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Showcasing the best in Real Estate for Miami Beach and the surrounding areas:

Regalia, Sunny Isles: this ultra high-end condominium with only 39 exclusive oceanfront homes, just one to a floor, feature unobstructed 360-degree views of the Atlantic Ocean and Intracoastal Waterway. 1 residence per floor, 39 units in total. For additional details: 786-412-8510, kate@miami-beach-house.com; http://www.miami-beach-house.com/property/Regalia

Short Sales: New Trends Making It From Short To Shock?

Despite of the numerous headlines proclaiming that short sales are improving greatly, convincing the unsuspecting reader that the time has arrived to write up an offer on one, this could not be further from the truth.

Now, more than ever one should avoid short sales. Even though the general perception is that the banks “are getting slightly easier to deal with”: offering programs and online platforms for short sale sellers and their agents, the transactions themselves are getting even tougher to close.

Although, it is clear that foreclosures are costly and expensive for banks, the fact that banks are hugely reluctant to participate in HAFA is a shocking reality. Here are a few common statements: banks are not in the business of buying or selling homes. When banks foreclose on a home, they become responsible for selling it. It’s difficult for banks to sell foreclosed homes, yet they still do everything possible to complicate short sale process and they continue to do everything possible to deny short sales, rather than approve it. Well, there might be a new good reasons for the banks now chose to opt for foreclosures, read on and you will be shocked.

Making Home Affordable. “Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program”: the statement behind HAFA, is powerful and clear, and the government put so much good will and effort behind it. Unfortunately, it remains just a “wishful thinking”! The banks now more than ever, proclaim one thing but do entirely different “behind the scenes”.

Here are a few new trends to watch:

BPO’s continue to come ABOVE current market value! Seriously, where is the logic in this?

Investors: Banks hide behind their “investors”: a very dangerous and fast-growing trend.

One of my short sales was denied yesterday because the “investor” wanted to net 25% more than the actual market value! What a preposterous request! The property was listed at current market value, supported by current and relevant comps, and surprisingly, by the bank’s own BPO.  The contract price was slightly higher than the listing price, respectively higher than current market, yet the “investor” wanted more! That same “investor” made a statement that they prefer to foreclose rather than agree to accept a contract slightly above market. One cannot help it but wonder where were these “investors” when the banks were in a desperate need of financial help? The government not only stepped in and “bailed out” the banks, but continues to seek programs and solutions to restore the economic balance. It is intolerable that the banks do not reciprocate in playing their important part in the process, or at least honor their part of the deal.

Non-institutional liens: In many cases, short sale lenders are unwilling to use any money from the sale proceeds in order to help the short sale seller to pay off these non-institutional liens. You can talk with the lender until you are blue in the face, but there are certain investors and specific lien holders that will refuse to give in and allow any money towards non-institutional liens, such as: state tax liens, abstracts of judgment and HOA liens continue to be a huge hurdle to closing short sale transactions.

Incentives, offered to sellers: not honored. Many are the banks that advertised attractive incentives to those sellers willing to consider short-selling their home. It is now very clear that some of these banks used this as a desperate attempt to correct the negative publicity they had generated in the recent years. Good example, whereas the original lender was : Bank of America, the file was handled by “Servicer”, Green Tree- and of course they had “never heard” of any incentives offered to sellers…Out of 15 files I had for BOA, 13 were handled by servicers.

Real Estate Commissions: banks continue to request reductions on the real estate commissions and fees. Despite of government efforts to correct this, it is happening again and again. Realtors did not receive any breaks when their business was hit when real estate markets went down; they were not “bailed out” by the government! They took their losses and went day in and day out to do the best they could to help an entire industry in distress. They did not cause the difficult situation of the seller; neither did they cause the decline in the market values, although the banks quickly tried to include them in the category “to blame”. So why do the banks feel that the Realtors should not get paid especially in short sales when both, the seller’s and the buyer’s agents have to double their work to compensate for the in adequacies of the banks? 

Foreclosure vs Short Sale: and, yes: banks openly state that they prefer to foreclose rather than agree to a short-sale on a property, contradictory to the popular belief and general perception that “banks are not in the business to own real estate”! This is the latest trend to watch: banks are looking to expand their efforts in actually foreclosing and managing the properties as landlords.

Wonder, what comes next?

Stay tuned for more on Foreclosure and Short Sale news.

Kate Smith, Realtor®, ABR, CRS, CLHMS, CDPE, E-Pro, SFR, TRC
Luxury Residential, Commercial and Distressed Properties Specialist
Cell: 786.412.8510; Fax: 954.923.4554;
kate@hollywood-beach-real-estate.com
http://www.facebook.com/HollywoodFlorida
http://www.facebook.com/MiamiFloridaEstates
blog: http://4realestate.wordpress.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/miamirealtorkatesmith

“Some make it happen, some watch it happen, and some say, what happened?”

President Obama Holds News Conference, Unveils Housing Plan

 
WASHINGTON – March 6, 2012 – President Barack Obama is aiming mortgage relief at members of the military as well as homeowners with government-insured loans, the administration’s latest efforts to address a persistent housing crisis. In his first full news conference of the year Tuesday, Obama was to announce plans to let borrowers with mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration refinance at lower rates, saving the average homeowner more than $1,000 a year. Obama also was detailing an agreement with major lenders to compensate service members and veterans who were wrongfully foreclosed upon or denied lower interest rates.A senior administration official described Obama’s proposals to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to discuss them ahead of the announcement.The efforts Obama is announcing do not require congressional approval and are limited in comparison with the vast expansion of government assistance to homeowners that he asked Congress to approve last month. That $5 billion to $10 billion plan would make it easier for more borrowers with burdensome mortgages to refinance their loans.

Obama is holding the news conference in the midst of a modestly improving economy. But international challenges as well as a stubbornly depressed housing market remain threats to the current recovery and to his presidency.

Obama has not held a full news conference since November.

Under the housing plans Obama was to announce Tuesday, FHA-insured borrowers would be able to refinance their loans at half the fee that the FHA currently charges. FHA borrowers who want to refinance now must pay a fee of 1.15 percent of their balance every year. Officials say those fees make refinancing unappealing to many borrowers. The new plan will reduce that charge to 0.55 percent.

With mortgage rates at about 4 percent, the administration estimates a typical FHA borrower with $175,000 still owed on a home could reduce monthly payments to $915 a month and save $100 a month more than the borrower would have under current FHA fees.

Though 2 million to 3 million borrowers would be eligible, the administration official would not speculate how many would actually seek to benefit from the program. The FHA provides mortgage insurance on loans made by FHA-approved lenders throughout the United States and its territories. The loans typically go to homeowners who do not have enough equity to qualify for standard mortgages. It is the largest insurer of mortgages in the world.

For service members and veterans, Obama will announce that major lenders will review foreclosures to determine whether they were done properly. If wrongly foreclosed upon, service members and veterans would be paid their lost equity and also be entitled to an additional $116,785 in compensation. That was a figure reached through an agreement with major lenders by the federal government and 49 state attorneys general.

Under the agreement, the lenders also would compensate service members who lost value in their homes when they were forced to sell them due to a military reassignment.
AP Logo Copyright © 2012 The Associated Press, Jim Kuhnhenn. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Related Topics: Foreclosures
 
Real estate is a serious business, call a PRO!
 

Kate Smith, Realtor®, ABR, CRS, E-Pro,TRC, LHM, SFR, CDPE
Luxury Homes and Distressed Properties Specialist, Brosda & Bentley Realtors
Cell: 786.412.8510; Fax: 954.923.4554;
kate@hollywood-beach-real-estate.com
http://www.hollywood-beach-real-estate.com
http://www.BrosdaandBentley.com
blog: http://4realestate.wordpress.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/miamirealtorkatesmith

“Some make it happen, some watch it happen, and some say, what happened?”

Buffet: Real Estate Investment- Better Than Stocks

Buffett: ‘I’d buy up a couple hundred thousand’ homes

WICHITA, Kan. – March 1, 2012 – Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO, said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” recently that he’d “buy up a couple hundred thousand” single-family homes if it was practical.Buffett said that’s because he believes purchasing a home with ultra-low mortgage rates and holding it for the long-term has become a better investment than stocks right now.

“Housing will come back, you can be sure of that,” Buffett wrote in his annual letter to shareholders recently.

Buffett forecasts an increase in household formations, as more people who moved in with their parents or family members during the recession look to move out and get their own home soon.

“People may postpone hitching up during uncertain times, but eventually hormones take over. And while ‘doubling-up” may be the initial reaction of some during a recession, living with in-laws can quickly lose its allure,” Buffett said.

Buffett said the recovery in the housing market could vary quite a bit among local housing markets, however. He did not provide a timeline of when he expected a full housing recovery, admitting that his prediction last year that a housing recovery will take shape within the year turned out to be “dead wrong.”

Source: “Housing Market Forecast Beyond 2012 From Warren Buffet,” International Business Times (Feb. 28, 2012) and “Warren Buffet on CNBC: I’d Buy Up ‘A Couple Hundred Thousand’ Single-Family Homes If I Could,” CNBC (Feb. 27, 2012)

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

Related Topics: Real estate investing

Lenders Embrace More Short Sales

NEW YORK – Feb. 20, 2012 – Lenders are allowing more short sales by financially strapped homeowners and a few people are even getting cash to complete the sale.

Short sales have been increasing for months, but the financial incentives – which Realtors say are random and infrequent – are a newer wrinkle.

Examples:

• JPMorgan Chase went national with short-sale incentive offers last year, paying up to $35,000 in some cases.

• Bank of America is testing incentives from $5,000 to $25,000 in Florida to see if they should be expanded to more states. The Florida program began last fall, spokesman Richard Simon says.

• Wells Fargo’s incentive offers range from less than $3,000 to $20,000, spokesman James Hines says.

Short sales, even with incentive payments to borrowers, can save lenders money compared with the expenses involved in completing foreclosures. In states such as Florida where foreclosures go through the courts, 50 percent of loans in foreclosure are more than two years past due, says a January report by mortgage tracker LPS Applied Analytics.

“It’s a lot cheaper to shell out $10,000 or $20,000 to someone than it is to go through a long foreclosure,” says Jim Gillespie, chief executive of Coldwell Banker.

Banks are more willing to do short sales now than in the past, Gillespie says. Cash incentives appear to be “limited but increasing” in number, he adds.

“When a loan modification isn’t possible, a short sale may be a better and faster solution” than foreclosure, says JPMorgan Chase spokesman Thomas Kelly.

The lenders won’t say how often they extend such incentives.

“If you have two similar sellers, one might get it and another may not,” says Colleen Badagliacco of Altera Real Estate in San Jose. “It’s very random.”

Typically, short sale incentives are more common for loans in states where foreclosures take more time, Hines says.

In November, short sales accounted for more than 9 percent of single family home sales and were up 32 percent from the year before, according to CoreLogic.

Market researcher Dataquick also shows short sales increasing from January 2011 through last month throughout California and in Phoenix, Miami and Seattle.

The federal government-run foreclosure prevention program also offers short sale incentives, at least $3,000 for sellers, but far more short sales are being done outside the government program.

“The trend is up,” says Moody’s Investors Service analyst William Fricke.

© Copyright 2012 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

Top 10 turnaround towns- Miami and Ft. Lauderdale top the list

Top 10 turnaround towns- Miami and Ft. Lauderdale top the list, and 8 of the Top Ten cities are in Florida. GO FLORIDA!!!

CNNMoney finally caught up on the news we have been confirming for the last 8 months.  As they wrote in the latest market report : “Florida’s cities were some of the hardest hit by the housing bust, but now they are leading the charge back. Of Realtor.com’s top 10 turnaround towns, eight are in the Sunshine State.”

 http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2012/real_estate/1201/gallery.turnaround-housing-markets/index.html

Not only that Florida has been making a remarkable and quick come-back, but certain segments of the market even show shortage of inventory.

Sunny Isles for example, shows a shortage in newer oceanfront condos that are priced below $800,000, which creates a strong seller’s market. The sellers are firm on their prices, yet, the appraised values for this specific area and product are at $550,000 median. As financing continues to be very restrictive for condominiums, with tight loan limits, these properties are only available to cash buyers. 

Cash buyers are not required to have the property appraised, and as there is shortage in this category, they are purchasing at prices well above current market value determined by Dade County Appraiser. 

This naturally raises a few concerns, and the most important question- where are we headed? And, when are the banks finally going to catch on and increase the limits on luxury condominiums, thus keeping the values in some control.

Now, that CNNMoney has caught up with the REAL reality, hopefully the banks will follow suit.

Top 20 Most Romantic Cities in the U.S: Florida nabbed five spots – more than any other state

In honor of Valentine’s Day, Amazon listed the U.S.’s top 20 romantic cities, and Florida has more than any other state. 

Florida: Balmy breezes, sunsets and romance

ORLANDO, Fla. – Feb. 14, 2012 – Love is in the air. Amazon.com announced its list of the “Top 20 Most Romantic Cities in the U.S.,” and Florida nabbed five spots – more than any other state.

To compile the list, Amazon looked at sales numbers for romance novels and relationship books (Kindle Books and print books), romantic comedy movies (digital movies and DVDs), Barry White albums (CDs and MP3s), and other romantic wellness products since Jan. 1, 2012. It considered sales on a per capita basis in cities with over 100,000 residents.

The top city on the list was Knoxville, Tenn., for some reason. In Florida, Orlando took the No. 4 spot, followed by Miami (No. 7), Clearwater (12), Gainesville (17) and Tallahassee (20).

According to Amazon customers’ purchase habits, New York City is the least romantic city in the U.S., with Winston-Salem, N.C.; Patterson, N.J.; and El Monte, Calif., also securing bottom spots.

Amazon’s complete list of romantic cities

1. Knoxville, Tenn.
2. Alexandria, Va.
3. Springfield, Mo.
4. Orlando, Fla.
5. Cincinnati, Ohio
6. Vancouver, Wash.
7. Miami, Fla.
8. Murfreesboro, Tenn.
9. Dayton, Ohio19. Rochester, N.Y.
10. Columbia, S.C.
11. Pittsburgh, Penn.
12. Clearwater, Fla.
13. St. Louis, Mo.
14. Erie, Pa.
15. Clarksville, Tenn.
16. Everett, Wash.
17. Gainesville, Fla.
18. Las Vegas, Nev.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Consumers file class acti…

Consumers file class action suit against Citizens “An 82-year-old woman from the Tampa Bay area trying to survive on a meager social security check is among customers of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. suing the insurer for the way it calculates replacement values.”

Finally, Florida residents strike back!

Nearly 100 house markets improving; the list includes seven Florida cities

NAHB: Nearly 100 house markets improving

 

WASHINGTON – Feb. 6, 2012 – The list of housing markets showing measurable improvement expanded by 29 metros in February for a total of 98 entries on the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI).

With the latest addition of Miami, the list now includes seven Florida cities: Cape Coral, Deltona, Jacksonville, Miami, North Port, Punta Gorda and Tampa. Thirty-six states have at least one metro area that’s improving.

The index lists metropolitan areas that have shown improvement in housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months. The February index adds some metropolitan areas that have been particularly weak. The IMI measures improvement from an economic trough, and NAHB says new notable entrants with six months of an upswing include Miami along with Boston; Detroit; Kansas City, Mo.; Portland, Ore.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Salt Lake City.

“The number of improving housing markets has risen for six consecutive months,” says NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen. “Despite the many challenges that continue to drag on a housing recovery – including the tight lending environment for builders and buyers – improving conditions are slowly but surely spreading from one housing market to the next.”

“While many of the markets on the February IMI are far from fully recovered, the index points out where employment, home prices and housing production are no longer retreating and have held above their lowest recession troughs for six months or more,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “This is a sign that a large cross section of the country is starting to turn the corner as local economic conditions stabilize.”

The IMI measures three sets of independent monthly data to get a mark on the top improving Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA). The three indicators are employment growth from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, house price appreciation from Freddie Mac, and single-family housing permit growth from the U.S. Census Bureau. An MSA must have improvement in all three areas for at least six months following their respective troughs to be included on the improving markets list.

Seven markets dropped from the NAHB/First American Improving Markets Index in February as they experienced softening house prices: San Jose, Calif.; Washington, D.C.; Kankakee, Ill.; New Orleans; Worcester, Mass.; Jackson, Miss.; and Sherman, Tex.

A complete list of all 98 metropolitan areas currently on the IMI, and a separate breakout of metros newly added to the list in February, is available at: www.nahb.org/imi.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Short sale sellers need to close in 2012

Short sale sellers need to close in 2012

 

WASHINGTON – Feb. 3, 2012 – If a bank writes off debt in a short sale, it’s a “taxable event,” and the lender tells the Internal Revenue Service about the deal by submitting a “Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt” at the end of the year. Home sellers must acknowledge the amount when they fill out their federal taxes. Through Dec. 31, 2012, however, the federal government forgives any tax liability associated with forgiveness of a mortgage loan.

“In general, homeowners believe the government will extend this tax provision,” says San Diego Realtor Joy Bender. “However, as evidenced by the First Time Homebuyer Credit expiration in 2010, you can’t always count on the government to bail you out.”

The government generally considers forgiven debt to be income. If a seller has signed legal loan papers to take out a $200,000 mortgage and the lender accepts $100,000 in a short sale, for example, the seller received the equivalent of $100,000 in free money by government estimates. As a result, the IRS taxes it. For tax year 2012, however, the government still forgives the debt; in 2013, it might not.

The tax amount can be significant. On a debt of $100,000, a short-sale seller in the 25 percent tax bracket could end up owing $25,000 in income taxes.

Since short sales can take months and even fall through, homeowners considering a short sale may want to start the process sooner rather than later.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Copyright © 2012 | Kate Smith, LLC | Information deemed reliable, but not guaranteed |