real estate


Florida has an attractive real estate market, whether it’s the prices, tropical temperatures, lower taxes and more. However, with so many incentives, there is the doubt: what neighborhood to buy? How is the market for renters? Bendixen & Amandi International, in collaboration with the Miami Herald, have surveyed about 100 brokers, agents, and analysts to help answer these questions.

For those who rent, Downtown Miami continues to be the number one choice. Those with tight budgets may consider the neighborhoods of Homestead, Miami Shores, and Kendal. Investors: pay attention to the Design District. Although it remains popular, Miami Beach buyers, have to watch out for inflated prices.

Below is a summary of the study:



When asked if prices are feasible for buyers, on a scale of 1 to 10, the answer was 7. A big difference compared to last year’s results of 4.6. According to the June report of the Miami Association of Realtors, the average price of a single-family home increased from $335,000 to $355,000 year-over-year. In condominiums, the average price rose 2.1%, from $235,000 to $ 240,000.

The positive result found in the research can be explained as an oversupply of unsold condos and a growing number of new rental buildings – two factors that should make sellers and landlords adjust their asking prices to remain competitive.

“You’re starting to see the repercussions of overbuilding,” said Peter Zalewski, founder of Cranespotters, a website that tracks condo development in South Florida. “The supply of rental apartments is going through the roof, and the cranes come down, rents are going to come down, too. And there’s a 32-month supply of condos in downtown Miami alone, so the only way you’re going to move to a condo in this market is to lower your price. ”

While in the luxury market, half of the interviewees said that the inventory is high and the market is stagnant. However, this is not everybody’s opinion. Daniel de la Vega, president of One Sotheby’s International Realty, for example, said that the properties are being sold for 15-20% less than the asking price but that they are being sold.

“You have seven months ‘supply in the million-dollar single-family home market and 70 months’ supply at the over- $ 10 million range, so there’s a lot of inventory,” he said. “But these properties are still selling, and the [luxury] market is going to continue to appreciate. It will just be at a normal pace, nothing drastic. ”


The large number of apartments being built, approximately 4,800 new apartments for rent according to a study by Integra Realty Resources, and another 5,062 under construction explains why Brickell, Downtown, and Midtown are the top of the list of the most attractive areas to rent. For buyers, the winners are Coral Gables, Miami Beach, and Coconut Grove.

For the fourth consecutive time, Miami Beach was named an overvalued neighborhood with a median price per square foot of $520, according to Zillow. Brickell clocked in second at $ 497 per square foot, while the luxury enclaves of Sunny Isles Beach ($ 554) and Key Biscayne ($ 753) tied for third.

“Brickell has a majority of the properties that are condos,” a broker from Miami commented for the study. “They are always overvalued, because they are catering to offshore buyers.”


Real estate Q&A: Why Won’t My HOA Board Listen to Me?

Question: I live in a beautiful community that is well maintained by the board and its various committees. All is great, except for the roads – they are ugly with oil marks and patched areas. I have asked after this, but it does not seem to be a priority of the board of directors. How do I get the board to address this issue? – Philip

Answer: Most people who want to get their board's attention try to bring up a new issue at the public board meeting. This is not a good idea and will most likely not work.

A board meeting is a business meeting and should be run from an agenda of items known to all in advance so that the members and directors have ample time to research and consider the issues to be dealt with during that meeting. The common tactic of trying to embarrass or ambush the board at the meeting almost always backfires. Simply, the board meeting is not the time to introduce a new issue.

The better method is to send your board a letter outlining your concern. Try to be detailed and propose solutions. Explain why you think it is an essential use of the community's resources, bearing in mind that other residents may have differing priorities. Send the letter by certified mail to ensure it gets the attention it deserves.

If it still does not make the agenda, try again, or even better, get some neighbors to write in, too. Many voices will hold more sway than just one.

Finally, if, after all of these efforts, the existing board does not share your priorities for the community, you should consider running for the board at the next election. When you are a board member, you are able to help set the agenda and get your ideas pushed through. At least, that is, if enough of your neighbors agree with you.

About the writer: Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation.

source: Sun Sentinel

Average mortgage rates rise again: 30-year at 4.6%

Long-term U.S. mortgage rates rose for the second straight week, continuing to dampen prospects for potential homebuyers.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages jumped to 4.60 percent this week from 4.54 percent last week. Long-term loan rates have been running at their highest levels in seven years. The average benchmark 30-year rate reached a high this year of 4.66 percent on May 24. By contrast, the rate stood at 3.93 percent a year ago.

The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans increased to 4.08 percent this week from 4.02 percent last week.

Higher mortgage rates combined with steadily rising home prices have restrained home sales this summer despite the robust economy and job market.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday left its key interest rate unchanged but signaled further gradual rate hikes in the months ahead as long as the economy stays healthy.

As prices for U.S. Treasury bonds have dropped, the yield on the benchmark 10-year note rose to 3 percent this week for the first time since mid-June. The rate was at 2.99 percent Thursday morning. Higher yields on Treasurys tend to push interest rates higher on mortgages and other loans.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week.

The average doesn't include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates.

The average fee on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages declined to 0.4 point from 0.5 point last week. The fee on 15-year mortgages was unchanged at 0.4 point.

The average rate for five-year adjustable-rate mortgages rose to 3.93 percent from 3.87 percent last week. The fee dropped to 0.2 point from 0.4 point

source: AP

When Is It Too Late to Get Out of a Lease?

You thought you had the perfect apartment; and then the late-night house parties started upstairs. Or you didn't realize the next-door neighbor's chickens (free eggs!) love to get going promptly at 5 a.m. (free rooster alarm clock!). Or that awesome warehouse loft was just what you wanted when you saw it over the weekend, before you smelled the nearby refinery first thing Monday morning.

Whether it was an unforeseen condition or an unscrupulous landlord, you're already thinking about getting out of your lease. But once you sign on the dotted line, are you locked in for the next six months or *gasp* a whole year?

Don't worry -- there may be ways to get out of your rental lease ... if it's not too late.

Contracts, Breaches, and Bailing on a Lease

As with just about any contract, your lease takes effect as soon as you sign it. So, if you haven't signed a lease or rental agreement yet, good news -- it's not too late to get out of a bad apartment or house. (Oral agreements to rent real estate are generally unenforceable unless you've already begun paying rent and/or moved into the property.) Once you have signed a lease, things get a little more complicated.

Yes, you're contractually obligated to pay rent for the term of the lease. But you should've noticed that your lease also places some legal obligations on your landlord as well. (You did read the lease, before you signed it, right? Please tell us you read the lease.)

Anyway, if you've already signed the lease, you may be able to terminate it early if the landlord violates the terms of the lease. Violations of health and safety codes, like failing to provide water, heat, or other essential elements, can cause a "constructive eviction," giving you no choice but to move out. Your lease also probably includes a "quiet enjoyment" clause, meaning the landlord must make sure other tenants aren't being too noisy or otherwise impeding upon other your quiet enjoyment rights. A landlord's breach of this duty could also be grounds for a tenant to break her lease.

Statutory Tenant Safeguards

There could also be statutes that allow you to leave early without penalty. Military personnel are usually permitted to break a lease if their called to active duty. State or local statutes can also provide legal protection if your rental property becomes uninhabitable due to a natural disaster. Finally, if you're able to find someone to whom to sublet or who will assume the same terms of the lease, local housing ordinances generally require landlords to accept the new tenant, if it's not expressly forbidden in the lease.

If you're wondering if it's too late to get out of a rental lease, start by checking your lease first -- make sure your landlord has lived up to their end of the bargain, determine whether early exit is permitted under the lease, and find out what the penalties for breaching the lease may be. Then talk to an experienced landlord-tenant attorney in your area.

Christopher Coble, Esq.

New-Home Construction Defects: When Can You Sue the Builder?

After opting for new-home construction so that everything is perfectly new, you may find that everything isn't so perfect. Construction defects are unfortunately a regular occurrence in the building industry, and homeowners can sue for damages. But perhaps the more pressing question isn't can they sue, but when can they sue.

Construction Defects: A Primer

Construction defects are defined as conditions in your home that reduce the home's value. Some defects are patent, or apparent, such as erroneously using black paint in the bathrooms instead of blue. And other defects may be latent, or hidden from plain sight and not normally discovered during a reasonable inspection.

A homeowner can sue various parties for almost any construction defect. Suits for construction defects can come as many different causes of action. Common theories include:

  • Contract dispute, based on the construction contract
  • Tort claims, such as negligence
  • Breach of warranty
  • Strict liability of the general contractor
  • Fraud

Statute of Limitations and Statute of Repose

Here is where the "when" part kicks in, and it gets complicated. Each of these different causes of action is based in state law. Every state's laws can and will differ. Adding to the complexity, each different state law has a different statute of limitations and statute of repose, which will determine if and when you can file a suit. The statute of limitations is the time allowed for being able to sue after the defect was found or should have been found. Statute of repose is the limit for filing a lawsuit starting from the time of the event (such as delivery of the home), even if the defect has only recently been found.

For instance, if you find that the wrong type of pipe was used for draining sewage on the home you had built seven years ago, you may choose to sue under your state's breach of warranty laws. You may find the statute of limitations in your state for that defect is nine years, but the statute of repose is eight years, so you only have one year left to file your lawsuit. As you can see, it is very important to understand the statute of limitations and statute of repose for your state, defect, and cause of action.

For a complete list of these limitations, check your state's civil code. But a basic rule of thumb on statute of limitations is about two years against HVAC and window seal defects, and cosmetic defects. The period extends to ten years for major structural defects on building components, such as foundational cracks and leaks, sagging steal and roof support beams, decks, and windows.

What Should I Do If I Find a Defect?

Although this sounds very complicated, don't get scared off! Construction companies get most of their business through word of mouth, and thus are extremely motivated to have happy customers. If you find a defect, discuss it with your contractor. They might find it's most beneficial for them to fix it, regardless of legal obligation. If not, you may need to talk with a lawyer to wade through this set of complicated rules and see if you have a valid cause of action. Awards can be quite lucrative. For example, a Texas couple won a 14-year battle with the home builder, which included fighting some dirty politics, and ended up with a $58 million award, with $40 million being for punitive damages!

More important than the money is the peace of mind. As Raymond Hull once said "Peace of mind is attained not by ignoring problems, but by solving them". Whether this is your forever home or one that you're flipping for your livelihood, you deserve peace of mind. If you feel you have a construction defect, move forward towards resolution today by calling a local housing and construction defects attorney, because you may not be able to legally settle it tomorrow.

6 Ways to Stop Foreclosure


There are several ways that homeowners can help guard against foreclosure so that they can keep their homes and avoid the negative consequences of this action.

Reasons for Foreclosure

When a person acquires a mortgage on his or her property, the loan is secured with the mortgage. If the person gets behind on the payments or otherwise fails to meet his or her obligations under the mortgage contract, the lender can take steps to foreclose on the home. 

Consequences of Foreclosure

In addition to losing the residence the homeowner, faces many additional consequences if the property is foreclosed upon. The homeowner can be charged for the expenses related to dispossession and other charges allowed by law. In many states, the lender can still pursue a deficiency judgment for any difference between the amount owed on the loan and the sale price. Additionally, the homeowner’s credit will likely be significantly impacted by this event. 


There may be several options available to avoid foreclosure depending on the circumstances, including:

Foreclosure Settlement

Rather than selling the house at auction, the bank may be willing to work out some type of settlement that will allow the homeowner with the loan. 

Loan Modification

The lender may agree to modify the loan rather than foreclosing the property. A loan modification can make an existing loan more feasible by resulting in lower monthly payments, lower interest rates, more time to pay or unpaid payments added to the back end of the loan. In some loan modifications, the amount of the loan may be reduced. The lender may be more willing to work with a homeowner who has taken additional steps to try to meet the financial obligation, such as reducing other expenses or getting an additional job. 

Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure

A deed in lieu of foreclosure results when the person whose name the home is in voluntarily signs the deed to the property back over to the lender. This can help the homeowner avoid the additional expenses related to foreclosure and the public nature of the proceedings. There are some disadvantages to this approach, so it is important that a person in this situation seek legal counsel. 

Short Sale

One common way that a person can avoid foreclosure is by having a short sale of the property. Many lenders during the real estate crisis used short sales as an exit plan so that they would get more proceeds from the sale of the house than they would have received through a public auction. Once the homeowner receives a Notice of Default or otherwise suspects that he or she may have trouble meeting the obligation, he or she may consider a short sale. A short sale occurs when the homeowner sells the property for less than the current value of the property. The lender may agree to this arrangement rather than having to proceed with a foreclosure. However, the lender may still be able to seek a deficiency judgment for the unpaid portion of the loan. Some states do not permit this while others do. Individuals who are considering a short sale should be careful to negotiate an acceptance by the lender of the purchase amount and to accept it as payment in full. Even with this scenario, there may be tax implications to a short sale, so it is important


Filing bankruptcy can sometimes help avoid bankruptcy. When a person files bankruptcy, an automatic stay is issued which prevents further collection efforts. Therefore, a bankruptcy works to effectively freeze a foreclosure. However, the homeowner may still wind up losing the home in the bankruptcy proceedings if he or she cannot show that the debt can be repaid. So bankruptcy often works as a mere delay of the foreclosure. However, during bankruptcy, the debtor and the creditors may be able to work out an arrangement that will allow the debtor to repay some of the loan. The secured debt has priority over unsecured debts. Bankruptcy has many ramifications of which the debtor should be aware and seek counsel. 

Legal Assistance

Individuals who believe that they may be in fear of a foreclosure may wish to contact a lawyer. A real estate lawyer can help explain the process of foreclosure and evaluate the individual’s circumstances to determine whether there are any alternatives to foreclosure. He or she can explain the pros and cons of these potential alternatives.

If you have any additional questions or queries contact us at (954).944.2799 or email info@DSALegalGroup.com 

Source: HG

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact an attorney. 

Is The Zero-Down Mortgage Loan Making A Comeback?

Buyers may soon be able to bring less to closing. They were blamed for precipitating the housing crisis years ago, but major lenders are giving no- and low-downpayment loans another shot.

Several major lenders are reportedly offering loans with just 1 percent down. Navy Federal, the nation's largest credit union, offers its members zero-down mortgages in amounts up to $1 million. NASA Federal Credit Union markets zero-down mortgages as well.

Quicken Loans, the third highest volume lender, offers 1 percent downpayment options, as does United Wholesale Mortgage. And the Department of Veterans Affairs has offered zero-down loans to eligible borrowers for many years.

Also, Movement Mortgage, a large national lender, has introduced a financing option that provides eligible first-time buyers with a non-repayable grant of up to 3 percent. As such, applicants can qualify for a 97 percent loan-to-value ratio conventional mortgage, which is basically zero from the buyers and 3 percent from Movement. For example, on a $300,000 home purchase, a borrower could invest zero personal funds with Movement providing $9,000 down. The loan also allows sellers to contribute toward the buyer's closing costs.

So far, the delinquency rates on these low- to zero-down payment loans have been minimal, according to lenders. Quicken Loans says its 1 percent down loans have a delinquency rate of less than one-quarter of 1 percent. United Wholesale Mortgages told The Washington Post that it has had zero delinquencies from the borrowers on its 1-percent down loan since debuting it last summer.

For Movement's new loan product, the lender will originate the loans and then sell them to Fannie Mae, which remains under federal conservatorship. Fannie officials released the following a statement:

"(We're) committed to working with our customers to increase affordable, sustainable lending to creditworthy borrowers. We continue to work with a number of lenders to launch (test programs) that require 97 percent loan-to-value ratios for all loans we acquire." They add that there "is no commitment beyond the pilots," which are "focused on reaching more low- to-moderate income borrowers through responsible yet creative solutions."

During the housing crisis, zero-down loans were among the biggest losses for lenders, investors and borrowers. However, housing experts say the latest versions are different from years ago. Applicants must now demonstrate an ability to repay what's owed. They also must have stellar credit histories and scores, and lenders require a lot more documentation to prove borrowers are in good standing.

Also, many of the programs are charging higher interest rates. For example, Movement's rate for its zero-down payment option in mid-June was 4.5 percent to 4.625 percent, compared with 4 percent for its standard fixed-rate mortgages.

Some critics say that the borrowers who really could benefit from such options aren't able to qualify for them. Paul Skeens, president of Colonial Mortgage Corp. in Waldorf, Md., told The Washington Post that "it seems like people without excellent credit scores and three months of [bank] reserves don't qualify."

Source: "No Down Payment? No Problem, Say Lenders Eager to Finance Home Purchases," The Washington Post (June 14, 2017)

If you have any additional questions or queries contact us at (954).944.2799 or emailinfo@DSALegalGroup.com


Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact an attorney.