an increase in fraud reports may not equal an increase in fraud – lenders might just be getting better at spotting potential problems.

“The FinCEN report shows we’re seeing financial institutions spotting activity that appears to be fraud before it happens and, in the process, helping to prevent it,” says FinCEN Director James H. Freis, Jr.

Many reports also relate to problems that occurred earlier. In 2011, for example, 84 percent of the fraud events occurred more than two years prior to filing compared to 77 percent in 2010.

Fort Lauderdale Fresh Market sells for $6.8M

April 25, 2012 12:45PM

The Fresh Market in Fort Lauderdale has been sold for $6.82 million, according to Marcus & Millichap, which represented the seller, a developer, in the transaction. The sale of the 19,1760-square-foot property represented an average price of $356 per square foot. “This newly-developed, state-of-the-art facility is located in an affluent area of South Florida,” said Lior Regenstreif, a vice president investments and senior director at Marcus & Millichap’s Net Leased Properties Group. The property has a new tenant on a recently- signed 15-year lease. The building is located at 400 North Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale on a 1.4-acre lot. — Alexander Britell

Broward sales prices jump 9 percent

The median sales price in Broward County rose to $190,600 in March, a 9 percent jump compared to the same month in 2011, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported. That followed another strong month for Miami sales prices in March. The volume of sales in Broward County also saw a slight increase, rising 1 percent to 1,179 from 1,168 last month. [Sun Sentinel]

Taxes Are Due!

Happy  Monday!  Image

Lenders seize 10,000 South Florida residential properties in first quarter: report

April 13, 2012 10:30AM

Lenders seized over 10,000 residential properties in the first quarter of 2012 in South Florida, according to a report from Condo Vultures. “More than 165,000 properties in South Florida have changed ownership forcibly in South Florida since the first year of the real estate crash in 2007,” said Peter Zalewski, a principal with brokerage and consultancy Condo Vultures. “We expect this total to grow in future quarters as more than 300,000 notices of default have been filed against South Florida properties to date. The unanswered question is when are the lenders going to put the bank repossession on the resale market for purchase.” — Alexander Britell


Miami foreclosures up 63 percent in first quarter

April 12, 2012 01:00PM
By Alexander Britell

There were a total of 25,883 properties in South Florida with a foreclosure filing in the first quarter of 2012, a 37 percent increase compared to the same period in 2011, according to a first-quarter report from RealtyTrac. Miami-Dade County, which led the region with 11,889 properties with foreclosure filings in the first three months of 2012, showed a 63 percent increase compared to first-quarter 2011.

“Foreclosures are rebounding from the artificial lows that we were seeing last year because of the robo-signing and other delays in processing,” said Daren Blomquist, a spokesperson for RealtyTrac. “There’s definitely a shift, and a turn in the direction of the foreclosure trends in [South Florida].”

The first quarter of 2012 came on the heels of five straight quarters during which the foreclosure numbers were decreasing on an annual basis, Blomquist said.

Palm Beach County saw a total of 6,007 foreclosure filings in the first quarter, a 27 percent increase from 2011, while Broward had a total of 7,987 properties with foreclosure filings in the period, a 16 percent increase over the first quarter of 2011, according to the report, which looks at properties at all stages of the foreclosure process.

Florida had a total of 73,344 properties with foreclosure filings in the first three months of 2012, the second-highest total of any state in the nation after California. Nationally, the first quarter total was the lowest since the fourth quarter of 2012, another residual effect of the foreclosure freeze from 2010.

Florida, and South Florida in particular, will continue to see increases, Blomquist said, and could see more filings in 2012 than in 2011.

“Even though that may be somewhat painful for the market this year, it is actually good to see those delayed foreclosures finally being pursued,” he said. “They were just sitting in limbo and were creating more uncertainty in the market.”

Flagler Village – Lofts – Recent Sales…… 2012

Avenue Lofts:

445 N. Andrews Avenue, Unit 404    2 bedrooms/2 bathrooms   Sq. Ft. 2172    Sold $300,000    (01/04/2012)

434 NW 1 Avenue, Unit 404             2 beedrooms/2 bathrooms  Sq. Ft. 2227   Sold $274,000  (01/25/2012)

435 N. Andrews Avenue, Unit 306   1bedroom/1 bathroom         Sq. Ft. 1000   Sold $143,000 (2/10/2012)

444 NW 1 Avenue, Unit 302             2 bedroom/2 bathrooms      Sq. Ft. 1600   Sold $225,000 (03/05/2012)

425 N. Andrews Avenue, Unit 203   1 bedroom/1 bathroom       Sq. Ft. 1061    Sold $130,000 (3/30/2012)

444 NW 1 Avenue, Unit 402             2 bedrooms/2 bathrooms   Sq. Ft. 1609    Sold $276,450  (03/30/2012)

The Mills

410 NW 1 Avenue, Unit 704              2 bedrooms/2 bathrooms   Sq. Ft. 1658   Sold $490,000  (03/05/2012)

410 NW 1 Avenue, Unit 303              1 bedroom/1 bathroom       Sq. Ft. 1065   Sold $150,000  (03/09/2012)


Bank of America invites 19,000 distressed homeowners to Miami Beach for help

South Florida Business Journal by Brian Bandell, Senior Reporter
Date: Wednesday, April 11, 2012, 12:55pm EDT

Brian BandellSenior Reporter – South Florida Business Journal

Bank of American has invited more than 19,000 homeowners in South Florida with late payments to the Miami Beach Convention Center to help them work out their mortgages.

The bank (NYSE: BAC) reserved 140 rooms for the event, taking place Thursday through Saturday. Jessica Garcia, a VP in national mortgage outreach for Bank of America , said it is bringing 50 customer specialists and 30 underwriters to work with homeowners. Most of them have loans that Bank of America is servicing for investors.

Bank of America has about 1 million mortgages under servicing in Florida, and about 22 percent of them are delinquent, she said.

Garcia said any customer who is 60 days or more late on their mortgage payment is encouraged to attend, but they should call ahead (855-201-7426) and have their financial records ready to present. That includes pay stubs, tax returns and bank statements.

Bank of America has many different ways to help homeowners, depending on their financial capabilities and what the investor in their loan will allow, Garcia said. The solutions could include a 90-day forbearance, adding missed payments to the end of the mortgage term or reducing the interest rate, she said. Generally, the goal is to make the mortgage payment no more than 31 percent of the borrower’s monthly income, she said.

“If we can do a loan modification and the customer wants to remain in the home, and they want to be with us a few hours, then we can do it right there,” Garcia said.

Bank of America also has sped up the process to approve short sales, Garcia said.

Florida Realtors issued a press release on Tuesday praising Bank of America’s decision to reduce its short sales approval process to 20 days.