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John Nazzaro PA, SFR   REALTOR®

Florida Keys Real Estate News

Realtors in Fla. expect prices to rise more than 5%
Buyers want 'green' more than they think
Mortgage Bankers: Commercial lending up in 2013
Florida TaxWatch: State 47th in nation for taxation
Fla.'s housing market continues upswing in 3Q 2013
Study: Higher home prices lead to more sales

• Realtors in Fla. expect prices to rise more than 5%
WASHINGTON – March 24, 2014 – According to the just-released National Association of Realtors®' (NAR) Realtors Confidence Index, members expect home prices to continue to rise over the next 12 months, but they expect them to do so at a moderate pace given tight credit conditions and lower home affordability.

The Realtors Confidence Index is a monthly survey distributed to more than 50,000 real estate practitioners. It gauges their expectations about home sales, prices and market conditions. Overall, Realtors expect a median price increase of 3.9 percent over the next 12 months.

Florida is one of four states where practitioners predict the biggest increases – 5 to 7 percent – along with California, Alaska and Hawaii. Tight inventories have helped to lift home values in these areas, according to the survey.

"In states with booming economies like Washington, North Dakota, Texas, Michigan, and the D.C.-metro area, the expected price increase is about 3 to 5 percent," according to the report.

Real estate professionals also expressed several concerns over the housing market holding back some buyers, particularly due to "unreasonably" tight credit conditions.

"Access to credit was often cited as a deterrent to home buying," the report says. "About 13 percent of Realtors who did not close a sale in February reported having clients who could not obtain financing." In those cases, about 6 percent of the professionals said their buyer gave up, while 7 percent said their buyer continued to seek new or other financing.

Other transaction hang-ups were lack of agreement on a price (11 percent); buyer losing a home to competition (10 percent); and appraisal issues (3 percent).

Source: Realtor Magazine Daily News
© 2014 Florida Realtors®

• Buyers want 'green' more than they think
WASHINGTON – April 8, 2014 – More than 65 percent of homebuyers recently surveyed say they desire an "environment friendly" home, but only about 15 percent are willing to pay more for a home with such features, according to the National Association of Home Builders' (NAHB) "What Home Buyers Really Want: Ethnic Preferences" study. The study found that energy efficiency was a top priority across races and ethnicities.

But when NAHB changed the way the question was phrased to emphasize the benefits of environmentally friendly features in trimming utility bills, more buyers said they were willing to pay for it.

In the survey, buyers were asked to choose between a highly energy efficient home that saved 2 to 3 percent on utility bills over the life of the home versus a home without those features. When couched as a long-term savings, more than 80 percent of buyers preferred the more expensive energy-saving home.

The NAHB survey looked at ethnic differences in green housing preferences. Whites, on average, would pay $6,774 more for a home with energy efficiency features that lower utility bills; African American buyers are willing to pay $7,578 more; and Asian buyers will pay $8,251 more.

Hispanic buyers were willing to pay the most – an average of $9,146 more for a home with such features, according to the survey.

Source: "What Home Buyers Really Want: Ethnic Preferences (Part IV)," National Association of Home Builders' Eye on Housing Blog (April 3, 2014)
© Copyright 2014 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

• Mortgage Bankers: Commercial lending up in 2013
WASHINGTON – April 9, 2014 – The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) issued commercial loan numbers for last year in its "2013 Commercial Real Estate/Multifamily Finance Annual Origination Volume Summation."

According to MBA, commercial and multifamily mortgage bankers closed $358.5 billion in loans. Commercial banks and savings institutions were the leading investor groups with $100.5 billion. CMBS (commercial mortgage-backed securities) had the second highest volume, $79.8 billion, followed by life insurance companies and pension funds; Fannie Mae; REITS, mortgage REITS and investment funds; and Freddie Mac.

Multifamily properties saw the highest origination volume, $136.9 billion, followed by office buildings, retail properties, hotel/motel, industrial and health care. First liens accounted for 97 percent of the total dollar volume closed.

"Improving property markets and a strong appetite among lenders led to a very active year in commercial real estate finance," says Jamie Woodwell, MBA's vice president of commercial real estate research. "Multifamily rental properties drew the most financing, and banks and thrifts were the largest source of commercial real estate lending. Despite the fact there are fewer maturing loans in need of refinancing this year, originations should continue to be buoyed by higher property values, rising property incomes and still low interest rates."

Driven in part by increased coverage, the report's dollar volume for commercial and multifamily mortgages closed in 2013 was 47 percent higher than the volume reported in 2012. Among repeat participants, the dollar volume of closed loans rose by 22 percent.

MBA sells the report online: $250 for non-members and $150 for members. For more information, visit MBA's Online Store.

© 2014 Florida Realtors®

• Florida TaxWatch: State 47th in nation for taxation
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – March 18, 2014 – Florida's state government tax burden is one of the lowest in the nation – No. 47. But a closer look at each individual's tax burden finds the ranking a bit higher, according to the Florida TaxWatch report, "How Florida Compares."

"One specific tax ranking cannot tell the whole story," says Dominic M. Calabro, president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, an independent, nonpartisan research institute. "It is our hope that this more comprehensive report will help taxpayers and policymakers better understand how states fund their governments and demonstrate that low taxes in one area often means higher taxes in another area."

Floridians' per capita state tax burden fell to 47th in 2012 (latest data available) – the lowest rankings since Florida TaxWatch began tracking them. However, Florida's per capita tax ranking (No. 22) was higher than many other states in 2011 (latest available data.)

When combined, Florida's per capita tax ranking is 37.

From 2006 to 2012, Florida's state tax collections saw the largest decrease in the nation: 17.6 percent.

Prior to the recession, Florida's total tax and revenue rankings had been climbing steadily, due in large part to skyrocketing property taxes. In 2006, Florida's combined state and local tax rankings had climbed to the 22nd largest in the nation. Since 2006, Florida has dropped 15 places in the state and local tax collection rankings.

"Because Florida relies more on local governments to fund public services than all but one state, and uses non-tax revenues more than most states, it is imperative to look at the whole picture of revenue collection when comparing the cost of government," says Kurt Wenner, TaxWatch's vice president of tax research. "When you consider combined state and local revenue, Florida becomes more of a moderate tax state than a low tax state."

The report finds that Florida's local governments raise 55.6 percent of all Florida government revenue – the second highest percentage in the nation.

It also shows that 38.9 percent of revenue comes from non-traditional tax sources, the 10th highest percentage in the nation. Non-tax revenue includes special assessments, charges for services, impact fees and net lottery funds. In some cases, TaxWatch says government calls these taxes a "fee" instead of a tax.

The report also finds that 54 percent of Florida's state and local taxes come from businesses – the nation's eighth highest.

Another unique feature of Florida's tax structure is the heavy reliance on transaction taxes. Sales and excise taxes account for 82.6 percent of all Florida's state tax collections, compared to the national average of 47.1 percent. Florida taxes utilities, alcoholic beverages and motor fuels much higher than most states, TaxWatch says. However, many other states also have a personal income tax that Florida does not.

The tax study is available online at the Florida TaxWatch website.

© 2014 Florida Realtors®

• Fla.'s housing market continues upswing in 3Q 2013
ORLANDO, Fla. – Nov. 6, 2013 – Florida's housing market continued to improve in third quarter 2013 with more closed sales, higher median prices, more pending sales and a stabilizing supply of homes for sale compared to the same quarter in 2012, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.

"Data from the third quarter of 2013 shows that Florida's housing market continues to grow and gain strength," said 2013 Florida Realtors President Dean Asher, broker-owner with Don Asher & Associates Inc. in Orlando. "The housing sector is vital to the state's economy, and Realtors across the state are reporting increased activity in their markets.

"At 7.0 percent, Florida currently has a lower unemployment rate than the nation, according to the August unemployment figures (the latest state data available.) More jobs will provide more stability for future growth in the state's housing market and overall economy."

Statewide closed sales of existing single-family homes totaled 60,661 in 3Q 2013, up 17.3 percent compared to the year-ago figure, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.

Meanwhile, pending sales – contracts signed but not yet completed or closed – for existing single-family homes rose 17.9 percent in the third quarter compared to the same period last year. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in 3Q 2013 was $175,000, up 18.6 percent from the same quarter a year ago. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

Looking at Florida's year-to-year comparison for sales of townhouse-condos, a total of 27,200 units sold statewide in the third quarter, up 11.3 percent from the same three-month period in 2012. Pending sales for townhouse-condos in 3Q 2013 increased 12.4 percent compared to a year ago, while the statewide median for townhouse-condo properties was $130,000, up 23.8 percent over the same quarter last year.

In 3Q 2013, the median days on market (the midpoint of the number of days it took for a property to sell that month) was 48 days for single-family homes and 54 days for townhouse-condo properties.

"What's remarkable for the third quarter data is that all metro areas in Florida show year-over-year increases in both prices and sales for single-family homes, and year-over-year increases in sales for condo-townhome properties," says Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. John Tuccillo. "Inventories have begun to pick up a little bit, which may be consistent with cash sales declining as a percentage of overall sales. We're alert to the fact that it may signal a trend, which could be good for the long-term stabilization and health of Florida's housing market."

The inventory for both single-family homes and for townhouse-condo properties stood at a 5.3 months' supply for the third quarter, according to Florida Realtors.

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.44 percent for 3Q 2013, up from the previous year's average of 3.54 percent, according to Freddie Mac.

To see the full statewide housing activity reports, go to the Research & Statistics section of

© 2013 Florida Realtors®

• Study: Higher home prices lead to more sales
SAN FRANCISCO – Oct. 29, 2013 – If home prices edge higher, the housing market will see higher home sales, according to a new paper by two senior economists with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. The economists note that it's not that the higher prices entice buyers as much as the higher prices entice owners to sell their homes, thereby helping to alleviate current inventory shortages.

Many sellers are still waiting out the market until home prices rise more, economists William Hedberg and John Krainer write in an article in the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco's Economic Letter titled "Why Are Housing Inventories Low?" In the past year, existing-home prices have edged up 11.7 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Still, despite rising appreciation, some sellers are underwater on their mortgage or do not have enough equity yet to motivate them to sell. Research has shown that counties with a high share of underwater mortgages tend to have the smallest for-sale inventories.

The economists say that a distinct pattern exists in housing inventories, with the number of homes for sale rising in good times and falling in bad times. Some of it can be explained by credit, they say. Lenders tend to ease credit restrictions during good economic times, which helps more buyers enter the market.

But the economists say that the level of home prices and changes in employment are by far the variables that most influences the inventory of homes for sale.

"Once these are accounted for, other variables, such as changes in the for-rent inventory, the underwater share or local price-rent ratios, do little to explain the inventory of houses for sale," Mortgage News Daily reports on the study. "Thus, current homeowners may be making a rational choice to postpone selling in the hope that prices will rise further. However, this behavior tends to be short run. In the longer run, the link between the level of house prices and for-sale inventories is strong. If prices continue to rise, inventories for sale should eventually rise too."

The housing markets that have seen the strongest house price appreciation and job growth are the ones that are seeing for-sale inventories rise the most, the economists note.

Source: "More People Will Buy Homes if Prices go Up, Wait... What?" Mortgage News Daily (Oct. 21, 2013)

© Copyright 2013 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

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