Yearly Archives: 2008

Home Prices Post Record 18% Drop

The 20-city S&P Case-Shiller index
has posted losses for a staggering 27 months in a row


By Les Christie
Source: CNNMoney.com
Posted: December 30, 2008

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Home prices posted another record decline in October, falling 18% compared with a year earlier, according to a closely watched report released Tuesday.

The 20-city S&P Case-Shiller index has posted losses for a staggering 27 months in a row. In October, 14 of the 20 cities set fresh price decline records.

“The bear market continues; home prices are back to their March 2004 levels,” says David Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor’s.

Sunbelt cities suffered the most, but most of the country is watching home values fall. In Phoenix prices have plunged 32.7% since October 2007, Las Vegas home values are down 31.7% year-over-year, while San Francisco prices fell 31%. Miami, Los Angeles and San Diego recorded year-over-year declines of 29%, 27.9% and 26.7%, respectively.

“As of October 2008, the 20-City Composite is down 23.4%,” said Blitzer. “In October, we also saw three new markets enter the ‘double-digit’ club.”

Atlanta, Seattle and Portland reported annual rates of decline of 10.5%, 10.2% and 10.1%, respectively.

“While not yet experiencing as severe a contraction as in the Sunbelt, it seems the Pacific Northwest and Mid-Atlantic South is not immune to the overall demise in the housing market,” Blitzer added.

Deteriorating environment

Many of the factors affecting home prices turned strongly negative this fall, according to Blitzer.

“October was really the first month to feel the full brunt of the credit crunch,” he said. “Up until the Lehman Brothers [bankruptcy filing on September 15], everyone felt relatively optimistic.”

Plus, in many of the free-falling cities the majority of real estate sales consist of distressed properties such as foreclosed homes and short sales. These houses tend to sell at a steep discount to the rest of the market, and when they account for a large proportion of all sales, they can exaggerate the depth of price declines.

Of course, foreclosures continue to be a big problem as well. In October alone, nearly 85,000 people lost their homes to foreclosure, adding vacant inventory to an already overburdened market.

Home sellers should not expect prices to improve any time soon, according to Pat Newport, a real estate analyst for IHS Global Insight.

“I expect it’s going to get quite a bit worse over the next couple of months,” he said. “Existing home sales reports have really been bad.”

Home sales fell 8.6% in November, much more than expected, to an annualized rate of 4.49 million units according to the National Association of Realtors.

And although interest rates are currently extremely low – the 30-year fixed-rate averaged 5.14% during the week of December 24, according to mortgage giant Freddie Mac (FRE, Fortune 500) – that’s doing more to help people refinancing existing mortgages than it is to help new home buyers.

“Buyers still have to have a 20% down payment,” said Newport, “and, in this environment, it can be hard to meet that criteria.”

The latest Case-Shiller numbers provide more ammunition to Washington policy makers who want to do more to fix the housing mess, according to Jaret Seiberg, an analyst with the Stanford Group, the policy research firm.

“These data just add to the tremendous pressure on the president-elect and the Democrats to stimulate housing,” he said. “That means more lucrative tax incentives and broad foreclosure prevention. All of this will likely be in the stimulus that Congress adopts in January.”

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For further information or if you wish to see your property featured here.

Please Contact: The Smiths – Luxury Resort Portfolio at (561) 445-2282 or
email at TheSmiths@LuxuryResortPortfolio.com


Inquire about “The Property Organizer” Feature we exclusively provide at Luxury Resort Portfolio.
It is an organizing tool that makes it easy to search for properties and to keep track of properties you are interested in. Whenever you see property listings that you like, you can save them for future reference and for sharing with family members and friends. “The Property Organizer” also allows you to easily manage your Email Update service and save your search criteria for later use.

click link below to view:
“The Property Organizer”

If you have any questions on how to set up specific community searches
or for your Mizner Country Club Real Estate Update
compliments of The Smiths – Luxury Resort Portfolio,
please call or email Philip at (561) 445-2282 or Philip@LuxuryResortPortfolio.com
for assistance.
We can set up your customized search and you will receive instant email updates
directly to your inbox.



The information herein is believed to be accurate but not guaranteed and may be subject to errors, omissions and changes without notice. This is not to be construed as a solicitation of property presently listed for sale. All information is derived from the Palm Beach County Property Appraisers website and the MLS.

The information herein is believed to be accurate but not guaranteed and may be subject to errors, omissions and changes without notice. This is not to be construed as a solicitation of property presently listed for sale.

All information is derived from the Palm Beach County Property Appraisers website and the MLS.

The Oaks – Real Estate Round Up


Happy Holidays!

We sincerely thank you for your wonderful support and
business during the past year and offer our warm wishes
of happiness, health and prosperity in the coming new year!
Hoping 2009 will bring us all greater fortunes…
especially in Real Estate!
-The Smiths
Philip & Carla Smith
The Oaks – Real Estate Round Up

The Oaks at Boca Raton currently has (52) properties “Listed for Sale”. These properties range in “Asking Prices” of $875,000 to $4,904,596. The community had (30) properties Sold Year-to-Date and the properties sold in 2008 ranged from $800,000 to $2,010,000. Currently there are (3) properties “Pending Sale”. To view detailed information, please click on the links below.

The Oaks – Homes for Sale
The Oaks – Homes Sold 2008
The Oaks – Homes Pending Sale

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The Smiths – Luxury Resort Portfolio
The Oaks at Boca Raton
Featured Properties
(Click on Image)

The Oaks at Boca Raton
17614 Grand Este Way
Offered at $2,599,000

In the opulent Santa Barbara tradition, this brand-new custom-built masterpiece basks in serene lakefront vistas and lush privacy in the Grand Lake Estates enclave. Resort-style luxury defines the spectacular lakeside entertainment area focused on a triple-tiered pool and spa with fountains and Murano glass mosaics. The columned loggia is complemented by a stone fireplace and summer kitchen. Designer decorated and furnished, this exquisite Donatella villa is a crowning achievement by acclaimed Charlse-Watt, blending breathtaking appointments and lavish luxuries. Smart-house technologies with AMX touch-pads control all systems including security, climate, lighting, surround-sound audio, and televisions. Mosaic-inlaid travertine marble floors, elaborate moldings, and hurricane-impact glass are also featured. Five bedrooms, 6 full and 2 half baths, plus a 4-car garage are included in 7,860± total square feet.

The Oaks at Boca Raton
17563 Middle Lake Drive
Offered at $1,450,000

Decorative stone columns and intricate iron-gated doors lead to the privacy of this magnificent home. European traditions have inspired this serenely elegant 2 story courtyard residence with private 2 story / 2 bedroom / 2 bath guest house embracing a magnificent oversized tropical pool with waterfall spa in a luxuriant garden oasis. An open-air kitchen serves alfresco entertaining on the inviting terrace. Elaborate landscaping graces the entire estate in a prominent corner setting. Beautifully melding with the classic design of this exquisite villa, the spacious, airy interiors lend a refined sensibility with Saturnia marble floors and fine details bridging traditional and modern décor. Six bedrooms, 6½ baths, 3-zone air conditioning, media room, and a 3-car garage are included in the Emelia Grand floor-plan of 6,632± total square feet.

The Smiths – Luxury Resort Portfolio
The Oaks at Boca Raton
Recently Rented
(Click on Image)

The Oaks at Boca Raton
17570 Middlebrook Way


The Oaks at Boca Raton
17554 Middlebrook Way

Preview All of Our Listed Estates
(Click on Image)

_____________________________________________

For further information or if you wish to see your property featured here.
Please Contact: The Smiths – Luxury Resort Portfolio at (561) 445-2282 or
email at TheSmiths@LuxuryResortPortfolio.com


Inquire about “The Property Organizer” Feature we exclusively provide at Luxury Resort Portfolio.
It is an organizing tool that makes it easy to search for properties and to keep track of properties you are interested in. Whenever you see property listings that you like, you can save them for future reference and for sharing with family members and friends. “The Property Organizer” also allows you to easily manage your Email Update service and save your search criteria for later use.

click link below to view:
“The Property Organizer”

If you have any questions on how to set up specific community searches
or for your Mizner Country Club Real Estate Update
compliments of The Smiths – Luxury Resort Portfolio,
please call or email Philip at (561) 445-2282 or Philip@LuxuryResortPortfolio.com
for assistance.
We can set up your customized search and you will receive instant email updates
directly to your inbox.



The information herein is believed to be accurate but not guaranteed and may be subject to errors, omissions and changes without notice. This is not to be construed as a solicitation of property presently listed for sale. All information is derived from the Palm Beach County Property Appraisers website and the MLS.
The information herein is believed to be accurate but not guaranteed and may be subject to errors, omissions and changes without notice. This is not to be construed as a solicitation of property presently listed for sale.

All information is derived from the Palm Beach County Property Appraisers website and the MLS.

Mizner Country Club – Real Estate Round Up


Happy Holidays!

We sincerely thank you for your wonderful support and
business during the past year and offer our warm wishes
of happiness, health and prosperity in the coming new year!
Hoping 2009 will bring us all greater fortunes…
especially in Real Estate!

-The Smiths
Philip & Carla Smith
Mizner Country Club – Real Estate Round Up
The numbers in Mizner Country Club keep increasing…unfortunately we are not talking about the Home Prices. The number of homes actively for sale in Mizner Country Club is at the highest level of available inventory in our community’s history.

Mizner Country Club currently has (70) properties “Listed for Sale”. These properties range in “Asking Prices” of $581,900 to $3,300,000. The community had (17) properties Sold Year-to-Date and the properties sold in 2008 ranged from $615,000 to $3,600,000. Currently there are two (2) properties “Pending Sale”. To view detailed information, please click on the links below.

Mizner Country Club – Homes For Sale
Mizner Country Club – Homes Sold 2008
Mizner Country Club – Homes Pending Sale

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The Smiths – Luxury Resort Portfolio

Recent Sales

“Just Sold” by The Smiths – Luxury Resort Portfolio
Mizner Country Club – Cordoba

List Price of $1,149,000

(Click On Image to View Details)

We are pleased to announce
The Smiths – Luxury Resort Portfolio

Just Listed

Mizner Country Club – Cordoba
Offered at $1,049,000
(Click On Image to View Details)


Preview All of Our Listed Estates
(Click Below)

_____________________________________________________


For further information or if you wish to see your property featured here.
Please Contact: The Smiths – Luxury Resort Portfolio at (561) 445-2282 or
email at TheSmiths@LuxuryResortPortfolio.com


Inquire about “The Property Organizer” Feature we exclusively provide at Luxury Resort Portfolio.
It is an organizing tool that makes it easy to search for properties and to keep track of properties you are interested in. Whenever you see property listings that you like, you can save them for future reference and for sharing with family members and friends. “The Property Organizer” also allows you to easily manage your Email Update service and save your search criteria for later use.

click link below to view:
“The Property Organizer”

If you have any questions on how to set up specific community searches
or for your Mizner Country Club Real Estate Update
compliments of The Smiths – Luxury Resort Portfolio,
please call or email Philip at (561) 445-2282 or Philip@LuxuryResortPortfolio.com
for assistance.
We can set up your customized search and you will receive instant email updates
directly to your inbox.



The information herein is believed to be accurate but not guaranteed and may be subject to errors, omissions and changes without notice. This is not to be construed as a solicitation of property presently listed for sale. All information is derived from the Palm Beach County Property Appraisers website and the MLS.
The information herein is believed to be accurate but not guaranteed and may be subject to errors, omissions and changes without notice. This is not to be construed as a solicitation of property presently listed for sale.

All information is derived from the Palm Beach County Property Appraisers website and the MLS.

Home Equity Stripped Away in 2008; Nearly $2 Trillion in Home Values Lost This Year

Source: Zillow.com
Posted: December 15, 2009

SEATTLE, Dec. 15 /PRNewswire/ — U.S. homes are set to lose well over $2 trillion in value during 2008, according to analysis of recent Zillow Real Estate Market Reports (1). Home values declined 8.4 percent year-over-year during the first three quarters of this year, compared to the same period in 2007.

“Underwater” was the real estate buzzword of the year. U.S. home values (2) lost $1.9 trillion from the first of the year through the end of the third quarter, and were likely to fall further in the fourth quarter, leaving approximately 11.7 million American households owing more on their mortgage than their homes are worth. One in seven of all homeowners (14.3 percent) were underwater by the end of the third quarter.

“This year marked the acceleration of the market correction, and is likely to end with the eighth consecutive quarter of declines in home values,” said Dr. Stan Humphries, Zillow’s vice president of data and analytics. “In general, homeowners in most areas we cover are struggling with foreclosures pouring into the market, large amounts of negative equity and dropping home values. On the positive side, in the third quarter, some markets – particularly those hit hardest in the downturn – showed smaller year-over-year declines than in the prior quarter. Our optimism here, though, must be tempered by the knowledge that the larger economic problems that emerged in the fourth quarter will likely further challenge the real estate market.”

Thirty of the 163 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) covered in the Zillow Real Estate Market Reports showed gains in the Zillow Home Value Index (3), or median value of all homes in the area, over the first three quarters of the year, with the Jacksonville, N.C. region seeing year-over-year appreciation of 4.9 percent. The change in value was calculated by averaging the year-over-year change in each of the first three quarters of the year.

Also performing well were the Winston-Salem, N.C. and Anderson, S.C. MSAs, with year-over-year increases of 4.1 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively, over the first three quarters of the year.

The Stockton, Calif. region fared the worst in the first three quarters of 2008, with home values sliding 32.3 percent year-over-year. The Merced, Calif. area followed with home values declining 31.2 percent year-over-year in the first three quarters of 2008.

View Link for additional information: Zillow.com

______________________________________________________________

For further information or if you wish to see your property featured here.
Please Contact:The Smiths – Luxury Resort Portfolio at
(561) 445-2282

Luxury Resort Portfolio
Estate Specialists Representing Both Buyers And Sellers


The information herein is believed to be accurate but not guaranteed and may be subject to errors, omissions and changes without notice. This is not to be construed as a solicitation of property presently listed for sale. All information is derived from the Palm Beach County Property Appraisers website and the MLS.

The information herein is believed to be accurate but not guaranteed and may be subject to errors, omissions and changes without notice. This is not to be construed as a solicitation of property presently listed for sale.

All information is derived from the Palm Beach County Property Appraisers website and the MLS.

Your Second Home – Buying & Selling

Timing A Market

By: STEVE BAILEY
Source: New York Times Online

Published: December 4, 2008

Are you thinking that this might be the time to buy a second home, that weekend getaway that you’ve always wanted? Or, are you struggling financially and feeling pressure to sell your own weekend home? How can a buyer know that he or she is getting the best deal, that the property you buy now won’t be worth less in a few months? And, how can a seller know that selling now is a good idea? What if the market starts to recover in a few months?

Neither buyer nor seller (nor any real estate agent) can see the future, but anyone can see that, right now, many properties aren’t selling, at least not at the prices sellers want. There are, however, strategies for making the most of this market.

Diane Saatchi, a senior vice president with the Corcoran Group in the Hamptons, said her real estate market has certainly felt the impact of recent sharp drops in the stock market. “When this all began in mid-September, some buyers backed out of deals not yet signed up,” she wrote in an e-mail message. “Some sellers offered better terms to keep the deals on course. In some cases, this worked, in others not. Many would-be buyers moved to the sidelines and/or lowered their price points in looking.

“Some buyers have become more price-oriented. For example, there are buyers more concerned about size of discount than they are about location and amenities.”

Though the market for vacation homes is not immune from economic reality, it does not shadow the total real estate market. “While the overall housing market peaked in 2005, the market for vacation homes didn’t peak until 2006,” said Walter Molony, a spokesman for the National Association of Realtors in Washington. That doesn’t mean, though, that a recovery in the second-home market will lag behind the larger market. “A large number of our transactions are not subject to financing,” Ms. Saatchi said of second-home sales in the Hamptons, so a rebound could occur if consumer confidence rises ahead of a loosening of credit.

If you have a vacation home that you’re thinking of selling, this is almost certainly not the best time. “It depends on the seller’s needs,” Neil B. Garfinkel, a Manhattan real estate lawyer, said. “For example, if he needs to get out from under a mortgage, he may have to sell.”

The seller should be realistic about the market and realize that he is not going to get what he paid if he has owned the property only a short time. People who bought 5 or 10 years ago are more likely to see a profit, but nothing like what they would have realized a couple of years ago. A motivated seller can increase the odds in his favor by sprucing up the house to make it stand out among the many foreclosed houses, which are typically run-down, on the market.

“Those who want to or have to sell now are pricing ‘tight,’ ” Ms. Saatchi said, meaning about as low as the seller can go. “Listing brokers are advising sellers to discount from recent closed sales to set asking prices. With a large inventory, sellers are wise to price competitively to drive the most potential buyers to their properties. The adage ‘you can always come down’ does not work in this market as, if no one comes to look, there won’t even be those low offers.”

Some real estate agents have found that pricing below market can result in a higher selling price because the low asking price attracts more buyers.

Many would-be sellers are waiting for prices to rise a bit; in the meantime, they’re renting their properties, though the National Association of Realtors says that only about 15 percent of second-home owners traditionally rent out their houses.

If you’re looking for a vacation home, you’ll most likely find bargains, though some of the more desirable properties may have been taken off the market. You might pay particular attention to properties that have been on the market for more than three months, a sign that the seller may be willing to do what it takes to make a deal. When you do find what you want at a price you like, financing might be a problem.

“Days of financing 90 percent are long gone,” Mr. Garfinkel said. “You’ll need to put down at least 20 percent plus closing costs.”

_____________________________________________________________
For further information or if you wish to see your property featured here.
Please Contact:The Smiths – Luxury Resort Portfolio at
(561) 445-2282

Luxury Resort Portfolio
Estate Specialists Representing Both Buyers And Sellers


The information herein is believed to be accurate but not guaranteed and may be subject to errors, omissions and changes without notice. This is not to be construed as a solicitation of property presently listed for sale. All information is derived from the Palm Beach County Property Appraisers website and the MLS.

The information herein is believed to be accurate but not guaranteed and may be subject to errors, omissions and changes without notice. This is not to be construed as a solicitation of property presently listed for sale.

All information is derived from the Palm Beach County Property Appraisers website and the MLS.

Bargains Drive Up Home Sales in Palm Beach County

With foreclosure glut, more price drops likely

By: Paul Owers
Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Date: November 25, 2008

Even as job losses mount and mortgage lending remains tight, South Floridians still are buying homes.

Bargain hunters continue to respond to plunging prices, with October sales of existing homes in Palm Beach County rising 37 percent, to 618 from 450 a year ago, the Florida Association of Realtors said Monday. The median price plummeted 24 percent, to $264,600 from $348,300 last October.

Sales have shot up since July, but that doesn’t mean the region’s nearly 3-year-old housing slump is ending, analysts say.

The October figures reflect home sales contracts signed during the summer, before the financial free-fall on Wall Street. And prices are expected to keep dropping as long as the foreclosure problem persists.

“We would be lucky if the market bottoms out in South Florida in 2009,” Miami-based housing consultant Lewis Goodkin said.

Palm Beach County’s condominium sector followed a similar trend last month. Condo sales increased 23 percent, while the median price fell 15 percent, to $135,800.

Distressed properties are popular among people trying to buy now.

Roger Palermo, a building maintenance supervisor for the city of Pompano Beach, said he looked at almost 50 houses. Many needed new roofs and other major repairs. And most were foreclosures or short sales, in which lenders take less than what’s owed on the mortgages and forgive the remaining debt.

Overwhelmed with properties, some banks wouldn’t consider Palermo’s offers for three months or longer. One lender came back with a counter offer higher than the asking price.

Earlier this month, Palermo and his fiancee finally bought a two-bedroom house in Boca Raton Click here for restaurant inspection reports after the previous owner’s death. They paid $225,000, $34,000 less than the asking price.

“At least 75 percent of the homes for sale are either foreclosures or short sales and need a lot of work,” said Palermo, 48. “But it’s hard because you can’t even get answers from the banks.”

In Broward County, October sales increased 46 percent, while the median price dropped 29 percent to $252,500.

Statewide, sales increased 15 percent last month, while the median price fell 24 percent to $169,700, the Realtors’ group said.

Nationally, sales fell 3.1 percent in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.98 million units. The median sales price sank 11.3 percent from a year ago, to $183,000.

That was the largest year-over-year drop on records dating back to 1968 and the lowest median sales price since March 2004. The median means half sold for more, half for less.

Back in South Florida, the recent sales momentum is helping to reduce the number of properties on the market.

Palm Beach County had roughly 33,000 homes and condos for sale at the end of October, down 13 percent from a year ago, according to the Miami-based Keyes Co.

But demand still is lagging. It takes longer to sell a house in South Florida, an average of 172 days, than anywhere else in the nation, according to an October housing report from California real estate firms Altos Research and Real IQ.

“The inventory news is starting to get a little better, but the question is, how much more pressure are we going to get from new foreclosures that come on the market?” said Mike Larson, a housing analyst with Weiss Research in Jupiter.

Regardless, real estate agents here are enjoying the renewed interest among buyers, many of whom are coming from the Northeast.

“We’re hoping for a really cold winter up north,” joked Pamela Orr, an agent in Palm Beach and Broward counties. “If it’s priced right, people are buying.”

_________________________________________________________
For further information or if you wish to see your property featured here.
Please Contact:The Smiths – Luxury Resort Portfolio at
(561) 445-2282

Luxury Resort Portfolio
Estate Specialists Representing Both Buyers And Sellers


The information herein is believed to be accurate but not guaranteed and may be subject to errors, omissions and changes without notice. This is not to be construed as a solicitation of property presently listed for sale. All information is derived from the Palm Beach County Property Appraisers website and the MLS.

The information herein is believed to be accurate but not guaranteed and may be subject to errors, omissions and changes without notice. This is not to be construed as a solicitation of property presently listed for sale.

All information is derived from the Palm Beach County Property Appraisers website and the MLS.

U.S. Mortgage Plan Falls Short

Plan to modify Fannie, Freddie loans will help some,
but more needs to be done, experts said.

By Tami Luhby
Source: CNNMoney.com
Date: November 11, 2008

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — The federal government’s plan to streamline modifications of troubled loans held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac won’t help the majority of people threatened with foreclosure, experts said.

Under a plan unveiled Tuesday, homeowners whose loans are owned or backed by the mortgage finance companies and who are at least 90 days behind can enter a streamlined modification program. Their payments would be adjusted through lower interest rates or longer repayment terms that would total no more than 38% of their monthly household income. In some cases, payment on part of the loans’ principal may be deferred, though not reduced.

The interest rate could be lowered to as little as 3% for five years. After that, it would increase by 1 percentage point a year until it hits either the market rate or the original interest rate, whichever is lower, officials said.

Unlike previous federal efforts, participation by servicers is not voluntary. They will now work with eligible borrowers to reach more affordable mortgage payments, using the guidelines laid out Tuesday.

Also, officials hope the new program, which could help more than 400,000 homeowners, will convince servicers who handle loans held by private investors to follow suit.

Program doesn’t cover most subprime loans

While experts and some government officials called the plan a positive step forward, they said much more needs to be done to address the mortgage crisis. The program does not address the heart of the problem — troubled loans held by private investors.

Though Fannie (FNM, Fortune 500) and Freddie (FRE, Fortune 500) own or guarantee 58% of all mortgages on single-family homes, these loans represent only 20% of serious delinquencies. The majority of the problem mortgages were bundled into securities, which were sold in pieces to investors.

“This is a step in the right direction but falls short of what is needed to achieve widescale modifications of distressed mortgages, particularly those held in private securitization trusts,” said Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. chairman Sheila Bair, who has proposed an alternate plan addressing securitized loans. “As we lend and invest hundreds of billions of dollars to help institutions suffering leveraged losses from defaulting mortgages, we must also devote some of that money to fixing the front-end problem: too many unaffordable home loans.”

Problems in the mortgage market remain concentrated in the subprime sector, which are mainly held by investors who have resisted modifying the loan terms.

“Most foreclosures are happening on subprime loans that Fannie and Freddie don’t control,” said Eric Stein, senior vice president at the Center for Responsible Lending, which has long pressed the federal government to help delinquent borrowers. “More is still needed to address foreclosures on these mortgages. To date, voluntary modifications haven’t been sufficient. That’s why we still have a foreclosure crisis.”

To broaden existing foreclosure fixes, Bair supports using up to $50 billion of the $700 billion financial sector rescue plan to guarantee modified loans. This would give servicers an incentive to adjust the loan terms and could help up to 3 million homeowners, though the number is not firm.

Meanwhile, the FDIC has already adopted a streamlined process to modify troubled loans owned or serviced by the failed IndyMac Bank, which the agency took over in mid-July. Some 3,500 borrowers have accepted the workouts, which also aim to keep payments at no more than 38% of gross income.

Several major servicers — including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup — have recently announced expansions of their foreclosure prevention efforts, which could aid nearly a million more borrowers.

The programs will also seek to make payments more affordable by cutting interest rates or stretching out loan terms, but some homeowners can also get their mortgage principal reduced depending on their servicer and financial situation.

Deferring payment on principal

Reducing principal is key to keeping some borrowers — especially those whose house values have fallen below their mortgage balances — in their homes, experts said. It makes both the loan more affordable and gives homeowners more incentive not to walk away.

In announcing the plan, officials made a point of saying that borrowers must repay their current mortgage in full, just with more affordable monthly payments.

“Loan modifications are not a gift … the principal cut on the front end will be paid at the end of the loan, either in extended payments or a balloon payment,” said Brian Montgomery, commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration. “This is not loan forgiveness.”

However, to make payments affordable, servicers may choose to defer part of the payment — with no interest — until the end of the loan, officials said. For borrowers whose homes are worth less than their mortgages, servicers might defer the difference.

Here’s how it would work: Let’s say a homeowner has a $200,000 mortgage on a house now worth $150,000. The servicer may defer payment on $50,000 of principal. If the home recovers its value and the borrower sells it, he or she would have to pay back the deferred amount at that time. If it doesn’t recover, the borrower would have to work out a deal with the servicer, likely a short sale, in which the bank forgives the difference between the sale price and the mortgage balance.

If the borrower stays in the home, he or she would have to pay the deferred amount within 30 days of the last payment, likely 30 or 40 years from now. Homeowners could take out a new mortgage to cover that balloon payment.

Setting industry standards

Officials hope that Fannie and Freddie’s influence in the mortgage market will prompt servicers working with private investors to use this streamlined procedure in their own modifications. Often, investors defer to the mortgage finance agencies to set the methodology.

“I ask the private label mortgage-backed securities servicers and investors to rapidly adopt this program as the industry standard,” said James Lockhart, head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie and Freddie. “Not only will this streamlined program assist borrowers, but broad acceptance and effective implementation could stabilize communities and property values.”

________________________________________________________

For further information or if you wish to see your property featured here.
Please Contact:The Smiths – Luxury Resort Portfolio at
(561) 445-2282

Luxury Resort Portfolio
Estate Specialists Representing Both Buyers And Sellers


The information herein is believed to be accurate but not guaranteed and may be subject to errors, omissions and changes without notice. This is not to be construed as a solicitation of property presently listed for sale. All information is derived from the Palm Beach County Property Appraisers website and the MLS.

The information herein is believed to be accurate but not guaranteed and may be subject to errors, omissions and changes without notice. This is not to be construed as a solicitation of property presently listed for sale.

All information is derived from the Palm Beach County Property Appraisers website and the MLS.

The Stampede of White Elephants

Slowing Sales of Luxury Properties
Reveal ‘Trophy Homes’ Weighing Owners Down

By: Christina S.N. Lewis
Source: Wall Street Journal
Date: October 31, 2008

As the luxury real-estate market slows to a snail’s pace, real-estate brokers find themselves struggling to sell a growing number of “trophy homes” that are quietly gaining a new title: white elephants.

The term hails from a legend that Siamese royalty gave albino elephants — revered but financially ruinous to maintain — to unpleasant courtiers. Today, the financial burden of carrying an overly big, overly unique manse is being shared by many wealthy owners, who are finding out the hard way that not everyone is willing to pay up for their vision of a dream home. Realtors concede a growing number of these pricey pachyderms are sitting unsold for months and selling at steep discounts, if at all.

Some sellers are getting creative. On Thursday, the owners of Castlewood, a gothic castle in West Orange, N.J., hosted a live jousting competition to generate buzz among real-estate brokers. Designed in the 1850s, the 5,000-square-foot stone house is on two acres and features two towers, a staff apartment and a round bedchamber with a 28-foot-high domed ceiling. On the market for two years, the homeowners switched to a new agent, Sam Joseph of Re/Max Village Square and dropped the asking price to $2 million from $2.8 million, originally.

For most of the housing market’s history, homeowners knew that big custom-designed homes that aren’t in scale with their environs might eventually cost them. “You build [a white elephant] because you were successful in your career and you want to treat yourself,” says Ed Kaminsky, who runs Premiere Estates, a California-based luxury auctioneer that specializes in marketing unique, hard-to-value houses. “But you can’t expect to get your money out.”

But it seems that tenet was forgotten during the boom. And in the meantime, formerly profligate consumers have become extremely price-conscious, says Gregory Hague, owner of Arizona-based Hague Partners, an affiliate of Christie’s Great Estates. “It used to be that buyers looked for something that got them excited and emotionally engaged and then tried to negotiate a good deal. Now they’re looking at price first.”

Steven L. Good, head of Chicago-based real-estate auction firm Sheldon Good & Co., says the division of the company that specializes in selling homes that cost from $1.5 million up to $40 million has seen a sharp increase in offerings in the last year from wealthy homeowners who are frustrated because their homes aren’t selling. And real-estate Web site Zillow.com turns up a number of unsold homes whose price tags and amenities are far fancier than their immediate environs might suggest.

In Broadview, a Seattle neighborhood known mostly for modest ranch houses, an Italian-style villa for sale features a four-car garage and an indoor koi pond. Nearly 10,000 square feet, the house has an asking price of $2.75 million and has been on the market for over a year.

Barney Garton, the listing agent, says the home’s rare Puget Sound views make it “a great value.” He says it hasn’t sold because of its “unusual” architecture and the downturn.

In Truckee, Calif., a lake community about 17 miles north of Lake Tahoe, a $3.95 million lakefront contemporary house with an elevator, indoor lap pool and two garages stands out from the neighboring A-frame log cabins. Built in 1985 and designed by the owner’s son, an architect, it was listed in June and is the most expensive house for sale on the lake. While it’s received less traffic than expected, the owner is in no hurry to sell, says one of the listing agents, Charles White, of Donner Lake Realty. A more recently remodeled home with fewer amenities but more lake frontage recently sold for about $3 million.

In Dallas, Braden Power, a developer of apartment complexes, spent more than seven years designing and building his dream house: an 8,500-square-foot showpiece with contemporary, traditional and Moorish influences that opens to a central “natatorium,” a double-height entrance courtyard with marble floors, two fireplaces, a mezzanine balcony and a central fountain and reflecting pool deep enough to swim in.

Mr. Power spared no expense: He hired an army of both traditional and contemporary designers. The automated exterior and interior lighting systems cost $500,000; the chandeliers are hand-carved, the floors are all solid marble or limestone (both indoor and outdoor) with radiant heating — a rarity in Dallas where the temperature seldom dips below 40 degrees. “This house was basically a creative outlet,” says Mr. Power, who says his inspirations were the Los Angeles and Miami boutique hotels designed by Ian Schrager.

But last year, Mr. Power decided the home was too big for a bachelor and he put it up for sale, unfinished. With a price tag of $13 million, it attracted a flurry of local press.

Despite being located on three-quarters of an acre on picturesque Turtle Creek, the home didn’t sell and now Mr. Power has relisted the house for $9.8 million with Doris Jacobs, of Allie Beth Allman & Associates.

Although Mr. Power acknowledges that he may not recoup his building and carrying costs, he says the home will become a good investment if fans of the design purchase his architectural plans and custom molds.

He has no regrets about building the house. “Honestly, this house is a dream to me,” says Mr. Power, who also plans to list the home for rent. “I think it’s the most perfect place that I’ve ever been in in my life.”

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For further information or if you wish to see your property featured here.
Please Contact:The Smiths – Luxury Resort Portfolio at
(561) 445-2282

Luxury Resort Portfolio
Estate Specialists Representing Both Buyers And Sellers



The information herein is believed to be accurate but not guaranteed and may be subject to errors, omissions and changes without notice. This is not to be construed as a solicitation of property presently listed for sale. All information is derived from the Palm Beach County Property Appraisers website and the MLS.

The information herein is believed to be accurate but not guaranteed and may be subject to errors, omissions and changes without notice. This is not to be construed as a solicitation of property presently listed for sale.

All information is derived from the Palm Beach County Property Appraisers website and the MLS.

Mortgage Fraud: New and Improved

Lenders Have Tightened Standards,
But Scam Artists Have Found New Ways To Beat The System

By: Les Christie
Source: CNNMoney.com

Updated: October 17, 2008

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — The housing bust has not ended mortgage fraud – hucksters are just finding new ways to make dishonest bucks. The number of fraudulent loans issued during the second quarter this year increased 45%, compared with the same period in 2007, according to the Mortgage Asset Research Institute (MARI), a service of LexisNexis.

The group counts as fraud any misrepresentation intended to get a better deal on a mortgage or a home sale. During the boom, that might have meant a buyer who inflated his income to qualify for a bigger loan. Some went so far as to get a fake appraisal, invent a fake buyer, and after securing a mortgage, absconding with the cash.

Such ruses may not work in this environment, with lenders tightening up their standards. But several scams still are effective, according to Jim Ronan of Interthinx, a provider to lenders of fraud-prevention services, and Robert Hagberg, a fraud investigator for mortgage giant, Freddie Mac. “It’s a constant battle to keep up with the innovative ways that scam artists come up with to defraud others,” said Vincent Robago, an Arizona assistant attorney general who works on mortgage fraud cases, “especially in the real estate industry where transactions are very complicated.”

The New Appraisal Fraud

One modern gambit is under-appraising property values. These schemes involve short sales, which come up when a struggling homeowner is “underwater,” or owes more on his mortgage than the home is worth. When done legitimately, the owner sells the home for the lower market value, and the lender agrees to accept just that amount and forgive the difference. When illegitimate, fraudsters fake very low appraisals for the homes and use those appraisals to justify low short-sale prices – well below true market values. If busy bankers don’t check the appraisal closely, they may agree to sales of homes that should be worth $200,000, for $150,000 or even less. The buyers – in cahoots with the owner – then flip them for a big profit.

The New ‘Liar Loan’

Another fraud, one more often committed by average buyers than by career criminals, has also morphed into something new. During the boom, many borrowers misrepresented their income or assets with “no-doc liar loans,” approved on the basis of good credit scores with no documentation. After the mortgage meltdown, no-doc loans vanished, but applicants who lie have not.

“Liar loans are now fully documented – but with really good fraudulent documents,” said Hagberg. In one case investigated by Interthinx, a New York man buying an investment property in Georgia provided documents that showed double his actual salary. Advanced information technology and photocopying equipment have gotten so accurate that very convincing papers, including income statements, savings accounts and tax returns can be produced on demand. Ronan said there are Web sites that provide believable documents that scam artists use. “Because they say it’s for ‘novelty purposes,’ you can’t really do anything about it,” he said. “They don’t say it can be used to defraud.” Scams that misrepresent income or employment are still the most common type of fraud, according to MARI.

‘Buy and Bail’

This is a new scheme that had no equivalent during the boom years. You’re underwater on your mortgage and want a new, cheaper home down the block. You could just bail on the existing home, but no lender would give you a mortgage for the new one. So you tell the bank you plan to rent out the current home – even though you have no intention of doing so. “This is a very difficult scam to pin down,” said Jennifer Butts, a spokeswoman for MARI, because the rental agreements that borrowers proffer may not be scrutinized by lenders.

The Federal Home Administration announced in late September that it hoped to head off many buy-and-bails by no longer insuring mortgages if the homeowners had existing loans – unless they could show enough income to pay off both loans simultaneously. But don’t sell fraudsters short – they’ll probably find brand new ways to get around the policy.

_____________________________________

For further information or if you wish to see your property featured here.
Please Contact:The Smiths – Luxury Resort Portfolio at (561) 445-2282

Luxury Resort Portfolio
Estate Specialists Representing Both Buyers And Sellers



The information herein is believed to be accurate but not guaranteed and may be subject to errors, omissions and changes without notice. This is not to be construed as a solicitation of property presently listed for sale. All information is derived from the Palm Beach County Property Appraisers website and the MLS.
The information herein is believed to be accurate but not guaranteed and may be subject to errors, omissions and changes without notice. This is not to be construed as a solicitation of property presently listed for sale.

All information is derived from the Palm Beach County Property Appraisers website and the MLS.

Luxury Resort Portfolio Proudly Presents Our Newest Feature … “The Property Organizer”


The Smiths
proudly present our latest addition to the
Luxury Resort Portfolio Website
the
Luxury Resort Portfolio-Property Organizer
with
“Hot Sheet Updates”

Now you can get the newest listings in your Email Box!
Sign up for the Luxury Resort Portfolio -“Hot Sheet Updates”
and get the latest property reports and photos
as they come on the market!

Customize Your Search!
Customize How Often You Wish To Be Updated!

Simple to Sign Up & Free !!!

Compliments of The Smiths-Luxury Resort Portfolio

How Do You Sign Up? It’s Quick and Easy!

  1. Click on the image above
  2. Click on “Sign Up For Free Service”
  3. Complete the 4 Easy Steps!

The Property Organizer is an organizing tool that makes it easy to search for properties and to keep track of properties you are interested in. Whenever you see property listings that you like, you can save them for future reference and for sharing with family members and friends. The Property Organizer also allows you to easily manage your Email Update service and save your search criteria for later use.

If you have any questions on how to set up specific community searches,
please call or email Philip at (561) 445-2282 or Philip@LuxuryResortPortfolio.com
for assistance. We can set up the customized searches for you

___________________________________________________

For further information or if you wish to see your property featured here.
Contact:The Smiths – Luxury Resort Portfolio
at (561) 445-2282 or (561) 445-2299


The information herein is believed to be accurate but not guaranteed and may be subject to errors, omissions and changes without notice. This is not to be construed as a solicitation of property presently listed for sale. All information is derived from the Palm Beach County Property Appraisers website and the MLS.

The information herein is believed to be accurate but not guaranteed and may be subject to errors, omissions and changes without notice. This is not to be construed as a solicitation of property presently listed for sale.

All information is derived from the Palm Beach County Property Appraisers website and the MLS.