We’re Still Far Away from a Full Housing Recovery While South Florida Exhibits the Best and Worst of Today’s Housing Market

Miami-FL-Real-Estate.jpgSince President Obama took office, the City of Weston has seen a 15.1% increase in home values. That makes the City of Weston the top performing housing market in the nation since February 2009 to August 2011.

On the other hand, and just 50 miles south of Weston, the City of Homestead earns the mark as having the worst performing housing market in that time span. The City of Homestead has seen home prices drop 48.8% since February 2009.

South Florida’s real estate market has been recently aided with the influx of foreign purchasers. But South Florida’s real estate market still has a long way to go before it fully recovers. The disparate treatment in cities separate by just 50 miles is indicative of the up and down nature of our real estate market.

Recently, renewed efforts to shore up the housing market has included a new program designed to help homeowners re-finance their homes. The re-vamped HARP is designed to allow people who owe significantly more on their mortgages than their properties are worth to re-finance their home.

Meanwhile, the banks are continuing to churn through the high volume of foreclosures on their ledger with no end in sight. This shadow inventory of homes will hinder the full recovery of the housing market for years. Until the shadow inventory of homes is fully diluted, South Florida’s housing market will not return to a healthy thriving market.
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Consider Your Options. Contact Us Today.

If you are on the brink of foreclosure, need a real estate attorney, or just need to assess your legal rights, please contact our office today.

Call us today toll free at 1-866-518-2913 or at 305-263-7700.
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Mortgage Rates Fall to Record Lows

mortgage-rates37.jpgThe Federal Reserve recently announced details of its plan to revive the housing market. The plan is called “Operation Twist.”

As a result of said announcement by the Fed, the average rates on conventional 30 year fixed mortgages fell to 4.01%. Rates on 15 year mortgages fell to 3.28%.

Operation Twist may lower these mortgage rates even further since the Fed’s stated objective of Operation Twist is to push long term rates down further. Especially since mortgage rates tend to track the yield on 10 year Treasury notes.

But low rates have done little to boost homes rates or refinancing to date. Indeed, recent reports are rather gloomy regarding sales to date. Moreover, banks are apparently ramping up their foreclosure efforts and pushing more homeowners into foreclosure.

All of this suggests a very difficult real estate market. Accordingly, struggling homeowners should contact our office to meet with one of our Miami foreclosure defense attorneys today. Those who are in danger of losing their home to a foreclosure should examine the situation, with the aid of one of our attorneys, in greater detail.

Homeowners have many alternatives available to them to fight a foreclosure or even shrinking home equity. But homeowners must be armed with as much information as possible to decide what is best for them regarding the ongoing foreclosure crises.

Bank of America is Aggressively Pushing More Foreclosures Nationwide and in Florida

bank of america.jpgBank of America is leading a renewed charge into pushing more homeowners in to foreclosure.

The first step in any foreclosure is to receive an initial default notice. The number of homes across the country that received an initial default notice increased 33% in August from July. It was the largest monthly increase since the housing bubble crashed back in August 2007. In places like Tallahassee, Florida, the spike was most evidence in that an additional 81% of homeowners received default notices.

A closer look at those numbers reveals that the largest increase of foreclosure claims came from Bank of America. By taking action on its foreclosure pipeline, Bank of America claims it is setting the stage for a industry wide housing market recovery.

However, many are claiming that Bank of America is increasing its foreclosure work while failing to clean up the shoddy paperwork practices that resulted in a moratorium in foreclosures last year.

Additionally, Bank of America recently entered into an $8.5 billion settlement with a group of large investors who claimed the bank had sold them poor quality investments based on faulty mortgages. Clearing the backlog of foreclosures and defaulted loans is a key part of the terms of the settlement.

Bank of America has to reduce the number of risky mortgage loans and also find 3rd party companies that can help speed up the process. That includes helping homeowners modify their loans or moving defaulted parties into foreclosures and pushing for foreclosure sales.

The current real estate market, and ongoing foreclosure, and housing, crises, presents all sorts of issues that must be properly navigated by a struggling homeowner. Our Miami foreclosure defense lawyers have assisted many homeowners in buying enough time to reach the solution that is right for them. There are many alternatives to foreclosure, and often times it just takes proper planning to properly navigate against the potential pitfalls. Help is often available to those who seek it.

The Housing Market Continues to Pummel Home Owners and Home Equity

separate-equity.jpgHomeowners today have seen their equity shrink to the lowest percentage since the 1940’s.

Average home equity plunged from more than 61% at the start of 2001 to 38% earlier this year. While that drop does not come as a surprise, it comes as home prices in many major cities, such as Miami, have reached their lowest levels since 2002.

And we are not out of the woods yet. Many experts would not be surprised if property values decline another 10% to 25% in the next 5 years.

Indeed, a backlog of foreclosures are poised to hit the market which means prices may still be depressed. Given the high number of both unsold properties, and foreclosures still in inventory, home builders are dissuaded from starting new construction projects.

Also, the housing recovery is also being dampened by high unemployment coupled with stricter lending practices by many of the nation’s leading banks.

Struggling homeowners should contact our office to meet with one of our Miami foreclosure defense attorneys today. Those who are in danger of losing their home to a foreclosure should examine the situation, with the aid of one of our attorneys, in greater detail.

Homeowners have many alternatives available to them to fight a foreclosure or even shrinking home equity. But homeowners must be armed with as much information as possible to decide what is best for them regarding the ongoing foreclosure crises.

The Home Buying Season This Year was one of the Worst on Record

not_buying_anything.jpgMarch through August are typically the peak buying months in the United States.

But this year, Americans purchased fewer new homes than at any point in history since the records began to be maintained. And the sales of previously occupied homes were not much better. Combined, total sales this spring and summer were the weakest on record dating back to 1963.

Those figures highlight just how poorly the housing market is currently doing, and suggests that a full housing recovery is still years away.

Not even historically low home prices coupled with historically low mortgage rates are enticing people to purchase a home. Even in a buyer’s market, no one is buying.

Indeed, the economy is barely growing and national unemployment rate continues to remain extremely high. As such, many people see a home purchase has too big of a risk.

Others simply can’t afford the 20% down payment that many lenders are requiring, or simply don’t want to deal with the hassle of the extensive paperwork that lenders today also require.

Many experts do not expect sales and prices to make a healthy recovery until at least 2015.

In a healthy six-month buying season, about 400,000 new homes would sell. However, this year approximately 168,000 new homes were sold from March through August. And that is less than the approximately 180,000 that were sold for that same period last year.

Our firm is prepared to assist you in navigating the difficult real estate climate that currently exists here in South Florida. Whether you are buying or selling a home, or if you are facing a foreclosure, or short sale, please call our office to discuss your potential options.

The Era of the “No Docs” Mortgages is Over and Tougher Standards Today Makes it Harder to Secure a Mortgage

Chicago Summer 2007 088.jpgFollowing the greatest housing crash since the Great Depression, home lending standards have tightened to their strictest levels in decades.

Tight home loan credit is affecting everything from home sales to household finances. Many borrowers are struggling to qualify for loans to buy homes. Others can’t take advantage of some of the lowest interest rates in 50 years because they don’t have enough equity in their homes to refinance.

Those who can get loans typically need higher credit scores and bigger down payments than they would have in recent years. They face more demands to prove their incomes, verify assets, show steady employment and explain things such as new credit cards and small bank account deposits.

Even then, they may not qualify for the lowest interest rates.

Sometimes, even borrowers with seemingly pristine finances are struggling to close home loans.

Plus, nearly all borrowers are facing more documentation requests. In other words, the era of “no docs” is over.

Except for a few years leading up to the real estate crash — when some borrowers got loans while providing little if any documentation of their assets and income — borrowers have long had to supply two years of tax returns, pay stubs and financial statements when applying for home loans.

Now, lenders want tax records to come directly from the IRS, as well as from borrowers. The IRS releases the records after applicants sign forms giving it permission to do so. Instead of two months of bank statements and pay stubs, lenders may want them for each pay period until the loan closes.

Higher standards do appear to be reducing loan defaults, which means fewer foreclosures in the future.

Fewer than 1.3% of loans originated in 2009 that were resold to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae went into default after 18 months, government data show. That’s down from more than 22% default rates for 2007 loans and about 3% default rates in 2002.

Yet, many argue that the tight standards are a drag on the economy.

Contact us today to discuss your real estate needs.

Florida Leads the Nation in the Number of Homes in Foreclosure

re pic.jpgFlorida currently has the nation’s highest inventory of homes in foreclosure. To be more exact 14.4 percent of mortgages in Florida are currently in foreclosure.

In addition, the Mortgage Bankers Association states that nearly one in four mortgages in Florida is either past due or already in foreclosure. There are currently 3.2 million mortgage loans in Florida and about 739,000, or 23.1 percent, are in foreclosure. Another 8.7 percent of properties are at least 30 days behind on payments. Nationally, the delinquency rate is 8.44 percent.

The subprime mortgage market has been blamed for the real estate crash we are currently experiencing. Accordingly, its no surprise that more than 50 percent of the state’s subprime loans are in default.

Although we’ve been able to find pockets of good news in this real estate market, we are still deep in this real estate recession. With Florida being the 4th largest state in the country coupled with the real estate boom we experienced in the mid-2000s, its no surprise that Florida ranks first in the number of homes in foreclosure.

Nevertheless, every cloud has a silver lining. The depressed market has led to low property prices. In turn, this is a great time to purchase property. As we’ve discussed, many, including foreigners, are taking advantage of Miami’s real estate market.

At Alvarez & Barbara, LLP, we represent buyers, sellers, lenders, borrowers, and developers with real estate matters. This experience allows us to understand legal issues from various angles to effectively advocate our clients’ interests. No matter what you or your business’s real estate needs are – think of Alvarez & Barbara, LLP, and contact us for a free consultation.
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About the AuthorGabriel de las Salas is an attorney with the law firm of Alvarez & Barbara, LLP. His practice is focused on general civil and commercial litigation, including personal injury, insurance claims and real estate disputes. Mr. de las Salas received his B.A., cum laude, from the University of Florida, and his J.D., from Stetson University College of Law.

Location, location, location – Miami’s Real Estate Attorneys Are Seeing a Drastic Correlation and Correction in South Florida’s Real Estate Market Depending on the Location

location.jpgLocation, location, location – that saying couldn’t be more true in South Florida’s real estate market. Some South Florida neighborhoods have seen 20 percent appreciation while other neighborhoods have seen 30 percent drops.

Unfortunately, the neighborhoods that are seeing depreciation outnumber the zip codes which are on the upswing. As a result, overall numbers are still on a downward trend. The zip codes in the negative territory are mostly low-income and inner-city locales.

According to a recent report in the Miami Herald, its tough to say whether Miami has hit the bottom of the real estate market. A major factor contributing to price depreciation is a concentration of foreclosures. Obviously, the greater the concentration of foreclosures, the greater the depreciation.

The biggest winners in this market are areas with large numbers of new luxury and waterfront condos, solid bedroom communities in well-established suburbs and the City of Miami Beach. The biggest losers are located in the southernmost parts of Dade County and inner-city neighborhoods like Brownsville, Opa-locka and Little River.

It seems like this news is just like South Florida’s real estate market. It has its ups and downs and its positives paired with negatives. We are fortunate to even see a sliver of good news in this market. In fact, South Florida’s real estate is being lauded by national media outlets as being the example of a community that may be nearing the bottom of the real estate market recession. This may be the time to take advantage of low prices, low rates, and purchase real estate.

At Alvarez & Barbara LLP, we have extensive experience handling all types of real estate issues. We can handle all aspects of your real estate transaction. A major part of our practice includes real estate litigation as well. So, whatever real estate legal issues you’re facing think of Alvarez & Barbara, LLP. Contact us today for a free consultation.
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EXTENDED BODY:
Consider Your Options. Contact Us Today.

We are certainly in difficult times. At Alvarez & Barbara, LLP, we understand all of our client’s individual needs and pride ourselves in providing high quality service.

Call us today toll free at 1-866-518-2913 or at 305-263-7700.

About the AuthorGabriel de las Salas is an attorney with the law firm of Alvarez & Barbara, LLP. His practice is focused on general civil and commercial litigation, including personal injury, insurance claims and real estate disputes. Mr. de las Salas received his B.A., cum laude, from the University of Florida, and his J.D., from Stetson University College of Law.

Real Estate Sales Have Increased in Miami-Dade County

Real_Estate_Sold_Sign.pngThere were 2,628 sales of existing, single-family homes in Miami Dade County during the second quarter. That is a 30% increase from the same period last year.

The condo market in Miami Dade County saw an even bigger jump. In the second quarter. There were 4,140 sales compared with 2,550 during the same time last year. That is an increase of 62% year over year.

Of course, a major reason for the steady increase in sales has been a steady decrease in prices. In Miami-Dade County, for instance, single-family home prices slipped 9% to $178,800 and condo prices fell 6% to $119,800.

The outlook for the rest of the year is uncertain after the United States debt downgrade that could impact mortgage rates and investor confidence. Foreclosures are also on the rise again, although they remain far below year ago levels.

Moreover, international buyers have recently been rather aggressive purchasing distressed properties here in South Florida. However, if international purchasers shy away from these discounted opportunities because of the recent economic volatility in the United States market, it could make the real estate recovery here in south Florida last that much longer.

Nonetheless, today’s real estate market presents wonderful opportunities to purchase real estate. The combination of low prices and historically low interest rates makes it in a once in a lifetime buyer’s market.

If you are interested in either buying, or selling, your property, please contact us today. We are prepared to assist you with your transaction and your real estate needs.

Experts are Bullish on South Florida’s Real Estate Revival

bull.jpgWhile the rest of the Southeastern real estate market is suffering, it appears that Florida is only producing good news.

According to a recent report from the Federal Reserve in Atlanta, sales of homes in Florida are outperforming the rest of the South.

Apart from this good news from the Atlanta Fed, South Florida home prices rose in May.

Although the monthly report card used tempered language, it stated that the Atlanta district reported some growth in home sales over the prior year because Florida is driving the gains in the region. Outside of Florida, sales declined.

While sales are expected to stay weak elsewhere, Florida brokers are taking a positive outlook. The Federal Reserve Atlanta District is composed of Alabama, Georgia, Florida and parts of Tennessee, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

On a more local basis, we experienced nine straight months of falling prices in South Florida. However, this past May the spring buying season boosted values.

Nevertheless, prices are still down 5.3 percent compared May 2010. Currently, home prices are back on the level they were at in the summer of 2003.

We should all be happy to hear about this positive real estate news. However, the experts say we truly won’t see a recovery in the housing market until employment levels stabilize. Nevertheless, now is a good time to take advantage of current conditions and purchase real estate.

At Alvarez & Barbara LLP, we have extensive experience handling all types of real estate issues. We can handle all aspects of your real estate transaction. A major part of our practice includes real estate litigation as well. So, whatever real estate legal issues you’re facing think of Alvarez & Barbara, LLP.
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EXTENDED BODY:
Consider Your Options. Contact Us Today.

We are certainly in difficult times. At Alvarez & Barbara, LLP, we understand all of our client’s individual needs and pride ourselves in providing high quality service.

Call us today toll free at 1-866-518-2913 or at 305-263-7700.

About the AuthorGabriel de las Salas is an attorney with the law firm of Alvarez & Barbara, LLP. His practice is focused on general civil and commercial litigation, including personal injury, insurance claims and real estate disputes. Mr. de las Salas received his B.A., cum laude, from the University of Florida, and his J.D., from Stetson University College of Law.