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Real Estate News and Updates in Florida and the MLS

 

2 08 09

Financing
we need get Fannie Mae back to a 10 home limit

This is the big wild card for investment property because the current Fannie Mae “four property rule” has kept many veteran investors on the sidelines. But if Fannie Mae were to return to the “10 property” limit, or if banks began offering any kind of reasonable seller financing, the floor under housing prices in Atlanta could be re-established fairly quickly.

All but the most ardent doom and gloomers believe that the current condition of variable home values will end sooner rather than later, and anyone who can lock in a low price now will be glad they did. But the real key is how to finance that low price.

A super-low price combined with a great financing makes for a fabulous real estate investment opportunity. And I believe the solution to this problem is seller financing. I am already starting to get reports of banks selling their houses and agreeing to carry back some sort of financing.

The key for investors is not necessarily a 30-year fixed-rate loan at 6 percent interest with nothing down, although that would be nice. Instead, the key is for banks to be able to convert their nonperforming assets (the vacant houses) into performing assets (loans requiring a substantial down payment and reasonable qualification guidelines).

These loans can be good for the banks and good for the borrower, and they could still be attractive with terms as short as five to seven years. The investment community is ready but needs the financing to act.

John Adams is a broker and investor. For more real estate information or to make a comment, visit www.money99.com.

 

South Florida housing prices becoming affordable again
02 08 09

Housing is suddenly affordable to those with average income -- without risky teaser rates or subprime mortgages or cooking the numbers to qualify.

''I never thought I would be a homeowner because of the money I'm making,'' said Jeudy, 33, a buffet attendant at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Miami, whose take-home pay is about $22,000 a year. ``I never thought I could afford it by myself.''

Dirt-cheap foreclosures and a sluggish market have pushed prices down by much as 43 percent since they peaked in 2006 and 2007. For the first time in a long while, thousands of homes are listed for less than $150,000 -- even less than $100,000 -- putting them snugly within the affordability range of police officers, teachers and others long priced out of the South Florida market.

At the peak of the market, affordable housing was so scarce that companies had difficulty recruiting workers from outside the region.

While the pickings are more plentiful now, borrowing hurdles are daunting, often including demands for 20 percent down payments and stellar credit scores. Buyers are also being held back by fears that housing prices will sink even more and by concerns that they could lose their jobs in the deepening recession.

DOWN PAYMENT

''I need a few more weeks to get to 20 percent,'' said Thomas Krusin, a sea-freight broker for an international transportation company. Krusin, 30, has ridden his bike through Surfside, admiring houses that two years ago were selling for twice as much as he hopes to pay -- about $350,000. And that's for a place close enough to the beach that he can walk to it.

''I am looking now because real-estate prices are dropping and the interest rates are so low, it's a good combination,'' he said.

For home buyers with more modest savings and means, FHA loans are filling in the financing gap with down payments of only 3.5 percent of the purchase price and a little more lenient credit standards.

Jeudy qualified for a 30-year FHA loan at 6 percent interest, and said she plans to use her tax refund to make the down payment. Her estimated monthly payment -- including taxes and insurance -- is $880, $130 more than she is spending on rent in a crime-ridden apartment complex nearby, Jeudy said. She'll qualify for a $7,500 tax credit for first-time home buyers.

For those who don't need a loan and can pay cash, there's a gold rush of sorts going on -- especially for Miami-Dade County houses in the sub-$100,000 category, according to Miami real-estate agent Dee Castillo.

There are a ''bunch of investors running around town with cash,'' she said.

Eduardo Fernandez, a small-business owner in Little Havana, proudly showed off the four-bedroom Florida City home he has under contract for $47,500 cash. It needs work and will cost an estimated $20,000 to repair vandalism inflicted by the former occupants. A trashed home is often the byproduct of a foreclosure.


 

 

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By LINDA RAWLS

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Friday, October 12, 2007

Local housing markets are not going to turn around this year or next year - and might not get better even by 2009, a noted economist said Thursday at the sixth annual conference on "Real Estate Development Trends" at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

"There are people who want to buy a home now and are waiting because of fear," said Bradley Hunter, director of the South Florida division of Metrostudy in West Palm Beach, which conducts housing research.

"I think the way it will play out is that people are still getting married and they're still having babies," Hunter said. "People who need a house will be the first to come back (into the market). The others will come back when they see that, and this will create your next 'up market.' "

However, Hunter dodged repeated attempts to pin down just when this "up market" might show up.

Metrostudy's clients include most of the developers in South Florida.

He did provide lots of other specifics in his speech, however.

"It might be corny," he said, "but the most useful way to look at today's housing market is 'the good, the bad and the ugly.' "

The good: Listings on the MLS have peaked.

There's no recession. People are buying when the price is right. Florida Power & Light's new customers show population growth.

The bad: Buyers are still unenthusiastic. It's hard to get loans, and jumbo loans are expensive. The Fed can't fix these problems.

And the ugly: Foreclosures and currently rented investor units are causing the inventory of unsold homes to surge.

The conference, sponsored by the Urban Land Institute, was well-represented by the leadership of numerous public and private real estate ventures in South Florida.

If a meteor had dropped on the convention center Thursday, real estate development throughout Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie counties would have come to a complete halt.

In the meantime, Marcela Camblor - urban design director for the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council - told the audience of about 300 people "What's Hot in the Treasure Coast" and Gregg Logan, managing director of Robert Charles Lesser & Co., gave a brisk overview of commercial real estate in the three counties.

"It's not possible for the residential sector to leave the commercial sector unscathed," Logan said. "People living on credit cards impacts how much they'll spend at Wal-Mart."

Despite that drag, St. Lucie County is poised for commercial growth, but with challenges that include increased land and construction costs, energy and environmental concerns, and escalating rent costs, property taxes and insurance.

The conference concluded with an optimistic outlook for Treasure Coast communities.

They are working together on the highly sought and much-touted scientific institutes that comprise the new Research Coast, said Harry Orf, vice president of scientific operations for Scripps Florida; Edwin Massey, president of Indian River Community College; and Richard Houghten, president of Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies

 

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Home buyers out there, but waiting for better deals, expert says

 
 
 
 
By Paul Owers | South Florida Sun-Sentinel
October 12, 2007

Despite the depressed South Florida housing market, there is pent-up demand for homes from young professionals who want to buy but are holding off for fear of future price declines, a local real estate analyst said Thursday.

"There still are people getting married, having babies, getting new jobs," said Brad Hunter, president of the regional division of Metrostudy, a consulting firm. "That naturally generates a need for new housing."

Hunter spoke to about 375 real estate industry leaders during an Urban Land Institute conference at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach.

Many potential buyers don't want to commit now because sluggish home prices could keep dropping, Hunter said. The uncertainty over property taxes, trouble getting mortgages and an inability to sell their current homes also prevent them from buying.

"Ultimately, there will be an up cycle," Hunter said. "It'll be when people who really need a house say, 'It may not be the exact bottom [of the market], but it's time for me to buy.'"

Hunter, however, was reluctant to predict when a rebound might begin. He doesn't expect improvement any time soon, and some analysts say it could be 2009 before the local market turns around.

On Wednesday, the National Association of Realtors said existing home sales in the United States will be 10.8 percent below last year in a forecast that has grown more pessimistic with each passing month in 2007.

Although the inventory of properties for sale in South Florida has leveled off recently, a surge in home foreclosures next spring will add to the inventory and hurt sellers and builders, Hunter said.

Broward County had 1,503 mortgage defaults last month, more than double the 636 from a year ago, according to Plantation-based Realestat.com. Actual foreclosure sales hit 718 in September, more than double the 327 from last September.

Palm Beach County had 904 defaults last month, up from 468 a year ago. The county's foreclosure sales were down slightly in September from last year.

Nationwide, foreclosure filings nearly doubled last month compared with September 2006, according to RealtyTrac of Irvine, Calif.

Prices of houses, condominiums and townhomes in South Florida will continue to fall, Hunter said. Experts say a return to more affordable properties ultimately will stimulate the market.

The outlook isn't nearly as bleak for commercial real estate, analysts said at Thursday's conference. Institutional investors are scooping up quality properties, although they are paying less for them as lenders tighten credit standards.

"There's repricing going on, but demand is still there," said Bob Sullivan, president of RJS/Jackson Group, a West Palm Beach retail brokerage.

Still, the residential downturn isn't leaving the commercial sector unscathed, said Gregg Logan, managing director of Robert Charles Lesser & Co., an Orlando consulting firm. The loss of construction jobs is affecting demand for retail.

"People are living on their credit cards, and that's going to impact how much they can spend at Wal-Mart," Logan said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story