April 29, 2011

From The Free Press - Fewer foreclosures not all that great

MONROE COUNTY -- Echoing national trends, the Florida Keys saw a large drop in foreclosure filings during the first quarter of the year. But analysts don't believe the shift is a sign of an improving housing market.

Rather, the nationwide drop is largely the result of foreclosure delays implemented by banks last fall in response to allegations of forgery and other irregularities in paperwork processing.

"Weak demand, declining home prices and the lack of credit availability are weighing heavily on the market, which is still facing the dual threat of a looming shadow inventory of distressed properties and the probability that foreclosure activity will begin to increase again as lenders and servicers gradually work their way through the backlog of thousands of foreclosures that have been delayed due to improperly processed paperwork," RealtyTrac Chief Executive James Saccacio said in a prepared statement earlier this month.

Lenders brought 255 foreclosure filings in Monroe County during the months of January through March, or one for every 213 homes, according to RealtyTrac. That's down 48 percent from the same period last year. Statewide foreclosure filings were down 62 percent compared to last year.

Keys foreclosure filings were also off 15.5 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to October through December of last year.

In the fall, several major lenders halted or slowed foreclosure filings after it was uncovered that lenders were signing foreclosure-related documents without first reading and verifying the information -- a practice known as robo-signing. In states which require foreclosure actions to be heard in the courts, including Florida, the robo-signing scandal has also provided fodder to foreclosure defendants. As a result, even many cases that are underway are moving slower than they did in the past.

Ken Thomas, and independent bank analyst who lives on Windley Key, said that in this case the slowdown in foreclosure filings is actually a bad thing.

"At first glance you would say, 'Wow, that's good,'" Thomas said. "But in reality it is not good from an economic perspective because what we're trying to do is reach the bottom of this morass. If you are artificially going to hold up foreclosures or limit them in any way, you are going to slow down reaching the bottom."

However, Upper Keys Realtor Tracy Larson, an agent with Schwartz Property Sales, said the foreclosure slowdown could actually prove helpful to this area in the short run.

"Maybe it makes it look like the market is not as distressed as it really is," she said. "I think it is going to help stabilize the market."

Larson said she has noticed that banks, in lieu of foreclosure, have become a bit more willing to negotiate with sellers who are proposing short sales, where the lender accepts less than the amount owed on a home.

In the long run, however, she expects there are still difficult times ahead for the local real estate market.

"I really don't think we're going to hit a bottom and have gigantic increases," Larson said. "I think we'll hit a low, have a little stabilization, then hit a low. I think we're just going to bounce around the bottom for a while."


April 18, 2011

Florida Keys Listing Activity - April 11th to 17th - Key Largo, Tavernier, Islamorada

64 Snapper Ave., Key Largo - Listed at $399,000
While it still may be spring, our temps are starting to feel more like summer. And the weather is not the only thing staying warm - real estate sales and listings continue to remain relatively strong.

This past week 20 new listings came on the market, 1 of which is already among the 16 pending listings. 17 properties closed last week.

150 Lowe - under contract in just 7 days

New listings include an adorable dry lot home on two lots in desirable Key Largo's Largo Sound Park. This two bedroom, two bath home is less than a block to one of the best homeowners parks in the area, with sandy beach, boat ramp and more.

Pending sales include a cute conch home in Tavernier. Listed at just $145,000, this two bedroom, one bath home was under contract in just seven days. Final sales price will become know after it closes.

Rounding out the sales, there was a beautiful bayfront home with extensive gardens, large gazebo, pool and two boat docks. Listed for $1,975,000, it sold for $1,875,000.

200 Ellis Dr., - sold for $1,825,000
Click the links below to view the listings

New Listings
Pending Listings
Closed Sales

Listing information gathered from the Florida Keys Multiple Listing Service

Links will expire after May 18, 2011

April 15, 2011

Celebrity Homes News from Realtor.com


Jenny Craig's California home is on the market. The weight loss guru has helped thousands shed pounds, and now she's looking to shed ten thousand-square feet of her San Diego real estate, for about nine-million dollars.

Looking for a luxurious home in the Florida Keys? 

Check out some of these phenomenal homes, complete with open water views, island breezes and Florida sunshine.

April 11, 2011

Florida Keys Real Estate Activity for the Week of April 4th to April 10th, 2011

Oceanfront Home offered for $3,195,000
The real estate market in the Florida Keys continues to show improvement, with 32 new listings, 18 pending sales and 12 closed sales.

Among new listings, a magnificent home on the ocean in Islamorada is being offered for $3,195,000. The property is located along famed Millionaire's Row and features 4 bedrooms and three baths, 400 foot pier with two boat lifts and a beautiful pool.

Pending sale, listed at $399,000
Pending sales include a gorgeous 3 bedroom, 2 bath home with ocean views over Harry Harris Park in Key Largo / Tavernier. It features high ceilings, gourmet kitchen and open patios On the market for just over one month, the home is listed at $399,000.

Closed sales include a home on Tavernier Creek, located just inside the Village of Islamorada. This 3 bedroom, 3 bath home features ample dockage, spacious floorplan, open rooftop verandas and more. It sold for $1,282,000. 

Click the links below to view the properties.

Tavernier Creek home - sold for $1,282,000

Links will expire after 5/11/2011. Listing information gathered from the Florida Keys Board of Realtors MLS (Multiple Listing Service)

April 07, 2011

Short sales and foreclosures - true comps or not?

There are very few - if any - markets that have not been affected by a flood of short sales and/or foreclosed properties on the market. Often, these homes sell well below what other similar surrounding homes sell for.  In most markets these distressed homes can make up as much as 30 to 40 percent or more of the market, making them hard to ignore when establishing prices for homes that are not short sales or foreclosures.

But is that really an accurate look at the market?

Four states are considering laws that would affect how appraisers should consider the sale of distressed properties. Here’s a breakdown of what each state is considering:

Illinois: Proposed law says that an appraiser may not “use as a comparable sale the sale price for a residential property that was sold at a judicial sale at any time within 12 months after the date of the judicial sale…” The Illinois law would sunset after five years.

Missouri: Legislation states that appraisers must comply with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, but not in cases when a property has been foreclosed. “An appraiser shall not utilize the foreclosure price as a comparable property when developing an appraisal,” the legislation says.

Maryland: The propsed law is fairly vague, but it says in cases of duress or unusual circumstances “such as a foreclosure sale or short sale,” the appraiser is to “consider” the property’s history (e.g. whether it’s being sold at auction or as a short sale) and “consider” the seller’s motivation, such as if the homeowner was trying to avoid foreclosure.

Nevada: A pending law covers both short sales and foreclosures: “Except as otherwise required by federal law or regulation, an appraiser shall not include as a comparable sale in an appraisal a short sale or a sale of property which was the subject of a foreclosure sale.”

Combine this with the fact many lenders are now using appraisers from outside of the immediate area and you have to wonder: How accurate are our appraisals?

A recent appraisal for one of my sales was done by an appraiser from Miami - an area well outside of the Florida Keys. They admitted that they were not familiar with the area or with the differences of the surrounding neighborhoods. Some of our Keys neighborhoods have better boating access than others, better homeowners parks than others and a slew of other differences, yet this appraiser knew nothing of them. While the house did appraise high enough for the sale to close, the appraisal was still lower than what some smaller, lesser homes had sold for just weeks before.

Perhaps it was the use of the short sales and foreclosures that brought the appraisal down. Should distress sales be used as comparables?

To see how many foreclosures and short sales are affecting the market in the Florida Keys, click the following links.

Potential Short Sales

Foreclosure Properties

April 04, 2011

1st Quarter 2011 versus 1st Quarter 2010 - Florida Keys Real Estate Market

Results from sales activities in the Upper Keys (including Key Largo, Tavernier, and Islamorada) from the first quarter of each year are now in and we're pleased to announce, things are looking good.

Grant it, sales prices are still inching downwards, but if you look at the number of transactions in each category, there is an increase in the number of properties that are selling - with the number of open water homes and canalfront homes sold more than doubling.

Waterfront homes in the Florida Keys are now more affordable than ever before, so it really doesn't come as a surprise that more of them are selling.  Dry lot homes, which used to lag behind waterfront homes in terms of numbers sold, are becoming increasingly popular with buyers who previously couldn't afford a home in the Keys. These dry lot homes are becoming a great way to enjoy homeownership and the Florida Keys lifestyle at an affordable price.

Clicking on the chart will enlarge it.

Real Estate Activity for the Week of March 28th to April 3rd, 2011

Harbor Drive - Offered for $1,000,000
It's been another busy week in the Upper Keys real estate market, with 19 new listings coming on the market, 18 listings going under contract and 24 closed sales! 

Under Contract - Listed at $1,975,000
Among the new listings, there is a very large home with nearly 2,400 square feet of living space on Harbor Drive. Updated and remodeled, this home is being offered at $1,000,000.  

Pending sales include a beautiful home set in a private garden location directly on the bay. It features a swimming pool, 2 docks, boat basin and beach. It is listed at $1,975,000.  

Sales include a bayfront home in Venetian Shores, with deeded boat dock in the nearby marina. Originally listed for $1,850,000, it just sold for $825,000.

Links will expire after 05/04/2011

Curious to learn more about the real estate market in the Keys?  Contact me, your real estate professional in the Florida Keys
Bayfront in Venetian Shores sold for $825,000

April 03, 2011

Ocean Pointe Condos, Key Largo, Florida Keys

If you're looking for an investment in the Florida Keys, you might want to consider Ocean Pointe Condos in the Florida Keys.  These ocean-front condos are well known for their ability to rent frequently and generate income for their owners. Property features include on-site property management, a heated Olympic sized swimming pool, private sandy beach, private cocktail lounge, cafe, oceanfront marina with boat ramp and dockage, lighted tennis courts and oceanfront gazebo - all situated on 69 lush tropical acres. These units provide owners with excellent rental income, making it very appealing to the investor. Use it as your own Keys retreat when it's not being rented. 

Don't let this opportunity to own an investment property in the Keys get away!

Learn more about Ocean Pointe Condos at our website - www.OceanPointeCondos.com, where you can browse all units currently offered for sale.

April 01, 2011

Just Sold! 6 Atlantic Avenue, Key Largo, Florida Keys

We're pleased to announce that we have just closed on the sale of our listing at 6 Atlantic Avenue in Key Largo Florida.  This wonderful 2 bedroom, 2 bath pool home in desirable Port Largo features a large in-ground swimming pool, screened pool patio enclosure, kitchen pass-through window to patio, beautiful yard, two year old roof, community park and boat ramp and more. Bonus room can be used as 3rd bedroom or to expand kitchen & living room. This home was not a short sale or a bank owned property.

6 Atlantic Avenue, Key Largo - sold for $270,000
Port Largo is one of the premier communities in Key Largo. This community has a mix of waterfront and non-waterfront homes, and is also home to the large Key Largo Community Park, which features Jacobs Aquatic Center.

Homeowners in the community also have the use of a private, gated HOA park, with boat ramp, beach and picnic facilities. 

Want to find a home in this great community?

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