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Mortgage Rates May Lure Buyers

September 10, 2008
NEW YORK – Sept. 10, 2008 – A drop in mortgage rates that’s accelerated since the government said it would take over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has raised hopes that more buyers might be drawn into the housing market and help reverse the worst slump in decades.

Analysts caution, however, that the benefits of lower rates will be tempered by stricter mortgage-lending rules and a stubbornly weak economy. The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 5.88 percent on Tuesday, according to Bankrate.com.

“The job market is a real problem, overwhelming even the lower rates,” says Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Economy.com. “When we combine the low rates with improvements in the job market, hopefully at the beginning of next year, then there will be some real benefit.”

As Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com, notes: “It still takes good credit, proof of income and money for a down payment. With the government taking over Freddie and Fannie, due to the bad loans on their books, the last thing Uncle Sam is going to do is loosen the lending standards now that the taxpayer is on the hook.”

Some mortgage brokers and bankers have seen a modest increase in calls from potential customers in the past two days. Alan Trachtman of Trachtman & Bach, a New York brokerage, says his firm has seen more inquiries from clients. But he says he’s not confident that the lower rates will motivate home buyers the way low rates normally do, given the uncertain economy.

Still, he’s hopeful. “If rates stay down and nothing else happens to oppose it, I think you’ll see a little snowballing for the housing market – just not as big and fast as it (typically is).”

Brian Koss of Mortgage Network, mortgage bankers serving the East Coast and based in Danvers, Mass., says, “We got a huge increase of calls over the past two days.” But Koss adds, “It was pretty much a given five years ago that you’d get the loan. Now, you have all these hurdles you have to go through.”

Should you act now for fear a limited offer will run out?

No, McBride says. Buying a house is like getting married, he says; you don’t marry because there’s a sale at the bridal shop.

“If you have good credit and money for a down payment, there are some bargains,” he says. “But if you’re six months away because you need to pay down debt or build up your savings, that’s fine. Prices won’t run away from you during that time.”

Copyright © 2008 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc., Anna Bahney. All rights reserved.

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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

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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.

Fourteen Percent of Florida Facing Mortgage Crisis

September 9, 2008

By Alan Zibel
The Associated Press
September 6, 2008

WASHINGTON – More than 4 million American homeowners with a mortgage, a record 9 percent, were either behind on their payments or in foreclosure at the end of June, as damage from the housing crisis worsened, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Friday.

Meanwhile, Florida leads the nation with 13.68 percent of homeowners late on their house payments or facing foreclosure, according to a survey from the Washington D.C.-based trade group. Mississippi was second at 12.42 percent, and Nevada was third at 12.17 percent.

Palm Beach and Broward counties, in particular, became foreclosure hot spots after the housing boom of 2000 to 2005, when escalating home values caused many buyers to overextend themselves. Many took out short-term, adjustable-rate mortgages that now are resetting with much higher interest rates.

But the source of trouble in the mortgage market has shifted from subprime loans made to borrowers with poor credit to homeowners who had solid credit but took out exotic loans with ballooning monthly payments.

“The problem that policymakers and Wall Street once assured us was ‘contained’ to subprime mortgages has proven to be anything but,” Mike Larson, a real estate analyst with Weiss Research in Jupiter, said in a research note.

The trouble is concentrated in a handful of states, the worst being Florida and California, which had some of the riskiest lending practices and rampant speculation.

“We are unlikely to see a national turnaround until we see a turnaround in the two largest states,” with the most outstanding home loans, said Jay Brinkmann, the mortgage association’s chief economist.

The latest quarterly figures broke records for late payments, homes entering the foreclosure process and for the inventory of loans in foreclosure. The trade group’s records go back to 1979.

The percentage of loans at least one month past due or in foreclosure was up from 8.1 percent in the January-March quarter, and up from 6.5 percent a year ago, using figures that were not adjusted for seasonal factors.

New foreclosures rose dramatically in eight states: Florida, Nevada, California, Arizona, Michigan, Rhode Island, Indiana and Ohio, but actually declined in Texas, Massachusetts and Maryland.

Almost 500,000 homeowners, or about 1 percent, entered the foreclosure process in the second quarter. But for the first time since the mortgage crisis started, delinquencies on subprime adjustable-rate loans declined. While more than one out of every five homeowners with a subprime ARM is still in default, that portion dipped 1 percentage point from the first quarter to 21 percent.

What’s driving the delinquency rate up now is the number of homeowners with risky, adjustable-rate prime loans made with little or no proof of the borrowers’ income or assets.

More than one out of 10 borrowers with a prime adjustable-rate loan is now delinquent or in foreclosure. That portion, 11.3 percent, was up from 9.7 percent in the first quarter and is expected to continue to rise as more homeowners see their monthly payments spike.

Many of these loans allowed the borrower to pay only the interest on the loan for a fixed period. Others gave the borrower the option to “pick-a-payment,” adding any unpaid interest to the principal balance.

Defaults on these mortgages, which earned the nickname “liar loans,” are costing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac billions of dollars. The Treasury Department has even pledged to bail out the mortgage finance companies if necessary.

With home prices plummeting, particularly in Florida, California, Nevada and Arizona, many borrowers with these exotic loans now owe more on their home than it is worth. Worse still, these loans reset to higher monthly payments when borrowers reach maximum debt limits — typically around 10 percent to 25 percent more than the original loan balance.

Those resets can increase the borrower’s monthly payment by more than $1,000 a month on average, Fitch Ratings said in a report this week.

_________________________________________________________________

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
A Transaction Brokerage Representing Both Buyers And Sellers

NOTE:

Remember to visit our corporate blog at http://LuxuryResortPortfolio.blogspot.com


If you are subscribed to our corporate blog, you are NOT automatically subscribed to the Mizner Country Club – Real Estate News. They are two separate published newsletters. Please subscribe today and start receiving the latest updates in Real Estate News. Thank you again for all your support and best wishes!
Philip and Carla Smith
The Smiths – Luxury Resort Portfolio

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.

Delray Beach Officials Increasing Water, Sewage and Trash Pickup Rates

September 5, 2008

By Maria Herrera
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Thursday, September 4, 2008

Delray Beach – It will cost more to flush a toilet in Delray Beach.

Officials gave initial approval Wednesday to increasing water, sewage and trash pickup rates.

“It’s is better to increase it a little each year than all at once,” said City Manager David Harden, who said the city has been increasing fees over the years as fuel prices and the cost of living have risen.

Water will be 5 percent more expensive with the average customer paying $5 or $6 more per month. Officials point at the higher cost of chemicals to treat water and a reduction in usage for the rate increase.

But during a City Commission workshop last month where officials considered the hike, Commissioner Fred Fetzer said he was concerned that residents would feel penalized for conserving water.

Handling sewage also got more expensive. In documents handed to commissioners, Harden said the increases are needed to pay for the cost of eliminating the discharge of treated sewage into the ocean and developing the city’s reclaimed water system.

The increases also reflect a hike by the South Central Regional Waste Water Treatment and Disposal Board.

For a customer using 10,000 gallons of water, rates will go from about $33 per month to about $35. Sewage fees will go up from $45 per month to about $51.

The city last raised fees in 2006 when it underestimated how much money it would have collected in onetime connection fees.

The fee approvals followed a tentative adoption of the city’s $147 million budget with a tax rate of $6.45 per $1,000 of assessed value. Final approval is scheduled for Sept. 16.

That means the owner of a house valued at $300,000 would see a tax bill of about $1,612. That’s about $76 less than last year.

Harden said that though the tax rate is higher than last year’s, the city is not really raising taxes because it is not taking in additional revenue.

________________________________________________________________

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
A Transaction Brokerage Representing Both Buyers And Sellers

NOTE:

Remember to visit our corporate blog at http://LuxuryResortPortfolio.blogspot.com


If you are subscribed to our corporate blog, you are NOT automatically subscribed to the
Mizner Country Club – Real Estate News. They are two separate published newsletters.
Please subscribe today and start receiving the latest updates in Real Estate News.
Thank you again for all your support and best wishes!
Philip and Carla Smith
The Smiths – Luxury Resort Portfolio

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.

Delray Beach To Increase Tax Rate

September 5, 2008

Delray Beach to Increase Tax Rate, but Most Homeowners Will See Smaller Bill

By DON JORDAN
Palm Beach Post
Wednesday, September 03, 2008

DELRAY BEACH — The city commission approved a tentative $147 million budget tonight that will cut taxes for most residents, but offer less money for police enforcement, park maintenance and other city services. The tax rate would jump next year from $6.14 for every $1,000 of assessed value to $6.45, the highest amount allowed under state law without requiring a super-majority vote.

The higher rate still would mean a smaller tax bill for residents with properties with a taxable value of less than $336,000. It would also leave city coffers about $150,000 emptier than last year, according to a staff estimate.

City manager David Harden asked commissioners to approve the tentative rate after promising to recommend a lower rate before the commission votes on a final budget later this month. “We have discussed reducing the millage further and we do expect we will do that,” Harden said.

City officials have struggled for months to craft a budget that adjusts for decreased property values and Amendment 1, the voter-approved measure that restricts local governments’ tax rates. The general fund, which makes up about two-thirds of the tentative budget for next year, includes $2.5 million less than this year for law enforcement, parks and cultural programs and other city services.

Commissioner Fred Fetzer has been a vocal proponent of leaving the tax rate at the current level in the spirit of Amendment 1, which was overwhelmingly approved by Florida voters. Keeping the current year’s tax rate would cost the city an estimated $2 million in revenue next year. His sentiments were echoed today by a trio of Realtors who asked the commission to honor voters’ wishes and lower the property tax rate. “The message was clear,” local Realtor Nancy Hogan said. “The residents need tax relief and the escalation in government spending must stop.”

In addition to the property tax rate, commissioners tentatively approved raising a special tax paid on properties in the downtown development authority taxing district, from 95 cents to $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value. The commission will hold a second public hearing on the budget and tax rate on Sept. 16. The city tax figures do not include taxes levied by other governing bodies, including Palm Beach County and the school district.

Who Will Pay What???

The Delray Beach City Commission tentatively approved raising the property tax rate from $6.14 to $6.45 for every $1,000 of assessed value, which would mean a tax cut for homesteaded properties worth less than $336,000. Taxpayers will also pay an additional 46 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to pay off voter-approved debts. The commission will take a final vote on the tax rate on Sept. 16.

Under the tentative rate:
– The owner of a $250,000 homesteaded property would pay about $46 less in taxes.
– The owner of a $500,000 homesteaded property would pay about $88 more in taxes.
– The owner of a $200,000 property without a homestead would pay about $12 less in taxes.

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
A Transaction Brokerage Representing Both Buyers And Sellers

NOTE:

Remember to visit our corporate blog at http://LuxuryResortPortfolio.blogspot.com


If you are subscribed to our corporate blog, you are NOT automatically subscribed to the Mizner Country Club – Real Estate News. They are two separate published newsletters. Please subscribe today and start receiving the latest updates in Real Estate News. Thank you again for all your support and best wishes!
Philip and Carla Smith
The Smiths – Luxury Resort Portfolio

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.

Is There Good News on the Horizon?

August 25, 2008
Sales of existing homes increased in South Florida last month as buyers responded to deep price cuts.

According to the Florida Association of Realtors press release on Monday, Palm Beach County had 652 sales in July, that number is up 8 percent from 605 sales a year ago. The median price of home in Palm Beach County is currently $291,300 falling 22 percent from $372,200 a year ago.

Real estate agents say more prospective buyers are showing interest as sellers become realistic with asking prices. However, analysts expect more price declines through the end of 2008 and into 2009.

Housing experts caution that the South Florida housing market won’t begin to rebound until the double-digit price declines begin to fade away and ultimately home prices start increasing incrementally as sales are.

In an article posted today on MarketWatch.com, Florida’s existing home sales in 2008 have remained level compared to 2007. A total of 11,498 existing homes sold statewide last month while 11,492 homes sold in July 2007, maintaining the same level of sales activity in the year-to-year comparison, according to FAR (Florida Association of Realtors).

More than half of Florida’s metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) reported increased sales of existing homes in July; seven MSAs also showed gains in condo sales. Realtors around the state reported increased business activity, including more telephone calls, more home showings and a rise in pending sales.

Below please find a chart indicating statistics for Florida and its 20 MSAs (Metropolitian Statistical Areas). The chart compares the volume of existing, single-family home sales and median sales prices in July 2008 to July 2007 based on Realtor transactions

 Florida Sales Report - July 2008
Single-Family, Existing Homes

Realtor Sales Median Sales Price
Statewide &
Metropolitan Statistical July July % July July %
Areas (MSAs) 2008 2007 Chge 2008 2007 Chge

STATEWIDE* (1) 11,498 11,492 - $193,600 $238,900 -19
STATEWIDE-YEAR-TO-DATE 72,347 83,598 -13 $201,000 $240,100 -16
Daytona Beach 595 575 3 $171,100 $204,600 -16
Fort Lauderdale 581 559 4 $303,600 $373,700 -19
Fort Myers-Cape Coral 768 426 80 $154,900 $246,100 -37
Fort Pierce-
Port St. Lucie 415 371 12 $159,300 $231,300 -31
Fort Walton Beach 217 257 -16 $218,200 $228,800 -5
Gainesville 205 319 -36 $187,800 $199,200 -6
Jacksonville (2) 831 1,073 -23 $180,800 $193,100 -6
Lakeland-Winter Haven 267 253 6 $138,300 $172,600 -20
Melbourne-Titusville-
Palm Bay 478 458 4 $152,600 $195,800 -22
Miami 392 505 -22 $322,700 $377,400 -14
Marco Island (3) 31 26 19 $462,500 $540,900 -14
Ocala 167 236 -29 $140,600 $166,500 -16
Orlando 1,656 1,484 12 $209,100 $258,000 -19
Panama City 111 147 -24 $204,400 $215,000 -5
Pensacola 321 427 -25 $157,300 $173,600 -9
Punta Gorda 200 185 8 $141,800 $179,600 -21
Sarasota-Bradenton 657 711 -8 $230,100 $277,700 -17
Tallahassee 218 250 -13 $205,900 $210,200 -2
Tampa-St. Petersburg-
Clearwater 2,174 2,068 5 $176,500 $215,600 -18
West Palm Beach-
Boca Raton 652 605 8 $291,300 $372,200 -22

(1) * Statewide figure includes data from the Naples Area Board of
Realtors.
(2) Data from the St. Augustine & St. Johns County Board of Realtors was
not available.
(3) Data is only from the Marco Island Association of Realtors.



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
A Transaction Brokerage Representing Both Buyers And Sellers

NOTE:

Remember to visit our corporate blog at http://LuxuryResortPortfolio.blogspot.com


If you are subscribed to our corporate blog, you are NOT automatically subscribed to the Mizner Country Club – Real Estate News. They are two separate published newsletters. Please subscribe today and start receiving the latest updates in Real Estate News. Thank you again for all your support and best wishes!
Philip and Carla Smith
The Smiths – Luxury Resort Portfolio

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.

Florida Supreme Court to Review Amendment 5

August 19, 2008

Florida Supreme Court to Review Tax Swap Plan

TALLAHASSEE – The fate of the Amendment 5 tax swap is in the hands of the Florida Supreme Court.

The First District Court of Appeal in the state capitol today agreed to fore go its review of a state judge’s decision to strip from the ballot the plan that would eliminate most school property taxes, sending the case to the Supreme Court. The seven-justice body must agree to accept the case and hear arguments.

Last week, Circuit Judge John Cooper threw Amendment 5 off the Nov. 4 ballot, ruling that the summary prepared for voters was misleading about the potential effect the amendment could have on school funding.

Amendment 5 would cut Floridians’ property tax bills by one-quarter starting in 2010. To make up for the lost revenue, legislators would have to boost the state’s 6-cent sales tax by a penny and raise billions more in revenues by closing sales tax exemptions and cutting services.

Gov. Charlie Christ and the real-estate industry are the chief supporters of the tax plan, while teachers’ unions and a broad array of business groups worried about a services tax oppose it.

By: Josh Hafenbrack
Source: Sun Sentinel.com
Posted: August 19, 2008

View more information on Amendment 5
Link: http://www.giveme5florida.com/myths.html

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


Please visit:
The Mizner Country Club – Real Estate News
click on this link: http://MiznerCountryClub-RealEstateNews.blogspot.com

Note: If you are currently subscribed to our Luxury Resort Portfolio Blog you are NOT subscribed to the Mizner Country Club – Real Estate News Blog. Please click on the link today and subscribe to receive all the latest updates of real estate transactions happening at Mizner Country Club. Thank you for all your continued encouragement and support!!!

-Philip and Carla Smith

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.

New Wave of Baby Boomers Are Ready To Descend On Florida

August 4, 2008


The Sunshine State is about to boom with Boomers.

Between 2010 and 2030, Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are expected to descend on Florida in even larger numbers and will increase their standing as the state’s largest age group. The reason: They are nearing retirement age, the state’s housing prices have become more affordable and Florida’s tropical climate remains a draw.

“I enjoy warm weather and I want to be close to the beach,” said Frank Moschiano, 50, who on Thursday moved from Albuquerque, N.M., into a two-bedroom condominium in Fort Lauderdale. “The social and professional opportunities in Fort Lauderdale are huge. The real estate prices kept dropping and dropping. … It made it easier for me to afford.”

Boomers made up about 23 percent of Florida’s 15.9 million population in 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2010, they will account for 27 percent of the 19.6 million people expected to be living here.

“The first of the Baby Boomers are just barely over 60 now, so over the next 10 or 15 years you’ll see a real increase in that group,” said Stan Smith, director of the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research. “Lower [housing] prices could have some impact because historically Florida has been a relatively low-cost place to live but that has been going up in recent years.”

Lured by low taxes and the advent of Social Security payments, throngs of seniors flocked to Florida in the post-World War II economic boom. Their numbers ebbed in the last decade, but Baby Boomers over the next 20 years are expected to reinvigorate the state’s status as a retirement mecca.

Such an influx worries some demographers and social services advocates.

“Florida is going to face a very different racial and cultural gap as the older Boomers age and the younger immigrants come with competing demands on public services,” said William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution, a Washington public policy think tank.

Edith Lederberg, executive director of the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Broward County, said there are already waiting lists for seniors needing most types of subsidized in-house services, such as personal care, home-delivered meals and nursing care. “It will get worse before it gets better,” she said. “A lot of Baby Boomers will expect social services to be there for them, and that won’t be the case because funding hasn’t kept pace with the need or demand.”

Robert McFall, chief executive officer of Area Agency on Aging of Palm Beach/Treasure Coast Inc., agreed.

“Florida’s destiny and its demographics are on a definite collision course unless we have the fortitude to invest in those essential services that will sustain a growing older population,” McFall said.

Real estate agents say they are already fielding more calls this summer from Boomers, especially those who live up North. Sparking their interest is the continued drop in home and condo prices, and the large number of foreclosures on the market.

Ron Schulman, managing broker at Majestic Palms Realty in Boca Raton, explained why. He had a condo listed for $70,000 at King’s Point in Delray Beach that sold – after more than a year — for $20,000.

“These Baby Boomers are thinking more about coming here, and they’re realizing now is the time,” he said.

The bargain prices enticed Jim and Debra Ciervo.

“We came for the weather,” said Debra Ciervo, 45, who recently moved from New Jerseyto Tamarac. “The prices are so much lower right now. We got our house for $100,000 less than what is was going for a year ago.”

South Florida’s high cost of living was partly to blame for an unprecedented population drop from 2006 to 2007. According to newly released U.S. Census Bureau estimates, 26 of Broward’s 31 cities lost a total of 15,000 residents, and three of them — Hollywood, Coral Springs and Pembroke Pines — made the Top 10 list of the nation’s fastest-shrinking large cities.

In Palm Beach, 27 of the county’s 38 communities lost a total of 2,238 people.

“I think people got run out of town by the high prices and now that prices and rents are coming down, we’ll see more people,” said Brad Hunter, South Florida director of the research firm Metrostudy in West Palm Beach.

Jim Godino, 59, a luxury-car salesman from Boston, is one of them. He is looking to buy a house in St. Lucie or Palm Beach County.

“I’m just waiting for the house that’s a good bang for the buck that I can make an offer on,” he said. “With the economy the way it is, I will probably have to work, so I’d prefer to be in a place where I can play golf and enjoy the warm weather.”

Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel
BY ROBIN BENEDICK and JENNIFER GOLLAN
August 4, 2008

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


Please visit:
The Mizner Country Club – Real Estate News
click on this link: http://MiznerCountryClub-RealEstateNews.blogspot.com

Note: If you are currently subscribed to our Luxury Resort Portfolio Blog you are NOT subscribed to the Mizner Country Club – Real Estate News Blog. Please click on the link today and subscribe to receive all the latest updates of real estate transactions happening at Mizner Country Club. Thank you for all your continued encouragement and support!!!

-Philip and Carla Smith

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.

Need A Mortgage Now? Bring Loads of Cash!

July 21, 2008


Between higher fees and larger down payment requirements,
buyers have to pony up more money than ever these days
just to land a loan.


Top of Form


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Are you ready to buy a house in this crazy market? Better bring a boatload of money to the closing.


In a brutal real estate market where all the players want to hedge against the tremendous risks, down payment requirements and up-front fees have soared, shutting many potential home buyers out of the market.


“I have as many people calling me for financing as ever,” said George Hanzimanolis, a Pennsylvania mortgage broker, “but I’m putting less than half of them into loans.”


That’s happening all over the country, and may slow the housing market’s recovery. Indeed, in a Realtor.com survey released today, potential home buyers said high down payments were the second biggest obstacle, after high home prices, to buying a home.


These days, home buyers almost always have to make a substantial down payment, at least 5%, according to Rich Wordman, president of the Florida Association of Mortgage Brokers. The days of no-down loans are over.


In deeply declining markets, lenders are reluctant to issue loans unless borrowers put at least 10% down, he said.


JP Morgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500), for instance, now asks for a minimum of 10% down in most markets, according to a spokesman, and for 20% in hard-hit areas. In Reno, Nevada, which has been devastated by the housing crisis, the bank requires 25%.


Even bigger jumbos


For expensive homes, the down payments are disproportionately more. Lenders issuing jumbo loans, which are too pricey to be sold to Fannie Mae (FNM, Fortune 500) or Freddie Mac (FRE, Fortune 500) in the secondary market, are asking for at least 20% down, according to Ed Craine, a San Francisco mortgage broker. In the most expensive markets, where jumbo loans are over $729,000, that means a minimum down payment of $148,500.


Higher interest rates on jumbo loans are also making them more expensive than they normally would be – with interest rates a full point to a point and a half higher than non-jumbo loans, said Mike Tacconi, a mortgage advisor with lender CMG Mortgage Services based in San Ramone, Calif.


And buyers purchasing homes for investment purposes are getting clobbered. Lenders are telling them to come up with at least 25% of the purchase price, according to Tacconi – and sometimes as much as 35%, depending on the kind of loan.


“Rents are high where I am,” said Pennsylvania mortgage broker Hanzimanolis, “so people are having trouble saving enough for down payments.”


Those high down payments are being driven in part by the private mortgage insurance companies, according to Jay Brinkman, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association, which have themselves hiked their down payment requirements. These firms insure loans when borrowers put less than 20% down, making lenders whole when homeowners default.


In the past, these companies, such as MGIC Investment Corp (MTG). and PMI Group (PMI), often guaranteed mortgages when borrowers put no money down. Today they require 5%, 10% in steeply declining markets, according to Jeff Lubar, spokesman for the trade association Mortgage Insurance Companies of America.


In addition, private mortgage insurers are also charging higher insurance rates. Historically, PMI cost about 0.5% of a home’s purchase price. Now, a borrower putting 5% down can pay about 0.75% for the first year.


Higher rates


And although interest rates are relatively low, industry experts say that they’re higher than they should be, thanks to concerns about the solvency of Freddie and Fannie, which buy about half of all outstanding mortgages in the U.S.


The average 30-year, fixed-rate loan carried a 6.37% interest rate last week, according to Freddie Mac, up nearly a point from the year’s low of 5.48% set last January and up from under 6% in late May. At the same time, yields on 10-year treasuries, which mortgage rates usually track, have trended down.


From June 12 to July 10, 10-year treasuries fell from 4.20% to 3.81%, while mortgage rates actually increased, inching up from 6.32% to 6.37%. Borrowers are probably paying at least a half point more than they ordinarily would, according to Keith Gumbinger of HSH Associates, a publisher of loan information.


That’s because the questions surrounding the future of Fannie and Freddie have made the investors who buy their loans – hedge funds, pension funds, and banks wary. They’re demanding higher interest rates to take on the added risk they perceive.


Freddie and Fannie have also imposing higher up-front fees for riskier borrowers, based on credit scores.


As of June 1, buyers with scores of less than 620 with less than a 30% down payment must pay a fee of 2.75% of mortgage principal, up from 2%. Between a 620 and 640 credit score, borrowers pay 2.5% (up from 1.75%); 640 to 660, 1.75% (1.25%); 660 to 680, 1.25% (0.75%); and 680 to 720, 0.5% (0).


“The fees are costing consumers a considerable amount of money,” said Marc Savitt, a mortgage broker there and current president of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers.


All these added expenses are slowing an already moribund real estate market. That means it’s going to take even longer to get rid of the tremendous inventory of unsold homes, according to the MBA’s Brinkman, especially in areas that were overbuilt during the boom.


Cities hard hit by the housing bust, like North Las Vegas, Stockton, Calif. and Tucson, Ariz, may have to suffer through many more months of stagnant prices and increased foreclosures before they return to better times.


And these higher costs are going to stick around long after housing recovers, according to Brinkman. From now on, they’ll just be the price of doing business.


By: Les Christie, CNNMoney.com staff writer
Source: CNNMoney.com
Last Updated: July 18, 2008

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

NOTE:

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If you are subscribed to our corporate blog, you are NOT automatically subscribed to the Mizner Country Club – Real Estate News. They are two separate published newsletters. Please subscribe today and start receiving the latest updates in Real Estate News. Thank you again for all your support and best wishes!
Philip and Carla Smith
The Smiths – Luxury Resort Portfolio

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.

How To Sell A House, When You Have To Sell It Now

July 15, 2008


Seven Tips For Homeowners Who Can’t Wait

Until The Market Turns Around


By: DAVID CROOK

Source: WallStreetJournal.com

July 14, 2008; Page R1


So you say you’re selling your house?


Hey, it could be worse. You could be selling a Hummer.


If you’ve been waiting for a good offer to come through, this probably isn’t exactly big news to you: This is the worst home-selling market since Herbert Hoover was president. In much of the country, prices are already way down and probably heading even further south. Houses are sitting on the market for months longer than sellers expected.


And don’t think this is just a momentary lull, a short slowdown before the market recovers and then takes off again. What you see today is the market you have, for now and, quite possibly, for a long time to come.


“At best, I think we’re a year away from the bottom,” says Sally Bodmer, who has sold Tampa-area real estate for 31 years and has never seen a worse selling climate. She operates mainly in the newer suburbs on the far eastern edge of the metropolitan area. It was a super-hot area in 2005, when developers couldn’t build houses fast enough. “Now,” she says, “you can’t give them away.”


To be sure, things are not awful everywhere. Prices in metropolitan areas bypassed by the Big Bubble — places such as Charlotte, N.C., or Rochester, N.Y. — have held relatively firm or risen modestly through the Big Bust. And in some of the worst markets, elite properties and houses in the best neighborhoods may still buck the trends.


But even the perennial playgrounds of the upper crust aren’t immune. According to Zillow, a real-estate Web site, prices in Palm Beach, Fla., are down about 10% from last year. Prices are down 13% in Santa Barbara, Calif.


So what’s a home seller to do? What does it take to sell a house today?


If your job or life circumstances leave you no alternative other than to sell in this market, you must be prepared to go well beyond the usual feints and gimmicks if you want to get potential buyers in the front door and, ultimately, to the closing table. By all means, feng shui the living room, bury a statue of St. Joseph in the front yard and bake brownies before the open house.


But if you really want to sell the place, you need to think and act like a salesperson. Most important, you must separate your emotional attachment to your family home from your financial interest in your family’s largest asset. Selling a house is business, and you must approach the sale in a businesslike manner.


Here are seven points to keep in mind:


1. DON’T WAIT AROUND.


Even in the better housing areas, it’s taking a long time to sell houses; and in the hardest-hit metro areas, inventories of unsold homes are stretching well past 180 days.

So, don’t try to sit out the market. That’s what hundreds of other timid sellers are doing, each of them hoping — somehow, some way — that hanging on the sidelines will improve prices and, ultimately improve his or her chances for selling success. It won’t. Not if you expect to sell anytime soon. If you want your place sold, the best way to make sure that happens is to put it up for sale.

Obviously, you should take advantage of your local market cycles — early spring is usually better for selling in much of the country — but otherwise don’t try timing the market. You won’t have any better luck than a stock trader who’s always holding out for the market highs or lows.


2. FIX IT UP AND CLEAN IT UP.


Buyers are taking your house out on a date. It has to make a good impression.

Don’t spend a lot of money — absolutely no big-ticket renovations — but do see that everything is in good repair. And give the place a new paint job and a general sprucing up. (Caution: This won’t necessarily give you any pricing advantage over less fixed-up places, but it will attract buyers and keep them interested.)

As you get closer to the date that the house actually goes up for sale, start moving out by decluttering the place. No buyer wants to see a house filled to the rafters with other people’s things. They want to imagine their stuff filling the place. “Stage” the place with only enough furniture to make it look livable; put the rest in storage.


3. PRICE IT CHEAPLY.


Don’t fight the market by trying to price your house at bubble-era levels or by factoring in all those improvements you made. It won’t fly.

Set a realistic, salable price on day one. Don’t let the house hang around on the market as you gradually lower the price. Forget what you think the house should be worth or what it was worth three years ago. That’s not what it’s worth today.

Smart buyers will be looking for bargains. So you must set your price below comparable nearby properties. Look at the asking prices of neighboring houses, and set your price to beat them. If prices in your area are generally down 20% from where they were at the bubble peak in 2005, then price your house 25% to 30% below its peak bubble value. Your area down 40%? Be prepared to take just half of what the house was worth three years ago. Yes, it’s painful. But if you want to sell, you don’t have much choice.

And remember: In much of the country, renting is still a better deal right now than buying. As you try to settle on a price, look at rents on comparable properties. Buyers are not likely to be counting on huge price appreciation, as they did during the bubble, so they may be less willing to take on the higher monthly costs of home buying and owning. You must set a price that makes someone’s prospective mortgage and home-owning costs look like a better deal than a month’s rent.


4. HIRE A TOP REAL-ESTATE AGENT.


Get the best, most aggressive selling (listing) agent you can find.

When everything was selling before it even hit the market, of course, you didn’t need the best. You just needed the cheapest. But not these days.

Fortunately, in this market, real-estate brokers are even more anxious than you. They’re eager to get whatever work they can, so don’t rely on your cousin with the real-estate license or your best friend’s wife.

Ask, instead, for the local real-estate office’s top salesperson. All offices have one or two sellers who greatly outperform their colleagues. That’s who you want.

Interview various agents and insist that they present you with a well-conceived marketing plan that goes way beyond the usual Internet page, one or two open houses and a yard sign. (Think about using a professional photographer for multiple shots on the primary Web listing, your house as the featured “home of the week” in the local newspaper, a decorating segment on a morning chat show, a stop on the local garden club’s spring tour.)

Sellers of higher-end properties should be able to negotiate a lower commission percentage, but this is no time to quibble over a couple of percentage points. Also, offer the agent a big bonus if he or she sells the house in 30 days or at your asking price. Offer other agents bonuses if they bring in the ultimate buyer.


5. PROMOTE. PROMOTE. PROMOTE.


Don’t rely on the agent to do all the work. The agent should pay the usual marketing costs, but you should be prepared to pony up for extras, especially if you insist on more expensive or untraditional promotions.

You want the house listed regularly in local newspaper classifieds and, if it’s a special, high-end property in a desirable location, in national publications, too.

Make sure your house is on the leading real-estate Web sites; Trulia, Zillow, Cyberhomes, Eppraisal and Realtor.com are some of the top ones.

Beyond that, get really creative. Advertise in corporate newsletters and intranet listings. Check in with local relocation firms that help transferring corporate executives find new homes. List the house on eBay. Put it on Craigslist. Put it in your church bulletin.

Trophy house in an upscale neighborhood? Hire a string quartet for the open house. Something a bit more midmarket in a family-friendly subdivision? Put a clown on the corner handing out brochures.


6. PLAY THE BANKER.


As bad as things are, there’s one big factor in your favor: the tight credit market. If you have no mortgage you have to pay off, your strongest selling point might be your ability to finance all or a substantial part of a buyer’s purchase.

You’re a lot more flexible than a bank that has the Federal Reserve looking over its shoulders, so you might even be able to charge a higher interest rate than a commercial lender as well as command a higher sale price. (You’ll need a real-estate lawyer to make sure everything is done to protect you and an accountant to set up a payment system. Peer-to-peer lenders such as virginmoneyus.com have systems to handle mortgage payments.)

Worst case? Your borrower defaults and you take the property back. And sell it again.


7. TAKE THE OFFER.


If any qualified buyer comes in with a reasonable offer, be prepared to accept it.

You don’t want to lose the deal by digging in your heels over a few dollars. Every real-estate office keeps records that show the percentage difference between asking and selling prices, so it’s easy to figure what’s an appropriate offer and what’s not.

Negotiate, of course, but recognize that the buyer has a lot more clout than you do. Your house, as wonderful as you think it is, is worth only as much as someone is willing to pay for it.

And that, unfortunately, will probably be a lot less than you think.


–Mr. Crook is editor of The Wall Street Journal Sunday and author of”The Wall Street Journal Complete Real-Estate Investing Guidebook.”


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

NOTE:

Remember to visit our corporate blog at
http://LuxuryResortPortfolio.blogspot.com

If you are subscribed to our corporate blog, you are NOT automatically subscribed to the Mizner Country Club – Real Estate News. They are two separate published newsletters. Please subscribe today and start receiving the latest updates in Real Estate News. Thank you again for all your support and best wishes!
Philip and Carla Smith
The Smiths – Luxury Resort Portfolio
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.

From Russia…With Cash!

July 11, 2008

The Russians are coming.

As many of America’s wealthy are roiled by the credit crisis and general financial gloom, a growing number of rich Russians are house-shopping — and buying — in costly U.S. enclaves.

Fertilizer mogul Dmitry Rybolovlev is set to pay nearly $100 million to Donald Trump for an oceanfront mansion in Palm Beach, Fla., say people familiar with the deal reached in May. Last year, Oleg Baibakov, president of GSC City, a Moscow construction-management and consulting firm, bought a condo at Manhattan’s Time Warner Center for $13.5 million, according to public records.

And in Snowmass, Colo., perhaps the most famous Russian oligarch, Roman Abramovich, paid $36.4 million in April for a 200-acre ranch. The property’s massive, split-level house is five minutes away from an $11.8 million ski-in, ski-out house that Mr. Abramovich, owner of England’s Chelsea soccer team, purchased two months earlier, records show.

While the number of Russians with the means to buy trophy homes is relatively small, they represent an important but little-known demographic group for U.S. real estate. Several years ago, the weakening dollar began to draw more overseas buyers but Russians were scarce. Now, Russia’s economy is booming amid soaring energy prices. Moscow real estate is among the world’s costliest, making property elsewhere a relative bargain.

In New York City, foreign buyers now make up about 15% of the market, with Russians the largest contingent, says Hall Willkie, president of real-estate firm Brown Harris Stevens. “A few years ago we didn’t see any Russians,” Mr. Willkie says. “But now, especially at the high end of the market they are buying big apartments…so they are a significant factor.”

In some ways, America is just the latest stop on a Russian grand tour. In London, so many Russians have bought property in one neighborhood that it has been dubbed Moscow on the Thames. Vacationing Russians for several years have frequented resorts in the south of France, such as Biarritz and Nice, where some have purchased large homes.

Sergey Skaterschikov, a Moscow-based private-equity investor, is shopping for a house in Palo Alto, Calif., because his son will attend school in the area. With a budget of $3.5 million to $5 million, the five- and six-bedroom houses the 36-year-old Mr. Skaterschikov has looked at struck him as cheap compared with Moscow real estate, which he called “insane.”

The Miami area in particular is drawing Russians with its upscale shopping, hip nightlife and an escape from Moscow’s harsh winters. In Miami Beach, a Russian paid $10.6 million in April for an unusual white concrete house with five boat sails on its roof and two curved terraced pools, according to the seller, developer John Turchin. Nelson Gonzalez, a broker with Esslinger, Wooten, Maxwell Realtors in Miami, says he has shown several Russian shoppers a house on Indian Creek Island with a $35 million asking price, one of the area’s most expensive listings.

Miami first became popular with Russians in the mid-1990s, when a coterie of Soviet-era pop stars purchased condos there and Russian media covered their new homes. Newer residents of nearby Sunny Isles Beach include Irina Allegrova, a pop singer who bought a two-bedroom condo for $1.4 million in January, records show. Reached on her Miami cellphone, Ms. Allegrova declined to comment. Rock star Leonid Agutin and his wife, singer Angelika Varum, own two Miami condos, including a three-bedroom one they bought for $790,000 in 2004 after Mr. Agutin recorded a CD in Miami with guitarist Al Di Meola. “I liked it there so much I bought the apartment next to the hotel,” he says. “My wife and I spend three months a year there in-between our tours.”

In Manhattan, former Kremlin insider Boris Berezovsky bought a high-rise condo on Central Park West for $3.2 million in 2001, records show, the same year he fled Russia after clashing with then-President Vladimir Putin. A spokeswoman for Mr. Berezovsky declined to comment. Last November, Len Blavatnik, whose investments include metals, chemicals and oil, paid Seagram heir Edgar Bronfman Jr. $50 million for a townhouse off Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, just a few blocks from a $31.25 million townhouse he bought a few years earlier, records indicate. He also owns a Fifth Avenue apartment that he bought in January 2007 for $27.5 million. A spokesman for Mr. Blavatnik, who is a longtime U.S. citizen, said the two townhouses are long-term investments.

The new buyers also include other residents of the former Soviet Union. In February, Bolat Nazarbayev, an oil magnate and brother of Kazakhstan’s president, paid nearly $20 million for an apartment at the Plaza condominium, according to records.

Russian buyers are “a small community — it’s the same people who have been to the same schools,” says Natalia Harrison, a native Russian real-estate agent who handles international real-estate marketing and sales for Douglas Elliman Worldwide Consulting. “Once someone oligarchal goes somewhere, they all go there and follow them.”

At a recent Sotheby’s International Realty conference, agents discussed Russian as well as Chinese nationals as new markets for eight-figure homes, according to Washington, D.C.-based broker Daryl Judy. Arsen Gasparyan, a Russian-speaking marketer in Miami, has teamed up with the W Residences South Beach, Regalia Miami and other Miami-area developments to advertise their properties in Russian magazines.

The Russian-American Consulting Corp., a New York travel agency specializing in package tours for Russians, has helped about 10 clients from Russia look at property in the past year, says owner Andrei Shuranov. “It’s difficult to attract people from the former Soviet Union because they don’t know the States and it’s difficult for them to get visas,” says Mr. Shuranov. “But at the same time, it’s growing.”

In January, San Francisco-based brokers Misha Kurgatnikov and Victor Borelli met with a delegation of more than 100 Russia-based brokers representing wealthy Moscow clients interested in buying distressed luxury properties in California and Las Vegas. Michael Valdes, a broker with Miami-based SOL Sotheby’s International Realty who focuses on the Russian market, says he has 14 active Russian clients, ranging from a couple shopping in Palm Beach with a budget of $20 million to $30 million to a hedge fund looking to buy condos in bulk.

Russian developers also are getting involved. Mirax Group Corp. of Moscow has invested in 13 partially completed houses at the Aqua, a New Urbanist-style development near Miami’s South Beach. The $75 million project will offer fully equipped homes, including linens, flatware and towels, aimed at Moscow-based buyers. Three homes in the Aqua have sold to Russian buyers in excess of $5 million each, according to Mr. Valdes, who is handling marketing for the project. (He declined to reveal the buyers’ names.)

Aqua is the first U.S. project for Mirax, which specializes in large high-rise and mixed-use developments in Moscow. It hopes eventually to be involved in developments in cities including New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas and Aspen, Colo., says Dimitry Lutsenko, a Mirax board member, via email.

Security-related requests by Russian buyers are common, including underground parking, gated entrances and video cameras. Quintessentially Estates, a real-estate concierge service in London, has satisfied some unusual requests by Russian clients, including building a hidden helipad at a residence in the south of France, constructing an underground wine cellar with a gun safe in London, and a panic room in another English house. The firm recently opened a U.S. office in response to requests from Russian clients buying in America, says Lucy Russell, the company’s managing director.

Mr. Rybolovlev, the Russian fertilizer billionaire, made headlines last month for agreeing to pay $100 million for Mr. Trump’s Palm Beach house. Mr. Rybolovlev first visited a lavish Palm Beach residence that wasn’t on the market but brokers said might be had for about $225 million, according to Mr. Gonzalez, the Miami broker, who showed him the house. He eventually chose Mr. Trump’s estate, which has one of largest waterfront expanses on the island, because of its land value. He plans to tear down the 33,000-square-foot house and redevelop the property, say people familiar with his thinking, which likely would set a record for the most expensive U.S. teardown.

Mr. Rybolovlev, via a spokesman, confirmed last month that he agreed to purchase Mr. Trump’s house but didn’t respond to recent questions about his real-estate shopping, including whether he looked at the $225 million Palm Beach house.

In some cases, nearby residents haven’t been pleased with the changes proposed by Russian buyers. In May, the Greenwich, Conn., planning board rejected a Russian couple’s preliminary proposal to build a 27,000-square-foot house on seven acres, citing safety issues related to the amount of construction required and concern that the house wouldn’t be primarily used as a residence, says the board’s chairman. The land’s owner is Olga Kogan, wife of Valery Kogan, a wealthy Russian who is chairman of East Line Group, which manages Moscow’s Domodedovo airport. Ms. Kogan paid $18.5 million for the property in 2005, records show. It came with a 19,000-square-foot house dating to 1924. Ms. Kogan’s attorney, John Tesei, didn’t return calls seeking comment.

But other neighbors of Russian buyers see an upside. “What an interesting neighbor I will have,” says philanthropist Lois Pope, whose Snowmass ranch is adjacent to Mr. Abramovich’s. “I hear he’s a wonderful person,” says Ms. Pope, the widow of National Enquirer founder Generoso Pope Jr.

Ms. Pope may not be a neighbor for long: She put her property on the market about the same time as Mr. Abramovich’s purchase, asking roughly the same rich price that the Russian paid, $36 million.


Source: WallStreetJournal.com
By: CHRISTINA S.N. LEWIS
Posted: July 11, 2008

NOTE:

Remember to visit our corporate blog at
http://LuxuryResortPortfolio.blogspot.com

If you are subscribed to our corporate blog, you are NOT automatically subscribed to the Mizner Country Club – Real Estate News. They are two separate published newsletters. Please subscribe today and start receiving the latest updates in Real Estate News. Thank you again for all your support and best wishes!
Philip and Carla Smith
The Smiths – Luxury Resort Portfolio


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.

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