Consumers file class acti…

February 8, 2012

Consumers file class action suit against Citizens “An 82-year-old woman from the Tampa Bay area trying to survive on a meager social security check is among customers of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. suing the insurer for the way it calculates replacement values.”

Finally, Florida residents strike back!


Florida Ranks #5: The Best State To Live

June 22, 2014

Florida Ranks #5: The Best State To Live


Sunshine and tax break, this must be heaven! Yes it is, it’s called #Florida! Florida ranks fifth as the best state to live.

We’ve all heard Benjamin Franklin’s old quote that nothing is certain in life but death and taxes.

Cold and snow aren’t the only reason hordes of people want to become Florida residents. Escalating taxes in other states are driving them to the welcoming arms of the low-tax Sunshine State, too. The wealthy have known about Florida living in the sunshine tax free and its tax benefits for decades, it’s about time to bring it to the attention of all looking for a tax break.

Well, that may be especially true for property taxes. No matter where you live in the U.S., if you own real estate you’ll have to pay property taxes. However, some states have much higher property taxes than others. The nonprofit Tax Foundation has used Census data over a three year period to find the states with the highest and lowest property taxes.

Florida is undeniably very attractive from a tax standpoint. In terms of having a favorable tax climate, it ranks first in the nation for individual income tax; sixth for unemployment insurance tax, 13th for corporate tax; 16th for property tax and 18th for sales tax, according to the Tax Foundation’s 2014 State Business Tax Climate Index.

Overall, Florida ranks fifth as the best state to live and do business from a tax standpoint, the foundation found, after Wyoming, South Dakota, Nevada and Alaska. Despite the risk of an audit, or worse, a greater number of wealthier people than ever before, are trying to establish residency in Florida because of its indisputable tax benefits.

Conversely, the foundation found the heaviest tax burdens are generally in northern states, including New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont and Connecticut, and Maryland, as well as some Midwestern ones like Minnesota and Wisconsin.

That’s led to some high-profile defections, including the well-publicized departure of billionaire philanthropist and Paychex founder Tom Golisano, who moved to Florida from New York in 2009. He now lives in Naples. The move saved him $5 million a year in taxes, (he wrote at the time in an essay in the Niagara Falls Reporter about why he made the move), not to mention that the dollar in Florida buys a lot bigger and more luxurious home than in NY. “I love New York,” he wrote. “But how much should it cost to call New York home?”

The IRS isn’t the only one who wants a piece of your paycheck – 41 states have a broad-based individual income tax. Only seven states lack an income tax altogether. They are:

• Alaska
• Florida
• Nevada
• South Dakota
• Texas
• Washington
• Wyoming

Note: Two states have a limited income tax on individuals. These states tax only dividend and interest income:

• Tennessee
• New Hampshire

Will I Pay Less Taxes Overall in These States?

Not necessarily. States need revenue to function, and these states will have to make up for the lack of income tax somehow. New Hampshire and Texas, for example, make up for it in property taxes. Both states have some of the highest property taxes in the nation. The cost of higher property taxes, sales taxes, fuel taxes, and other taxes could amount to higher overall taxes in some of these states.

Best States for Property Taxes

1. Louisiana – 0.18%
2. Hawaii – 0.26%
3. Alabama – 0.33%
4. Delaware – 0.43%
5. West Virginia – 0.49%
6. South Carolina – 0.50%
7. Arkansas – 0.52%
8. Mississippi – 0.52%
9. New Mexico – 0.55%
10. Wyoming – 0.58%

Worst States for Property Taxes (Compare to Florida, WHICH IS ABOUT 1.1%:)

1. New Jersey – 1.89%
2. New Hampshire – 1.86%
3. Texas – 1.81%
4. Wisconsin – 1.76%
5. Nebraska – 1.70%
6. Illinois – 1.73%
7. Connecticut – 1.63%
8. Michigan – 1.62%
9. Vermont – 1.59%
10. North Dakota – 1.42%

If you are contemplating such lifestyle: tax free and sunshine, your answer is: Florida Living: In The Sunshine Tax Free!


Kate Smith, Realtor®, ABR, CRS, CLHMS, CDPE, E-Pro, SFR, TRC

Luxury Residential, Commercial and Distressed Properties Specialist

Brosda & Bentley Realtors- International Fine Realty

Direct: 786.412.8510 | Fax: 954.923.4554 |


Mobile site:


“Some make it happen, some watch it happen, and some say, what happened?”


Miami Real Estate Prices Continue To Increase

April 9, 2013

Miami Real Estate Prices Rapidly Going Up

Miami and Miami Beach Real Estate

Miami real estate prices keep on going steadily and rapidly up. The average sales price for single-family homes in Miami-Dade County increased 30.3 percent to $389,368.

The Miami real estate market continued to strengthen in March 2013, as sales continued to increase despite limited inventory, according to the MIAMI Association of REALTORS and the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system. Strong international demand for Miami real estate, coupled with dwindling supply continues to fuel significant price appreciation.

It did not come as a surprise that Miami-Dade County residential sales increased a significant 6.9 percent in March compared to a year earlier. The sales of existing Miami single-family homes increased 6.8 percent. Sales of existing Miami condominiums increased 6.3 percent year-over-year.

Demand for housing in Miami

Both, foreign and domestic buyers continue to deplete local inventory and to drive significant price appreciation. Miami remains the top market for net migration from other states in addition to being the top market in the nation for foreign buyers. Miami real estate experts agree that such demand will continue to strengthen Miami real estate market long into the future.

Miami home prices rose again in March, marking 16 consecutive months of appreciation for bothMiami single-family homes for sale and Miami condos for sale. The median sales price ofMiami-Dade condos for sale, which has continuously increased each of the last 19 months, rose 26.9 percent compared to a year earlier and 6.5 percent compared to the previous month. The median sales price of Miami single-family homes rose 10.9 percent year-over-year and remained the same compared to the previous month.

The average sales price for single-family homes in Miami-Dade County increased 30.3 percent to $389,368. The average sales price for Miami condominiums increased 14.7 percent to $304,472.

Miami residential real estate, particularly Miami homes and condominiums listed in the lower price ranges below $200,000 are declining very rapidly and by a higher percentage margin than that of properties in higher price ranges. Miami has also experienced an increase in luxury home sales for properties listed above $600,000.

Active listings at the end of February were 8.1 percent below what they were in February 2012, when the market was already experiencing a housing shortage. Inventory of single-family homes dropped 10.2 percent, while that of condominiums decreased 6.6 percent.

Housing inventory in Miami depleted

Housing Inventory in Miami Dade and Broward continues to shrink: average of 3 months, 50% below the nation’s average of 6.4 months!

Total housing inventory nationally decreased 9.6 percent at the end of February and was 19.2 percent below year-ago levels, representing a 6.4-month supply, compared to Miami- Dade: 3.7 months for condos and 4 months single family homes and in Broward county: 3 months condos and 3 months single family homes, 50% below the national average!

Miami cash sales reflect significant presence of international buyers

In Miami – Dade County, 66.8 percent of total closed sales in March were all-cash sales, compared to 65.5 percent in February 2013 and 64.7 percent the previous month. Cash sales accounted for 49.6 percent of single-family, a 16.0 percent increase over previous year, and 78.1 percent of condominium closings, and increase of 4.8 percent over previous year. Nearly 90 percent of all foreign buyers in Florida purchase properties all cash. This reflects the much stronger presence of international buyers in the Miami real estate market, double by comparison to all-cash sales nationally accounted for only 32 percent of transactions in February, up from 28 percent the previous month and down from 31 percent in February 2012.

Is it the time to buy real estate in Miami, or you have missed the opportunity?

The following has never been truer: There are only two times in life: NOW and TOO LATE!

As always, if you are serious about real estate, I am serious in helping you!

Kate Smith | 786.412.8510 |
Mobile site:

Some Like It “HAUTE”

December 23, 2012

Some Like It “HAUTE” best describes the category of people with ultra extravagant tastes and pocket books to match.

Now more than ever, Sunny Florida is enjoying a special attention from the many shoppers with distinct taste and desire for “HAUTE” items, and whose shopping list is covered by a card that knows no limits. For those shoppers who want the added bonus of tax benefit as well as REAL value, here is the ultimate list:


What is on THE “HAUTE PROPERTIES” list?

Sunny Isles Hot Properties Acqualina, Porsche Towers, Regalia and Chateau Beach



With fantastic sunny, breezy days and magical starry nights, Miami is in top form to seduce wealthy visitors into dreaming about a part-time residence. Those interested in luxury digs need to look no further! Sunny Isles offers the perfect selection of glamorous new structures enhancing its already impressive skyline.

This vibrant, tony city located just 20 minutes from Miami and Fort Lauderdale International airports, has established itself as a place of high luxury standard, the best real estate properties that you can avail yourself to, complemented by the most amazing infrastructure. Whereas in the past decade, luxury oceanfront condominiums were steadily replacing outdated motels, now has come the time of the ultra-chic towers. Four magnificent projects are soon to grace Sunny Isles’ impressive skyline.

Acqualina Mansions, 17749 Collins: a grand 51-story Mediterranean-inspired tower, resembling an opulent Venetian palace, will feature 79 mansions, 3-5 Bedrooms, boasting 4,557-7,875 sq. ft., only 2 mansions per floor. The Trump Group and Fendi Casa partnership continues in this project aiming to deliver a dazzling masterpiece. Slated to open 2015, The Mansions at Acqualina- 65% sold during the first month at reservations- pre-construction stage with prices starting at $7,800,000, now over 80% sold:

Chateau Beach, 17475 Collins: featuring a distinctive South Florida architecture and stylish beautifully finished condos. 84 total units, 2-4 bedrooms plus PH units, Bedrooms: 2 – 4, Unit Sizes: 1,488 – 9,300 sq. ft., Architect: Kobi Karp, Developer: Chateau Group.

Porsche Design Tower, 18555 Collins: is the world’s first condominium complex with elevators that will take residents directly to their units in their cars. The 57-story, $560 million tower will have 132 ultra-luxurious condo “palaces”. Units will range from 3,800 to 9,500 square feet and could cost up to $9 million, with spectacular ocean views and opulent amenities.

Regalia, 19505 Collins: a 43-story luxury condominium designed by Arquitectonica’s Bernardo Fort-Brescia and, one the brightest diamonds in the crown of Sunny Isles Beach. The 39 elegant residences, just one to a floor with 5,515 interior square feet, feature unobstructed 360-degree views of ocean and ICW and large, 2,100-square-foot, 10-foot deep terrace. Prices begin at $6.2M.

To view the selection of the hottest properties in Sunny Isles Beach:

Holiday Shopping? Check out “Sunny Isles Beach- The Luxury Collection”, by Looking to buy your oceanfront condo in Sunny Isles Beach, call Sunny Isles Realtor, Kate smith 786-412-8510 today!

The HAUTE Shopping List
The HAUTE shopping list,
featuring extraordinary items such as: Haute Couture items for her and him ranging from elegant and classical creations by Chanel, Dior, Elie Saab, astonishing evening gowns by Zuhair Murad to even more extravagant Victoria’s Secret $2.5M fantasy bra, hot wheels from Aston-Martin to Bugatti Veyron, Super yachts from James Bond Super yacht Regina, to a super yacht with a matching limousine onboard, from luxurious beds by Hästens Vividus to Hanging Cocoon, or a Jorge Goval’s Zero day floating bed; and of course, the luxurious hi-tech toys from Lamborghini Android Tablet- or Lamborghini gold plated cell phone and $1.2 million for an iPad by Camael Diamonds, to revolutionary leather touchscreen gloves ultimate must-have for smartphone, or Jorge Goval’s Zero day floating bed, a private island in Fiji, and last but not least, a man’s best friend: would it be a $1.6 million for the world’s most expensive dog Red Tibetan Mastiff, or a thoroughbred racing horse? Tick-tock, still time to shop!

Happy Holidays to all from!

Affluent French Make Plans To Relocate

May 14, 2012


PARIS – May 14, 2012 – France’s national election will mean a change of residence for many more French than simply outgoing President Nicolas Sarkozy, a real estate firm says.

Winkworth, a real estate firm in South Kensington, Britain, said there has been a 50 percent jump in customer traffic from France since last weekend’s election, which analysts attribute to Socialist President-elect Francois Hollande’s plans to raise taxes on the wealthy, The Daily Telegraph reported Sunday.

Hollande, who defeated the center-right Sarkozy last weekend, has said his tax policy would include raising the tax rate to 75 percent for those earning $1.2 million per year or more. He also expects to raise the tax rate to 45 percent for those earning $193,000 per year or more.

On the other side of the English Channel, British Prime Minister David Cameron is planning to cut the 50 percent tax rate for those earning $241,000 per year or more to 45 percent. This explains the sudden interest in relocating, said one banker.

Hollande has also said, flat out, “I don’t like the rich.”

One French financier remarked that the new French president has triggered “the third-biggest exodus from France – the first being the Revolution and the second when (Socialist President Francois) Mitterrand got into power.”

Copyright © United Press International 2012

Florida Real Estate Buzz: THE HEIGHT OF COOL

May 10, 2012

Luxury resort development and sky-scraping sports cars jazz up miami’s soaring real estate scene. It’s not just foreign investors fueling Miami’s comeback. As the local real estate market faces a renaissance and prices rise, heavyweight developers – Donald Trump in Doral and Gil Dezer in Sunny Isles Beach – are jumping back on the investing wagon to get a piece of the pie before there’s nothing left. Trump plans to work his magic (and millions) on a weathered Doral golf course and hotel and turn it into a luxury resort. Dezer is teaming up with sports car maker Porsche for a one-of-a-kind futuristic condo tower. In general, Luxury homes in SE Florida are selling for nearly what they were at the peak, even if the market in the other states and markets remains in the dumps.

And, the today’s headlines from Miami Association Of Realtors anounce: Miami condo prices jump 38% in the first quarter of 2012, inventory drops 33%.

The median sales price of a Miami-Dade County condominium rose by 38 percent in the first quarter, compared to the same period in 2011, according to a report from the Miami Association of Realtors. The median single-family home sales price rose to $174,799, a 14 percent increase compared to the first three months of 2011. “In the first quarter, we have seen further decline of housing inventory in Miami-Dade County, coupled with consistent and significant price appreciation,” said Martha Pomares, 2012 Chairman of the Board of the Miami Association of Realtors.

Record home sales, which were greatly boosted by foreign buyers and investors in Miami-Dade County, have further strengthened the local real estate market and economy.” The price increases came despite short sales and REOs continuing to account for a significant proportion of closed home sales.

Whereas the prices went up by 38%, the inventory in Miami fell by 33 percent in the same period.

Stay tuned for more real estate news.

South Florida’s High-End Properties In High Demand

May 9, 2012

This excellent story by Miami Herald: The Rich Niche: South Florida’s High-End Properties In High Demand – Breaking News –, offers good insights on what is really happening in our lovely South East Florida. Before I share it with you all, I would like to include the following “Points To Ponder”:

Where do the affluent buyers shift their attention to? 

The scene: Luxury Real Estate, SE Florida- Sunny Isles, Miami Beach, Down Town Miami.

The players: Europe, South America, US, Israel, Russia. 

The circumstances: Europe’s Political and economic tensions not only push up U.S. bond prices, but also boost the US real estate markets, as some of its most affluent residents start looking for stability and comfort elsewhere. Political instability in South America, has always been the driving force out for some of these countries’ investors. General disappointment and loss of confidence in the stock market was the determining factor for the local luxury buyer. Israel has a technologically advanced market economy and although the global financial crisis of 2008-09 spurred a brief recession in Israel, the economy has recovered better than most advanced, comparably sized economies, thus producing a number of substantial investors. Russia: as the number of Russian billionaires almost doubled over the last year to 101, (reported by Forbes), our sunny coast plays host to some.

The results:Luxury homes in SE Florida are selling for nearly what they were at the peak, even if the market as a whole remains in the dumps. 

The article below is one of the many articles in the last 6 months or so, attesting to the fast recovery in SE Florida’s real estate. It offers truthful reports and statistical figures making two points: the luxury market in SE Florida not only remains the most resilient market, but continues to grow, and second, it creates an “after effect”, that influences positively many other segments of the local market, causing them to recover faster. With that said, why I wonder, so many people are still waiting for our local market to bottom out??? 

Read more here:

For accurate real estate reports, services and helping you find your real estate deal, contact:

Kate Smith, Realtor®, ABR, CRS, CLHMS, CDPE, E-Pro, SFR, TRC
Luxury Residential, Commercial and Distressed Properties Specialist
Direct: 786.412.8510

Short Sales: New Trends Making It From Short To Shock?

April 24, 2012

Despite of the numerous headlines proclaiming that short sales are improving greatly, convincing the unsuspecting reader that the time has arrived to write up an offer on one, this could not be further from the truth.

Now, more than ever one should avoid short sales. Even though the general perception is that the banks “are getting slightly easier to deal with”: offering programs and online platforms for short sale sellers and their agents, the transactions themselves are getting even tougher to close.

Although, it is clear that foreclosures are costly and expensive for banks, the fact that banks are hugely reluctant to participate in HAFA is a shocking reality. Here are a few common statements: banks are not in the business of buying or selling homes. When banks foreclose on a home, they become responsible for selling it. It’s difficult for banks to sell foreclosed homes, yet they still do everything possible to complicate short sale process and they continue to do everything possible to deny short sales, rather than approve it. Well, there might be a new good reasons for the banks now chose to opt for foreclosures, read on and you will be shocked.

Making Home Affordable. “Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program”: the statement behind HAFA, is powerful and clear, and the government put so much good will and effort behind it. Unfortunately, it remains just a “wishful thinking”! The banks now more than ever, proclaim one thing but do entirely different “behind the scenes”.

Here are a few new trends to watch:

BPO’s continue to come ABOVE current market value! Seriously, where is the logic in this?

Investors: Banks hide behind their “investors”: a very dangerous and fast-growing trend.

One of my short sales was denied yesterday because the “investor” wanted to net 25% more than the actual market value! What a preposterous request! The property was listed at current market value, supported by current and relevant comps, and surprisingly, by the bank’s own BPO.  The contract price was slightly higher than the listing price, respectively higher than current market, yet the “investor” wanted more! That same “investor” made a statement that they prefer to foreclose rather than agree to accept a contract slightly above market. One cannot help it but wonder where were these “investors” when the banks were in a desperate need of financial help? The government not only stepped in and “bailed out” the banks, but continues to seek programs and solutions to restore the economic balance. It is intolerable that the banks do not reciprocate in playing their important part in the process, or at least honor their part of the deal.

Non-institutional liens: In many cases, short sale lenders are unwilling to use any money from the sale proceeds in order to help the short sale seller to pay off these non-institutional liens. You can talk with the lender until you are blue in the face, but there are certain investors and specific lien holders that will refuse to give in and allow any money towards non-institutional liens, such as: state tax liens, abstracts of judgment and HOA liens continue to be a huge hurdle to closing short sale transactions.

Incentives, offered to sellers: not honored. Many are the banks that advertised attractive incentives to those sellers willing to consider short-selling their home. It is now very clear that some of these banks used this as a desperate attempt to correct the negative publicity they had generated in the recent years. Good example, whereas the original lender was : Bank of America, the file was handled by “Servicer”, Green Tree- and of course they had “never heard” of any incentives offered to sellers…Out of 15 files I had for BOA, 13 were handled by servicers.

Real Estate Commissions: banks continue to request reductions on the real estate commissions and fees. Despite of government efforts to correct this, it is happening again and again. Realtors did not receive any breaks when their business was hit when real estate markets went down; they were not “bailed out” by the government! They took their losses and went day in and day out to do the best they could to help an entire industry in distress. They did not cause the difficult situation of the seller; neither did they cause the decline in the market values, although the banks quickly tried to include them in the category “to blame”. So why do the banks feel that the Realtors should not get paid especially in short sales when both, the seller’s and the buyer’s agents have to double their work to compensate for the in adequacies of the banks? 

Foreclosure vs Short Sale: and, yes: banks openly state that they prefer to foreclose rather than agree to a short-sale on a property, contradictory to the popular belief and general perception that “banks are not in the business to own real estate”! This is the latest trend to watch: banks are looking to expand their efforts in actually foreclosing and managing the properties as landlords.

Wonder, what comes next?

Stay tuned for more on Foreclosure and Short Sale news.

Kate Smith, Realtor®, ABR, CRS, CLHMS, CDPE, E-Pro, SFR, TRC
Luxury Residential, Commercial and Distressed Properties Specialist
Cell: 786.412.8510; Fax: 954.923.4554;

“Some make it happen, some watch it happen, and some say, what happened?”

IRS- Taxes – Finally, All Filed!

April 16, 2012

And, here is what I have to say: “Everyone should be paying their taxes with a smile! I tried… but the IRS wanted cash!”

Fortunately, there is Real Estate! Owning real estate has always been the most beneficial investment. 

Top Ten Tax Deductions for Landlords

Rental real estate provides more tax benefits than almost any other investment. Here are the top ten tax deductions for owners of small residential rental property.
1. Interest; 2. Depreciation; 3. Repairs;  4. Local Travel; 5. Long Distance Travel; 6. Home Office; 7. Employees and Independent Contractors; 8. Casualty and Theft Losses; 9. Insurance; 10. Legal and Professional Services

Owning a Home — What’s Deductible?

Home ownership allows a lot of tax advantages not available to someone who merely pays rent. A homeowner can deduct points used to obtain a mortgage when buying a home, mortgage interest paid during the year, and property taxes. Your biggest deduction – Interest!

Here are some points to consider:
Defining “Home”:  your home can be a house, co-op, condominium, mobile home, trailer, or even a houseboat. For trailers and houseboats, one requirement is that the home must have sleeping, cooking, and toilet facilities. Even a rental can be considered a second home, provided you live in it either fourteen days out of the year or at least ten percent of the number of days you rent it for, whichever is greater.
Interest as a Tax Deduction: At the end of each year, your lender should send you a form 1098. This is your deductible interest, provided you meet certain conditions.

Home Acquisition Debt (an IRS Term): An important IRS term is “home acquisition debt.” Any first or second mortgage used to buy, build, or improve your home is considered to be home acquisition debt:

Home Equity Debt (another IRS Term): The IRS has another term called “home equity debt.” Basically, this is any loan amount in excess of what was spent to purchase, build, or improve your home.  For the interest to be fully deductible, home equity debt cannot exceed $100,000 and the total mortgage debt on the home must not exceed its value. This can create a problem for those using 125% loan-to-value second mortgages to consolidate debt. That portion of the loan amount that exceeds the value of your home is not tax deductible (unless you used it for home improvement).

Deducting Points When Refinancing
: Points paid during refinancing must be deducted over the life of the loan. For a thirty-year loan, you divide the points by thirty and get to deduct that amount each year. Exception:  If you did a “cash out” refinance and used some of the funds to improve your primary residence, a portion of the points are deductible in the year you paid them. If you obtained a $200,000 loan and $50,000 was used for home improvement, then one-fourth of the points are deductible in the year you obtained the loan.

Deducting Property Taxes: Most homeowners pay property taxes to a local, state or foreign government. In most cases, property taxes are deductible.

Impound Accounts: Many mortgages have impound or escrow accounts. When calculating your property tax deduction, don’t deduct what you pay into that account. Only deduct what is paid from the account to the taxing authority.

Limits on Deductions: You may be subject to a limit on some of your itemized deductions.

Certified Public Accountants: Whenever you reach a point where you begin itemizing deductions, it is best to have your tax returns prepared by a Certified Public Accountant. Internal Revenue Service rules and regulations can quickly become…confusing.

As always, if you need a sound real estate advice, remember that “Real Estate Is A Serious Business; Get A Pro!”

Kate Smith, Realtor®, ABR, CRS, E-Pro,TRC, CLHMS, SFR, CDPE
Luxury Residential, Commercial and Distressed Properties Specialist
Cell: 786.412.8510; Fax: 954.923.4554;

“Some make it happen, some watch it happen, and some say, what happened?”

BofA: Offering Rent Option As Foreclosure Alternative- Good Or Bad?

March 23, 2012

BofA to offer rentals as foreclosure alternative

NEW YORK – March 23, 2012 – Bank of America says it has begun a pilot program offering some of its mortgage customers who are facing foreclosure a chance to stay in their homes by becoming renters instead of owners.

The “Mortgage to Lease” program, which was launched this week, will be available to fewer than 1,000 BofA customers selected by the bank in test markets in Arizona, Nevada and New York.

Participants will transfer their home’s title to the bank, which will then forgive the outstanding mortgage debt. In exchange, they will be able to lease their home for up to three years at or below the rental market rate. The rent will be less than the participants’ current mortgage payments and customers will not have to pay property taxes or homeowners insurance, the bank said.

“This pilot will help determine whether conversion from homeownership to rental is something our customers, the community and investors will support,” Ron Sturzenegger, legacy asset servicing executive of Bank of America, said in a statement.

Among requirements to qualify for the program, homeowners must have a BofA loan, be behind at least 60 days on payments and be “underwater,” owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.

The bank based in Charlotte, N.C., said it will at first own the homes, then sell them to investors. If the program is successful, it could be expanded to include real-estate investors who buy qualifying properties and keep the occupants on as tenants.

“If this evolves from a pilot into a more broadly based program, we also see potential benefits from helping to stabilize housing prices in the surrounding community and curtail neighborhood blight by keeping a portion of distressed properties off the market,” Sturzenegger said.

Foreclosure tracking firm RealtyTrac says foreclosure activity has picked up in some states, as banks deal with a backlog of homes with mortgages that had gone unpaid yet remained in limbo due to delays stemming from foreclosure-abuse claims.

Nevada has the nation’s highest foreclosure rate as of last month, with one in every 278 households in the state receiving a foreclosure-related filing, twice the national average, according to RealtyTrac. Arizona ranks third behind California, while New York has not been as hard hit, with one in every 4,604 households receiving a foreclosure-related filing.
AP LogoCopyright © 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

As always, it pays to consult someone who knows. As I say, “Real Estate Is A Serious Business, Get A Pro”!

Kate Smith, Realtor®, ABR, CRS, E-Pro,TRC, CLHMS, SFR, CDPE
Luxury Residential, Commercial and Distressed Properties Specialist, Brosda & Bentley Realtors
Cell: 786.412.8510; Fax: 954.923.4554;

“Some make it happen, some watch it happen, and some say, what happened?”

President Obama Holds News Conference, Unveils Housing Plan

March 6, 2012
WASHINGTON – March 6, 2012 – President Barack Obama is aiming mortgage relief at members of the military as well as homeowners with government-insured loans, the administration’s latest efforts to address a persistent housing crisis. In his first full news conference of the year Tuesday, Obama was to announce plans to let borrowers with mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration refinance at lower rates, saving the average homeowner more than $1,000 a year. Obama also was detailing an agreement with major lenders to compensate service members and veterans who were wrongfully foreclosed upon or denied lower interest rates.A senior administration official described Obama’s proposals to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to discuss them ahead of the announcement.The efforts Obama is announcing do not require congressional approval and are limited in comparison with the vast expansion of government assistance to homeowners that he asked Congress to approve last month. That $5 billion to $10 billion plan would make it easier for more borrowers with burdensome mortgages to refinance their loans.

Obama is holding the news conference in the midst of a modestly improving economy. But international challenges as well as a stubbornly depressed housing market remain threats to the current recovery and to his presidency.

Obama has not held a full news conference since November.

Under the housing plans Obama was to announce Tuesday, FHA-insured borrowers would be able to refinance their loans at half the fee that the FHA currently charges. FHA borrowers who want to refinance now must pay a fee of 1.15 percent of their balance every year. Officials say those fees make refinancing unappealing to many borrowers. The new plan will reduce that charge to 0.55 percent.

With mortgage rates at about 4 percent, the administration estimates a typical FHA borrower with $175,000 still owed on a home could reduce monthly payments to $915 a month and save $100 a month more than the borrower would have under current FHA fees.

Though 2 million to 3 million borrowers would be eligible, the administration official would not speculate how many would actually seek to benefit from the program. The FHA provides mortgage insurance on loans made by FHA-approved lenders throughout the United States and its territories. The loans typically go to homeowners who do not have enough equity to qualify for standard mortgages. It is the largest insurer of mortgages in the world.

For service members and veterans, Obama will announce that major lenders will review foreclosures to determine whether they were done properly. If wrongly foreclosed upon, service members and veterans would be paid their lost equity and also be entitled to an additional $116,785 in compensation. That was a figure reached through an agreement with major lenders by the federal government and 49 state attorneys general.

Under the agreement, the lenders also would compensate service members who lost value in their homes when they were forced to sell them due to a military reassignment.
AP Logo Copyright © 2012 The Associated Press, Jim Kuhnhenn. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Related Topics: Foreclosures
Real estate is a serious business, call a PRO!

Kate Smith, Realtor®, ABR, CRS, E-Pro,TRC, LHM, SFR, CDPE
Luxury Homes and Distressed Properties Specialist, Brosda & Bentley Realtors
Cell: 786.412.8510; Fax: 954.923.4554;

“Some make it happen, some watch it happen, and some say, what happened?”

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