Farmer’s Market to Resume in Rosemary Beach

Starting May 5, the 30A Farmer’s Market is coming to Rosemary Beach in the Town Center rain or shine, every Sunday year round from 9am-2pm and on Thursdays starting May 30 through Labor Day weekend from 9am-2pm.

The 30A Farmer’s Market will feature the best of locally grown farm fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, beef, and chicken, fresh local seafood, artisan bread, homemade pastas, sauces, meatballs, BBQ sauce, local honey, grits, herbs, olive oil and vinegars, preserves, salsa’s and chow-chows.

It’s an International Farmer’s Market Event with food from around the world including homemade Greek food, Greek pastries, many delicious baked cakes, pies, tarts and cupcakes. Try the Gelato and wonderful jams, and take home fresh flowers to dress up any room.

Zombie Foreclosure–What is it?

Zombie foreclosures happen when the homeowner assumes they have lost their home and moves when the bank begins foreclosure, but the foreclosure process is never completed. So both the homeowner and their title are caught in between this world and the next, like a zombie.

The problem is that once the homeowner leaves, there’s an opportunity for real estate taxes to go unpaid and the property to go unmaintained, which often leads to code enforcement violations, vandals, and even squatters. You wind up with a whole slew of new problems—which the homeowner, not the bank, can still be liable for without even knowing it

Your first step when fighting back against a zombie foreclosure is to check the county or tax records. These are online in most areas now and will show you if you’re still on the title.

Anyone who has been foreclosed on might want to do this, if only to be sure. If you see that the bank has started but not finished a foreclosure, contact the bank and try to find out what their plans are.

The good news is that most banks are far more open nowadays to negotiate a short sale, deed in lieu of foreclosure, or agree to a loan modification than they were when most of these foreclosure cases were started.

The next step is to review current records for past due taxes, code violations, or other liens, and check out the property condition. You want to make sure you do what you can to avoid any more damage than what has already occurred and to also secure the home.

Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to rent the home or move back into it—a happier ending than most zombie movies get to see.

 

Trulia: Owning Costs 44% Less than Renting

Home price gains may be outpacing increases in rent, but the cost of being a homeowner is still much less than that of a renter, according to Trulia’s Winter 2013 Rent vs. Buy report.

After factoring all cost components including transaction costs, taxes, and opportunity costs, Trulia found buying a home is 44 percent cheaper than renting, down slightly from 46 percent a year ago.

“Although buying a home is still cheaper than renting, the gap is closing,” said Jed Kolko, Trulia’s chief economist. “In 2013, home prices should rise faster than rents, and mortgage rates are likely to rise in the next year as the economy improves. By next year, buying could be more expensive than renting in some housing markets, even for people with the best credit.”

In the last year, asking home prices showed a 7 percent gain compared to a 3.2 percent increase in rents during the same time period, according to data from the real estate site.

Trulia explained low mortgage rates have kept the cost of owning down; for the analysis, a 3.5 percent mortgage rate was assumed.

The San Francisco-based company also revealed that out of the 100 largest metros analyzed, buying was more affordable than renting in all metros.

In some metros, the cost of buying was much less than the national average. The buy-rent gap was the largest in Detroit, where buying costs 70 percent less than renting. For the next four metros in top five, the cost of owning was 63 percent less than renting; the four metros were Dayton and Cleveland in Ohio; Warren, Michigan; and Gary, Indiana.

Although owning was found to be less expensive in all metros, owners in San Francisco averaged the smallest savings at 19 percent, a steep decrease from the 35 percent savings seen in 2012.

If one were to receive a mortgage rate of 4.5 percent, Trulia noted the cost of buying would be just 9 percent cheaper in San Francisco. However, a rate of 4.5 percent would still make buying more affordable than renting in all metros analyzed.

“People who didn’t buy a home last year may have missed the bottom of the market, but they haven’t completely missed the boat,” Kolko added. “Even buyers who can’t get today’s lowest mortgage rates will still find that buying makes more financial sense than renting in nearly all local markets – so long as they can get a mortgage in the first place.”

Other metros where owning may not be as enticing to borrowers based on savings were Honolulu, where the cost of owning is 23 percent cheaper, followed by San Jose (-24 percent), New York (-26 percent) and Albany (-30 percent).

Okaloosa County (Destin, Niceville, Crestview,Fort Walton Beach)Homestead Information

HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION INFORMATION
What is the Homestead Exemption? Every person who owns and resides on real property in Okaloosa, Florida on January 1 and makes the property their permanent residence is eligible to receive a homestead exemption up to $50,000. The first $25,000 applies to all property taxes including school district taxes. The additional exemption up to $25,000, applies to the assessed value between $50,000 and $75,000 and only to non-school taxes. This represents a substantial savings on the taxes levied against your property by the various taxing authorities.Pursuant to the Florida Constitution Section # 6 (b), Florida Statutes 196.031 (6) & Florida Administrative Code 12D7.012 (1,2 & 3) You as an individual & family unit are only entitled to one homestead tax exemption unless a separate family unit has been established under the law. To insure that you have all of the required documents for filing an exemption, please click here to print the Homestead Checklist or go under the Forms Download tab on our homepage and print out the checklist.
Why file? Homestead exemption can save you approximately $600 to $650 per year on your annual ad valorem taxes. An additional benefit to the homestead exemption is Amendment 10 (Save Our Homes), which will “cap” your property’s assessed value the year following your established first year of homestead exemption.
Who May File: Every person who has legal or equitable title to real property in Florida and who has recorded the title instrument in the public records of the county where application is made. The applicant must reside on the property as of January 1st and must in good faith, make it their permanent residence to be eligible.
When to File: Exemption applications must be made no later than March 1st for the tax year applied for. Failure to make application by March 1st of the tax year shall constitute a waiver of the exemption privilege for that year. Homestead exemption applications may be filed after March 1st, but the exemption will be applied in the next tax year.
Where to Apply: Property Appraiser’s Office, 73 Eglin Parkway NE Suite 202, Fort Walton Beach; or Property Appraiser’s Office, Okaloosa County Courthouse, 101 E. James Lee Blvd., Room 104, Crestview.
First Time Applicants: First-time applicants must come in person to file their application and bring ALL supporting documentation in order to start the application.. However, the application and required supporting documentation must be brought to one of the two above listed locations. Only one signature is required for joint owners who are married with the same last name; however, all documentation listed below must be provided on all applications. All signatures are necessary if owners who occupy the home have different last names.
The Following Information Is Required to apply for ANY exemption: (click here for full checklist) : 1. One of the following: recorded warranty deed, last tax bill, printout from our website of your property, closing documentation. 2. Florida Driver License reflecting current Florida residential address (change of address must be prior to January 1st): all joint owners who reside on the property need Florida Driver Licenses. (VALID IN FLORIDA ONLY LICENSES ARE NOT SUFFICIENT). 3. Florida Vehicle Registrations reflecting current Florida residential address (change of address must be prior to January 1st). All vehicles owned by the applicants must have resident Florida registrations. Leased vehicles and nonresident registrations CANNOT be accepted. NOTE: Non-resident military registrations MUST be switched to FL resident registrations, as military members must also comply with the residency requirements for exemption purposes.
4. Social Security numbers are required for all owners listed on the deed. Owners must bring in something that verifies their number; social security card, medicare card, military ID card or most recent Income tax return filed with IRS. 5. Declaration of Domicile or Florida Voter Registration Card reflecting current residential address. If an owner does not have a car registered in their name, one of these documents will be required as proof of residency.

Please read the instructions carefully and be sure to comply with deadlines.

Our office is currently accepting 2013 Exemption Applications.

Prepare for Your Home Inspection!

Ten Tips to Prepare For Your Home Inspection

Here are some tips to prepare the house prior to the inspection. Your home inspection will go smoother, with fewer concerns to delay closing.

  1. Confirm that that the water, electrical and gas services are turned on (including pilot lights).
  2. Make sure pets won’t hinder the home inspection. Ideally, they should be removed from the premises or secured outside.
  3. Replace burned-out light bulbs to avoid a “light is inoperable” report that may suggest an electrical problem.
  4. Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and replace dead batteries.
  5. Clean or replace dirty HVAC air filters. They should fit securely.
  6. Remove stored items, debris and wood from the foundation. These may be cited as “conducive conditions” for termites.
  7. Remove items blocking access to HVAC equipment, electrical service panels, the water heater, attic and crawlspace.
  8. Unlock any locked areas that your home inspector must access, such as the attic door or hatch, the electrical service panel, the door to the basement, and any exterior gates.
  9. Trim tree limbs so that they’re at least 10 feet away from the roof. Trim any shrubs that are too close to the house and can hide pests or hold moisture against the exterior.
  10. Repair or replace any broken or missing items, such as doorknobs, locks or latches, windowpanes or screens, gutters or downspouts, or chimney caps.

Property Values are Expected to Continue to Rise

The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 cities increased 4.3 percent from October 2011, the biggest 12-month advance since May 2010, the group said today in New York. The median forecast of 30 economists in a Bloomberg survey projected a 4 percent gain.

Property values will probably keep heading higher as record-low mortgage rates, a growing population and an improving economy spur demand for housing. The turnaround in real estate is buoying household confidence and wealth, one reason why consumer spending is improving even as concern mounts that lawmakers will fail to stave off looming tax increases.

“The housing market is definitely starting to recover,” said Ryan Wang, an economist with HSBC Securities USA Inc. in New York, who’s the second-best forecaster of the S&P/Case- Shiller index over the past two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Higher property values have “added about a trillion dollars to household wealth just since the beginning of this year.”

Undervalued Appraisals Creating Problems

The real estate market is recovering but still faces hurdles from tight
mortgage credit, but problems with a sizeable share of real estate appraisals
also are holding back home sales.

Most appraisers are competent and provide good valuations that are compliant
with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. However,
appraisals generally lag market conditions and some changes to the appraisal
process have been causing problems in recent years, including the use of
out-of-area valuators without local expertise.

I recently have had two transactions fall apart because of undervalued appraisals.

For more real estate news and information in the Destin-Niceville-30A area, go to www.DestinHomeRealty.com or contact me at 850-305-6256.

 

Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act Future?

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The clock is ticking on a taxbreak that saves struggling homeowners from paying thousands of dollars to the IRS.

If the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 does not get extended by Congress by the end of the year, homeowners will have to start paying income taxes on the portion of their mortgage that is forgiven in a foreclosure, short sale or principal reduction.

So if you owe $150,000 on your home and it sells for $100,000 in a foreclosure auction, the IRS could tax you on the remaining $50,000. For someone in the 25% tax bracket, that would mean paying $12,500 in taxes on the foreclosure.  Similar taxes would apply for forgiven amounts in short sales and principal reductions.

“People trying to do short sales are freaked out about it,” said Elizabeth Weintraub, a real estate agent in Sacramento, Calif. “They’re telling me they’ll do whatever it takes to close by the end of the year.”

Should the tax break expire, a large number of mortgage borrowers could be affected. More than 50,000 homeowners go through foreclosure each month.Meanwhile, the number of short saleshas tripled over the past three years to a rate of about half a million a year.And, under the terms of the $25 billion foreclosure abuse settlement, roughly one million borrowers may have their mortgage debt lowered through principal reductions over the next couple of years.

“If there ever was a no-brainer in housing policy, this would be it,” said Jaret Seiberg, a policy analyst for Guggenheim Securities.

Yet, Seiberg is skeptical the exemption will get extended. Now that the election is over, he thinks Congress will be heading into a “lame duck” session, with very little legislation moving forward through the end of the year.

In addition, the cost of the exemption could make it a point of contention, he said. The office of Sen. Max Baucus, who heads the finance committee, estimated the cost of a one-year extension at $1.3 billion.

Others disagree. Tom Kolpien, the press secretary forRep. Tom Reed of New York, said Congress will likely act before the end of the year. (Reed is currently pushing for the extension on the House Ways and Means Committee).

“Both parties, both houses of Congress agree it’s good policy and it needs to get done,” said Jamie Gregory, chief lobbyist for the National Association of Realtors, which supports an extension. “The hold up is the process. I’m confident it will get done. I just don’t know how.”

Even if Congress allowed the exemption to expire, not all borrowers withforgiven mortgage debt will take a tax hit. If the debt is discharged in a bankruptcy, no tax is due. And anyone who is insolvent — meaning they have more debt than assets — at the time the debt was forgiven — would not have to pay the tax.

BP Slapped With Record Breaking Fine

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Oil giant BP has agreed to pay the largest criminal penalty in U.S. history, totaling billions of dollars, for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a person familiar with the deal said Thursday.

The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record about the deal, also said two BP PLC employees face manslaughter charges over the death of 11 people in the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that triggered the massive spill. The person said BP will plead guilty to obstruction for lying to Congress about how much oil was pouring out of the ruptured well.

The person declined to say exactly how much the fine in the billions of dollars would be. The Deepwater Horizon rig, 50 miles off the Louisiana coast, sank after the April 20, 2010, explosion. The well on the sea floor spewed an estimated 206 million gallons of crude oil, soiling sensitive tidal estuaries and beaches, killing wildlife and shutting vast areas of the Gulf to commercial fishing.

The spill exposed lax government oversight and led to a temporary ban on deepwater drilling while officials and the oil industry studied the risks, worked to make it safer and developed better disaster plans.

BP’s environmentally-friendly image was tarnished, and independent gas station owners who fly the BP flag claimed they lost business from customers who were upset over the spill. BP chief executive Tony Hayward stepped down after the company’s repeated gaffes, including his statement at the height of the crisis: “I’d like my life back.”

The cost of BP’s spill far surpassed the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989. Exxon ultimately settled with the U.S. government for $1 billion, which would be about $1.8 billion today.

Rental Market Tightens, Prices Rise

By: Krista Franks Brock

Demand in the single-family rental market continues to expand even as inventory tightens, according to the latest MarketPulse report from CoreLogic. Comparing lease rates, supply, pricing, and the ratio between bid prices and asking prices clearly demonstrates an increasingly tightening market.

“[S]ome of the new demand is being driven by former homeowners who have experienced foreclosure,” CoreLogic stated in its report. As a result, markets experiencing the greatest growth in single-family rental demand are the same markets that were hardest hit by the housing crisis, including Florida, California, and Arizona.

Nationally, single-family leases were up 7 percent in August year-over-year and have shown a 12 percent increase year-to-date. The August data is not an anomaly but a growing trend, according to CoreLogic, which reported leasing volumes rising sequentially each month over the last two years.

At the same time, inventory has been decreasing. In August, single-family rental inventory was down 11 percent from a year earlier.

The market held about 2.6 months’ supply in August. A year earlier, supply was at about 3.2 months.

Inventory declined sharply this past summer with a strong rise in closings, according to CoreLogic.

Listings are being rented faster. In August, a listing took about six weeks to rent, down from eight weeks a few years ago in 2009.

After declining for two years, rental prices have been on the rise since 2011, rising 2 percent over the year in 2011 and 1 percent year-to-date in 2012.

CoreLogic expects rental prices to continue to rise throughout the rest of this year and next. Rental prices are generally less volatile than home prices, and home prices have experienced increases of late.

The ratio between listing rent and actual rent paid is another indicator that points to a tightening in the single-family rental market. Two years ago when rental prices were declining and inventory was higher, the spread was about 4 percent. Today it stands at about 2 percent.

“[A] weak labor market, tight underwriting for owner-occupied properties and elevated foreclosures will ensure continued strong demand for single-family rentals,” according to CoreLogic.