Monthly Archives: December 2021

UCF: Housing Will Drive Economic Growth in 2022

Fla. job growth will outpace the nation, says UCF, and the housing industry – an “albatross” in the Great Recession – will “be an important economic driver.”

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Job growth in Florida will outpace the national economy, and unemployment will continue to decline in 2022, according to a new economic forecast for the Sunshine State.

Florida’s unemployment rate, which stood at 4.5% in November, is expected to continue falling in 2022, and housing starts will pick up, but not quickly enough to satisfy robust demand in the short run, according to the forecast released earlier this month by the Institute for Economic Forecasting at the University of Central Florida.

Inventory for single-family homes is so scarce in Florida that it would take only 1.3 months to use up the current supply of homes at the current rate of demand. Typically, a six-month supply is considered a healthy and balanced market.

“Florida’s Realtors are desperate for homes to buy and sell,” the UCF report said. “The paucity of inventory and supply chain problems for builders have led to cold calling/texting to try and drum up inventory.”

In contrasts to the Great Recession more than a dozen years ago, the housing market won’t be an “albatross” around Florida’s economy during the continued recovery from the pandemic, the report said.

“On the contrary, housing will continue to be an important economic driver as the recovery from the COVID-19 recession continues, and builders work to replenish severely depleted inventories,” the report said.

The sector with the biggest expected job growth in Florida over the next three years is hospitality, which was battered during the past two years by the pandemic, with a predicted jump of 8.1%. That is followed by professional and business services, which is expected to grow by 3.8%. Professional and business services are white-collar jobs like lawyers, architects and accountants.

Florida’s population over the next three years will continue to grow as baby boomers retire and move to the Sunshine State, and more job-seekers will migrate to Florida as the travel and hospitality industry recovers from the pandemic-caused downturn of the past two years, the forecast said.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Case-Shiller: Home Prices Surge 18.4% in Oct.

The 20-city home price index climbed 18.4% in Oct. year-to-year – though the pace of that rise is down a bit from Sept.’s 19.1% year-over-year increase.

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. home prices surged again in October as the housing market continues to boom in the wake of last year’s coronavirus recession.

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index climbed 18.4% in October from a year earlier. The gain marked a slight deceleration from a 19.1% year-over-year increase in September but was about in line with what economists had been expecting.

All 20 cities posted double-digit annual gains. The hottest markets were Phoenix (up 32.3%), Tampa (28.1%) and Miami (25.7%). Minneapolis and Chicago posted the smallest increases, 11.5% each.

The housing market has been strong thanks to rock-bottom mortgage rates, a limited supply of homes on the market, and pent-up demand from consumers locked in last year by the pandemic. Many Americans, tired of being cooped up at home during the pandemic, are looking to trade up from apartments to homes or to bigger houses.

“Home price growth will slow further in the year ahead, but continue to go up,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist at realtor.com. “As housing costs eat up a larger share of home purchaser’s paychecks, buyers will get creative. Many will take advantage of ongoing workplace flexibility to move to the suburbs where despite home price gains, many can still find a lower price per square foot than nearby cities.”

It remains unclear if that shift is permanent or an aberration, said Craig Lazzara, managing director at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

“We have previously suggested that the strength in the U.S. housing market is being driven in part by a change in locational preferences as households react to the COVID pandemic,” Lazzara said. “More data will be required to understand whether this demand surge represents an acceleration of purchases that would have occurred over the next several years, or reflects a more permanent secular change.”

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Fla.’s Nov. Sales: Single-Family Up, Prices Up

Florida Realtors: Condo sales dropped slightly year-to-year, single-family home sales and pending sales rose in Nov. Prices rose more than 19% for both.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida’s housing market reported more closed sales, higher median prices, more pending sales and continuing tight inventory levels in November compared to a year ago, according to Florida Realtors® latest housing data.

Closed sales of single-family homes statewide last month totaled 27,541, up 4.3% year-over-year, while existing condo-townhouse sales totaled 11,598, down 5.4% from November 2020. Closed sales may occur from 30- to 90-plus days after sales contracts are written.

“High demand for homes in Florida continued to result in homes selling quickly in November: The median time to contract for existing single-family homes was 11 days last month; it was 15 days for existing condo-townhouse properties,” says 2021 Florida Realtors President Cheryl Lambert, broker-owner with Only Way Realty Citrus in Inverness.

“Buyer demand and the pace of sales has continued to result in rising home prices,” Lambert adds. “However, if mortgage rates begin to increase more in the coming months, as analysts expect, that could ease prices.”

The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in November was $364,900, up 19.6% from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors Research Department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Last month’s statewide median price for condo-townhouse units was $273,270, up 19.9% over November 2020. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

“How high sales levels are compared to two years ago, before the pandemic, is impressive,” says Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. Brad O’Connor. “Compared to November 2019, sales this November were up by over 28% for single-family homes and by over 37% for condos and townhouses. The significant volume of home sales we’ve been experiencing continued to keep inventory levels low in November, however.

“As of the end of the month, single-family home inventory was down by over 31% compared to a year ago, while condo and townhouse inventory was down by close to 56%. It is primarily the huge rate of sales – and not a lack of new listings coming onto the market – that have kept inventories so low. In fact, year-to-date, there have been almost 4% more single-family homes and 7% more condos and townhouses listed for sale in 2021 than by this time in 2019, before the pandemic. These homes are simply selling so quickly that many potential buyers never have a chance to consider them.”

In a continuing trend over the past few months, the share of closed sales that were cash purchases rose year-to-year. In November, single-family existing home sales paid in cash increased by 41.8% year-over-year, while cash sales of condo-townhouse units rose by 20.3%.

On the supply side of the market, inventory (active listings) remained restricted. Single-family existing homes were at a low 1.2-months’ supply in November, while condo-townhouse properties were at a 1.5-months’ supply.

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.07% last month, up from the 2.77% averaged during November 2020.

To see the full statewide housing activity reports, go to the Florida Realtors’ Newsroom and look under Latest Releases or download the November 2021 data report PDFs under Market Data on the site.

© 2021 Florida Realtors®


Mortgage Rates End 2021 Slightly Higher: 3.11%

One week earlier, a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.05%; a year ago, it averaged 2.67%. Most economists predict more slight rises in 2022.

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) – Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates moved slightly higher in the final week of 2021.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate on the benchmark, 30-year home loan ticked up to 3.11% this week from 3.05% last week. A year ago, the 30-year rate stood at 2.67%.

The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages, popular among those refinancing their homes, rose to 2.33% from 2.3% last week. It was 2.17% a year ago.

Many economists expect rates to rise next year after the Federal Reserve announced earlier this month that it would begin dialing back its monthly bond purchases – which are intended to lower long-term rates – to combat accelerating inflation. But even with the expected three rate increases next year, the Fed’s benchmark rate would still be below 1%.

Despite historically low interest rates, many would-be home buyers have missed out due to a low supply of available homes that are seemingly getting more expensive by the day. Median home prices are nearly 20% higher than they were a year ago, with no signs of relief for frustrated house hunters seeking more space since the pandemic erupted almost two year ago.

Compounding the lack of supply and skyrocketing prices, virus-related supply chain breakdowns have builders delaying projects and struggling to keep up with demand.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


Scam Alert: Fla. a Top State for Spam-Texts

Fla. A.G. warning: Americans now receive more robotexts than robocalls. Floridians will get 5 billion this year – and clickable links can easily download malware.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody issued a Consumer Alert warning Floridians about a rise in robotexts. The alert calls Florida “one of the most spam-texted states in the nation.”

While a large number of unwanted robotexts can be irritating, the bigger danger lies in clickable links within those texts. In many cases, seemingly legitimate texts will include a link that downloads malware into a phone or computer.

“These automated text messages are now more prevalent, and potentially more dangerous, than robocalls since malicious links can be clicked on directly in a text,” Moody says. “These links often contain malware that can be instantly downloaded to a phone. Any interaction with this type of text will show the scammer that the phone number is active, making the targeted user vulnerable to further messages.”

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) runs the National Do Not Call Registry, which may offer some help to Americans who add their name. While robotexters may ignore U.S. laws, people registered on the Registry can report unwanted calls to the FTC after being on the list for 31 days. Violators, or those who call someone on the National Do Not Call List, can be fined per call.

Register by visiting DoNotCall.gov or calling 1 (888) 382-1222.

Avoiding illegal robotexts

  • Don’t answer texts from unrecognized numbers. Interacting shows the scammer that someone is actually receiving the texts and will likely lead to even more robotexts
  • Never click links in text messages from unknown numbers. They often contain malware or lead to malicious websites
  • Consider downloading phone apps that help block scam texts from even reaching your phone
  • Texts from a five- to six-digit short code telephone number may be a scam. Legitimate short-code phone numbers can be found in the U.S. Short Code Directory.

Report scam robotexts and robocalls to the Federal Trade Commission.

© 2021 Florida Realtors®


NAR: Existing Home Sales Rose 1.9% in Nov.

It’s the third straight month for increased sales. However, prices jumped 13.9% higher year-to-year as the inventory of for-sale homes decreased 13.3%.

WASHINGTON – Existing-home sales rose again in November – three consecutive months of increases – according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). Three of the four major U.S. regions NAR tracks within the report reported monthly sales growth, while the fourth region held steady. Year-over-year, only one region saw a rise in sales; three others saw declines.

Total existing-home sales – completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – grew 1.9% from October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.46 million in November. Sales fell 2.0% from a year ago (6.59 million in November 2020).

“Determined buyers were able to land housing before mortgage rates rise further in the coming months,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, who says many Americans “grew weary of escalating rents over the last year.”

Yun expects mortgage rates to rise going into 2022, but he doesn’t “expect the imminent increase to be overly dramatic.” He forecasts the 30-year fixed mortgage rate will average 3.7% by the end of 2022.

Total for-sale housing inventory at the end of November amounted to 1.11 million units, down 9.8% from October and down 13.3% from one year ago (1.28 million) – a 2.1-month supply at the current sales pace, which is down both month-to-month and year-to-year.

The median existing-home price for all housing types in November was $353,900, up 13.9% from November 2020 ($310,800). Prices increased in each region, with the highest pace of appreciation in the South. It marks 117 straight months of year-over-year increases, and the longest-running streak on record.

“Supply-chain disruptions for building new homes and labor shortages have hindered bringing more inventory to the market,” says Yun. “Therefore, housing prices continue to march higher due to the near record-low supply levels.”

Yun says inflation and the pace of price appreciation should subside next year. At NAR’s third annual Real Estate Forecast Summit, a consensus of economists and housing experts found inflation would likely ease in 2022 at a 4% rate, with home prices expected to rise 5.7%.

In November, properties typically remained on the market for 18 days, the same as October and down from 21 days in November 2020. More than four out of five November listings (83%) were on the market for less than a month.

First-time buyers were responsible for 26% of sales in November, down from 29% in October and 32% in November 2020. Individual investors or second-home buyers, responsible for many cash sales, purchased 15% of homes in November, down from 17% in October and up from 14% in November 2020. All-cash sales accounted for 24% of November transactions, equal to October’s percentage and up from 20% from November 2020.

Distressed sales – foreclosures and short sales – represented less than 1% of sales in November, equal to the percentage seen a month prior and equal to November 2020.

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was 3.07% in November, equal to October’s rate. The average commitment rate across all of 2020 was 3.11%.

Single-family and condo/co-op sales: Single-family home sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.75 million in November, up 1.6% from 5.66 million in October and down 2.2% from one year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $362,600 in November, up 14.9% from November 2020.

Existing condominium and co-op sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 710,000 units in November, up 4.4% from 680,000 in October and equal to one year ago. The median existing condo price was $283,200, an annual increase of 4.4%.

Regional breakdown: Existing-home sales in the Northeast were flat compared to the prior month, neither climbing nor falling in November at an annual rate of 760,000, which is an 11.6% decrease from November 2020. The median price in the Northeast was $372,500, up 4.7% year-to-year.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest ticked up 0.7% to an annual rate of 1,520,000 in November, a 0.7% drop from a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $260,100, a 9.0% jump from November 2020.

Existing-home sales in the South grew 2.9% in November – an annual rate of 2,850,000, and rise of 1.1% from one year ago. The median price in the South was $318,900, an 18.4% surge year-to-year.

Existing-home sales in the West increased 2.3%, reaching an annual rate of 1,330,000 in November and down 3.6% from one year ago. The median price in the West was $507,200, up 8.4% from November 2020.

© 2021 Florida Realtors®


Who Can File a Code of Ethics Complaint?

Dear Joey: Code of Ethics’ headings seem directed to specific people – fellow Realtors, members of the public, etc. Does that limit who can file certain types of ethics complaints? Or are the headings just headings?

ORLANDO, Fla. – Dear Joey: In the Code of Ethics, the articles appear under headings – Duties to Clients & Customers, Duties to the Public and Duties to Realtors®. Do these headings bear any weight on who can file a complaint? – Policy Guru

Dear Policy Guru: You pose a great question that I’m sure many have asked in the past. In fact, we recently had a related question. That member asked, “Can a member of the public cite articles 15-17 in a complaint? I am only wondering because the heading for those articles says, “Duties to Realtors,” and as they are “Realtor to Realtor,” a member of the public can’t cite that in a complaint, can they?”

While I understand why these questions are asked, I would caution against reading too much into those headings. They’re merely a guide that organizes what the activities the articles pertain to – not who can cite these articles in a complaint. When you see the headings – Duties to Clients & Customers, Duties to the Public and Duties to Realtors – you know the articles in that section deal with those topics.

Furthermore, on page 43 of the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual, it states:

“Any person, whether a member or not, having reason to believe that a member is guilty of any conduct subject to disciplinary action, may file a complaint in writing in their own name with the Professional Standards Administrator, dated and signed by complainant, stating the facts on which it is based (Form #E-1, Complaint, Part Six), provided that the complaint is filed within one hundred eighty (180) days after the facts constituting the matter complained of could have been known in the exercise of reasonable diligence or within one hundred eighty (180) days after the conclusion of the transaction or event, whichever is later. (Revised 5/13).”

Given the language above, any person may file an ethics complaint, and they can cite any article they believe the member violated.

Say a member of the public files a complaint citing article 15 alleging that a Realtor said something about another real estate professional. Although, this article falls under the Duties to Realtors heading, there is no such thing as a “Realtor to Realtor” article. Anyone, whether a member or not, can file and the Grievance Committee would accept it for review.

At the end of the day, the Code of Ethics’ goal is to increase the professionalism of all Realtors and the industry. Although words matter, I encourage you to try not to read too much into certain items. Simply focus on how the Code is written and read it as such. Try not to overthink or add context that may not be there.

Joey Sale is the Director of Local Association Services for Florida Realtors

© 2021 Florida Realtors®


Buying/Selling Your Own Home? What to Disclose

The answer largely lies within the Code of Ethics, and while there are some specific requirements, the keyword for all transactions is “transparency.”

ORLANDO, Fla. – It’s still a hot market and agents are as busy as ever – great news for the real estate industry!

In some cases, agents even find themselves working on their own personal transaction as a buyer or seller. But what are the “rules” when an agent representing a transaction is also a buyer or seller in that transaction? The answer lies mainly within your Code of Ethics, so let’s take a look.

Real estate licensees have several legal obligations and requirements per Florida law. These are mainly outlined in Chapter 475 of the Florida Statutes. However, if a real estate licensee is also a Realtor, that licensee is bound by the National Association of Realtors®’ (NAR) Code of Ethics.

The general premise of your legal obligations and NAR’s Code of Ethics is transparency. The Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual (CEAM) states that the Code of Ethics was created, in part, to make a “commitment to business integrity and fair dealing.” The duty to operate honestly and fairly is also a basic obligation of all agency relationships that licensees may have with buyers and sellers under Florida law.

This has caused some confusion, though. A common call to the Florida Realtors Hotline is, “What are an agent’s obligations when that agent is also the seller or buyer of the property?”

Article 4 of the Code of Ethics provides guidance on this question and states:

“Realtors shall not acquire an interest in or buy or present offers from themselves, any member of their immediate families, their firms or any member thereof, or any entities in which they have any ownership interest, any real property without making their true position known to the owner or the owner’s agent or broker. In selling property they own, or in which they have any interest, Realtors shall reveal their ownership or interest in writing to the purchaser or purchaser’s representative.”

“Immediate Family” as used in the Code of Ethics includes, but is not limited to, the Realtor and the Realtor’s spouse and their siblings, parents, grandparents, children (by birth or adoption), grandchildren and other descendants.

Standard of Practice 4-1 specifies that the disclosures required by Article 4 shall be in writing and provided prior to the signing of any contract.

Let’s break this down a bit because this section of the Code differentiates Realtors who are on the buying side of the transaction vs. those on the selling side.

The first part of Article 4 covers the disclosure involved when representing the buying side. If presenting an offer from the Realtor themselves, any member of their immediate families, their firms or any member thereof or any entities in which the Realtor has any ownership interest, the Realtor must provide written notice of their interest to the listing agent/sellers before signing a contract.

It’s important to note that the disclosure requirement must be in writing. While Florida Realtors offers addenda to contracts to make this disclosure, that’s not the only way this type of disclosure may be given. An agent could, for example, send this disclosure in the body of an email along with attaching an offer.

Some calls to Florida Realtors Legal Hotline suggest that a few Realtors have refused to pass offers along to their sellers if the specific addenda to the contract wasn’t used. Please understand: Unless your sellers indicated in writing that they don’t wish to see any offers without the corresponding addenda making the disclosure, you’re likely in violation of your obligations to those sellers. Again, the Code requires that the disclosure be given in writing – but it doesn’t mandate that the disclosure must be in the contract.

The second part of Article 4 clarifies that if you’re a Realtor selling personal property or property in which you have an ownership in, you must also disclose it in writing before the signing of any contract. Aside from personally occupying the property, the most common example of this is property owned by a corporation, like an LLC, in which the Realtor has an ownership interest. 

In closing, it’s important to not only understand what types of disclosures apply and when they should be presented, but also how those disclosures can be made.

Meredith Caruso is Associate General Counsel for Florida Realtors
Note: Advice deemed accurate on date of publication

© 2021 Florida Realtors®


Using AS IS for New Construction? Don’t

Is it OK to use one of Florida Realtors’ residential contracts for a new-construction home? The short answer: No. The longer answer: Buyers likely lose important protections and it may lead to litigation.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida Realtors’ Legal Hotline has received an increasing number of calls focused on one of Florida Realtors®’ forms: using residential contracts for new construction. Either a small builder used these contracts on their own, or they employed a real estate agent and instructed them to use these contracts.

By the time we receive a call on the Legal Hotline, the parties have already signed the contract but have run into difficulties performing. It’s unfortunate because, due to the nature of construction law as opposed to residential real estate law, Florida Realtors’ contracts aren’t suitable for new construction.

In other words, do not use the Florida Realtors/Florida BAR, AS IS or CRSP contracts for new or pre-construction.

To be blunt, failure to retain a construction law attorney to draft a suitable contract may save money in the short run – but it almost inevitably leads to great expense in the long run when the dispute is litigated. Builders vary in how they construct homes and their individual timelines for completion, and a contract specific to that builder is the best route for the parties involved.

Though construction law and residential real estate law are related, construction law has its own special considerations when dealing with transactions that can, and do, change and evolve as they proceed. This article focuses on three parts of the AS IS contract that make its unsuitability apparent, though they’re not the only sections that don’t work with a new-build property. The same concepts apply equally to the similar sections of the FR/BAR and CRSP contracts.

At the outset of a transaction, the differences between the two types of law should be evident. In a residential sale, buyers have an existing home they can inspect, one that the seller must maintain. In a pre-construction sale, there is a vacant lot or, at most, a partially built structure.

A review of paragraph 12(a) makes it clear why the AS IS is unsuitable for new construction. Paragraph 12(a) permits the buyer to inspect the property and decide whether the property is suitable for their purposes within the agreed-upon inspection period. Since it’s virtually impossible for a builder to complete a home in 15 days – the default inspection period under the AS IS – there’s nothing for the buyer to inspect and approve. The most important inspection in new construction occurs after completion – weeks or months after the buyer has waived their right to terminate the contract pursuant to paragraph 12.

In contrast, the “inspection” at the end of the AS IS (paragraphs 12(b) and 11) is limited to a walk-through. Paragraph 12(b) permits a walk-through, in part, to “verify that Seller has maintained the property as required by” paragraph 11.

Paragraph 11 requires the seller to “maintain the Property [until closing] … in the condition existing as of Effective Date.” If a house is unbuilt as of the Effective Date, that would mean the seller is only required to maintain the property in an unbuilt state. The buyer may have a hard time convincing a court that an incomplete house breaches the contract.

In addition to the two sections discussed above, the AS IS throws in a particularly vicious kicker. Standard 18X states that: “Buyer waives any claims against Seller … for any damage or defects pertaining to the physical condition of the Property that may exist at Closing of this Contract and be subsequently discovered by Buyer …” In other words, if the buyer finds something wrong with the property post-closing, large or small, they’re out of luck. The AS IS residential contract has no provision for asking that something be fixed or completed.

The preceding should make it clear why the Florida Realtors’ residential contract forms shouldn’t be used for new construction. It should not, however, be used as a roadmap for self-help.

Amending the existing forms to fit the square peg of residential into the round hole of construction is, in many ways, worse than trying to use the existing forms as written – not to mention the likely unlicensed practice of law.

Long story short, if a member wishes to represent a builder in selling new or pre-construction, the seller should hire a competent construction attorney to draft the necessary contract. Failure to do so almost invariably leads to needless expense and litigation down the line.

Richard Swank is a Florida Realtors attorney
Note: Advice deemed accurate on date of publication

© 2021 Florida Realtors®


Tips for Negotiating a Contract Amendment

Most parties can successfully negotiate a change to legal agreements if circumstances change, but here’s a chance to learn from other people’s mistakes – parties who failed to fully understand the contract they currently have.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Buyers, sellers, landlords, and tenants often change the terms of their agreements when their circumstances change. Most of the time, these parties negotiate changes and documents without a hitch. However, when things don’t go as planned, we often hear about the fallout on Florida Realtors Legal Hotline.

Following are some tips gleaned from their experiences. The overarching theme? It’s extremely helpful to understand what the agreement currently provides while attempting to negotiate a change.

Is an amendment the right tool for the job?

What happens if the title agent tells the parties that a title defect needs to be addressed before they can close the transaction? Many times, the buyer and seller simply sign an amendment to extend the closing date. While this isn’t necessarily wrong, it can create some unnecessary wrinkles because it ignores the procedures and timeline that already exist in the contract.

The contract puts the ball in the buyer’s court first. It provides that “Buyer shall have 5 days after receipt of Title Commitment to examine it and notify Seller in writing specifying defect(s), if any, that render title unmarketable.” Just a bit later, the contract provides this ominous sentence: “If Buyer fails to so notify Seller, Buyer shall be deemed to have accepted title as it then is.”

This buyer notice is not a contract amendment – it’s a one-way communication from the buyer to the seller, in writing. Once that happens, the seller has a 30-day window to try and cure the defect. If that’s not feasible despite the seller using reasonable efforts to cure the defect, then the buyer has an option to terminate the contract or give the seller more time (up to 120 more days).

Again, extending the closing date isn’t necessarily wrong, but it’s better for the buyer to use the contract’s existing tool (notices) unless the buyer has a specific reason to reject the contract’s path in favor of their own (extending the closing date).

What happens if the other side doesn’t agree to the change?

Some parties ask what the contract says only after the other side rejects or ignores their proposed amendment. This can be very costly.

One common scenario: A buyer waiting on inspection results asks the seller to extend the inspection period deadline. This makes a lot of sense under the circumstances. That said, what happens if, despite hearing that the seller will agree to it, they’re told the day after the inspection period expired that the sellers changed their mind? The answer is that the inspection period expired, so the buyer is likely out of luck if they want to back out later based on the results of their inspection. There are a few rules in play here:

  1. The Statute of Frauds provides that an amendment must be in a signed document before it becomes enforceable, so the encouraging verbal update (seller plans to accept) isn’t enforceable.
  2. This is a “time is of the essence” contract, so deadlines are firm.
  3. Section 12 provides “Unless Buyer exercises the right to terminate granted herein, Buyer accepts the physical condition of the Property and any violation of governmental, building, environmental, and safety codes, restrictions, or requirements …” 

Had the buyer properly focused on the contract while waiting to see how (and if) the other side responded to their request for more time, the buyer would have realized that they faced a decision deadline. They either cancel based on whatever information they have by the deadline, or they go forward with their deposit potentially at risk should their opinion change based on future information.

Are emotions ruining your party’s chances of successfully amending the agreement?

We occasionally hear about parties incensed that the other side snubbed or ignored a requested amendment. “We’ve left ten voicemails, each more demanding than the last, but all we heard back was one word – ‘rejected’ – a day or two later than we needed!”

It’s important to remember that the recipient of a proposed contract amendment can accept, reject, counter, or ignore the request, even if it seems like a routine request. They may have any number of reasons for doing so, and they’re not obligated to share their reasoning. Sometimes, the side asking for an amendment may need to come back with a more attractive offer.

However, if the door slams shut because of personality conflicts, it can be very unfortunate for the side that’s requesting a change.

Joel Maxson is Associate General Counsel for Florida Realtors

© 2021 Florida Realtors®


Owning Property Together? Three Ways to Do It

Each type of co-ownership – tenants in common, joint tenant with right of survivorship and tenants by the entirety – has different rules, along with unique pros and cons.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Question: Our youngest sister lives with our 94-year-old mother and takes care of her. The family has agreed that she will be the sole owner of the property upon my mother’s demise. My sister is listed on the house deed along with my mother, and we were wondering if this is best for tax purposes and inheritance. – Jo

Answer: People can own property together in three ways.

  • Tenants in common: The first is “tenants in common,” where each person owns a specific share of the home. If a tenant in common passes away, their heirs, such as their children, would inherit their share.
  • Joint tenants with right of survivorship: The second form of shared ownership is called “joint tenants with right of survivorship,” where every owner owns the undivided property collectively. In this scenario, if one owner dies, the remaining owners would still own the property as before, and the deceased owner’s heirs would not inherit part of the property.
  • Tenants by the entirety: The final type of ownership, known as “tenants by the entirety,” is reserved for married couples who purchase the property together. This form of ownership also has the survivorship feature and offers additional protections and rights to the couple.

Deeds can be tricky, and a few words or a misplaced comma can make a significant difference. For example, a deed to Bob, Kelly, and John would give each person a third of the home as tenants in common.

But if the deed was to Bob and Kelly, his spouse, and John, the married couple would own half the property together, and John would own the other half. In the second scenario, if John passes away, his heirs would inherit his half, but Bob will still own half of the property if Kelly passes away. If Bob then dies, his heirs, who may differ from Kelly’s, would inherit his portion.

Because this can be confusing, plus the potential for tax issues, it is essential to consult with an experienced estate planning professional to ensure that your documents match your wishes.

© 2021 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Gary M. Singer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


New Lending Rules Threaten Some Condo Sales

Fannie and Freddie tighten condo-lending rules. Details vary, but they generally won’t back single-unit condo loans if a building has deferred maintenance issues.

ORLANDO, Fla. – In response to the Surfside tragedy, Freddie Mac announced last week that it would immediately start taking a closer look at a condo development’s maintenance issues before approving individual loans. The change follows a similar announcement made earlier by Fannie Mae. The two mortgage giants back over half of all U.S. loans.

The new requirements can be complex – Freddie Mac posted its announcement online – but they will generally deny condo and co-op unit loans if the building has deferred maintenance issues, special assessments to fix deferred issues or other problems.

All changes announced in Freddie Mac’s bulletin “will be effective for Mortgages with Settlement Dates on or after Feb. 28, 2022.” Fannie Mae’s earlier bulletin says its rules will be “effective for whole loans purchased on or after Jan. 1, 2022, and for loans delivered into MBS pools with issue dates on or after Jan. 1, 2022.”

Both policies “remain in effect until further notice.”

As part of the process, Fannie Mae lenders will send condo managers a five-page form that must be completely filled out. Under the section that covers insurance types and amounts, it even includes instructions, such as “Do NOT enter ‘contact agent.’” The regulations apply to all condominiums with five or more units, even if that complex is otherwise exempt from review.

While individual condo buyers may immediately face hurdles getting a loan approved, the tighter policies could have a longer-term impact on entire condominium complexes. Even condo associations without concerning maintenance issues could find that unit owners – without the backing of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – will have a harder time selling their property if the new paperwork isn’t filled out correctly and returned promptly.

“Loans secured by units in condo and co-op projects with significant deferred maintenance or in projects that have received a directive from a regulatory authority or inspection agency to make repairs due to unsafe conditions are not eligible for purchase,” Fannie Mae states in its Oct. 13 announcement. And those projects “will remain ineligible until the required repairs have been made and documented.”

Fannie Mae considers acceptable documentation to be “a satisfactory engineering or inspection report, certificate of occupancy, or other substantially similar documentation that shows the repairs have been completed in a manner that resolves the building’s safety, soundness, structural integrity, or habitability concerns.”

While Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s changes apply nationwide, Florida may feel a greater impact due to the number of condo buildings across the state.

In addition, condo complexes that have deferred maintenance issues or one of the other problems noted won’t be approved for Fannie Mae- or Freddie Mac-backed loans until those issues have been fixed.

© 2021 Florida Realtors®


Study Suggests More Owners Are Ready to List

The current market favors sellers, but owners see slowing price increases and buyers being priced out of the market. Many who held off may decide it’s time to sell.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Some possible good news for buyers – more inventory could be headed to the South Florida market in the coming months, as sellers become more willing to list their homes.

A survey of 1,300 consumers by realtor.com, conducted in fall of 2021, revealed that 65% of homeowners across the country planned on selling their home within the next six months, while 26% of homeowners planned on selling their home within the next year.

“Sellers are recognizing that the markets are leaning heavily in their favor, with millions of millennials entering their 30s and seeking to buy their first home while taking advantage of low interest rates,” said George Ratiu, manager of economic research at realtor.com.

It may be good news for buyers, who have been dealing with record low inventory in South Florida over the past year-and-a-half. According to October numbers from the Broward, Palm Beach and St. Lucie Realtors, single family home inventory dropped 53% in Palm Beach County to 1.3 months of inventory. For Broward County, inventory of single family homes plummeted 44% in October compared to the previous year to 1.4 month’s worth of inventory. In Miami Dade County, inventory in the county dropped 40% year over year to 2.2 month’s worth of inventory.

The realtor.com survey also indicated that 2021 saw an increase in listings over time. In spring, 9% of sellers said they’d already listed their home when surveyed. That number jumped to 19% in the fall. The survey was conducted on a national level, so South Florida housing market and sellers may react differently.

It’s not uncommon for sellers to list more actively in the beginning of the year, as it’s usually a high point for new listings, said Bonnie Heatzig, executive director of luxury sales at Douglas Elliman in Boca Raton.

For Heatzig, she said she’s seeing sellers who are slightly more open to the idea of selling their home now than they were earlier in 2021. She notes that any reluctance that they may have is tied to worries that they may not be able to find a suitable home in their price range in today’s current market.

“The most compelling reason I am hearing from those willing to sell … is that they want to capitalize on the higher sale prices, coupled with the fact that their homes no longer fit their needs or desires,” added Heatzig.

Sellers’ desire to capitalize on the market grew from the spring to the fall, too, according to the realtor.com survey. A little under 25% of sellers wanted to sell to take advantage of the current market in the spring, with the number rising to 35% in the fall. Around 13% of sellers wanted to sell because they saw news it was a seller’s market, according to the spring survey. But in fall, that number jumped to 30%.

Jeff Grant with ReMAX Realty in Palm Beach Gardens said that while he has seen a steady stream of sellers, he expects to see single family home listings increase in January, with more condos being listed in the spring, adding that many potential sellers are trying to capitalize on high seasonal rent prices currently.

It remains to be seen if these national numbers would play out in South Florida. Demand is so high that it may not make much of a difference in alleviating current pressure on the housing market, local real estate agents say. Home prices in South Florida are expected to increase at a slower pace in the new year, by about 5.8%.

“I think that the current backlog of buyers will continue to put pressure on the market and any new inventory will be absorbed quickly in multiple offer situations,” said Grant.

© 2021 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Visit sun-sentinel.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


More Lenders and Sellers Accepting Cryptocurrency

NEW YORK – Despite Bitcoin launching way back in 2009, it’s only recently that you can’t turn on the news or browse the web without coming across some mention of cryptocurrency.

I got so many questions from my readers and national radio show listeners that I wrote an e-book about crypto to help. I demystify digital currency, mining and how to get started trading.

Sadly, I also hear from people who got fooled by one crypto scam or another. Where there is money, criminals are waiting.

Before we get started, know this is not financial advice. The crypto world is volatile, and you should never risk money you aren’t comfortable losing. Now, let’s take a look at some of the most common lingo:

1. Blockchain

Every cryptocurrency transaction is processed, verified and recorded on a virtual ledger known as a blockchain. When someone buys or sells using cryptocurrency, another entry is made.

Think of the blockchain as a series of boxcars from a train. When a cryptocurrency transaction is made, another boxcar gets added to the train.

The blockchain is decentralized. This means it’s not stored on one machine or even across one network. Instead, the blockchain exists on computers all over the world that are accessible because of the internet.

People and companies help verify each transaction that gets added to the blockchain using their own computer’s processing power on a decentralized peer-to-peer network. Each transaction is timestamped and individually encrypted, and cannot be reversed or changed. Yes, you read that right – crypto transactions cannot be reversed.

2. Fiat

I know what you’re thinking: “I thought a Fiat was a car.” Not in crypto-land. Fiat money is government-issued currency. If you’re in the United States, that means the U.S. dollar.

Cryptocurrency, on the other hand, is virtual money. Cryptocurrencies aren’t backed by governments or any other standard used with traditional currency. Each “token” represents the amount you own.

How much each token is worth varies based on the current market value. One day it’s up; the next day down. With cryptocurrency, the price fluctuations can happen much faster and are more extreme. A good resource to check the current prices is CoinMarketCap.

3. Altcoin

Here’s an easy one to remember. An altcoin is any digital currency that’s not Bitcoin. There are thousands of cryptocurrencies.

At the time of this writing, these are the five currencies with the highest market caps. (That is the total market value of the circulating supply.) Since crypto moves so fast, this list may have already changed by the time you’re reading:

  • Bitcoin
  • Ethereum
  • Binance Coin
  • Tether
  • Solana

4. Exchange

To buy cryptocurrency, you need to start with an exchange. Think of an exchange as being like a crypto middleman. It’s an online service that allows you to exchange your fiat for crypto or change crypto into fiat.

If you’re familiar with traditional investing, a crypto exchange functions as a brokerage. You can expect to pay fees for most transactions.

You can also buy crypto through apps you already might be using, like Venmo, Robinhood or Cash App.

5. Wallet

In basic terms, a cryptocurrency wallet is an app or physical storage device that allows you to store and retrieve your digital currency. Wallets can hold multiple cryptocurrencies, so you’re not limited to just Bitcoin, for example.

Whether you use an app or a physical wallet, it’s important to note that the currency itself isn’t stored there. Rather, wallets store the location of your currency on the blockchain.

Wallets are split into two main categories: hot and cold. A hot wallet is, by definition, connected to the internet. The most secure way to store your cryptocurrency is with a cold wallet – one that isn’t connected to the internet.

Physical wallets come in different types but are usually specially designed USB drives that directly store your cryptocurrency for later use. Physical wallets provide you the most protection from hackers.

Two popular cold wallets are the Ledger Nano X and Trezor Model One. Of the two, I prefer the Ledger Nano X because it supports 23 different cryptocurrencies and has additional features.

6. Mining

You have probably heard this term associated with Bitcoin, which is created by mining. Computers mine coins by solving complex math problems. The more powerful the computer, the faster it can “think.”

Now, if your computer is the fastest one to solve the problem, bingo – you win one unit of whatever cryptocurrency you’re mining.

While there are a few cryptocurrencies out there with an infinite supply, most have a limit. For Bitcoin, that limit is 21million. The last coin will be mined in 2140 or sooner.

7. DeFi

Here’s another simple one. DeFi is a shortened version of decentralized finance. This term refers to financial transactions that happen without a “middleman,” like the government, a bank or another financial institution.

8. NFT

You’ve heard of them: Nonfungible tokens. That’s a fancy way of saying, “This digital item is one of a kind and irreplaceable.” It applies to anything you can imagine, from online artwork to songs, viral videos, articles, text logos and GIFs.

Some people collect vintage cars, wines, famous art and baseball cards. Now, any digital item also can be turned into a collectible. They also act as status symbols online. Check Jimmy Fallon’s Twitter profile picture for an example.

The only way to buy an NFT is by using cryptocurrency. You can buy an NFT through an auction platform or secondary marketplace, or by participating in a mint. What’s that, you ask?

9. Mint

Minting is how a file, such as a JPEG or GIF, is recorded to a blockchain. After an NFT is minted, it can be sold or traded. If you are participating in a mint, that means you are the first person to buy that work from its creator. You can hold it, sell it or trade it.

During the minting process, the creator specifies the royalties he or she receives from future sales. This acts as a commission if the work changes hands in the future and is a big draw for artists looking to go digital. If you sell an NFT on a secondary marketplace, it likely gets a cut of the sale too.

10. HODL

Here’s a term you might see on social media. HODL stands for “hold on for dear life.” Some say it originated as a typo of the word “hold” on a Bitcoin forum, but now it’s everyday slang.

The idea behind it is simple: If you believe a project or currency will gain more value, just “hodl” even through dips in the market.

Copyright 2021, USATODAY.com, USA TODAY. Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks.


Top 10 ‘Hot Markets’ for 2022? Eight Are in Fla.

A hotness study of U.S. metros – defined as days on market, sales above list price and sale-to-list price ratio – finds 8 are in Fla., and 7 of 10 are in SW Fla.

ORLANDO, Fla. – In a “hot” real estate market, listings sell quickly once they hit the market, they collect more offers above list price, and the amount above list price is higher than in cooler markets.

Based on that, Redfin analyzed sales in September 2021 to create a list of the hottest real estate markets heading into 2022, and eight of the 10 metros on 2022’s hot list are in Florida. In addition, seven of those 10 are in Sarasota County, one in Lee County and one in Broward County:

  • South Sarasota (Sarasota County)
  • East Venice (Sarasota County)
  • Englewood (Sarasota County)
  • Venice (Sarasota County)
  • Nokomis (Sarasota County)
  • The Meadows (Sarasota County)
  • Chatham, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
  • Weston (Broward County)
  • Lake Lure, North Carolina
  • Downtown Fort Myers (Lee County)

“The Sarasota area has changed radically over the past year,” says local Redfin real estate agent Eric Auciello. “Many of the towns surrounding Sarasota are exploding in popularity because so many people are getting priced out of Sarasota proper or moving in from out of state … A lot of the neighborhoods house hunters are flocking to have historically been retirement communities but are becoming younger with all of the first-time buyers and early retirees moving in.”

The pandemic likely played a part in explaining Florida’s current popularity. An outsized portion of the U.S. labor shortage doesn’t stem from younger people choosing not to work, so much as baby boomers – already part of a massive demographic – choosing to retire or, in many cases, retire early.

According to Redfin, more than half (50.3%) of U.S adults aged 55 and up had retired as of the third quarter of 2021, up from 48.1% two years earlier, and more than 3 million Americans retired early due to the pandemic. In the Sarasota metro area, 67.1% of home searches came from a different metro area.

Florida metro areas in Redfin’s top 10 hot list

South Sarasota, zip code: 34238

  • Parent metro area: Sarasota
  • Median sale price: $434,023 (+19% year over year, or YoY)
  • Median sale price of parent metro area: $300,000 (+7% YoY)
  • Share of homes that sold above list price: 36%
  • Median days on market: 7 (-77 days YoY)
  • Housing supply (active listings), year-over-year change: -50%
  • Median views per listing, year-over-year change: +208%

East Venice, zip code: 34292

  • Parent metro area: Sarasota
  • Median sale price: $420,000 (+38% YoY)
  • Median sale price of parent metro area: $300,000 (+7% YoY)
  • Share of homes that sold above list price: 53%
  • Median days on market: 4 (-48 days YoY)
  • Housing supply (active listings), year-over-year change: -25%
  • Median views per listing, year-over-year change: +173%

Englewood, zip code: 34223

  • Parent metro area: Sarasota
  • Median sale price: $427,500 (+38% YoY)
  • Median sale price of parent metro area: $300,000 (+7% YoY)
  • Share of homes that sold above list price: 28%
  • Median days on market: 8 (-62 days YoY)
  • Housing supply (active listings), year-over-year change: -28%
  • Median views per listing, year-over-year change: +170%

Venice, zip code: 34285

  • Parent metro area: Sarasota
  • Median sale price: $305,000 (+5% YoY)
  • Median sale price of parent metro area: $300,000 (+7% YoY)
  • Share of homes that sold above list price: 39%
  • Median days on market: 6 (-43 days YoY)
  • Housing supply (active listings), year-over-year change: -39%
  • Median views per listing, year-over-year change: +155%

Nokomis, zip code: 34275

  • Parent metro area: Sarasota
  • Median sale price: $475,000 (+32% YoY)
  • Median sale price of parent metro area: $300,000 (+7% YoY)
  • Share of homes that sold above list price: 39%
  • Median days on market: 10 (-50 days YoY)
  • Housing supply (active listings), year-over-year change: -26%
  • Median views per listing, year-over-year change: +152%

The Meadows, zip code: 34235

  • Parent metro area: Sarasota
  • Median sale price: $275,000 (+20% YoY)
  • Median sale price of parent metro area: $300,000 (+7% YoY)
  • Share of homes that sold above list price: 41%
  • Median days on market: 5 (-25 days YoY)
  • Housing supply (active listings), year-over-year change: -24%
  • Median views per listing, year-over-year change: +178%

Weston, zip code: 33332

  • Parent metro area: Fort Lauderdale
  • Median sale price: $860,000 (+51% YoY)
  • Median sale price of parent metro area: $305,000 (+15% YoY)
  • Share of homes that sold above list price: 27%
  • Median days on market: 46 (-45 days YoY)
  • Housing supply (active listings), year-over-year change: -30%
  • Median views per listing, year-over-year change: +216%

Downtown Fort Myers, zip code: 33916

  • Nearby metro area: Cape Coral
  • Median sale price: $264,328 (+25% YoY)
  • Median sale price of parent metro area: $264,500 (+13% YoY)
  • Share of homes that sold above list price: 35%
  • Median days on market: 9 (-51 days YoY)
  • Housing supply (active listings), year-over-year change: -37%
  • Median views per listing, year-over-year change: +183%

© 2021 Florida Realtors®

Topics: trends


Netflix Focuses on Black-Owned Tampa Brokerage

The show is about Allure Realty, an all-female, Black firm in Ybor City. Office Mgr. Juawana Colbert hopes the professional female cast inspires all women.

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A new Netflix series highlights a Black-owned real estate company with all Black agents in Ybor City. “Selling Tampa” premiered on Netflix Wednesday, becoming the latest real estate show to hit the streaming platform. It’s a spinoff of the hit show, “Selling Sunset.”

The show will feature Allure Realty, whose office is on 7th Avenue in Ybor City. Sharelle Rosado is the broker and owner of Allure Realty.

“I’m a boss. I get things done, I know how to have fun, but there’s a time and a place for everything,” Rosado said. “You will see some of that military structure come out.”

Rosado opened Allure Realty in 2019 after serving 12 and a half years in the military. When she opened the firm, Rosado says she was big into the agents and the company as a whole having a big presence on social media.

That paid off.

“It was Women’s International month in 2020, we posted a photo and we had several producers reach out to us,” she said. “I didn’t like the way that producer was portraying us as minority women. We are not Atlanta housewives. We are beautiful, Black and about our businesses.”

That’s when Rosado reached out to the producers of “Selling Sunset,” and it was game on from there. After about a year of pitching ideas, conducting interviews and ironing out logistics, filming took nearly six months.

Juawana Colbert is the office manager at Allure Realty. “I kind of help Sharelle in all type of ways,” Colbert said. “She always calls me her right-hand man, but I always go back and say woman.”

The firm is composed of all female agents – meaning the show features an all-Black female cast.

“It’s groundbreaking,” Colbert said. “I don’t even think me or any of the ladies are really grasping the magnitude this show is going to have. Young ladies, minority women and women in general. It’s going to give people inspiration.”

“As an attorney you walk into rooms, a lot of times you’re the only one who looks like you do,” Realtor and cast member Rena Frazier said. “To walk into this office with all this Black girl magic, it’s fantastic.” Frazier started as an attorney and later became a real estate agent.

“Sharelle encouraged me to get my real estate license,” Frazier said. “When she opened her brokerage I was the first agent there.”

In the Netflix trailer for “Selling Tampa,” the world is left with a big cliffhanger surrounding Frazier’s idea to possibly open her own brokerage.

“I have my broker’s license, so I can start my own brokerage,” Frazier said. “Sharelle and I were friends before the show started, we’ll be friends after. What you’ll see on the show is we have different ideas of management style and the way some things should be handled and you’ll see how we work it out on the show.”

“Rena and I, we always go back and forth,” Rosado said. “You’ll see that on the show, but at the end of the day, if Rena wants to leave I support her 1,000%.”

Regardless of the disagreements, the cast has one message.

“We’re like sisters. And sisters fight, but at the end of the day we come back together,” Colbert said.

“What I’d love for people to take away from it is that you can have ambitious women work together, have disputes and remain friends regardless of what the outcome is,” Frazier added.

Frazier is heavily involved in the community. She hosted a fundraising event with the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay Wednesday night at 6 p.m. at the Rialto Theater.

The show “Selling Tampa” is now available on Netflix.

© 1998-2021 WFLA, Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved.


HUD Allocates $2M for Fla. Veteran Housing

The money goes to 10 local agencies across the state. Nationwide, HUD is providing $18M to support U.S. vets facing or experiencing homelessness.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded over $18 million in HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers to 103 Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) in 33 states. The funding supports veterans experiencing homelessness.

In Florida, 10 local agencies have been allocated over $2 million ($2,021,110) of that money, or about 11% of the total.

Florida HUD-VASH recipients

  • West Palm Beach Housing: $97,690
  • Housing Authority of the City of Lakeland: $60,370
  • Housing Authority of the City of Miami Beach: $181,395
  • Ocala Housing Authority: $110,691
  • Hialeah Housing Authority: $527,460
  • Tallahassee Housing Authority: $308,607
  • Broward County Housing Authority: $325,002
  • Delray Beach Housing Authority: $315,656
  • Indian River County Board of County Commissioners: $ 43,056
  • Citrus County Housing Services: $51,183

The round of allocations will support 2,050 HUD-VASH vouchers nationally, bringing the total number of current HUD-VASH vouchers to 106,704.

The HUD-VASH program provides housing and support services to veterans experiencing homelessness by combining rental assistance from HUD with case management and clinical services provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“The HUD-VA Supportive Housing program (VASH) has been a flagship of HUD and VA’s effort to end veteran homelessness,” says HUD Deputy Secretary Adrianne Todman. “Since its inception, VASH has helped tens of thousands of veterans move from homelessness into permanent housing and receive supportive services along the way.”

© 2021 Florida Realtors®


Study: 7 in 10 Homeowners Feel ‘House Poor’

“House poor” has nothing to do with size or the number of incomes. It reflects a feeling that housing expenses are higher than owners can easily handle.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Most Americans dream of homeownership. However, independence from a landlord comes at a cost, and a study by ConsumerAffairs unveiled that a majority found the price of ownership more than they expected.

Renters who once “called the landlord” if anything went wrong discover they have to call a company to fix broken washing machines, hot water heaters and more. And the cost of those repairs – no longer included in the rent – can be more than anticipated. The cost of a roof replacement alone can be a major shock.

According to ConsumerAffairs, seven out of 10 homeowners consider themselves “house poor” – a belief that the cost of ownership is high enough to make a major dent in the family budget. About three in five said the repair, maintenance and upkeep costs were more than they anticipated, with little left to save or use for other expenses.

“House poor” doesn’t suggest a home’s size. The study authors say the owners of the smallest home on a block may be okay, while the owners of the largest home may feel as if every penny goes into the real estate they own.

It also doesn’t relate to the amount of equity a homeowner has in their property unless they’re reconsidering some kind of refinance to tap into it.

Study results on “house poor” homeowners

  • 73% say that meeting household expenses is increasingly difficult
  • 78% of millennials felt somewhat house poor
  • 54% say house-related expenses are their most considerable financial burden, despite their homes being their most significant asset
  • 40% say housing expenses are more than they can afford

Single owners appear to feel a greater burden (79%), but two-income families (65%) also think it’s “harder than it should be to meet household expenses.” Overall, 69% consider themselves house poor.

Underestimated homeownership expenses

  • Regular repair (63%) and maintenance costs (60%)
  • Insurance premiums and homeowners association (HOA) fees (49%).
  • 4 in 10 homeowners cited property taxes and associated fees as a problem
  • 44% say home expenses caused them to carry credit card balances
  • One-third say they have trouble meeting all their monthly financial obligations.

© 2021 Florida Realtors®


Study: Diversity a Priority for Most CRE Firms

NEW YORK – The first global benchmark of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) metrics for commercial real estate shows that there is a clear mandate and momentum for DEI to be a priority, with 92% of firms adopting a DEI program or initiatives to improve DEI in the workplace.

The Global Real Estate DEI Survey is one of the industry’s first global collections of corporate best practices and employee demographics for commercial real estate. The survey tracks gender, race/ethnicity and nationality across seniority and job functions in Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America, as well as corporate practices in relation to DEI programs, recruitment, retention, training and development, inclusivity and pay equity.

The 2021 Global Real Estate DEI Survey, a partnership between REALPAC, ANREV, INREV, NAREIM, NCREIF, PREA and ULI and conducted by Ferguson Partners, also reveals that CRE firms increasingly employ professionals dedicated to DEI or utilizing DEI committees.

In Europe, 43% of CRE firms have professionals solely dedicated to DEI, while in Asia-Pacific that figure is 33%. In North America, 21% of firms have dedicated DEI professionals while 67% of firms have formal DEI committees responsible for developing, implementing and reviewing DEI strategies and initiatives. In both Asia-Pacific and Europe, around 44% of CRE firms utilize DEI committees.

The survey, which collected 175 responses covering 435,000 employees globally and representing $2.4 trillion of gross assets under management, was conducted between Sept. 8 and Oct. 29, 2021. Almost three-quarters of participants reported data for the North America region (77%), with 16% of organizations reporting for Europe and 7% of participants reporting on behalf of the Asia-Pacific region.

Key findings

DEI is a priority: 92% of CRE firms globally have a DEI program or initiatives to improve DEI.

Of the 92% of firms with a DEI program or initiatives to improve DEI, 47% of CRE firms have a formal DEI program and 45% of CRE firms have DEI initiatives and policies to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.

According to the survey, 25% of firms globally employed professionals solely dedicated to DEI. In Europe, that figure was 43% while in Asia-Pacific, 33% of CRE firms had dedicated DEI professionals. In North America, 21% of CRE firms had dedicated DEI professionals.

DEI committees are predominantly used by firms in North America (67%) and by larger organizations globally. In Asia-Pacific and Europe, DEI committees are utilized by around 44% of firms.

Of the firms with at least one dedicated DEI employee, the DEI employee is usually at the senior level. DEI committees also typically report to the C-suite executive or directly to the CEO or other senior leadership.

Gender balance: The global CRE industry is comprised of 58% men and 42% women. The data differs by region.

In the Asia Pacific region, men represent 53% of all full-time employees (FTEs) compared to 47% women. In Europe, men represent 62% of all FTEs compared to 38% for women. In North America, men represent 59% of all FTEs compared to 41% for women.

Gender and seniority: For all regions, women represent more than 50% of FTEs at the junior-level. The gap between male and female employees widens for all regions as professionals progress through their careers to executive management positions and the board of director level.

Asia-Pacific CRE firms have the greatest representation of women in senior positions with women comprising 32% of all executive management positions and 26% of board positions. In North America, women represent 20% of executive management and 21% of board of directors roles, while in Europe women represent 16% of executive management and 14% of board roles.

Race/ethnicity and nationality: No one region tracks race/ethnicity or nationality in the same way making global comparisons difficult.

In North America (77% of participants), 29% of FTEs are professionals of color. Insufficient data was collected in 2021 in relation to nationality for Asia-Pacific CRE firms and race/ethnicity for Europe CRE firms.

Recruitment practices: Three practices emerge as key tools organizations globally adopt to improve the recruitment of underrepresented professionals, including:

Promoting the organization as a representative workplace to diverse candidates (63%), ensuring individuals from underrepresented groups are in the candidate pool before making a hiring decision (61%) and seeking to remove bias and adverse impact from the hiring process (60%).

Retention practices: Outlining clear job requirements and job expectations is the primary tool for retaining diverse talent in the workplace, with 97% of firms saying it is a strategy already implemented or set to be adopted in the next year.

A further 93% of CRE firms globally also said they are already providing or are planning to implement in the next year work-life balance programs, such as childcare and flex schedules. Work-life balance programs scored the highest in Europe, where all firms said they had already implemented the practice or planned to implement the policy in the next 12 months, followed by Asia-Pacific and North America firms (92%, respectively).

Impact: Offering work-life balance programs is deemed the DEI policy that has been the most impactful to CRE organizations globally. Impact is not defined in the Survey, with participants asked to score policies on their perceptions of what has been most impactful to their firm. The second-most impactful policy is ensuring individuals from underrepresented groups are in the candidate pool before making a hiring decision.

Training and development practices: When it comes to DEI, communication is key for CRE firms globally, with 92% of respondents either currently implementing or planning to implement DEI communication strategies for employees in the next 12 months. Globally, 80% of CRE firms currently have employee communication strategies for DEI, while 12% of firms are planning to implement strategies in the next year.

Communicating DEIs importance to professionals ranks as the most cited practice in North America and Europe in relation to DEI training and development. In Asia-Pacific, anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training is cited as the most common practice.

Inclusive culture practices: Providing work-life balance programs, such as childcare and flex schedules, is the highest scoring practice when it comes to company retention policies.

Almost eight out of 10 (77%) CRE firms globally are currently implementing or planning to implement parental leave beyond legal requirements in the next 12 months.

Tracking and accountability practices: One of the most important tools to track data and provide accountability around DEI efforts is the exit interview, with 91% of survey participants saying they currently implement or plan to implement the practice within the next 12 months. Globally, 77% of CRE firms currently gather and analyze exit interview data, while 14% of firms are planning to implement the strategy in the next year.

In the coming year, 31% of CRE firms plan to more widely track and monitor the DEI policies of suppliers.

Data collection practices: Data collection is where all CRE firms start their DEI work. While it is only part of the challenge in addressing DEI in the workplace, it is critical to understand and track progress. For a majority of those CRE respondents who track demographic data as a part of these efforts, the key metrics are age, gender and ethnicity, followed by educational background and marital status.

There are interesting regional differences. In Asia-Pacific, languages spoken is also part of the data collection process, while in Europe and North America, age remains the primary data collected.

“The scale of engagement among our members, partners and stakeholders in this survey very clearly demonstrates the strategic importance of equity, diversity and inclusion in our industry, and the urgency of removing barriers to equitable opportunities. We at REALPAC are committed to building on this momentum through intentional action, we can celebrate diverse perspectives, significantly enhance our businesses, and support economic prosperity,” said Michael Brooks, CEO of REALPAC.

First created in 2017 and launched as a dedicated survey in 2020, the Global Real Estate DEI Survey in 2021 has expanded to provide employee demographic and enterprise practices relating to diversity, equity and inclusion for Asia, Europe and North America. It also tracks, for the first time, different types of commercial real estate firms to provide insights into DEI practices for the CRE industry.

© 2021 Global Data Point. All Rights Reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).


CFPB-DOJ to Landlords: Protect Veterans’ Rights

The agencies sent letters to landlords and mortgage servicers, saying they’ve identified illegal treatment of military families and “will hold them accountable”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued two joint letters regarding legal housing protections for military families. While military families enjoy the same legal protections and privileges afforded all homeowners and tenants, they also have additional protections under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which is enforceable by the DOJ and servicemembers themselves.

CFPB and DOJ sent one letter to landlords and other housing providers regarding protections for military tenants. A second letter went to mortgage servicers regarding military borrowers exiting COVID-19 mortgage forbearance programs.

The letter to landlords reminds them of the housing protections for military tenants, some of whom had to relocate or make other changes in their housing arrangements in response to a crisis.

The letter to mortgage servicers comes from complaints submitted by military families and veterans on a range of potential mortgage servicing violations, including inaccurate credit reporting, misleading communications to borrowers, and required lump sum payments for reinstating their mortgage loans. CFPB says it’s reviewing those complaints for compliance under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and other applicable laws.

“The illegal foreclosures of military families in the last crisis was one of the financial industry’s worst failures,” says CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “The CFPB will be closely watching mortgage servicers and will hold them accountable for illegal tactics perpetrated against military families.”

“While servicemembers carry the great burdens of this nation, they should not have to worry that their sacrifices will result in economic harm to their families,” adds Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke. “Mortgage servicers and landlords must ensure that they are in full compliance with federal laws intended to protect servicemembers and their families during military service.”

Servicemembers have several legal protections under SCRA designed to enable them to devote their entire energy to the national defense. These include, for example, a prohibition on foreclosing on certain servicemembers’ mortgages without court orders, the ability for military families to terminate residential leases early and without penalty, upon receipt of military orders, and a prohibition on evicting military families from their homes without court orders.

In addition, under the CARES Act and Regulation X, servicemembers and veterans have the same protections available to all mortgage borrowers.

CFPB and DOJ posted their letters online:

© 2021 Florida Realtors®


Owners in Aging Condos Getting ‘Sell Out’ Offers

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – For some South Florida condo dwellers, that tap on the shoulder could lead to the deal of a lifetime.

The tri-county’s white hot real estate market is prompting developers to take stock of the region’s older beach front high rises as potential buyout candidates for redevelopment. While not new, the trend has taken on greater importance as vacant land disappears and more out-of-state residents move to South Florida in search of luxury digs.

Owners who would not have given a thought to selling previously are now taking the idea of moving seriously when confronted with lofty buyout offers, industry analysts and attorneys say.

“It does seem to be a growing trend,” said Gerard Yetming, executive managing director of Colliers, the real estate services company. “Really there are very few opportunities to build a new high rise somewhere as desirable as on the beach.”

How it works

Yetming said the obvious attraction for owners selling their older units is the premium prices developers are willing to pay for them.

“They begin to realize this is something we should explore in an organized fashion,” Yetming said. “It is only with the right collective goals and an advisor where you can get something done.”

He said there are a lot of buyout initiatives you don’t hear about. Many fail, he said, amid bidding wars or internal disagreements over whether a sale should occur in the first place. It always takes a consensus among the unit owners to move forward. “These are more the exceptions than the rule,” he said of the successful buyouts.

“This is not for every building,” Yetming added. “There are a lot of buildings that were well built and well located and well run that are probably not good candidates. There needs to be a very specific set of circumstances for these deals to work.”

Once an older building is acquired, the time from sale to the construction of a new project runs from 18 to 24 months, said Eric Fordin, managing director of Related’s condo division.

“After the buyout happens it takes anywhere from 6 to 9 months to obtain site plan approval,” he said. “Then, the sales and marketing process varies per market but generally takes 6 to 9 months as well. From the time we release construction documents to obtaining a permit generally takes 12 months as well.”

The Champlain Towers factor

Some sales drivers include the rising cost of maintenance for the buildings. For years, members of many condo associations have deferred repair projects because of their expense. A potential consequence of deferred maintenance came into sharp relief after the terrifying collapse of the Champlain Towers in Surfside, which took 98 lives. The disaster caused a major ripple effect of concern among residences of other older buildings along the Gold Coast.

“The Champlain Towers incident really, really is pushing this trend,” said Joseph Hernandez, partner and chair of the real estate practice group at the Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman law firm in Coral Gables.

“The trend’s been going for some time,” he said. “I’ve been doing these transactions for ten years. The trend really started because we’re getting into the period where condos developed in the ‘70s or ‘80s are becoming functionally obsolete. Now people are much more in tune to the issue,” Hernandez said. “They’re focused on trying to band together and sell their property in a way they weren’t before.”

He added that he’s seen “probably a two- to three-fold interest in these transactions in the past year since Champlain Towers.”

“Normally I work on a couple of these transactions” each year,” he said. “I’m working on 7 or 8 major transactions right now.”

Prime prices for prime properties

Still, it’s bottom-line economics that decides whether a deal will materialize, asserted Yetming of Colliers.

“The only time this makes sense is when the value of the underlying land is significantly more than what the collective units are currently selling for,” Yetming said. “Why else would somebody want to sell their property unless they can make a significant profit?”

Jamie Sturgis, founder and CEO of Native Realty Co. in Fort Lauderdale, said “all-time records” are being paid for multi-family buildings as new residents arrive in South Florida from out-of-town and out-of-country. “I would say the vast majority of the sites being targeted are on the beach, in light of what happened in Surfside,” he said.

Many owners are snowbirds who see this as “an opportune time … to cash out at the top of the market and avoid having to pay these special assessments” for heavy repair projects in older buildings.

Nick Perez, a vice president at The Related Group, said the Beach Villa owners in Pompano sold after realizing they could double or even triple their money against their original purchase prices.

“Ultimately it was the price they were getting for their units,” Perez said. “I would say they were getting well above their market price for their units. No one has to sell. Luckily, I was the only one trying to acquire all of the units and I didn’t have a bidding war.”

He said he met with 26 or 27 of the 49 owners.

“There was a little bit of hand holding,” Perez said. “They didn’t want to leave the beach.”

Some wondered where they would live next. Related is allowing the sellers to stay through the end of winter season.

“The ultimate deciding factor was if they were to sell to another end user versus the offer I was proposing, they would have gotten a substantially less amount of money,” he said.

Perez did not provide any sales figures.

But sales data unearthed by Zillow, the national online real estate research and investment firm, found some owners received up to $800,000 for their 302-square-foot, one-bath, one-bedroom units with market values just below $200,000.

It’s not hard to understand the attraction for Related. The 3.07-acre complex of one- and two-story buildings is located right on the beach between the Atlantic Ocean and State Road A1A. The property offers significant green space and a community pool in the back.

In its place: Related is planning a 21-story, mixed use luxury condominium tower with 119 condo units and approximately 2,200 square feet of commercial space, according to a filing with the City of Pompano Beach.

A short distance to the north, Related is building another luxury high rise called the Solemar, which the company says is 99% sold. The swift sellout, the company says, is an example of the white hot demand for beachfront property.

“There are really no true vacant lots that are ripe for development located right on the sand,” Perez said. Forty-year-old low-rises are the next best thing.

© 2021 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Visit sun-sentinel.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


Buyers Who Waited for Lower Prices? Many Regret It

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – As South Florida home prices spiked during the pandemic, some people decided to put their home shopping on pause in the hopes that prices might drop, a decision they are coming to regret.

Now, a year-and-a-half into record price growth and dwindling inventory, non-buyers are stuck in a precarious situation: they want to buy, but are facing higher prices than they did when they first started searching, and they’re finding themselves at risk of being priced out of the South Florida real estate market.

“They feel like they made a mistake at some point and they feel like they can’t catch up because the market is so far ahead of them that they can’t get back in,” said Alicia Cervera of Cervera Real Estate in Miami.

Allie Sinbine and her husband, Steve, were among those who decided to try and wait out the real estate market after they started looking at homes in June of 2020. They put their search on pause a month after shopping, thinking it was likely that homes prices would start to lower towards the end of the year.

“We assumed that with the New Year and the election ending, we would start to see things level out and they would come back down to where they were,” she said.

Instead, home prices just kept rising, further pushing the couple out of the housing market. They are looking for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in the $250,000-$300,000 range, but as prices have continued to climb, they’ve expand their search beyond Palm Beach County, farther north to Port St. Lucie. They’re exploring new construction homes and considering that they may have to up their budget at little bit.

“We never anticipated that it would be almost 2022, and there is still nothing for us to move into that is affordable,” Sinbine said.

Homes prices jumped, no slowdown in sight

Homes prices skyrocketed in South Florida during the pandemic, as intense demand from out of state buyers dovetailed with historically low inventory to create an intense seller’s market where buyers were often faced with paying over asking price and losing out in bidding wars.

In a market where it’s common for buyers to lose out and face multiple bidding wars, it can cause home shoppers to get discouraged and more hesitant to buy, explained Brian Pearl, principal agent with the Pearl Antonacci Group in Boca Raton. “I’ve had buyers regret waiting more recently, given that the market hasn’t slowed down like they thought it would by now,” he added.

He’s not the only Realtor to have clients face this issue. Jeff Creegan with Re/MAX Services in Boca Raton said about 30-40% of his clients in the last year end up trying to wait out the housing market. Many were wary of buying in the spring or even last summer as they watched prices skyrocket, only to see them rise even more as the year comes to a close. The overall sentiment, he said, is that they made a mistake in trying to wait out the market.

Now, as they begin to look again, buyers say they are greeted with homes that are $100,000 more expensive.

As a result, Creegan said, “They are looking in different markets, like in Southwest Florida or more affordable markets.”

He himself was looking at a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house in January, listed at around $410,000. He decided to wait, but when he went back to the house in April, it was priced at $480,000. He was able to get it for $450,000.

In February of 2021, the median sale price of a home in Miami Dade County was $450,000, a 21% increase from the year before, according to numbers from the Broward, Palm Beach and St. Lucie Relators. For Broward County, the median sale price of a home was $433,000, a 12% increase from the year before. For Palm Beach County, the median sale price of a home was $450,000, a 24% increase from the year prior.

Flash forward to October of 2021, when median sale prices rose 19% from the year before in Palm Beach County to $500,000 in October. For Broward County, the median sale price of a home was $489,000 in October, a 17.8% annual increase. In Miami Dade County, the numbers shot up 12.6% to $490,000 for October.

“I’ve had buyers come in and ask me ‘with these high prices, do you think we should sit back and wait?’ I always tell them that no one can predict what is coming or if the prices are going to come down,” Christina Tokar, real estate agent with Re/MAX Advantage Realty in Davie.

Jeannie Schwartz is another shopper who decided to put her search on pause in hopes that the market would stabilize.

“I’m kicking myself,” she said. She started looking in January for a home within her budget of $300,000-350,000, but discovered that the properties were below the quality she was hoping for. Almost a year later, the same neighborhoods where she was once looking had prices jump up almost $100,000.

“I got priced out of buying,” she added. “I really should have bought something because now properties are worth so much more. I feel like I am going to have to leave Florida.”

She added that that she also feared purchasing a home when the market was at its peak, in case there was a crash later.

The housing crash of 2007 is likely still fresh in a lot of potential buyers’ mind, noted Eli Beracha, director of the Hollo School of Real Estate at Florida International University, and is potentially one of the reasons that they are trying to wait out the housing market.

Beracha also noted, however, that the forces fueling this housing market are different. “We had an excess of supply last time [in 2007]; we don’t have that this time. If you don’t have excess supply, it’s hard for the market to correct in a significant way.” In other words, he does not see a dramatic bust in our future.

Out-of-state home shopper Dr. Ketang Modi, his wife and two daughters are making the move from New Jersey to Broward County, and are looking for a home that is around 4,500 square feet with a minimum of four bedrooms.

When they searched previously, they looked at homes in a community in Davie that were priced around $1.2 million, and now, four months later, prices are hitting $1.6 million, prompting him and his family to consider renting to wait out the market.

“Everything is overpriced,” he lamented. “I’m not sure when there will be a correction or when prices will stabilize.”

© 2021 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Visit sun-sentinel.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


Fla. Grand Jury Recommends More Condo Inspections

A Grand Jury tasked with recommending Fla. condo law changes in the wake of the Surfside collapse wants more inspections, less corrosion and faster reporting.

MIAMI (AP) – A Florida grand jury issued a lengthy list of recommendations Wednesday aimed at preventing another condominium collapse like the one that killed 98 people in June, including earlier and more frequent inspections, and better waterproofing.

In its report on the Surfside collapse, the Miami-Dade County Grand Jury called on state and local officials to require condominium towers to have an initial recertification inspection by an engineer between 10 and 15 years after their construction and every 10 years thereafter. Currently, Miami-Dade and neighboring Broward County require inspections at 40 years. Other Florida counties have no requirement.

Champlain Towers South, built in 1981, collapsed June 24 as its 40-year recertification was due. No cause of the collapse has been determined, but records show the building had significant structural damage in its underground parking garage. An engineer had already concluded that $15 million of repairs would be required to bring it up to code. Some of the damage at the oceanside building is believed to have come from saltwater in the air.

The grand jury report laments that the state repealed a requirement imposed in 2008 requiring that all condo towers bigger than three stories be inspected every five years. The requirement was repealed two years after it was imposed because it was deemed too costly.

“In hindsight, it would appear the Legislature’s repeal of that statute was a huge mistake!” the report says.

Other recommendations include:

  • Requiring that condo towers be repainted and waterproofed every 10 years to prevent corrosion.
  • Having local governments increase the size of their building departments, including by hiring more inspectors.
  • Suspending for at least a year the licenses of engineers and architects who submit false or misleading recertification reports and barring their employers from doing such inspections for the same period. Requiring that a second offense result in a license revocation.
  • Requiring architects and engineers who find severe structural damage during an inspection to report it to local officials within 24 hours and not just to the condo board.
  • Requiring condo board owners to take courses on their role in overseeing building maintenance and effectively managing a building’s finances.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Florida Realtors Earns RPAC ‘Triple Crown’

The rare large-state honor, which recognizes goal achievement in five categories, shows that Fla. members understand the importance of political advocacy.

ORLANDO, Fla. – While final dollar figures raised for the National Association of Realtors®’ (NAR) Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC) won’t be finalized until the end of the year, Florida Realtors® will be honored for winning the “Triple Crown,” which reflects attaining all five major goals outlined by NAR.

It’s rare for a state as large as Florida to achieve the honor, and it reflects the commitment of Florida Realtors’ members to political advocacy. They understand that actions taken by the federal government, Florida Legislature and local governments greatly influence the real estate industry and everyday life of Realtors.

“Earning the Triple Crown is a pinnacle achievement for any Realtor organization, but for a state as large as Florida, it’s an accomplishment without equal,” says Debbie Rector, 2021 chair of Florida Realtors PAC Trustees. “From the individual efforts of our members and staff, to the countless local and state association PAC activities, you all deserve a huge pat-on-the-back for making Triple Crown status a reality for our state.”

The “Triple Crown” honor is more than a gauge of money collected, it’s a reflection of the commitment the state’s Realtors have to advocate for their industry and make sure the real estate environment remains positive for buyers and sellers and the Realtors who serve them.

State Triple Crown Award RPAC fundraising goals as of Dec. 17, 2021

1. State’s National RPAC Fundraising Goal: Goal $4,911,378; raised $5,657,597, not including President’s Circle

2. State’s Federal RPAC Disbursements Allocation: Passed the $1,173,236 goal

3. State’s Major Investor Goal: Goal 1,030, Florida total 1,052

4. State’s President’s Circle Goal: Goal 103 members, Florida total 127

5. State’s Participation Goal: Goal 37%, Florida participation 38.39%

© 2021 Florida Realtors®


Realtor.com, Redfin Remove Listings’ Crime Data

The real estate ad companies decided to remove crime data because it’s often inaccurate and has been cited as an ongoing cause of racial bias in housing.

WASHINGTON – Realtor.com and Redfin are taking a stand against crime data listed on their websites. The real estate companies have removed the data due to growing concerns that it could perpetuate racial inequity.

Realtor.com said it removed its crime map from all search results to “level the playing field.” It’s now reassessing what safety means to buyers and renters, and what information they decide to share about it going forward.

After surveying consumers and evaluating research, Redfin said it felt that its crime data doesn’t accurately answer the question, “How safe is the area around this home?”

Also, “given the long history of redlining and racist housing covenants in the United States, there’s too great a risk of this inaccuracy reinforcing racial bias,” says Christian Taubman, Redfin’s chief growth officer.

Taubman says its crime data is mostly culled from the Uniform Crime Report from the FBI that reflects reported crimes. However, it excludes information about unreported crimes or those that go unsolved.

“The fact that most crimes are missing creates a real possibility that the crimes that show up in the data set skew one way or another,” Taubman says. “And the fact that most reported crimes go unsolved means that some of the crimes being reported, in fact, may not be crimes.”

Realtor.com says it plans to determine what neighborhood safety means for buyers and renters who use its site to “reimagine how we integrate safety data on realtor.com,” says David Doctorow, CEO of realtor.com in a company update. “Our goal is to ensure we are providing consumers with the most valuable, fair and accurate neighborhood data so they can make informed decisions about where they want to rent or purchase their next home.”

Source: “An Invitation to the Industry: Address Fair Housing Together,” realtor.com® (Dec. 13, 2021) and “Two Major Real Estate Search Engines Nix Crime Data in Racial Equity Push,” Washington Examiner (Dec. 14, 2021)

© Copyright 2021 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


RRF Exceeds 20th Anniversary Goal

NAR’s relief fund raised $8.5M, thanks to 2,500 donations from Realtors, state and local Realtor associations, MLS organizations and other companies.

CHICAGO – The Realtors® Relief Foundation’s (RRF) Hope Rising campaign surpassed its fundraising goal of $8.5 million. RRF provides housing relief to victims of hurricanes, floods, wildfires and other disasters.

“I am so proud to see our members and industry come together and support such an important cause,” says National Association of Realtors® (NAR) President Leslie Rouda Smith. “Surpassing this fundraising goal means that RRF is prepared to provide relief to victims of natural disasters.”

The campaign received more than 2,500 donations from Realtors®, state and local Realtor associations, MLS organizations and other companies. Florida Realtors® donated $600,000 toward the goal.

Other major RRF supporters include Texas Realtors (Lead Large State), Arkansas Realtors (Lead Small State), Northeast Florida Association of Realtors (Lead Local) and realtor.com (Lead Corporate Donor). NAR also received major donations from its subsidiary organizations ($1,250,000). Other donations came from various groups both large and small, such as the Eastern Arkansas Realtors Association that pledged $30 per member, Stellar MLS ($250,000), Midwest Real Estate Data ($100,000), Homes.com ($100,000) and Bright MLS ($100,000).

“We challenged ourselves with the goal of $8.5 million, which surpassed the amount the Foundation raised in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks,” Smith says. “The success of this campaign demonstrates the Realtor spirit of service and dedication to caring for our communities.”

“The Hope Rising campaign was RRF’s first step in establishing sustainable reserves to ensure we are always prepared to help those in need during times of crisis,” says RRF President Michael Ford. “The Realtor community has always generously supported RRF and they showed up in a big way in 2021. This 20th anniversary campaign is the perfect way to honor our past while also preparing for the future.”

Since 2001, RRF has awarded over $33 million in aid, which funded over 100 disaster recoveries and helped 17,000 families in 40 states and territories. With NAR covering all administrative costs, RRF distributes 100% of all funds collected.

© 2021 Florida Realtors®


Find, Analyze and Dominate a Real Estate Farm

Market dominance usually starts small: Identify a geographical farm area with strong sales, one where no agent dominates the market. Then become that person.

NEW YORK – One way to expand a real estate business is to set up a geographical farm and become its dominant agent.

When identifying the ideal farm area, consider its strength – a strong rotation of homes sold, a number of homes consistent with your available time and budget, and the absence of an existing dominant agent. As a rule of thumb, a dominant agent is any person who has listed 20% or more of an area’s homes in the past 12 months.

For marketing, it’s reasonable to spend $2 per home per month, which can cover monthly direct mail pieces, special events and just listed/just sold cards. If a neighborhood has 200 homes, an agent can then expect to spend about $4,800 per year for farming expenses ($2 x 200 homes per month x 12 months).

Agents who opt to farm their own home’s neighborhood can request the homeowners association’s contact list.

Agents also should develop a communications calendar based on one mailing per homeowner each month. They should plan special events for the farm area, such as movie nights, and try to be visible by participating in activities, such as walking or riding a bike.

Agents should also attend as many neighborhood or area events as possible and stay consistent. “The Seven Times Factor” principle states that it takes most people seven exposures to an ad or individual before they even notice it.

Source: Inman (12/10/21) Burgess, Jimmy

© Copyright 2021 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Boomers and Millennials Competing for Homes

And the boomers are winning. Despite huge millennial demand, they make up a smaller share of the market, suggesting repeat buyers are crowding them out.

MECKLENBURG, Tenn. – Americans 60 years and older are more active in the housing market than a decade ago. Longtime homeowners who can tap equity gains have an advantage over younger buyers, who are often bidding for their first home and usually aren’t able to include as much cash in their offers.

Despite the huge millennial generation aging into its peak home-buying years, young buyers make up a smaller share of the market than in previous years, suggesting first-time home shoppers are being crowded out by demand from repeat buyers.

The past year’s frenzied housing demand likely has more to do with the demographic makeup of America than a onetime, pandemic-driven boom, a new Zillow analysis of the age, sex, race and income of homebuyers over a decade reveals. Millennials and baby boomers – two of the biggest generations in U.S. history – are in the market for homes in a big way.

With an aging population helped by an improving economy, individuals of every age group over 30 were buyers at higher rates in 2019 than those same age groups in 2009. Still, a major construction slowdown after the Great Recession contributed to a lower rate of American households forming in the years since that time; there simply have not been enough homes for everyone who wanted to move out on their own.

“Even before the pandemic, the largest-ever generation entering their 30s and the hangover from more than a decade of underbuilding were on a collision course set to define the U.S. housing market,” said Jeff Tucker, senior economist at Zillow. “The pandemic supercharged demand for housing, bringing the shortage into relief sooner than we expected, as millennials sought bigger homes with Zoom rooms, and older Americans accelerated retirement plans, spurring moving decisions.”

Even as millennials are the biggest players in the U.S. housing market, buyers are trending older. The median age of a recent buyer – somebody who bought a home in the past year – was 44 in 2019, up from 40 in 2009. That’s largely because baby boomers, who make up a big share of the population, are also more active in the housing market than those their age 10 years ago.

The share of recent buyers 60 years and older grew 47% from 2009 to 2019. Over the same period, the share of recent buyers ages 18-39 fell 13%.

This means that millennials, already grappling with skyrocketing housing costs from pre-pandemic housing trends and student debt that make saving for a down payment a steep hill to climb, also generally have more competition from their parents’ and grandparents’ generations than their predecessors did. That dynamic is likely one reason the share of buyers who were buying their first home has trended down from 46% in 2018 to 37% in 2021.

More than half homes sold this July went for above their list price, usually meaning the buyer expected the home to receive multiple offers. U.S. home values grew 31.2% from 2009 to 2019, and they’ve grown an additional 22% since then, representing massive equity gains for longtime homeowners. Because baby boomers are more likely to be homeowners who can use the proceeds from the sale of their current home toward their next one, they have a built-in advantage in a bidding war against younger buyers, who are often buying their first home. A survey of Zillow Premier Agent partners found all-cash offers, which are more common for repeat buyers, are the top strategy for winning a competitive bid.

“There are many hurdles millennials must overcome when buying homes of their own, one of them being fierce competition from the next-most-populous generation: baby boomers,” Tucker said. “Whether downsizing or moving to a new town, baby boomers being more active means competition that previous generations did not have when buying their first home. And older buyers have the advantage of a lifetime’s worth of savings and home equity to leverage in a competitive offer.”

In 2019, many of the same forces driving moves during the pandemic were already in place; buyers were seeking affordability, and markets in the Sun Belt were drawing new buyers. Jacksonville had the highest share of households that had bought their home within the past year (5.6%), with Tampa (5.5%), Denver (5.4%), Phoenix (5.4%) and Nashville (5.1%) rounding out the top five. Ultra-expensive metros San Francisco (2.9%), New York (2.6%) and Los Angeles (2.1%) had the smallest share of recent buyers.

The analysis also shows how younger buyers are seeing more luck in less expensive areas, perhaps after being priced out of metros where homes are more expensive. Homebuyers ages 60 and older made up a bigger share in sunny retirement destinations, such as Miami (36%), Tampa (34%) and Phoenix (32%), than the nation as a whole (24%).

Buyers skewed younger in markets such as Buffalo (57% of recent buyers ages 1839) and Salt Lake City (56%). The San Jose metro, where 54% of 2019 buyers were ages 18-39, is a notable exception, likely helped by a high median income in that market.

Copyright © 2021 BridgeTower Media; and Copyright © 2021, The Mecklenburg Times (Charlotte, NC). All rights reserved.


New-Home Starts Surge 11.8% Higher in Nov.

The jump follows a few months of moderate growth, and both single-family and multifamily improved. Building permits, a sign of future work, rose 3.6%.

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) – New home construction in the U.S. rebounded 11.8% in November as strong demand continues to boost builder confidence even with the slower winter season approaching.

The double-digit percentage increase last month left home construction at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.68 million units, an 8.3% increase from the rate at this time last year, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. October’s home construction number was revised downward slightly to 1.5 million units from 1.52 million units.

Applications for building permits, a barometer of future activity, rose 3.6% in November to 1.71 million units and is 0.9% above the rate in November of 2020.

Construction of both single-family homes and apartments were strong in November, with both seeing low double-digit percentage increases from October. Despite last month’s increase, single-family housing starts are still down 0.8% from November of last year.

Although the big jump in November, after somewhat sideways movement the past few months, suggests the housing market is still strong, though economists are reluctant to put too much weight in the volatile monthly housing starts data.

“It is best to just keep in mind that builders have more than enough work to keep them busy and interpret the ups and downs in the numbers as mostly noise and seasonal volatility,” said Stephen Stanley, chief economist for Amherst Pierpont.

Construction activity by region saw the biggest jump in the Northeast which rose 27.5%, followed by the South’s 18.4% gain. Building in the West rose 5.1%, while activity in the Midwest declined 7.3%.

A monthly survey of builder sentiment released Wednesday by the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo showed sentiment improved for the fourth straight month, inching up to 84 in December from 83 last month. The index hit a record reading of 90 last November.

Demand for new houses remains strong, but finding workers, predicting prices and supply chain shortages and delays are still tripping up builders, the NAHB said. The lack of available homes for sale, new and old, has pushed prices to record levels.

NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz said even though 2021 single-family starts are expected to finish the year 24% higher than the pre-COVID levels of 2019, “we expect higher interest rates in 2022 will put a damper on housing affordability.”

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve announced that it will reduce its monthly bond purchases – which are intended to lower long-term rates – at twice the pace it had previously set. The Fed is trying to stamp out persistent inflation that has accelerated to a nearly four-decade high.

The Fed’s action may raise borrowing costs across the economy in the coming months, but policy changes don’t always immediately affect other loan rates. Even with three rate increases next year, its benchmark rate would still be historically low, below 1%.

In its most recent report, S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index climbed 19.1% in September from a year earlier, with prices in all 20 cities setting new records.

The Commerce Department reported last month that the median price of a new home, the point where half the homes sold for more and half for less, rose to a record $407,700 in October, up nearly 18% from a year earlier.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


Why Will the Fed Raise Interest Rates? What Happens Next?

WASHINGTON (AP) – For months, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell responded to surging inflation by counseling patience and stressing that the Fed wanted to see unemployment return to near-pre-pandemic levels before it would raise interest rates.

But on Wednesday, Powell suggested that his patience has run out. High inflation has not only persisted but accelerated to a nearly four-decade high. Average wages are rising. Hiring is solid, and unemployment is falling. All those trends, Powell said at a news conference, have led him and the rest of the Fed’s policymakers to decide that now is the time to speed up the Fed’s tightening of credit.

The central bank said it will reduce its monthly bond purchases – which are intended to lower long-term rates – at twice the pace it had previously set and likely end the purchases in March. That accelerated timetable puts the Fed on a path to start raising rates as early as the first half of next year.

What’s more, the policymakers collectively forecast that they will raise their benchmark short-term rate three times next year – a significant increase from September, when the 18 officials had split over whether to hike even a single time in 2022. The Fed’s key rate, now pinned near zero, influences many consumer and business loans, including for mortgages, credit cards and auto loans. Rates for those loans may start to rise, too, next year.

The policy changes reflect an abrupt shift by Powell and the Fed to focus more on wrestling inflation under control, while placing less emphasis on further reducing unemployment.

At a news conference after the Fed’s latest policy meeting, Powell stopped short of declaring that the job market had fully recovered from the pandemic recession. But he said that “rapid progress” had been made toward the Fed’s target of “maximum employment.” And if inflation is still running high next year, he said, the Fed might decide to start raising rates even if it hasn’t been achieved.

He noted recent economic reports that have shown higher inflation, solid wage growth and steady job gains.

“We have to make policy now, and inflation is well above” the central bank’s annual 2% target, Powell said. “With elevated inflation pressures and a rapidly strengthening labor market, the economy no longer needs increasing amounts of policy support.”

The Fed’s actions may raise borrowing costs across the economy in the coming months, although changes by the Fed don’t always immediately affect other loan rates. And even if the central bank does raise rates three times next year, it would still leave its benchmark rate historically low, below 1%.

The central bank had since the spring characterized inflation as mainly a “transitory” problem that would fade as supply bottlenecks, caused by the pandemic, were resolved. But at his news conference, Powell acknowledged that price spikes have persisted longer than the Fed expected.

Once consumers start to expect inflation to continue, Powell noted, it can make it harder for the Fed to control. If households expect higher prices, they may demand more wage increases, which can then lead companies to raise prices further to offset higher labor costs.

“There’s a real risk now,” Powell said, “that inflation may be more persistent and that may be putting inflation expectations under pressure, and that the risk of higher inflation becoming entrenched has increased. I think part of the reason behind our move today is to put ourselves in a position to be able to deal with that risk.”

Powell said the Fed’s goals of reaching maximum employment and keeping prices stable have been complicated by the unusual dynamics of the pandemic recovery. The Fed had hoped to see inflation rise because of very low unemployment and higher wages, which are signs of a strong economy. Instead, inflation has mostly stemmed from supply chain snarls and a spike in demand for goods such as furniture, cars and appliances.

“The inflation that we got,” Powell said, “was not at all the inflation we were looking for.”

The run-up in prices has also persisted longer than the Fed expected and has spread from goods like food, energy and autos to services like apartment rents, restaurant meals and hotel rooms. It has weighed heavily on consumers, especially lower-income households and particularly for everyday necessities, and negated the higher wages many workers have received.

Collectively, the Fed’s policymakers forecast Wednesday that inflation, as measured by their preferred gauge, will reach 5.3% by year’s end, up from the October reading of 5%, according to the Fed’s preferred gauge. They expect inflation to slow considerably to a 2.6% annual rate by the end of 2022. But that’s up from its September forecast of just 2.2%.

The officials foresee the unemployment rate falling to 3.5% by the end of next year, which would match the pre-pandemic level, when unemployment was at 50-year lows.

Powell said that all Fed officials expect the central bank’s goal of “maximum employment” to be reached sometime next year, and pointed to a rapid fall in the unemployment rate just in the past two months, from 4.8% to 4.2%.

He also noted that job openings are at near-record highs and that millions of people are quitting their jobs, which is typically a sign of a strong labor market, in which people are finding new positions at higher pay. While the proportion of people working or looking for work still remains notably below pre-pandemic levels, Powell held out hope that it could fully recover over time if the economy remains healthy.

“We would not in any way want to foreclose the idea that the labor market can get even better,” even after the Fed starts to raise rates, Powell said.

The Fed is buying $90 billion a month in bonds, down from $120 billion in October, and had been reducing those purchases by $15 billion a month. But in January, it will reduce those purchases by $30 billion, to $60 billion, and will be on track, Powell said, to end them altogether in March.

In addition to three rate hikes next year, Fed officials foresee raising rates three times in 2023 and twice more in 2024, leaving their benchmark rate at 2.1%, still a relatively low level historically.

On Wall Street, stock prices rose gradually and then surged after the Fed issued its statement and Powell began speaking at a news conference. At the end of the trading day, stock market averages were all up more than 1%, a substantial gain.

Fed officials have said they expect inflation to cool by the second half of next year. Gas prices have already come off their peaks. Supply chain bottlenecks in some areas are gradually easing. And government stimulus payments, which helped spur a spike in spending that boosted inflation, aren’t likely to return.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission. AP Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger contributed to this report.