Josephine Godinez, PA
March 2009

Existing Home Sales & Housing Starts Up in February

March 23, 2009 by Josephine · Leave a Comment 

I’ve always found the anticipation of receiving important news to be somewhat like what many of us felt as children waiting to see what was left in our Christmas stockings. From economic and real estate perspectives, much of the news in late 2008 could have been equated with finding the proverbial lump of coal in our stockings. Not so this past month, as February turned out to be the bearer of candy canes and jewelry boxes.

According to the National Association of Realtors, sales of existing homes rose 5.1% in February. Not to be outdone, housing starts (new construction) across the country jumped an estimated 22.1% (February 2009 vs. January 2009). According to the U.S. Commerce Department, work began in February on an annual rate of 583,000 new homes with the Northeast leading the way (88.6%), followed by the Midwest (58.5%) and South (30.2%).

While these are undoubtedly positive signs to be welcomed by all, the reality is that one month does not a trend make.  As always, you should first look to your own financial situations as well as the conditions of your local real estate markets before making any moves. For those of us in South Florida, and as mentioned in previous posts, there is no question that both buyers and sellers are very active. In fact, I’m beginning to see serious interest from out-of-state buyers in the now readjusted home prices to be found in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. It is important to note that these interested parties have not been speculators, but rather those who are serious about relocating to or retiring in South Florida.

In what might prove to be another bit of good news, just this morning the Obama Administration announced renewed efforts to buy “toxic assets” from banks in order to free funds for purposes of lending to consumers for the purchase of homes, cars and more (e.g. student loans, etc.). Although we might still run into a few more bumps in the road, as a nation we look forward to finding many more pleasant surprises in our stockings this year!

2614 Oakbrook Court - Weston, FL

March 17, 2009 by Josephine · Leave a Comment 

2614_front_lgLocated in the highly sought-after Weston Hills Country Club, this immaculate 5 bedroom / 3 bath beauty features upgrades and extras in every part of the home. Call the police! This one is a steal at $569k.

Why Now is the Right Time to Buy a House

March 16, 2009 by Josephine · Leave a Comment 

Let me preface the following with a reality check - after all, that is the name of the blog! Owning a home is a worthy financial objective and truly represents an integral part of the “American Dream”. In order to make sure that the dream doesn’t become a nightmare, it is critically important that you consider home ownership in context of your ability to qualify and pay for a mortgage. If you are good to go financially, now is a great time to consider buying a home as the playing field has definitely tipped in your favor.

1. Home Prices - In many cases, home prices have returned to levels not seen since 2002. These prices (along with other elements noted below that factor into overall home affordability) have served to motivate not only those first-time buyers looking in the sub-$250k market but also those trading up from their first home to something more spacious and in line with their desired quality of life.

2. Interest Rates - The cost of borrowing money to purchase a home is at historically low levels. While many traditional 30-year fixed mortgages are in the low 5% range, I have recently closed several deals in which these 30-year notes were pegged at rates as low as 4.75% for those with the proper qualifications. President Obama, Treasury Secretary Geithner and Federal Housing Finance Director Lockhart all know that maintaining low mortgage rates is key to their plans to facilitate a rebound in the national housing market.

3. Tax Advantages
- The recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides for an $8,000 credit for first-time home buyers and removes the requirement for the credit to be paid back as long as the buyer remains in the home for at least three (3) years. The tax credit is applicable for single individuals earning up to $75,000 and for married couples that earn up to $150,000 per year. Under this plan, home buyers can purchase a property using FHA financing for up to $729,750 with as little as 3½ percent down. The tax credit is scheduled to expire on December 31, 2009.

4. Inventory - Troubling times over the past few years have resulted in an abundance of inventory. Regardless of the type of property, desired location or preferred amenities, there is a house out there for you. Having said that, properties considered “prime” based upon location and physical condition are not remaining on the market for long. In fact, I have recently been involved in several transactions in which a minor bidding war ensued for just such “prime” properties.

5. Lien Holder Cooperation - In looking for that perfect home, it will not be unusual to come across properties classified as either short sales (pre-foreclosure being sold at a value lower than that of the current homeowner’s mortgage(s)) or bank-owned foreclosures (REO). Working with the banks to negotiate the sale of such properties has become greatly simplified as they are eager to remove these properties from their balance sheets. My first short sale negotiation involved a pristine property in Plantation, FL and required over 6 months of battling with the banks before making the sale. Two years and 50+ deals later, the process has been cut down to as little as 6 weeks! As is always the case, please be sure to consult a professional realtor with legitimate short sale and foreclosure experience before entering into a contract.

While not quite a David Letterman “Top 10″ list, the five points noted above make a strong case for purchasing a home in 2009. If I can be of assistance in turning that dream into reality, please contact me at your earliest convenience. Best of luck!

4680 SW 153rd Terrace - Miramar, FL

March 10, 2009 by Josephine · Leave a Comment 

h853187_front_lgThis well maintained, ready-to-move-in home in the Gardens at Huntington is a bank approved short sale. Enjoy peaceful evenings overlooking the water from your screen-enclosed patio and pool.

It’s Alive! Several South Florida Markets Tagged as Hot!

March 9, 2009 by Josephine · Leave a Comment 

It’s been quite some time since anybody referred to any real estate market as “Hot”, but sure enough BusinessWeek has done just that in their article Signs of Life from the Real Estate Market (March 6, 2009).  While the story is wrapped around the Enerios, a couple in search of their first home in Fairfield - a community in Northern California, it speaks to a trend that is building in numerous markets around the country. What’s the trend, you ask? Simply put, and after months of decline, home prices in some of the more desirable markets have finally begun to settle into the buyer’s sweet spots.

According to the article, “Fairfield—like many of the most battered areas of California, Florida, Nevada, and Arizona—is suddenly hot again”. Does this mean that the great Florida real estate boom is back in business? Absolutely not. It does, however, point to what I’ve seen through my own real estate practice - there is a modicum of strength and stability returning to the South Florida real estate market. In fact, the article speaks to a phenomenon that I have experienced already a handful of times this year; namely mini-bidding wars for short sale and foreclosed properties that have resulted in the ultimate buyer paying more than the asking price.

So, what specific areas of interest to us are mentioned in the article? Cape Coral in the Cape Coral-Ft. Meyers metro area ranked #5 with a 103% increase in sales (Q4-2008 vs. Q4-2007) and Miramar / Pembroke Pines in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale metro area ranked #12 with a 35% increase in sales and a median home price of $265,000. There were an additional two metro areas in Florida (Valrico in Tampa-St. Pete-Clearwater at #16 and Clermont in Lakeland at #18) rounding out the Top 20 national areas with the most improved home sales.

Interestingly enough, and before I came across the BusinessWeek piece, I had intended to blog about my own Q1-2009 experiences during which time I have found the market segment priced at $300k and below to really be picking up steam (e.g. a 367% increase in number of active buyers - Q1-2009 vs. Q4-2008). These positive signs are certainly welcome and I would encourage those who have been sitting on the sidelines to get in the game by consulting a real estate professional today about their specific real estate objectives.

3029 NE 188th Street #725 - Aventura, FL

March 8, 2009 by Josephine · Leave a Comment 

f977519_family_lgThis 7th floor unit in the Uptown Marina Lofts features fantastic intracoastal and ocean views. The 3 bedroom / 3 bath loft is finished with fine marble flooring, italian cabinetry and granite countertops throughout. By land or by sea, you will be right in the heart of the action with fine dining, top schools and the open ocean just minutes away!

6895 Willow Wood Dr #1075 - Boca Raton, FL

March 6, 2009 by Josephine · Leave a Comment 

r2929386_front_lgBeautiful, immaculate, 7th floor Willow Wood Mid-Rise 2 bedroom/ 2 bath corner Condo with exceptional golf and water views. New air-conditioner. Offered with all basic, very tasteful Furniture & Furnishings. Bring your fussiest Buyer. A must see.

388 Coconut Circle - Weston, FL

March 6, 2009 by Josephine · Leave a Comment 

d1325949_kitchen_lgBeautiful Palm Island in prestigious Weston, FL will be home to one lucky buyer. This home features large living spaces and a relaxing, screen-enclosed pool. Your children will enjoy the best public schools in Broward County.

6540 Rainbow Lane - Davie, FL

March 6, 2009 by Josephine · Leave a Comment 

h850895_front_lgThis model home is most certainly the pot of gold at the end of the “rainbow”. This upgraded and updated Yale model includes a new kitchen and 3 new bathrooms featuring marble, granite and only the finest fixtures.

5258 NW 116th Ave - Coral Springs, FL

March 6, 2009 by Josephine · Leave a Comment 

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This beautiful 3 bedroom / 2.5 bath home is located in the very desirable community of Coral Springs. A perfect fit for a family of four, this home is close to several of the highest rated public schools in Broward County.

Josephine Godinez, PA