Category Archives: Florida Real Estate News (Reprinted with permission Florida Realtors. All rights reserved.)

What Do 7% Mortgage Rates Mean for Homebuyers?

Some discouraged buyers should stop looking for their “forever home” and start looking for their “get my foot in the door to start building equity” home.

NEW YORK – The average rate on the standard 30-year fixed mortgage rose to 7.09%, according to Freddie Mac’s latest weekly survey. Some experts say that’s close to an expected high and predict that they’ll drop at least a bit by the end of the year.

But some expect rates to remain high for a longer time.

Financial advisers say homebuyers shouldn’t bet on future rates and try to time the market because no source can accurately predict what will happen. Instead of trying to bet on the direction of rates, potential homebuyers should focus on what they can control, such as their budgets and choice of property.

As rates rise, potential buyers may need to adjust their price range downward, if they have not done so already. It also helps to be flexible and willing to make compromises, such as forgoing a third bathroom or buying outside of a preferred location, says Aniva Hinduja, general manager of home and mortgage at Credit Karma.

“Your house doesn’t have to be your ‘forever home,’”  adds financial adviser Brian Seay. He says buyers can settle for their best option now and plan to trade up later.

Buyers should also focus on the monthly payments. Financing a $440,000 home with a 20% down payment at a 7% mortgage rate would mean a monthly mortgage payment of approximately $2,300, while a 6% mortgage rate would save a buyer about $200 a month. Some buyers who initially balked at the idea of a 7% mortgage may realize the difference in their monthly payment compared with a 6% mortgage they also ignored because they thought it was too high.

If that 7% rate is manageable but, say, a 7.5% rate is not, it’s likely best to buy now, especially if they have a stay-in-place timeline of at least five years and an option to either move up or refinance sometime down the road.

Source: Wall Street Journal (08/16/23) Dagher, Veronica

© Copyright 2023 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Realtor Safety Tip: Wear Insect Repellant

Mosquito-borne illnesses have spiked in Florida – dengue, malaria, chikungunya and West Nile Virus – due largely to an international visitor increase.

MIAMI – This year’s spike in international travel has brought more than 200 cases of mosquito-borne illnesses to Florida, including dengue, malaria, chikunguny and West Nile Virus.

When it comes to dengue fever, most of the reported cases in 2023 are Floridians with a travel history to Cuba. So far this year, 130 travelers to Cuba were confirmed with dengue shortly after their return to Florida. In total, 190 cases of dengue have been reported in 2023 by Floridians with travel history to a dengue-endemic areas, including Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Bolivia and the Dominican Republic. Just in the week ending Aug. 5 alone, 43 cases of dengue were reported in people who had traveled internationally, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Peru is suffering its worst-ever recorded outbreak of dengue. So far this year, nearly 150,000 Peruvians have come down with the disease, according to the Pan American Health Organization.

South Florida is the area of the state where most cases of dengue are clustered. Miami-Dade has the majority of the international travelers who returned with dengue fever in 2023 with 114 cases; Broward has had 13 cases and Palm Beach has had six cases in 2023.

In a rarer scenario, Florida has 10 locally acquired cases in dengue. Broward and Miami-Dade Counties have two in each county. That means the disease is flourishing on its own in the area.

“Dengue is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito and is not normally present in Florida. However, infected travelers can bring the virus back to Florida mosquitoes,” the Florida Department of Health-Broward said in a health alert.

There are four types of dengue, and people can be infected with each type throughout their lifetime.

“As long we have good mosquito control, we should be able to control the spread of these diseases in Florida, but we have to stay vigilant,” said Aileen Marty, an expert in infectious disease with Florida International University. “One of the things people don’t realize is the impact of heat on mosquitoes and what they carry. When it’s hot, the life cycle of mosquitoes gets short, so there can be a whole new crop once a week. Each mosquito builds up high quantities of virus in less time.”

Health officials say you can protect yourself from dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases by using insect repellent. Products with concentrations of up to 30% DEET are generally recommended along with repellents that contain picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or IR3535.

According to Florida health officials, dengue fever can be painful but is rarely fatal. Symptoms appear three to14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito and include sudden onset of fever, severe headache, eye pain, muscle and joint pain, and bleeding. Gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea may also be present in some cases.

At Cleveland Clinic Florida in Weston, Dr. Aisha Subhani, chair of the emergency department, has had patients arrive this summer with dengue fever after traveling to Latin America. “They have traveled and come back with headaches, fever … not feeling well. We test them for antibodies,” she said.

“We had a whole family who tested positive for dengue,” she said. “They didn’t need to be hospitalized. It’s not contagious.”

Other mosquito-borne diseases

In addition to dengue, international travel also is associated with 35 cases of malaria reported in Florida this year. The travelers had been to areas such as Ghana, Nicaragua, Nigeria and Honduras.

Earlier this summer, the state health department alerted Floridians that seven cases of locally acquired malaria also had been reported in Florida in Sarasota County.

Symptoms of malaria are fever, body aches, headaches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

The other two types of mosquito-borne diseases have been less common this year. In 2023, one case of West Nile Virus illness acquired in Florida was reported in Escambia County in July and one case of chikungunya was reported in Lee County in a person who had traveled to Brazil.

© 2023 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


1 in 3 For-Sale Homes Are Newly Built

Of all homes buyers could consider in the second quarter, 31.4% were new construction – the highest 2Q percentage on record. Pre-pandemic it was 17%.

SEATTLE – Newly built homes made up nearly one-third (31.4%) of all single-family home listings on the market nationwide in the second quarter, according to a report from Redfin, the highest share of any second quarter on record though down from the first quarter of 2023.

The portion of new homes of all inventory is up from 30.3% a year earlier – a 1.1 percentage point increase – and nearly double the pre-pandemic share of about 17% in the second quarter of 2019.

The second quarter’s share is down from a near-record-high of 33.6% the previous quarter, however, but Redfin calls that “a normal seasonal pattern, as the share of new homes tends to peak in the winter months.”

In Florida’s Lakeland metro area, 2Q 2023 saw a drop in new-construction homes as a percent of all listings, the only state metro area to see a drop. In other Florida metros, the year-to-year increase in new-home listings varied from a 0.2 percentage-point, year-to-year increase up to 2.3 percentage points in West Palm Beach.

Florida metro year-to-year changes in new-home listings 2Q 2022-2023

  • Cape Coral: 26.6% to 27.22%, a 0.6 percentage point increase
  • Fort Lauderdale: 4.4% to 4.6%, a 0.2 point increase
  • Jacksonville: 4.4% to 4.6%, a 0.2 point increase
  • Lakeland: 32.2% to 29.06%, a 2.6-point decrease
  • Miami: 5.7% to 8.1%, a 2.4-point increase
  • North Port: 25.3% to 25.8%, a 0.5-point increase
  • Orlando: 19.3% to 19.6%, a 0.3-point increase
  • Tampa: 17.4% to 18.4%, a 1.0-point increase
  • West Palm Beach: 6.1% to 8.4%, a 2.3-point increase

Why the big increase in new homes?

  • The pandemic-fueled homebuilding boom. Builders rushed to capitalize on the pandemic homebuying frenzy in 2021 and early 2022, driven by record-low mortgage rates and remote work.
  • Lack of existing homes on the market. Builders aren’t constructing as many new single-family homes as they were at the height of the pandemic – but so few homeowners are putting their homes on the market that new homes still make up a huge share of available inventory. Total for-sale housing inventory dropped 15% year-to-year to an all-time low in June.
  • Leftover inventory. Because elevated mortgage rates slowed homebuying demand, builders haven’t offloaded all the new homes they completed over the last few years. Although buyers made a dent in the glut of new-construction homes on the market over the last several months, there are still plenty of new homes available. The number of newly built single-family homes for sale was up 4.5% year-over-year in June, compared with an 18% drop for existing homes.

“Builders are still building but homeowners aren’t selling, so new construction is the only option for many buyers,” says Shauna Pendleton, a Redfin Premier agent in Boise, ID, where new homes made up nearly 40% of single-family inventory in the second quarter. “A lot of buyers want to secure a home now because they’re worried prices are going to go back up, and new construction is more plentiful with perks that are hard to pass up. One builder is doing a promotion where buyers get anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000 worth of concessions. It was supposed to end in June, but they extended it through July, and now they’re extending it through August. That money can cover all of a buyer’s appliances with money left over for a mortgage-rate buydown.”

Metro-level highlights: Q2 2023

  • Metros where new construction is most prevalent: Newly built homes made up more than half (52%) of single-family homes for sale in El Paso, Texas, the biggest share of the metros in this analysis. It’s followed by Omaha, Nebraska (46%); Raleigh, North Carolina (42.1%); Oklahoma City (39%); and Boise, Idaho (38%). New construction is typically prevalent in parts of the country with sprawling land and loose building codes.
  • Metros where new construction is least prevalent: Newly built homes made up just 2.8% of single-family homes for sale in Honolulu, the smallest share of the metros in this analysis. Next come San Diego (3.3%); Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (3.3%); Oxnard, California (3.7%); and Detroit (3.8%). New construction tends to be relatively uncommon in California because of limited land and strict regulations.
  • Metros with the biggest uptick in newly built homes: New homes made up 33% of single-family inventory in Tulsa, Oklahoma, up from 20% a year earlier. That’s the biggest jump of the metros in this analysis. It’s followed by Richmond, Virginia (35%, up from 23%); Albany, New York (24%, up from 13%),; Phoenix (26%, up from 15%); and Elgin, Illinois (25%, up from 15%).
  • Metros with the biggest declines in newly built homes: Boise saw the biggest year-over-year decline by far, with new homes making up 38.3% of inventory, down from 49% a year earlier. It’s followed by Austin, Texas (30.4%, down from 34.5%); Honolulu (2.8%, down from 6.4%); Allentown, Pennsylvania (14.9%, down from 18.5%); and Houston (35.3%, down from 38.5%).

© 2023 Florida Realtors®


Direct Mailers, Social Media, More? Use Them All

Inventory is low and many current homeowners with low mortgage rates aren’t budging. In marketing, it’s time to cast a wide net.

LAS VEGAS – On the first day of the Inman Connect event in Las Vegas, top realty agents revealed their strategies for managing the stubborn problem of low inventory. Nneka Jenkins with Onyx Wealth Realty told the audience that maintaining an “authentic” presence on social media cultivates trust and keeps agents top of mind with regular followers, who eventually reach out when ready to do business.

At the same time, she backed the value of direct mailers, which she said should be to the point and include a clear call to action to be effective.

Coldwell Banker’s Brett Matsuura agreed with the significant potential of direct mailers, especially in appealing to those current owners who must move due to personal circumstances.

Both panelists, who shared the stage with moderator Liz Gehringer of Anywhere Franchise Brands, also emphasized how working with a mentor, coach, or trainer can lead to more business opportunities.

Source: Inman (08/08/23) Dickerson, Lillian

© Copyright 2023 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Judge Refuses to Block Foreign Ownership Law

Plaintiffs asked for an injunction on the law until a court could fully consider the case, but the judge turned down their request.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A federal judge Thursday refused to block a new Florida law that restricts people from China from owning property in the state, saying plaintiffs are unlikely to be able to show the measure was motivated by discrimination or lacks a “rational basis.”

U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor issued a 51-page decision denying a request by four Chinese people and a real-estate brokerage that serves Chinese clients for a preliminary injunction against the law, which Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Republican-controlled Legislature approved this spring.

The lawsuit, which has been supported by the U.S. Department of Justice, contends that the land-ownership restrictions violate constitutional equal-protection rights and the federal Fair Housing Act and are trumped by federal law. But in denying the injunction request, Winsor said plaintiffs had not “shown a substantial likelihood of success” on the issues.

The case centers on part of the law that prevents people “domiciled” in China from purchasing property in Florida, with some exceptions. Such people each would be allowed to purchase one residential property up to two acres if the property is not within five miles of a military base and they have non-tourist visas. Three of the plaintiffs are in the United States on visas, while one is seeking asylum.

Winsor wrote that U.S. Supreme Court precedents have “held that states could deny aliens ownership interests in land within their respective borders absent an arbitrary or unreasonable basis.” He also indicated a key is that the “law classifies based on where an alien is domiciled.”

“It does not facially discriminate against noncitizens based on race or ancestry. It does not discriminate against noncitizens based on ‘the particular country in which one was born,’” Winsor wrote, partially quoting a Supreme Court precedent. “So contrary to plaintiffs’ arguments, the challenged law is facially neutral as to race and national origin. It would apply to a person of Chinese descent domiciled in China the same way it would apply to a person not of Chinese descent domiciled in China. And its application would never turn on a person’s race.”

Winsor, who was appointed to the federal bench by former President Donald Trump, also wrote that the plaintiffs had not “shown a substantial likelihood that unlawful animus motivated the Legislature” in passing the measure (SB 264).

“The most relevant impact-related evidence that plaintiffs offer are legislative committee reports,” he wrote. “At best, however, these reports evince awareness of the consequences for aliens domiciled in China. ‘Discriminatory purpose’ requires more than that. And as to race and national origin, the reports do not even show any awareness of consequences for those of Chinese descent or those born in China. As for the statements from the governor or legislators, none evinces racial animus or any intent to discriminate based on race or where someone was born. Nor do they show any intent to discriminate against Chinese citizens ‘because of’ their Chinese citizenship. Instead, the statements are consistent with motivations independent of any protected traits.”

During the legislative session, DeSantis and Republican lawmakers pointed to a need to curb the influence of the Chinese government and Chinese Communist Party in Florida.

State Solicitor General Henry Whitaker told Winsor during a hearing last month that the law is designed to protect the security of Florida.

“The state is concerned with the influence of the Chinese Community Party and their agents in Florida,” Whitaker said.

But Ashley Gorski, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney representing the plaintiffs, said during the hearing that the state has relied on “pernicious stereotypes” to conflate people from China with the Chinese government.

The overall law affects people from what Florida calls “foreign countries of concern” – China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela and Syria, with the disputed part specifically focusing on people from China who are not U.S. citizens or permanent U.S. residents.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are not part of the Chinese government or members of the Communist Party, according to a U.S. Justice Department filing in June.

The Justice Department filed what is known as a “statement of interest” contending the law violates equal-protection rights and the Fair Housing Act.

“These unlawful provisions will cause serious harm to people simply because of their national origin, contravene federal civil rights laws, undermine constitutional rights, and will not advance the state’s purported goal of increasing public safety,” Justice Department attorneys wrote.

The overall law prevents people from the seven “foreign countries of concern” from buying agricultural land and property near military bases. Those parts of the law apply to people who are not U.S. citizens or permanent U.S. residents.

Additional information:

© 2023 The News Service of Florida. All rights reserved.


Builders Still Feel Good About Multifamily Market

In NAHB’s multifamily production index, any number above 50 means attitudes are more positive than negative, and in 2Q, it was 56 for the second quarter in a row.

WASHINGTON – Builders’ confidence about the market for new multifamily housing was in positive territory for the second quarter in a row, according to results from the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) Multifamily Market Survey (MMS).

Two indices make up the complete MMS: The Multifamily Production Index (MPI) had a reading of 56 for the second quarter, while the Multifamily Occupancy Index (MOI) reading was 89.

Multifamily Production Index (MPI)

The MPI measures sentiment about current production conditions in the apartment and condo market on a scale of 0 to 100, with 50 the break-even point – anything above means builders lean toward optimism more than pessimism, with the opposite true for any number below 50. At 56 in the second quarter of 2023, builders are notably optimistic.

The MPI is a weighted average of four key market segments: three in the built-for-rent market (garden/low-rise, mid/high-rise and subsidized) plus the built-for-sale (or condominium) market. The survey asks multifamily builders to rate the current conditions as “good,” “fair” or “poor” for multifamily starts in markets where they are active.

For the second quarter, the component measuring:

  • garden/low-rise units had a reading of 64
  • mid/high-rise units had a reading of 47
  • subsidized units had a reading of 55
  • built-for-sale units had a reading of 45

Multifamily Occupancy Index (MOI)

The MOI measures the multifamily housing industry’s perception of occupancies in existing apartments, using the same 0 to 100 rating scale with 50 the midpoint.

The MOI is a weighted average of three built-for-rent market segments (garden/low-rise, mid/high-rise and subsidized). The survey asks multifamily builders to rate the current conditions for occupancy of existing rental apartments in markets where they are active as “good,” “fair” or “poor.”

For the second quarter, the component measuring:

  • garden/low-rise units had a reading of 91
  • mid/high-rise units had a reading of 83
  • subsidized units had a reading of 91

NAHB redesigned the MMS in the first quarter of 2023. It’s now easier to interpret and similar to the monthly NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for single-family housing. However, the change makes any comparison to previous year’s numbers misleading. Still, the updated version asked builders and developers to compare current local market conditions as “better,” “about the same” or “worse,” and 70% said the market is “about the same” as it was three months earlier.

“Multifamily housing demand remains solid, however, there are headwinds limiting new development in many parts of the country,” says Lance Swank, chairman of NAHB’s Multifamily Council. “Reduced availability of credit for new construction, problems getting projects approved and significant increases in operating expenses are hampering new multifamily development. Property, casualty and liability insurance has emerged as a major issue facing the multifamily industry, further constraining new supply.”

NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz says the multifamily market is being supported by tight inventory and high cost of existing single-family homes.

“On balance, we forecast that multifamily starts will decline during the second half of 2023 due to tight financing conditions and local concerns over supply,” Dietz says.

© 2023 Florida Realtors®


Warren Buffet Believes in New-Home Market’s Future

Buffet’s company spent $700M to buy DR Horton stock and lesser amounts for two other builders, suggesting the investment guru sees profits via the new-home industry.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Warren Buffett’s company appears to be betting on the housing market picking up because Berkshire Hathaway bought more than $700 million worth of homebuilder DR Horton’s stock this spring, along with smaller stakes in fellow builders Lennar Corp. and NVR Corp.

Berkshire revealed those new investments Monday in a quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that shows the conglomerate’s holdings as of the end of June.

Investors always watch Berkshire’s moves closely because of Buffett’s remarkably successful track record over the years, but these filings don’t make clear which moves Buffett made and which ones were handled by one of the Omaha, Nebraska-based company’s two other investment managers.

Buffett typically handles all the biggest investments in the $350 billion portfolio worth $1 billion or more. The three homebuilder stakes together are worth around $800 million.

Berkshire holds nearly 6 million DR Horton shares, 152,572 Lennar shares and 11,112 NVR shares.

Buffett’s company made a number of other tweaks to its portfolio during the second quarter including reducing the size of its General Motors and Globe Life stakes while adding to its Capital One investment.

Berkshire almost halved its GM stake from 40 million shares to 22 million. And it reduced its Globe Life investment to 2.5 million shares from the previous quarter’s nearly 6.4 million.

Berkshire Hathaway now owns nearly 12.5 million Capital One shares, up from 9.9 million in March.

Buffett’s company also eliminated smaller investments in Marsh & McClennan, McKesson Corp. and Vitesse Energy.

Berkshire’s biggest holdings in Apple and Bank of America stock remained unchanged.

Several of Berkshire’s other moves in the quarter were previously disclosed including adding even more Occidental Petroleum shares, reducing its Chevron stake and unloading most of the Activision Blizzard it shares Buffett bought as a bet that Microsoft’s acquisition of that video game maker would go through.

In addition to its stock portfolio, Berkshire owns dozens of businesses outright including BNSF railroad, several major utilities and an assortment of insurance companies led by Geico. It also owns a number of manufacturing and retail firms such as Precision Castparts, See’s Candy and Helzberg Diamonds.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


Mortgage Rates Top 7% – Highest Level in 2 Decades

A 30-year, fixed-rate loan averaged 7.09% this week, its highest level since it was 7.13% in April 2002. It also exceeds a high of 7.08% hit last fall.

WASHINGTON – The average long-term U.S. mortgage rate jumped this week to its highest level in 20 years, grim news for would-be homebuyers already facing high home prices caused by a lack of supply.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the benchmark 30-year home loan jumped to 7.09% from 6.96% last week. That’s the highest since April of 2002, when the average rate clocked in at 7.13%.

The average long-term rate hit 7.08% in late October and again in early November.

One year ago, the rate averaged 5.13%.

“The economy continues to do better than expected and the 10-year Treasury yield has moved up, causing mortgage rates to climb,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Demand has been impacted by affordability headwinds, but low inventory remains the root cause of stalling home sales.”

The average rate on a 30-year mortgage remains more than double what it was two years ago, when it was just 2.86%. Those ultra-low rates spurred a wave of home sales and refinancing. The sharply higher rates now are contributing to a dearth of available homes, as homeowners who locked in those lower borrowing costs two years ago are now reluctant to sell and jump into a higher rate on a new property.

The average rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, popular with those refinancing their homes, climbed to 6.46% from 6.34% last week. A year ago, it averaged 4.55%, Freddie Mac said.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


RE Q&A: Can HOA Make Us Remove a Political Sign?

A resident told to take down a political candidate sign suspects it’s due to the candidate more than the sign. Do political signs have any constitutional protection?

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Question: Our homeowners association told us we must remove the lawn sign supporting our favored politician, or we will be fined. This does not feel right to us, and we think it is due to a board member not liking our candidate. Is this even constitutional? – Katherine

Answer: I get this question every few years as the election cycle heats up, and people want to show their support. With politics being what it is, there are bound to be feelings for your choice and against the opposite candidate. People like to show their support, often wearing hats and t-shirts, putting stickers on their cars, and signs on their lawns. The First Amendment to the Constitution, and most state constitutions, protect us from the government restricting political expression.

However, although a community association can often feel governmental, it is a private organization that its members join by voluntarily buying property in the community. When someone purchases their home within a condominium or other community association, they agree to the contractual restrictions that govern the community.

This is one of the many reasons to review a prospective property’s declaration and restrictions before buying in that community.

Your association’s leadership must also follow the rules you agreed to abide by. A board member, or even the entire board, cannot make new rules without following the correct procedures, often including a membership vote.

The letter you received is not enforceable if the rules do not ban yard signs. Community rules must be uniformly applied, and they cannot ban signs from one candidate while allowing another. This also means that all yard signs must be banned, not just political ones.

Either signs are acceptable in your community – be they for a politician, a sports team, or a garage sale – or they are not. The board may not pick and choose.

If you do not live in a community association or your association does not have these restrictions, you may place signs that follow local and state laws. A 30-foot billboard is a no-go, while a typical yard sign would be okay.

Finally, remember that no matter how much you hate the opposing candidate or sports team, taking down your neighbor’s offending sign is illegal.

Copyright © South Florida Sun Sentinel, Gary M. Singer. All rights reserved.


Bricks-to-Clicks Shift Is Reshaping Real Estate

Some veteran Realtors can live off referrals, but the industry’s digital transformation – AI chatbots, virtual tours, data analytics – favors agents with tech expertise.

NEW YORK – There is a shakeout underway in the post-pandemic real estate market, warns Atman Real Estate CEO Victoria Kennedy, with digital transformation at the core.

It seems realty companies that welcome new tech things – virtual reality property tours, enhanced data analytics for market insights, artificial intelligence-driven chatbots for customer service and other innovations – may be better positioned to emerge as winners once the dust settles.

The reason, according to Kennedy, is that businesses working with these newer tech tools to meet the needs of the growing online customer community will have the tools they need to take customer experience to the next level, optimize operations and increase profit. Real estate firms that lag on technology adoption are likely to miss these growth opportunities and may eventually even lose relevance along with their competitive edge.

To avoid this, Kennedy recommends that real estate agents and brokers embrace tech literacy, host a robust professional website for their business, and establish a broad overall footprint online.

Source: Inman (08/03/23) Kennedy, Victoria

© Copyright 2023 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


HUD Spending $73M to Help Homeless Veterans

The money will go to public housing agencies that assist homeless vets. HUD estimates that the money will help move 7,500 more former service members off the streets.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the Fiscal Year 2023 HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Summer Registration of Interest, which makes available approximately $73 million for Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) to assist homeless veterans.

HUD estimates the funding will support up to 7,500 new HUD-VASH vouchers. The funding includes $33 million in carryover funds available to award non-competitively and $40 million recently appropriated through the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 (Public Law 117-328).

“HUD-VASH has been integral to the progress we have made to reduce and ultimately end veteran homelessness. Thanks to HUD-VASH, thousands of former service members no longer have to worry about having a safe place to call home,” said HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “I encourage eligible Public Housing Agencies across the country to apply for the HUD-VASH Summer Registration of Interest to continue the success of national efforts to place veterans experiencing homelessness into housing.”

As in prior years, PHAs will be provided an opportunity to self-identify interest in receiving vouchers. Interested PHAs are required to provide written letters of support from their partnering VA Medical Centers to be considered.

The FY2023 Summer HUD-VASH ROI will close at midnight in the time zone of the local PHA on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023.

The HUD-VASH program for veterans experiencing homelessness combines HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance with case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs. VA provides these services for participating veterans at VA medical centers, community-based outreach clinics, through VA contractors, or through other VA designated service providers.

© Copyright © 2023 Lassen County Times, All rights reserved.


Florida Realtors Honors 2023 Award Winners

ORLANDO, Fla. – Aug. 17, 2023 – Florida Realtors® recognized Christina Pappas, 2022 Florida Realtors president, as its 2023 Realtor of the Year. The award – one of several – was presented Thursday during the state association’s annual Convention & Trade Expo at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla.

The Realtor audience applauded as Pappas accepted the award from 2023 President G. Mike McGraw.

“It is really, really an honor to receive such an incredible award, but it’s due to all of you, to all of us working together,” she said. “It takes a village, and you were all a wonderful village. Working together, we’ve been able to accomplish so much.”

Pappas added, “As The Keyes Co. founder, Ken Keyes, always said, ‘Give the world the best that you have and the best will come back to you.’ Thank you.”

Florida Realtors has presented Realtor of the Year and Associate Realtor of the Year awards for 71 years. Winners are honored as the greatest individual lifetime contributors to their local Realtor board, community, state association and the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).

As a third-generation Realtor, Pappas grew up with the real estate profession. She’s dedicated to making a positive impact on the industry and helping her Realtor colleagues. A long-time member and leader of the Miami Association of Realtors®, she currently serves on its Corporate Board.

In 2015, she became the youngest person to ever serve as president of Miami’s Young Professionals Network (YPN) Leadership Board and was honored as the Miami YPN of the Year for her efforts in creating new events and seminars under her leadership. Then in 2017, Pappas became the Miami Realtors’ residential president.

After Hurricane Irma made landfall, Pappas helped lead the way as local association leaders quickly mobilized to help communities hit hard in the lower Florida Keys that September. Miami Realtors and many South Florida brokerages, including Pappas’ firm, The Keyes Company, held donation events to collect items to support those impacted by Irma – and then Miami Realtors and other Realtor groups got a plane to deliver the items to the Florida Keys that next day.

A leader in regional, state and national real estate organizations, Pappas has served or chaired many committees, was the 2016 vice president for District 4 and in every officer position for Florida Realtors, leading to being its 2022 president – the youngest elected president in the state association’s history.

Under her leadership as Florida Realtors president, the state association focused on “Building Up Business,” with the goals of boosting advocacy efforts, encouraging leadership, adopting new technology and encouraging diversity and inclusion. At the national level, she previously was a National Association of Realtors (NAR) director for several years as well as a NAR liaison. Currently, she serves on the Realtor Property Resource (RPR) Board of Directors and the Broker Public Portal.

In the community, Pappas is a Cornell Alumni Admissions ambassador, on the executive committee for the United Way Young Leaders and a former Young President’s/World President’s Organization Next Generation Liaison for Miami. She also is a staunch supporter of the Women’s Council of Realtors, having served WCR in several leadership roles.

Pappas has earned accolades for her leadership and business acumen, including the Swanepoel Power 200 list for the nation’s real estate leaders in 2023; the South Florida Business Journal’s Influential Business Women and 40 Under 40 awards; the 2022 RealTrends Emerging Leaders; and as a RisMedia Real Estate Newsmaker in 2018 and 2021.

Throughout her career, Pappas has demonstrated her service, commitment and dedication to her profession, to her fellow Realtors and to her community.

Associate Realtor of the Year

Florida Realtors honored Mari Colgan of Greater Tampa Realtors as Associate Realtor of the Year for 2022. A real estate professional for over 24 years, Colgan has long supported the real estate industry and her profession, sharing her leadership and experience by serving on countless committees at her local association, Florida Realtors and the National Association of Realtors.

As the Tampa association’s 2018 president, she was pivotal in facilitating the merger between the East Pasco Association of Realtors and Greater Tampa Realtors. Along with that challenge, she helped create the association’s new logo and develop its revamped branding. She also spearheaded the remodeling of the Tampa headquarters, affectionately referring to it as the “members’ house” – which is still the office’s nickname among Tampa Realtors. In 2020, she received the highly regarded District 6 Vernon Taylor Award, which recognizes her outstanding service and contributions to the real estate profession.

Colgan has been a Crystal R and Sterling R major investor in the Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC), which proves her commitment to investing in the future of the real estate profession. While serving as the key contact for U.S. and state legislative leaders, she has established relationships with influential policymakers, advocating for the voice of Realtors to be heard at the highest levels.

In 2021, as chair of the state Convention Committee during a year when pandemic fears and lockdown issues were easing, she helped ensure the success of a new hybrid online and in-person convention format for Florida Realtors’ members.

Colgan served as a NAR director for six years. She also participated in Florida Realtors’ NAR Director Mentee/Mentor program as one of the “Elite Eight” in 2019, thus gaining the opportunity to work with national leaders for the real estate industry and valuable insight into how NAR operates.

Her involvement in her community spans numerous years and organizations, including the Student Advisory Council of McDonald Elementary, The Salvation Army Rehabilitation Advisory Council and her church. A dedicated Realtor, Colgan leads by example and demonstrates her commitment to her profession and her community.

Realtor Achievement Award

Fernando Arencibia Jr., a member of the Miami Association of Realtors, was named the winner of Florida Realtors 2023 Realtor Achievement Award, which recognizes a Realtor who serves as manager, broker of record or officer in his or her company. The award acknowledges the winner’s previous three years’ contributions to the community, local, state and national Realtor associations.

Arencibia’s many contributions to his local association include being part of the Miami Commercial leadership team in 2019 that launched South Florida’s only commercial multiple listing service (MLS) and consumer portal. Then as 2020 president of the Miami Commercial division, he helped form new commercial partnerships with products and services that continue to benefit local members. He currently serves on the Miami Realtors Building Advisory Board, which is overseeing construction of the association’s new global headquarters.

Arencibia is a member of the board of directors for Florida Realtors and the National Association of Realtors; and has served on multiple professional committees at the state, national and local levels. Currently, he is the 2023 chair of the Florida Realtors Commercial Committee and serves on the NAR Commercial Real Estate Research Advisory Board.

As the state association’s commercial chair, he has helped create quarterly meetings between Florida Realtors Commercial and the Florida chapter presidents and presidents-elect of commercial institutes and partners, such as the Certified Commercial Institute Member (CCIM), and the Specialist in Industrial and Office Real Estate (SIOR), and other key commercial leaders.

A Crystal R major investor in the Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC), Arencibia believes in investing in his profession and supporting advocacy efforts.

In service to his local community, he volunteers his time and talents to several organizations. Arencibia is a founding member and the current vice president of the Miami High School Alumni Professional Society (MHS Maps) since 2011. A member of the board of trustees for the D. Rafael Penalver Clinic in Little Havana since 2018, he currently serves as its treasurer.

Commercial Realtor Achievement Award

In a first for Florida Realtors, Fernando Arencibia Jr. was honored with a second award during the same year – he has also received the state association’s 2023 Commercial Realtor Achievement Award, which honors a Realtor’s lifetime of contributions to commercial activities at the local, state and national levels.

Arencibia has long supported and advocated for commercial real estate and commercial Realtors during a 20-plus career of specializing in commercial and high-end investment real estate. In 2020, he served as the Miami association’s commercial president and was named its 2020 Commercial Realtor of the Year; he was also honored in 2018 as its Commercial Leader of the Year.

Miami Commercial is the commercial division of the Miami Association of Realtors. One of the largest commercial boards in the country, it currently has 3,200 commercial members.

Arencibia was lauded by his local board for his “forward-thinking ideas and contributions that have helped revolutionize Miami Commercial into one of the most innovative boards in the nation. Miami Commercial recently achieved the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) highest commercial distinction – a 2022-2023 Diamond Level Commercial Services Accreditation – and Fernando laid the groundwork for such a prestigious accreditation.”

For example, in 2019, he was part of the Miami Commercial leadership team that launched what is South Florida’s only commercial multiple listing service (MLS) and commercial public portal, SouthFloridaCommericalPropertySearch.com.

At the state level, he has been an active member of numerous Florida Realtors’ committees, currently chairs Florida Realtors Commercial Committee and serves as vice chair of the Public Policy Committee.

Last year, Arencibia was instrumental in the creation of a dedicated webpage for commercial real estate on floridarealtors.org, Florida Realtors’ member website. Among other accomplishments, in 2023, he led the initiative for Florida Realtors to partner with NAR’s Realtor Property Resource (RPR) to create a co-branded, stand-alone webpage of all Florida commercial listings that is now live on floridarealtors.org.

Nationally, he has served as an NAR director since 2019 and was a member of the NAR Commercial Committee from 2019-2022. He is a current member of NAR’s Commercial Real Estate Research Advisory Board. Since 2021 when NAR launched the C5 Summit, its annual commercial real estate conference, Arencibia has been a trusted advisor for the event. In 2019, he was honored with NAR’s Commercial Award and was again recognized with the national (NAR) Commercial Award in 2021.

Newcomer of the Year Award

Winning Florida Realtors Newcomer Award for 2023 was Spencer Rigsby, a member of the Naples Area Board of Realtors (NABOR). The Newcomer Award recognizes someone who entered the Realtor profession within the past three years, and, during that time, made notable contributions to the local and state associations, as well as to his or her community.

Since she joined NABOR in 2021, Rigsby seeks involvement and growth within her local association. She has invested in her profession through the Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC). A member of NABOR’s Community Involvement Committee for the past two years, Rigsby currently serves as the committee vice chair. She was the 2022 subcommittee chair for NABOR’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade; that year she also received the Member Spotlight Award for outstanding contributions to the Community Involvement Committee.

A graduate of NABOR’s Leadership Academy in 2022, Rigsby completed a community service project for a local charity, Project HELP, as part of her leadership training. Project HELP is a nonprofit staffed by professional counselors and advocates who work with those affected by sexual violence, sudden death and other crimes to offer counseling, empowerment and healing for their recovery. In the Naples community, Rigsby volunteers her time and talents to numerous causes, including helping local schools, organizing school supply drives and holiday drives, as well as serving as vice president of the board for local charity Beverly’s Angels.

Rigsby received NABOR’s Realtor Rising Star Award in 2022.

Humanitarian of the Year

Proving that Realtors make a difference, Robert Thomson, a member of the Palm Beach Board of Realtors, was named the 2023 Humanitarian of the Year by Florida Realtors. He has long supported Big Dog Ranch Rescue, which helps dogs and military veterans.

Thomson was instrumental in helping Big Dog Ranch start training to pair service dogs with veterans to help with post-traumatic shock disorder (PTSD). He serves as vice president of the board and kickstarted a massive fundraising effort that raised $100,000 to improve the training facility, which means the ranch can now handle nearly 800 dogs.

Thomson was inspired by Big Dog Ranch Rescue because he personally understands the positive impact – the comfort and love – having a pet in the home brings to a family. A lifelong dog lover, he despises animal abuse. Through this program, veterans are paired with a four-legged companion, which greatly improves the quality of life for those who have served our country as well as saving many dogs’ lives.

Every year, Big Dog Ranch Rescue matches about 5,000 canines with veterans; since the program’s inception in 2008, about 50,000 dogs have found their loving homes and veteran partners.

While passionate about Big Dog Ranch, Thomson also supports many other causes that help and strengthen his community, including the Hanley Foundation, which is committed to helping to prevent and resolve youth substance abuse, and the Place of Hope’s Shade Tree Outreach Foundation.

Spirit of Advocacy Award

Cathy Whatley, the 1996 president of Florida Realtors and the 2003 president of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) was recognized as the 2023 winner of the Spirit of Advocacy Award.

This award honors a member of Florida Realtors who has demonstrated excellence in advocacy within the governmental or political arena at all levels – the local Realtor board, state association, national association and community – over their lifetime. Monetary donations are not a consideration for the award.

A member of the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors and a third-generation Realtor, Whatley has invested more than 54 years in the real estate profession as a Realtor Emeritus. She has long been committed to advocacy and volunteers her time and effort to support her profession. She has spent decades inspiring and educating others on key industry issues and asking for their support, as well as mentoring future real estate leaders.

Whatley served as the 1990 president of the Jacksonville Association of Realtors (now known as the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors). She was named NEFAR’s Realtor of the Year twice – in 1986 and 1993 – and received the Presidential Lifetime Service Award, its highest honor, in 2003. She led NEFAR to create programs that encouraged homeownership opportunities and helped promote homeownership education in the community, such as HOME (Home Ownership Made Easy).

Whatley also has served on the board of directors for JEA (formerly the Jacksonville Electric Authority), the eighth largest municipal utility in the U.S.

At the state level, Whatley has not only held every officer position at Florida Realtors but has served on 274 committees and task forces for the state association. She’s been a Florida Realtors Honor Society member every year since 2008 and was named its Realtor of the Year in 1998. Whatley often has testified before the Florida Legislature and was instrumental in the creation of the state’s Sadowski Trust Fund for affordable housing. She also served several years as a member of Florida’s Commission on Ethics.

Nationally, as president of NAR, she oversaw the deployment of the HOPE Awards, a program for increasing minority homeownership, and hosted the first National Summit for Housing Opportunities. Whatley has testified numerous times before the U.S. Congress on real estate issues. Her work for the Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC) has been key in ensuring the preservation of the divide between banking and commerce, along with fair reform of the settlement services regulations.

Whatley is a dedicated advocate for private property rights, a strong voice for Realtor engagement and investment, and represents the real estate profession at its best.

Education Volunteer of the Year

The Education Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes members who volunteered their time and energy to advance professional development for Realtors. This year’s Education Volunteer of the Year winner is Annette Haber, Esq., from the Royal Palm Coast Association of Realtors.

Previously a member of the former Cape Coral Association of Realtors, Haber received its 2011 Affiliate of the Year Award and was honored with its President’s Award for Excellence in Realtor Education in 2015. The president’s award recognized her as a “volunteer instructor who worked tirelessly teaching real estate law and contract, giving brand-new to experienced Realtors new understandings and new ideas to protect their clients and their own real estate careers.”

A lifelong learner, Haber passionately believes in the value and importance of education. She attended the University of Central Florida and holds a bachelor’s degree of business administration in management information systems with a minor in computer science. She continued her education at Barry University School of Law. Haber is an approved instructor for Florida Realtors, and a member of The Florida Bar, the Cape Coral Bar Association, Women’s Council of Realtors and the Real Estate Investment Society.

Helping fellow Realtors grow their knowledge is how Haber gives back to her industry.

Educator of the Year

This year’s Florida Realtors Educator of the Year is Sal DiStefano, a member of the Royal Palm Coast Association of Realtors. A long-time real estate investor, DiStefano has been buying and selling real estate in Cape Coral since 1984. In 2013, he earned his real estate license, then opened a brokerage with his daughter in 2015. From 2017 through 2022, their real estate business was voted “best brokerage” by a local community readers’ poll.

Prior to becoming a broker, DiStefano served as a national training director in the advertising industry for more than 20 years. He continues to believe in helping new agents gain confidence through education and example. A Graduate of the Realtor Institute (GRI), DiStefano is an approved Florida Realtors’ instructor for GRI classes from levels 1 to 3, including taxes, investments, sales and marketing, brokerage management and international real estate.

He also teaches numerous CE (Continuing Education) courses, such as Communications Skills for Realtors, So You Want to Be a Broker, and Newly Licensed? Now What?.

Florida Realtor magazine awards

Best Article: Kara Wisely, Realtors of Lake and Sumter Counties, for the article, “Master Your Market,” May 2023, Florida Realtor magazine

Honorable Mention: Angela Grannan, Pinellas Suncoast Association of Realtors, for the article, “Planting Trees for a Better Tomorrow,” May 2023, Florida Realtor magazine

© 2023 Florida Realtors®


Inclusive ‘Living Conditions’ Study Ranks Fla. No. 6

“Livability” is subjective, but an exhaustive study attempted to rank states based on how happy they’ll make residents. Fla. was No. 6 – but No. 1 in some categories.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Around 8.6% of Americans moved last year, a slight uptick from the year before. Some movers wonder if they should stay put or move to another state. Others know they want to move to another state, but which one?

To help answer that question, a personal-finance website, WalletHub, released a comprehensive report on 2023’s Best States to Live In.

WalletHub compared the 50 U.S. states across 51 key indicators of livability, which is subjective by definition. But they also weighed each variable for its worth, which can change from person-to-person.

As a result, the “best state to live in” may not be true for any specific person – but WalletHub believes it’s true for the average person. And for that average person, Florida ranks No. 6 on WalletHub’s list of best-to-live-in states.

Florida “Living Conditions” examples (1=Best, 25=Average)

  • No. 9 – Income Growth
  • No. 17 – Percent of Adults in Fair or Poor Health
  • No. 27 – Average Weekly Work Hours
  • No. 1 – Restaurants per Capita
  • No. 1 – Unemployment Rate

What should state-to-state movers consider?

Jesse Saginor, Ph.D., AICP, chair and professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning at Florida Atlantic University, says they should start with a market analysis.

“Ultimately, this depends on the person and where that person is in life,” Saginor says. “A young person might want an area with great job prospects related to that person’s industry of interest and/or other activities that person enjoys. So, beyond work, if that person enjoys the outdoors, then the combination of job and outdoor amenities might be the two most important things on that person’s list. If that person has young children, then schools become another part of the equation.”

While WalletHub’s list might work for the average person, “Each step in a personal market analysis to determine whether an area is right for that person comes with additional dimensions,” Saginor adds. “In terms of pondering steps, where does that person want to be now, in five years, in ten years? Is there a place that enables them to have that personal growth without moving?”

“Use online resources to research basics like cost-of-living and housing costs in particular, employment opportunities, quality and cost of education and health care, state and local tax policies, climate, and given the recent political polarization in this country, where does the area lie in terms of liberal vs. conservative politics,” adds Alan Weinstein, Professor Emeritus, Cleveland State University. “Plan to visit the area for at least a few days and longer if possible. If you are able to work remotely and a longer stay is possible, that is even better.”

The most important financial factors when deciding where to live?

 “I tend to focus on the cost of living relative to the employment opportunities available in the area,” says H. Shelton Weeks, professor and director of the Lucas Institute for Real Estate Development & Finance, Florida Gulf Coast University.

“In addition to cost-of-living calculators that allow individuals to compare locations to see how much they will need to earn to have a comparable standard of living, there are other tools available that will help them understand what to expect in terms of cost for rental housing and whether market conditions indicate that renting or buying makes more sense. Combining these tools with solid budgeting can help people make better decisions with respect to potential moves.”

What can state policymakers do to attract and retain new residents?

 “I think this starts with creating an environment that is business-friendly with a high degree of economic freedom,” says Weeks. “One of the key lessons that can be learned from the experience of states that have struggled with attracting and retaining residents is that less government intervention in markets is a good thing.”

“Adopt and maintain policies that: (1) attract new and keep existing employers that offer good-paying jobs with benefits; (2) adequately fund public education from pre-school through post-graduate; (3) adequately maintain and build as needed transportation infrastructure, including public transit where appropriate; and (4) fund governmental services as adequately as possible while holding tax increases as low as possible,” says Weinstein.

Factors WalletHub weighed to create its list of most livable states

Affordability – total points: 20

  • Housing affordability: full weight (~2.22 points)
  • Median annual property taxes: double weight (~4.44 points)
  • Cost of living: quadruple weight (~8.89 points)
  • Median annual household income: full weight (~2.22 points)
  • Homeownership rate: full weight (~2.22 points)

Economy – total points: 20

  • Unemployment rate: full weight (~1.05 points)
  • Underemployment rate: full weight (~1.05 points)
  • Sharecare well-being “economic security”: full weight (~1.05 points)
  • Share of population living in poverty: full weight (~1.05 points)
  • Median debt per median earnings: triple weight (~3.16 points)
  • Population growth: full weight (~1.05 points)
  • Income growth: full weight (~1.05 points)
  • Building-permit growth: full weight (~1.05 points)
  • Wealth gap: full weight (~1.05 points)
  • General tax-friendliness: full weight (~1.05 points)
  • Entrepreneurial activity: double weight (~2.11 points)
  • Foreclosure rate: double weight (~2.11 points)
  • Bankruptcy rate: full weight (~1.05 points)
  • Food insecurity: full weight (~1.05 points)

Education & health – total points: 20

  • Quality of public school system: full weight (~1.74 points)
  • High school graduation rate: double weight (~3.48 points)
  • Share of population aged 25 & older with a high school diploma or higher: full weight (~1.74 points)
  • Share of insured population: full weight (~1.74 points)
  • Quality of public hospital system: full weight (~1.74 points)
  • Premature-death rate: half weight (~0.87 points)
  • Poor or fair health: half weight (~0.87 points)
  • Life expectancy: full weight (~1.74 points)
  • Share of live births with low birthweight: half weight (~0.87 points)
  • Share of obese adults: double weight (~3.48 points)
  • Share of physically inactive adults: full weight (~1.74 points)

Quality of life – total points: 20

  • Average hours worked per week: full weight (~0.93 points)
  • Average commute time (in minutes): full weight (~0.93 points)
  • Miles of trails for bicycling & walking per total state land area: full weight (~0.93 points)
  • “bicycle friendly state” ranking (proxy for bike score): full weight (~0.93 points)
  • Infrastructure & funding – 20%
  • Education & encouragement – 15%
  • Legislation & enforcement – 15%
  • Policies & programs – 20%
  • Evaluation & planning – 20%
  • Discretionary scoring – 10%
  • Access to public transportation: double weight (~1.86 points)
  • Quality of roads: full weight (~0.93 points)
  • Traffic congestion: double weight (~1.86 points)
  • Restaurants per capita: double weight (~1.86 points)
  • Bars per capit*: full weight (~0.93 points)
  • Museums per capita: full weight (~0.93 points)
  • Performing arts centers per capita*: full weight (~0.93 points)
  • Movie theaters per capita: half weight (~0.47 points)
  • Fitness centers per capita: double weight (~1.86 points)
  • Accessibility of beaches: full weight (~0.93 points)
  • Weather: triple weight (~2.79 points)
  • Air quality: full weight (~0.93 points)

Safety – total points: 20

  • Violent-crime rate: full weight (~3.64 points)
  • Property-crime rate: double weight (~7.27 points)
  • Traffic-related fatalities per capita: half weight (~1.82 points)
  • Total law-enforcement employees per capita: double weight (~7.27 points)

© 2023 Florida Realtors®


Homeowners Tapped 50% More Equity in 2022

In 2022, more homeowners fought rising inflation by tapping into home equity. In two years, equity lines of credit originations rose 41% as equity loans rose 166%.

WASHINGTON – Originations of open-ended Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs) and closed-end home equity loans increased 50% in 2022 compared to two years earlier, according to the latest Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Home Equity Lending Study.

“Home renovations and remodeling drove demand for home equity products in 2022, with roughly two-thirds of borrowers citing it as a reason for applying for a home equity loan,” says said Marina Walsh, CMB, MBA’s Vice President of Industry Analysis. “Other borrower reasons were for debt consolidation (25%) and emergency cash management or other (10%).”

Walsh says a number of things combined – the housing inventory shortage, home-price appreciation and a low-rate first mortgage – to “make home renovations an attractive alternative for many homeowners looking to improve their spaces. Additionally, a HELOC or home equity loan is one way to finance big home projects while receiving a tax advantage through the deductibility of mortgage interest.”

Select findings from MBA’s 2023 Home Equity Lending Study (covering data through December 31, 2022) include:


  • Average HELOC commitment volume (total credit offered) was $2.4 billion per repeater company in 2022, up 41% from $1.7 billion in 2020.
  • Weighted average HELOC loan balances on outstanding loans rose from $108,231 at the beginning of 3033 to $112,113 at year-end.
  • The credit score of an average HELOC borrower fell to 769 in 2022 from 780 in 2020. Average combined loan-to-value (CLTV) for funded HELOCs at closing dropped to 51% in 2022 from 54% in 2020, due in part to strong home-price appreciation nationwide.
  • On an annual basis, lenders expect HELOC outstanding debt to increase 8.2% this year and 9.9% in 2024.

Home equity loans

  • Weighted average home equity loan balances on outstandings rose from $52,653 at the beginning of the year to $61,114 at year-end.
  • The credit score of the average home equity loan borrower fell to 752 in 2022 from 768 in 2020.
  • Average home equity loan originations were $780 million per repeater company in 2022, up 166% from $293 million in 2020.
  • Lenders expect home equity loan debt outstanding to increase 11.4% in 2023 but decrease 5.6% in 2024.

© 2023 Florida Realtors®


Businesses to Declare ‘Beneficial Ownership’ in 2024

In a push to reduce money laundering under the Corporate Transparency Act, FinCEN will require many businesses to state their actual owners’ names after Jan. 1.

WASHINGTON – Beginning with the Panama Papers leak in 2016, there has been an increasing focus on the use of business entities to facilitate money laundering and conceal profits of crime and corruption. Europe and the UK are far ahead of the U.S. in the implementation of “beneficial ownership” registers for business entities and trusts and, in recent years, the U.S. has come under increasing pressure to do the same.

The Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) is a response to this pressure and was authorized under the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 with the intent of combating money laundering and terrorist financing by expanding the regulatory power of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The CTA, which was enacted on Jan. 1, 2021, comes into effect on Jan. 1, 2024, and imposes new federal reporting requirements on many business entities operating in the U.S.

While there are exceptions for certain highly-regulated entities (such as banks or entities that report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission) and large operating companies, most business entities formed by a filing with a secretary of state’s office will be required to disclose to FinCEN personal identifying information about the individual creating the entity and the beneficial owners of such newly created entity.

The CTA will also require that such information be updated and/or corrected within 30 days of any changes to the initially reported information.

Who is required to file reports with FinCEN?

Reports must be filed by domestic and foreign “reporting companies.”

  • A domestic reporting company is any entity that is a corporation, a limited liability company (LLC), or is otherwise created by the filing of a document with a secretary of state or similar office (common law trusts would not fall into this category).
  • A foreign reporting company is any entity formed under the law of a foreign country and registered to do business in the U.S. by the filing of a document with a secretary of state or similar office.

There are 23 reporting exemptions under the CTA. These exemptions include:

Highly regulated entities, such as:

  • Regulated securities and financial services companies
  • Governmental authorities, regulated financial institutions
  • Regulated insurance companies

Large operating companies that meet the following general criteria:

  • Employ more than 20 full-time employees in the U.S.
  • Have an operating presence at a physical office in the U.S.
  • Filed a federal income tax return showing greater than $5,000,000 in gross receipts/sales.
  • Accounting firms
  • Tax-exempt entities, subsidiaries of tax-exempt entities, and entities assisting tax-exempt entities
  • Inactive entities

What “Beneficial Ownership Information” must be reported?

Reporting companies must provide the following information to FinCEN:

  1. Company’s legal name and trade name or DBA
  2. Company’s address
  3. Jurisdiction where the company was formed or is currently registered
  4. Company’s TIN or foreign tax ID

Beneficial owners of reporting companies and company applicants who form reporting companies must provide:

  1. Full legal name
  2. Date of birth
  3. Residential address (this will be the business street address for certain Company Applicants)
  4. Photo ID number and image. Forms of acceptable photo ID include a non-expired U.S. passport, a state/local identification document, state-issued driver’s license or foreign passport if none of the above is available

To ease the burden of having to provide the above information multiple times for an individual who has reporting obligations as to multiple entities, the CTA provides for a “FinCEN Identifier”: a unique identifying number assigned to a person by submitting to FinCEN an application containing the information about that person which would be required in a report filed by a reporting company.

Who are Company Applicants and Beneficial Owners?

Company Applicants are the individuals who file or direct the filing of the document that: (1) creates the domestic reporting company, or (2) first registers the foreign reporting company in the U.S. If more than one individual is involved in the filing of the document, the individual primarily responsible for directing or controlling such filing is the Company Applicant.

There can be a maximum of two Company Applicants for each entity; i.e., the person who directly files the relevant document and the person who is primarily responsible for directing or controlling the filing of the relevant document. Only reporting companies formed on or after Jan. 1, 2024, must report Company Applicants.

A Beneficial Owner is an individual who either: (1) exercises substantial control over the reporting company; or (2) owns or controls at least 25% of the (direct or indirect) ownership interests of the reporting company. All reporting companies, whether formed before or after Jan. 1, 2024, must report Beneficial Owners.

Important CTA deadlines

  • Reporting companies formed before Jan. 1, 2024, will have until Jan. 1, 2025, to comply with the above reporting requirements.
  • Reporting companies formed on or after Jan. 1, 2024, will have 30 days from the time of formation to comply with the above reporting requirements.
  • Updates and corrections to the initially filed information must be reported within 30 days of such changes.

What can you do now to prepare?

  • Review your corporate structure and update organizational flow charts
  • Create a Beneficial Ownership Register
  • Develop an internal CTA Compliance Program
  • Stay up to date on changes to CTA Forms and Regulations

FinCEN also has a Beneficial Ownership Information Reporting Rule Fact Sheet posted on its website.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

© Mondaq Ltd, 2023. Sam Capogrosso, Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger. 2049 Century Park East, Suite 2600, Los Angeles CA 90067


Maximize Website Leads: Give ‘Em What They Want

An Orlando team leader uses professional RE writers for his website and offers expansive content – blogs plus articles that complement his listings.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Ken Pozek – an Orlando broker associate and team leader with Keller Williams’ Pozek Group – predicted in March that his team sales would soon exceed $100 million.

Pozek credits his website for many of the sales. To make his website more attractive, Pozek turned to a trio of copywriters at Real Estate Webmasters, and they provide up-to-date content, such as blogs and articles that complement listings.

The company also provides pay-per-click advertising, SEO (search engine optimization), and stickiness (ways to make people stay on the site) to boost the number of website visits, according to Pozek.

“We’re seeing ‘time on page’ increasing from about 15 seconds (with a previous vendor) to over two minutes,” says Pozek. “I don’t spend two minutes doing anything online, so if I can keep people there without bouncing – engaging with the site long term – that’s a huge win.”

Pozek says he relies on Real Estate Webmasters for roughly 30% of the support his team requires, with the remaining media needs sourced in-house.

“We used to get 100-200 organic visits a month, and we’re now getting 20,000-30,000 a month after just four months … The site is producing hundreds more leads a month, of which we have about 10% conversion (rate) for those coming to us organically, with another 3% on pay-per-click.”

Pozek also says his number of site visitors that become conversions has increased three-fold, helping to generate more leads and ROI (return on investment).

Source: RISMedia (05/10/23) Voket, John

© Copyright 2023 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Where Can Seniors Go If It’s Time to Sell?

Many older homeowners don’t want to move even if homeownership has become challenging. But they have options that might not be as bad as they fear.

NEW YORK – The search for the right living arrangements for older parents or relatives can be challenging, particularly as their needs regarding assistance and care evolve with age. Luckily, a variety of choices exist, ranging from simple adjustments in a current home to retirement communities and assisted living or nursing facilities.

Read on to learn effective strategies for gracefully navigating the often stressful – and sometimes emotional – task of locating elderly housing options and places for senior living.

Aging in place

Many seniors prefer to remain in their homes as they age. This often requires renovations to make the home easier to navigate, as mobility decreases and things like stairs get harder to manage. The costs of these modifications can vary wildly, from a few hundred dollars for grab bars in a bathroom to thousands for bigger projects or additions. Plus, if these fixes are not aesthetically pleasing or look hospital-like, they could decrease a home’s value. To avoid taking on these projects, seniors can investigate other real estate options, like purchasing a home that’s already been renovated.


  • No need to move
  • Might be cheaper than other options


  • Requires renovations
  • No community, help or care on-site

House sharing

Imagine aging in place, but with a roommate (and sometimes, even a roommate who pays rent). With this option, seniors can live independently while having someone to talk to and assist with daily living. Plus, seniors living together can slash their expenses significantly. Online resources like Silvernest can help you find a good house-sharing match.


  • Companionship
  • Cost-effective


  • Might need to spend money on renovations
  • Risk of problematic tenant-roommates

Moving in with kids

Financially, this option could be ideal: Moving in with adult children means seniors and their families avoid the cost of assisted living. As with aging in place, though, home modifications might be necessary. Homeowners planning to build an accessory dwelling unit (ADU), or separate housing unit on their lot for their parent to live in, should check local laws first. ADUs, often called mother-in-law suites, are not legal everywhere.


  • Cost-effective
  • No need for assisted living facilities


  • Home renovations might be necessary
  • Adult children must oversee care

Independent living communities

As the name indicates, these developments allow their residents to live independently – they do not provide medical care or help with daily living. However, they do offer plenty of amenities, often including pools, gyms, activities, transportation and sometimes daily meals and laundry service. As you might imagine, buying or even renting in one of these resort-like communities is not cheap. If you can afford it, this is an ideal option for couples and seniors who are still in good physical health and want a low-maintenance lifestyle and neighbors similar in age.


  • Community and activities
  • Lots of amenities


  • No medical care or support
  • May be expensive

Assisted living

Assisted living facilities can be similar to independent living, but with an additional layer of medical care and assistance with daily necessities. These facilities are ideal for seniors who require help with things like bathing and taking medications, but not the 24/7 skilled medical care that nursing homes provide. The care plans and levels can differ by facility, but the monthly median cost of assisted living communities runs about $4,500.


  • Help with daily needs and medical car
  • Community and activities


  • Costs can be steep
  • Might feel more like a nursing home

Subsidized housing

Public housing may be available for low-income seniors – but receiving it often requires navigating a lengthy process and plenty of paperwork. The financial requirements differ by area, so seniors and their families should check with their local Public Housing Agency or ask a HUD housing counselor for guidance. HUD also offers a Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program, which helps place seniors in affordable housing that meets their physical needs.

Alternatively, seniors can rent traditional units, offsetting their costs with HUD’s Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program or Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program.


  • Most economical
  • Sometimes includes care and community


  • Applying can be time-consuming
  • Receiving housing can take a while

Life plan communities

These communities, also called continuing-care retirement communities or CCRCs, offer ascending levels of care, which seniors can transition through as they age. A single campus might encompass independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing. Seniors either pay monthly rent or an initial payment followed by monthly maintenance or service fees.

This is not an ideal option for those living on Social Security, as costs tend to be high: According to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care, the average monthly rental fee in the first quarter of 2023 ranged from $3,450 to $7,303.


  • Can age in place within one campus
  • Tiered care levels


  • High costs
  • May need to move from one building to another

Affording senior living

It’s important to start saving for retirement early so that your housing needs can be met when you are older, whichever senior-living option you decide on.

“Every dollar you put away in your 20s can be $17 by the time you retire,” McBride says. “The biggest financial regret Americans have is not starting to save for retirement earlier, and that regret only grows bigger as retirement gets closer.”

He recommends earmarking 15% of your income to go toward retirement, if possible – and working your way up to that goal if you can’t spare that much right now.

“The sooner you can get in the habit of saving 15% for retirement, the better,” he says. “If you’re currently far short of that, start by immediately increasing your retirement plan contributions to 10% of pay, and stair-step it up from there until you get to 15%. The habit will stay with you as the years go by and your income rises.”

Once you’re older, McBride says, you can take advantage of catch-up contributions beginning the year you turn 50 in order to make larger contributions to tax-advantaged retirement savings options, like a 401(k) and an IRA.

“Consider delaying Social Security until age 70 to maximize your benefit,” he suggests. “Longevity annuities or long-term care policies are also options to consider. If you’re intent on aging in place, a reverse mortgage can be a lifeline for retirees with much of their wealth tied up in a principal residence.”

© 2023 Bankrate.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. © Copyright, 2023, Johnson Newspaper Corporation


July Housing Starts Up 3.9%, Single-Family Up 6.7%

Single-family housing permits – a sign of future construction activity – increased marginally by 0.6%, though overall permits dropped 13.9% as multifamily slows.

WASHINGTON – July’s overall housing starts increased 3.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.45 million units, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau.

Housing start counts are based on a full year, and the July reading of 1.45 million is the number of housing units that would be built if July’s pace continued for the next 12 months.

Within that overall number, single-family starts increased 6.7% month-to-month to 983,000 –a seasonally adjusted annual rate – and they increased 9.5% year-to-year.

The multifamily sector, which includes apartment buildings and condos, decreased 1.7% to an annualized 469,000 pace.

“With many homeowners choosing to stay in their existing home to preserve their low mortgage rate, demand for new home construction pushed up single-family starts in July even as builders continue to struggle with increased uncertainty stemming from rising (mortgage) rates,” says Alicia Huey, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), noting that this month’s builder sentiment index fell for the first time in seven months, due to a decline in buyer traffic.

“Total permits declined 13% compared to a year ago, indicating that builders are slowing construction activity as housing costs rise,” says Danushka Nanayakkara-Skillington, NAHB’s assistant vice president for forecasting and analysis. “In fact, multifamily permits are at their lowest three-month moving average since December 2020, another sign that the market is cooling.”

The number of single-family units currently under construction fell 16.9% year-to-year, but the number of apartments under construction increased to 1 million, the highest total on record.

On a regional and year-to-date basis, combined single-family and multifamily starts are 17.6% lower in the Northeast, 13.8% lower in the Midwest, 9.4% lower in the South and 16.7% lower in the West.

Overall permits increased 0.1% to a 1.44 million unit annualized rate in July. Single-family permits increased 0.6% to a 930,000 unit rate. Single-family permits are also up 1.3% compared to a year ago. Multifamily permits decreased 1% to an annualized 512,000 pace, the lowest level since October 2020.

Looking at regional permit data on a year-to-date basis, permits are 24.2% lower in the Northeast, 20.3% lower in the Midwest, 15.4% lower in the South and 21.6% lower in the West.

© 2023 Florida Realtors®


Fla. OKs New Property Insurer: Mainsail Insurance

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation says changes passed by the Fla. Legislature have attracted new insurers and removed 280K policies from Fla.-owned Citizens.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) approved Mainsail Insurance Company, a Texas-based property and casualty insurer – the second company to be approved to become an authorized property and casualty domestic insurer following the passage of a property insurance bill by the Florida Legislature this year, HB 837.

Mainsail joins Tailrow which, OIR approved in April. OIR continues to accept and review – and even encourage – new insurer applications and says it will announce new entrants on a rolling basis.

“The addition of Mainsail Insurance Company to the Florida market is evidence that recent legislative reforms are having a positive impact for consumers,” says Insurance Commissioner Michael Yaworsky.

In addition to new market entrants, OIR is seeing greater participation and interest in the Citizens Depopulation program. This year, OIR has approved insurers to assume 280,000 policies from Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (Citizens) through October 2023. Takeout, or depopulation, is the program created by the Florida Legislature to reduce the number of Citizens’ insured properties and state taxpayer exposure.

In noting shifts in Florida’s insurance market, OIR cites recent legislative changes “designed to promote market stability,” including SB 2-A and SB 2-D. As a result of these reforms, OIR says, there are additional opportunities in the market for insurers in the state of Florida.

© 2023 Florida Realtors®


Study Reinforces Need to Help ‘Hometown Heroes’

A comparison of teacher salaries to home values within 20 minutes of work found a high of 18% affordable in Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville but only 4% in Miami.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The average U.S. teacher can afford just 12% of homes for sale within commuting distance of their school, according to a report from Redfin. That’s down from 17% last summer and 30% in 2019, before the pandemic homebuying boom drove up housing prices.

In addition, the average teacher can afford just over one-quarter (27%) of available rentals within commuting distance of their school. The study defines “commuting distance” as a home that can be reached within 20 minutes during rush hour.

In two U.S. cities – San Jose and San Diego – no commutable homes are affordable on a local teacher’s median salary. However, three metros had a share above 50%: Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

In Florida, a Hometown Heroes program – strongly backed by Florida Realtors® – aimed to help teachers and other lower-paying yet vital metro jobs, such as nurses, firefighters, first responders and more. The program now serves a wider audience after 2023 legislative changes. Redfin’s study appears to reinforce the need for workforce housing programs in Florida and the nation.

In a city-by-city breakdown, some Florida metros beat the national average for nearby home affordability, while others fell short. According to study authors, California is the least affordable place for teachers looking to buy a home, while Florida is the least affordable for teachers looking to rent.

Teacher home affordability in Florida metros

  • Fort Lauderdale: 18% of homes within reasonable commuting distance are affordable, a 17 percentage point decline since 2019, with rentals down 4 percentage points over the same timeframe. Median teacher salary: $60,463
  • Jacksonville: 18% of homes within reasonable commuting distance are affordable, a 41 percentage point drop over the same two years, with 35% of commutable rentals affordable. Median teacher salary: $65,612
  • Miami: 4% of homes within reasonable commuting distance are affordable, down 13 percentage points over two years, with only 2% of nearby rentals affordable. Median teacher salary: $60,463
  • Orlando: 5% of homes within reasonable commuting distance are affordable, down 24 percentage points since 2019, with only 4% of nearby rentals affordable. Median teacher salary: $49,561
  • Tampa: 12% of homes within reasonable commuting distance are affordable, down 44 points in two years, with 13% of nearby rentals affordable. Median teacher salary: $63,365
  • West Palm Beach: 15% of homes within reasonable commuting distance are affordable, down 19 percentage points in two years, with 6% of nearby rentals affordable. Median teacher salary: $60,463

The average U.S. public school teacher salary rose 2% in 2021-2022 from the prior year to $66,745, but when adjusted for inflation, teachers are making $3,644 less than they were a decade ago, according to the National Education Association.

Each U.S. school has an average of 796 homes for sale within commuting distance, down 24% from 2022 and down 46% from 2019.

“The shortage of affordable homes is exacerbating the shortage of teachers,” says Redfin Senior Economist Sheharyar Bokhari. “Many teachers who can’t afford to buy a house near work are either renting and missing out on the opportunity to build wealth through home equity, or leaving education in search of more lucrative careers.”

© 2023 Florida Realtors®


Attom: Foreclosure Starts Fell 9% in July

The number of completed foreclosures rose 4% month-to-month, but Attom says the “housing market remains in flux” – they could go back up or keep dropping.

IRVINE, Calif. – Foreclosure activity rose following pandemic-era bans but never completely returned to a level seen before COVID-19 shook the market.

Now foreclosures seem to be falling again, at least based on a single month, according to Attom’s July 2023 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report. While completed foreclosures – the point where the lender takes back the home – rose a bit, foreclosure starts – the point where a lenders begins action against a homeowner who has fallen behind – fell in July.

The U.S. had a total of 31,877 U.S. properties with July foreclosure filings – default notices, scheduled auctions or bank repossessions – down 9% month-to-month but up 5% year-to-year.

Attom only noted one Florida city in its latest report. In the list of foreclosures in metropolitan areas with a population greater than 1 million, Jacksonville ranked No. 4 with one foreclosure for every 2,243 housing units. The top three U.S. cities are Cleveland, Ohio (one in every 1,957 housing units); Baltimore (one in every 1,991 housing units); and Las Vegas, (one in every 2,098 housing units).

“The slight decline in foreclosure filings we are seeing is yet another sign of a rebounding housing market,” says Rob Barber, CEO at ATTOM. “With home prices back up, several factors have combined to put more financial resources in the hands of homeowners … However, given that the U.S. housing market remains in flux, the various forces at play could keep the market improving or turn it back downward over the coming months.”

Foreclosure starts

Lenders started the foreclosure process on 21,020 U.S. properties in July 2023, down 12% month-to-month and down 2% year-to-year. States that saw the greatest monthly declines included:

  1. Hawaii (down 51%);
  2. New Hampshire (down 45%)
  3. Idaho (down 43%)
  4. Arkansas (down 40%)
  5. Alabama (down 38%)

Foreclosure completions

While fewer homes entered the foreclosure process, a higher number that have been in the system for a while were taken over by lenders, increasing both monthly and annually. Lenders repossessed 3,332 U.S. properties (REOs) in July 2023, up 4% from last month and up 9% from last year.

States that had the greatest number of REOs in July 2023, included:

  1. Illinois (355 REOs)
  2. Pennsylvania (230)
  3. California (217)
  4. Michigan (200)
  5. Texas (200)

© 2023 Florida Realtors®


Looking for a Search Engine Optimization Expert?

If 9 out of 10 buyers start by typing “How do I buy a home?” into a search engine, it’s worth spending money to make sure your agency’s name is near the top.

NEW YORK – With 90% of house hunters using the internet as a starting point, it makes sense for realty professionals to add a search engine optimization (SEO) expert to their team.

As long as they meet certain criteria, SEO specialists have the power to improve website position among search results – visibility that will put the site in front of more potential clients and generate more leads.

Transparency and ethical conduct are critical – interviewers should ask exactly what SEO methods and tools an expert plans to use. Top prospects will embrace cutting-edge tools with demonstrated efficacy know how to apply them in a highly localized setting.

They also should be able to break the technical process down to the layman’s level and explain how they’ll measure and report progress.

Be skeptical if anyone promises a fast turnaround. SEO optimization is a long-term strategy that takes months to register improvement.

Credible candidates will furnish examples supporting a background of strong SEO work, including recent case studies, client references and performance data that backs up their claims.

Source: Realty Biz News (08/09/2023) Shepardson, Ben

© Copyright 2023 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Feds Take Aim at Flood Insurance Lawsuit

Nine states, including Fla., have challenged flood insurance Risk Rating 2.0 in court. This week, the U.S. urged a judge to deny their preliminary injunction request.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Biden administration this week urged a federal judge to reject a challenge by Florida and other states to an overhaul of the National Flood Insurance Program that has led to higher premiums for many property owners.

U.S. Department of Justice attorneys filed motions to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the overhaul and to deny a request by the states for a preliminary injunction. The motions said the changes, which became fully effective April 1 after being phased in, were designed to make the flood-insurance program “actuarially sound” and reflect the risks of each property.

The motion to deny a preliminary injunction said the overhaul, known as Risk Rating 2.0, “updates the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) with up-to-date actuarial methods at a time when the program sorely needs reform. For the past several decades, the NFIP has been losing billions of dollars because premiums have not accurately reflected flood risk.”

“These changes all reflect best practices in the insurance industry, which is precisely what Congress charged FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) to do under the NFIA (National Flood Insurance Act),” Justice Department attorneys wrote. “Furthermore, the geographical distribution of premium payments has been stark: Under the legacy (previous) rating approach, taxpayers and policyholders in landlocked states were covering the cost of flood risk in a few coastal states. Risk Rating 2.0 charges every policyholder their fair share based on their property’s true flood risk, and thus accomplishes the stated purpose of the NFIA.”

Florida joined nine other states in the lawsuit, filed in June in the federal Eastern District of Louisiana. The lawsuit, led by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, names as defendants FEMA, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration. Plaintiffs also include numerous local government agencies in Louisiana.

The flood-insurance program plays a major role for Florida residents, many of whom are required to have flood insurance because of home mortgages. A document in the lawsuit said the program included about 1.391 million Florida policies, with total coverage of nearly $367 billion.

Federal officials began phasing in the Risk Rating 2.0 changes in October 2021. Among other things, the lawsuit alleges the system improperly considers “hypothetical” future risks and doesn’t properly account for mitigation projects to protect properties from flood damage.

“While the agency (FEMA) paints a picture of nuanced calculations using massive data repositories that reveal a property’s individualized risks, the reality is much simpler: Flood insurance is going to be much more expensive for pretty much everybody,” the lawsuit said.

A section of the lawsuit that focused on Florida said, “High insurance rates will cause people to leave the state of Florida because they can no longer afford to live in the state. In addition, it will depress property values, particularly in areas where flood insurance is required.”

But in Monday’s motion to dismiss the case and Wednesday’s motion to deny a preliminary injunction, the Biden administration disputed the allegations and argued the plaintiffs lack legal standing to challenge the overhaul.

“Plaintiffs wrongly ask the court to upend the status quo – which is that Risk Rating 2.0 has applied to NFIP policies for multiple years and has been fully implemented across the country – and do so simply because some policyholders in their states and communities are now paying higher premiums based on a more accurate, congressionally-mandated assessment of their flood risks, and are no longer being subsidized by policyholders in less flood-prone areas,” Wednesday’s motion said. “That some policyholders are now paying higher premiums does not entitle plaintiffs to relief.”

Also, the Justice Department attorneys said the plaintiffs had exaggerated “skyrocketing costs.” Since the changes took effect, Wednesday’s motion said 19% of premiums decreased and 70% increased by less than $10 a month.

But in a news release after the lawsuit was filed in June, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office said the changes are “making flood insurance unattainable for many policyholders by raising rates.”

The 146-page lawsuit makes a series of allegations, including that federal officials violated a law known as the Administrative Procedure Act by making changes that were “arbitrary and capricious.”

© 2023 The News Service of Florida. All rights reserved.


FREC Considers ‘Multiple Brokers Licenses’ Requirements

The Florida Real Estate Commission took the first steps to create a new rule by offering preliminary, rough-draft language and opening the rule for development.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –  At the Florida Real Estate Commission’s (FREC) July 26 meeting, the commissioners considered preliminary language to create standards for issuing multiple brokers licenses pursuant to section 475.215, F.S.

After discussing the issue and focusing on some potential language, the commissioners voted to open a rule proposal for development. They’re now expected to advance the discussion at their upcoming meeting on Aug. 23 at 8:30 a.m., 400 West Robinson St., N801, Orlando, FL 32801.

The rule isn’t finalized and the preliminary language could change. At this point, FREC is encouraging interested Realtors to attend this month’s meeting or submit comments, which may be emailed to Giovanna.Corona@myfloridalicense.com or addressed to:

Giovanna Corona, executive director of FREC
400 West Robinson St. N801
Orlando, FL 32801

The Division of Real Estate receives a lot of broker requests for multiple licenses each month, and some of those brokers already hold numerous broker licenses.

FREC’s “initial language for discussion”

Implementation of 475.215, Requests for MBLs

Potential New Rule 61J2-2.100, Florida Administrative Code

August 2023

Rule 61J2-2.100 Application for Multiple Brokers Licenses

(1)(a) Pursuant to section 475.215(1), FS, the Commission may only issue additional licenses to a licensed broker when the licensed broker’s request for multiple licenses clearly shows that the additional licenses are necessary to the conduct of real estate brokerage business and that the additional licenses will not be used in a manner harmful or prejudicial to any person. In order to make the above determination, a broker requesting additional licenses must:

  1. Describe the supervisory structure of the real estate brokerage business;
  2. Describe the legal and financial responsibilities for the real estate brokerage business;
  3. Explain in detail why the additional license(s) is necessary for the conduct of the broker’s real estate brokerage business;
  4. Affirmatively acknowledge that the requested additional license(s) are necessary to the conduct of requestor’s real estate brokerage business, that the additional licenses will not be used in a manner likely to be prejudicial or harmful to any person, and that the requesting broker will adequately supervise each business.

(b) The above acknowledgements shall include language that, if the requestor provides any false or misleading information, the requestor is subject to discipline pursuant to sections 455.227(1)(h) and 475.25(1)(m), F.S., with a possible penalty of revocation of any and all professional licenses held by the requestor.

  1. A request for multiple or additional licenses shall not be approved for any broker who has prior discipline or is subject to pending disciplinary proceedings against any professional license held by the requesting broker shall be presented to the Commission for review and approval.

Rulemaking Authority: Section 475.05, F.S.  Law Implemented: Section 475.215(1), F.S.  History New xx-yy-23

© 2023 Florida Realtors®


NAR 2Q Report: Price Gains in 60% of Metro Areas

Overall, though, U.S. home prices dropped 2.4% year-to-year because total declines outweighed increases. Still, 5% of markets saw double-digit price increases.

WASHINGTON – Almost 60% of metro markets (128 out of 221) registered home price gains in the second quarter of 2023 as 30-year fixed mortgage rates oscillated between 6.28% and 6.71%, according to the National Association of Realtors®’ (NAR) second quarter report.

Some areas – 5% of the 221 – continued to see double-digit, year-to-year price increases, though the percentage dropped from 7% in 1Q 2023.

“Home sales were down due to higher mortgage rates and limited inventory,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Affordability challenges are easing due to moderating and, in some cases, falling home prices, while the number of jobs and income (levels) are increasing.”

Compared to a year ago, the national median single-family existing-home price dipped 2.4% to $402,600. In 2Q 2022, the national median price had decreased 0.2%.

“Just like the weather, large local market variations exist despite the minor change in the national home price,” Yun adds.

Among the major U.S. regions, the South – the area that includes Florida – saw the largest share of single-family existing-home sales (46%) in the second quarter, with year-over-year price depreciation of 2.2%. Prices rose 3.2% in the Northeast and 1.4% in the Midwest but retreated 5.8% in the West, with noteworthy declines in Austin (down 19.1%), San Francisco (11.3%), Salt Lake City (9.6%) and Las Vegas (7.4%).

“Interestingly, price declines occurred in some of the fastest job-creating markets,” Yun says. “Prices in these areas are trying to land on better fundamentals after several years of skyrocketing increases. In fact, the number of homes receiving multiple offers, alongside continuing job and wage gains, signal price slides may already be a thing of the past.”

The top 10 metro areas with the largest year-over-year price increases all recorded gains of at least 10.4%, with six of those markets in the Midwest. Those include Fond du Lac, Wis. (up 25.3%); New Bern, N.C. (19.7%); Duluth, Minn.-Wis. (14.6%); Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, Iowa-Ill. (12.6%); Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, Pa.-N.J. (11.7%); Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, Tenn.-Va. (11.5%); Peoria, Ill. (11.5%); Green Bay, Wis. (10.9%); Trenton, N.J. (10.5%); and Cape Girardeau, Mo.-Ill. (10.4%).

Seven of the top 10 most expensive markets in the U.S. were in California. Overall, those markets are San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. ($1,800,000; down 5.3%); San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif. ($1,335,000; down 11.3%); Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, Calif. ($1,250,000; down 3.8%); Urban Honolulu, Hawaii ($1,060,700; down 7.4%); San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif. ($942,400; down 2.4%); Salinas, Calif. ($915,600; up 0.6%); Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, Calif. ($904,900; down 2.7%); San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Calif. ($890,900; down 3.2%); Boulder, Colo. ($871,200; down 6.7%); and Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Fla. ($850,000; unchanged).

2Q home sales report takeaways

  • About two in five markets (41%; 90 of 221) saw home price declines, up from 31% in the first quarter.
  • Housing affordability worsened quarter-to-quarter due to rising home prices and mortgage rates. The monthly mortgage payment on a typical existing single-family home with a 20% down payment was $2,051, up 10% from the first quarter ($1,864) and 11.6% – or $214 – from one year earlier.
  • Families typically spent 27% of their income on mortgage payments, up from 24.5% in the previous quarter and 25.3% one year ago.
  • Lack of inventory and affordability continued to impact first-time buyers during the second quarter. For a typical starter home valued at $342,200 with a 10% down payment loan, the monthly mortgage payment grew to $2,012, up 9.9% from the previous quarter ($1,830). That was an increase of more than $200, or 11.3%, from one year ago ($1,807).

    First-time buyers typically spent 40.7% of their family income on mortgage payments, up from 37.1% in the prior quarter.

  • A family needed a qualifying income of at least $100,000 to afford a 10% down payment mortgage in 40.3% of markets, up from 33% in the prior quarter. Yet, a family needed a qualifying income of less than $50,000 to afford a home in 6.3% of markets, down from 10% in the previous quarter.

Data tables for MSA home prices (single-family and condo) are posted on NAR’s website. If insufficient data is reported for an MSA in a particular quarter, it is listed as N/A.

© 2023 Florida Realtors®


Four Tips for Creating a Healthy Agency Culture

Start with core values – but importantly, write them down to create a clear guide for the agency’s direction. It also helps keep everyone onboard if you make them short.

NEW YORK – To thrive, real estate agencies need to nurture a healthy and prosperous culture. RexMont Real Estate CEO Adriano Tori offers four tips to help agencies do that.

The first: Create core values so there’s a clear guide for the brokerage’s direction.

“Whatever those core values are, define them and put them in writing,” Tori recommends. “In doing this, remember to keep your list on the shorter side.”

Tori’s second tip is to supply agents with a data-driven roadmap that pinpoints the most successful strategy for engaging with buyers and sellers. It should emphasize diligent research and anticipate of clients’ every need.

Third, offer agents opportunities for education and mentorship. It can include a roster of options, such as classes, conferences, panel discussions, online tutorials, webinars and workshops.

“It’s also worth refreshing your agents’ knowledge by taking them through certification courses to brush up on their core competencies,” Tori writes. “Instilling a life-long appreciation and respect for learning in your agents will help carry them far in their careers.”

Tori’s fourth and final tip is to encourage and motivate agents to achieve and sustain a high degree of work satisfaction.

Source: Inman (05/25/23) Tori, Adriano

© Copyright 2023 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Two Central Fla. Cities Best for Hybrid Workers

A study that looked at the number of hybrid jobs, broadband, housing, and more listed Tampa (No. 3) and Orlando (No. 15) as top cities for worker flexibility.

ORLANDO, Fla. – A study of 70 U.S. cities by CommercialSearch – part of the Yardi suite of commercial listing platforms – found Central Florida cities in the top 20: Tampa at No. 3 and Orlando at No. 15.

According to the study, a number of flexible work arrangements exist, including gig work and fulltime work from home, and hybrid work arrangements appear to have staying power after the complete shutdowns during the pandemic. It benefits employees who gain a better work/life balance and lower commuting costs, and it benefits employers who can save on office expenses.

Top 20 study highlights

  • Most were mid-sized cities with populations of less of 500,000 or less
  • More than half (12) are located in the Southern U.S.
  • Midwestern U.S. cities had the second-biggest amount (5)
  • Only two Western U.S. cities and one Northeastern U.S. entry made the list.

To determine the best cities for hybrid work, study authors awarded points for the variables studied, and cities with the highest points landed higher on the list. Top city on the list, Atlanta, had a score of 77.55. At the bottom of the top 20 list, Louisville, Kentucky, had a score of 54.91. Those variables included:

  • Hybrid job listings per every 100,000 residents
  • Housing costs as a percentage of household incomes
  • Travel time to work
  • Coworking space per every 100,000 residents
  • Custom life quality index
  • High-speed internet coverage

Tampa scored 66.68 points, and its top variables were hybrid job listings and coworking space density.

“Businesses in Tampa seem to have also embraced the hybrid work model: Tampa had the third-most hybrid job listings per 100,000 residents, behind Pittsburgh and Atlanta,” the study reported. “In fact, employment agency company Kforce (which is headquartered in Tampa) ran several surveys last year that showed a significant majority of the workforce that was interviewed preferred an ‘office-optional’ model of hybrid work.”

It notes that office space in Tampa “has become a destination of choice for some of the biggest names in town,” including Nestle.

It also notes that Tampa’s central business district doesn’t have “large blocks of empty space due to flexible work models. … A city like Tampa – which harbors a highly diverse economy – is well-positioned to take on the new work/life balance standard. To that end, one advantage that the city already has is its local coworking scene: Tampa had the fourth-most coworking spaces per 100,000 residents among the top 20 cities in our ranking, thus offering both workers and businesses plenty of options to meet the need for an occasional third space.”

Orlando scored 56.88 points. It’s top-scoring variables were coworking space density and quality of life.

Study authors said Orlando had a lot of high and low scores, and the quality-of-life index was No. 2 nationally. It also had “some of the highest urban densities of recreational, health care, and educational establishments of the cities we compared.”

Orlando also scored big for flexible workspace – about 15 coworking spaces per 100,000 residents – that was also relatively affordable.

“However, the central Florida city earned some of its lowest scores for commute time and housing costs,” the study said. “Specifically, the estimated 26 minutes spent getting to work here represented the longest average commute time among the top 20 cities in this ranking. And, with housing costs in the city accounting for an average of about 31% of the median household income, Orlando also ranked most financially challenging for housing out of all of the top 20 cities on the list.”

Top 20 U.S. hybrid-work cities

  1. Atlanta
  2. St. Louis
  3. Tampa
  4. Pittsburgh
  5. Cincinnati
  6. Minneapolis
  7. Irving, Texas
  8. Madison, Wisconsin
  9. Raleigh, North Carolina
  10. Scottsdale, Arizona
  11. Plano, Texas
  12. Austin, Texas
  13. Arlington, Virginia
  14. Charlotte, North Carolina
  15. Orlando
  16. Irvine, Calif.
  17. Durham, North Carolina
  18. Richmond, Virginia
  19. Kansas City, Missouri
  20. Louisville, Kentucky

© 2023 Florida Realtors®


HUD and VA Say ‘Boot Camps’ Will Help Vets

A series of workshops – called Boot Camps – will help public agencies and VA medical centers help homeless veterans more quickly move to permanent housing.

WASHINGTON – The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) launched a co-branded initiative to more quickly move homeless vets into permanent housing. It calls the series of workshops “Boot Camps.”

The HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) “Boot Camps” will help Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) and Veteran Affairs Medical Centers (VAMCs) work together more efficiently. HUD-VASH combines HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) rental assistance for homeless veterans with the VA’s case management and clinical services.

On April 10, HUD announced the availability of approximately $94.4 million for HUD-VASH. It says the funding will support up to11,000 new HUD-VASH vouchers to help homeless veterans and their families access affordable housing, along with an array of supportive services. Public Housing Agencies that registered interest and were deemed eligible will receive invitation letters this week.

“These Boot Camps will help us get veterans out of homelessness and into good homes – where they belong – as quickly as possible,” says VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “Every veteran deserves a safe, stable home in this country they fought to defend, and we will stop at nothing to make that goal a reality.”

© 2023 Florida Realtors®


More New Homes? Builders Face Big Labor Shortage

WASHINGTON – The U.S. is short about 4.3 million homes, according to recent estimates from Zillow – a key reason buying a home has gotten more expensive. But the simplest solution, to build more houses, has a flaw – there’s no one to build them.

“In the wake of the Great Recession, the residential construction industry lost 1.5 million jobs. Tens of thousands of homebuilders went out of business. The workforce really fell,” explained Robert Dietz, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders. “Building that kind of infrastructure and human capital takes time. Years later, we’re still clawing our way back.”

With fewer workers, building homes is taking longer than ever. In 2022, it took an average of 8.3 months to build a single-family home, the longest since the Census Bureau began collecting data in 1971. And as the saying goes: Time is money. So even with stagnating wages, it costs more to build a house – costs that ultimately are passed on to the buyer.

Even as the housing market cools and fewer people are buying homes, the sector needs to add 723,000 jobs per year to keep up with demand, according to an analysis from the National Association of Home Builders. In the first half of 2023, homebuilders added 2,000 new workers per month on average.

In other words, builders must bring on 30 times the number of new hires than the current pace. Builders are trying; So far this year, there have been 350,000 construction jobs available every month on average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.

Stacker looked at the state of employment in the home construction industry and reasons for the shortage using data from the Labor Department, the National Association of Home Builders, the Department of Education, and other sources.

Aging out

The average age of construction workers has increased as fewer young people enter the workforce. As those workers retire, there aren’t enough people coming up behind them to take their spots. In 2022, nearly a quarter of construction workers were over 55.

This trend is largely due to the growing stigma of manual labor and the emphasis on college education for success.

“Even an aged plumber, someone 60 years old, where his or her dad was a plumber, has become somewhat brainwashed into thinking their child needs a degree,” said Ed Brady, president and CEO of the Home Builders Institute, an educational nonprofit organization. “We’re going to run out of people.”

States with the oldest construction workers

In 2021, the median age of someone working in the construction industry was 42, one year older than the overall workforce. In states such as Maine and Vermont, that number was closer to 47.

Part of this is because homebuilders have been focusing on building in the South over the past decade, so that’s where the jobs are. But the other reason is fewer internationally born workers, who also tend to skew younger, are moving to these states.

In large states such as New York and California, immigrants make up more than one-third of the construction workforce, compared to just 1% in Maine and New Hampshire.

Slowed immigration takes toll on industry

The construction industry has long relied on immigrants to fill positions. Hispanic workers have recorded the largest job gains over the past two decades as the number of people from the Americas entering the U.S. has grown. But that trend has slowed as the COVID-19 pandemic and unfriendly immigration policies decelerated Hispanic people’s relocation to the United States.

“Our industry is 30% immigrant, so with a lower pool of immigrants coming in, it’s hard to fill those gaps,” Brady said.

Career and technical education loses favor

Decreasing immigration is only part of the reason for the labor shortage, though, and a more recent one.

Over the last few decades, people have viewed manual labor as an unsuccessful career path. That, along with the proliferation of computers, caused schools to switch their curricular focus to STEM courses instead of career-focused classes like woodshop.

At the same time, public high schools began to measure success based on the share of students who graduated. By the early 2000s, the No Child Left Behind Act required schools to report and set target high school graduation rates or face sanctions. The government used those metrics to determine how much federal funding schools would receive.

These changes put more young people on a college-bound track, as they took 0.5 fewer credits of career-oriented courses and 1.8 more core academic course credits between 1992 and 2013.

Building the future

Looking ahead, both Brady and Dietz agree the construction worker shortage is a problem that won’t resolve itself.

Both private companies and the government must actively recruit and train young people to enter the workforce, which takes time and money.

That includes reaching out to women and Black Americans, who have long been underrepresented in the industry, and providing on-the-job training or apprenticeship programs. Getting more people interested in construction trades is a significant piece of the puzzle in solving the housing affordability crisis. And at the end of the day, builders need people to be able to buy their products.

If not, Brady said, “We’re going to continue to have inventory shortages and price increases that are taking buyers, especially first-time buyers, out of the market.”

© Copyright 2023 Mexico Ledger. All rights reserved. Story editing by Ashleigh Graf. Copy editing by Kristen Wegrzyn.


Less than 1 of 5 Americans Say ‘Good Time to Buy’

82% of consumers said it’s a “bad time to buy” a home in Fannie Mae’s July survey – an all-time low. And those saying “good time to buy” dropped from 22% to 18%.

WASHINGTON – Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) increased slightly in July, though consumers’ growing confidence about their personal financial situations was largely offset by additional pessimism about homebuying conditions.

Half of the HPSI’s six components rose month-to-month, but more than four out of five consumers (82%) said that it’s a “bad time to buy” a home – a new survey high and up from 78% in June. The full index is up 4.0 points year over year.

“While consumers are reporting confidence in the components related to their personal financial situations, it’s unlikely we’ll see housing sentiment catch up to other broader economic confidence measures until there is meaningful improvement to home purchase affordability,” says Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae senior vice president and chief economist.

“In July, a significant majority of consumers indicated that their jobs are stable and that their incomes are the same or better than they were twelve months ago,” he says, even as buying attitudes hit an all-time low.

“Unsurprisingly, consumers continue to attribute the challenging conditions to high home prices and unfavorable mortgage rates,” Duncan adds. “Further, the share of consumers expecting home prices to continue to rise has also been on a steady climb since March, which may only add to perceptions of unaffordability.”

Duncan also notes some stagnation in the “good time to sell” component. That, he suggests, means “the current low levels of existing homes for sale will likely continue to persist in the near term, as also reflected in our latest forecast.”

Home Purchase Sentiment Index highlights for July

  • The HPSI increased in July by 0.8 points to 66.8, and it’s up 4.0 points year-to-year.
  • Good/bad time to buy: The percentage of respondents who say it’s a good time to buy a home decreased from 22% to 18%; the percentage who say it is a bad time to buy increased from 78% to 82%.
  • Good/bad time to sell: The percentage who say it’s a good time to sell was unchanged at 64%; the percentage who say it’s a bad time to sell was also unchanged at 36%.
  • Home price expectations: The percentage expecting home prices to go up in the next 12 months increased from 36% to 41%; the percentage saying prices will go down decreased from 26% to 24%.; the share who think home prices will stay the same decreased from 37% to 34%.
  • Mortgage rate expectations: The percentage who say mortgage rates will go down in the next 12 months remained unchanged at 16%, while the percentage who expect mortgage rates to go up decreased from 47% to 45%, and the share who think mortgage rates will stay the same increased from 36% to 38%.
  • Job loss concerns: The percentage who say they’re not concerned about losing their job in the next 12 months increased from 77% to 80%; the percentage who say they are concerned decreased 2 percentage points, from 22% to 20%.
  • Household income: The percentage who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago remained unchanged at 19%, while the percentage who say their household income is significantly lower was unchanged at 10%, and the percentage who say their household income is about the same remained unchanged at 71%.

© 2023 Florida Realtors®