Friday, December 18, 2009

Orlando Home Sales Stay High But Prices Hit a Low

By Mary Shanklin
Orlando Sentinel

The last time Orlando-area home prices were as low as now, it was the year George W. Bush first took office, terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and Apple released the iPod.

Last month the number of existing-home sales doubled from a year ago as prices dipped to a midpoint of $123,000, according to a report released Friday by the Orlando Regional Realtor Association.

The last time the median price was below $123,000 was March 2001, at the outset of the previous recession, when it dipped to $120,287. So anyone who bought an existing home in the past eight years probably paid more than if they bought the property today. During the housing boom, the local median peaked at $264,436 in July 2007.

In the past year, prices in the Orlando Realtors' core market (mainly Orange and Seminole counties) have fallen by more than 25 percent.

Sellers seem to be recognizing the market's extended decline, as the difference between the average sales price and average list price actually narrowed a few tenths of a percentage point in November, to 94.9 percent, despite the drop in prices.

The pace of sales last month actually fell slightly from October, to 2,238 from 2,319but the November total was up more than 100 percent from the same month a year ago, an indication of how much sales activity has been improving for more than a year now. So far this year, Orlando Realtors have reported selling 21,420 homes, compared with 13,435 homes through the first 11 months of 2008.

The Orlando Realtors group broke down the prices paid for single-family homes and condo units in November by the level of financial distress involved: The median price for "normal" sales was $173,960, a 3 percent decrease from October to November; the median price for "short sales" was $122,000, down 2 percent from October; and the median for bank-owned properties was $84,000, up 5 percent from October.

Of all properties sold in November, 63 percent were owned by a bank already or in some stage of distress; the remaining 37 percent were "normal," or conventional sales, in which the owner wasn't under threat of foreclosure.

Orlando resident Bruce Tooker thinks many of the financially strapped homeowners peddling short sales -- listings for which the bank has agreed to accept less than the amount owed on the property's mortgage, to avoid the expense of a full foreclosure -- are still delusional about market prices.

Tooker said he recently submitted a low offer on a short-sale house near Westmoreland Drive in Orlando. The sellers had paid $329,000 for the house at the peak of the market and wanted $200,000 now, but it was worth only $169,000 when compared with similar sales, he said.

Tooker said he's in no hurry to buy because he expects prices will decay further.

"There are just too many houses out there and not enough buyers," he said.

According to the Orlando Realtors group, a growing number of buyers are poised to close on sales: Friday's report noted that the number of pending sales has more than doubled in the past year, growing from 3,326 to 8,633. That included 3,023 sales contracts filed just last month, an 84 percent increase from November 2008's new filings.

Mary Shanklin can be reached at or 407-420-5538.

Friday, December 4, 2009

MMG Monthly Newsletter- Great Information

For the Month of December 2009 --- Vol. 4, Issue 12

Happy Holidays! The holiday season is in full swing. But did you realize that the government already gave homebuyers the gift of an extended and expanded Homebuyers Tax Credit? This is one gift you won't have to stand in line to receive. But you will need to make sure you qualify and that you take the right steps to receive it. The article below on the new Homebuyers Tax Credit can help you get started.

Speaking of standing in line, this holiday season some people may find themselves waiting in line on the airport tarmac rather than in the shopping mall. So, if you're planning to travel by plane this holiday season, make sure you read the second article below with information on passenger rights and what to do if your flight gets stranded on the tarmac.

As always, please feel free to forward this issue to friends, family members and coworkers... or let me know if they'd like to enjoy their own free subscription. If you need any personal assistance at this time, simply call or email. Happy holidays to you, your family, and friends!

The Gift That Keeps on Giving...

Homebuyer Tax Credit Extended and Expanded!

Last month, a new Homebuyers Tax Credit bill was signed into law. The bill extends the tax credit for first-time homebuyers (FTHBs), as well as opens it up to current homeowners who are looking to buy. And even if you aren't looking to purchase - pass on this article to anyone you think might be in the market to do so. This is information that might benefit them greatly, and I'll be happy to be of service to them.

Here is a brief overview of the Homebuyers Tax Credit - and its benefits - based on the new bill.

Tax Credit for First-Time Homebuyers

FTHBs (that is, people who have not owned a home within the last three years) may be eligible for the tax credit. The credit for FTHBs is 10% of the purchase price of the home, with a maximum available credit of $8,000.

Single taxpayers and married couples filing a joint return may qualify for the full tax credit amount.

Tax Credit for Current Homeowners

The tax credit program now gives those who already own a residence some additional reasons to move to a new home. This incentive comes in the form of a tax credit of up to $6,500 for qualified purchasers who have owned and occupied a primary residence for a period of five consecutive years during the last eight years.

Single taxpayers and married couples filing a joint return may qualify for the full tax credit amount.

What are the New Deadlines?

In order to qualify for the credit, all contracts need to be in effect no later than April 30, 2010 and close no later than June 30, 2010. Those in the military do have some special extensions on the timelines available.

What's So Great About a "Tax Credit"?

The benefit of a tax credit is that it's a dollar-for-dollar benefit, rather than a "tax deduction", or reduction in a tax liability that would only save you $1,000 to $1,500 when all was said and done. So, if a first-time homebuyer who qualified for the entire benefit were to owe $8,000 in income taxes and would qualify for a tax credit of $8,000, she would owe nothing.

Better still, the tax credit is refundable, which means the homebuyer can receive a check for the credit if he or she has little or no income tax liability. For example, if a first-time homebuyer is eligible for a tax credit of $8,000 but is liable for $4,000 in income tax, she can still receive a check for the remaining $4,000!

Higher Income Caps

The amount of income someone can earn and qualify for the full amount of the credit has been increased.

Single tax filers who earn up to $125,000 are eligible for the total credit amount. Those who earn more than this cap can receive a partial credit. However, single filers who earn $145,000 and above are ineligible.

Joint filers who earn up to $225,000 are eligible for the total credit amount. Those who earn more than this cap can receive a partial credit. However, joint filers who earn $245,000 and above are ineligible.

Maximum Purchase Price

Qualifying buyers may purchase a property with a maximum sales price of $800,000.

Remember, the new tax credit program includes a number of details and qualifications. Call or email today if you have questions or would like to see if you can benefit from the tax credit...and email this article along to anyone else you feel it might benefit as well!

Flying Home for the Holidays? What Should You Do If You Get Stranded on the Tarmac?

Earlier this year, a Continental Airlines flight stranded passengers on the tarmac for 6 hours. A couple weeks after that, passengers on a Sun Country flight also sat on the tarmac for a grueling 6 hours.

For proof that these aren't isolated incidents, you only have to look back in history to similar situations. In 1999, Northwest Airlines stranded a plane on the tarmac for 8 hours. American Airlines also stranded passengers for 8 hours in 2006. In 2007, JetBlue held passengers on the tarmac for 11 hours. In many of these cases, passengers were stuck on planes with no food or water, not to mention terrible odors coming from the cramped airplane bathrooms.

But what can you do if you're on a flight that gets stranded on the tarmac? The information below describes what you can do to be prepared and make sure your voice is heard.

Know Your Rights

As a result of long delays years ago, the Air Transport Association - which includes Delta, United, Continental, Southwest, and other airlines as members - released a Customer Service Plan stating that airlines will:

Notify passengers of known flight delays and cancellations
Meet customers' essential needs during long on-aircraft delays
Allow reservations to be held or tickets to be refunded within 24 hours of purchase
Be more responsive to customer complaints
The details of the self-governed Customer Service Plan should be posted on each airline's website. So, before you head to the airport, take a minute to review the airline's specific details regarding this plan.

You can check out the Air Transport Association's website for links to specific airlines. If the airline you're flying on isn't listed on that website, you may be able to find a customer's bill of rights on the corporate website. For instance, JetBlue offers a detailed bill of rights on its website for customers.

What Can You Do?

The national debate is gaining momentum and now's the time to make sure your voice is heard. There are a number of ways that you can join the discussion.

You may want to join the effort to put more stringent rules onto the law books. For example, the Coalition for Airline Passenger's Bill of Rights has proposed a set of rights to be written into law, including a requirement that airlines "establish procedures for returning passengers to terminal gate when delays occur so that no plane sits on the tarmac for longer than three hours without connecting to a gate." You can view the proposed Bill of Rights on

In addition, you can sign a Petition for the Airline Passenger Bill of Rights. You can also contact your Senators and Representative in Congress to make sure they take this issue seriously and work to protect airline passengers' rights. If you don't know how to contact your Senators and Representative, you can quickly find their names, telephone numbers, and websites by typing your zip code into the Congressional Directory on

Finally, if you do experience a horror story on the tarmac, you can submit a complaint form to make sure the incident is recorded.

Be Prepared Before You Fly

Before you get on your next flight, visit to download and print two important documents that you can carry on the plane. The first document is the Emergency Kit Document, which lists items you should have handy on your next flight. The second document is the Stranded Passenger Survival Guide, which features information on what you can do if your plane is stranded on the tarmac for an unreasonable amount of time.

It all comes down to taking some time before you fly to know your rights, be prepared, and take part in the conversation. Have a safe, comfortable flight.

The data provided is for information purposes only and does notwarrant credit and/or rate approval.

The material contained in this newsletter has been prepared by an independent third-party provider. The material provided is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as investment, financial, real estate and/or mortgage advice. Although the material is deemed to be accurate and reliable, there is no guarantee it is not without errors.

We are sending you the Views You Can Use - MMG Monthly newsletter because we are committed to keeping you updated on news, financial events and hot topics that may impact or interest you.

And as your Trusted Advisors, we always look forward to hearing from you. If you or someone you know is in need of our services at this time...or even if you just have a quick question or would like to touch base...please feel free to give us a call or email today!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Homeowners Facing Foreclosure Can Rent

REAL ESTATE NOVEMBER 6, 2009 Fannie to Rent to Owners in Foreclosure

Fannie Mae will allow homeowners facing foreclosure to stay in their homes and rent them for as long as a year, as part of the government's latest effort to help troubled borrowers, while keeping more foreclosed properties from hitting the housing market.

The "Deed for Lease" Program lets borrowers who don't qualify for loan modifications transfer their property to Fannie Mae in exchange for a lease. Borrowers-turned-tenants will pay market rents, which in most cases are lower than the cost of mortgage payments, and might be offered extensions when their leases expire.

Fannie Mae wouldn't say in its Thursday announcement how many homeowners it expects would take advantage of the program. The company acquired 57,000 properties through foreclosure during the first half of the year.

Borrowers have to demonstrate they can't afford their current mortgage, but can pay the rent. The borrower's mortgage servicer has to show the borrower didn't qualify for a loan modification.

"If you keep more people in their homes, it's better for the community. It's better for the financial institutions that own those homes," said Jay Ryan, vice president of equity investments at Fannie Mae. "Hopefully, less foreclosure product on the market will help stabilize those communities."

The initiative also would allow Fannie to keep inventory off already-saturated housing markets, and amounts to a bet the housing market would be stronger one year from now.

"I'm sure Fannie is hoping that when they sell the properties, the values will be higher," said David Berson, chief economist for PMI Group Inc., a mortgage insurer. "A year from now, we should be a year further into the economic recovery, and housing demand will be stronger....That will allow you to release homes that have been foreclosed upon but not put on the market."

The program could also help Fannie preserve the value of its nonperforming assets, because occupied homes are likely to hold up better than vacant homes, and rents would provide some income before the properties are sold. "If they can keep the property occupied and have at least some positive cash flow, that may end up being less worse than going the route of kicking them out and having a vacant home," said Thomas Lawler, an independent housing economist based in Leesburg, Va.

Housing advocates and some investors have long called for less disruptive alternatives to foreclosure. The program would provide a "big step" towards giving families housing security, said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic Policy and Research. The rental programs join a series of other initiatives designed to help borrowers who might not qualify for a loan modification.

Fannie will use a professional management company to handle maintenance, and properties that are sold during the lease period will include an assignment of the lease to the new owner.

The move by Fannie follows a similar effort by Freddie Mac that began offering month-to-month leases to owner-occupants who had lost their homes to foreclosure. The Fannie Mae program differs in one important respect: Fannie's foreclosed homes won't be listed for sale. In February, both companies began allowing tenants whose landlords had lost their properties to foreclosure to sign month-to-month leases.

So far, approximately two-thirds of owner-occupants who have been offered monthly leases by Freddie Mac have taken them, and the breakdown of owner-occupants to tenants who have rented under the program is roughly 2-to-1.

Freddie Mac says it is considering whether to extend longer-term leases to some troubled homeowners. "We're looking into our options, because there are certain markets where there's just so much inventory on the market," said Ingrid Beckles, senior vice president of default asset management at Freddie Mac.

In recent months, some industry analysts have been puzzled over why more homes haven't been put up for sale as the rate of borrowers who defaulted climbed higher. Well-intentioned efforts to keep families in their homes have led to delays that some analysts believe are prolonging the mortgage crisis by creating a "shadow" inventory of pent-up supply that will ultimately hit the market.

Separately, Fannie Mae said Thursday it would need an additional $15 billion from the U.S. Treasury after it posted an $18.9 billion net loss for the third quarter, as loans made to prime borrowers deteriorated at a faster clip. That infusion would bring the total cost so far of Fannie's bailout to $61 billion.

In the past year, the government has invested more than $110 billion in Fannie and Freddie, and it has pledged to invest as much as $200 billion in each company to keep them afloat.

Written By: Nick Timiraos, Wall Street Journal
Write to Nick Timiraos at

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Breaking News on the $8000 Tax Credit

Tax credit extension passes House and Senate

WASHINGTON – Nov. 5, 2009 – The $8,000, first-time homebuyer tax credit has not yet been extended beyond its Nov. 30 end date, but it’s very close to gaining a longer life.

The extension was added as an amendment to an existing bill, HR 3548, that extends unemployment benefits. The U.S. Senate passed that bill on Wednesday and, after debate, the U.S. House passed HR 3548 this afternoon. It now needs only President Obama’s signature to become law, and the White House has indicated it will sign it, perhaps as early as tomorrow.

Until the president signs the bill, however, it is not law.

In addition to extending the tax credit for first-time homebuyers under the current rules, the bill adds a smaller tax credit for move-up homebuyers who have lived in the house for five of the past seven years. The bill also increases the income limits of homebuyers from $75,000 (single) to $125,000; and from $150,000 (married) to $225,000.

Florida downpayment assistance

After the president signs the bill and extends the tax credit, the Florida Homebuyer Opportunity Program – a downpayment and closing costs assistance program relating to the federal tax credit –automatically gets extended too. The state still has about $28 million available for homebuyers. The money is essentially a loan to first-time buyers; they receive it upfront, use it for a downpayment or other costs, and pay it back once they get their federal refund.

For more information on the Florida Homebuyer Opportunity Program, visit the Homebuyer Center on

Also check for updates as they’re released; and, after the tax credit extension becomes law, details on the new program.

© 2009 Florida Realtors®

Monday, October 12, 2009

Home Sold in Seville Chase, Winter Springs

On Thursday, October 8th, 2009, I had two super excited buyers' close on their 1st home together. They purchased a stunning home in Seville Chase. These lucky buyers found the home of their dreams. After months and months of looking for their dream home, they finally found it and went to contract on it September 1st, 2009. I stopped by over the weekend to see how they were coming along with their move. They were a bit tired from the move, but still had the same smiles as they had on the day of closing. This young couple still couldn't believe this home was theirs.

This is the very reason why I sell Real Estate.

If you are looking for your dream home or need to sell your home, please contact me at I look forward to working with you.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Latest Updates to My Listing Inventory

I am excited to announce the sellers of this great home in Lake Mary has just reduced their asking price to $263,000. See the details below:

Also, these sellers need to sell their home quick. This is a short sale listing priced at $69,500.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Brand New Price on my Eastwood Listing

Check out this listing with it's New Price.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Central Florida Housing Free Fall- Did you Lose or Not?

A current client of mine was interviewed for an article for our local newspaper, I wanted to share this article.,0,2195025.story
You didn't really lose in housing free fall
By Mary Shanklin

Sentinel Staff Writer

August 11, 2009

Stan Smith has some news for longtime homeowners having a pity party over falling house prices in Central Florida: New research shows that current home values are just about where they would have been if the real-estate bubble had never inflated and burst.

A long-term view of the market reveals that, even though prices rose and fell dramatically in recent years, they appear to have settled back into historic patterns, according to an analysis by Smith, a University of Central Florida finance professor.

"Most homeowners are within 6 percent of where they would have been had there not been a bubble. The people who have been here since before 2005, they should not have been hurt," Smith said, though he added: "... A lot of people did buy in 2005 and 2006, and obviously they have been hurt significantly."

For about a quarter-century, starting in the late 1970s, home prices in Metropolitan Orlando increased 4.7 percent a year on average, according to Smith's analysis of data from a federal housing-price index. Then the bubble emerged, with prices rising 20 percent in 2005 and 32 percent the following year. Homeowners were elated about their fast-growing equity — at least until the bubble burst in mid-2007.

The sharp drop in prices since then — 22 percent from the 2007 high — may have left the impression that the bursting bubble set back even long-term homeowners for many years to come. Yet prices now are about where you would have expected them to be had the dramatic rise and fall never occurred.

Steve Shapiro, who is trying to sell his Lake Mary home, hadn't really thought about it before but said it makes sense that the price he is asking for his home of 10 years tracks the area's long-term pricing trends.

"I think I'm about where it should be with the price," said the retiree, who has listed his house for $269,000 with Exit Realty Central agent Julie Elrod-Boyd — the same agent who helped him buy it in 1999 for $161,000. He estimated the house would have sold for more than $300,000 about 18 months ago, so the price has retreated 10 percent since then.

"It was nice to think it was worth so much a year and a half ago, but I felt like it was a little inflated," he said. "All the homes were."

Volusia County Property Appraiser Morgan Gilreath has obtained results similar to Smith's in his county.

Gilreath recently plotted home prices from 1996 to the present and concluded they are not far below where they would have been without the bubble. The mid-point, or median, for home prices in Volusia in May was $124,900 — down about $20,000 from where they would have been if they had continued on their long-range trajectory rather than inflating and deflating in recent years, he said.

A year ago, the median in Volusia was about $50,000 above the historic trend line, he said; two years ago, it was flying about $100,000 above that line.

Gilreath said his analysis was not as thorough as Smith's research at UCF, but both indicate the residential market is not likely to decline much further.

"The point that the charts are telling us is that we're close to where we think the bottom is going to be," he said. "The question is: When is it going to turn around? I have evidence that it is turning around here [in Volusia]."

Smith said prices in the region may continue to fall but are less likely to do so now that they are so near the long-term trend line — a "positive indicator" for coming months.

Les Simmonds, president of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association, said people generally measure their home's current value against what it was worth a year ago — a short-term view of the market."I feel strongly that, had we not had this bubble, that the median price of the properties would be a little better than they are now, because of the way they've been pushed down [in the post-bubble market] by ... [distressed] properties," he said.

"I said to my wife last week that, when the market was really high, if we had sold then, we could have made four times what we paid for the house." The problem, he added, is that most of the people who sold at the peak usually then bought near the top of the market.Shapiro said that, once he sells his Lake Mary house, he is ready to retire to a log cabin in north Georgia and forget about the whims of the real-estate market for a while.

The only thing that will rise and fall on his cabin, he said, will be the runners on his front-porch rocking chair.

Mary Shanklin can be reached at 407-420-5538 or mshanklin@orlando

Copyright © 2009, Orlando Sentinel

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Brand New Listing at 440 Pickfair Terrace, Lake Mary, FL

This home is a beauty. Check this home out....

If you want to see all my listings, please visit
If you are needing to sell your home, regardless of the reason, contact me at 407-257-3433 or email me at

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Central Florida Real Estate on the "UP" Swing!

My start to 2009 has been a whirlwind. I have taken 4 new listings, worked with two buyers and gotten them under contract. Orlando Real Estate is definitely picking up. With constant amount of short sale, bank owned and foreclosures flooding our Real Estate market, it is definitely a BUYERS market. There are lot of homes currently on the market have great amounts of equity. This is a buyers and investors dream market. Go to to get pertinent information on the buying or selling process and check out my featured properties. There are some great home deals!!!! If none of homes work for you, let me know and I will sign you up to receive FREE list of current homes meeting your criteria.