Monthly Archives: November 2022

Is Your Seller’s Mortgage Assumable?

FHA, VA and USDA loans may be assumable, along with a few conventional loans. If so, buyers who can pay off equity might qualify for a lower interest rate.

HILLSBORO, Ore. – With today’s current interest rates, homebuyers may want to seek out homes for sale that have assumable mortgages. When rates were below 3% earlier this year, some people were delaying buying, waiting to see if house prices would lower. They didn’t fall much, yet interest rates went up substantially, potentially pricing people out of the market.

Finding a home for sale that has an assumable mortgage may be the solution.

Assumable mortgages were popular when rates were higher, some didn’t even require buyers to qualify. Not the same today: Buyers must now qualify through the seller’s lender that has the mortgage on the house.

An assumption allows a buyer to take on the original loan balance, payment and term, taking advantage of the seller’s lower interest rate, which they may have gotten years ago. Assumptions are allowed on FHA, VA, and USDA loans and, in some exceptions, conventional if the mortgage contract has no “due on sale” clause or if the lienholder permits it.

The down payment could be higher as the seller’s equity must be made up, which is the difference between the price of the home minus the loan balance. If the buyer can take over a smaller loan balance at a much lower interest rate, it may be worth it.

Sellers should make sure the assumption is Novation only, where the lender transfers full liability from the seller directly to the buyer, releasing the seller from future responsibility for the mortgage payments.

Copyright © 2022 Forest Grove News Times, all rights reserved. Robert Groves is senior mortgage broker for Minuteman Mortgage.


Fed Wants Home Prices to Fall – It’s Not a Side Effect

From the Federal Reserve’s perspective, they’re starting to win the fight against inflation if home prices are going down.

NEW YORK – The housing market has slowed way down, as expected, in response to rising interest rates. Home prices fell for the third straight month in September, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index. Its measure of national home prices dropped by 1% from the previous month, though values were still about 10% higher than a year earlier.

In case there was any lingering doubt, the new data shows the housing market has definitely turned, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

“It feels somewhat clifflike at the moment,” he said. “You know, I think what this reflects is whiplash. I mean, what goes up comes down.”

And down is the direction the Federal Reserve wants to see prices go as it tries to curb inflation, per Craig Lazzara, managing director at S&P Dow Jones Indices – which produces the Case-Shiller index.

“This is a feature, not a bug. This is what they want to see,” Lazzara said. “If I were [Fed Chair] Jay Powell, I would like it.”

Rising interest rates hit the housing market fast. According to Odeta Kushi, deputy chief economist at First American, the September index doesn’t even show the full extent.

“It’s mostly reflecting signed contracts in May through August, which is when the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was in the low- to mid-5% range.”

Since then, 30-year fixed rates have topped 7% at times, which means prices likely have further to fall – especially in the most expensive markets. While prices dropped in all 20 cities tracked by the Case Shiller index, San Francisco, Seattle and other West Coast cities had some of the steepest declines, said Stuart Gabriel of the University of California, Los Angeles.

“We have very significant problems of affordability that relate to both high mortgage interest rates and high house prices,” he said. “That, of course, is prompting moves by households to more affordable areas.”

Copyright © Marketplace, 2022 APM. All rights reserved.


Fla. Has 5 of Top 10 Move-To Metros in U.S.

Fla. metros remain popular with outside-the-city homebuyers. In a 3Q top-state popularity contest, Fla. has 5 metros in the top 10 and Calif. has 2.

SEATTLE – About one in four (24.1%) U.S. homebuyers considered moving to a different metro area in third quarter of 2022, according to a report from Redfin, and five of the popular metros in the top 10 were in Florida.

Top U.S. metro areas by inflow in 3Q

  1. Sacramento, California: Top origin metro, San Francisco. Top out-of-state origin: Chicago
  2. Las Vega, Nevada: Top origin metro, Los Angeles. Top out-of-state origin: Los Angeles
  3. Miami: Top origin metro, New York. Top out-of-state origin: New York
  4. San Diego, California: Top origin metro, Los Angeles. Top out-of-state origin: Chicago
  5. Tampa: Top origin metro, New York. Top out-of-state origin: New York
  6. Phoenix, Arizona: Top origin metro, Los Angeles. Top out-of-state origin: Los Angeles
  7. Cape Coral, Florida: Top origin metro, Chicago. Top out-of-state origin: Chicago
  8. North Port-Sarasota, Florida: Top origin metro, Chicago. Top out-of-state origin: Chicago
  9. Dallas, Texas: Top origin metro, Los Angeles. Top out-of-state origin: Los Angeles
  10. Orlando, Florida: Top origin metro, New York. Top out-of-state origin: New York

The third quarter results were similar to the second quarter, according to the study, but up from 2019 when 18% of home shoppers searched for housing in a different metro area.

The U.S. housing market cooled significantly during the second half of 2022, but of the people still buying homes, an unprecedented portion are relocating to new metros. Many are seeking relative affordability as mortgage rates hover around 7% and persistently high home prices make expensive parts of the country even more expensive.

Overall, affordable Sun Belt metros are most popular with relocating homebuyers, largely because they can get more home for less money. In Las Vegas, for instance, the typical home cost $410,000 in October, roughly half the price of the typical home in Los Angeles ($823,000) – the most common origin for people moving there.

Buyers leaving expensive West Coast, East Coast cities

More homebuyers looked to leave San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C. and Boston than other major metros, determined by net outflow – a measure of how many more Redfin.com users looked to leave an area than move in.

In general, homebuyers are leaving expensive coastal job centers more than other places – a trend that started before the pandemic and picked up steam due to remote work and rising housing costs – and they commonly head to more affordable regions.

© 2022 Florida Realtors®


50% Rule Imperils Rebuilds in Hurricane-Hit Areas

NAPLES, Fla. – Thousands of homeowners in Southwest Florida whose homes were damaged by flooding from Hurricane Ian are running into a bureaucratic buzzsaw that may force them to tear down their properties and rebuild at higher elevations.

In response, some local governments are seeking workarounds to help homeowners avoid wholesale reconstruction, but because the regulations are designed to prevent future flooding damage, federal officials seem unlikely to relax the rules.

This will likely preclude some property owners from rebuilding because they can’t afford the cost of building higher.

The total number of properties affected by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requirements at issue are not yet clear, but it is likely to be substantial. Many homeowners may not yet know the hardships they’ll face if they are not far along enough in the post-Ian reconstruction process.

North Port Building Official Derek Applegate and his counterparts across the region have the unpleasant task of informing disaster victims about those requirements.

In the worst-case scenarios, the additional costs imposed by the federal regulations could mean homes must be taken down to their concrete slabs and several feet of fill dirt brought in to raise a site above the area’s base-flood elevation before a homeowner could even begin to rebuild.

“I haven’t yet met anyone that was excited about our conversation,” Applegate said.

‘Dreaded’ 50% rule

Those conversations have centered on what one Collier County attorney describes as the “dreaded FEMA 50% rule.”

County and municipal governments have to meet federal guidelines for area homeowners to qualify for policies under the National Flood Insurance Program. One of those guidelines requires building departments to not issue building permits to homes in special flood zones when repair costs exceed 50% of a home’s market value until the property owners raise their homes so that flood waters are less likely to cause damage in the future.

The rule is designed to prevent taxpayers from having to subsidize repeatedly rebuilt properties in areas that are known to be vulnerable to future flooding.

But in Southwest Florida, the human impact and high cost of repairs stemming from the rule has jurisdictions looking at how they calculate the 50% rule and what wiggle room the federal government is willing to allow.

Earlier this month, Lee County’s Board of County Commissioners discussed possible changes to allow for an additional 15% on top of the county property appraiser’s assessed value, as that figure is used by the building departments to determine the maximum repairs allowed before a property triggers the 50% rule.

Building departments take the assessed value of a home in a flood plain and divide that number by two. The total value of the repairs cannot exceed this figure. If it does, the property will be required to meet updated building codes before a building permit is issued.

But the federal regulators, according to Lee County officials, were not open to adding the 15% in calculating a home’s assessed value. In fact, when Lee County officials pointed to nearby jurisdictions that had similar multipliers in their regulations, County Attorney Richard Wesch told commissioners that federal regulators would demand those jurisdictions remove any additive values to how they implement the 50% rule.

Uniquely Florida problem

Charles Whittington, an attorney with the Collier County law firm Grant Fridkin Pearson, wrote an article on the “dreaded FEMA 50% rule” in 2018 on the law firm’s website. He updated it in November after Ian, recognizing that many people would be impacted and searching for accurate information on the complex regulation.

Whittington said Florida properties could be more impacted by the FEMA’s 50% rule because the rule only looks at a structure’s value. In Florida, he said, much of a property’s value is in the land.

So, if someone bought a house for $300,000, but the home is valued at just $100,000, that means any repair work would need to be less than $50,000. If the estimates for repair come in above that figure, a homeowner would be required to raise their house and meet all new building codes.

“It is cost prohibitive to raise the structure to meet current FEMA regulations,” he said. “Some people won’t be able to afford it.”

Richard Durling, owner of Marvin Homes in Lee County, spoke during the Nov. 15 Lee County Commission meeting, imploring the board to proceed with the 15% multiplier despite what federal regulators had conveyed to county staff. The Lee County homebuilder points to a rapid raise in construction costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on supply chain. He said the building industry had asked for a 40% multiplier to mirror the rise in construction costs.

Lee County does not have a figure on the number of properties that may be affected by the 50% rule, but Durling said county officials have identified as many as 20,000 substantially damaged properties in the county. Not all of those properties will be in federally identified flood zones, but many of them will.

So far, 14 building permits have been stopped due to the 50% rule, county staff said at the meeting last week.

“It’s a difficult situation,” Durling said, adding that county officials “are doing the best they can.”

Durling said he believes the county has the authority to decide how they will calculate the 50% rule and chastised the federal regulators for not allowing the change.

“I don’t know if they truly understand the impact of putting thousands of people out of their homes,” he said.

There’s also the issue of homestead exemptions. In Florida, a homesteaded property’s assessed value can only increase by a maximum of 3% a year. So, properties that have been homesteaded for years could have much lower assessed values than what their actual market value would be today.

Most local building departments will accept an appraisal conducted by an appropriately licensed professional if a homeowner appeals their assessed value determination. However, finding an appraiser willing to sign off on a pre-hurricane valuation can be challenging.

“You’re asking the appraiser to get into a time machine and go back to the day before the storm,” Whittington said. “That’s a very tough job.”

Durling echoed that assessment and advocated for the “straightforward method” of some form of multiplier. He said that he feels some property owners may be feeling backed into a corner, which could force them to use unlicensed contractors to repair their properties. In the short term, that could result in property owners impacted by the 50% rule dodging the regulation by using contractors who don’t pull the permits, or see property owners take the risky move of hiring an unlicensed contractor.

It is illegal in Florida to use an unlicensed contractor, and building department officials have warned homeowners not to do so as it increases the risk of being scammed.

Also, Durling said, when a property owner goes to sell the property, they are required by law to disclose flooding to a buyer, who should then ask to see the building permits for the repair work.

If the buyer doesn’t ask for the permits, the mortgage company will, Durling said. “That’s going to be a huge problem,” he said.

Getting the bad news

Cassie Midas bought her North Port home this last May, uprooting her two children in Minnesota and moving closer to her husband’s family so he can help with their business. Just one corner of the property falls into a special flood hazard area, but that’s enough for the FEMA 50% rule to apply to her repairs, she said.

So, she was one of more than 600 homeowners in the city of North Port who received notice that they may need to meet current Florida building codes before she can get a permit to rebuild.

She bought her house in the 5600 block of Bliffert Street for $325,000. The family also has flood insurance. The insurance company estimates the cost of the repairs at $48,000.

She’s hopeful that an April appraisal that put the value of her house at $215,000 will be accepted and she’ll fall well outside of the dreaded FEMA 50% rule, because if it isn’t accepted, the family may have to walk away from the house.

They would need to raise the house two feet to meet current code.

“The insurance adjuster said it (the insurance payout) wouldn’t even touch the cost to raise the home,” she said.

Applegate, the North Port building official, said that since Hurricane Ian hit, he’s read eight to 10 manuals as he searches for accurate information and alternative avenues he can suggest to people with hurricane damage.

“The building department is here to help, we’re trying to figure out ways to navigate through this,” he said. “In North Port’s 60-year history, we’ve never had to do this, so we don’t have a base.”

He’s recently learned of a way to provide “temporary occupancy of substantially damaged structure after a disaster,” but even that would only be a short-term solution.

“This is only a temporary patch, and it’s not going to save the ones that are going to be lost,” he said.

As to whether North Port would look at adding value to the property appraiser’s assessed value, Applegate said he doesn’t see how the city could do so without running afoul of regulators or harming residents by increases to insurance rates due to non-compliance with FEMA rules.

The insurance rates for an area are determined by a point system that takes into account many different parts of a jurisdiction’s building codes and regulations. By messing with one part of the code, it could send insurance rates spiraling.

“I’m not sure what that does to their insurance,” he said of some municipalities that did make changes, “but it will have some effect. It won’t be free.”

As to the hundreds of letters that the city sent out in November, he’s hopeful that some of the properties won’t fall into the rule when other factors are weighed.

“I’m going to work to get that number down to anything less than 600,” he said with a big sigh.

Copyright © 2022 The Florida Times-Union


Black Mortgage ‘Fairness’ Unchanged in 30 Years

Using Home Mortgage Disclosure Act records, a study looked back 31 years. While lending to women improved, Blacks and Native Americans still face problems.

LOS ANGELES – In a comprehensive study of discrimination in the American mortgage market, FairPlay today released the State of Mortgage Fairness Report.

FairPlay says it studied more than 350 million mortgage applications from 1990 to 2021 through loan records obtained from federal public source data in the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA). The data includes information on race, ethnicity and gender in mortgage applications.

To measure fairness, FairPlay used the industry standard metric Adverse Impact Ratio (AIR), which compares the rate of approval for protected status applicants compared to a control group (typically White or male applicants). For example, if protected class applicants had a 60% approval rate and the control group had a 90% approval rate, the AIR would be 60/90 or 67%.

An AIR of less than 80% is considered a statistically significant disparity, however, the results do not include information on risk, which also comes into play when lenders consider approving or declining loan applications.

Some good, some bad

First, the bad: Mortgage fairness for Black Americans is essentially no better today than it was thirty years ago – and for Native Americans, mortgage fairness declined more than 10%.

  • Native American mortgage applicants: In 1990, Native American homebuyers had an AIR of 94.8%. By 2021, AIR for Native American mortgage application approvals dropped to 81.9%.
  • Black mortgage applicants: In 1990, Black mortgage applicants obtained loan approvals at 78.4% the rate of white applicants. In 2019, the AIR remained unchanged, so lending neither improved nor grew worse. The study found a modest AIR increase in 2020 and 2021 for Black applicants at 84.4%, likely attributable to massive government stimulus and other support programs designed to stabilize the housing market during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Black homebuyers endure deep and persistent disparities in loan approvals in five states (Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama and Arkansas) regardless of the macroeconomic environment. In 2021, Black homebuyers in these states were approved at 69% of white mortgage applicants. On a positive note, mortgage fairness for Black women improved from 69.8% in 1990 to 86.3% in 2021.

  • Female mortgage applicants: The most positive trend in the HMDA data relates to mortgage fairness for women. Between 1990 and 2021, the AIR for mortgage applications filed by women rose from 91.8% to 99.2%, which is nearly on par with the control group (men).
  • Hispanic mortgage applicants: HMDA data on Hispanic applicants only dates back to 2008, so there is an incomplete picture for population fairness trends. Since 2008, Hispanic Americans have seen a steady increase in mortgage approval fairness, from 77.7% to 87.7%.

    Hispanic mortgage applicants, in contrast to Black applicants, tend to experience higher approval rates for mortgages in communities where they make up a larger percentage of the overall population.

  • Asian mortgage applicants: For Asian homebuyers, the fairness story continues to remain positive. Asian Americans had fairness parity with white mortgage applicants in 1990, and have consistently maintained comparable levels of mortgage approvals to white applicants.

“Despite decades of government intervention and the growth of high-priced consultancies devoted to fair lending practices, there is clearly much work to be done,” says FairPlay CEO/founder and report co-author Kareem Saleh. “It’s time for policymakers, regulators and lending institutions to admit that our efforts to reduce bias in mortgage lending have not moved the needle. If we want to extend the American dream to historically underrepresented groups, we must start encouraging new approaches to lending fairness.”

© 2022 Florida Realtors®


Hard Convincing Sellers Not to Overprice? Use Data

Florida Realtors economist: Many sellers today plan to overprice their home, but overpricing isn’t new. Lead sellers to smart decisions using charts that show local trends.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Pricing conversations tend to be difficult with sellers in any market because people view their homes through “love lenses.” Generally, they overvalue all the upgrades and personal touches they’ve done over the years, and even price in memories they’ve made while in the home.

These conversations are dicey in normal times, and even more so as the market shifts in favor of buyers.

Take these last few years into consideration. After the first few months of the pandemic, demand for Florida housing exploded, leading to perhaps a once-in-a-generation frenzy that pushed normal operating conventions for buying and selling property off the table. Gone were sound practices like inspections, appraisals and even contingent offers. More buyers were offering all-cash than before, and many were willing to go above and beyond ask to secure the deal.

Sellers were uniquely positioned to make out handsomely. Houses received multiple strong offers soon after a house went on the market, often going under contract within a matter of days. Offers had to be clean to close – that is, the offers with fewer strings were preferred over anything with complications. Over time, as more houses closed at higher prices, comps continued to support atypical list prices. Equity soared with increasing sales prices – it was all coming up roses for current owners and sellers.

However, conditions shifted this year. Higher prices and interest rates have diminished buyer purchasing power, and the deep pool of buyers that helped fuel the real estate frenzy dried up significantly. The monthly payment needed to service a mortgage at today’s prices and borrowing cost has accelerated beyond affordable limits for a lot of Floridians. Even investors are shying away from the marketplace.

Market changes are inevitable, and often the hardest part about them is communicating shifts to clients in a way they can understand and, more importantly, accept.

Sellers often talk to their neighbors and hear stories about the money a recent seller down the street got, and they want the same deal, or a better one, for their property. However, with the market shifting so fast now, what happened for someone else around the corner six months ago may not materialize today.

Using data to suggest listing prices

So, what’s a Realtor to do? If facing unrealistic sellers, they should use data. Showing sellers cold, hard statistics can often ground the conversation. It can help sellers move past their emotions about their home in particular and the marketplace in general.

In Florida, Realtors can use SunStats to show sellers the changing landscape of the marketplace – and how to be more realistic when setting a price for their home. Comps, of course, will be the way to actually set the price of the home, but SunStats shows the temperature of the marketplace, something comps simply cannot do.

A few metrics can help sellers understand what to expect.

The first is Active Inventory, which is the number of homes actively on the market at a particular time. Start with a look at the property type (single family or condo/townhome) in your zip code. Get a sense of how many homes are currently on the market but, most importantly, how that has been changing.

In most areas, Active Inventory has been increasing steadily since around June 2022. This tells sellers that there is more product on the market for buyers to choose from. Next, take a peek at Active Inventory in the price tier of your particular property. Often, this can vary slightly depending on your area.

New Pending Sales is a “leading indicator.” That means you can somewhat expect Closed Sales to follow suit with what you see in New Pending Sales within a month or two. Again, the direction of this number is more important than the current number. If New Pending Sales is trending down, you can expect the same for Closed Sales. Fewer deals closing indicates lighter demand.

Graphs and charts not your thing? No worries. An “Expectations Infographic” is the client-facing image you can use. Hop on over to the Infographic Creator tab within SunStats to create a graphic that focuses on the metrics your client needs to know to understand the changing landscape.

Select the following metrics:

  • Closed Sales
  • Median Sale Price
  • Active Inventory
  • Months Supply of Inventory
  • New Listings
  • New Pending Sales

This will create a graphic that you can share on your socials, via email to a client, in a newsletter or on your website.

Most importantly, this graphic shows the current numbers and how they compare year-to-year. In most markets today, the trends show higher inventory, fewer closed sales, increasing Months Supply of Inventory and a decrease in Pending Sales. Even Median Sale Price, while still high, is not showing double digit year-over-year gains.

Having this in front of you while meeting with a seller can help guide you through that ever-difficult expectations conversation.

Jennifer Warner is an economist and Director of Economic Development

© 2022 Florida Realtors®


U.S. Consumers a Bit Less Confident in Nov.

The Conference Board’s economist says gas prices had an impact on current outlooks, and a low Expectations Index number still suggests a possible recession.

BOSTON – The U.S. Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index decreased in November after also losing ground in October.

For November, the Index stands at 100.2, down from October’s 102.2. The Present Situation Index – based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions – decreased to 137.4 from 138.7 last month. The Expectations Index – based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions – declined to 75.4 from 77.9.

“Consumer confidence declined again in November, most likely prompted by the recent rise in gas prices,” says Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “The Present Situation Index moderated further and continues to suggest the economy has lost momentum as the year winds down.”

Franco also called consumers’ expectations “gloomy,” noting the “Expectations Index is below a reading of 80, which suggests the likelihood of a recession remains elevated.”

Franco also says that inflation remains a problem, increasing to its highest level since July, but “both gas and food prices” are the main culprits. “Intentions to purchase homes, automobiles and big-ticket appliances all cooled” in November, she says, and the “combination of inflation and interest rate hikes will continue to pose challenges … into early 2023.”

Present situation

Consumers’ assessment of current business conditions was mixed in November.

  • 18.2% of consumers said business conditions were “good,” up from 17.7%
  • On the other hand, 26.7%, said business conditions were “bad,” up from 24.0%
  • 45.8% of consumers said jobs were “plentiful,” up from 44.8%
  • 13.0% said jobs were “hard to get,” unchanged month-to-month

Expectations for six months in the future

Consumers remain pessimistic about the short-term business conditions outlook in November.

  • 19.9% of consumers expect business conditions to improve, up slightly from 19.6%
  • 22.7% expect business conditions to worsen, down from 24.3%
  • 18.6% expect more jobs to be available, down from 19.5%
  • 21.4% anticipate fewer jobs, up from 20.8%
  • 17.2% expect their incomes to increase, down from 19.6%
  • 16.6% expect their incomes to decrease, up from 15.2%

Toluna conducts the monthly Consumer Confidence Survey. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was November 18.

© 2022 Florida Realtors®


Finding Stability: When Will Fed Slow Rate Hikes?

While inflation numbers guide Fed decisions, two members say 5% will be the bare minimum stopping point, and it will be in effect at least through 2023.

WASHINGTON (AP) – Two Federal Reserve officials said Monday that they favor raising the Fed’s key rate to roughly 5% or more and keeping it at its peak through next year – longer than many on Wall Street have expected.

John Williams, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, who is among a core group of officials around Chair Jerome Powell, said in a speech to the Economic Club of New York that the central bank has “more work to do” to reduce inflation closer to its 2% target.

And James Bullard, president of the St. Louis Fed, suggested that financial markets are underestimating the likelihood the Fed will have to be more aggressive in its fight against the worst inflation bout in four decades.

The Fed has raised its benchmark short-term rate six times this year, to a range of 3.75% to 4%, with each of the last four hikes being a historically large three-quarters of a point. The central bank is expected to raise rates by an additional half-point when it next meets in mid-December. Though that would represent a reduction in the size of its rate hikes, Fed officials have stressed that they expect to keep their key rate at a historically high level well into the future.

Because the Fed’s benchmark rate influences many consumer and business loans, its aggressive series of hikes have made most loans throughout the economy sharply more expensive. That has been particularly true of mortgage rates, which have risen dramatically over the past year and have severely crimped home sales.

On Wednesday, Powell is scheduled to address the Fed’s policies and their effects on the job market in a speech in Washington.

In an interview with MarketWatch, Bullard suggested that the speed of the Fed’s rate hikes isn’t as important as the ultimate level of its benchmark rate, which he said could exceed the 5% that financial markets have priced in.

“Markets are underpricing the risk that the (Fed) will have to be more aggressive rather than less aggressive in order to contain the very substantial inflation that we have,” Bullard said. The central bank, he added, will likely have to keep its benchmark rate above 5% all through 2023 and into 2024. He also reiterated his view that the Fed should be prepared to raise that rate to the “lower end” of a range between 5% and 7%.

By contrast, financial markets have projected that the Fed will have to reverse course and start cutting rates by next September, presumably in response to a recession that many economists expect will occur next year.

Williams suggested that there are some positive signs that inflation is easing, noting falling prices for lumber, oil, and other commodities. Supply chains are also loosening, he said: A measure of supply chain snarls maintained by the New York Fed has declined by three-quarters from its pandemic peak.

Yet the job market has stayed stronger than he expected, Williams said, with the unemployment rate, at 3.7%, still near a half-century low.

“That argues that we’ll need to have a somewhat higher path for interest rates” than the Fed projected in September, Williams said. At that time, the officials forecast that their benchmark rate would reach a range of 4.5% to 4.75% by early next year.

He said he now expects the unemployment rate to rise to 4.5% to 5% by the end of next year, with inflation falling to 3% to 3.5% by then.

At that level, inflation would still exceed the Fed’s target of 2%, thereby extending its inflation fight into 2024, Williams said.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


Housing Prices Up by Year, Down by Month

Sept.’s S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city price index found a year-to-year increase of 10.4%, but Miami (up 24.6%) and Tampa (up 23.8%) led the nation.

NEW YORK – Dinged by rapidly increasing mortgage rates, home prices continue to show strong growth year-to-year but declines in month-to-month comparisons. In the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices (S&P DJI) for September, home price gains declined across the United States.


The Index covers nine U.S. census divisions, and overall reported a 10.6% year-to-year gain in September, a decline from the 12.9% reported in August. The Index’s 10-City Composite came in at 9.7%, down from 12.1% in the previous month; its 20-City Composite posted 10.4% year-over-year, down from 13.1% the previous month.

However, slowing price increases aren’t as notable in Florida, and two of the nine areas tracked in the U.S., the South and the Southeast, continued to outpace the rest of the nation.

Miami, Tampa and Charlotte reported the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities in September. Miami led the way with a 24.6% year-over-year price increase, followed by Tampa in second with a 23.8% increase. Charlotte came in a somewhat distant third with a 17.8% increase.

Still, all 20 cities – including Miami and Tampa – reported lower price increases in September 2022 than they did in August.

“As the Federal Reserve continues to move interest rates higher, mortgage financing continues to be more expensive and housing becomes less affordable. Given the continuing prospects for a challenging macroeconomic environment, home prices may well continue to weaken,” says Craig J. Lazzara, managing director at S&P DJI.


Before seasonal adjustment, the U.S. National Index posted a -1.0% month-over-month decrease in September, while the 10-City and 20-City Composites posted decreases of -1.4% and -1.5%, respectively.

After seasonal adjustment, the U.S. National Index posted a month-over-month decrease of -0.8%, and the 10-City and 20-City Composites both posted decreases of -1.2%.

In September, all 20 cities reported declines before and after seasonal adjustments.

“As has been the case for the past several months, our September 2022 report reflects short -term declines and medium-term deceleration in housing prices across the U.S.,” says Lazzara. “For all three composites, year-over-year gains, while still well above their historical medians, peaked roughly six months ago and have decelerated since then.

“The three best-performing cities in August repeated their performance in September. On a year-over- year basis, Miami (+24.6%) edged Tampa (+23.8%) for the top spot, with Charlotte (+17.8%) beating Atlanta (+17.1%) for third place. The Southeast (+20.8%) and South (+19.9%) were the strongest regions by far, with gains more than double those of the Northeast, Midwest, and West.”

© 2022 Florida Realtors®


Fla.’s Consumers Grow More Optimistic in Nov.

Bucking a national trend, Sunshine State consumers expressed more positive attitudes about their current conditions and the future, both short- and long-term.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Consumer sentiment among Floridians increased in November to 64.7, up 1.8 points from a revised figure of 62.9 in October, even as sentiment nationwide declined a bit.

According to the monthly study by the University of Florida, all five components that make up the complete index increased.

Current conditions: Perceptions of personal financial situations now compared with a year ago increased 1.9 points, from 51.9 to 53.8. And opinions on whether it’s a good time to buy a major household item like an appliance or even a home increased by 3.7 points, from 50.1 to 53.8, the greatest increase of any reading this month. That uptick was true in almost all demographic groups.

Future expectations: Expectations for personal finances one year from now increased slightly – one-tenth of a point from 79.7 to 79.8.

Expectations for U.S. economic conditions over the next year increased 2.5 points, from 60.2 to 62.7. Almost all Floridians felt better about the future one year from now; the UF survey notes that it’s even stronger among lower-income households, those people with an annual income under $50,000.

That optimism extends a full five years out, though with less of a month-to-month increase. Views of U.S. economic conditions over that time increased nine-tenths of a point from 72.8 to 73.7.

“Consumer confidence dropped following Hurricane Ian,” says Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research. “Six weeks later, Hurricane Nicole made landfall on Florida’s east coast, but its economic impacts were much less severe.” Sandoval says the hurricanes had much less impact on consumer confidence in November.

One reason for optimism: Florida’s labor market remains strong. The state’s labor force participation rate reached 59.6 – equal to the recent peak observed prior to the pandemic. And while weekly jobless benefits claims increased due to Hurricane Ian, they’ve now declined to low levels seen before the storm.

“A strong labor market should contribute to improved economic prospects and increased consumer confidence and spending, Sandoval says. “However, Floridians’ budgets continue to be burdened by the persistently high inflation, which has depressed their economic prospects and kept consumer confidence at historically low levels.”

Conducted October 1 through November 24, the UF study is benchmarked to 1966, which means a value of 100 represents the same level of confidence for that year. The lowest index possible is a 2, the highest is 150.

© 2022 Florida Realtors®


Planning for 2023 as Rates Rise and Rents Stagnate

Market changes call for investment recalibrations next year. Planning is mandatory even if fundamentals are strong and interest rates not historically shocking.

NEW YORK – MZ Capital Partners’ Michael H. Zaransky believes that rent growth will soon enter a cycle more like pre-pandemic periods. That means that uncertainty will be manageable but require certain adjustments and recalibration.

He advises real estate professionals to remain calm, secure in the knowledge that the sector’s fundamentals remain strong. If that’s challenging, he suggests that agents keep things in perspective by remembering that the real estate business typically experiences economical ebbs and flows.

The interest rate for a multifamily acquisition is hovering around 5%, for example, which some people may see as elevated compared to when it was roughly 3%.

“I remember when I got a commitment from the bank years ago, and they agreed to provide us with debt and a 7% interest rate,” says Zaransky. “I was doing high-fives, thinking, ‘It’s unbelievable how cheap this is!”

He says it’s possible to withstand today’s challenges too. Multifamily real estate investors just need to develop their plans with full awareness, because they will most probably need to readjust those plans in the weeks and months ahead.

He adds another positive note: The past year has witnessed double-digit percentage rent growth.

Zaransky believes that with everything going on, rent growth will likely be closer to 3% or 4% percent in most markets, which should have a significant effect in terms of where agents think they will be next year.

Source: Inman (11/11/22) Zaransky, Michael

© Copyright 2022 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Last Week’s Mortgage Rates Fell to 6.58%

It’s the second week in a row for a notable drop in rates as non-inflation-rate factors influence demand. A few weeks ago, average 30-year rates were higher than 7%.

LOS ANGELES (AP) – The average long-term U.S. mortgage rate edged lower for the second time in as many weeks, though it remains more than double what it was a year ago – a significant hurdle for many would-be homebuyers.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Wednesday that the average on the benchmark 30-year rate fell to 6.58% from 6.61% last week. A year ago the average rate was 3.1%.

The rate for a 15-year mortgage, popular with those refinancing their homes, fell to 5.90% from 5.98% last week. It was 2.42% one year ago.

Late last month, the average long-term U.S. mortgage rate breached 7% for the first time since 2002. It climbed to 7.08% again earlier this month, but has pulled back in the two weeks since.

“In recent weeks, rates have hit above 7% only to drop by almost half a percentage point,” noted said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “This volatility is making it difficult for potential homebuyers to know when to get into the market, and that is reflected in the latest data which shows existing home sales slowing across all price points.”

Mortgage rates have more than doubled from where they were in early January, echoing a sharp rise in the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. The yield is influenced by a variety of factors, including global demand for U.S. Treasurys and investors’ expectations for future inflation, which heighten the prospect of rising interest rates overall.

The Federal Reserve, which has been hiking its short-term lending rate since March in a bid to crush the highest inflation in decades, raised its rate again early this month by 0.75 percentage points, three times its usual margin, for a fourth time this year. Its key rate now stands in a range of 3.75% to 4%.

While recent data suggest inflation may have peaked, stoking hope that the Fed will begin to ease up on its rate increases, recent comments by Fed officials have dimmed such optimism.

Last week, James Bullard, who leads the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, said that the Fed may have to raise its benchmark interest rate much higher than it has previously projected to get inflation under control.

“This could mean that mortgage rates may climb again, and that risk goes up if next month’s inflation reading comes in on the higher side,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com.

The sharp rise in mortgage rates this year, combined with still-climbing home prices, have added hundreds of dollars to monthly home loan payments relative to last year, when the average rate on a 30-year mortgage barely got up above 3% much of the time. That’s created a significant affordability hurdle for many would-be homebuyers, spurring this year’s housing market downturn. Last month, sales of previously occupied U.S. homes fell for the ninth consecutive month, hitting the slowest pre-pandemic annual sales pace in more than 10 years.

The run-up in mortgage rates has prompted many homebuyers to choose adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs, over the benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate loan. The adjustable-rate loans reduce borrowers’ monthly payments in the first few years of homeownership. Another approach that’s become more popular in recent months: sticking with a fixed-rate 30-year mortgage, but paying to lower the interest rate for the first two or three years.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


Fitch Ratings: Ian Pushes Reinsurance Rates Higher

Consumers don’t pay for reinsurance – but property insurers do as a kind of “insurance for insurers.” Rate increases add another challenge to Fla.’s RE market.

MIAMI – As Florida lawmakers try to stabilize the troubled property-insurance system next month, they could face worsening problems with reinsurance, a critical part of the system.

Fitch Ratings released an analysis Wednesday that said overall reinsurance prices are expected to increase by more than 10% in 2023, pointing to losses from disasters such as Hurricane Ian and “increasing frequency and severity of natural catastrophe claims.”

“Price rises will be most pronounced in the regions worst affected by natural catastrophe events in 2022, including Australia, Florida and France,” the ratings agency said. “Hurricane Ian is likely to have caused between ($35 billion and $55 billion) of insured claims, making it one of the costliest natural catastrophe events ever.”

In the analysis posted online, Fitch also said it expects tighter restrictions when reinsurance policies are renewed in 2023, while raising the possibility that Florida property insurers will not be able to buy all of the reinsurance they need.

“Nevertheless, we believe demand for property catastrophe reinsurance during the 2023 renewals season will be broadly met, except for Florida,” the analysis said.

Reinsurance, which is sold in a global market, is essentially backup coverage for insurers. It plays a crucial role in Florida, as evidenced by the projected tens of billions of dollars in damage from the Category 4 Hurricane Ian, which made landfall Sept. 28 in Southwest Florida before crossing the state.

When property insurers’ losses reach certain thresholds, reinsurance coverage is triggered to help pay claims. Costs of reinsurance are baked into policyholders’ rates.

Florida property insurers rely on a combination of reinsurance bought in the private market and from the state-run Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund. As an example of the importance of reinsurance, the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund estimated last month it would have $10 billion in losses from Ian.

Reinsurance costs and availability were a problem in the Florida market before Ian. During a May special legislative session, lawmakers agreed to spend $2 billion in tax dollars to temporarily provide additional reinsurance coverage to insurers.

Gov. Ron DeSantis called the May special session amid widespread problems in the insurance industry that have included homeowners losing policies and seeing massive rate hikes. Meanwhile, some property insurers have gone insolvent, and policies have flooded into the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp., which was created as an insurer of last resort.

Problems, however, have persisted, and lawmakers will hold another special session the week of Dec. 12 that is expected to include making additional changes to try to bolster insurers.

House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, said Tuesday that lawmakers will look at a “kitchen sink of options” during the special session to try to stabilize the market and expand private coverage. He indicated those options could involve spending additional money to help with reinsurance.

“It would be temporary, and it has to be contingent on getting major reforms so we actually fix the situation,” Renner told reporters. “I do not want to be in a situation where we make any kind of new long-term taxpayer commitment to underwrite insurance. That is not the goal. The goal is to have a healthy private market, to then begin depopulating (removing policies from) Citizens so that we get back to where we were not so many years ago, which is a healthy, vibrant market where people cannot have a cardiac arrest when they get their renewal bills.”

© 2022 Miami Herald. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


Tampa Startup Builds Area’s First 3D Home

Shamrock Road in Tampa will have a first for the area: a 3BR, 2-bath 3-D printed home listed for $599K. Robotic “hands” will layer concrete to make the walls.

TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa startup Click, Print, Home is selling its first 3D-printed home – a three-bedroom, two-bathroom dwelling on Shamrock Road in Tampa with an asking price of $599,300.

Click, Print, Home founder Matt Gibson said construction will take around six months, or about half the time it takes to build a traditional home, once they secure a buyer.

The 3D printing process, which involves the use of robotic arms to layer concrete to create the home’s structure, is more accurate than human workers and will reduce material waste by around 95%. The 3D-printed home will also be around four times stronger than a typical concrete home.

“This is going to be so much more resistant to wind, water and termites, which is huge for Florida,” Gibson says. “This is the most efficient way to build a home. It’s just a matter of time until this is the only way.”

Source: Tampa Bay Times (11/18/22) Liebson, Rebecca

© Copyright 2022 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


RE Market Isn’t Crashing – It’s Just Slowing

ORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – 2021 was a record year for real estate in South Florida, yet the last eight months of 2022 have been about the market slowing. Questions linger as to how bad the decline in the market is and whether it’s headed for a crash.

There’s little doubt that the market has slowed over the past six to eight months: Closed sales are down as buyers grapple with rising interest rates, it’s taking longer to sell a home, and bidding wars are not as common as they once were.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that the South Florida market is crashing.

“There is a lot of confusion when people talk about the slowdown. They automatically think the market is crashing, but it’s not,” said Roni Sterin with the Keyes Company in Weston. “The market did correct itself because it needed to.”

Comparing 2022 to the pre-pandemic 2019 housing market can add additional context to what’s happening now, since 2021 was so exceptional.

“It [2021]was such a national phenomenon that comparing our data to last year, the shift looks very severe in isolation,” said Bonnie Heatzig, executive director of luxury sales at Douglas Elliman in Boca Raton. “Now, the pendulum is starting to swing towards a more normal market.”

To gauge where the housing market in South Florida is, the South Florida Sun Sentinel looked at data from 2019, the most recent “non-pandemic” housing market, and compared it to 2022. We considered trends in median prices, inventory levels, price growth and how long it takes to sell a home.

Median sale prices are stabilizing

As of October, the most recent numbers from the Broward, Palm Beaches and St. Lucie Realtors show that while the median sale prices of single-family homes in the tri-county area are still showing double digit year-over-year increases, on a month-to-month basis, the prices have either started to decline or moderate.

It’s not indicative of a housing crash or a decline, rather it signifies that the median sale prices of single-family homes in South Florida are on their way to possibly stabilizing.

“When people look at houses online, for example, they see that the prices are coming down and they get the mindset that the market is crashing,” Sterin said. “What they don’t see is that the same house that sold in 2020, or 2021 or even 2019 is still above the market.”

On a month-to-month basis, home prices in South Florida currently look like they are in the beginning stages of stabilizing. For example in Palm Beach County, the median sale price of a home in July was $600,000, before decreasing to $565,000 in August. In September it reached $580,000, before decreasing to $570,000 in October.

By contrast, prices in Palm Beach County were relatively flat on a month-to-month basis in 2019. In July, August, and September the median sale price of home was about $355,000. It increased to about $359,000 in October of 2019.

And prices now, while in flux, are significantly higher than they were in 2019.

In Broward County, the median sale price of a home is 49% higher than it was three years ago. In Palm Beach County, it’s about is 58% higher and in Miami-Dade County it’s about 57% higher.

While it takes longer to sell a home, it’s still faster than three years ago

A large marker of the 2021 housing boom was how quickly homes flew off the market as buyers rushed to put offers on a home, scared to miss out on lower mortgage rates. Now, buyers have grown more hesitant, in part because they have more to choose from as inventory levels have risen. As well, higher mortgage rates have pulled some buyers to the sidelines, cooling the frenzy.

Due to this, it’s taking slightly longer get a home under contract, according to the latest numbers from the Broward, Palm Beaches and St. Lucie Realtors.

In 2022, the median time to contract for a single-family home increased in Palm Beach County to 28 days, in Broward it increased to 27 days and in Miami-Dade, it increased to about 30 days.

However, homes are still selling faster than they did three years ago. In 2019, it took about 50 days to get a home under contract in Miami-Dade County, 46 days in Broward County and 54 days in Palm Beach County.

“It’s no longer the market in which properties sell in five days. It’s more that properties are still on the market for maybe one week, or two weeks,” Sterin said.

Inventory levels still low

Buyers have started to see more homes come on the market over the past few months as sellers rushed to list their homes to try and catch the wave before interest rates cooled the market.

2021 was marked by record low inventory levels, with most of the tri-county area seeing a little over one month supply of homes on the market at a given time. Now, there is almost double the amount of homes there were a year ago. Currently, there is about three months of supply of homes in the tri-county area.

While the jump has been significant, it’s still well below the supply of homes on the market in 2019. Buyers have more options now than they did a year ago, but it’s still nowhere near a balanced market, which experts say is about six months of supply on the market. And the increase of supply isn’t enough to cause the market to crash.

“The inventory is not bloated,” Heatzig said. “When the frenzy stops and the inventory piles high, then we have a crisis. We do not have that now.”

The future of the housing market

For the most part, experts say that despite the rebalancing, the housing market in South Florida is still strong and unlikely to crash.

The current housing market has been driven in large part by low inventory levels due to years of underbuilding, intense demand from families looking to relocate and until recently, record low mortgage rates. The market crash a decade ago was caused by risky lending practices and too much supply on the market.

“Crashes occur when there is an extreme imbalance between supply and demand. Currently we have the opposite. It would take an extreme movement in the market to transition from where we are today to a market on the verge of a crash, “ said Tim Costello, chairman & chief executive at Builder Homesite Inc.

© 2022 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


Fannie’s Forecast: Rough in 2023, Better in 2024

The GSE’s economic and research group thinks the U.S. hasn’t seen the full impact of higher mortgage rates yet, but 2024 will be better after a slow-down year.

WASHINGTON – Fannie Mae’s Economic and Strategic Research Group predicts that single-family home sales will total 5.67 million this year, then fall to 4.42 million in 2023 before rising to 5.25 million in 2024.

The group forecasts that total mortgage origination activity will reach $2.34 trillion in 2022, decline to $1.74 trillion in 2023 and then increase to $2.11 trillion in 2024.

According to the Fannie Mae economists, the full effect of rate increases on home sales hasn’t been fully felt yet. However, they also said first-time homebuyers may turn to new homes as fewer existing homeowners list their homes for sale.

“Given this, homebuilders may focus more on comparatively modest product offerings as the number of move-up buyers is low,” Fannie Mae says.

“From our perspective, the good news is that demographics remain favorable for housing, so the sector appears well-positioned to help lead the economy out of what we expect will be a brief recession,” says Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae.

Source: HousingWire (11/21/22) Kim, Connie

© Copyright 2022 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Retirees Rethinking Where They’ll Retire

Climate change and recent storms have more older adults rethinking a coastal location. It’s not a fear of storms – it’s a fear of having to rebuild in their 80s.

NEW YORK – A small but growing number of older people are taking climate change into account when choosing a retirement destination, real estate agents and other experts say. Armed with climate studies, many retirees started looking for communities that are less likely to experience extreme weather events, such as wildfires, drought and flooding.

In an analysis of nearly 1.4 million home sales along Florida’s coasts, University of Pennsylvania researchers found that the sales volume of homes in areas where 70% of developed land was less than six feet above sea level dropped by up to 20% between 2013 and 2018, while sales rose on less-vulnerable coastal land.

Prices on homes in riskier areas declined between 2018 and 2020.

The lead researcher, Benjamin Keys, a professor of real estate and finance at the university’s Wharton School, said the biggest sales declines occurred in Florida coastal communities where retirees from the Northeast – particularly those who lived in counties exposed to Hurricane Sandy in 2012 – tended to move.

During the pandemic, Florida coastal home sales and prices spiked as buyers fled urban living for warmer climes – but Dr. Keys expects the pre-pandemic trends to resume as population relocations return to more normal conditions.

Source: New York Times (11/18/22) Garland, Susan B.

© Copyright 2022 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


NAR Goes to White House, Discusses Housing

CEO Bob Goldberg met with White House officials and other industry reps to discuss the nation’s housing supply and affordability constraints.

WASHINGTON – National Association of Realtors® (NAR)Chief Executive Officer Bob Goldberg joined White House officials and industry representatives Wednesday to discuss the Biden administration’s response to housing supply and affordability constraints

After the meeting, NAR President Kenny Parcell followed up with a letter to White House officials outlining priorities the trade association believes would help address these ongoing challenges.

“When it comes to affordability, the administration has several tools it can use now to reduce costs, especially in higher-cost markets where housing options continue to diminish,” says Parcell. “Reducing fees for first-time homebuyers, providing more Housing Choice Vouchers, and providing incentives for more housing providers to participate in that program would provide direct and immediate support for renters and aspiring homeowners.

“NAR continues to stress that government must invest in boosting our nation’s housing supply if we are to make housing affordable in the long run. We need to invest in new construction, make zoning reforms, and provide tax incentives to spur more housing investment and conversion of unused commercial space into residential units.”

On Capitol Hill, NAR is working to advance the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act and the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, two pieces of legislation it argues would increase affordable housing options. The former would mobilize private investment to build and rehabilitate 500,000 affordable homes over the next decade, and the latter would improve the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.

At the Wednesday meeting, administration officials and representatives from various real estate groups specifically discussed several measures to promote housing opportunity:

  • Reductions in the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) Mortgage Interest Premium and the Government Sponsored Enterprises’ (GSE’s) guarantee fees (G-fees).
  • Efforts to expand and improve the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program to assist tenants.
  • Support for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) affirmative fair housing initiatives.

NAR has advocated on behalf of each proposal.

In the meeting, NAR stressed its continued opposition to some proposals that have been advanced, including rent caps on GSE-backed rental properties, which it contends would be detrimental for renters, small businesses and housing providers.

In the letter to administration officials, Parcell wrote that proposals to place control or stabilization measures on rental properties backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – which represent a significant share of the market – would cause considerable harm to the rental housing sector in America.

“Such policies would drive housing providers from the market – especially smaller, ‘mom-and-pop’ landlords who own just a few units and are unable to absorb rising costs that increase at a rate higher than rents do,” Parcell said.

NAR says it will continue to engage with the administration and other industry groups to advance reasonable market solutions that result in the greatest benefit for Americans and the economy, promote fair housing and racial equity, and support underserved communities.

“Amid mounting, ongoing concerns about rising inflation and escalating mortgage rates, NAR greatly appreciates the ongoing opportunities the administration has afforded to industry leaders, housing advocates, and civil rights leaders to collaborate with administration officials on ways to tackle these consumer and market obstacles,” Parcell concluded.

© 2022 Florida Realtors®


FEMA: Flood Ins. Renewal Extension Ends Soon

FEMA gave some Fla. homeowners extra time to renew flood insurance due to the storms, and reps are going door-to-door to contact 11K owners who can still do so.

WASHINGTON – The deadline is approaching for some National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policyholders in Florida areas impacted by Hurricane Ian to renew their policies without the consequence of a lapse in coverage.

NFIP previously announced that Florida policyholders impacted by Hurricane Ian have a 90-day grace period to renew – an increase from the usual 30-day grace period. That gave existing policyholders who failed to renew extra time, and a greater chance that Ian water damage – or Nicole water damage – would be covered under NFIP.

The extended grace period applies to policyholders whose flood insurance policy expired on Aug. 25, 2022, through and including Oct. 23, 2022. This means policyholders with an original renewal date of Aug. 25 have already missed the window to reapply. Their deadline expired last Wednesday, Nov. 23. However, a policy scheduled to expire on the last day, Oct. 23, can now be renewed up to Feb. 21, 2023.

FEMA has identified over 11,000 policyholders in Florida who may still be able to renew their policy due to the grace period extension, though about 220 policyholders lost out on Nov. 23.

As of Nov. 21, more than 45,000 policyholders have submitted flood insurance claims for damage from Hurricane Ian. The majority of these claims are in Florida. The National Flood Insurance Program has paid more than $706 million in total claims payouts to insured policyholders.

Policyholders still eligible to renew their flood insurance policy should contact their agent or insurance company today. Policyholders who don’t have their insurance agent or company’s contact information can call (877) 336-2627 for assistance.

© 2022 Florida Realtors®


Bank Denied a Buyer’s Mortgage. Now What?

There are always options, and while some detail – like submitting forgotten docs – may quickly solve the problem, other fixes take a bit more time.

NEW YORK – If you dream of homeownership, having your mortgage application denied can be devastating. If this does happen to you, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Thirteen percent of all purchase mortgage applications – a total of nearly 650,000 – were denied in 2020, according to federal government data.

Before quickly reapplying for a loan, it’s important to first understand the reasons your loan was denied. The lender is required to disclose that information to you within 30 days of its decision. You can also call your lender for further explanation. Having this knowledge will help you work toward building your eligibility for a mortgage.

In some instances, the situation involves a quick fix, such as providing missing or incomplete documentation. However, if the reasons cited for your application denial involve down payment cost, a low credit score, an adverse credit history or a high debt-to-income ratio, here are six steps you can take toward recovery:

  1. Consult a housing counselor. Consider speaking to a community-based credit counselor or a HUD-certified housing counselor. They can help you create a plan to increase your savings, decrease your debt, improve your credit, access down payment assistance or take advantage of first-time homebuyer programs.
  1. Improve your credit. In a 2022 Freddie Mac survey of consumers denied a mortgage application in the past four years, three in five cited debt or credit issues as reasons given for their initial denial. If this describes you, take time to improve your credit profile before applying for another loan. Good credit demonstrates responsible money management and gives you more purchasing power, opening doors to better loan terms and products. Visit Freddie Mac’s CreditSmart suite of free financial education resources that can help you understand the fundamentals of credit and prepare you for homeownership.
  1. Pay down debt. In the application process, lenders will look at your recurring monthly debts, such as car payments, student loans and credit card loans. By lowering or paying down monthly debts, you can build a positive credit history and lower your debt-to-income ratio. Not sure where to start? Tackle your debt with the highest interest rate first.
  1. Obtain gift funds. If you’re short on money for your down payment, you may be able to use gift funds from a family member to decrease the amount you need to borrow.
  1. Find a co-signer. A co-signer applies for the loan with you, agreeing to take responsibility for the loan should you default. The co-signer’s credit, income and debts will be evaluated to make sure they can assume payments if necessary. In addition to ensuring your co-signer has good credit, you should make sure they are aware of this responsibility and have sufficient income to cover the payment.
  1. Look for a lower-cost home. Remember, you should only borrow an amount you feel comfortable repaying. You may need to look for a lower-cost home that you’re financially prepared to purchase and maintain. For more information and additional resources, visit myhome.freddiemac.com.

If your home loan application is denied, don’t panic. There are ways to build your eligibility so that next time, your mortgage application is more likely to be approved.

© Copyright 2022, Conley Publishing Group Ltd. All rights reserved.


Citizens Tops 1.1M Policies, Raises Rates

The Fla.-owned “insurer of last resort” continues to grow quickly, hitting 1,107K policies on Nov. 3. Previously approved rate hikes went into effect on Nov. 1.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As another sign of its explosive growth, the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. has topped 1.1 million policies. Citizens had 1,107,033 policies as of Nov. 3, up from 1,098,762 a week earlier and 1,090,508 two weeks earlier, according to the Citizens website.

Citizens, which was created as an insurer of last resort, has seen massive growth during the past two years as private insurers have dropped policies and, in some cases, gone insolvent amid financial losses.

As a comparison, Citizens had 521,289 policies on Oct. 31, 2020, and 725,942 policies on Oct. 31, 2021.

Citizens rate increases took effect Nov. 1, as thousands of homeowners a week continue turning to the state-backed insurer for coverage. The increases, which apply to what are known as “personal lines” policies, were approved by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation in June. They include an average 6.4% increase for homeowners with “multi-peril” policies – by far the most common type of policy.

Customers with other types of policies will see average increases ranging from 8.4% to 11%. Citizens initially asked for larger rate increases, but the Office of Insurance Regulation scaled back the requests. For example, Citizens had requested a 10.7% increase for multi-peril policies. The increases come as Citizens, which was created as the state’s insurer of last resort, experiences massive growth amid turmoil in the private insurance market.

The insurance regulation office also announced that estimated insured losses from Hurricane Ian neared $8.44 billion on Nov. 1.

The data also showed that 607,552 insurance claims had been reported, with 422,108 involving residential property. As a comparison, the office reported a week earlier that estimated insured losses were $7,595,678,739 and that 587,693 claims had been reported.

The Category 4 hurricane made landfall Sept. 28 in Lee and Charlotte counties before crossing the state. The largest number of claims, 218,465, had been filed in Lee County. Charlotte County had the second-largest number at 92,819. In addition to residential property, claims involve such things as commercial property and auto damage.

© Copyright 2022 Florida Weekly. All rights reserved.


Oct. New Home Sales Rise Surprising 7.5%

The Wall Street Journal polled economists who predicted a 5.5% drop in Oct. new-home sales – but the Census Bureau and HUD release reported a 7.5% increase.

WASHINGTON – October 2022 sales of new single‐family houses were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 632,000, according to estimates released jointly by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

That number is a 7.5% increase over the revised September rate of 588,000, though 5.8% less year-to-year (671,000 in October 2021). Early numbers are notably unreliable, however, and the October has an estimated as an error rate of plus-or-minus 19.6%.

The median sales price of new houses sold in October 2022 was $493,000. The average sales price was $544,000. 

At the end of October, there were 470,000 new homes for sale, according to the seasonally‐adjusted estimate. That number represents an 8.9-month supply at the current sales rate.

© 2022 Florida Realtors®


HOA Criminal Probe Widens as Records Seized

A West Kendall HOA’s now-terminated board members allegedly stole millions. A court-appointed receiver was named and attorneys now have access to records.

MIAMI – For years, the board of the troubled Hammocks Community Association in West Kendall has blocked state investigators from getting a trove of financial records that may detail the theft of resident funds.

But with board members now facing allegations of stealing millions, a court-appointed receiver on Tuesday allowed the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office to finally access documents at the association’s clubhouse office, widening the criminal investigation. A team of investigators arrived early Tuesday morning on a prosecution bus, working throughout the day to scan thousands of documents.

One cache of documents was found hidden under the floor of the office.

The seizure unfolded one week after Miami-Dade prosecutors charged four former board members, alleging they schemed to steal over $2 million, writing checks to vendors – for work that was never done – who then kicked back payments, mostly to then-president Marglli Gallego.

Last week, a Miami-Dade civil judge dissolved the current board and placed the association under receivership. The receiver’s team is getting copies of the records as part of a simultaneous probe into the finances of the sprawling suburban community about 20 miles southwest of downtown Miami.

“There are volumes and volumes of documents. We feel optimistic we will find additional evidence of these horrible crimes against these victim homeowners,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in an interview on Tuesday.

She declined to detail the records found, but added: “It’s even worse than we feared.”

The Hammocks Community Association is the largest HOA in Florida, with over 6,500 units and 25,000 residents. In all, five people were arrested so far, including board president Monica Ghilardi, current board member Myriam Rodgers, former board member Yoleidis Lopez Garcia, Gallego and Gallego’s husband, Jose Antonio Gonzalez.

Their defense attorneys have said they will fight the allegations. Gallego remains jailed, while the others have posted bond.

Lawyer Hilton Napoleon, who represented the HOA under the now-dissolved board, declined to comment.

The racketeering and fraud charges stem from a long-running probe that last year resulted in Gallego’s first arrest. Since then, Miami-Dade prosecutors had repeatedly subpoenaed financial documents, but found themselves stymied by HOA lawyers.

Despite judges ordering the HOA to produce financial documents, the association refused to comply, even appealing one judge’s ruling. An appeals court threw out the appeal. At one point earlier this year, an attorney for the board told a Miami-Dade judge the board voted to ignore the judge’s order because “the board doesn’t trust the state.”

Along the way, the sprawling planned community has been in turmoil, its coffers depleted, homeowners hit with 300% to 400% hikes in maintenance fees and the launching of a contentious recall effort against the board. A civil case was filed back in April by resident Ana Danton, who asked a court to place the association in receivership after a botched election, the fee hikes and the belief that HOA funds were being used to pay Gallego’s criminal defense attorneys.

The legal wrangling had dragged on for months until Thursday, two days after the arrests, when Circuit Judge Beatrice Butchko appointed the receiver – to rousing applause from residents who crowded the courtroom.

Butchko appointed former Third District Court of Appeals judge David Gersten to manage the affairs of the association and investigate the state of its finances and property, and longstanding allegations of financial shenanigans by the board. She also appointed a temporary “advisory committee” – drawn from a group of residents who had opposed the previous board – and ordered that all documents, hard drives and other potential evidence remain locked up in the office.

“Get a locksmith out there,” she said.

Idalmen “Chicky” Ardisson, a longtime Hammocks resident who is part of the advisory committee, said Tuesday that the seizure of the documents “will put the exclamation point on everything this community has been saying about our money not being used for the community.”

She said: “Finally, we’re going to see how deep this rabbit hole really went.”

© 2022 Miami Herald. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


Global Forecast: Slowing Growth, No Recession

A world economic group based in Paris, OECD, predicts world economic growth of only 2.2% in 2023 after 3.1% this year – but not a recession.

PARIS – Hobbled by high interest rates, punishing inflation and Russia’s war against Ukraine, the world economy is expected to eke out only modest growth this year and to expand even more tepidly in 2023.

That was the sobering forecast issued Tuesday by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In the OECD’s estimation, the world economy will grow just 3.1% this year, down sharply from a robust 5.9% in 2021.

Next year, the OECD predicts, would be even worse: The international economy would expand only 2.2%.

“It is true we are not predicting a global recession,” OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann said at a news conference. “But this is a very, very challenging outlook, and I don’t think that anyone will take great comfort from the projection of 2.2% global growth.”

The OECD, made up of 38 member countries, works to promote international trade and prosperity and issues periodic reports and analyses. Figures from the organization showed fully 18% of economic output in member countries being spent on energy after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine helped drive up prices for oil and natural gas. That has confronted the world with an energy crisis on the scale of the two historic energy price spikes in the 1970s that also slowed growth and fueled inflation.

Inflation – largely fueled by high energy prices – “has become broad-based and persistent,” Cormann said, while “real household incomes across many countries have weakened despite support measures that many governments have been rolling out.”

In its latest forecast, OECD predicts that the U.S. Federal Reserve’s aggressive drive to tame inflation with higher interest rates – it’s raised its benchmark rate six times this year, in substantial increments – will grind the U.S. economy to a near-halt. It expects the United States, the world’s largest economy, to grow just 1.8% this year (down drastically from 5.9% in 2021), 0.5% in 2023 and 1% in 2024.

That grim outlook is widely shared. Most economists expect the United States to enter at least a mild recession next year, though the OECD did not specifically predict one.

The report foresees U.S. inflation, though decelerating, to remain well above the Fed’s 2% annual target next year and into 2024.

The OECD’s forecast for the 19 European countries that share the euro currency, which are enduring an energy crisis from Russia’s war, is hardly brighter. The organization expects the eurozone to collectively manage just 0.5% growth next year before accelerating slightly to 1.4% in 2024.

And it expects inflation to continue squeezing the continent: The OECD predicts that consumer prices, which rose just 2.6% in 2021, will jump 8.3% for all of 2022 and 6.8% in 2023.

Whatever growth the international economy produces next year, the OECD says, will come largely from the emerging market countries of Asia: Together, it estimates, they will account for three-quarters of world growth next year while the U.S. and European economies falter. India’s economy, for instance, is expected to grow 6.6% this year and 5.7% next year.

China’s economy, which not long ago boasted double-digit annual growth, will expand just 3.3% this year and 4.6% in 2023. The world’s second-biggest economy has been hobbled by weakness in its real estate markets, high debts and draconian zero-COVID policies that have disrupted commerce.

Fueled by vast government spending and record-low borrowing rates, the world economy soared out of the pandemic recession of early 2020. The recovery was so strong that it overwhelmed factories, ports and freight yards, causing shortages and higher prices. Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February disrupted trade in energy and food and further accelerated prices.

After decades of low prices and ultra-low interest rates, the consequences of chronically high inflation and interest rates are unpredictable.

“Financial strategies put in place during the long period of hyper-low interest rates may be exposed by rapidly rising rates and exert stress in unexpected ways,” the OECD said in Tuesday’s report.

The higher interest rates being engineered by the Fed and other central banks will make it difficult for heavily indebted governments, businesses and consumers to pay their bills. In particular, a stronger U.S. dollar, arising in part from higher U.S. rates, will imperil foreign companies that borrowed in the U.S. currency and may lack the means to repay their now-costlier debt.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


Investor Home Purchases Drop 30% in 3Q

Given home prices and mortgage rates, hordes of RE investors likely won’t be back soon – but fewer first-time buyers also won’t be losing homes to all-cash offers.

SEATTLE – U.S. investor home purchases fell 30.2% year-over-year in the third quarter (3Q) – the largest decline since the Great Recession aside from 2Q 2020 when the nation faced lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report from Redfin. Overall, total home purchases dropped 27.4% in 3Q.

Quarter-to-quarter, investor purchases slumped 26.1%, the largest quarterly decline on record with the exception of the start of the pandemic. Total home purchases were down a relatively lower 17.4%.

As a share of all homebuyers, investor numbers dropped two quarters in a row. They bought roughly 65,000 homes in the metros tracked by Redfin in the third quarter, or 17.5% of all homes purchased. That’s down from 19.5% in the second quarter and 18.2% one year earlier, though it’s still up slightly from roughly 15% before the pandemic.

The typical home investors bought cost $451,975, up 6.4% from one year earlier but down 4.3% from one quarter earlier.

“It’s unlikely that investors will return to the market in a big way anytime soon,” says Redfin Senior Economist Sheharyar Bokhari. “Home prices would need to fall significantly for that to happen.”

However, there’s a silver lining for homebuyers, and notably first-time homebuyers: “This means that regular buyers who are still in the market are no longer facing fierce competition from hordes of cash-rich investors like they were last year,” says Bokhari.

Florida investors remain active

The study found 3Q investors had the highest market share in Jacksonville, where they bought 29.6% of homes purchased, followed by Miami (28.9%). Orlando ranked No. 5 at 26%, with Atlanta (27.6%) third and Las Vegas (26.9%) fourth.

While investor market share is highest in Jacksonville, investors still bought 31.9% fewer properties than they did one year earlier, and a number of investors want to offload properties.

“Almost all of my listings right now are people looking to sell investment properties or second homes,” says local Redfin agent Heather Kruayai. “They want to get rid of them now while they still have some value because they’re scared there’s going to be another big crash.”

Even though Miami ranked high for investors, , it also ranked in the top 10 for the “largest decline in investor purchases.”

“The housing markets that investors are backing out of fastest are those that rose rapidly during the pandemic and are now falling rapidly,” Bokhari says. “That volatility creates a lot of uncertainty, which raises the risk of investors losing money.”

Metros With Largest Declines in Investor Purchases in Q3

  1. Phoenix: 49.5% year-over-year investor decline
  2. Portland, Oregon: Down 47.4%
  3. Las Vegas: Down 47.4%
  4. Sacramento: Down 43.2%
  5. Atlanta: Down 42.2%
  6. Charlotte, North Carolina: Down 41.7%
  7. Miami: Down 37.7%
  8. San Diego: Down 34.5%
  9. Riverside, California: Down 33.8%

© 2022 Florida Realtors®


Gov. Unveils Website for Shelter and Housing Aid

A new website connects Floridians with help if their homes were harmed or destroyed by Hurricane Ian, or they need temporary or permanent repairs.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Ron DeSantis announced a new website, the Unite Florida Recovery Portal, to connect Floridians impacted by Hurricane Ian to important recovery resources, including housing support.

Florida’s state-led sheltering and housing program is available at IanRecovery.fl.gov. It can help with temporary sheltering options – such as travel trailers and recreational vehicles – and temporary or permanent repairs if a household’s needs haven’t been met through insurance or FEMA’s Individual Assistance program.

Residents harmed by Hurricane Ian can also use the portal to report unmet needs, such as ones related to transportation, household items and social services.

“Southwest Floridians have a long road to recovery ahead of them,” says DeSantis. “This recovery portal will assist eligible Floridians with navigating the available support options, including resources available through Florida’s first-of-its-kind state-led sheltering and housing relief program.”

“This innovative recovery portal will allow impacted residents to report their unmet needs, including housing, to aid in restoring the Southwest Florida community and get families back on their feet,” says FDEM Director Kevin Guthrie.

Some aid applicants seeking sheltering and housing assistance may need to register for FEMA Individual Assistance first. Hurricane Ian survivors can apply for FEMA assistance and continuously update their applications by visiting DisasterAssistance.gov, calling (800) 621-3362, using the FEMA app or visiting one of more than 20 open Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs).

IanRecovery.fl.gov resources will also be available in Spanish and Haitian-Creole. Information entered on the website is completely confidential.

For those who need additional assistance completing an application, call (800) 892-0948.

© 2022 Florida Realtors®


‘My Safe Florida Home’ Open for Applications

The program, funded by the Fla. Legislature, offers free wind-mitigation home inspections and up to $10,000 in storm mitigation grants for some Fla. homeowners.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS) announced the launch of the My Safe Florida Home (MSFH) program. It’s now accepting applications for a free wind-mitigation home inspection and, if approved, up to $10,000 in storm mitigation grants for qualified Florida homeowners.

The agency conducted a soft-launch earlier in the month and has already received over 400 applications, according to Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis.

What is the My Safe Florida Home Program?

Passed by the Florida Legislature in 2022, the My Safe Florida Home Program gives eligible Florida homeowners a way to have a free home inspection to identify storm mitigation measures, and grants to retrofit homes and harden properties against storm damage. Mitigation may also help individual homeowners decrease the cost of their residential property insurance.

It has two primary components:

  • Wind mitigation home inspections. All eligible owners of site-built, single-family, residential homes may apply for a wind-mitigation home inspection. The inspection will identify the elements of a home that could be improved to mitigate against future wind damage. All inspections are provided free of charge by the State of Florida. Applications will be reviewed and approved in the order received until current funding is exhausted. (DFS anticipates completing between 140,000 and 145,000 initial home inspections.)
  • Wind Mitigation Grant awards for home construction. Homeowners who received a wind mitigation inspection may be eligible to apply for matching grant funds to make improvements to their home. (DFS anticipates awarding between 11,000 and 12,000 grants based on current funding.)

    DFS will provide a matching grant up to $10,000 toward the actual cost of qualifying home hurricane mitigation projects – $2 in grant funds for every $1 the homeowner provides. To receive the maximum grant of $10,000, homeowners must provide $5,000 of their own funds toward the project. For more information, click here.

How do I apply?

Eligible Florida homeowners can start the My Safe Florida Home application process online at a portal created by the state.

Before applying, however, homeowners should understand the eligibility requirements and begin collecting the documentation they will be required to submit.  to make the application process go smoothly. Full eligibility information is posted on the Florida CFO’s website.

How do I become a MSFH approved contractor?

The Department of Financial Services will provide a list of contractors that have agreed to participate in the program. Applicants must use a contractor from that list.

Contractors who want to join the list of approved contractors can find application instructions posted online.

© 2022 Florida Realtors®


HUD Approves Private Flood Ins. for FHA Loans

Homebuyers with FHA loans for flood-zone homes have more options starting Dec. 21, providing private flood insurance “conforms to FHA requirements.”

WASHINGTON – Starting Dec. 21, 2022, homeowners with FHA mortgage financing for a property in a flood zone aren’t locked into only one flood insurance provider – the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). After that date, they can choose private flood insurance coverage, providing it conforms to the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) requirements for private insurance providers.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the change on Monday with a final rule published in the Federal Register and in a companion Mortgagee Letter, which provides implementation guidance for FHA-approved lenders.

“The choice to select a private flood insurance option may enable some borrowers to obtain policies that are less expensive or provide enhanced coverage,” says Federal Housing Commissioner Julia Gordon.

“The new rule is a victory for consumers, for choice, and for flood coverage that will protect more borrowers and property from the number one natural disaster in the United States,” says National Association of Realtors® (NAR) President Kenny Parcell. “NAR has long advocated for an updated rule to address an inequality with conventional borrowers, and this action will increase the flood insurance choices available to FHA borrowers.”

As part of the new rule’s implementation, FHA requires lenders to provide detailed flood insurance coverage information when electronically submitting mortgages for FHA insurance on properties that require it. HUD says it wants to make sure buyers are protected against flood risk as a key component of its Climate Action Plan.

“The final rule … extends to FHA borrowers more insurance choices that have been available to conventional loan holders,” says Parcell. “The previous FHA rule was written decades ago, when there was no private flood insurance market. … While the FHA rule does not perfectly align with the other federal rules, NAR stands ready to work with HUD to address any remaining differences that could create lender confusion.”

© 2022 Florida Realtors®


Inflation Worries? Homeowners Keep Remodeling

A survey found that only 1% of homeowners cancelled a home improvement project this year, as 37% completed a project and 23% plan to start one.

NEW YORK – A new Houzz Inc. study of nearly 4,000 homeowners found that most plan to move forward with home improvement projects. Only 1% said they had canceled a home improvement project this year.

Of those surveyed, 37% completed a project in 2022, and 23% plan to start one within the next 12 months.

Of those planning to begin a home improvement project in the next year, 67% want to stay in their current home rather than purchase another one, and planned changes will help their current home meet their needs.

When homeowners planning a future improvement project were asked about a timeline, 58% said they plan to begin in January 2023 or earlier.

When asked about projects, 37% plan to renovate bathrooms and 33% plan to renovate the kitchen. Of those, 91% plan to hire a professional.

The median cost of planned improvements is about $25,000.

About one in 10 homeowners (11%) would like to start a home improvement project but have decided to put it off. They have a range of reasons including:

  • Inflation (54%)
  • Unable to afford the project currently (39%)
  • Non-urgent project (30%)
  • Shortages of products and materials (28%)
  • Still searching for the right professional to hire (23%)

Source: Realty Biz News (11/11/2022) Gervis, Allison

© Copyright 2022 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Congress Asked for $30B in Aid for Fla., Puerto Rico

Pres. Biden requested over $37B in disaster relief, with about $29.6B of that directed at Fla. and Puerto Rico for devastation following Hurricanes Ian and Fiona.

MIAMI – President Joe Biden is asking Congress to allocate over $37 billion in aid for Florida, Puerto Rico and other parts of the country recently affected by natural disasters, less than two weeks before the official end of the 2022 hurricane season.

The Biden administration’s push for disaster relief comes alongside its recent request for additional COVID-19 funds and aid to Ukraine, as Congress reconvenes to pass a spending bill to fund the U.S. government for the rest of the fiscal year by Dec. 16.

“The President has visited many of these communities in recent months, including parts of Florida and Puerto Rico that have been devastated by Hurricanes Ian and Fiona,” said Dhara Nayyar, White House regional communications director. “We need to help our communities recover and rebuild from extreme weather events and natural disasters.”

The aid for Florida and Puerto Rico, about $29.6 billion, would include funding to compensate farmers for damaged crops, assist fisheries impacted by Hurricanes Fiona and Ian, fix road and bridge damage and provide social services. It includes about $3.1 billion in grants and direct assistance for Puerto Rico’s energy grid.

The largest portion is a proposed $15 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to fund “ongoing response and short- to medium-term recovery efforts” and payments to National Flood Insurance Program policyholders.

The requested disaster aid would include money for other natural disasters, including flood relief for Kentucky, and damage relief for Alaska after former typhoon Merbok hit in September.

Hurricane Ian hit Florida on Sept. 28, mostly affecting the southwestern part of the state and bringing life-threatening floods into Central Florida. Hurricane Fiona, meanwhile, made landfall in Puerto Rico on Sept. 18.

© 2022 Miami Herald. Visit miamiherald.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.