Contact Senator Jim King to Pass the Bills to Stimulate Florida’s Economy

28 04 2009

Please contact your Senator and ask that the Florida Senate concur with the House of Representatives to pass measures that will begin to turn Florida’s real estate market – and economy – around.

We understand that the Legislature is facing a tough task this session given declining revenues. Both Republicans and Democrats agree that once the real estate market bounces back, so too will the entire economy.

The Florida Senate has taken a major step towards stimulating our economy by proposing $55 million towards downpayment assistance for those who qualify for the federal first time homebuyer tax credit. We certainly appreciate your commitment. You now have an opportunity to make Florida’s property tax system more fair, give homeowners a chance to win an appeal of their property tax assessment and, finally, to put the “trust” back in the housing trust funds.

Specifically, the House of Representatives has passed several important bills that await your consideration. We ask that you take the appropriate steps to get these bills passed in the Florida Senate:

SJR 532 by Senator Lynn: The bill contains both a 5% assessment cap for non-homestead properties and first-time homebuyer assessment relief. This legislation has NO fiscal impact until 2011. This important resolution would make our property tax system more fair. The House has passed their version of the 5% assessment cap, HJR 7057, and it is in Senate messages.

SB 1006 by Senator Fasano: This is important property tax appeal legislation that would change the “burden of proof.” This legislation would level the playing field for property owners and give them a reasonable shot at winning their appeals. Any fiscal impact associated with the bill assumes that assessments were incorrect to begin with. HB 521 has passed the House and is in Senate messages.

SB 1042 by Senator Bennett: This language takes the cap off the Sadowski Trust Fund for affordable housing. It does nothing to prohibit using the funds for General Revenue in the future. It simply allows all funds generated by the $ 0.20 of the documentary stamp tax to be deposited where they were originally intended. There is no fiscal impact in the next four to five years since doc stamps are not predicted to reach that level any time soon. The House version, HB 161, has passed the House and is in Senate messages.

Thank you for your consideration of these important bills that would help stimulate Florida’s economy.





Contact Senator Jim King to Pass the Bills to Stimulate Florida’s Economy

27 04 2009

Please contact your Senator and ask that the Florida Senate concur with the House of Representatives to pass measures that will begin to turn Florida’s real estate market – and economy – around.

We understand that the Legislature is facing a tough task this session given declining revenues. Both Republicans and Democrats agree that once the real estate market bounces back, so too will the entire economy.

The Florida Senate has taken a major step towards stimulating our economy by proposing $55 million towards downpayment assistance for those who qualify for the federal first time homebuyer tax credit. We certainly appreciate your commitment. You now have an opportunity to make Florida’s property tax system more fair, give homeowners a chance to win an appeal of their property tax assessment and, finally, to put the “trust” back in the housing trust funds.

Specifically, the House of Representatives has passed several important bills that await your consideration. We ask that you take the appropriate steps to get these bills passed in the Florida Senate:

SJR 532 by Senator Lynn: The bill contains both a 5% assessment cap for non-homestead properties and first-time homebuyer assessment relief. This legislation has NO fiscal impact until 2011. This important resolution would make our property tax system more fair. The House has passed their version of the 5% assessment cap, HJR 7057, and it is in Senate messages.

SB 1006 by Senator Fasano: This is important property tax appeal legislation that would change the “burden of proof.” This legislation would level the playing field for property owners and give them a reasonable shot at winning their appeals. Any fiscal impact associated with the bill assumes that assessments were incorrect to begin with. HB 521 has passed the House and is in Senate messages.

SB 1042 by Senator Bennett: This language takes the cap off the Sadowski Trust Fund for affordable housing. It does nothing to prohibit using the funds for General Revenue in the future. It simply allows all funds generated by the $ 0.20 of the documentary stamp tax to be deposited where they were originally intended. There is no fiscal impact in the next four to five years since doc stamps are not predicted to reach that level any time soon. The House version, HB 161, has passed the House and is in Senate messages.

Thank you for your consideration of these important bills that would help stimulate Florida’s economy.





Pulte to Acquire Centex for $1.3B

9 04 2009

Pulte Homes is acquiring Centex Corp. in a stock swap valued at $1.3 billion. The acquisition also includes net debt of $1.8 billion, giving the entire transaction a value of $3.1 billion.

Under the terms of the agreement, Centex shareholders will receive 0.975 of a share of Pulte common stock for each share of Centex they own. The deal, which is scheduled to be completed in the third quarter, would create the nation’s largest homebuilder. The acquisition comes as large homebuilders are struggling in bankruptcies.

Pulte and Centex said the deal should allow for $350 million in annual cost savings and the retirement of $1 billion of debt by the end of 2009. The boards of both companies unanimously approved the merger.

According to Pulte CEO Richard J. Dugas Jr. the combination will put both firms “in an excellent position to navigate through the current housing downturn” and “accelerate a return to profitability.”

Pulte has lost money in each of the last nine quarters. Centex has been in the red for the last seven quarters. Both companies have trimmed local staffs in the last year as new home sales and orders have fallen.

The combined company will use the Pulte name and be based in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., but the firms said a “significant presence” will be maintained in Dallas. Dugas will assume the positions of chairman, president and CEO of the combined company. Current Centex CEO Timothy Eller will join an expanded Pulte board.

“On paper, it’s an excellent deal for Pulte,” said real estate analyst Jack McCabe, CEO of Deerfield Beach-based McCabe Research & Consulting. “Whether it produces positive or negative synergy will depend upon when the housing market awakens from its depression.”

McCabe has seen both companies from the inside. He was an executive with Centex for four years and with Pulte for two years in the mid- to late 1990s.

Pulte and Centex currently build throughout Florida, but Centex pulled out of the North Florida market last year. Pulte is selling homes in eight communities in Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra, the majority of those in Bartram Park.

Real estate analyst Lewis Goodkin, of Miami-based Goodkin Consulting, said “the deal makes a lot of sense to me, and it would never happen when the market was rolling along smoothly.”

Goodkin sees a better fit between Pulte and Centex than many other possibilities, as well as a lot of economies from the deal in everything from purchasing to marketing.

McCabe said Pulte grew by acquisition, with offerings for first-time buyers, move-up buyers, empty-nesters and retirement buyers, while Centex grew by organic growth, with a focus on first-time and move-up buyers.

“It will be interesting to see how the corporate cultures and management teams are integrated,” he said, “because Pulte was managed from the top down, while Centex offered flexibility to local managers to make on the spot marketing decisions.”

McCabe predicted other mergers and acquisitions, as well as bankruptcies ahead among the remaining big homebuilders.

Source: Jacksonville Business Journal





Pulte to Acquire Centex for $1.3B

8 04 2009

Pulte Homes is acquiring Centex Corp. in a stock swap valued at $1.3 billion. The acquisition also includes net debt of $1.8 billion, giving the entire transaction a value of $3.1 billion.

Under the terms of the agreement, Centex shareholders will receive 0.975 of a share of Pulte common stock for each share of Centex they own. The deal, which is scheduled to be completed in the third quarter, would create the nation’s largest homebuilder. The acquisition comes as large homebuilders are struggling in bankruptcies.

Pulte and Centex said the deal should allow for $350 million in annual cost savings and the retirement of $1 billion of debt by the end of 2009. The boards of both companies unanimously approved the merger.

According to Pulte CEO Richard J. Dugas Jr. the combination will put both firms “in an excellent position to navigate through the current housing downturn” and “accelerate a return to profitability.”

Pulte has lost money in each of the last nine quarters. Centex has been in the red for the last seven quarters. Both companies have trimmed local staffs in the last year as new home sales and orders have fallen.

The combined company will use the Pulte name and be based in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., but the firms said a “significant presence” will be maintained in Dallas. Dugas will assume the positions of chairman, president and CEO of the combined company. Current Centex CEO Timothy Eller will join an expanded Pulte board.

“On paper, it’s an excellent deal for Pulte,” said real estate analyst Jack McCabe, CEO of Deerfield Beach-based McCabe Research & Consulting. “Whether it produces positive or negative synergy will depend upon when the housing market awakens from its depression.”

McCabe has seen both companies from the inside. He was an executive with Centex for four years and with Pulte for two years in the mid- to late 1990s.

Pulte and Centex currently build throughout Florida, but Centex pulled out of the North Florida market last year. Pulte is selling homes in eight communities in Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra, the majority of those in Bartram Park.

Real estate analyst Lewis Goodkin, of Miami-based Goodkin Consulting, said “the deal makes a lot of sense to me, and it would never happen when the market was rolling along smoothly.”

Goodkin sees a better fit between Pulte and Centex than many other possibilities, as well as a lot of economies from the deal in everything from purchasing to marketing.

McCabe said Pulte grew by acquisition, with offerings for first-time buyers, move-up buyers, empty-nesters and retirement buyers, while Centex grew by organic growth, with a focus on first-time and move-up buyers.

“It will be interesting to see how the corporate cultures and management teams are integrated,” he said, “because Pulte was managed from the top down, while Centex offered flexibility to local managers to make on the spot marketing decisions.”

McCabe predicted other mergers and acquisitions, as well as bankruptcies ahead among the remaining big homebuilders.

Source: Jacksonville Business Journal





The Peninsula Condo is Fannie Mae Approved

7 04 2009

The city’s tallest residential tower has met strict new lending guidelines set by Fannie Mae. The Peninsula, the 38-story tower on the Southbank, is now in compliance with new lending guidelines Fannie Mae put in place in January. That will make it easier for buyers to get loans to buy units in The Peninsula. As of Jan. 15, Fannie Mae ceased offering loans for new construction and condo conversions unless the project was 70 percent closed, has no more than 30 percent investor participation and no more than 15 percent delinquencies on dues or assessments. “This is a huge coup for the Peninsula,” said Derrick Levy, a senior loan officer with Bank of America, the preferred lender for The Peninsula. “In addition to writing loans, it also means that an unlimited amount of refinancing can be done within the project. Other projects are at a huge disadvantage because there’s virtually no other financing available.”

The developer of the project, American Land Ventures, started construction on The Peninsula in 2005.

Source: Jacksonville Business Journal





The Peninsula Condo is Fannie Mae Approved

6 04 2009

The city’s tallest residential tower has met strict new lending guidelines set by Fannie Mae. The Peninsula, the 38-story tower on the Southbank, is now in compliance with new lending guidelines Fannie Mae put in place in January. That will make it easier for buyers to get loans to buy units in The Peninsula. As of Jan. 15, Fannie Mae ceased offering loans for new construction and condo conversions unless the project was 70 percent closed, has no more than 30 percent investor participation and no more than 15 percent delinquencies on dues or assessments. “This is a huge coup for the Peninsula,” said Derrick Levy, a senior loan officer with Bank of America, the preferred lender for The Peninsula. “In addition to writing loans, it also means that an unlimited amount of refinancing can be done within the project. Other projects are at a huge disadvantage because there’s virtually no other financing available.”

The developer of the project, American Land Ventures, started construction on The Peninsula in 2005.

Source: Jacksonville Business Journal





Mortgage Rates Fall to New Low

4 04 2009

The cost of borrowing to buy a home is now at its lowest level in almost four decades.

Freddie Mac said the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell from 4.85 percent last week to 4.78 percent this week, a full 1 percent lower than a year ago and the lowest 30 year rate since Freddie Mac started keeping track in 1971.

Long-term adjustable rate mortgages are now on-par with adjustable rate mortgages, with the average one year ARM at 4.75 percent this week.

“Mortgage rates followed other interest rates lower this week amid reports of slower economic growth,” said Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft. “The final estimate of economic growth in the fourth quarter was revised lower and personal incomes fell 0.2 percent in February, below market consensus.”

Source: Freddie Mac





U.S. Housing Market Rebound?

4 04 2009

PMI’s quarterly Economic and Real Estate Trends (ERET) report is out. Click here.

If we look at historical trends in every recession for which we have data, going back to 1960’s, the housing market is usually the first sector to get hit but will turn upward before the end of the economic downtown. Conversely, job market indicators like payroll employment and unemployment rate have never improved before the recession’s end, and usually have not improved until some months after the beginning of the next expansion. As a result, in past recessions the housing market has always rebounded before the job market.

The report includes commentary on the national economy and regional housing price trends. Each issue feeatures the U.S. Market Risk Index, a tabular presentation of 381 of the most populated Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). The index is based on a statistical model utilizing economic data, real estate variables and market expertise. The model provides several measures to gauge relative residential lending risk.

For Economic and Real Estate Trends archives, view all ERET reports.





Watson Realty Merges with Sawgrass Group

3 04 2009

Watson Realty Corp. has merged its Ponte Vedra Office with Sawgrass Group Realty.

Sawgrass Group opened its doors in April 2007, but the company’s broker/owner, Mark Ryan, spent the 32 years before that in the broadcast advertising business. He will continue working at Watson Realty as a broker associate.

Watson Realty includes 42 offices in the Jacksonville area as well as North Central and Central Florida with more than 1,400 sales agents. About 54 agents worked at the Ponte Vedra Watson office.





Mortgage Rates Fall to New Low

3 04 2009

The cost of borrowing to buy a home is now at its lowest level in almost four decades.

Freddie Mac said the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell from 4.85 percent last week to 4.78 percent this week, a full 1 percent lower than a year ago and the lowest 30 year rate since Freddie Mac started keeping track in 1971.

Long-term adjustable rate mortgages are now on-par with adjustable rate mortgages, with the average one year ARM at 4.75 percent this week.

“Mortgage rates followed other interest rates lower this week amid reports of slower economic growth,” said Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft. “The final estimate of economic growth in the fourth quarter was revised lower and personal incomes fell 0.2 percent in February, below market consensus.”

Source: Freddie Mac





U.S. Housing Market Rebound?

3 04 2009

PMI’s quarterly Economic and Real Estate Trends (ERET) report is out. Click here.

If we look at historical trends in every recession for which we have data, going back to 1960’s, the housing market is usually the first sector to get hit but will turn upward before the end of the economic downtown. Conversely, job market indicators like payroll employment and unemployment rate have never improved before the recession’s end, and usually have not improved until some months after the beginning of the next expansion. As a result, in past recessions the housing market has always rebounded before the job market.

The report includes commentary on the national economy and regional housing price trends. Each issue feeatures the U.S. Market Risk Index, a tabular presentation of 381 of the most populated Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). The index is based on a statistical model utilizing economic data, real estate variables and market expertise. The model provides several measures to gauge relative residential lending risk.

For Economic and Real Estate Trends archives, view all ERET reports.





Watson Realty Merges with Sawgrass Group

2 04 2009

Watson Realty Corp. has merged its Ponte Vedra Office with Sawgrass Group Realty.

Sawgrass Group opened its doors in April 2007, but the company’s broker/owner, Mark Ryan, spent the 32 years before that in the broadcast advertising business. He will continue working at Watson Realty as a broker associate.

Watson Realty includes 42 offices in the Jacksonville area as well as North Central and Central Florida with more than 1,400 sales agents. About 54 agents worked at the Ponte Vedra Watson office.





NAR: Second-Home Sales Fall

1 04 2009

The number of people buying vacation and investment homes fell 30 percent last year, according to the National Association of Realtors.

But, those who are buying are doing so with cash – with more than four out of 10 investment buyers and more than three in 10 vacation home buyers coming to the table with money up front.

“We expected vacation-home sales to fall given the impact of a declining economy on discretionary purchases,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, in a news release. “A steady share of investment-home sales results from buyers taking advantage of deeply discounted prices in many areas, with a smaller portion of new homes in the sales mix.”

The market share of homes purchased for investment was 21 percent last year, unchanged from 2007, while an additional 9 percent were vacation homes, down from a 12 percent market share in 2007, according to NAR.

And as with the market for primary residences, second-home prices were also down significantly.

The median price of a vacation home was $150,000 in 2008, down 23.1 percent from $195,000 in 2007.

The typical investment property cost $108,000 last year, which is 28 percent below the 2007 median of $150,000, according to NAR.

Among other findings:

– The typical vacation-home buyer in 2008 was 46 years old, had a median household income of $97,200, and purchased a property that was a median of 316 miles from their primary residence.
– Investment-home buyers in 2008 had a median age of 47, earned $85,000, and bought a home that was fairly close to their primary residence – a median distance of 19 miles.
– Twenty-six percent of vacation homes were purchased in small towns, 23 percent in a rural area, 23 percent in resorts, 20 percent in a suburb and 8 percent in an urban area or central city.
– Twenty-eight percent of investment homes were purchased in a suburb, 20 percent in an urban or central city area, 23 percent in a rural area, 22 percent in a small town and 6 percent in a resort area.
– Seventy percent of vacation homes purchased in 2008 were detached single-family homes, 18 percent condos, 5 percent townhouses or row houses and 7 percent other.
Sixty-four percent of investment homes purchased in 2008 were detached single-family homes, 22 percent condos, 8 percent townhouses or row houses and 6 percent other.

The survey, conducted in March, includes answers from 1,924 usable responses.








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