Jacksonville is the third-most diverse job market in the U.S.

5 12 2018

Jacksonville has been named the third-most diverse job market in the U.S., according to LinkUp, a job recruiting website. Jacksonville was listed behind Salt Lake City, Utah, and Buffalo, N.Y., respectively.

LinkUp analyzed data from job markets in relation to real estate values and availability in the third fiscal quarter of this year.

The study found that Jacksonville was less reliant on big employers and that job availability provided a wide range of options for workers.

In the top-five job markets, Jacksonville was followed by Raleigh, N.C., and Austin, Texas.

As far as the top-50 job markets in the United States, the least diversified were Cleveland, Atlanta, New York, Chicago and Detroit.

Source: LinkUp.com and Jacksonville.com

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Housing sales, inventory trending up in Florida

4 12 2018

Florida’s housing market reported more closed sales, rising median prices and more new listings in October compared to a year ago, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®. Sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 22,272 last month, up 8.5 percent compared to October 2017.

October marked 82 consecutive months (more than six and a half years) that statewide median sales prices for both single-family homes and condo-townhouse properties increased year-over-year.

Rising interest rates are having a ripple effect across the housing market as the Federal Reserve increases borrowing costs. Analysts expect the Fed to raise rates again a few times in 2019. Areas with strong job or population growth, like Florida, may be able to weather higher mortgage rates, analysts say.

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.83 percent in October 2018, up from the 3.90 percent averaged during the same month a year earlier.





IRS Tax Relief for Hurricane Victims

10 10 2017

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offered a rundown of key tax relief available to victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. In general, the IRS relief to individuals and businesses applies anywhere in Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, as well as parts of Texas.

Because the relief postpones various tax deadlines, individuals and businesses have until Jan. 31, 2018 to file any returns and pay any taxes due. Those eligible for the extra time include:

  • Individual filers whose tax-filing extension runs out on Oct. 16, 2017. Because tax payments related to these 2016 returns were originally due on April 18, 2017, those payments are not eligible for this relief, it only impacts the filing
  • Business filers, such as calendar-year partnerships, whose extensions ran out on Sept. 15, 2017
  • Quarterly estimated tax payments due on Sept. 15, 2017 and Jan. 16, 2018
  • Quarterly payroll and excise tax returns due on Oct. 31, 2017
  • Calendar-year tax-exempt organizations whose 2016 extensions run out on Nov. 15, 2017

variety of other returns, payments and tax-related actions also qualify for additional time. The IRS also continues to closely monitor the aftermath of these storms, and additional updates for taxpayers and tax professionals will be posted to IRS.gov.

Besides extra time to file and pay, the IRS offers other special assistance to disaster-area taxpayers. This includes the following:

  • Special relief helps employer-sponsored leave-based donation programs aid hurricane victims. Under these programs, employees may forgo their vacation, sick or personal leave in exchange for cash payments the employer makes, before Jan. 1, 2019, to charities providing relief. Donated leave is not included in the employee’s income, and employers may deduct these cash payments to charity as a business expense.
  • 401(k)s and similar employer-sponsored retirement plans can make loans and hardship distributions to hurricane victims and members of their families. Under this broad-based relief, a retirement plan can allow a hurricane victim to take a hardship distribution or borrow up to the specified statutory limits from the victim’s retirement plan. It also means that a person who lives outside the disaster area can take out a retirement plan loan or hardship distribution and use it to assist a son, daughter, parent, grandparent or dependent who lived or worked in the disaster area. Hardship withdrawals must be made by Jan. 31, 2018.
  • The IRS is waiving late-deposit penalties for federal payroll and excise tax deposits normally due during the first 15 days of the disaster period. Check out the disaster relief page for the time periods that apply to each jurisdiction.
  • Individuals and businesses who suffered uninsured or unreimbursed disaster-related losses can choose to claim them on either the return for the year the loss occurred (in this instance, the 2017 return normally filed next year), or the return for the prior year (2016). See Publication 547 for details.
  • The IRS is waiving the usual fees and expediting requests for copies of previously filed tax returns for disaster area taxpayers. This relief can be especially helpful to anyone whose copies of these documents were lost or destroyed by the hurricane.
  • If disaster-area taxpayers are contacted by the IRS on a collection or examination matter, they should be sure to explain how the disaster impacts them so that the IRS can provide appropriate consideration to their case.

Further details on these and other relief provisions can be found on the agency’s disaster relief page, as well as on the special pages for Hurricane Harvey and Hurricanes Irma and Maria. For information on disaster recovery, visit disasterassistance.gov.

Source: Florida Realtors





Hurricanes and Real Estate Contracts

3 10 2017

Florida residents enjoy weather that many northern neighbors envy: warm temperatures all year, combined with easy access to breezy oceans, lakes, rivers and springs.

However, the weather here occasionally turns sinister, most notably when hurricanes meander across the Atlantic to wreak havoc on our state.

When these hurricanes impact real estate transactions, many Realtors scramble to locate casualty and bad weather provisions. This short inventory provides an overview of key provisions in the Florida Realtors/Florida Bar “AS IS” Residential Contract for Sale and Purchase revised in April of 2017, along with one reference to the casualty provision contained in the Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.

  1. Section 18(G) Force Majeure
    This is an automatic extension that comes into play when a dramatic event prevents a party’s performance or closing from happening. It takes an unusual and unplanned event to trigger this “Force Majeure” clause, as you can see from a few of the examples given, such as, hurricanes, acts of God and acts of terrorism. Once the clause is triggered, though, certain time periods (including the closing date, if applicable) will be extended for a reasonable time up to 7 days after the force majeure no longer prevents performance. Parties should pay attention to the time in relation to the closing date, though, since either party may terminate the contract by delivering a written notice if force majeure continues to prevent performance more than 30 days beyond the closing date.
  2. Section 18(L) Access to Property to Conduct Appraisals, Inspections, and Walk-Through
    After a hurricane passes over a property, a buyer often wants to take another look at the property, regardless of whether the buyer is still in the inspection period. This clause generally favors the buyer’s request, as it provides that “Seller shall, upon reasonable notice, provide utilities service and access to Property for appraisals and inspections, including a walk-through (or follow-up walk-through if necessary) prior to Closing.”
  3. Section 18(M) Risk of Loss
    If the buyer or seller discover casualty damage from the hurricane, this clause describes the rights and obligations of each party. If the cost to restore the property does not exceed 1.5% of the purchase price (this cost includes the cost of pruning or removing damaged trees), then the cost is a seller obligation. If the restoration isn’t complete prior to closing, the seller will escrow a sum equal to 125% of the estimated cost to complete the restoration. If the cost of restoration exceeds 1.5% of the purchase price, then buyer has the option to either take the property along with 1.5% of the purchase price, or receive a refund of the deposit, releasing buyer and seller from all further obligations under the contract.
  4. Section 83.63, Florida Statutes (Casualty Damage)
    This brief section simply provides that if rented residential premises are damaged or destroyed “so that the enjoyment of the premises is substantially impaired, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement and immediately vacate the premises.” This section continues to present a second scenario whereby a tenant may “vacate the part of the premises rendered unusable by the casualty, in which case the tenant’s liability for rent shall be reduced by the fair rental value of that part of the premises damaged or destroyed.”

Source: Florida Realtors, Florida Realtors Legal Hotline





$250K Home Giveaway Sweepstakes for U.S. Military or Veterans

28 09 2017

Realtor.com® and Veterans United Home Loans, a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) purchase lender, have teamed up to launch a $250,000 Veterans Day Home Giveaway Sweepstakes.

The contest will award up to $250,000 toward a home purchase to a U.S. military service member or veteran.

Veterans and current members of the military can enter the sweepstakes until Oct. 29 at realtor.com/homegiveaway.

The winner will be announced on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.

The winner will receive $250,000 (less tax withholding) at the closing of a home purchase transaction.

For more details, go to https://www.realtor.com/homegiveaway/rules.

Source: Realtor.com®





Big 6 Tax Cut from the New GOP

27 09 2017

President Trump and the congressional Republican leadership released their newest highly-promoted tax plan on 9/27/17. Although the president promised it would be a “very comprehensive report,” it is in fact only a broad outline that is silent on key details. It sketches out big tax cuts for businesses and high-income households, modest tax cuts for middle-income taxpayers, and simplification of the individual tax code—all of which would reduce federal revenues by trillions of dollars over the next decade.

Here are six key takeaways from the framework:

It is not a plan. Much like the White House effort last April, it is little more than a rough outline. Trump is approaching tax reform very differently than President Reagan, who kicked off the debate over what would become the Tax Reform Act of 1986 with a comprehensive opening bid.  Wednesday’s document leaves out many crucial details. It even fails to identify individual tax brackets (it describes the rates but not the income levels to which they’d apply). Oddly, it describes three individual income tax rates—12-25-35–then says a fourth higher bracket “may apply.”

It isn’t tax reform. It is a tax cut. There is no plausible way Congress can fully fund all of the tax cuts in this outline while complying with its constraints on revenue-raisers. Businesses would receive the biggest tax cuts, which would ultimately benefit the highest income households.

It leaves the dirty work to Congress. The framework highlights tax cuts—for corporations, pass-through businesses, and many (if not most) individuals. Yet, it fails to identify a single individual tax preference it would eliminate. Despite early rumors to the contrary, it is even silent on the state and local tax deduction.

The outline does explicitly identify those tax breaks the authors would protect, including such big-ticket preferences as the deductions for mortgage interest and charitable giving, as well as tax subsidies that “encourage work, higher education, and retirement security. “ Similarly, it identifies only one business-side revenue-raiser, a “partial” limit on interest deductibility, while promising to preserve business credits for research and low-income housing.

It would mostly benefit very high-income households. It may cut taxes modestly for some middle-income households, but it appears to be a far bigger tax cut for high-income households. Individual rate cuts, repeal of the Alternative Minimum Tax and the estate tax, and preservation of tax preferences for charitable giving, mortgage interest, and retirement savings all primarily benefit those with high-incomes. Tax cuts for corporations and, especially, pass-through businesses, would mostly benefit the highest-income households.

It would simplify the individual income tax. By doubling the standard deduction and repealing the individual AMT, it would make filing simpler for millions of taxpayers. The framework also calls for simplifying the tax treatment of education and retirement savings, a long overdue idea. However, as with so much else, it says nothing about how.

It would not generate three percent economic growth.  Despite the president’s promises, it is implausible that this plan would permanently boost the economy. Trillions of dollars in lost revenue would add to the federal debt, raise interest rates, and make it more costly for businesses to invest. Those costs would offset the benefits of lower corporate tax rates and expensing.

However, those beneficial provisions are less generous in this plan than in earlier Trump proposals that included even lower corporate tax rates and a provision to allow firms to fully–and permanently– expense their capital investments in the year they are acquired. Some analysts argued the expensing provision alone would significantly boost growth. But today’s framework would permit expensing for only five years—a provision that may accelerate the timing of new investment but do little or nothing to increase the long-term capital stock.

This tax framework tilts more closely to the plan proposed by the House Republican leadership in 2016 than it does to past Trump ideas. But by saying so little about how the president would pay for big tax cuts, this framework gives Republican lawmakers no political cover on the many tough choices they face. Thus, for all the hype, it barely moves the ball at all.

Source: Forbes





Florida ranks 12th for economic health, 13th for economic activity.

6 06 2017

Economic growth varies from state to state, according to WalletHub’s analysis of its latest study on economic health. Out of 51 rankings (including Washington, D.C.), however Florida ranks 12th for “economic activity.”

The personal-finance website WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of 2017’s Best & Worst State Economies. In order to determine America’s top economic performers, WalletHub says its analysts compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 27 key indicators of economic performance and strength.

Overall Florida rankings (1=best, 25=avg.)

  • Economic activity: 13
  • Economic health: 12
  • Innovation potential: 30

Florida’s total score was 54.48. Washington ranked at the top with 76.54 followed by California with 73.78. At the bottom of the list, West Virginia ranked 28.14, with Louisiana one slot higher at 33.22.

Economic performance of Florida (1=best, 25=avg.)

  • No. 5 – GDP (gross domestic product) growth
  • No. 37 – Exports per capita
  • No. 2 – Startup activity
  • No. 35 – Percent of jobs in high-tech industries
  • No. 39 – Annual median household income
  • No. 3 – Change in nonfarm payrolls (2016 vs. 2015)
  • No. 23 – Government surplus/deficit per capita
  • No. 31 – Unemployment rate

Source: Florida Realtors, https://wallethub.com/edu/states-with-the-best-economies/21697/








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