Many South Florida Homeowners are Finally Able to Sell their Homes – For a Profit

For sale signHome prices are on the rise in South Florida.  And this is comforting news for many South Florida homeowners that were hit hard during the Great Recession.

Today, many South Florida homeowners are finally able to sell their homes – for a profit.  With the housing market slowly making a comeback homeowners are seeing their property begin to produce equity again. Indeed, according to a recent report, South Florida saw an 11% increase in price gains from a year earlier.  That means that many home owners that are selling their property are even realizing a profit from the sale.  There are less short sales today, and more traditional sales where homeowners are in fact making money from the sale.

In today’s market, the “for sale” sign seems to be making a comeback.  If you take a drive through many South Florida neighborhoods you will notice an increase in “For Sale” signs.  That is the case because many homeowners are now in a position to sell their home and make a profit.

Part of the reason for this improved market is that supply and demand are starting to even out more than they have in the last year or so.  For instance, less foreclosures are also helping the real estate market.  So far this year, there have been 6,574 foreclosures filings in Miami-Dade County.   At the same time last year, there were 12,720 foreclosure filings.  So foreclosure activities in Miami-Dade County have decreased by close to 50%.

The decrease in the foreclosure rate is only helping the real estate market as a whole rebound.  Home prices are also rising faster than the rate of inflation.  And many homeowners are taking advantage of those prices to sell their homes for a profit.

But with more properties coming to the market, buyers now finally have more options.   But many of the homes coming to the market today are million dollar plus home listings.

If you are considering purchasing a property, and you are a first time buyer, then you should avoid making these mistakes even as the market continues to improve.  Moreover, and as you consider buying property, please make sure you understand that you could potentially save money in closing costs by following these tips.  Please do not hesitate to contact us should you wish to discuss your real estate transaction with our firm.

Foreclosures Dip to Levels Not Seen Since 2006

bank-foreclosed-homes-for-sale.jpgForeclosure filings in 2013 were down 26% from 2012. These filings included notices of default, bank repossessions, and scheduled auctions. The foreclosure rate dropped to 1.04% in 2013, as one in every 96 homes reported at least one foreclosure filing. This rate is significantly lower than it was in 2010 when we saw a foreclosure rate of 2.23%.

Although this is the case there are still many homes in danger of foreclosure as borrowers owed at least 25% more than the homes actual value. Repossessions were also down 31% from 2012, as there were 463,000 homes repossessed in 2013. This is a great number considering there were more than a million repossessions in 2010.

Although the numbers as a whole look great, Florida is still the leader in foreclosures. Last year Florida saw 270,000 properties or over 3% of all housing units, that obtained at least one foreclosure filing. That’s a significant number considering it’s over twice as much as second place California.

Like Florida, Miami is the number one city in foreclosure proceedings, as one in every twenty-five homes or 96,710 properties has a foreclosure filing. This is up 44% higher than in 2011, which means that Miami is behind in bringing down its foreclosure filings. On the other hand, 2013 foreclosures filings for new matters were actually down. In 2013 there were 16,704 foreclosure filings in Miami-Dade County compared with 26,202 in 2012.

As such, in Miami, there is still a hefty backlog of foreclosures being pushed through the judicial system.

The good news, however, is that as the home market rebounds less homes are underwater. Additionally, home prices continue to increase as interest rates continue to remain at historic lows.

Miami’s Foreclosure Process is a Major Hurdle in a Improving Housing Market

foreclosure 00a.jpgFlorida’s foreclosure process is a major hurdle in a slowly improving housing market. Today Florida has the highest rate of mortgages that are behind by more than 90 days. The national average for mortgages which are behind more than 90 days is currently at 5.6 percent. However, Florida is at a whopping 13.3 percent, over twice the country’s average. Florida had 103,000 residences that were auctioned or taken back by lenders over the past year. That total means that the state accounts for 8.8 percent of the foreclosure inventory, while the next highest state is at 6 percent. Many believe that the reason for this extremely high average is the states lengthy foreclosure process.

Due to the astonishing number of foreclosures and Florida’s current foreclosure process, homes are not making it back onto the market in a timely manner. Many of the banks or lenders who foreclose on these properties are unable to put them back on the market, because these residences continue to be occupied. The current process, which must go through the courts often times gets delayed to allow residents to try and hold onto their homes.

The homeowners/renters of these properties are causing an increase in price for the properties that do make it on the market. It is believed that if more properties from foreclosure are out on the market, it will balance out the high prices that are currently taking over the market.

There is a direct correlation between Florida’s foreclosure process and the continuing struggles with foreclosure that cripple the housing market. Since the state has the slowest process in the country, Florida is continually crowned with the highest percentage of foreclosures.

Brazen Fraud – Fraudulent Deeds Creating Problems for Homeowners and Purchasers Alike

fraud.jpgA large number of claims in Florida are being filed as a result of forged deeds on foreclosed or bank owned properties. The deeds were almost always into trust and the transaction that was insured in the one from the trust to the new, the innocent purchaser.

How this scam works is as follows. First, the property is either currently being foreclosed on, or has been foreclosed on and the bank has acquired it. Often times the property at issue is “abandoned” by the homeowner leading to squatters coming to the property. Second, a special warranty deed is recorded that looks to be from an officer in the lender/bank’s office. Third, the grantee on the deed is a trust. Not a trustee of the trust, but the trust. Fourth, minimal doc stamps are then paid on the transfer.

The red flag or scam is that the grantee is a trust not the trustee of the trust. Moreover, another red flag has to do with the fact that only nominal stamps are paid for the transfer to the trust. Also, often times the notary who notarized the documents is not even a real notary.

For instance, our firm recently worked on a case where this fraud became painfully evident. Our client had fallen behind on his loan, and was in the process of being foreclosed. A short sale had been agreed upon and the parties were working towards completing that deal. However, a routine title search revealed the homeowners had deeded their property over to the “Claude Monet Trust.” The homeowners, of course, had nothing to do with that transaction, and denied ever selling it to the “Claude Monet Trust.” But that did not stop the brazen fraudsters from going so far as even filing a satisfaction of mortgage. As this was going on, squatters then appeared on the property, which further complicated matters. Fortunately, the notary who had notarized the deed was non-existent, and the doc stamps paid were improper, among other irregularities. We were able to work with the bank and get all the fraudulent papers stricken from the court file without having to file a quit title action, and we were able to complete the short sale.
But our story is not unique to the South Florida real estate landscape. Indeed, a partnership called Presscott Rosche or Prescott Rosche, is taking advantage of Florida’s foreclosure process in a fraudulent manner too. This company has claimed more than thirty (30) houses and condos throughout South Florida by fraudulent means. This is a very troubling development to many homeowners as the company has easily passed fraudulent deeds through the court system. These deeds often times do not contain the signatures of the proper homeowners; rather they contain forged signatures.

Most of the real homeowners, who have been a victim of this scam, are often times unaware that this is happening to them. They have submitted documents called “A Notice of Non-Abandonment” claiming the homes before “God Almighty under the Great Seal of Florida, and the laws of the united stated of America.”

On one occasion, Prescott Rosche filed a deed saying Frank Lopez and his wife transferred their Kendall to their partnership. Mr. Lopez first found out about this when he returned to his homes months after vacating it to find three people living in his home. He informed the police, who arrived along with four other men who brought a purported deed to his house. Lopez was later sent an apologetic letter by Prescott Rosche along with a deed that transferred the property back to Lopez. This was one of ten (10) deeds, which where transferred from Presscott Rosche back to its original owners.

Along with Prescott Rosche many fraudulent antics, they also have many employees under fake names and with criminal pasts. For instance, one of the partnership’s agents is listed as Daya Oluz, who in actuality is Claudia Zuloaga. Zuloaga is known to be an office manager for the company. She most recently worked as a tax preparer; who was banned from submitting tax documents after it was alleged that she was orchestrating a tax fraud scheme. Another example of this is Esteban Oviedo, who used the company’s fraudulent practices to take over a home which was owned by a German couple. Oviedo was suspected of breaking into the house and changing the locks. Oviedo claimed to have a proper lease to the home and was not convicted.

Fraud seems to be involved in every aspect of Prescott Rosche and it seems as though they have continued to proceed in fraud with relative ease. They often times are acquitted from claims against them, as the court claims there is not enough evidence to show they are not true owners.

Many of these fraudsters have mastered avoiding major legal issues as they rarely show up in court to defend claims against them. Contact our firm today if you believe that you have been the victim of a fraudulent transfer of your property.

Equity Increasing for Homeowners

home-equity.jpgWith the housing market slowly making a comeback homeowners are seeing their property begin to produce equity again. Real estate equity jumped more in 2012 than it has in the past 65 years, with equity nationwide rising $8.2 trillion last year. The Federal Reserve reports that as a 25% gain.

But the recovery is not only giving homeowners much needed equity the upturn is also encouraging more lenders to make home equity loans, giving homeowners access to cash for that equity.

In the five years leading up to the 2006 real estate peak, Americans went on a spending spree, taking out $800 billion in their rising equity and spending it on everything from cars and tvs to debt consolidation and college tuition. Since the housing collapse banks have written off or deemed “worthless” over $250 million in home equity loans. The rate of current outstanding loans more than 90 days delinquent has dropped 25% in the 4th quarter according to the FDIC. And banks are now seeing home equity loans as a source of income again rather than losses. If loan defaults continue to decline this may be the year that banks see the home-equity business in the black.

Now, there are two types of home equity mortgages. One is an equity line of credit (Heloc) which is an adjustable loan who’s rate is tied to the prime rate (nationally this has averaged around 3.25% since 2008), while the average rate for Helocs are hovering around 5.11%. The other type is a close-ended loan (He-loan), that is dispersed as a lump sum, it is essentially a fixed-rate junior mortgage. These rates nationally are averaging 6.13%. However, lenders usually cap He-loans at 80% of the property’s value, which leaves a mandatory 20% equity in the property.

More good news, for the first time since 2005, the real estate market has added to the U.S. gross national product (GDP). However, despite the upturn, some are still hesitant and have been saving instead of spending. Bank accounts, savings bonds, and municipal securities increased by $500 billion last year (the most since 2007), while net household debt is at its lowest rate since 2005 at $10 billion.

The market is slowly recovering, and we can expect to see more people spending the money their homes are making for them again in the near future.

Is Miami’s Real Estate Market Moving from a Buyer’s Market to a Seller’s Market?

Foreclosure-Sign1.jpgAccording to a recently released report from RealtyTrac, six Florida cities make the list for 20 best places to buy foreclosures in 2013. The real estate data focused on four elements to determine which cities present the best opportunities to purchase foreclosures. The four factors include the supply of foreclosures on the market, the percentage of all sales that foreclosures represented, the average percentage discount on the foreclosed property, and the change in percent of foreclosure activity from 2011 to 2012.

Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville tops the list of 20 metro areas at number 1, with Lakeland at number 5, Tampa number 6, Jacksonville number 7, Orlando number 9, and Miami rounding out the Florida cities at number 12.

In Miami, the firm determined the city had a 29-month foreclosure supply and that foreclosures accounted for 28.7 percent of total sales in 2012. According to the firm buyers could expect an average discounted sale price of 31 percent on foreclosed property last year.

And with Miami topping the nation in foreclosure activity in 2012 the state is hoping the market will hasten its healing. But amid the flood of foreclosure properties saturating the market it might be difficult.

However, local real estate brokers know that the statistics don’t show the true nature of the market. The inventory for foreclosures is actually relatively low despite the staggering statistics reported. And the competition is intense for these properties. With most properties seeing multiple offers, bidding wars between real estate investors, hungry for more inventory, are becoming commonplace. The truths of the matter Being in a foreclosure is a stressful situation. But there are alternatives available to help address the foreclosure.

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. Contact us today, if you’re interested in buying a foreclosed property, make sure you’ve got a game plan because the competition is rough out there.

South Florida’s Real Estate Market Still Ranks High in Delinquencies and Foreclosures, But The Market is Showing Signs of Improvement

house_for_sale.jpgBanks had been holding off on increasing the number of foreclosure filings in light of all sorts of paper work issues, including robo-signing allegations.

Even with banks holding back on foreclosure filings South Florida still ranked 10th nationally in foreclosure filings for the third quarter. Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties had 24,767 homes in some stage of foreclosure from July through September, up 11% from a year earlier. Nonetheless, Florida had the nation’s highest foreclosure rate in the nation.

In Miami-Dade County, the 90-day mortgage delinquency rate decreased, with 22.89% of mortgage loans being 90 days or more delinquent compared to 25.45% for the same period last year, representing a decrease of 2.56%.

On the other hand, the real estate market continues to show signs of improvement. Contracts for future construction projects in South Florida increased by 66% through the first nine months of 2012 compared to the same period last year.

Non-residential contracts, including commercial and manufacturing, grew 43% to $1.99 billing through September. Contracts for future residential saw the most growth, recording a 90% leap to $2.4 billion.

As for the overall health of the nation’s current real estate market, a lot still depends on the economy of the whole. The economy is still not producing jobs fast enough to aid the nation’s housing market.

Additionally, continued improvement in home sales and home prices will depend heavily on the volume of foreclosed homes in the housing market. Recent housing data suggests that many lenders have barely made a dent in the overall inventory of foreclosed homes.

As such, there is no question that this is a buyer’s market. Indeed, South Florida’s real estate market has picked up some steam recently due in large to foreigners investing in South Florida.
Consider Your Options. Contact Us Today.

If you 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.

Strong Sales and Higher Prices Point to a Revitalization of the Downtown Miami Real Estate Market

downtown miami.JPGThe economy in Miami might be down, but it is certainly not out. This holds especially true for condo sales in and around the Downtown Miami Area.

According to a recent study by Focus Real Estate Advisors and Goodkin Consulting, sales have increased by 24 percent in the first half of this year to 2,072 units from 1,671 during the first half of 2011.

Condo prices have risen a little over 9 percent in the second quarter compared to last year. Specifically, the average price of a condo in the Downtown Miami area has gone up from $371,205 to $404,927. The average price per square foot for new and resold units has also increased from last year. In 2011, the average price per square foot was approximately $315 dollars; today, that figure has shot up to $338, which adds up to a 7% increase.

The rises in condo prices and sales have much to do with the decline in available inventory for new units. As such, the market has revealed a “grab and go” mentality for individuals looking for an investment opportunity, vacation home, or the like.
Moreover, it should be to no one’s surprise that the rental market has also seen a boost as of late. The high demand for urban living and the fact that most of these condos are investment-owned properties has resulted in the average monthly rent in the downtown area going up 4.4 percent.

Put simply, the revitalization of the downtown area coupled with rich foreign investors assures that this increased rental/sales trend will not slow down for the foreseeable future.

Whether you are looking to buy, sell, or rent, often times it takes an informed real estate attorney to help guide you through the process. Consider your different options and do not hesitate to contact us today toll free at 1-866-518-2913 or at 305-263-7700.

Historically Low Interest Rates are Pushing Many Struggling Homeowners to Re-Finance While Banks Still Remain Reluctant to Lend

Loan-growth.jpgExisting homeowners are taking advantage of the refinancing opportunities nationwide.

Looking at statistical data from the past week, close to 77% of mortgage applications consisted of refinancing. As reported by the Mortgage Bankers Association, this is the highest total since March 2nd.

Indeed, HARP 2.0 is intended to help many struggling homeowners take advantage of today’s historically low interest rates. To become eligible for the new HARP, a homeowner must have a mortgage sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac on or before May 31, 2009. The homeowner must also be current in their payments and without any late payments in the past six months.

Additionally, some fees were also eliminated on loans that run 20 years or less and lowered on longer term mortgages. In some cases, the homeowner will also no longer need a new appraisal on the home, which should reduce the refinance costs.

Also note worthy is the fact that there is no limit on how deeply underwater someone can be as long as they re-finance into a 30 year fixed mortgage.

The new changes should not only benefit many homeowners, but should also help financial institutions become fewer homeowners will eventually default.

But one of the biggest factors that will drive the success of this new program will be interest rates. Today interest rates are hovering at historically low levels. For instance, the average rate for a 30 year mortgage today is 4.2%. If interest rates rise, however, this program may not be as attractive to many.

Unfortunately, however, the imbalance between refinancing and home buying will continue into the near future. Historically low rates have given people real options that they haven’t had in a quite some time. So whether your looking to refinance, enter into a short sale, or buy a new home, the experienced Real Estate Attorneys at Alvarez & Barbara, LLP can assist you today. Pick up the phone and call us today.
But with the good also comes the bad. It turns out that banks are actually tightening their lending standards because they are reluctant to expose themselves to potential defaults for minor profits. Furthermore, the issue of low profits affects the banks ability to unload the mortgage interest to potential investors.

Banks seem to have learned their lesson from the subprime loan debacle. By becoming cautious lenders, they avoid the potential risks inherent with foreclosure litigation, specifically time and money.

Breaking it down even further, the low rates coupled with new lender standards have the potential of hurting the economy even further. Why? Well put simply, those who can help turn around our economy are the ones being turned away by lenders. The average American buyer is the segment of America that might actually heal the industry.

On the flip side, but also adding to the market woes, the relatively high affordability of housing has prevented individuals from placing their homes on the market. This has a direct impact on inventory, which makes it less likely for a buyer to find his or her new home.

Foreclosure Filings Are Decreasing

real-estate-statistics.jpgIn what surely is a sign of change in South Florida, foreclosure filings decreased by more than half at the end of 2011 compared to 2010. However, the decrease is somewhat deceptive because the results are in part due to the average length of time it takes to process a foreclosure in Florida. Specifically, Florida’s foreclosure process is third in the nation, behind only New York and New Jersey.

For the last ten years, Miami-Dade has found itself in the midst of one the largest residential development booms in all of Florida. As such, it should come to no one’s surprise that 1 in every 85 homes file for foreclosure. Rounding out South Florida is Broward and Palm Beach County, which see approximately 1 in every 98 and 105 homes file for foreclosure, respectively.

Palm Beach County saw the largest change out of the big three in South Florida, with its filings falling off by more than half. Miami saw the smallest decrease at 8.24 percent compare to last year, followed by Broward at 33.94.

Again, these numbers are deceptive. We must still take into account the overall volume of foreclosure filings. And the numbers are staggering. It is true that related foreclosure filings dropped 57 percent in 2011 compared to 2010; however, if we compare the 2011 numbers in Miami-Dade to those in 2006, foreclosure filings are still astronomically higher – 133 percent higher to be exact.

The same holds true for both Broward and Palm Beach. Compared to 2006, Broward foreclosure filings are up 108 percent, with Palm Beach surprisingly up 190 percent since 2006. Just another prime example of how deceiving the numbers are considering Palm Beach was looking like the real winner of the three.

Even though the market seems to be shifting in a positive direction, properties on the brink of foreclosure still make up more than 50% of available properties across South Florida. This makes it the perfect time to determine whether you need a real estate attorney, or just need to talk to some one to assess your legal rights.
Today’s current real estate market, and ongoing foreclosure crises, presents all sorts of issues that must be properly navigated. There are many factors contributing to Florida’s nation leading delinquency rates. They include a weak job market, weak economic recovery, and a major drop in home prices. Consequently, Florida’s housing market remains unsettled in large part due to the continued foreclosure crises.

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.