Buyer’s Checklist for Condo Conversion

30 11 2006

Recently the Florida Times-Union has compiled a list of tips from city and state real estate sources and their contact information for homebuyers, specifically those looking to purchase a condo conversion. There are a few important steps that every consumer can take before and after a purchase agreement is signed.

Q: What are condo conversions?
Buildings that originally were constructed for uses other than residential condominiums. Some condo converters do little more than a cosmetic touch-up to the buildings, typically apartments, before selling the units to consumers. Others completely renovate the complex and replace roofs, plumbing or electrical systems.

Q: What should I look for when buying a condo conversion unit?
Be proactive. Ask questions. Make sure you know what you are buying and what the developer is promising to do – whether it’s a rehab of the roofing, electrical, plumbing systems or just a cosmetic touch-up. And get everything in writing: Verbal agreements don’t count.

Q: Where can I get more information about the developer? The Internet is a good source of information. Complaints filed against the developer or the property can be found on the Department of Business and Professional Regulation Web site at www.myfloridalicense.com or by calling (850) 487-1395. The city of Jacksonville’s building inspection Web site also lists violations and complaints. Go to Jacksonville.com, keyword: inspect. For more information about city building permits, call (904) 630-1100.

Q: What should I do once I sign a contract to buy a condo conversion unit?
Review your purchase agreement and condo documents. Florida law gives buyers of condo conversions a 15-day rescission period after signing a contract to review associated documents, which includes a property inspection report. That report, which is required by the state, will describe existing building conditions and estimate the remaining life of certain structural components like roofing, plumbing and electrical systems. Condo conversions are not new products, and you should treat your purchase like any resale purchase. Review warranty information, if any.

You might want to have your own professional engineer or home inspector review the documents. Before signing a contract, ask the developer if it is possible to bring a private home inspector to the final walk-through, and ask whether the inspector’s findings will be considered upon closing. It will be up to the seller what is allowed, but get those issues cleared up in writing before signing. A buyer can get a full refund if he or she changes her mind within the 15 days. After 15 days, the contract becomes binding.

Q: What can I do before closing the sale?
Prior to closing, buyers have a final opportunity to walk through the property and document things the developer will need to complete in a reasonable amount of time. Often, those things will not be completed before closing. That list of unfinished items can be brought to the closing table, added to the contract and signed by both parties. Try to get a specific deadline for which those issues will be taken care of – otherwise, it’s your word against theirs if the work is not done.

Q: What happens when the condominium is transferred to the homeowners association?
Associations should conduct an independent inspection of the property upon taking control of the condominium from the developer. This inspection report can serve as a baseline comparison for problems that may occur in the future. Although it is not required, for older properties, it might be worth having a plumber take a video and photos of the plumbing system beneath the property.

Q: Where can I file a complaint?
First, contact your developer or homeowners association, depending on who is in charge of the day-to-day operation of the condominium. Talk to your neighbors. If you’re having problems communicating with your property manager, you might not be the only one. And, if it comes to litigation, it is usually less costly and more convincing to file one lawsuit as opposed to multiple suits.

And get everything in writing. Make requests in writing, and ask to have responses or promises in writing. If you can’t, take detailed notes of the conversation.

Complaints can be filed with the city, the State Attorney’s Office or with the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

In Jacksonville, consumers can visit Ecare.coj.net or call 630-CITY (630-2489).

The consumer complaints department of the State Attorney’s Office often handles issues with home construction. The office works to mediate the problem.

For more information, visit Jacksonville.com, keyword: complaint, or call (904) 630-2075.

The Department of Business and Professional Regulation takes complaints electronically at www.myflorida.com/dbpr (click on “File a Complaint”) or by phone at (850) 487-1395.

Q: What if I need a lawyer?
If litigation seems like the only option, you can call the Jacksonville Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service at (904) 399-5780. The service typically costs $50 for a 30-minute consultation.

Q: How do I lobby for changes in condo law?
In 2004, the Legislature created the Advisory Council on Condominiums to take public input and recommend changes in condominium law. The council will meet from 1 to 6 p.m. Thursday in Jacksonville Beach City Council Chambers, 11 Third St. N., Jacksonville Beach. The public is welcome to attend.

For details, call Carol Windham of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation at (850) 488-1631 or visit Jacksonville.com, keywords: condo advisory.

The public can also e-mail comments to Condominium. AdvisoryCouncil@dbpr.state.fl.us or send a letter to:

Advisory Council on Condominiums
Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums and Mobile Homes
1940 N. Monroe St.
Tallahassee , FL 32399-1032

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Buyer’s Checklist for Condo Conversion

30 11 2006

Recently the Florida Times-Union has compiled a list of tips from city and state real estate sources and their contact information for homebuyers, specifically those looking to purchase a condo conversion. There are a few important steps that every consumer can take before and after a purchase agreement is signed.

Q: What are condo conversions?
Buildings that originally were constructed for uses other than residential condominiums. Some condo converters do little more than a cosmetic touch-up to the buildings, typically apartments, before selling the units to consumers. Others completely renovate the complex and replace roofs, plumbing or electrical systems.

Q: What should I look for when buying a condo conversion unit?
Be proactive. Ask questions. Make sure you know what you are buying and what the developer is promising to do – whether it’s a rehab of the roofing, electrical, plumbing systems or just a cosmetic touch-up. And get everything in writing: Verbal agreements don’t count.

Q: Where can I get more information about the developer? The Internet is a good source of information. Complaints filed against the developer or the property can be found on the Department of Business and Professional Regulation Web site at www.myfloridalicense.com or by calling (850) 487-1395. The city of Jacksonville’s building inspection Web site also lists violations and complaints. Go to Jacksonville.com, keyword: inspect. For more information about city building permits, call (904) 630-1100.

Q: What should I do once I sign a contract to buy a condo conversion unit?
Review your purchase agreement and condo documents. Florida law gives buyers of condo conversions a 15-day rescission period after signing a contract to review associated documents, which includes a property inspection report. That report, which is required by the state, will describe existing building conditions and estimate the remaining life of certain structural components like roofing, plumbing and electrical systems. Condo conversions are not new products, and you should treat your purchase like any resale purchase. Review warranty information, if any.

You might want to have your own professional engineer or home inspector review the documents. Before signing a contract, ask the developer if it is possible to bring a private home inspector to the final walk-through, and ask whether the inspector’s findings will be considered upon closing. It will be up to the seller what is allowed, but get those issues cleared up in writing before signing. A buyer can get a full refund if he or she changes her mind within the 15 days. After 15 days, the contract becomes binding.

Q: What can I do before closing the sale?
Prior to closing, buyers have a final opportunity to walk through the property and document things the developer will need to complete in a reasonable amount of time. Often, those things will not be completed before closing. That list of unfinished items can be brought to the closing table, added to the contract and signed by both parties. Try to get a specific deadline for which those issues will be taken care of – otherwise, it’s your word against theirs if the work is not done.

Q: What happens when the condominium is transferred to the homeowners association?
Associations should conduct an independent inspection of the property upon taking control of the condominium from the developer. This inspection report can serve as a baseline comparison for problems that may occur in the future. Although it is not required, for older properties, it might be worth having a plumber take a video and photos of the plumbing system beneath the property.

Q: Where can I file a complaint?
First, contact your developer or homeowners association, depending on who is in charge of the day-to-day operation of the condominium. Talk to your neighbors. If you’re having problems communicating with your property manager, you might not be the only one. And, if it comes to litigation, it is usually less costly and more convincing to file one lawsuit as opposed to multiple suits.

And get everything in writing. Make requests in writing, and ask to have responses or promises in writing. If you can’t, take detailed notes of the conversation.

Complaints can be filed with the city, the State Attorney’s Office or with the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

In Jacksonville, consumers can visit Ecare.coj.net or call 630-CITY (630-2489).

The consumer complaints department of the State Attorney’s Office often handles issues with home construction. The office works to mediate the problem.

For more information, visit Jacksonville.com, keyword: complaint, or call (904) 630-2075.

The Department of Business and Professional Regulation takes complaints electronically at www.myflorida.com/dbpr (click on “File a Complaint”) or by phone at (850) 487-1395.

Q: What if I need a lawyer?
If litigation seems like the only option, you can call the Jacksonville Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service at (904) 399-5780. The service typically costs $50 for a 30-minute consultation.

Q: How do I lobby for changes in condo law?
In 2004, the Legislature created the Advisory Council on Condominiums to take public input and recommend changes in condominium law. The council will meet from 1 to 6 p.m. Thursday in Jacksonville Beach City Council Chambers, 11 Third St. N., Jacksonville Beach. The public is welcome to attend.

For details, call Carol Windham of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation at (850) 488-1631 or visit Jacksonville.com, keywords: condo advisory.

The public can also e-mail comments to Condominium. AdvisoryCouncil@dbpr.state.fl.us or send a letter to:

Advisory Council on Condominiums
Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums and Mobile Homes
1940 N. Monroe St.
Tallahassee , FL 32399-1032





Portofino Apartment Sold for $40.7 Million

28 11 2006

The Portofino apartment complex in Southside has sold for $40.7 million and will soon have a new look and a new name to go with its new ownership. Another condo conversion coming up? Perhaps we have to keep watch on this project.

Archon Group LP, an international full-service investment management and support services company based in Irving, Texas, bought the 10-year-old property on Gate Parkway from Gate Parkway Joint Venture.

“It’s great for the property and great for the residents,” Portofino property manager Brenda Gee said of the Oct. 25 acquisition. “We’re changing the way the property looks and feels.”

Representatives from Archon’s corporate office declined to be interviewed, but the company’s Web site notes two other Archon multifamily developments in Florida: the Aventine at Deerwood in Jacksonville, a 149-unit apartment complex on Touchton Road; and the Bala Sands in Orlando.

Archon bought its first property in Jacksonville in 2003 for $25.3 million.

Walchle Lear Multifamily Advisors partner Steve Lear said Portofino is in a great location near St. Johns Town Center, and Cushman and Wakefield of Florida Inc. director Karl Johnston said it could also be a viable property for conversion into condominiums if that market picks up again.

Archon intends to do some renovations to the 320-unit Portofino, Gee said, including a remodel of the existing clubhouse and model homes. Archon officials declined to disclose renovation details or costs.

Gee said the apartment complex will be renamed the Aventine at Town Center to match its sister property.

Gate Parkway Joint Venture, a partnership between The Vestcor Companies Inc. and Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., bought the Portofino property in 1995 for $2.25 million. The taxable value in 2006, according to the Jacksonville Property Appraiser’s Office, is $28.5 million. CB Richard Ellis broker Dan Allen represented the seller.

Archon Residential Management owns 20 multifamily communities in 10 states in the southeastern and western United States.

Source: Jacksonville Business Journal





Home Sales Fall Locally, Median Price Climbs

28 11 2006

Sales of existing single-family homes in Jacksonville dropped 18 percent in the third quarter, according to figures from the Florida Association of Realtors, as sales fell by at least 11 percent in all 20 markets tracked by FAR.

The 4,173 existing single-family homes sold in the third quarter was down from 5,116 sold in the third quarter of 2005.

The median price of those homes rose 5 percent to $204,500.

Across the state, sales fell by 34 percent and the median price of those homes was virtually unchanged at $247,900, up $100 from a year earlier.

The chief economist for the National Association of Realtors held out hope for a rebounding housing market as early as the first quarter of next year. “Many potential buyers who have been taking a wait-and-see attitude or are being methodical in the search process are being enticed by lower home prices,” David Lereah said. “Given a positive economic backdrop of lower interest rates and job creation, we expect sales activity to pick up early next year.”

Sales of existing condominiums also fell statewide and locally. Across the state the number of sales fell 41 percent and the median price dropped 3 percent to $204,300. Local condo sales were down 49 percent, but the figures did not include data from the St. Augustine-St. Johns County Board of Realtors. The median price of local condos was $171,900, down less than 1 percent from a year earlier.

Source: Florida Association of Realtors





Housing Finance Authority Offering Below-Market Home Loans

28 11 2006

Countrywide Home Loans Inc. is working with the Jacksonville Housing Finance Authority to offer below-market interest rate mortgages for first-time homebuyers in Duval County.

The $12 million first-time homebuyer program offers a rate of 5.6 percent for the first 80 percent of the purchase price of a home and 1 percent to 3 percent rate for the remaining 20 percent, an arrangement that eliminates the need for buyers to buy private mortgage insurance.

Countrywide is the mortgage servicer, program administrator and a participating lender in the program.

“Saving the funds needed for a home loan is the most significant barrier to purchasing a home for many first-time home buyers,” said Dottie Sheppick, an executive vice president at Countrywide.

The program features conventional, FHA, Veteran’s Administration and Rural Housing Service loans. Under the program the housing agency sells tax-free bonds to investors and uses the proceeds to make loans. Buyers must meet qualifying criteria that may include a maximum income and loan limit, and must pay at least $1,000 toward closing costs.

Other participating lenders include Bank of America, First Bank Mortgage, MHi Mortgage, National City Mortgage, Peoples First Community Bank and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.

Source: Jacksonville Business Journal





Portofino Apartment Sold for $40.7 Million

28 11 2006

The Portofino apartment complex in Southside has sold for $40.7 million and will soon have a new look and a new name to go with its new ownership. Another condo conversion coming up? Perhaps we have to keep watch on this project.

Archon Group LP, an international full-service investment management and support services company based in Irving, Texas, bought the 10-year-old property on Gate Parkway from Gate Parkway Joint Venture.

“It’s great for the property and great for the residents,” Portofino property manager Brenda Gee said of the Oct. 25 acquisition. “We’re changing the way the property looks and feels.”

Representatives from Archon’s corporate office declined to be interviewed, but the company’s Web site notes two other Archon multifamily developments in Florida: the Aventine at Deerwood in Jacksonville, a 149-unit apartment complex on Touchton Road; and the Bala Sands in Orlando.

Archon bought its first property in Jacksonville in 2003 for $25.3 million.

Walchle Lear Multifamily Advisors partner Steve Lear said Portofino is in a great location near St. Johns Town Center, and Cushman and Wakefield of Florida Inc. director Karl Johnston said it could also be a viable property for conversion into condominiums if that market picks up again.

Archon intends to do some renovations to the 320-unit Portofino, Gee said, including a remodel of the existing clubhouse and model homes. Archon officials declined to disclose renovation details or costs.

Gee said the apartment complex will be renamed the Aventine at Town Center to match its sister property.

Gate Parkway Joint Venture, a partnership between The Vestcor Companies Inc. and Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., bought the Portofino property in 1995 for $2.25 million. The taxable value in 2006, according to the Jacksonville Property Appraiser’s Office, is $28.5 million. CB Richard Ellis broker Dan Allen represented the seller.

Archon Residential Management owns 20 multifamily communities in 10 states in the southeastern and western United States.

Source: Jacksonville Business Journal





Home Sales Fall Locally, Median Price Climbs

28 11 2006

Sales of existing single-family homes in Jacksonville dropped 18 percent in the third quarter, according to figures from the Florida Association of Realtors, as sales fell by at least 11 percent in all 20 markets tracked by FAR.

The 4,173 existing single-family homes sold in the third quarter was down from 5,116 sold in the third quarter of 2005.

The median price of those homes rose 5 percent to $204,500.

Across the state, sales fell by 34 percent and the median price of those homes was virtually unchanged at $247,900, up $100 from a year earlier.

The chief economist for the National Association of Realtors held out hope for a rebounding housing market as early as the first quarter of next year. “Many potential buyers who have been taking a wait-and-see attitude or are being methodical in the search process are being enticed by lower home prices,” David Lereah said. “Given a positive economic backdrop of lower interest rates and job creation, we expect sales activity to pick up early next year.”

Sales of existing condominiums also fell statewide and locally. Across the state the number of sales fell 41 percent and the median price dropped 3 percent to $204,300. Local condo sales were down 49 percent, but the figures did not include data from the St. Augustine-St. Johns County Board of Realtors. The median price of local condos was $171,900, down less than 1 percent from a year earlier.

Source: Florida Association of Realtors








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