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Palm Beach County Home Ownership Within Reach

Most families in Palm Beach County, Treasure Coast now find home ownership within reach

Source: PalmBeachPost.com
By: JEFF OSTROWSKI
Posted: May 18, 2009

WEST PALM BEACH — Plunging home prices and stable incomes have made homes in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast enticingly affordable to most families, the National Association of Home Builders said Monday.

In Palm Beach County, nearly two-thirds of homes sold in the first quarter were in reach of a typical family, according to the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index. And in the Treasure Coast, more than four-fifths of homes were affordable for a median-income family.

In Palm Beach County, 65.7 percent of new and existing homes sold in the county were affordable to a family making the county’s median income of $67,600, the study says. That’s up from 53.5 percent in the fourth quarter. Affordability hit a low of 28.8 percent in 2006.

In the Treasure Coast, the housing affordability index soared to its highest level in 15 years, the index says. Some 81.4 percent of homes sold in the first quarter were in reach of a family making the area’s median family income of $59,600.

Surprisingly, incomes changed little from 2008 to 2009, according to the index. Despite rising unemployment rates and a weakening economy, the region’s estimated median family income held steady. Income rose 2.4 percent in Palm Beach County from 2008 and fell 0.3 percent in the Treasure Coast.

The national housing market saw a similar trend, as affordability rose to its highest point in the 18-year history of the index. A family earning the U.S. median income of about $64,000 could afford around 73 percent of all the homes sold in the first quarter, said David Crowe, NAHB’s chief economist.

Crowe has forecast that the housing market will begin picking up toward the end of this year and turn around by 2011.

Builders, however, still face challenges getting loans from banks to finance new construction projects, while many borrowers must comply with more stringent standards that often require them to come up with more money for a down payment.

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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.

Florida Property Taxes Down In Each Of Last 2 Years

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Feb. 11, 2009 – A pair of tax-relief measures passed in the last two years have helped reduce property taxes for Floridians after three decades of steady increases, according to reports presented Tuesday in the state Senate.

Senate and Department of Revenue staffers told the Senate Finance and Tax Committee that non-school property tax collections dropped 2.1 percent in 2007 after the Legislature ordered a tax rate rollback. Then they dropped 3.8 percent in 2008 after voters approved a tax-cutting constitutional amendment.

Those decreases come after 32 years of average annual increases of 10 percent.

School property taxes are exempt from parts of the tax-relief measures, but they are also dropping because of declining property values across the state. That’s expected to cut school revenues by up to $1 billion in the next budget year, which begins July 1, unless lawmakers increase local school tax rates or find state dollars to replace that money.

Sen. Thad Altman, the committee’s chairman, said he was satisfied that non-school taxes have dropped but Florida’s property tax structure remains unfair. That’s due mainly to the Save Our Homes Amendment adopted in 1992. It gives tax breaks to owners of primary homes but shifts the burden to other taxpayers including recent homebuyers, businesses and owners of second and vacation homes.

Primary homeowners “who happened to buy when the market was high are paying relatively high taxes and those who bought when the market was low many, many years ago … are paying much less,” said Altman, R-Melbourne. “We haven’t really solved the heart of the problem.”

Altman said it’s unlikely lawmakers will solve it this year, either, because that would require amending the Florida Constitution. It would take a three-fourths vote in each chamber to call a special election to amend the constitution this year but only a three-fifths vote to put an amendment on the 2010 general election ballot.

“We need to be deliberate when we amend the constitution,” Altman said. “I don’t think you’re going to see a big rush to get constitutional amendments on the ballot this year because we’re going to have another year of deliberation.”

One provision of the tax-cutting amendment voters approved in January 2009 has not panned out as expected due to the state’s housing slump and national credit crunch. It allows homeowners to take part of their Save Our Homes benefits with them when they move.

This “portability” measure had been forecast to cut taxable values by $11.6 billion last year, but the actual figure was only $3.4 billion with just 42,647 homeowners taking advantage of it.

An extra $25,000 exemption for primary homes on non-school taxes in addition to an existing $25,000 exemption on all taxes cut taxable values by $92 billion. That’s slightly more than predicted.

A new $25,000 exemption on the tax paid by businesses for equipment, furniture and other tangible personal property cut $7.9 billion in property value, about $3 billion less than forecast.

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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.

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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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.”

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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.

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.”

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

Mortgage Applications Fell 23% Last Week

Adjustable-rate mortgages dwindle further as rates charged on them rise

By Amy Hoak,
Source: MarketWatch
Oct. 1, 2008


CHICAGO (MarketWatch) — Mortgage applications filed last week dropped a seasonally adjusted 23.0% compared with the previous week, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday. Applications for the ended Sept. 26 were also lower than in the same week during 2007, down 28.4%, the Washington-based MBA said.

The group’s survey covers about one half of all U.S. retail residential mortgage applications. Applications to purchase a home were down a seasonally adjusted 10.9%, compared with the week before. Filings to refinance existing mortgages fell 34.7% on a week-to-week basis. The four-week moving average for all loans was up 0.1%, according to the association’s latest survey.

Refinancing made up 44.0% of all applications, down from 51.6% the previous week, with adjustable-rate mortgages accounting for 3.3% of filings, down from 4.0%.

As for interest rates, the rate charged on fixed-rate mortgages held essentially steady last week. A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.07%, off from 6.08% the previous week, while the average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage stood at 5.82% last week, off from 5.84%. However, the rate on one-year ARMs averaged 7.19%, up from 7.01% the previous 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
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.

Home Sales Fell More Than Expected

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: September 24, 2008

WASHINGTON — A trade group for real estate agents says sales of existing homes fell 2.2 percent in August, but the number of unsold homes on the market also dropped sharply from the previous month’s record high.

The National Association of Realtors says sales fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.91 million units, from an upwardly revised pace of 5.02 million in July. Sales had been expected to fall by 1.6 percent, according to economists surveyed by Thomson/IFR.

There were 4.3 million unsold homes on the market, a 7 percent drop from the record set in July. It was the steepest drop in inventory since December 2006. At the current sales pace, it would take 10.4 months to sell all the properties.

Until the inventory level is reduced to more normal levels, analysts say, the housing slump will probably persist. Inventories are being driven higher by a wave of mortgage foreclosures.

“We hope the downward trend in inventories continues,” the trade group’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, said. “Home prices will not stabilize as long as inventories remain high.”

Median prices — the point at which half of the homes sold for less and half for more — fell 9.5 percent from a year ago to $203,100, the largest price decline on records dating to 1999. Sales were 10.7 percent below last year’s levels.

The national decline in home values coupled with shaky lending standards during the real estate boom are the driving forces behind rising mortgage defaults and foreclosures. They have spurred a credit crisis that has shaken Wall Street and caused the Bush administration to propose a $700 billion financial industry bailout.

Mr. Yun said the trade group was sending a letter to Congress in support of the rescue plan. While buyers are pouncing on lower prices — especially in places like California, Florida and Nevada — sales are sluggish in formerly stable markets like the Pacific Northwest and Charlotte, N.C., he added.

_______________________________________________________________

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.

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