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

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$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®





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/





How to Prepare to Be a Homeowner

31 05 2017

Ready to Become a Homeowner?

What to Keep in Mind as You Leave Renting Behind

Each year, millions of Americans purchase a home. In 2015, that was about 5.2 million, according to the National Association of Realtors, and about 35% of them were first-time buyers. If you’re anything like those millions, you’ve been waiting for the moment you finally feel ready to become an owner yourself. You’ve probably carefully considered your budget, your rising rent, and your future prospects — do you plan to move or have kids in the next few years? Can you get by with a two-bedroom, or should you spring for three?

While you’re weighing your needs with your means, there are a few other components of the transition to keep in mind.

  1. Down Payment

Surely you haven’t overlooked this massive expense, which remains one of the biggest obstacles for hopeful homebuyers. Although you can negotiate the terms of your loan, depending on your credit score, you should plan to have 10% to 20% of your future home’s value saved up for a down payment — plus a few thousand more so you can be prepared for unanticipated repairs or other financial hiccups. If that seems impossible, the Federal Housing Administration has a program for first-time homebuyers, offering loans with down payments as low as 3.5%. However, with that small deposit comes larger monthly payments, and a larger amount paid by the end of the loan. Smaller down payments also result in another monthly cost: private mortgage insurance, which lenders sometimes require to protect themselves from loss.

  1. Closing Costs

Yes — there’s even more cash that comes into play when you finalize your home purchase. The down payment goes toward the home’s value, but then there is also a cluster of smaller fees that get thrown into the “closing costs” bucket: loan origination fee, credit report, loan underwriter, home inspection and appraisal, title search, survey fee, and taxes (on the sale, not property taxes), and other assorted fees delineated by your real estate agent. Fortunately, you’re not looking at another $30,000 — unless you’re planning to buy a $1.5 million home. Your closing costs will typically add up to between 2% and 5% of the home’s value.

  1. Insurance

As a renter, you probably paid a monthly insurance premium to make sure your personal belongings were protected in the event of a fire or other accident (at least you should have). And those premiums were probably pretty cheap. Your homeowners insurance premiums, however, will be quite a bit higher, and that’s because it has more to cover aside from the extra square footage. Homeowners insurance will financially protect you from damages incurred to your home, and all of your belongings inside of it, from damage caused by wind, hail, ice, fire, and more.

  1. Taxes

This is another one of the costs that discourages a lot of renters when they begin to consider owning. But property taxes don’t have to be scary, or even that expensive. Familiarize yourself with the local tax rate before the purchase, and then set aside money in an escrow account each month so that you have enough to make the payment when it comes due, instead of scrambling into your savings. Many lenders require this escrow account. When they’re due — and how often — depends on your location, but the average U.S. household pays just over $2,000 in annually.

  1. Maintenance

Time to start filling up that garage: Get a lawnmower, shovel, weedwacker, rake, or any other implement you’ll need to keep your property attractive and safe in every season. Additionally, plan to spend about 1% of your home’s value on annual maintenance projects, which can range from new batteries for your smoke detector to replacing your hot water heater or significant replumbing. Even brand-new houses aren’t immune to maintenance costs, so keep a devoted savings account at the ready — and don’t overlook your duties. Create (or find) a maintenance checklist and schedule to stay on top of important upkeep.

This article was provided by Sam Radbil, a contributing member of the marketing and communications team at ABODO. ABODO Gainesville apartments was founded in 2013 and is headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin.





The Shipyards Project

23 02 2017

The Downtown Investment Authority (DIA) has expanded the scope of a proposal for redevelopment of the Shipyards project to also include Metropolitan Park. Previous discussion and negotiations with Shad Khan, who submitted a proposal in 2015 to redevelop the Shipyards, have been scraped and the process for redevelopment will start over. The DIA has officially begun soliciting proposals on Jan. 4, with a due date of March 20.

shipyards-activity-deck-750xx530-298-0-82The Shipyards has long been seen as a key property along the St. Johns River that would be a catalyst for more development.

There are federal strings attached to Metropolitan Park, which was developed with the help of a $1.8 million federal grant with the understanding the property would be used for public use.

DIA CEO Aundra Wallace said some portion of the about-70 acres that are being proposed for development will be public space, meeting the federal requirements with Metropolitan Park. The National Park Service would have to sign off on the plan.

The amount of time the DIA would take to select the most suitable bid was not discussed, but once that bid has been selected and approved by the City Council, an 18-month time frame was provided for negotiations.

Jaguars President Mark Lamping released the following statement following the DIA meeting.

“We support and welcome the DIA’s decision and look forward to the opportunity to take a new and broader look at a riverfront development that includes Met Park. Shad’s interest in developing the Met Park site and Downtown Jacksonville has been well documented and is consistent with the Jaguars’ overall commitment to the revitalization of our downtown core. The Daily’s Place project is an ongoing example of that commitment, and a potential riverfront development that included the Met Park property would represent a logical next phase.”

Source: Jacksonville Business Journal





U.S. Foreclosure Activity Drops to 10-Year Low in 2016

19 01 2017

U.S. foreclosure activity dropped 14 percent last year from 2015, according to Attom Data Solutions’ Year-End 2016 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report.

Foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — were reported on 933,045 U.S. properties in 2016, reaching the lowest level since 2006, when there were 717,522 U.S. properties with foreclosure filings.

Florida was ranked No. 4 in the nation due to having 1.18 percent of all the housing units in the state with foreclosure filings. The Sunshine State had 106, 901 total properties with foreclosure filings, down 33.09 percent from 2015, and down 77.97 percent from the peak in 2010.

In December, 85,919 U.S. properties had foreclosure filings, down 1 percent from the previous month and down 17 percent from a year ago — the 15th consecutive month with a year-over-year decrease in foreclosure activity.

“The national foreclosure rate stayed within an historically normal range for the third consecutive year in 2016, even as banks continued to clear out legacy foreclosures from the last housing bubble, particularly in the final quarter of the year,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at Attom Data Solutions, the new parent company of RealtyTrac, in a prepared statement. “Foreclosures completed in the fourth quarter had been in the foreclosure process 803 days on average, a substantial jump from the third quarter and indicating that banks pushed through significant numbers of legacy foreclosures during the quarter. Despite that push, we still show that more than half of all active foreclosures nationwide are on loans originated between 2004 and 2008, with a much higher share of legacy foreclosures in some markets.”

When it comes to the number of legacy foreclosures, New Jersey led the way with 32,279, followed by New York (31,838), Florida (29,411), California (17,208), and Illinois (12,244).

In addition, the states with the highest foreclosure rates in 2016 were New Jersey (1.86 percent of housing units with a foreclosure filing); Delaware (1.51 percent); Maryland (1.37 percent); Florida (1.18 percent); and Illinois (1.10 percent).

Among 216 metropolitan statistical areas with a population of at least 200,000, those with the highest foreclosure rate in 2016 were Atlantic City, N.J., (3.39 percent of housing units with a foreclosure filing); Trenton, N.J., (2.16 percent); Rockford, Ill., (1.54 percent); Philadelphia (1.53 percent); and Lakeland-Winter Haven, (1.46 percent).

Other metro areas with foreclosure rates ranking among the top 10 highest nationwide in 2016 were Baltimore (1.45 percent of housing units with a foreclosure filing); Tampa-St. Petersburg (1.38 percent); Chicago (1.35 percent); Columbia, S.C., (1.32 percent); and Miami (1.30 percent).

There were eight states where the average time to foreclose in the fourth quarter was more than 1,000 days: Utah (1,403); New Jersey (1,383); New York (1,283); Hawaii (1,220); Florida (1,186); Indiana (1,033); Illinois (1,024); and Pennsylvania (1,010).

Attom’s year-end foreclosure report is a count of unique properties with a foreclosure filing during the year based on publicly recorded and published foreclosure filings collected in more than 2,500 counties nationwide, with address-level data on more than 23 million foreclosure filings historically also available for license or customized reporting.

Source: Florida Realtors®, Orlando Business Journal, RealtyTrac





Pending Home Sales Hit a 10-Year High in April

28 05 2016

Pending home sales rose for the third consecutive month in April and reached their highest level in over a decade, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).

All major regions saw gains in contract activity last month except for the Midwest, which saw a meager decline.

The Pending Home Sales Index – a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings for homes that have not yet sold – hiked 5.1 percent higher to 116.3 in April from an upwardly revised 110.7 in March. Year-to-year, it’s 4.6 percent above April 2015 (111.2).

After last month’s gain, the index has now increased year-over-year for 20 consecutive months. Vast gains in the South and West propelled April’s pending sales in April to its highest level since February 2006 (117.4), says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

“The ability to sign a contract on a home is slightly exceeding expectations this spring, even with the affordability stresses and inventory squeezes affecting buyers in a number of markets,” Yun says. “The building momentum from the over 14 million jobs created since 2010 and the prospect of facing higher rents and mortgage rates down the road appear to be bringing more interested buyers into the market.”

Mortgage rates have remained below 4 percent in 16 of the past 17 months, but Yun says it remains to be seen how long they will stay this low. Along with rent growth, rising gas prices – and the fading effects of last year’s cheap oil on consumer prices – could edge up inflation and push rates higher. For now, Yun foresees mortgage rates continuing to hover around 4 percent in coming months, but inflation could potentially surprise the market and cause rates to increase suddenly.

“Even if rates rise soon, sales have legs for further expansion this summer if housing supply increases enough to give buyers an adequate number of affordable choices during their search,” adds. Yun.

Following the housing market’s best first quarter of existing-sales since 2007 (5.66 million) and a decent increase (1.7 percent) in April, Yun expects sales this year to climb above earlier estimates and be around 5.41 million – a 3.0 percent boost from 2015. After accelerating to 6.8 percent a year ago, national median existing-home price growth is forecast to slightly moderate to between 4 and 5 percent.

Pending sales in the Northeast climbed 1.2 percent to 98.2 in April, and are now 10.1 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest, the index declined slightly (0.6 percent) to 112.9 in April, but it’s still 2.0 percent above April 2015.

Pending home sales in the South jumped 6.8 percent to an index of 133.9 in April – 5.1 percent higher than last April. The index in the West soared 11.4 percent in April to 106.2, and it’s now 2.8 percent above a year ago.

Source: National Association of Realtors








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