FHA revises its home retention program

WASHINGTON – Nov. 26, 2012 – The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced changes to its loss mitigation program, which helps homeowners avoid foreclosure.

FHA revised some of the qualifications and rules in its Loss Mitigation Home Retention Options, which allows some owners to qualify even if they didn’t a week ago. FHA says it’s also boosting its level of assistance for at-risk owners.

FHA says the change will also help the administration. By avoiding full-blown foreclosures, FHA’s Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund won’t have to make up a complete loss. That would keep FHA more solvent and avoid, possibly, a federal bailout for the first time in FHA’s history.

“Not only are we taking steps to make sure more borrowers can benefit from FHA loss mitigation assistance, but we’re also targeting our assistance to provide more sustainable payments for borrowers … over the long term,” says Acting FHA Commissioner Carol Galante. “At the same time, these efforts will reduce losses to FHA from foreclosures, benefiting our insurance fund.”

The entire list of changes can be found in FHA’s Mortgagee Letter 2012 – 22.

FHA lender/servicers have no longer than 90 days after issuance of this Mortgagee Letter to begin assessing delinquent borrowers under these new guidelines.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

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Mortgages in 5 states, including Fla., to have higher fees

WASHINGTON – Nov. 28, 2012 – New mortgage borrowers in five U.S. states, including Florida, would pay higher fees for a loan than those in other states in a move opposed by Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Florida Realtors and the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – now under the Federal Housing Finance Authority (FHFA) – have traditionally charged guarantee fees (g-fees) to single-family home borrowers. The fees generally cover credit risks, and they vary based on the type of loan and a specific borrower’s credit risk.

For the first time, however, FHFA plans to increase guarantee fees in only five states – including Florida. According to FHFA, foreclosures cost Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac more in Florida, and to offset that higher cost, they’ll charge new borrowers more for a mortgage. FHFA points to Florida’s longer foreclosure timeline – an average of 660 days – and its court foreclosure system as the cause.

“It’s simple: Florida’s foreclosure process protects homeowners,” says 2012 Florida Realtors President Summer Greene. “However, FHFA seems to think it’s a trade-off. If we want to protect homeowners, we should pay for it – and under this rule, first-time buyers and families would pay for it in the form of higher fees on every Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage.”

Earlier this week, Atwater wrote a letter to FHFA asking them to withdraw the proposed rule, which would take effect sometime in 2013. He made the following points:

• The guarantee-fee standard isn’t fair. Twenty-six states have “carrying costs” above the national median.

• The suggested 20 basis points guarantee fee increase for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s single-family Florida mortgages would raise the lifetime mortgage cost by potentially thousands of dollars.

• Guarantee fees have already been raised substantially in recent months; on average, guarantee fees increased from 26 basis points nationally in 2010 to 28 basis points in 2011, with another average hike of 10 basis points ordered this year.

• Floridians, along with all U.S. taxpayers, spent nearly $190 billion bailing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It’s “unconscionable to think that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac want to take more of taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars through higher fees before resolving more fundamental problems,” Atwater says.

• Currently, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac service about 1.9 million single-family loans in Florida. Higher guarantee fees would weaken demand and reduce their value when it’s time to sell.

“It is my expectation that the FHFA will address the concerns I have raised and reconsider its short-sighted and financially burdensome proposal in favor of a more comprehensive solution to its financial situation,” Atwater concluded.

A description of the guarantee fee changes impacting Florida is included in the Sept. 25, 2012, Federal Register. A copy is posted online.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Pocket listings’ become growing concern

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Nov. 28, 2012 – Off-market listings – also referred to as “pocket listings” – hurt the housing market by depriving homebuyers of a full perspective of what’s actually for sale, some real estate agents say. They argue that homes not listed on the MLS can’t be used as comparable properties for appraisals, other sales or mortgage refinancing. That leaves a skewed picture of the housing market.

A growth in homes unlisted on the MLS in Northeast Ohio is prompting real estate leaders there to speak out, concerned it’s a growing trend. The MLS is a way to share property information and compensation between real estate companies but “pocket listings” are a way for some agents to “keep a bigger piece of the pie” for themselves, says Jeff Russell of Russell Real Estate Services in North Ridgeville, Ohio.

“We see this as a tremendous disservice to our clients,” Russell says. “In my opinion, it’s limiting the exposure of listings to the market … While it might be good for the broker, it’s not good for the consumer.”

“Pocket listings” are only permitted if the seller agrees to it. If so, agents can withhold the listing from the MLS and just reserve promoting the home among close associates, on the company’s web site, or through word of mouth. Some agents may be tempted to keep the listing internal because they then may be able to keep nearly every aspect of the sale internal and collect full commission, critics say.

Russell and John Lynch of Keller Williams Realty Greater Cleveland West are board members for the Northern Ohio Regional Multiple Listing Service and they say the organization is discussing “pocket listings” and whether rules need to change to reduce the number of off-market real estate deals.

“You can’t put a gun to somebody’s head to make them put their listing in the MLS,” Barbara Kohl, executive vice president of the West Penn Multi-List, a listing service covering Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania, told The Cleveland Plain Dealer. “You have a right as a homeowner. But what we want to make sure of is that the agent is really acquiescing to the homeowner’s wishes.”

Source: “Some Realtors Say Hidden Home Listings Are Hurting Cleveland-area Sellers, Buyers,” The Cleveland Plain Dealer (Nov. 24, 2012)

© Copyright 2012 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

Foreign capital driving growth in Miami multi-family sector

Foreign capital, particularly from Latin America, is driving growth in multi-family acquisitions in Miami, according to a fourth-quarter apartment sector report from Marcus & Millichap.While the local economy’s growth remains middling, “expanding access to acquisition debt at low interest rates and rising rents are sustaining investor demand,” according to the report. Properties in areas like Miami Beach are changing hands at first-year returns of less than 5 percent, while those in Coral Gables are trading in the low-6 percent range. “Miami-Dade also continues to cement its stature as a safe haven for Latin American and European capital, and many foreign buyers are stepping up multi-family acquisitions, frequently in all-cash deals,” the report said. Apartment vacancy is projected to drop by 70 basis points in Miami this year to 4 percent. — Alexander Britell

Flagler Village – Civic Association New Board for 2012 – 2013

November 14, 2012

A new year is here and our new Board is as follows:

Matthew Pici – President

Dave Shalkop – Vice President

Yvonne Sanandres – Secretary

Chad Scott Treasurer

We have exciting projects for the new year…. Some of our goals for the new year include taking on projects that will improve the quality of living in Flagler Village, attract residents to our community, promote business growth, increase membership amongst residents and businesses, and tap into local and federal funding that will help us improve our community…

I encourage anyone interested (residents or business owners) to join our monthly meetings, which take place every 3rd Wednesday of every month @ 6:30pm at Fellowship Hall of the First Lutheran Church in the corner of NE 3rd Ave & 5th Street..

Membership is as follows: $25.00 for Residents and $50.00 for Businesses.

Flagler Village Civic Association: http://flaglervillage.org

Flagler Village – Las Olas Riverfront confirms All Aboard discussions

South Florida Business Journal by Oscar Pedro Musibay, Reporter
Date: Monday, November 12, 2012, 12:02pm EST – Last Modified: Monday, November 12, 2012, 12:05pm EST

Oscar Pedro Musibay
Reporter- South Florida Business Journal

An executive connected with the owners of Las Olas Riverfront confirmed his group has had talks with All Aboard Florida about locating a station at the site.
“We have had numerous discussions with them. They are committing the resources to make it a reality,” said Dev Motwani, about the overall All Aboard Florida plan. Motwani is president and CFO of Merrimac Ventures, one of a group of investors who purchased the center for $16.7 million.
A spokeswoman for All Aboard was not immediately available for comment.
All Aboard Florida, a subsidiary of Flagler parent Florida East Coast Industries, is looking at Las Olas Riverfront and another site on Northwest Second Street for its downtown Fort Lauderdale station, an environmental impact study says.
Motwani would not characterize the possible relationship between the parties, which could include everything from a joint venture to an outright sale of part of the property. All Aboard Florida has already staked out some ground in West Palm Beach, placing a contract on land that could be home to a station.
As for downtown Fort Lauderdale, the Riverfront location is the most logical because All Aboard Florida is interested in developing and leveraging commercial development at and around the station. It’s also in the heart of the central business district, offering a unique opportunity to spur more investment.
The landlord has been in the process of renovating the shopping center adding tenants, but otherwise keeping the property as is. At one point, the prior owner had considered knocking down the entire center and replacing it with high-rise condo development, but that scenario seems to be out of line with the current market, according to real estate experts.
As the real estate recovery continues, there is new interest in development in and around the downtown including a new courthouse, which is under construction. Additionally, the city is planning the Wave street car, which could integrate the shopping center with the local transit network.
On the south side of the river, Asi Cymbal is interested in developing more than 1,000 rental apartments where The Pirate Republic Seafood Grill & Bar are located today.
Motwani said that his site makes the most sense, but even if All Aboard were to choose to locate the station to the north, the shops would still benefit because of its proximity, being only two blocks away.
He likened the potential of the linkage between the rail and his property to Time Warner Center and the Shops at Columbus Circle in New York City.
“There is definitely room for additional density,” said Motwani, about the neighborhood around the Riverfront shopping center. “It’s really a function of All Aboard’s needs.”

http://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/news/2012/11/12/las-olas-riverfront-may-top-list-for.html?page=all

Flagler Village – Fort Lauderdale may benefit from FECI’s All Aboard initiative

The future of transportation
Premium content from South Florida Business Journal by Kevin Gale, Editor in Chief
Date: Friday, September 14, 2012, 6:00am EDT

Kevin Gale
Editor in Chief- South Florida Business Journal

All Aboard Florida could offer an opportunity to resurrect a creative plan for a gateway to downtown Fort Lauderdale.
The question is whether businesses and government leaders will find the creativity and financing to make it happen.
Planning could hinge on whether Florida East Coast Industries’ high-speed passenger service from Miami to Orlando will have a modest station in Fort Lauderdale, or be part of bigger plans that have been dormant. In Miami, FECI is planning a 9-acre, mixed-use concept with a station near the Stephen P. Clark Government Center.
In 2004, Miami-based Zyscovich Architects unveiled detailed concepts for redevelopment of downtown Fort Lauderdale near Broward Boulevard. The plan was visionary because it anticipated an intermodal hub with passenger rail returning to FECI’s Florida East Coast Railway and a trolley system.
Twelve years later, FECI officials are confident in their ability to make All Aboard happen, the 2.7-mile Wave trolley service has received an $18 million federal grant and the South Florida Regional Transit Authority wants to add commuter service to the All Aboard route along the FEC Railway.
Zyscovich offered three scopes for potential projects, with the most ambitious involving up to nine buildings at a cost of $826 million and including new government buildings, more green space, a central transit hub, condos, apartments, offices and retail. A landscaped elliptical median would transform Broward Boulevard just east of the railroad tracks into a dramatic gateway.
“The city and county wanted, at the time, to generate some facilities that were better suited to their efficiencies,” President and Managing Partner Bernard Zyscovich said.
The governmental center was formerly a Burdines, and City Hall is relatively small for a city of Fort Lauderdale’s size.
The other part of the plan was to create a more signature entry to downtown.
“There is no sense of arrival,” Zyscovich said.
On Broward Boulevard, visitors are currently greeted by an open-air bus terminal on the north side and the county’s parking garage on the south side.
Zyscovich’s plans withered away in 2004 amid anti-development sentiment, but there’s a better argument for development now that the transit infrastructure is poised to happen.
Even a modest intermodal hub near Broward Boulevard would mean a short walk to downtown office buildings and the arts and entertainment district along Southwest Second Street.
Fort Lauderdale’s transportation and mobility department is leading an inter-governmental agency partnership about developing Broward Boulevard as a gateway, said Matt Little, the city’s public information officer.
All Aboard hasn’t proposed a specific site, he said, but the city is ready to coordinate with other governmental agencies. The city is also looking at using some of its property to house a maintenance and storage facility for the Wave streetcars.
All Aboard officials are aware of his past study, but haven’t been taken through it in detail, Zyscovich said. “I think we are quickly getting to that.”
Kevin Gale is editor in chief of the South Florida Business Journal

http://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/print-edition/2012/09/14/fort-lauderdale-may-benefit-from.html

Flagler Village – How All Aboard station site could hurt public safety

South Florida Business Journal by Kevin Gale, Editor in Chief
Date: Monday, November 12, 2012, 10:05am EST – Last Modified: Monday, November 12, 2012, 10:37am EST

All Aboard Florida is proposing two locations in Fort Lauderdale for a station: One is arguably the best spot and the other could impact public safety.
The north option, outlined in an environmental impact study, would close Northwest Second Street, which the study notes is a local street, rather than a state of federal thoroughfare. The problem I see is the city’s main fire station is just west of the site on Second Street and would be blocked from direct access to the city’s downtown, which is to the east. (My father is a retired fire chief, so I tend to notice these types of things.)
Instead, emergency vehicles would have to circle up to Northwest Fourth Street or go down to Broward Boulevard, which is a nightmare during rush hours and backs up anytime a train comes through. There would, of course, be a lot more trains coming through the crossing once All Aboard becomes operational.
Integrating the station with Las Olas Riverfront makes a lot more sense if the goal is to have the stop close to the heart of the central business district and cultural attractions. Moreover, the study says one goal of the station is to revitalize the area south of the New River. Putting the station on the north shore seems logically better positioned to do that than putting it several blocks further north.
The northern end of the Riverfront station platform would be near Broward Boulevard, so there still might be a way to closely link the service to Broward Country Transit’s Central Terminal. Some of the maps of The Wave streetcar system also show it stopping at Las Olas Riverfront.
Another advantage of the Riverfront plan is that there would be one central platform, avoiding any confusion about which side of the tracks passengers should be on.

http://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/blog/2012/11/how-all-aboard-station-site-could-hurt.html?ana=e_du_wknd&s=article_du&ed=2012-11-17

Quote of the Day…….

You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.”
– Ayn Rand

Avenue, The Mill, and Foundry Lofts Recent Sales – Flagler Village

Recent Sales as of November 16, 2012

2 bedrooms / 2 bathrooms

Avenue Lofts – 2 bedrooms / 2 bathrooms – 425 N. Andrews Avenue, Unit 302 – CS 10/26/12 $285,000 (1,488 sq.ft)
Avenue Lofts2 bedrooms / 2 bathrooms – 444 NW 1st Avenue, Unit 604 – CS 08/15/2012 $505,000 (2,348 sq.ft)
Mill Lofts– 2 bedrooms / 2 bathrooms – 411 NW 1st Avenue, Unit 701 – CS 06/15/2012 $415,000 (1,512 sq.ft)
Mill Lofts– 2 bedrooms / 2 bathrooms – 411 NW 1st Avenue, Unit 704 – CS 06/15/2012 $290,000 (1,363 sq.ft)

1 bedrooms

Avenue Lofts – 1 bedroom/1 bathroom – 425 N Andrews Avenue, Unit 203 – CS 11/16/2012 $180,000 (967 sq. ft.)
Avenue Lofts – 1 bedroom/1 bathroom – 445 N Andrews Avenue, Unit 302C – CS 09/26/2012 $200,000 (1,091 sq.ft.)
The Mill – 1 bedroom/1 bathroom – 411 NW 1ST Avenue, Unit 506 – CS 09/14/2012 $155,000 (975 sq. ft.)
Avenue Lofts – 1 bedroom/1 bathroom – 435 N ANDREWS Avenue, Unit 207 – CS 07/06/2012 $180,000 (1,081 sq.ft.)
Avenue Lofts – 1 bedroom/1 bathroom – 445 N Andrews Avenue, Unit 302C – CS 06/28/2012 $160,000 (1,091 sq. ft.)