February 24, 2013

I Received a 1099-C From My Mortgage Lender… What is it?

Filed under: Finances,Short Sales in Florida,South Florida Resource — admin @ 5:53 pm

Many clients who have completed short sales in the last last are now receiving a 1099-C form.  This is because the Lender decided it cannot recover what they owe on their mortgage loan and is therefore canceling or forgiving a portion of that debt.  This typically occurs when people sell their homes in a short sale transaction.
The part of the mortgage debt that is canceled is generally the difference between what was owed on the mortgage loan and the payoff to the bank. Prior to 2007, many financially strapped taxpayers with forgiven mortgage debt were required to pay federal taxes on it, because the IRS treated it as taxable income.

Thanks to the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, most borrowers whose mortgage debt on their primary residence that is cancelled between Jan. 1, 2007 and the end of 2013 will not have to pay federal taxes on it.

Important: Not all states follow the new federal law. Therefore, some people could still owe state taxes on canceled debt.  Lucky for us, Florida has no state income tax so federal law applies! 

Why was the act passed?
Congress wanted to help homeowners who short sold their homes during the nationwide real estate downturn.  The law also applies to people in danger of losing their homes. Debt forgiven because lenders renegotiated mortgage terms to help homeowners can also be considered non-taxable.

Does all forgiven mortgage debt qualify for the tax break?

Here are the requirements:
• The debt must be on your primary residence, not a vacation home or rental property.

• The debt forgiven can be up to $2 million. But for married persons filing separate returns, the limit is $1 million.

• Not all canceled mortgage debt qualifies. The mortgage must have been used to acquire or construct your home, or to improve it.  It can also be a mortgage that was refinanced, but only up to the amount of the old mortgage principal, just before the refinancing.  If you “cashed out” some of your home equity for purposes other than home improvements, such as buying a car, that portion of your forgiven debt is taxable. 

• The debt forgiveness occurred on or after Jan. 1, 2007.

As always, we do recommend that you seek the advice of a qualified tax professional when filing taxes, and to inquire  whether the debt will be taxable or not.

To find out more about Courtney Silverman Real Estate Group Visit our website. You can download this mobile MLS application:  http://kur.io/courtneysilverman   You can get accurate MLS information anytime anywhere.

July 17, 2012

Making a Profit By Sending your Child to the University

Are your kids heading off to university?   Counting the cost of their accommodation?  Buying property for your offspring to live in during their studies could not only cut the expense, but yield a healthy long-term income.

With student rents rising more than 10 per cent in the past three years, the cost of putting a roof over their heads is likely to be one of the largest outlays. But, by investing in digs for their children, parents could be on to a winner.
What’s more, students now expect to pay rent for a full year, despite the fact that the academic year is only about nine months long.

But, by purchasing property, parents could not only reduce the debt burden for their children, but also invest in their own future: they could enjoy a healthy rental income long after their child has left university.

Buying property for your children to live in while studying can potentially be profitable and is well worth considering. Parents will benefit from any growth in capital value. But better returns could be made by buying a larger two or three-bedroom property and renting rooms out to your child’s fellow students or friends.

If you buy the property in your own name, you will not need to charge your son or daughter rent, but you will be taxed on rental income. Any costs incurred, such as insurance, repairs and mortgage interest, can be offset.

Buy the property in your child’s name, however, and there is no CGT liability. If taking out a mortgage to meet the purchase costs, parents can act as guarantor – provided their income is sufficient to cover that and other financial commitments – and make the mortgage repayments.

Courtney Silverman has some great ideas on how lo leverage real estate.

July 10, 2012

May 2012 Analysis of the South Florida Market

Filed under: South Florida Resource — admin @ 4:29 pm

After I completed my monthly market analysis in May of 2012,  there were several numbers which jumped out. The first and most puzzling is the huge drop off of REO (bank owned and short sales) from a year ago; 53% and 48% for Single Family Homes and Condos respectively. Where the heck is that shadow inventory?  Obviously this reduction of distressed properties combined with a shrinking listing inventory has led to the dramatic increase in prices from a year ago. The fact that 42% of the sales close in 30 days is a reflection of the large number of cash buyers.

What does it all mean? My opinion is that this is a great time to sell due to the confluence of number of favorable conditions any one of which, by the way, could change at any moment. Here for example are 3 of the most important factors that have created this optimum time to sell.  The first is less competition from the distressed properties, the 2nd is record low interest rates and 3rd is the large number of cash buyers many of whom are foreigners capitalizing on advantageous currency exchange rates. However,just like the weather favorable conditions may not last. I heard this morning, for example, that the value of the dollar versus the Euro had recently climbed to its highest level in over a year.  If the dollar continues to strengthen it will obviously affect foreign investment in our real estate. 

Best advice anyone ever gave me about selling anything, whether it was  RE, stocks or cars was to always sell if it was a good time and never wait for the best time.  All we know for sure is what’s happening now the future is nothing but a guess.  Many a fortune has been lost by investors expecting prices to rise indefinitely.  Yes things could get better, but then again they could get worse too and often they do! 

As my Dad would say “don’t be greedy, it’s ok to leave a little for the next guy.”

Courtney Silverman is available to discuss the market. Call her.

June 25, 2012

Fed keeps interest rates low

At the end of last month, U.S. Federal Reserve officials reaffirmed their plan to keep short-term interest rates near zero through late 2014. This is great news for buyers and sellers! It is going to keep our local South Florida market strong as people continue to line up to buy. In fact, the hardest part will be maintaining enough inventory of available homes for sale.

As we rejoice in “multiple offers” and “over-list price sales” you have to remember the growing number of frustrated buyers who did not act fast enough or bid high enough.  In other words: Sellers, if you have been thinking about putting your home on the market, now is the time to list. I’ll make sure your property is well prepared and properly priced.  If you’re thinking of buying but worried you’re too early, stop worrying and jump in.

Don’t miss what’s happening in the real estate market right now. Let me put my market experience and strong negotiating skills to work for you. Call Courtney Silverman Real Estate Group at Keyes 954-315-6925.

May 10, 2012

BOA is NOW reducing principal amounts on underwater loans for the homeowners equal to the value of the home

Bank of America is NOW reducing principal amounts on underwater loans for the homeowners equal to the value of the home.

·         $17 Billion in assistance to borrowers who have intent and ability to stay in their homes but are behind in their payments.  
o   60% of the $17 Billion must be allocated to reduce the principal balance of home loans with negative equity
o   Additionally $5.2 Billion are short sale allocated expenses
·         $3 Billion for current homeowners who are paying but loans are underwater to refinance their rates to lower rates
o   Loan must exceed value and current rate must be greater than 5.25% and the savings must be greater than $100 per month.
·         Mortgage Servicing Reforms  enacted
·         $1.5 Billion to compensate borrowers who were foreclosed on after Jan 1, 2008 (approximately $2,000 per borrower).
·         $2.5 Billion will be paid to the participating states.
For the settlement the banks received a broad release for conduct related to mortgage loan servicing, foreclosure preparation and mortgage loan originations services.
For more information contact Courtney Silverman Real Estate Group at The Keyes Company / Realtors 954-315-6925

May 6, 2012

Does negotiating a short sale stop a foreclosure?

Filed under: South Florida Resource — admin @ 7:13 pm

Does negotiating a short sale stop a foreclosure?  Yes and no. Contrary to popular belief the act of submitting a short sale package does not “suspend” or “stop” a foreclosure, nor is there any law requiring lenders to consider a short sale simply because you’ve sent in the documentation with an offer. Entertaining the short sale is at the complete discretion of the lender. However, we have found lenders are less likely to go forward with foreclosures if the short sale is far enough along in the process (i.e. almost at or in the approval stage).  It is possible to get a postponement if there is enough time.

In general, most lenders have separate departments to handle foreclosures and short sales.  These departments rarely work together. Even more importantly, one department does not necessarily “influence” the other. This means that although the short sale department may be in the process of negotiating the short sale, it has no power to stop a foreclosure sale date. The request to stop or postpone a foreclosure must be handled by the foreclosure department and there is little that can be done to hasten or aid the process.

The best way to save your short sale from cancellation due to foreclosure is to list your property sooner rather than later. Though the experience and expertise we bring to the transaction expedites the short sale process, we cannot control the speed of the short sale.  Do not get stuck in the trend of homeowners to “run out the clock” by waiting until the very last moment to list their homes and pursue a short sale.  Experience has proven that waiting until after a sale date has been set to begin the process of a short sale is extremely risky and rarely successful.

If you are a homeowner who has received a foreclosure sale date, we can analyze your situation to determine whether or not to proceed with a short sale. Contact Courtney Silverman Real Estate Group http://www.courtneysilverman.com/ with any questions you might have so we may be of service.  All of our Group’s short sales have been approved since we started doing them in 2006.

May 4, 2012

Pay Your Debt For FHA Loan

Getting a mortgage backed by FHA – Federal Housing Administration is about to get a lot tougher for those with $1,000 or more in debt collection.  Under a rule taking effect July 1, borrowers in this situation must start paying off their debt before they can qualify for a loan.  They can either pay the amount in full or enroll in a payment plan and make three monthly payments.  This includes credit-card and medical debt.  Different rules apply to debt from another mortgage.  If you’ve had a foreclosure, you’ll have to wait three years to qualify for an FHA-insured mortgage.  FHA loans are typically used by first-time homeowners and require a minimum 3.5% down payment, lower than Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae’s current requirements.

How Do I Qualify For FHA?

To qualify for an FHA insured loan, you must meet these basic requirements:

  • Two years of steady employment, ideally at the same place of employment
  • Income has stayed the same or increased over the past 2 years
  • Credit score should usually be at least 620 or no credit score; should not have more than one 30-day late payments in the past 2 years
  • If bankruptcy has been filed, it must be at least 2 years ago and have had perfect credit since then
  • Any foreclosures must be older than 3 years and perfect credit since then
  • Mortgage amount should not exceed 30% of gross income

December 12, 2011

IRS Tax Savings on your HUD-1

Filed under: 1st Time Buyer South Florida,South Florida Resource — admin @ 7:51 pm

As tax time is upon us and with all the talk about recession, politics and the housing market, most people are not focused on the fact that we are only ten days from tax day.

20 dollar bill So if you are a procrastinator as is the American-way, remember to plan for some of your Mortgage and Real Estate related tax deductions to save some money this year.

You do not have to look any further than your HUD-1 closing statement from the house you purchased in 2011 to find a few last minute deductions.

Here are a few places to look:

1) Discount Points
Lender Discount Points help lower the interest rates and because of this they are seen by the IRS as pre-paid interest charges.

As Mortgage Interest is tax deductible, make sure you are claiming the discount points you paid on your loan on your taxes.

Your lender will send you an IRS Form 1098 for Mortgage Interest Paid.  Have your accountant make sure you are getting credit for interest paid on the closing statement.

2) Pre-paid Interest

No… this is not redundant.  When you close your loan, your closing statement shows prepaid interest depending on how many days you will be in the property in the month you close.

The earlier in the month you close, the more days you pay!

It is pro-rated mortgage interest so as mortgage interest it is tax deductible!!

3) Pro-rated Property Tax

You do not pay tax on tax… so you will get a deduction for any property tax you pay at the closing table.

So many people say, “No Escrows!!”…but this is just one reason why letting your lender pay your taxes for you is beneficial!

4) Origination Points

Mortgage Brokers like me get “wholesale” pricing on the loans.  That means that the way we make money is by either offering a rate to the borrower that pays us back our fees…. or by charging origination points… or some combination of both.

If your Broker charged Points to lower the rate or to get you into a better loan, then this is also considered pre-paid interest.

5) HELOC / Equity Line

Make sure you are claiming the interest on your 2nd Mortgage or Home Equity Line of Credit!

Technically, you are only supposed to be able to claim it in the case that you are using it for home improvement, debt consolidation or hurricane repairs… but let your Accountant make that decision.

If you closed with an 80% first mortgage and a 2nd mortgage of any type, the whole line should be tax deductible – let your accountant know!

September 2, 2011

South Florida home prices at 2002 levels

Filed under: South Florida Resource — admin @ 5:20 pm

South Florida home prices at 2002 levels

by Kim Miller

South Florida’s home prices were at 2002 levels in June, an increase from May’s pricing but down from the same time last year. According to the S&P/Case Shiller Home Price Index, prices in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties, increased .6 percent from May, but fell 5.1 percent from June 2010.

“This month’s report showed mixed signals for recovery in home prices,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Indices. “No cities made new lows in June 2011.”

The index was set at 100 in January 2000. South Florida’s June index was 139.46, down from a high of 280.8 in December 2006.  Detroit and Las Vegas were the only housing markets that remain below the 100 index benchmark, at 65.4 and 95.6 respectively.

If you acquired your home in 2006, please contact me if you need to move or have experienced a hardship where you cannot keep up with your mortgage payments.

  Facing Foreclosure

May 31, 2011

Cooper City stats the end of May 2011

Cooper City stats the end of May 2011

In Cooper City, FL inventory is low. There are 151 homes for sale. Of those, 30 are short sales, 4 are bank owned. That is 22% of the current inventory is distressed. Asking prices are $1,500,000 to $95,000. 2 properties are asking over $1 million.  14 homes are asking between $95K to $200K.  44 homes are priced between $200K – $300K.  46 homes are priced between $300K – $400K. 18 homes have asking prices of $400-$500K. 12 are asking more than $501K. 15 are asking between $500K and $600K. 14 homes are priced above $601K.

32 homes are vacant, 13 are tenant occupied. 8 homes are 2-bedroom, 53 are 3-bedroom, 57 are 4-bedroom, 27 are 5-bedroom, 6 are 6-bedroom. Three properties have been on the market over 2 1/2 years!  14 have been on the market over 2 years. 27 new properties came on the market in the last 30 days priced between $662,000 – $95,000.

26 homes went into pending contract. Of those, 11 are short sales, 4 are bank owned. That means 53% of the pending market is distressed.

There were 25 closed sales in May. Of those, 4 were short sales, 7 were bank owned. So, 44% of the closed sales are distressed.  12 home sales sold that were asking between $200-$300K and 2 were sold that asked between $300K -400K.

Ask me about the details – http://bit.ly/i5RCi

Pembroke Pines stats the end of May 2011

Pembroke Pines stats the end of May 2011

In Pembroke Pines, FL inventory is low. There are 405 homes for sale. Of those, 157 are short sales, 30 are bank owned. That is 46% of the current inventory is distressed.  Asking prices are $59,900 to $849,000.  93 homes are asking between $100K $200K.   162 homes are priced between $300-$200K.  103 homes are priced between $400K-$300K.  13 homes have asking prices of $400-$500K.  12 are asking more than $501K.  10 are asking between $500K and $600K. 17 homes are priced above $601K.   61 homes are vacant, 38 are tenant occupied. 25 homes are 2-bedroom, 182 are 3-bedroom, 163 are 4-bedroom, 31 are 5-bedroom, 4 are 6-bedroom.

Nine properties have been on the market over 2 1/2 years! 29 have been on the market over 2 years.  86 new properties came on the market in the last 30 days priced between $599,000 – $139,000.

148 homes went into pending contract. Of those, 53 are short sales, 26 are bank owned. That means 39% of the pending market is distressed.  

There were 69 closed sales in May. Of those, 10 were short sales, 24 were bank owned. So, 49% of the closed sales are distressed.

Ask me about the details – http://bit.ly/i5RCi

Weston stats end of May 2011

Filed under: South Florida Resource — admin @ 12:04 am

In Weston, FL inventory is low. There are 349 homes for sale. Of those, 81 are short sales, 11 are bank owned. 82 homes went into pending contract. Of those, 26 are short sales, 8 are bank owned. There were 46 closed sales in May. Of those,  5 were short sales, 5 were bank owned.

Ask me about the details –

October 20, 2010

Who is your lender?

What are the differences between the three types of mortgage origination companies? They all qualify the borrower, take the mortgage applications, check their credit, and verify the borrower’s employment and assets. What else is there to do and how does it effect a borrower’s approval?  Each type of lender follows different laws about what must be disclosed and each is overseen by a different regulatory agency.

Banks    Lender flow chart

Banks will approve the loan and lend their own money to the borrower.  Banks can offer quicker turnarounds since they conduct the underwriting themselves.  National banks often send their underwriting out of town or to a central office. Find out what is the case. They are paid by a base salary and commissions so they typically assert less pressure and will be less aggresive.  Sometimes they only work banker’s hours so ask if they are available on weekends. Banks do not have to disclose the yield (the profit from raising the interest on a loan from the market rate). Every bank will have its own minimum credit score requirement.

Brokers   lender flow chart broker

A mortgage broker simply arranges the financing for the borrower and does not actually lend any money. They shop your loan around to lenders until they find one to fund your loan. This can take more time since they are shipping the file to a third party.  Once they send the paperwork to the lender for underwriting approval, they have no control over the process since the underwriting approval is done by the lender.  Brokers may charge an origination fee or take a cut of your loan’s interest from the lender (called the yield spread premium) but not take both. So they charge more fees and often have higher credit score requirements than banks due to layering (a brokers minimum acceptable credit score will be 20 to 40 points higher than what a bank would require. So if your credit score is below a 620, you should not start with a broker.  Brokers are highly regulated under the recent Wall Street reform.

Correspondents   lender flowchat correspondent

A correspondent lender will approve their own loans, lend the money on a mortgage loan, and then sell that mortgage loan to another lender once the loan is closed but before the first monthly payment is collected. This is also known as table-funding.  Their job is to sell the loan to an investor before any payments are due, with the end investor or bank becoming responsible for collecting and processing payments.Their ability to lend is dependent on their credit line limits also known as warehouse lines. If they have more loans to close than they have funds, your loan could be delayed or denied for no reason. Credit scores may also be higher than at banks due to layering.  Correspondents make their money by charging fees. They do not have to disclose the yield.

Which type of lender is better? The best lender is the one that will approve your loan. Ask a lot of questions and understand the process so you can get to the closing table and move into your new home.

July 14, 2010

Banks are still killing contracts by dropping the appraisal values

Lately, sale agreements have been cancelled because the property appraised for less than the contract price. The buyer is unwilling or cannot put more money down for fear of overpaying in a percieved down market and the seller has already lost so much percieved value that the seller will not lower the price. The result is that the sale falls apart.

In some cases, the appraiser is not the cause. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac purchase about half of all U.S. mortgages. If Fannie Mae, who buys the loans from the banks, finds banks are found guilty of price inflation, they force the banks to buy back the mortgage at a substantial cost. But if banks drop the appraisal value, they hope to avoid being accused or suspected of inflating the numbers.

Many lenders today will double-check an appraiser’s work by ordering a low-cost electronic valuation. These automated valuation systems only use public records and take no consideration to condition of the property and upgrades. If the electronic version is lower than the physical version, the banks will downgrade the true appraisal value to protect themselves. The result is that bank’s underwriters arbitrarily have been shaving value off the Buyer’s appraisal. At other times, the bank’s underwriters will ask the appraiser to explain the price difference, which can delay the closing.

Effective September 1st, banks selling their loans to Fannie Mae can no longer simply drop the appraisal value. In guidance issued June 30, Fannie Mae told it’s participating lenders that they must contact the appraiser to “resolve” disagreements. If that fails, banks must order a second appraisal and not rely on the automated software to determine the value. So now the banks cannot simply drop the original value that supports a sales contract.

finance spreadsheet calculator

July 12, 2010

Home Buyers Can Still Get The Tax Credit

Filed under: Finances,Short Sales in Florida,South Florida Resource — admin @ 1:36 pm

After a close brush with the deadline, Congress has passed an extension of the Homebuyer Tax Credit closing deadline, the Homebuyer Assistance and Improvement Act (H.R. 5623). The extension applies only to transactions that have ratified contracts in place as of April 30, 2010 that have not yet closed. The legislation is designed to create a seamless extension the new closing deadline for eligible transactions is now September 30, 2010. There will not be a gap between June 30 and the date the President signs the bill into law.Home Buyer Tax Credit Congress Approved CourtneySilverman.com

July 1, 2010

Short Sale Expertise For Home Sellers In South Florida

For those looking to sell their luxury Florida home, the experienced team of Courtney Silverman Real Estate Group can help visit www.CourtneySilverman.com or call (954) 315-3925.

(PRWEB) June 23, 2010- as the economy remains uncertain and foreclosures have yet to decrease from alarming numbers the use of short sales is growing in request. Short sales allow the distressed homeowner the opportunity to repay their mortgage at the price the home sells for even if the price is less than what is owed on the property. This process can save many people from foreclosure and even bankruptcy. The professionals of Courtney Silverman Real Estate Group know the short sale process and can get your property sold quickly with the least amount of hassle to you and your family.

No Short Sale Service Fees
Courtney Silverman Real Estate Group understands the pressure that so many homeowners experience when finances require the need to sell a home in a short period of time. This is why Courtney Silverman requests no short sale service fees and works with home sellers to have a cash buyer for the properties in her hands. She has the knowledge and experience with short sales to help make the process as simple and stress free as possible. Through her experience as a real estate agent in Weston Florida she has a solid understanding of the true value of the properties throughout South East Florida including Broward County, Sunrise, Weston, Davie, Plantation and Fort Lauderdale. Homeowners can rest assure that she will use all of her relocation expertise for you.

South Florida Homes Sold For Eleven Million
With an experienced realtor on your side a home can sell for a bargain creating a win- win situation for both the homebuyer and the seller. A recent buyer jumped on a once in a lifetime opportunity to purchase their dream home at an unbelievable price such as this Miami Beach Estate (88 La Gorce Circle, Miami Beach, FL) that sold for $16 million. This newly built modern estate features two docks, a staff house, five-car garage, elevator and beautiful marble staircase. The price was the bargain of the year and is seen as the priciest residential deal in Miami Dade since Shaquille O’Neal sold his Star Island Mansion. For those looking to sell a luxury home in south Florida look no further as Courtney Silverman Real Estate Group knows how to sell luxury real estate like no other realtor in the sunshine state.


To learn more about short sales in South Florida visit www.CourtneySilverman.com or call (954) 292-0743.

June 27, 2010

Summer Colors in Weston, FL

Royal Poinciana Tree leaves in Weston, FL

This time of year is so beautiful with the blooming trees in Weston, Florida. Check out the State of Florida Official tree – The Royal Poinciana

For several weeks in spring and summer it is covered with exuberant clusters of flame-red flowers, 4-5 in (1.2-12.7 cm) across. Even up close the individual flowers are striking: they have four spoon shaped spreading orange-red petals about 3 in (7.6 cm) long, and one upright slightly larger petal (the standard) which is marked with yellow and white. Royal poinciana gets 30-40 ft (9.1-12.2 m) tall, but its elegant wide-spreading umbrella-like canopy can be wider than its height. Royal poinciana is a semi-evergreen tree.

Royal Poinciana Tree in Weston, FL

June 23, 2010

What Weston Neighborhoods Have Community Pools?

Filed under: South Florida Resource,Weston Real Estate — admin @ 4:07 pm

When buying a home one should also consider the size of the community / neighborhood to see where you and your family may feel most comfortable. Another consideration is how close to the community pool do you want your home. Some of the communities in Weston with pools are larger than others.

Larger communities with pools are: The Ridges at Weston Pond, The Isles At Weston and Savanna. Don’t forget the Bonaventure portion of Weston that has a membership included with residency to The Bonaventure Town Center Club. There are 2 pools, a Jacuzzi, tennis courts, basketball courts, roller skating, bowling, billiards and more amenities at this club.

Mid-sized communities with pools include; The Meadows, The Falls, North Lakes, The Lakes and Laguna Springs.

Smaller communities with pools include; Patio Homes, Village Homes, Country Isles Garden Homes, Hibiscus Island, Bermuda Springs, Emerald Isles, Coral Harbour and Opal Creek & Emerald Estates.

Some of the communities with pools are a mixture of single family homes and townhomes or are townhomes only. These include; San Mateo, San Messina, San Sebastian, San Remo, San Simeon, San Michele and The Courtyard at The Grove.

As you can see, most neighborhoods in Weston have a community pool. You will have a great time meeting new friends at your community pool all year round. Contact me if I may be of service to assist you with you home purchase in Weston.

June 22, 2010

Approved Short Sale – Private Estate in Weston

Approved Short Sale – Majestic Masterpiece On 3.87 Acres, Romantic Master Suite W/ His And Her Baths, Octagon Sitting Area, Billiards And Exercise Rooms, Lounge W/ Wood Floors And Fireplace, 60×45 Trophy Room, 26×20 Home Theater, Dining Room 25×14 W/Adjoining Wine Cellar, 3 Offices, Servants Quarters, 60×30 Heated Pool And Spa, Double Porte Cochere And More

Approved Short Sale in Weston FL June 2010

March 2, 2010

#1 Consumer Complaint in Real Estate is Unlicensed Activity

Filed under: South Florida Resource — admin @ 8:51 pm

I just took a 3-hour Core Law course for part of my continuing education. #1 Consumer Complaint in Real Estate is Unlicensed Activity. These unlicensed activities would include people advertising a real estate service, appraising, conducting an auction, selling, exchanging, buying, renting, and leasing as it relates to real estate.

August 20, 2009

International Buyers Target Florida

Filed under: South Florida Resource — admin @ 4:38 pm

While Florida has long been the top state for international buyers, the current real estate market is attracting U.S. and overseas investors due to low prices and an increased number of bank-owned distressed properties, according to the NAR National Association of Realtors and the FAR Florida Association of REALTORS. 

March 27, 2009



March 19, 2009

What is happening with my homes value?

The single most common question I am asked is, “What is happening with my homes value”?  This is not always an easy question to answer because there are so many variables from home to home.  There is good news for you if you live in the Broward County, area.  

Courtney Silverman Real Estate Group has developed a new internet system that will give you complete information on what is taking place with the market around your home.  This program gives complete details on homes listed, sold and value trends.  The program offers the numbers in easy to view graph form and it is very detailed and specific to your home and neighborhood.  You will even see a Google Earth view of your home and surrounding neighborhood.  The best part is that this analysis is sent to you by e-mail and the updated for your monthly.  You can take advatage of this great new system by visiting our web site at http://www.courtneysilverman.com/PageManager/Default.aspx/PageID=1628494.

February 25, 2009

State of Affairs in the South Florida Real Estate Market

“There are diamonds in this current real estate market – you just have to dig for them” says Mike Pappas, President/CEO of The Keyes Company a large South Florida based full service real estate firm. 

Sales Units are up:
“Palm Beach strengthened its unit sales earlier in this cycle and Dade and Broward are gaining momentum” observed Mike Pappas. 

Dade County is up 32% in units closed January 2009 compared to January of 2008. The six months ending December 2008 saw a 24% increase over the same 2007 numbers for Dade.
Broward had the highest increase at 38% in January 2009 over January of 2008. The 2nd half of 2008 saw close to a 10% increase over 2007 in Broward.
Palm Beach County closed out January with an 11% increase. Palm Beach’s 3rd and 4th quarter of 2008 was 15% greater than the same period of 2007.

“The combination of incredibly low interest rates and aggressive price reductions are pushing the affordability factor to its highest level in decades. Our internet views on Keyes.com, Realtor.com and all our real estate portals along with property showings are up 50% for January”.  

Inventory is down:
‘We are seeing motivated sellers stay in the market and those that don’t need to sell today taking their property off of the market”. 

Palm Beach residential inventory has dropped from a high of 44 months in July 2007 and is now at a 17 month supply. Broward is down from December 2007 with a 42 months supply and now stands at 15 months. Dade peaked at a whopping 68 month supply in December 2007 and has dropped to a 24 month supply.

“100’s of our Keyes associates are now Distress Sale Certified and speaking the same language with the banks”. 

Prices are at 2003 levels:
Palm Beach single family medium home prices dropped 33% to $225,000 in January 2009, down from $340,000 last year.

Broward single family medium prices closed out at $195,000 down from $316,000.
Dade County also broke the $200,000 mark at $185,000 dropping from $345,000.

The Condominium market had similar trends. Palm Beach condominium median sales were at $107,000 down from $165,000. Broward with its great quantity of suburban condos dropped to $81,000 from $150,000 and Dade County saw a $150,000 medium sales price for Condos from last years $275,000.

“All sellers, distressed and non-distressed are realizing to sell their property it has to be priced where the market will buy – basic economics being demonstrated on a daily basis.”   

February 12, 2009

Broward County Helps Avoid Foreclosure

Filed under: South Florida Resource — admin @ 2:12 pm

The Broward County Housing Finance Community Development Division has partnered with Broward County Housing Authority to provide financial assistance of up to $9000 for defaulted mortgages.  This program targets resident homeowners who are delinquent by providing financial assistance to reinstate mortgage loans.

The property must be owner occupied and the home must meet program qualifications and guidlines. Extensive counseling is provided as it relates to preserving homeownership.

Call Phyllis Brown at 954-739-1114, ext 1114.

Call Courtney Silverman Real Estate Group at The Keyes Company for all your real estate needs 954-315-6925.

February 2, 2009

What is the real estate activity in Fort Lauderdale FL last month?

We have 1985 homes for sale in Fort Lauderdale FL as of today. Sellers are asking from $28,500,000 to $24,900.

91 buyers got their contracts accepted. The prices the sellers were asking ranged between $1,995,000 and $19,900 when they received their offers. 53% of those contracts were written to purchase bank owned properties and 18% are going to negotiate the purchase with the seller and the seller’s lender(s) as a short sale.

55 properties were sold in Fort Lauderdale. They were priced between $2,700,000 and $28,000. This tells us there is over a 36 month supply of homes for sale in Fort Lauderdale as of February 2009, assuming no more homes are put on the market over that period of time.

Contact Courtney Silverman Real Estate Group to leverage your dollar in this market as a seller and as a buyer!

What is the real estate activity in Cooper City FL last month?

We have 200 homes for sale in Cooper City FL as of today. Sellers are asking from $1,295,000 to $135,000.

19 buyers got their contracts accepted. The prices the sellers were asking ranged between $529,000 and $108,000 when they received their offers. 36% of those contracts were written to purchase bank owned properties and 5% are going to negotiate the purchase with the seller and the seller’s lender(s) as a short sale.

12 properties were sold in Cooper City. They were priced between $499,000 and $85,000. This tells us there is over a 16 month supply of homes for sale in Cooper City as of February 2009, assuming no more homes are put on the market over that period of time.

Contact Courtney Silverman Real Estate Group to leverage your dollar in this market as a seller and as a buyer!

What is the real estate activity in Plantation FL last month?

We have 600 homes for sale in Plantation FL as of today. Sellers are asking from $3,700,000 to $79,000.

47 buyers got their contracts accepted. The prices the sellers were asking ranged between $445,000 and $70,000 when the received their offers. 42% of those contracts were written to purchase bank owned properties and 23% are going to negotiate the purchase with the seller and the seller’s lender(s) as a short sale.

27 properties were sold in Plantation. They were priced between $600,000 and $90,000. This tells us there is over a 22 month supply of homes for sale in Plantation as of February 2009, assuming no more homes are put on the market over that period of time.

Contact Courtney Silverman Real Estate Group to leverage your dollar in this market as a seller and as a buyer!

What is the real estate activity in Sunrise FL last month?

We have 538 homes for sale in Sunrise FL as of today. Sellers are asking from $519,000 to $47,000.

59 buyers got their contracts accepted. The prices the sellers were asking ranged between $299,000 and $49,900 when they received their offers. 69% of those contracts were written to purchase bank owned properties and 10% are going to negotiate the purchase with the seller and the seller’s lender(s) as a short sale.

12 properties were sold in Sunrise. They were priced between $310,000 and $60,000. This tells us there is over a 44 month supply of homes for sale in Sunrise as of February 2009, assuming no more homes are put on the market over that period of time.

Contact Courtney Silverman Real Estate Group to leverage your dollar in this market as a seller and as a buyer!

What is the real estate activity in Davie FL last month?

We have 605 homes for sale in Davie FL as of today. Sellers are asking from $4,900,000 to $50,000. 

35 buyers got their contracts accepted. The prices the sellers were asking ranged between $1,525,000 and $153,900 when they received their offers. 17% of those contracts were written to purchase bank owned properties and 48% are going to negotiate the purchase with the seller and the seller’s lender(s) as a short sale.

24 properties were sold in Davie. They were priced between $1,525,000 and $153,000. This tells us there is over a 25 month supply of homes for sale in Davie as of February 2009, assuming no more homes are put on the market over that period of time.

Contact Courtney Silverman Real Estate Group to leverage your dollar in this market as a seller and as a buyer!

What is the real estate activity in Weston this last month?

We have 589 homes for sale in Weston FL as of today.  Sellers are asking from $13,500,000 to $109,000. 

57 buyers got their contracts accepted. The prices the sellers were asking ranged between $599,000 and 209,900 when they received their offers.  20% of those contracts were written to purchase bank owned properties and 29% are going to negotiate the purchase with the seller and the seller’s lender(s) as a short sale. 

25 properties were sold in Weston.  They were priced between $865,000 and $224,900.  This tells us there is over a 23 month supply of homes for sale in Weston as of February 2009, assuming no more homes are put on the market over that period of time.

Contact Courtney Silverman Real Estate Group to leverage your dollar in this market as a seller and as a buyer!

January 30, 2009


State law allows Florida homeowners to claim up to a $50,000 Homestead Exemption (HEX) on their primary residence.  The first $25,000 of this exemption applies to all taxing authorities.  The second $25,000 excludes School Board taxes and applies to properties with assessed values greater than $50,000.

All property Tax Exemption Applications are due March 1st.

Here’s how to file:




Step 1


Click here to download the application form.

Visit one of the following offices:

Stephen P. Clark Government Center

111 NW First Street

Miami, FL 33128

South Dade Government Center

10710 SW 211th Street, Room 207

Cutler Bay, FL 33189

  Click here for a listing of additional locations available during January and February.


Step 2


Complete the form, including information for all residing owners.


Step 3


Attach documents indicated on the form.

Step 4


Mail to:
Property Appraiser
PO BOX 013140
Miami FL 33101

NOTE: A receipt is mailed in approximately four weeks of the Property Appraiser receiving your application.


To qualify for the Homestead Exemption, the applicant must at minimum meet the following criteria as of January 1:

  • Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet. *   Be a U.S. citizen or legal resident

  • Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet. *   Own the property (i.e., have legal or equitable title)

  • Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet. *   Occupy the property as his/her permanent residence (to the exclusion of all others). Click here for a complete list of documents accepted as proof of Florida residency

  • Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet. *   Only those qualified persons listed on the exemption application will receive the exemption benefits.  If the property is held jointly by husband and wife, either party may apply in person for the homestead exemption

  • Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet. *   If you purchase a home after January 1, you may inherit the previous owner’s HEX, but only for the first year that you own the property.  After the first year, you will need to apply for your own Homestead Exemption.

Once an application has been approved the exemption will automatically renew annually until the property is sold, is no longer the homeowner’s primary residence, or the exemption holder requests that it be removed. 

Dade County: http://www.miamidade.gov/pa/exempt_homestead.asp

Broward County: http://www.bcpa.net/homestead.asp

 First-time Homebuyer Credit

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 provides a new refundable tax credit for individuals who are qualified first-time homebuyers of a principal residence in the United States. The provision applies to a principal residence purchased by the taxpayer on or after April 9, 2008, and before July 1, 2009. Homebuyers who qualify are allowed a one-time credit against their income tax for the year of purchase. Unlike some past credits, this one must be repaid over a 15-year period. As a result, the new tax credit works like an interest free loan. You take the full credit in either 2008 or 2009, and then repay the credit amount in equal payments over 15 years, with no interest charges.

First-Time Homebuyer
A “first-time homebuyer” is any individual (and spouse if married) who had no present ownership interest in a qualifying principal residence during the 3-year period ending on the date of purchase of the principal residence for which a first-time homebuyer credit is being claimed.

Exceptions to definition of First-Time Homebuyer

The following taxpayers do not qualify for the first-time homebuyer credit:

  • A homebuyer who qualifies for the District of Columbia First-time Homebuyer Credit in the year of purchase or in any prior year

  • A homebuyer whose home was financed by the proceeds of tax-exempt mortgage revenue bonds

  • A homebuyer who is a nonresident alien

  • A homebuyer who disposes of the residence (or it ceases to be the taxpayer’s principal residence) before the close of a taxable year for which a credit otherwise would be allowable

Purchase Price
The term “purchase price” means the adjusted basis of the principal residence on the date such residence is purchased.

Initial Credit
The initial credit for qualified buyers is equal to 10% of the purchase price of the principal residence, but cannot exceed $7,500 ($3,750 for married individuals filing a separate return).

Modified Adjusted Gross Income Limit
The credit phases out for individuals with modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) between $75,000 and $95,000 ($150,000–$170,000 for joint filers) for the year of purchase. The credit is completely phased out for an individual with a MAGI equal to or more than $95,000 ($170,000 for joint filers).

To determine the allowable credit, subtract the limit threshold of $75,000 ($150,000 in the case of a joint return) from your MAGI. Divide the difference by $20,000 to get your reduction ratio. Multiply your initial credit by your reduction ratio to arrive at the credit reduction amount. Subtract the credit reduction amount from the initial credit to arrive at the allowable credit amount.

Example: Facts — Filing Status = Single, MAGI = $80,000, Purchase Price = $80,000, Initial Credit = $7,500 (limited to the lower of $8,000 (10% of Purchase Price) or $7,500)

$80,000 MAGI…………..–….$75,000 Limit Threshold…..=….$5,000 Excess Over Threshold

$..5,000 Excess………….÷….$20,000 Max. Excess……….=…..25% Reduction Ratio

$..7,500 Initial Credit….x……25% Reduction Ratio……..=…..$1,875 Credit Reduction

$..7,500 Initial Credit….–….$1,875 Credit Reduction…..=…..$5,625 Allowable Credit

Recapture of credit
If a first-time homebuyer credit is allowed to a taxpayer, the taxpayer’s income tax is increased by 6 2/3% of the amount of such credit for each taxable year in the 15-year “recapture period.” The recapture period begins with the second taxable year following the year of purchase for which the credit is taken.

For example, if a taxpayer is allowed a $7,500 first-time homebuyer credit in 2008, the taxpayer must recapture the credit amount by adding $500 (which is 6 2/3% of $7,500) to his income tax liability each year for 15 years, beginning in 2010.

Acceleration of recapture
If a taxpayer disposes of the principal residence for which a first-time homebuyers credit was allowed (or ceases using it as a principal residence) before the end of the 15-year recapture period, the remaining credit repayment amount is added to the income tax liability of the taxpayer for the year of sale or cessation of use.

Exceptions to recapture
In the case of a sale of the principal residence to an unrelated person, the increase in tax due to accelerated recapture is limited to the amount of gain (if any) on such sale. For purposes of calculating gain, the adjusted basis of such residence shall be reduced by the amount of the first-time homebuyer credit allowed, to the extent not previously recaptured. In the case of an involuntary conversion, recapture is not accelerated if a new principal residence is acquired within a 2-year period. No amount is recaptured after the death of the taxpayer.

Special election to treat purchase as made in prior year.
In the case of a purchase of a principal residence after December 331, 2008, and before July 1, 2009, a taxpayer may elect to treat such purchase as made on December 31, 2008.

For more detailed information on qualifying for and claiming the first-time homebuyer credit, refer to additional topics on this subject on the IRS Website at www.irs.gov.

Contact Courtney Silverman for all your real estate needs

Coral Springs Household Hazardous Waste & Electronics Recycling Free Drop Off

Filed under: Coral Springs Real Estate,South Florida Resource — admin @ 3:41 pm

Household Hazardous Waste & Electronics Recycling Free Drop Off in Coral Springs on Sunday, February 8th from 8am to 3pm
9530 West Sample Road in the City Hall South

You may recycle: Paint, Solvents, Pesticides, Household Cleaners, Lawn & Pool Chemicals, Mercury Thermometers, Rechargeable Batteries, Fire Extinguishers, Televisions, Propane Tanks, Tires, Motor Oil, Auto Batteries, Keyboards, Printers, Monitors, Computers, and Cell Phones.

Permanent drop-off locations open every Friday & Saturday* from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm.
Pompano Beach – 2780 N. Powerline Road (North of Copans Rd.)
West Park – 5601 W. Hallendale Beach Blvd (East of US 441)
Davie – 5490 Reese Rd (open Saturdays only)
For more information call 954-765-4999 or go to www.Broward.Org/Waste or contact Courtney Silverman.


January 21, 2009

Tax Time

Don’t forget about the first-time homebuyer credit when you file your taxes this year. If you bought a main home after April 8, 2008, and before July 1, 2009 and did not own a main home during the prior 3 years, you may be able to take this credit. 

Contact Courtney Silverman Real Estate Group for your next home purchase. We use a Buyer Book, which explains every step in the process, so there are no surprises.

January 11, 2009

Water Wise Landscaping in Weston Florida

Filed under: South Florida Resource — admin @ 4:27 pm

Water Wise Landscaping is important since Weston FL is still on water restrictions. Click here for a Water Wise Landscaping Guide for Broward County.

Learn more about neighborhoods in Weston.

December 31, 2008

Year Two of Recession

 Happy New Year! And welcome to year two of the U.S. recession and year one of the global recession. As we head into 2009, the U.S. economy continues to plunge like an aircraft that has lost all lift. There is very little in the economic tea leaves to give economists hope that a recovery is nigh. I am not one to dwell on the doom and gloom. Honestly, I’m not sure how much more bad news readers can take. So let me start with some positives.
 First, the sector that led the U.S. economy into this economic and financial morass–housing–is about to turn a corner and start adding, at least modestly, to economic growth in 2009, perhaps as early as this summer. After nearly three years of steep contraction, U.S. home builders, those that remain standing, have been through the worst housing decline since the Great Depression. Building permits have dropped from a cyclical peak of 2.3 million units in September 2005 to a mere 616K units in November 2008. That’s a 73 percent decline so far, and takes out the low-water mark on all previous post-war housing declines. It is fairly clear, given the renewed drop in homebuilder confidence and continued oversupply of new homes, that homebuilding will continue lower in the first quarter of 2009, but before year end, expect housing to
be one of the first sectors to lead the U.S. out of recession.
Article by
 Scott Anderson
 Senior Economist
 Wells Fargo Economics

December 3, 2008

Facts on Short Sales

Filed under: Finances,Short Sales in Florida,South Florida Resource — admin @ 3:04 pm

You bought your home three to four years ago. You financed with a low adjustable rate loan. Darn, the adjustable rate has reset and you need to refinance the loan. Uh oh, the house is worth less than your loan amount. Are you a candidate for a short sale? Here is some general information short sales.

There are no set guidelines and no guarantees for short sales. Each bank is different with the timeline it takes to respond to the borrower.

The employees of the lender that are negotiating the sale ARE NOT there for the benefit of the buyer or the seller. Their only goal is to collect as much money as possible for the lender. The lender typically will:

  • Misrepresent their own policies or use other means to intimidate or scare the parties involved into paying more money.

  • Require the seller to sign a note or new loan for the balance of the mortgage due.
  • Change their price and terms up until the moment of closing.
  • Pursue a judgment against the seller for total amount of the shortfall.
  • Investigate the seller for indications of mortgage fraud if there are unexplainable gaps or discrepancies in the seller’s current financial situation and what he claimed at the time the loan was granted.
  • Expect the home to initially be listed at or close to market value and have the asking price dropped accordingly until viable offers are received.
  • Require the property be sold “as is”.
  • Require an offer be made before they will consider discussing a short sale.
  • Give an “approval” letter that is just a thinly disguised “maybe”.
  • Set caps on payments to Realtors, title companies.
  • Set restrictions for amounts paid to investors negotiating assignments or simultaneous closings.
  • Set restrictions on issuing clear title.
  • The investor who bought your loan wants as much money as possible. When considering a short sale, they will be evaluating whether it makes more financial sense to foreclose on the property of accept the short sale.


    Courtney Silverman is a top performing Realtor in the Courtney Silverman Real Estate Group at the Keyes Company / Realtors located in Weston, Florida. Courtney has high success in closing short sale real estate transactions. Give her a call at 954-389-3459 ext 36251.

October 4, 2008

Great Changes and Additions to the Broward County Property Appraiser’s Website

There have been some upgrades to the Broward County Property Appraiser’s website. Effective October 1st, the site will show:

  • Building permits are online
  • Click on millage to see your city rates
  • Explanations on Homestead
  • The ability to search on sub-division sales

Concerning sub-division sales, only arms length transactions are included here. That means foreclosures are disqualified for comparables. “D” means dis-qualified and “Q” means qualified. Another update is that a short sale is now considered a qualified (at arm’s length) transaction.

Also added were more functionality on aerial views. Click on View Map. To the right by Details, you’ll see Pictometry. Click on it and you’ll see 45 degree aerial views of the property from north, south, east and west.

September 30, 2008

RECAP of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008

The “Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008,” (HR 3221) includes the following provisions and more: Homebuyer Tax Credit – a $7500 tax credit that would be would be available for any qualified purchase between April 9, 2008 and June 30, 2009. The credit is repayable over 15 years (making it, in effect, an interest free loan).

FHA Foreclosure Rescue – development of a refinance program for homebuyers with problematic subprime loans. Lenders would write down qualified mortgages to 85% of the current appraised value and qualified borrowers would get a new FHA 30-year fixed mortgage at 90% of appraised value. Borrowers would have to share 50% of all future appreciation with FHA. The loan limit for this program is $550,440 nationwide. Program is effective on October 1, 2008.

FHA Reform – including permanent FHA loan limits at the greater of $271,050 or 115% of local area median home price, capped at $625,500; streamlined processing for FHA condos; reforms to the HECM program, and reforms to the FHA manufactured housing program. The down payment requirement on FHA loans will go up to 3.5% (from 3%). The effective date for reforms is immediate upon enactment, but the loan limits will not go into effect until the expiration of the Economic Stimulus limits (December 31, 2008).

GSE Reform – including a strong independent regulator, and permanent conforming loan limits up to the greater of $417,000 or 115% local area median home price, capped at $625,500. The effective date for reforms is immediate upon enactment, but the loan limits will not go into effect until the expiration of the Economic Stimulus limits (December 31, 2008). 

Seller-funded down payment assistance programs – codifies existing FHA proposal to prohibit the use of down payment assistance programs funded by those who have a financial interest in the sale; does not prohibit other assistance programs provided by nonprofits funded by other sources, churches, employers, or family members. This prohibition does not go into effect until October 1, 2008.

Additional Property Tax Deduction – HERA provides a one-year benefit that will be available to all homeowners. Under current law, property taxes are deductible only if an individual itemizes his/her deductions on Schedule A of their tax return. The new provision will permit a deduction of up to $500 ($1000 on a joint return) for all individuals who utilize the standard deduction and do not itemize. Instructions will be provided on the 2008 tax return when it is distributed at year-end.

Loan Originator Requirements – Strengthens the existing state-run nationwide mortgage originator licensing and registration system (and requires a parallel HUD system for states that fail to participate). Federal bank regulators will establish a parallel registration system for FDIC-insured banks. The purpose is to prevent fraud and require minimum licensing and education requirements. The bill exempts those who only perform real estate brokerage activities and are licensed or registered by a state, unless they are compensated by a lender, mortgage broker, or other loan originator.

Modification of $250,000/$500,000 Capital Gains Exclusion – The sole real-estate related “pay-for” among the tax incentives modifies the $250,000/$500,000 exclusion of gain on the sale of a principal residence. Beginning in 2009, the exclusion, as it applies to a second home (or rental property) that is converted to a principal residence will be allocated. When the second home is sold, any gain attributable to use as a second home (or rental property) will be taxed at capital gains rates. Any gain attributable to use as a principal residence will remain excludable, up to the $250,000 and $500,000 limits. A formula is provided for computing the proper treatment of these gains.

Remember “shared appreciation” Homeowners forfeit profits if they sell within a year (probably not a concern) and the forfeiture decrease 10% per year until the 5th year where it reaches 50% of the gain.  Here’s the kicker.  It stays at 50%.  So the government is partner.  People are not going to like that and might prefer the Short sale. The homeowner can not take out a home equity line for five years from closing. There are fees involved on this loan per year for an annual insurance premium.

August 12, 2008

What does the TRIM notice from Broward County mean to me?

In early August property owners will receive a TRIM notice from Broward County. This notice will show what your property is worth (assessed value) according to the property appraiser. It also shows what your taxes will be for 2008.

Note the market value, the assessed value, just value and the Save Our Homes value. What do these mean?  The Broward County Property Tax Appraisermarket value is a meaningless number on homesteaded property.  Just value is 85% of market value taken one year in arrears.  The Save Our Homes Value will reflect the amount that your tax is based on if you have been in the homes for a few years and it is your homestead.

The assessed value is important to you.  Ask yourself, “Could I sell the property for the assessed value?” If not, you will be paying too much tax!!  What to do?  File a petition with the Value Adjustment Board by September 19, 2008. This will give you the right to have a hearing. In the hearing you will have to prove your case.  Show sales in your area that have closed prior to Jan 1, 2008. Sales should be similar in size, features and location to your home.The special master (appraiser hired by the County) will hear and consider your evidence. If you have had an appraisal done in 2007 for other purposes (estate, divorce, or mortgage) it can be used to support your case.  Also, an agent, such as my business associate, Tom, can be hired to represent you at the hearing. Typically these agents work on a contingent fee basis (40 to 50% of the tax saving). This is a one time fee. If you need help or have questions please call: Thomas R. Wachtstetter ASA IFA, Certified General Appraiser RZ #451

August 11, 2008

Be Green – Hazardous Waste Drop Off

Household Hazardous Waste & Electronics Recycling Free Drop Off

Paint, Solvents, Pesticides, Household Cleaners, Lawn & Pool Chemicals, Mercury Thermometers, Rechargeable Batteries, Fire Extinguishers, Televisions, Propane Tanks, Tires, Motor Oil, Auto Batteries, Keyboards, Printers, Monitors, Computers, and Cell Phones.

Permanent drop-off locations open every Friday & Saturday* from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm.
Pompano Beach – 2780 N. Powerline Road (North of Copans Rd.)
West Park – 5601 W. Hallendale Beach Blvd (East of US 441)
Davie – 5490 Reese Rd (open Saturdays only)

For more information call 954-765-4999 or go to www.Broward.Org/Waste

July 25, 2008

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – How Does It Work?

Filed under: South Florida Resource — admin @ 1:12 pm

Set up by the federal government — Fannie in 1938, Freddie in 1970, are now public companies, their stock traded on the open market.  They buy mortgages away from the banks that already hold them, providing cash that allows banks to make more home loans and take on more debt. Then Fannie and Freddie bundle the loans together and sell pieces of the whole to investors as what are called mortgage-backed securities. They pay a guaranteed rate of return — like Treasury bonds, but more lucrative for investors.  Each are backed with a $2.25 billion line of credit from Uncle Sam, our government. Fannie and Freddie have been essential to the functioning of the U.S. housing market and helped homeowners by pumping enough transactions through the market to lower interest rates.

Mortgage Backers AP

May 19, 2008

Women – Think & Grow Rich

Filed under: South Florida Resource — admin @ 1:05 pm

Women’s Prosperity Network’s   Monthly Chapter Meeting  

Join us for Breakfast, Brainstorming & Breakthroughs! When:       Sat., May 31st 10:00 am to 1:00 pm 

Where:      To Be Determined   Cost:          $10 members / $15 non-members 

To Register for this Money Making Event  Reply to this email or simply call (954) 727-9700 

This meeting is dedicated to sharing ways to create additional income, whether through your existing business or adding new ways to make money.  We’ve learned that creating additional income is the way to have long term wealth and freedom.  Be sure to reserve your seat and take advantage of this opportunity to learn about new business ideas and expand and promote your existing business. 

Members – Contact Nancy at (954) 727-9700 – we want to showcase YOU at this meeting. To Register for this Money Making Event 

Call (954) 727-9700  Call Now – Space is Limited 

REMEMBER – OUR “BIG GIVE” TO BENEFIT WOMEN IN DISTRESS OF BROWARD COUNTY A representative from Women In Distress will be there to collect the wish list items: 

School Supplies: Composition Notebooks, loose leaf paper, folders, pens, pencils Women’s Prosperity Network’s “Big Give” 

Let’s All Give Big! 

May 2, 2008

Call to Action on pending property tax and health insurance legislation

Filed under: South Florida Resource — admin @ 3:49 pm

The Florida Legislature is set to adjourn Friday evening.  Much has been accomplished, but there is still work to be done!  The Florida House of Representatives has passed a number of great property tax reform bills, however, the Florida Senate has so far been unwilling to take many of them up for final consideration.  It is important to note that property tax relief WILL be offered on the November ballot thanks to proposed constitutional amendments offered by the Tax and Budget Reform Commission (TBRC). The Senate still has a chance, though, to enact legislation that could result in even greater property tax reforms. 

House Bill 129 by Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and House Bill 1283 by Rep. Dean Cannon have both passed the full House and currently await Senate action.  HB 129 makes critical changes to the application of the “Highest and Best Use” standard of appraising property, while HB 1283 levels the playing field for property owners who appeal their assessment to the Value Adjustment Board.  The Florida Association of Realtors strongly supports these two bills! 

In addition, the Governor, the Senate and the House all agree that providing affordable health insurance to Florida’s uninsured is a top priority this Session.  While both the Senate and the House have passed health insurance legislation, a compromise has yet to be reached.  Florida’s Realtors know that this issue is too important to be caught up in internal politics and a compromise is needed by Friday for final passage. Please let your legislators know that something must be done for the thousands of uninsured Floridians! 
Please click here to send your message today and feel free to customize the subject line and any part of the letter to express your personal thoughts!  With this Call to Action we have customized letters making it simple for you contact your Senator and your Representative with separate messages.  The message to the Florida Senate is to take action on pending property tax and health insurance legislation.  The message to members of the Florida House is a “thank you” for passing so many meaningful property tax reform measures and an encouragement to keep working towards a compromise on health insurance legislation. 


April 9, 2008

Younger Home Buyers Are More Prevalent

Filed under: South Florida Resource — admin @ 11:09 pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As they begin to enter the housing market, many consumers in their 20s are more likely to buy a home at a younger age than their older brothers and sisters as well as their baby boomer parents, and are not necessarily waiting for marriage or even a long-term relationship before becoming homeowners.“The next generation of homeowners is beginning to exert its influence on the housing market,” said Thomas M. Stevens, National Association of Realtors president from Vienna, Va., and senior vice president of NRT Inc. “Many younger buyers have seen the wealth-building effects of homeownership in their parents and understand the value of housing as a good long-term investment.”The motivations, interests, and home buying approach of some younger buyers are chronicled in “Tomorrow’s Buyers: Who They Are and What They Want” in the September 2006 issue of REALTOR Magazine. The report integrates NAR research with the experiences and attitudes of real-life buyers who represent different demographic populations, putting a human face on statistical trends.

The percentage of first-time homebuyers under age 25 has been increasing in response to historically low interest rates and continued confidence in the long-term housing market, from 11 percent in 2001 to 14 percent in 2005, according to the 2005 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. “Owning a home is no more burdensome than renting, and in the long term, it’s the better investment,” said Kristen Carreira, a 26-year-old homeowner in Pittsburgh.

Carreira is also part of a trend in single female home buyers. While married couples are still the norm, they represent a smaller share of the home buying public than they did just 10 years ago, from 70 percent of home buyers in 1995 to 61 percent today, says NAR. During that same time, the proportion of single women buying homes has increased, from 14 percent in 1995 to 21 percent today.

Younger buyers are also likely to use technology and the Internet in their home buying search. In 2005, according to NAR research, the median age of buyers who used the Internet to search for homes was 11 years younger than those who did not, at 38 and 49, respectively.

“Realtors have adapted to meet the needs of this growing population of young home buyers,” said Stevens. “More than one-third of NAR’s 1.3 million Realtor members have had special training and lots of experience in buyer representation and technology. That expertise is reflected in special designations and certifications, such as the Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR) designation and e-PRO certification. A commitment to understanding the demands of this changing marketplace is just one more way Realtors add value to the real estate transaction.”

April 6, 2008

MTV Reality Show filmed at Weston Florida Cypress Bay High School

MTV Reality Show, The Paper, was pre-released in a sneak peak premiere on March 26th at Muvico Paradise 24 Theatre in The Circuit Cypress Bay NewspaperDavie, FL.  MTV spent over 5 months filming at Cypress Bay High School in Weston, Florida to create these 8 episodes.  The show follows editors of The Circuit, the high school paper of Cypress Bay High School in Weston, Florida, as they produce a 32-page color issue every month, while balancing school work, family, and the typical drama of teenage life.         It is continuously FCAT rated as an “A+” school.  The Race Distribution is Asian: 4%, Black: 5%, Hispanic: 41%, Native American: 0%, and White/Other: 49%.  Cypress Bay High School is located at 18600 Vista Park Blvd, Weston, FL 33332.     


April 2, 2008

FHA has increased their loan limit to $ 417,000 for Single Family Residence in Broward

Here are a few advantages of the FHA Program:
  1.  FHA goes up to a 97.75% Loan To Value (LTV) with no Credit Score requirement.
  2.  FHA carries no pre-payment penalty.
  3.  FHA allows a true non occupant co-Borrower.
  4.  Mortgage Insurance rates are better with FHA than conventional, Fannie or Freddie rates.
  5.  FHA has lower Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP) than a conventional loan.  MIP is like PMI – Private Mortgage in a conventional loan. 
  6.  All Borrowers funds may be from a gift.
  7.  FHA allows up to a 6% Seller Concession at the highest Loan To Value (LTV).
  8.  There is no reserve requirements (a normal reserve is at least 2 months of PITI (Principal, Interest, Tax, and Insurance).
  9.  Borrower does not have to have a credit history.
10.  Debt Ratios up to 45% are allowed. Compensating factors may be considered for a higher debt ratio.
11.  FHA will allow you to do a 95% Loan To Value (LTV) cash out refinance.

If you’d like more information on financing options, please call Courtney Silverman 954-292-0743 or click here to get started on speaking with our Mortgage Consultant, Ana Wilbanks.

March 30, 2008

Weston Warrior 2008 Football and Cheerleading Registration

Weston Warriors
Weston Warrior 2008 Football and Cheerleading Registration 

When:   Sat April 5th 9am-2pm
Place:   Tequesta Trace Park

Ages:  6 – 15 year olds

More information call Todd Green, President  (954) 349-6717

Football Eligibility


League Age
August 31st





140 lb



125 lb



115 lb



105 lb



90 lb



75 lb



I have been involved with this AYFL program for the last 3 years.  My husband coaches and my daughter is a cheerleader. This program is all about the kids.  I highly recommend it for your kids.  – Courtney

March 28, 2008

Lazy Lake, Florida petitions Wilton Manors

Filed under: Fort Lauderdale Homes,South Florida Resource — admin @ 10:30 pm

A proposal calling for 6 properties (5 homes and 1 vacant lot) on the north end of the lake calls for de-annexing those properties in favor of Wilton Manors.  This proposal comes after attempts to re-zone and re-develop Lazy Lake have failed.

One zoning proposal would let builders triple the village’s number of homes to about 45 single family homes.

Making this an issue at the state level will be setting a precedent encouraging other people in Broward unhappy with their cities to seek deannexation.

Lazy Lake is currently the smallest city in Broward County and the fifth smallest in Florida with 40 residents and 15 beautiful lakefront homes.  Call Courtney Silverman 954-292-0743  about buying in this intimate community by Wilton Manors, FL.

March 26, 2008

Reluctance to lend in housing industry

We are reverting back to stricter lending standards seen 20 years ago, as a result of the risky loans homebuyers took out to acquire properties they could otherwise not afford.  mortgage insurers flag large areasmortgage insurers flag large areas So this means new home buyers and those who choose to refinance should expect to pay a higher down payment and have a higher credit score than in the past.  The days of no document loans, asking for proof of employment and of income, are gone.

Even though the Federal Reserve has steadily cut rates to make it easier for borrowers to refinance their current interest-rate reset on their mortgages, there is still a reluctance to extend credit.  Companies that made second mortgages are now denying requests to take a secondary status in the event of a foreclosure, especially in markets that have been declining.  Conventional lenders have removed 30% to 40% of the borrowers who could have qualified in recent years. 

Call Courtney Silverman for home buying assistance in Broward County at 954-292-0743.

March 24, 2008

Pre-Foreclosure 2 bedroom 2 bath villa well located in Sunrise FL

See more details and a visual tour Colony Courts II Villa in Sunrise Floridaof my new listing in Sunrise FL. This is a 2 bedroom 2 bath villa well located in Sunrise FL.  It is a bike ride to the Sunrise Athletic Center and to Welleby Park in Sunrise.  The villa has a large private back yard.  The walls are painted a pretty sage green in the living room.  The living room floors were recently replaced with wood. 

Colony Courts II homeowners association is completing their scheduled maintenance work.  You have a new roof and all of the wood trim has been replaced.

Contact Courtney Silverman, The Keyes Company, 954-292-0743 for more information on this home, pre-foreclosure properties and general information about living in Sunrise, FL.

March 17, 2008

Monday Morning Coffee

The Feds made another drop in short terms rates yesterday.  The Fed is desperately working to turn the nations economy around.  The threat of recession continues to be driven by the poor national housing market. 

Here in the Broward County markets of Fort Lauderdale, Weston, Davie and Plantation areas, we continue to have one of the best housing markets in the country.  It is not the market that we enjoyed 2 years ago, but homes are still selling that are priced properly in the market.  The average time on the market here is about 115 days.  Courtney Silverman’s inventory are on the market less than 68 days before receiving a contract.  There is around 18 months of total home inventory in the Fort Lauderdale, Weston, Davie and Plantation areas.  Home price are sliding slowly.

Now is a great time to buy residential real estate.

If you would like to get an idea on what your homes value currently is, visit the web site www.CourtneySilverman.com.  This site will allow you to enter in information on your home and then receive a market value analysis by e-mail.  It’s always a good idea to get an estimate of your homes value, whether you are planning to sell or not.

Have An Awesome Week!
Courtney Silverman

February 29, 2008

4th Annual Free Outdoor Concert Presented By The City of Weston FL

The Rotary Club of Weston teams up with the City to put on this annual rock event.  Last year I went with my family and we had a blast listening to the music with our friends after we enjoyed our picnic dinner.

This year the line-up includes current and former lead singers from 70s and 80s bands such as:
Felix Cavaliere Rascals
Larry Hoppen Orleans
Jimi Jamison  Survivor
Alex Ligertwood Santana

Ronnie Hammond Atlanta Rhythm Section
Rick Derringer
Plus Charlie Morgan on drums, Lane & Lance Hoppen, Jerry Riggs, & Barry Dunaway. 

This year’s concert begins on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. at the Weston Regional Park – 20200 Saddle Cub Road, Weston.

If you like what you see, while you are visiting Weston, Florida, call Courtney Silverman 954-292-0743 or email her to request information about the great neighborhoods, homes and the Weston lifestyle the residents seek and found here.

Las Olas Art Fair 20th Anniversary

Are you going to the Las Olas Art Fair this Saturday or Sunday, March 1st or 2nd from 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.?

Take I-95 exit east on Broward Blvd, go south on Andrews, east on Las Olas Blvd. You may want to park and use one of the free shuttles from the following garages:

Riverfront Garage – Andrews & Las Olas
City Garage – 150 SE 2nd Ave
Government Center Parking Garage – 151 SW 2nd Ave

The fair is located on historic Las Olas blvd in downtown Ft. Lauderdale from SE 6th Ave to SE 11th Ave.

If you are interested in the real estate home prices in the area or if a few properties catch your eye, call Courtney Silverman 954-292-0743 or email her and she will get you the information you need. 

Have a great time!


February 22, 2008

Weston Florida has all the ingredients of an ideal city

You would be hard pressed to find a better place to live than the beautiful City of Weston. The exquisite surroundings, low crime rate, friendly neighbors, religious diversity and excellent public services make Weston a city that’s easy to fall in love with.

The climate in Weston makes it an enjoyable place to live year round. Average high temperatures in January are 75 degrees and reach only 90 degrees during the warmest of summer months. The lows range from 60 degrees in January to the low 80s during July and August. There is plenty of sunshine in Weston, with enough rain mixed in to keep things green and beautiful. In addition, the sales tax rate is below the national average, and there is no income tax, making it very affordable to live in Weston.

With palm tree-lined streets and lush landscaping throughout the community, Weston is a great place to call home. Situated close to the larger cities of Miami and Fort Lauderdale, as well as the white sand beaches Florida is famous for, Weston gives residents the benefits of big-city living without all the hassles.

Citizens of Weston take pride in their community, and it shows through active volunteer efforts, beautiful parks and safe neighborhoods. There are many parks scattered throughout the City of Weston. Peace Mound Park and Emerald Estates Park, among many others, give the residents a place to picnic, walk, play Frisbee or just enjoy the beautiful Florida sunshine. One of the safest places in Broward County to live, Weston’s crime rate continues to be low, especially for a city of its size. Law enforcement, fire and emergency services are provided through a contract with Broward County.

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office operates the Weston District Police Headquarters, which is located on the corner of Royal Palm Boulevard and Bonaventure Boulevard.  They offer several programs for area residents to continue making the community a safer place to live. One such program is a free security screening, offered for both private residences and businesses. The survey, conducted by certified crime prevention practitioners, includes recommendations to help make your home or business safer. To schedule a free survey, call the BSO West Broward Office at (954) 389-2040. Each weekend, services that include child safety seat inspections are also offered free of charge to the public. The Sheriff’s Department is always going the extra mile to assure the residents of Weston that they are living in a safe community.

The Broward County Fire Rescue Division operates three city-owned stations strategically placed throughout the city. A Broward County assistant chief is permanently placed in the city and acts as the city’s fire chief. The Fire Rescue Division gives excellent service to the residents of the city in any emergency.

Most communities are gated in Weston, giving residents an added sense of security in an already secure city. Boasting the lowest crime rate in Broward County, the city of Weston is a diverse community, with family-oriented residents watching out for their neighbors.

With all that Weston has to offer, it’s no wonder there’s such a strong real estate market. It doesn’t take long for people to realize that this preplanned community is the place for them. Homes aren’t on the market long in Weston, with the average home selling for almost $350,000, twice the average of homes in Broward County, according to recent data. The City of Weston is constantly growing, and new homes are sold quickly. Previously owned homes are also sold quickly and are all relatively new, with the oldest homes being built in the 1980s.

All types of real estate are available in Weston. Timeshares, apartments, townhouses, single-story homes and multimillion-dollar mansions are all part of the expanding community. Ranked as one of the best places to retire by CNN and Money magazine, Weston offers affordable housing options for people in all stages of life. The broad array of homes in the area makes it easy to find a larger home when you find you need more space or downsize a bit when your nest has become empty. Once people live in Weston, they don’t want to leave and often find another home just around the corner that fits their current needs.  They call Courtney Silverman with The Keyes Company to represent them when selling and buying their homes.

A newer development in Weston is the Isles at Weston. This gated community offers estate homes with three to six bedrooms for $333,000 to $659,000. With sparkling lakes, a spectacular clubhouse with a pool and terrific schools nearby, it is easy to see why the gorgeous homes in this community are selling so quickly. If you aren’t ready for an estate home yet, there are developments with town homes and condominiums from $165,000 and single-family homes from the mid $200,000s.

One of the innovative housing options recently added in Weston is the Palace at Weston. This gated community is billed as “luxury living for those 55 and older” and is a perfect spot to retire. Away from the bustle of Miami or Fort Lauderdale, yet enjoying the conveniences of a large city, the Palace at Weston is affordable retirement living from $250,000 to $350,000.

The well – planned community of Weston knows a mix of housing options is needed to fit the needs of the residents moving in. Whatever type of housing you are looking for, you’ll be able to find it here, in one of the nation’s best places to live.

Another factor making Weston such a great place to live is the government officials who look out for the welfare of residents’ both present and future. A commission-manager form of government is used in Weston, with elections held in odd-numbered years on the second Tuesday in March. The city is run by a city manager, mayor and four city commissioners. The mayor and city commissioners are elected to four-year terms; the city manager and a city attorney are then hired by the city commissioners. The jobs of both the commissioners and the mayor are considered to be part time in Weston.

A thriving religious community gives the City of Weston a well-rounded spiritual atmosphere. The diversity of the community is reflected in the diversity of the churches found in Weston. Interdenominational and nondenominational groups are found in Weston, and there are active Hindu, Eastern Orthodox, Sikh, Islamic and Buddhist communities. Most religious denominations worship here, whether in an official institution or at an alternative gathering spot.

Weston is ranked as one of the best places to retire by CNN and Money magazine.

February 17, 2008

The Case Against Waiting to Buy

Finance costs will rise as the economy recovers, so trying to time real estate might not pay off.Florida Home

Buy a home for $218,900, put 20% down and get a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 5.5% which reflects current rates after recent declines. You’ll have a $994.31 monthly payment.

Same home would be priced at $197,010, assuning prices drop an additional 10%.  Your interest rate would be 6% because the recession ends, and the Fed starts to raise rates.  Your monthly payment is $994.94.

CONCLUSION: If you waited a year to buy, you would have saved nothing and spent a year living someplace you’d rather not be!                  Source: Lending Tree

Contact Courtney Silverman to buy your next home and investment property.

February 15, 2008

Easiest, cheapest way to get a home mortgage

There is little competition from other buyers. Motivated sellers are setting realistic asking prices. In other words, it’s a more normal home sale market as compared to the record-breaking volume of the last few years.

But there’s another reason to buy a resale house now. Anxious sellers are offering sales incentives. A few offer vacation trips, higher sales commissions to buyer’s agents, and even automobiles as inducements to realty agents and their buyers.  I think the best incentive is a mortage buy down.  This means the seller will contribute up to 6% of the purchase price to buy down the buyer’s mortgage rate of a fixed loan for the first, second, and third year and then on the fourth year the rate is fixed.  This is a great savings each month.  It is a much better incentive for a buyer than a price reduction!

THE EASIEST, LEAST EXPENSIVE WAY TO FINANCE A HOME PURCHASE. Especially if you are a “cash challenged” or “credit challenged” home buyer, you will love this finance source. Not every resale home can be financed using this source, but all you need is one.

This under-used home mortgage finance source is the home seller.

With more than 50 percent of U.S. homes owned free and clear with no mortgage, those homes are the best candidates for seller financing.  As your Realtor, Courtney Silverman search the local MLS (multiple listing service) listings for homes listed with no existing mortgage. Those sellers are the best prospects for seller carryback mortgage financing.

Instead of sellers taking an all-cash sale and parking the cash in a bank or mutual fund earning around 5 percent interest, suggest the seller of a free-and-clear home carry back the mortgage at 6 percent. That’s a “good deal” for both seller and buyer.

Whenever possible, Courtney Silverman will arange a meeting with the home seller to establish credibility before presenting a purchase offer asking for a seller financed mortgage.

FIVE ADVANTAGES FOR HOME SELLERS OF SELLER FINANCING. In addition to earning a high above-market interest rate, there are many additional seller advantages of financing the home sale that include:

1. Easy quick sale for top dollar. As every merchant and car dealer knows, sales are easiest when the merchandise seller offers easy financing. The same principle applies to home sales where sellers offer easy financing. Price often becomes a non-issue.

2. Vacant houses can be risky for home sellers. If the seller has moved out of the house, this is usually a sign of a very anxious and worried seller, especially if the house has been listed for sale several months. Most sellers of vacant houses will listen to reasonable purchase offers, including seller carryback mortgage terms. 

If the seller wants a shorter term than a 20-year seller carryback mortgage, I reply, “Well, let’s amortize the mortgage over 20 years but include an option for you to call the loan due in 10 years.” After 10 years of on-time mortgage payments, sellers rarely exercise that option.

3. Safety of a mortgage or deed of trust on property the seller understands. The major reason home sellers hesitate to carry back a mortgage for their buyer is they fear the buyer will default and not make the monthly payments.

I emphasize this often-unstated fear and explain when a buyer defaults, the seller then can foreclose and either get paid off at the foreclosure sale by a cash bidder or get the home back to resell for a second profit.

4. Installment-sale tax benefits are another seller advantage, especially when the taxable profit exceeds the seller’s $250,000 or $500,000 principal residence sale tax exemption of Internal Revenue Code 121. If the property was not the seller’s principal residence, spreading out the capital gains tax over the years of receiving buyer payments is usually far better than paying a large capital gain tax in the year of the sale.

5. Down-payment cash to pay the home sales expenses. In a typical home seller financing, the buyer makes a cash down payment of 10 percent to 20 percent of the sales price. This down payment is usually sufficient to pay all the sales expenses, including the realty agents’ sales commission.

HOW TO CONVINCE HOME SELLERS TO FINANCE YOUR PURCHASE. Even after explaining all the seller benefits of financing the home sale, some unmotivated sellers are hesitant to carry back a mortgage on the house they are selling.

Methods to Convince are:

(1) offering to prepay six to 12 months of mortgage payments at the closing (instead of a large down payment);

(2) providing a year’s post-dated checks so the seller can deposit a check on the first day of each month; and/or

(3) giving the seller a copy of the buyer’s credit reports and FICO (Fair Isaac Corp.) score obtained at www.myfico.com.

SUMMARY: Especially in the current buyer’s market for homes in most cities, seller mortgage financing is the easiest way to pay for a house or condo purchase with no institutional loan application hassles.

Click here for a glossary of mortgage terms.

February 9, 2008

Luxury Home in Hawks Landing Neighborhood in Plantation Now Available

Outdoor Kitchen21 Snowy Owl, Plantation FL 33324 is the location to entertain your guests.  “The outdoor kitchen we added to our patio has increased our enjoyment  of our private rear yard.  We are really going to miss this home.” stated homeowner Stacey.  “Hawks Landing is a great neighborhood.  I feel secure with the security at the gate and the roving security patrols.  When we are not enjoying our own pool and spa we go to the Hawks Landing Clubhouse.  The clubhouse is available to all residents.  They have an enormous pool, tennis courts, basketball courts, and volleyball.  I use the fitness center and spa services they offer.  It has a country club feel here at the clubhouse with an extensive calendar of events targeted for all – both youth activities and adult social events.”  

Hawks Landing Clubhouse PoolCourtney Silverman, Realtor at The Keyes Company said “A relocation out of state has made this private luxurious home available for sale.  You should see the visual tour of this beauty!”

Details: 5 bedrooms, 3-1/2 baths, marble floors, upgraded fixtures throughout, high ceilings with crown molding, tray ceilings, surround sound inside and outside.  The kitchen has beautiful granite counters in a warm color.  The vanities in the master bedroom are marble. This home is located on a quiet cul de sac and has a long driveway, increasing privacy.

21 Snowy Owl Plantation FL Hawks Landing

Contact Courtney Silverman at The Keyes Company Realtors to see this fabulous home

November 22, 2007

Shop, Compare, & Negotiate For A Mortgage

Filed under: Finances,South Florida Resource — admin @ 3:41 pm

Disscussion Points To Cover Shop, Compare, & Negotiate For A Mortgage:Mortage Shopping

  • The lender’s requirement for a down payment and how much of a Down Payment you can comfortably afford.
  • If you are required to purchase Private Mortgage Insurance, which protects the lender if the borrower fails to pay.  If so, ask how much that will add to your monthly payment.
  • Ask for a list of Current Mortgage Rates and inquire if they are the lowest for the week or day.
  • Are the Interest Rates Fixed or Adjustable? If they are adjustable, then when the rate goes up, so does the monthly payment.  The adjustable rate is tied to which index?  How often is it adjusted?
  •  Ask how the Interest Rate and Loan Payment will vary on an adjustable loan and if your payment will drop when the interest rate drops.
  • What are the Loan’s Annual Percentage Rate (which includes the interest rate), broker fees, points and certain other credit charges that you may be required to pay.
  • Negotiate The Fees which include the loan origination or underwriting fees, as well as the transaction, settlement and closing costs.  Ask for an estimate of all fees and a written pledge that all mortgage closing costs will not exceed the amount quoted to you on the Good Faith Estimate and if they do, your Mortgage Broker will pay the difference.
  • Inquire how the Mortgage Broker is Compensated.  Brokers are paid a fee that may be passed along to the consumer as points paid at closing or as an add-on to the interest rate, or both.  Always ask that the points be quoted as a dollar amount.

Contact Courtney Silverman for assistance in finding a reputable Mortgage Consultant that educates her customers and her customers have no surprises at the closing table.

November 19, 2007

Mold Problem Is A Tax Deduction for Homeowners

The Internal Revenue Service has concluded that a landlord or a homeowner with a home business who needs to have mold remediation performed at their home is tax deductible as an ordinary and necessary business expense.  It qualifies as a repair that has to be done to protect the investment of your home and business.

Renovations that increase the value of your home can’t be counted as business expenses.  Mold remediation does not add value to the property, so it is tax deductible.  Mold remediation is necessary because the health of you, your employees, or your tenants would be affected if not performed, thus affecting the cash flow into your home business.  Only the mold remediation is deductible, not any upgrades or renovations to the property.

The total cost of the mold remediation project, including any pre or post-testing that an on site mold analysis could do for you, is what you would declare as your deduction at the end of the year.  In addition, any building materials that you have to purchase after the mold remediation is tax deductible too. These are necessary to complete the repairs caused by the mold in the first place. 

It’s also possible that relocation expenses for you, your family, or your tenants may be deductible as well.  Check with your tax adviser and ask them if these costs could be deductible.

With all the talk about mold being the kiss of death in real estate transactions, it’s good to know that there actually is an economical advantage to a moldy situation.

I recommend you consult with your CPA to see if this applies to your particular situation.  If you need assistance with mold identification or removal, contact Courtney Silverman.

Courtney Silverman Mold Abatement Tax Deduction

November 15, 2007

Vinegar Can Clean Anything

Filed under: South Florida Resource — admin @ 6:28 pm


Mix 1/2 cup of white vinegar
1 pint rubbing alcohol
1 tsp. dishwashing liquid
fill remaining gallon container with water

Fill squirt bottle and store remaining solution until you need it.  Great to use to clean glass, tub, tile and countertops.  (Not recommended for use on marble and granite.)

Contact Courtney Silverman for information on staging & getting your home in tip top condition for sale. 954-389-3459

November 12, 2007

Homestead Exemption Help For Taxpayers of Weston from Broward Property Appraiser

On a monthly basis at the Weston Regional Park, located at 20200 Saddleclub Road in Weston, Broward County taxpayers will receive assistance in applying for their homestead and other property tax exemptions.

Applicants must bring:
a Florida diver’s license or ID card,
a Broward voter registration or declaration of domicile,
social security numbers of all owners and
a copy of the recorded deed or a copy of the tax bill.

Resident immigrants must bring a permanent green card or proof of asylum. Visit Broward Property Appraiser or Courtney Silverman for more information

November 1, 2007

Colonial Estate is perfectly finished with a Functional Floor Plan

You will love living in Windmill Ranch Estates.  This exclusive community is revered, and great for raising a family.  Check out this over 5,000 square foot 5-bedroom estate situated on over an acre and a half.  Call Courtney Silverman, Realtor with The Keyes Company For Luxury Properties 954-292-0743..


October 29, 2007

Why Don’t Mortgage Rates Drop When There Is A Cut In The Federal Funds Rate?

Why Don’t Mortgage Rates Drop When There Is A Cut In The Federal Funds Rate? Whenever the Fed cuts the federal funds rate, customers call mortgage lenders, eagerly expecting to take advantage of a drop in mortgage rates. By the time these phone calls are over, customers frequently feel disappointed and even suspicious. It just doesn’t seem right. Why would banks raise mortgage rates while the Federal Reserve is cutting rates? Believe it or not, there is zero causation between mortgage rates and the Federal Reserve reducing its target for the federal funds rate.

A look at mortgage rates must begin with a history lesson. From Jan. 3, 2001, to June 25, 2003, the Federal Reserve reduced its target for the federal funds rate 13 times. Here’s what happened to the average 30-year mortgage rate in the month after each cut: It fell eight times and rose five times.  It’s simply not true that a Fed rate cut automatically leads to a drop in fixed mortgage rates. Mortgage rates go up and down according to investors’ expectations of long-term inflation. Simply put: If investors think inflation will accelerate, mortgage rates (and other long-term interest rates) rise. The nation’s overall economy doesn’t appear to be in recession (although the housing sector, and some Midwestern states, might be). Yet the Federal Reserve added some stimulus by cutting the federal funds rate. That, in turn, could lead to faster-rising prices and, therefore, higher long-term interest rates. When you see mortgage rates declining, they’re reacting to market forces — and the Fed eventually plays catch-up.

Call Courtney Silverman, The Keyes Company / Realtors to introduce you to a proven Mortgage Consultant that gives all of the information you need, with no surprises.

October 15, 2007

Fort Lauderdale Outside Kitchen Resources

In Fort Lauderdale, there are a few Outside KitchenVendor Resources that stand out.  They are:

Allied Kitchen & Bath 954-564-1611 Ft. Lauderdale
Broward Custom Kitchens 954-960-0550 Pompano Beach
The Kitchenworks, Inc. 954-764-1482 Ft. Lauderdale
Olde Native Trading Company 561-296-9620 West Palm Beach
Outdoor Living Concepts 561-615-1325 West Palm Beach
Shuster Design Associates, Inc. 954-462-6400 Wilton Manors

For resources on any home improvement project, contact Courtney Silverman, The Keyes Comnpany / Realtors

September 5, 2007

Beautiful Water View Home at Bonaventure Lakes in Weston

Immaculate Home with Remodeled Kitchen and Beautiful Wood Floors. Well Maintained and In Move in Condition. Screened Patio, Chlorine Free Pool Has Sun All Day, But Lots of Shade to Enjoy the Patio and Fenced Yard.


For more information on properties available for sale in Bonaventure Lakes, Contact:

Courtney Silverman
Relocation Expertise Working For You

Spacious Home at Plantation Preserve Golf Course

Hawthorn Village Is Maintenance Free Living At Its Best! Spacious 2-Bedroom 2-Bath Home Set At Plantation Preserve Golf Course. This home has a split floor plan, plenty of closet space, conveniently close to the Village Clubhouse and Pool. Formal Living and Dining Rooms, an Open Kitchen with a pass-thru to the Family Room. Mature Trees Shade the Home, yet Plenty of light. Circular Driveway, Garage on Side of Home. Extra Parking in Cul-de-Sac. Ideal for On-The-Go Singles-Families-Retirees.


For more information on properties in Hawthorn Village in Plantation FL, Contact:

Courtney Silverman
Relocation Expertise Working For You

Great Home in Cul-de-Sac at Hawthorne Village in Plantation

Welcome to “the Village”. 2-Bedroom 2-Bath Split Floor Plan Home. Real Hardwood Floors and Mexican Tile in the Enclosed Florida Room. Nice Open Floor Plan. A Turnkey Property with Accordion Shutters, Maintenance Free Exterior. Ideal for On-The-Go Singles,Families or Retirees. Newer Kenmore Elite Appliances, Large Air Conditioned Pantry & Laundry Room. Steps From Plantation Preserve Golf Course, Playground, Shopping, yet a quiet Cul-de-Sac.

For more information on this properties available in Hawthorne Village and in Plantation FL, Contact:

Courtney Silverman
Relocation Expertise Working For You 

Luxury Estate Home at Rolling Hills in Davie

Luxury Estate Home  located in Upscale Lakes Estates at Rolling Hills. 3 year new 5-bedroom 4-bath home with 4-way split floor plan. Beautiful home. Master Bedroom Suite. Large kitchen with center island, breakfast bar, large pantry, bar area. 3-hole Executive Golf Course Within Neighborhood.  Next to the Prestigious Grande Oaks Golf Club, Surrounded by Mature Historic Live Oak Trees. Close to Educational Campuses, Parks, Country Clubs & Miami Dolphins Training Facility.

For more information on properties in Lake Estates at Rolling Hills in Davie FL, Contact:

Courtney Silverman
Relocation Expertise Working For You 

Wonderful Home at a Great Price in Weston

Attention Bargain Hunters: Least expensive 4-bedroom 2-story home in Weston. Immaculate – Move-in Condition. Master BR Suite downstairs 3 large bedrooms upstairs. Large Kitchen. New wood floors-1st floor. Screened covered porch, fenced yard, mature trees, clean established neighborhood. All upstairs windows have accordian shutters. 1-yr repair/replacement warranty-all appliances. Walk your Kids to Elementary School. Community pool is next to Eagle Point Park (playground, athletic fields & walking path).

For More Information on properties in North Lakes and in Weston FL, Contact:

Courtney Silverman
Relocation Expertise Working For You


Peaceful Water View Home at Lakes of Delray


For more information on this property and others, Contact:

Courtney Silverman
Relocation Expertise Working For You

Beautiful Condo at Castle Gardens in Lauderhill

Decor To Perfection – Just Bring A Toothbrush. Castle Gardens is well located in Lauderhill. Club House offers a Magnificent Theatre, His & Her Gym, Lakefront Swimming Pool, Billiards, Bowling, Card Rooms, Shuttle Bus, Etc. 24-Hr Security Patrol Plus A Secured Entry Bldg. Close To Medical Facilities, Public Library & Shopping.

For more information on this property and others, Contact:

Courtney Silverman
Relocation Expertise Working For You

Fantastic Condo at Country Club Village in Weston

This building is in the rear of the Country Club Village. Quiet. Attractive Lobby with an Elevator to top-3rd floor. Condo board is very stable financially. Neighbors are residents (rent 1X/yr for max 3 months). Lots of spaceinside with a split floor plan creating 2 master suites, plus a powder room for guests. Large wrap around balcony (screened with sliding glass doors) creating additional space, also accessable from Master Bedroom. Membership to Bonaventure Town Center Included.

For more information on this property and others, Contact:

Courtney Silverman
Relocation Expertise Working For You

Spacious Condo with Great Golf and Water Views in Lauderhill

Building is being completely renovated from studs out w/New walls, new floors (tile & carpet), new roof. Spacious corner unit on 4th floor. Great view of the golf course and water. Great lifestyle w/ fitness center, 2 pools, tennis, 24-hr guard gated secure entry to complex, Add’l bldg security w/card entry. Covered Pkg. Easy access for commute. All ages OK. No down pmt required. No showings until work complete & city grants certificate of occupancy.

For more information on this property and others, Contact:

Courtney Silverman
Relocation Expertise Working For You

September 4, 2007

Great Lifestyle Home at Oriole Golf & Tennis Club in Margate

Active 55s, come see this IMMACULATE 2-bedroom 2-bath condo on the 1st Floor. Tile floors throughout. Grab a golf club, head out your patio doors and you’re on the course. Head out the front door and you’re 15 yards to the pool & social amenities of the Clubhouse. MOVE IN CONDITION. Completely updated. Great Lifestyle Home. After 1 year of ownership, the condo may be rented out.

For more information on this property and others, Contact:

Courtney Silverman
Relocation Expertise Working For You

July 3, 2007

Counting Cricket Chirps to Estimate Temperature

Filed under: South Florida Resource — admin @ 6:11 pm

Crickets are sensitive to changes in air temperature, and chirp at faster rates as the temperature rises. If you’ve a mind to, it is possible to use the chirps of the cricket common throughout the North America to gauge temperature. To get a rough estimate of the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit, count the number of chirps in 15 seconds and then add 37. The number you get will be an approximation of the outside temperature. This formula is said to be accurate within one degree. A variation is to count the chirps in 13 seconds, and add 40. You can find out more about crickets from the Library of Congress.

Beverly Sills, dead at 78

My husband’s aunt, Beverly Sills, passed away yesterday of cancer at the age of 78.  Aunt Bubbles began life as Belle Miriam Silverman, one of three children of Russian-Jewish immigrant parents. At the age of three, a nickname was given to her by her two older brothers Sidney & Stanley Silverman.  She later adopted the stage name “Bubbles” to launch her singing career as a child star on a local radio show in Brooklyn, New York.

Within ten years, she was studying voice under Estelle Liebling and piano with Paolo Gallico and learning the French and Italian languages.

Graduating from the Professional Children’s School in 1945, Miss Sills plunged into the American musical world of national touring companies. She sang everything from Gilbert and Sullivan to Bizet in a succession of brief engagements and one-night stands that required exhaustive repertory and made severe demands on versatility and stamina. This apprenticeship provided her the experience that eventually brought her star billing at the New York City Opera. Sills joined the opera house in 1955. While there, she sang almost 90 roles during her career. Her mother traveled with her and made her costumes.

She retired from the stage in 1980, but she continued to delight operatic audiences as impressario of the New York company.  As general director earned Beverly Sills a reputation as a dynamo in the world of the performing arts. She was as much admired for her drive, devotion and hard business head as for her voice. She attracted financial support and fans by re-molding the image of the New York City Opera as an experimental company willing to stage new operas and revive and revise unfamiliar but ingratiating classics. 

What I appreciated about Aunt Bubbles professionally was how she brought the appreciation of the European opera and brought it home to Americans.  She made opera approachable with her warm down home Brooklyn roots when appearing on Johnny Carson or Sesame Street.  Aunt Bubbles influenced many artists such as Susan Graham.

For all the dazzle of Beverly Sills’ career on stage, her life had its share of heartache. In 1956, she met and married Peter Greenough. Their two children, Muffy and Bucky, were both born with birth defects.  Aunt Bubbles was always warm and hopeful.

Beverly Sills received many prestigious awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and, in 1985, the Kennedy Center Honors Award for her lasting contribution to the performing arts. Her friend, comedienne Carol Burnett, praised the opera star during the celebration.  “She made opera come alive with character, drama, and humor,” Burnett said. “And she taught a new audience to love an old art form and along the way, we all fell in love with her.”

Aunt Bubbles Sills

June 18, 2007

Legislature passes property tax cut proposal


The state Legislature just passed the biggest tax-cut in state history, immediately rolling back and capping local-government spending and asking voters to supersize homeowner tax exemptions.Eight days ahead of schedule, lawmakers ended the special session at 6:26 p.m. shortly after the House, by a party-line 74-43 vote, passed the proposed constitutional amendment for the tax exemptions.
  To make the amendment more palatable to voters, Republicans changed it so it wouldn’t force homeowners into the new tax system and lose their Save Our Homes tax cap.
  The new system would supersize homestead exemptions, giving homeowners a 75 percent write-off on their first $200,000 in market-based ”just value” and an additional 15 percent write-off on the next $300,000.
  The plan gives deep tax relief, helps solve the portability issue and ultimately leaves voters in charge of approving the constitutional amendment.

June 8, 2007


HOW TO SELL YOUR HOME FOR TOP DOLLAR. If you are thinking about selling your house or condo, this is the best time of year to do so. However, a successful home sale requires preparation and planning.
 The first step is to get your residence into near “model home” condition. That means cleaning, repairing and painting. But don’t go overboard with renovations. Let your buyers remodel to their taste. Most home improvements rarely bring in as much in additional sales price as they cost.
 However, modest-cost cosmetic improvements usually pay off. Profitable examples include fresh paint inside and outside (paint is the most profitable dollar-for-dollar improvement you can make), new light fixtures, new floor coverings (if needed) such as wall-to-wall carpets, and outdoor landscaping spruce-up.
 THE BEST WAYS TO DETERMINE YOUR HOME’S MARKET VALUE. Home sales prices depend on recent sales prices of nearby comparable residences within the last few months. A good place to start is on the Internet to determine your home’s approximate market value.
 A brand-new Internet Web site that provides free “guesstimates” of home values is www.Zillow.com. When I checked my home, I was amazed to see an aerial photo of my house, including the lot boundaries. The Zillow estimate of my home’s market value was remarkably accurate. However, this remarkable new Web site doesn’t yet cover the entire nation.Another free Internet home-value-estimate Web sites include
www.REALTOR.com  This Web site will often refer you to a local realty agent.
 After you have had fun with the Internet estimates of your home’s market value, if you are a serious home seller, the best way to obtain a more accurate market value estimate is to interview at least three successful local real estate sales agents.
 Even if you are thinking about selling your home alone (known as “FSBO – For Sale By Owner” or “fizzbo”) the agents you interview won’t mind giving you their listing presentations. The reason is they know most “for sale by owners” give up and list with a professional agent within 30 to 60 days.
 KEY QUESTIONS TO THE LISTING AGENT YOU INTERVIEW. The reason it is so important to interview your local agents is to understand their sales ability and their CMAs (comparative market analysis) of your home’s market value.
 The interview, including the agent’s inspection of your home, should take about an hour. This will be time well spent.
 The reason is that the agent should prepare a written CMA showing the agent’s estimate of your home’s market value. The CMA will include recent sales prices of comparable nearby homes, the asking prices of neighborhood homes now listed for sale (your competition), a list of recently expired nearby listings which didn’t sell, and the agent’s estimate of your home’s market value.
 In addition to receiving each interviewed agent’s CMA, here is a list of key questions to ask each agent (the best agents anticipate these questions as part of their listing presentations):
 1.) What are the names, addresses, and phones of your five most recent home sales listings?
 Before you decide to list with one of the agents interviewed, be sure to phone those recent sellers to ask, “Were you in any way unhappy with your listing agent?” and, “Would you list another home for sale with the same agent?”
 2.) How long have you been selling homes in this area? Do you sell real estate full-time? What professional courses and designations have you completed?
 Some agents will resent these questions, realizing you are a well-educated home seller. But the best agents will have anticipated these important questions.
 Occasionally, you will find a successful part-time agent who comes highly recommended by recent home sellers. Or you might encounter a promising new licensee who has lots of time to devote to selling your home listing.
 3.) What is your marketing plan for my home? The best agents will have anticipated this question by providing a written marketing plan as part of their listing presentation.
 Each written marketing plan should include at a minimum a) a weekday open house tour for all MLS (multiple listing service) member local agents, b) Internet promotion on the agent’s personal Web site and at
www.REALTOR.com  (where 76 percent of today’s home buyers begin their search), c) brochures (ask to see samples of the agent’s past brochures for other listings).
 4.) How many listings do you have now? What are their addresses? Do you have an office assistant? What percentage of your listings didn’t sell last year? What day of the week do you take off and who covers for you when you are gone? Are you planning any vacations during the next three months?
 If the agent you are considering has too many listings, he or she might not be able to devote enough time to your home sale. Watch out for “numbers agents” who take many listings, have several assistants, but sell a low percentage of their listings. However, consider it a bonus if two agents work as a “team” to handle a large percentage of their listings.
 Having an office assistant is another bonus to free the agent’s time for sales while the assistant handles the details such as arranging inspections, appraisals, and sales closings.
 5.) What sales commission do you charge for a home like mine?
 If the listing commission is competitive, this is not the time to cut the agent’s commission and incentive to get your home sold. Presuming the agent’s references and success record are satisfactory, a sales commission up to 8 percent could be acceptable.
 The most important part of the sales commission is the portion that will go to the buyer’s agent. To illustrate, if your home sale listing offers only a 2.5 percent commission to the buyer’s agent, but other local listings offer a 3.5 percent commission, agents representing buyers are likely to show those homes before yours.
 Courtney Silverman advertises her listings extensively on
http://www.realtor.com/ .  This allows for maximum exposure of your property to the the buyer population. Contact Courtney Silverman with The Keyes Company / Realtors for to understand how she works to get your property sold.

June 7, 2007

From Last Summer To This Summer, Home Prices And Sales Continue To Be Flat or Falling.

Filed under: South Florida Resource — admin @ 5:44 pm

A 14-year high in the number of homes for sale in April is sapping consumer confidence during a time of year that traditionally is the strongest for real estate purchases.  People are looking, but they’re not buying. Real estate agents report an increase in traffic at open houses, but people are taking their time because inventory is so plentiful.
 In Palm Beach and Broward counties, potential buyers are holding off until they see how state legislators address the property tax crunch during a special session that begins next week.
 Major factors in the housing downturn are the large number of homes for sale and softening demand as short-term investors leave the market.
The inventory of existing homes for sale in April, measured by the estimated time it would take to sell them all, was 8.4 months. That was the highest since August 1992 when it was 8.6 months.
Because of reductions in home sales and new-home construction, the economy will expand at a subpar pace in 2007.

June 1, 2007


Filed under: Finances,South Florida Resource — admin @ 7:37 pm


 1.     Get and stay out of your comfort zone.  I believe that not much happens of any significance when we’re in our comfort zone. I hear people say, “But I’m concerned about my security.” My response to that is simple: “Security is for cadavers.”
2.      Never give up.
 Almost nothing works the first time it’s attempted. Just because what you’re doing does not seem to be working, doesn’t mean it won’t work. It just means that it might not work the way you’re doing it. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it, and you wouldn’t  have an opportunity.
3.      When you’re ready to quit, you’re closer than you think.
There’s an old Chinese saying that I just love, and I believe it is so true. It goes like this:  “The temptation to quit will be  the greatest just before you are about to succeed.”
4.      With regard to whatever worries you, not only accept the worst thing that could happen, but make it a point to quantify what the worst thing could be.
  Very seldom will the worst consequence be anywhere near as bad as a cloud of “undefined consequences.”  My father would tell me early on, when I was struggling and losing my shirt trying to get my company going, “Well, if it doesn’t work, they can’t eat you.”
5.      Focus on what you want to have happen.
  Remember that old saying, “As you think, so shall you be.”
6.      Take things a day at a time.
No matter how difficult your situation is, you can get through it if you don’t look too far into the future, and focus on the present moment. You can get through anything one day at a time.
7.      Always be moving forward.
Never stop investing.  Never stop improving. Never stop doing something new. The moment you stop improving your organization, it starts to die. Make it your goal to be better each and every day, in some small way. Remember the Japanese concept of Kaizen. Small daily improvements eventually result in huge advantages.
8.      Be quick to decide.
  Remember what General George S. Patton said: A good plan violently executed today is far and away better than a perfect plan tomorrow.
9.      Measure everything of significance.
 I swear this is true. Anything that is measured and watched, improves.
10.    Anything that is not managed will deteriorate.
  If you want to uncover problems you don’t know about, take a few moments and look closely at the areas you haven’t examined for a while. I guarantee you problems will be there.
11.    Pay attention to your competitors, but pay more attention to what you’re doing.
  When you look at your competitors, remember that everything looks perfect at a distance.  Even the planet Earth, if you get far enough into space, looks like a peaceful place.
12.    Never let anybody push you around.
  In our society, with our laws and an even playing field, you have just as much right to what you’re doing as anyone else, provided that what you’re doing is legal.
13.    Never expect life to be fair.
 Life isn’t fair. You make your own breaks. You’ll be doing good if the only meaning fair has to you, is something that you pay when you get on a bus. (i.e., fare)
14.    Solve your own problems.
You’ll find that by coming up with your own solutions, you’ll develop a competitive edge. Masura Ibuka, the co-founder of Sony, said it best: “You never succeed in technology, business, or anything by following the others. “There’s also an old Asian saying that I remind myself of frequently. It goes like this:  “A wise man keeps his own counsel.”
15.    Don’t take yourself to seriously.
  Lighten up. Often, at least half of what we accomplish is due to luck. None of us are in control as much as we like to think we are.
16.    There’s always a reason to smile.
Find it.  After all, you’re really lucky to be alive. Life is short. More and more, I agree with my little brother.  He always reminds me: “ We’re not here for a long time; we’re here for a good time.”     

                                    Keep focusing on the success just ahead of you.

May 11, 2007

Housing buyers await tax rollback

By Paul Owers
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Real estate agents across South Florida kept pointing to this week, hoping state legislators would revive the housing market with a bold plan to fix the property tax crunch.  But now that legislators have pushed off the tax talk until June, dispirited agents say they have little hope of salvaging the spring selling season as they face at least another month of soft sales.As home values soared during the five-year housing boom, so did taxes, which get reassessed every time a property sells. Many residents say they’re trapped, unable to buy larger or smaller homes because their tax bills would double or triple.  Some people are stuck renting or are fed up and leaving Florida for cheaper states.

In addition, winter residents aren’t buying as many homes here because their property taxes aren’t capped at 3 percent like homesteaded property owners.  Legislators are considering proposals that would give snowbirds the same tax breaks as year-round residents.

A tax rollback could give homeowners relief this year. But other potential solutions, such as doubling of the homestead exemption to $50,000, would require voter approval and take longer to implement.

And there’s no guarantee that the changes legislators settle on will help the real estate market in a meaningful way. One proposal to roll back taxes to 2005 levels was criticized for not giving homeowners enough savings.

Following the housing boom of 2000 to 2005, existing home sales have plummeted in South Florida, while prices have been flat or falling since last summer.

Year-over-year sales dropped 22 percent in Palm Beach County in March and 25 percent in Broward. Palm Beach County’s median price of $375,100 was down $18,600 from a year ago, while Broward’s median of $372,400 increased just $4,300.

May 6, 2007

Lowering Capital Gains Tax Liability


There are strategies you can help sellers employ to mitigate their tax liability. Let’s begin by considering how capital gains are calculated. The capital gain on the sale of a home is defined as the amount realized on the sale minus the cost basis. The amount realized is the sales price minus selling costs. Selling costs include real estate commissions, legal fees, title and escrow fees, advertising, money spent to fix up the property just before sale, loan charges paid by the seller (such as loan placement fees or points), and real estate excise taxes. To calculate cost basis:

1. Start with the purchase price paid for the home.
2. Add these adjustments: 

  • Costs associated with the original purchase of the property. These include abstract fees, recording fees, survey fees, title and escrow fees, attorney fees, real estate taxes owed, and inspection costs—but not points.
  • Costs associated with major improvements to the property. Major improvements are those that add to the value of your home, prolong its useful life, or adapt it to new uses. Finishing an unfinished basement, putting in new plumbing or wiring, or putting on a new roof would qualify. An addition, such as a deck, a sunroom, or a garage, is also an improvement. This category doesn’t include the cost of routine maintenance or repairs.

3. Subtract decreases, such as

  • The gain postponed from the sale of a previous home (before May 7, 1997). – Deductible casualty losses, such as those caused by natural disasters.
  • Depreciation allowed or allowable if the home was used for business or rental purposes.

The resulting amount is the adjusted cost basis. Subtract the adjusted cost basis from the adjusted selling price (selling price minus selling expenses) to arrive at total capital gains.  Home owners should keep careful records to prove a home’s adjusted cost basis for tax purposes. Information to keep could include proof of purchase price and purchase expenses, receipts for improvements that affect the home’s basis, and any work sheets used to calculate the adjusted basis of a previous home that was sold.

Under certain circumstances, taxpayers may qualify for a hardship exception to help them lower their capital gains taxes, even if they haven’t met the two-year time requirement. Under the right conditions, hardships include a change of employment, health problems, and military service, according to the tax code. Military personnel who are required to live in government quarters or who are stationed at least 50 miles from their primary residence may have up to 10 years to meet the two-year residency requirement. The hardship exception also applies to unforeseen circumstances, such as natural disasters and acts of war.

The favorable treatment of capital gains can be a good reason to invest in real estate. It can also be a motivation to sell and move on before the gain exceeds the allowable deduction. Whatever they do, however, your clients should seek the advice of a tax adviser before making any tax-related decisions about their home.

Moran is a tax lawyer who provides advice to real estate salespeople and others in the real estate industry at Peterson Russell Kelly LLC in Bellevue, Wash. You can contact him at 425/462-4700 or pmoran@prklaw.com.

Courtney Silverman is a Realtor with The Keyes Company / Realtors in Weston FL.  Her team looks forward to being of service to you. 

May 4, 2007

What is a Short Sale?

Filed under: Finances,South Florida Resource — admin @ 7:30 pm

 A short sale is simply negotiating with a lender to accept an amount that is less than the total amount due on a property. 


It matters little whether the borrower has marginal equity, owes the same amount the house is worth, or is upside down (meaning they owe more than the house is worth).  The answer is they may all be good candidates but a hardship situation must exist. In addition, the property does not need to be in foreclosure to be a short sale. This will depend on the bank.  Some banks will only negotiate a Short Sale when the borrower is in default. Some will only open the lines of communication when their attorney is involved. The real answer is – it depends. We have found lenders are more willing to discuss the borrower’s situation sooner than ever before. 


Why would a bank entertain a Short Sale?
Mortgage is in arrears or in foreclosure and the homeowner has experienced a hardship Property is in poor condition New homes in the area are selling faster than existing ones Area or neighborhood has depreciated in value Increasing lender default rates resulting in excessive REO inventory Inadequate property value due to negative amortization loan, interest only mortgage, etc. Insufficient proceeds to cover pre-payment penalty, real estate commission, taxes, etc.  

When the borrower qualified for the mortgage initially, they had to cooperate with the lender. At that time, the borrower provided all the documents (bank statements, pay stubs, tax returns, etc.) and disclosures/forms the lender required to approve their loan. In order to negotiate a short sale package with a lender, we have to prove to the lender that the borrower no longer qualifies for the mortgage and that a tremendous hardship exists. It’s almost like qualifying for the original mortgage but in reverse.

May 3, 2007

Ask These 7 Key Questions To Avoid Buying A Bad Condo

1. WHAT IS THE FINANCIAL CONDITION OF THE CONDO ASSOCIATION? If you are considering purchase of a brand-new condo, to attract buyers the developer has probably set the monthly condo fees very low.  Watch out for inadequate allocations for replacement reserves which are sure to increase in future years as the building ages and needs repairs.If you are considering buying an older condo, study the replacement reserves. Depending on the building’s age and anticipated replacements, such as a new roof every 15 to 20 years, if reserves are inadequate a large special assessment might be levied on each owner when an unexpected cost arises, such as a hurricane or leaky windows.   There is no minimum replacement reserve guideline, but two standards are (a) at least $2,000 to $3,000 per unit, and/or (b) 25 percent of the annual gross income for the homeowner’s association should be in the reserve account.

Inquire if there are any major replacements anticipated in the next 12 months and if there will be a special assessment. Always review the board of director’s meeting minutes for the last six months to determine what issues are being discussed.

2. HOW DO THE MONTHLY FEES COMPARE WITH COMPARABLE NEARBY CONDO COMPLEXES? The answer is important not only to your wallet, but when considering when you go to sell the condo. When the condo fees are very high compared to the competition, that holds down the market value of condos in that complex.  Be sure to inquire what services are included, such as central heat and air conditioning.

3. IS THE CONDO ASSOCIATION PROFESSIONALLY MANAGED? Unless it is a small condo building of five units or less, professional management is a good sign. The cost usually pays for itself because an experienced condo manager knows where to get repair discounts that often “save” the equivalent of the professional manager’s fee.

A related question to ask is how long the professional manager has been managing the complex. The right answer is: the longer, the better. That indicates the condo owners are satisfied.

4. HOW GOOD IS THE SOUNDPROOFING?  Because poor soundproofing is the number one complaint of condo owners (especially for buildings converted from apartments), when you focus on buying a specific unit, it pays to test the soundproofing.

This can easily be done by asking the upstairs, downstairs, and adjacent neighbors to turn on their TVs and stereos to normal levels and see if you can hear them in the unit. Also, check for upstairs noisy floors, especially in wood construction buildings if the upstairs neighbors don’t have carpets with heavy padding.

5. WHAT IS THE PERCENTAGE OF RENTERS? Mortgage lenders know the risk of foreclosure default in condo complexes with more than 20 percent to 30 percent renters is very high. Many lenders either refuse to finance units in such complexes, or they charge above-normal interest rates.

The reasons are absentee landlords often have little interest in properly maintaining the condo complex and their renters aren’t as considerate as owner-occupants. The result can be declining maintenance quality. Condo complexes with anti-renter rules are considered very desirable for owner-occupants and often bring premium resale prices.

6. HAS THE CONDO UNIT BEEN PROFESSIONALLY INSPECTED AND DID THE SELLER PROVIDE A SELLER’S DISCLOSURE? Sellers are required to disclose know defects. Smart buyers carefully study these written disclosure forms before making purchase offers. Always hire a professional inspection of the unit after the offer is accepted.  This is a contingency (approval clause) in your purchase contract.  The buyer should always accompany the inspector to discuss any undisclosed defects discovered. Courtney Silverman has inspectors she can recommend to you that are very thorough.

7. ASK CURRENT RESIDENTS, “WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST AND LEAST LIVING HERE?” Or you might prefer to ask, “Would you buy a condo here again?”  Most condo owner-occupants are friendly and willing to share their good and bad experiences. Be sure to talk with several residents just to be sure you aren’t talking with a professional complainer. Just to verify your soundproofing test of the unit you are considering for purchase, casually ask, “How is the soundproofing here?”

CONDO ADVANTAGES. The many reasons for buying a condo instead of a house include (1) usually less expensive than buying a similarly sized single-family house; (2) exterior maintenance is the responsibility of the condo homeowner’s association; (3) the security of leaving your condo for an extended period without worry (called “lock and leave”); (4) homeowner tax benefits similar to houses; (5) pride of ownership from being an owner rather than a renter; and (6) potential resale profit as the condo appreciates in market value. However, local supply and demand greatly affects this last potential advantage.CONDO DISADVANTAGES. Depending on your viewpoint, potential condo disadvantages might include (1) being subject to the rules of the condo homeowner’s association; (2) unexpected increases in monthly fees and special assessments for maintenance costs; (3) policies and rules you don’t like — such as no pets or no rentals; (4) poor-quality maintenance or management which affect enjoyment and resale values; (5) poor soundproofing (the number one complaint of condo owners); (6) lack of freedom to do as you wish, such as have noisy parties; and (7) neighbors you don’t like or who don’t like you.

May 2, 2007

In Cooling Market, Sellers Turn To Patron Saint

Filed under: Single Family Residence,South Florida Resource — admin @ 5:06 pm

 ORLANDO, FL (MCT) – As the real-estate market softens, some people are turning to faith – and a shovel – to sell their stagnant properties.  According to tradition, burying a statue of St. Joseph in the lawn – and praying to the patron saint of house sellers – will help a real-estate deal.And with sales of existing single-family homes falling significantly in Central Florida and much of the country, it’s a tradition that appeals to sellers such as Tricia Caldiero.  Caldiero’s three-bedroom Deltona home, priced at $219,000, has been on the market for more than nine months.  “Nothing is happening. And I am desperate,” Caldiero said. “I thought it would sell, piece of cake.”  Caldiero, who recently adopted a baby and moved back to New York, is juggling two mortgages.

So she begged her real-estate agent to submerge the tiny St. Joseph statue in the lawn. Another is buried at Caldiero’s New York home.  “Whichever (house) sells first, I’m just going to live in the other one,” she said. “It’s in God’s hands now.”

While home sales are slow, the sale of St. Joseph statues is anything but sluggish.

May 1, 2007

Don’t get caught at the closing table without a mortgage!

Pre-approval letters previously received from mortgage brokers may not be worth the paper they’re written on, as the wholesale lender who may have approved the scenario is either no longer in business or tightening its guidelines. Many sub-prime lenders are closing their doors with little or no warning. A new website has been found that may help you in identifying whether a lender will be able to fund your closing. The website which contains a list of sup-prime lenders in financial trouble is http://mortgageimplode.com

Buyers will have to come up with higher down payments, especially if their credit is shaky. The conventional wisdom that the freefall that took place in the previous weeks in wholesale mortgage stocks was isolated to sub-prime lenders and will likely not reverberate throughout the capital markets is wrong.  This meltdown will likely have serious repercussions through the real estate industry. There are now over 50 lenders in serious trouble or out of business, and nearly all the remaining lenders are or will be tightening their credit guidelines, making it much harder for consumers, even ones with good credit to purchase or refinance homes.

Additionally, in Florida a title agent may not disburse funds unless the funds are “collected funds.” See Section 69O-186.008(1), Florida Administrative Code. Generally, under the Code, “collected funds” means funds deposited finally settled and credited to the title insurance agent’s escrow account. Collected funds are funds that are “made by a bank check, cashier’s check, official check, treasurer’s check, or other such official instrument issued by a bank, savings and loan association, or credit union when the instrument is drawn by the bank on itself, or on another bank whether or not the check is “payable through” or “payable at” a bank and the title agent has reasonable and prudent grounds to believe the instrument will clear and constitute collected funds within a reasonable period of time.” The key factor is that the title agent must have “reasonable and prudent grounds to believe the instrument will clear and constitute collected funds within a reasonable period of time.” While one would normally believe a cashier’s check would constitute collected funds that may not always be the case. Checking the above website regularly may help to determine the financial stability of the lender’s check.

Below are some of the lenders who have closed their doors, are expected to stop funding loans or are experiencing difficulties:
 1. Accredited Home. Panic selling analysts are fearful about liquidity and have downgraded rating from “hold” to “sell”; $100 million drop in annual net income expected; missed earnings filing deadline with the SEC.
 2. Acoustic Home Loans. A harbinger of the broader meltdown, Acoustic Home Loans ceased accepting new loan submissions last year; buybacks were a major factor in collapse, according to Business Week.
 3. Aegis Funding. Sub-prime unit has closed and a consolidated operation is reportedly handling prime, slimmed down sub-prime and expanded Alt-A offerings.
 4. Alliance Home Funding. Closed. Parent has folded mortgage brokerage into bank and “taken pre-tax charge of $680000 and an after-tax charge of $449000 to wind down the Alliance Home Funding operation,” according to fourth-quarter earning statement.
 5. Ameriquest. Parent ACC Holdings had to beg Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick, former director, to help get them a life-sustaining line of credit from Citigroup to avoid shutting down. They’ve shut most of their offices, laid off 3,800 people, and have settled with 30 state attorney generals for $325 million over predatory lending practices.
 6. Ameritrust Mortgage Company.  Shutdown, according to email to brokers: “Effective Monday, March 05, 2007 the sub-prime wholesale division of Ameritrust Mortgage Company is no longer in operation. Due to market conditions, our warehouse provider, Washington Mutual, ceased funding for sub-prime loans.”
 7. Argent. Owned by ACC Holdings but may be acquired by Citigroup as part of a deal for working capital and a credit line for ACC if it falters.
 8. Axis Mortgage & Investments. Parent Biltmore Bank of Arizona closed this wholesale subsidiary in November 2006 due to “current lending environment and current conditions of the real estate market.”
 9. Bay Capital/Clear Choice Financial. Press release on January 12, 2007: “Clear Choice has…announced that it is insolvent and in default on numerous obligations…. officially closed the mortgage lending offices of its wholly owned subsidiary, Bay Capital”
 10. Central Pacific Mortgage. Shuttered its door because it was apparently unable to make February’s last payroll, mostly due to rising buyback costs.
 11. Coast Financial Holdings. Distressed because of developers unable to complete construction has put $110 million in loans in jeopardy for loans for 480+ homeowners.
 12. Coastal Capital. Shut down; owner & president indicted in Duke Cunningham scandal.
 13. Concorde Acceptance. Closed as of January 31st, 2007.
 14. Countrywide. Stock in a freefall after announcing that close to 20% of its sub-prime loans are in default. Insiders sold $600 million worth of stock. Reportedly in talks over a merger or alliance with Bank of America.
 15. DeepGreen Financial. Closed as of January 31, 2007 by parent Lightyear Financial, a private equity firm.
 16. DomesticBank. Stopped wholesale operations on 3-2-06, according to their website.
 17. Doral Financial Corp. Has agreed to pay a penalty to settle fraud charges with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for a close to 1 billion overstatement in earnings. On March 2nd, 2007, said it will post losses for 2006 and warned on of a cash crunch if it is not able to refinance $625 million in debt.
 18. Eagle First Mortgage. AZ regulators shut them down citing illegal lending practices. Has until 3-14-07 to wind up operations.
 19. Encore Credit/ECC Capital. Was supposed to be sold to Bear Stearns for $26 million; ECC wound up paying Stearns $7 million to take it off their hands.
 20. EquiBanc. Closed by parent Wachovia after “intensive strategic review.”
 21. Fieldstone. Closed 6 operation centers; had to restructure lines of credit; bought by C-Bass (MGIC & Radian Group) after losing more than 70 percent of its value.
 22. First Franklin. Acquired by Merrill Lynch from National City
 23. Franklin Financial. Apparently has shutdown its wholesale operation as of 5pm 2-28-07; retail may be still alive
 24. Fremont General. FIL (Fremont Investment and Loan, its sub-prime subsidiary) has been ordered to cease-and-desist by the FDIC
 25. FundingAmerica. Closed as of January 19, 2007, little information available on their website.
 26. GMAC. Major layoffs in ResCap; looming writedowns for sub-prime loan portfolio; may take a large ($1 Billion) hit to cover bad loans made by ResCap.
 27. Harbourton Mortgage Investment Corp. Closed as of December 20, 2006, according to company press release “HMIC was forced to take these actions when it was unable to satisfactorily resolve mortgage repurchase claims.”
 28. Home 123 Corp. A subsidiary of New Century, two dozen offices shuttered and 200 jobs cut as of January 17, 2007.
 29. Ivanhoe Mortgage. Unable to fund operations due to a shortage of cash, according to CEO John Cassel
 30. Lender’s Direct Capital Corporation. Closed wholesale operations due to “lack of demand” effective 2-8-07.
 31. Mandalay Mortgage. Notified its brokers that it has exited the nonprime wholesale mortgage business. A message on its Web site said no new loans will be funded after Jan. 31, 2007.
 32. Merit Financial. Shut down because of “rising interest rates”. State regulators investigating.
 33. Meritage Mortgage. Business shut down by parent NetBank. Staff acquired by LIME Financial.
 34. Millennium Bankshares. Winding down all mortgage lending activity by the end of 2006 to “avoid the risks normally associated with mortgage banking activities,” according to press release.
 35. MLN (Mortgage Lenders Network). Has filed for Chapter 11, issued a cease and desist order Jan. 24 by Connecticut banking officials.
 36. NetBank Inc. Laid off the remaining portion of its staff in December after shutting down its sub-prime subsidiary Meritage.
 37. New Century. Stopped funding; in breach of debt covenants and trying desperately to get waivers; restating ’06 earnings downwards; 10 class-action shareholder lawsuits; may be in “death spiral”, according to analysts.
 38. Novastar. Seriously impaired; likely no dividends in 2007, no taxable income through 2011; many shareholder lawsuits.
 39. Option One. Owner H&R Block has publicly announced it will be sold by end of March 2007.
 40. Origen Wholesale Lending. This modular home lender is transferring its wholesale operations to its correspondent partners.
 41. OwnIt. Ceased operations in December 5th 2006. Filed bankruptcy December 28th.
 42. Popular Financial Holdings. Parent shutting it down and completely exiting wholesale sub-prime to “focus on profitable businesses”.
 43. Preferred Advantage. Closed completely when parent National City sold First Franklin.
 44. ResMAE. Filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy; assets purchased by Citadel Investment Group; being hounded by Merrill Lynch for more than $300 million in bad loans.
 45. ResCap. Laying off about 1,000 people; may force former parent GM to take a $950 million hit due to “loan loss provisions”, according to terms of its sale to Cerberus Capital, says Marketwatch.
 47. Sebring Capital Partners. Shut its doors as of December 5th, 2006 due to rising defaults, according to company employee quoted by the Denver Post.
 48. SecuredFunding. Ceased funding “based upon market conditions and limited product availability”, according to website.
 49. Silver State Mortgage. Per their website, shut down nationwide wholesale operations as of February 14, 2007.
 50. Summit Mortgage. “Came to terms with a difficult business model in an unforgiving economy.”
 51. Trojan Lending. “Effective as of the opening of business on Monday March 5, 2007, Trojan Lending has ceased its wholesale mortgage operations and will no longer be underwriting or funding wholesale mortgages nationwide.”

I am happy to provide referrals for lenders that close. Call Courtney Silverman 954-389-3459

April 27, 2007

Lack of budgeting skills is the primary reason for experiencing financial hardships

Most people can tell you how much their mortgage or rent is every month. They can tell you how much they pay each month for their car loan.  Ask them what percent of their income goes to housing or transportation and they will have a look on their face.

Consumers who are familiar with creating a monthly budget usually allocate amounts subtracting from total income in lieu of percentages, which is a frustrating way to budget, but a good guideline.

Using percentages as a guideline to budget will help you increase savings, repay and reduce debt, prevent impulse spending, distinguish between a need and a want, and identify expenses that can be reduced.

Your rent or mortgage (including insurance and taxes) should be about 27 percent of your income, minus taxes. (The range typically is 20 percent to 35 percent.)

Mortgage lenders use your gross income to determine how much house you can afford, and you can also do that with budget percentages. But to make this simple, let’s deal with your net. So let’s say you bring home $60,000. Using the 27 percent figure, your mortgage should be about $16,200 a year or $1,350 a month.

Here are some budget allocations
      Personal debt (credit cards, personal loans), 14 percent, with a range of 10 percent to 20 percent.
      Housing, 27 percent. Range: 20 percent to 35 percent.
      Food, 21 percent. Range: 15 percent to 30 percent.
      Transportation (including car loan, insurance, gas, etc.), 8 percent. Range: 6 percent to 20 percent.
      Utilities, 6 percent. Range: 4 percent to 7 percent.
      Clothing, 4 percent. Range: 3 percent to 10 percent.
      Miscellaneous (travel, child care, entertainment, gifts), 1 percent. Range: 1 percent to 4 percent.
      Savings, 7 percent. Range: 5 percent to 9 percent.
      Insurance (health, life, disability), 6 percent. Range: 4 percent to 6 percent.
      Personal care, 3 percent. Range: 2 percent to 4 percent.
      Health (prescriptions, eye care, dental), 3 percent. Range: 2 percent to 8 percent.

A vacation is not something that is unexpected. You can plan for it.  If you like to have nice and expensive clothes, that’s OK. What’s not OK is shopping without a budget limit.


April 25, 2007

What Are Real Estate Foreclosures?

Real estate foreclosures are properties that have been foreclosed on by lenders because the owners, who have taken out loans to buy the properties or have borrowed against the property, have defaulted on the loan payments. Owners can default on loan payments for a variety of reasons including divorce, illness, death of a spouse, and unemployment. Lenders try to work out some kind of resolution with defaulted owners, but will generally initiate foreclosure procedures after three months of default. 

Foreclosure properties represent an exciting way to buy real estate because they can be purchased at discount prices, typically between 10% – 50% below market. These discount prices are possible because the property owners, which can be either the borrower, lender, or government agency (HUD, VA, and Fannie Mae properties) are motivated to sell them very quickly, often at below market prices. As a home buyer, you can buy a foreclosure as a home with instant equity. As an investor, you can buy foreclosures as investment properties with built-in profit margins.   

What types of foreclosure properties are there? 

A foreclosure property exists in three primary stages: pre-foreclosure, auction property, real estate owned (REO). A pre-foreclosure occurs when the lender initiates foreclosure proceedings as the result of a default. If the borrower cannot cure the default by paying off the back payments (arrears) and does not sell the property, it is sold at a public auction. If no one buys the property at the auction, it reverts back to the lender and becomes a Real Estate Owned (REO) property.  

There is also a fourth stage, which can occur on properties with loans insured by a federal agency such as HUD or Fannie Mae, or guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). When such properties revert back to the lenders, the agencies reimburse the lenders and take ownership of the properties. The agencies then make arrangements to sell the properties to the public.   

How do lenders foreclose on property owners? 

Lenders foreclose on property owners using primarily the judicial or non-judicial foreclosure procedure. States that use mortgages to document property ownership, such as Florida, follow the judicial procedure. The judicial procedure requires lenders to file a court case to prove default before they can foreclose on the owners. States that use deeds of trust follow the non-judicial procedure, which does not require a court case. Non-judicial foreclosures can take up to about 30 days. Non-judicial foreclosures can take up to an additional 30 days because of the court action. In some states, the process can take up to a year depending on the circumstances.   

Can people make money investing in foreclosures? 

People can make money in foreclosures because frequently they can buy the properties at below market value prices. Buying properties at discount prices is the surest and quickest way to make money in real estate. Individuals who are looking for homes can get a significant amount of equity up front with foreclosures. Of course, there are no guarantees, but investors looking for short-term income maybe able to flip foreclosure properties for big profits. And landlords maybe able to buy and rent foreclosures, with positive cash flow, for long term wealth accumulation.   

Do I need a realtor to buy foreclosure properties? 

You can buy pre-foreclosures directly from the property owners before the auction. You can buy auction properties from the foreclosure attorneys or auctioneers at the public auction. You can also buy REOs from lenders after they have taken the properties back at the auction. In all three cases, you can buy the properties without a realtor. 

You do need a realtor to buy government properties. HUD, VA, Fannie Mae, and other federal agencies offer their properties for sale to the public via realtors. The agencies will publish their property lists either on the Internet, in local newspapers, or with local management companies. The properties are usually also published in the Multiple Listing Service, which makes them accessible to realtors. There are many realtors who specialize in government properties and can work with you to submit contracts for purchase.   

How do I find the cash to buy foreclosures? 

You might be surprised to know that there are several sources of investment capital available for funding foreclosure deals. These sources fall into four main categories: conventional financing, partners, lines of credit, and hard money lenders. You can obtain conventional financing from any number of commercial banks and mortgage companies. This type of source can be very cost effective, providing you have good credit. Partners are individuals, including friends, relatives, and other investors, who would be interesting in providing some or all of the money for a percentage of the profits. You can advertise by word of mouth, via the Internet, or in local newspapers.  

You can use existing lines of credit (or credit cards) to fund your deals. You can also use hard money lenders who are in the business of providing loans for real estate deals. Both of these sources require you to make monthly payments on the loan until you sell the property and pay off the balance. Check local sources, including the newspapers, for ads from hard money lenders. 

Many buyers of foreclosed properties also use conventional financing to fund their purchase. Conventional financing sources would be the same sources you would use if you were buying a non-foreclosure property; try your local bank or mortgage broker, both of these sources should have competitive rates and terms.   

What do I need to know in buying foreclosures? 

You should be aware that ALL foreclosure properties are sold in “as is” condition. That means neither the owner, foreclosure attorney, lender, government agency nor their agents are required to do any property repairs. You should therefore expect and be prepared to fix up the property, either by yourself or by hiring a contractor. 

In addition, it is important to arrange your financing in advance of your foreclosure purchase. Contact your lenders or partners to negotiate the terms and conditions of your financing so that you will be prepared to complete the purchase once you negotiate a good deal.   

What happens in Florida? 

Florida carries out foreclosures through court proceedings. The foreclosure process in Florida takes about five months.  A foreclosure in Florida begins when a lender files court action and records a notice of a pending lawsuit (Lis Pendens) against the borrower. The lender notifies the borrower and any other affected parties in person or in some cases by mail or publication. If the borrower does not respond to the court action within a specified amount of time, the county clerk can find the borrower in default and the lender can ask the court to make a final ruling. If the court rules against the borrower, the ruling will include the total amount owed to the lender and the foreclosure sale date. 

The lender is not required by state law to notify the borrower before initiating the foreclosure process, but individual mortgages or deeds of trust might call for this. The borrower can stop the foreclosure up until the date of the sale by paying the total amount owed to the lender. 

The sale date is typically 20-35 days after the court ruling, but this may vary depending on the individual court. The clerk of court issues a notice of sale containing the location, date, and time of the sale.  The notice is published once a week for two weeks, with the second notice appearing at least five days before the sale. 

The clerk usually oversees the sale, which ordinarily occurs at the county courthouse at 11:00 a.m. on the sale date. The winning bidder must provide a 5 percent deposit and pay the remaining balance by the end of the day or a new sale is scheduled a minimum of 20 days later. After a successful sale, the clerk gives a certificate of sale to the winning bidder. 

Within 10 days of the sale, the clerk transfers ownership to the winning bidder if no one disputes the sale.  In most instances, a borrower has no right of redemption after the certificate of sale is issued. 

Contact Courtney Silverman for more information 954-389-3459 at The Keyes Company / Realtors

April 16, 2007

Mortgage Consultant helps you achieve Financial Independence

In a world where we all value higher education, our educational system has neglected one very important subject – Money.  We all set out into the world with absolutely no financial training.
As a mortgage consultant, Carol Goldman, has found that more and more people are carrying a tremendous amount of debt and have no savings. Our government released the savings index statistic recently and it stated that as a country we are saving a minus 1.5%.  We start in life full of high hopes to make our fortune but few people really have a plan.  It is just as if we went on trip to a new destination without a map of how to get there.
Carol Goldman has acquired very specialized training as a mortgage planner, by working as a financial consultant.  She is curious to learn what financially her customers want out of life.  She then proceeds by helping them plan for those things that are most important to them.  She evaluates how her customers are progressing in their financial plan, and if there is no plan in place, Carol will work with them to create one.  Carol Goldman’s goal is to help all her customers achieve financial independence.
Those goals include:
          Creating healthy financial habits
          Getting rid of Non- Strategic debt
          Building a savings cushion of emergencies
          Accelerate their wealth development
          Having monies needed for life’s events (good and bad)
          Creating enough wealth to retire and pay off home
As you can see, coming to me for a mortgage your experience will be very different. I don’t just help you with your purchase, my goal is to be with you for the rest of your life planning and creating the wealth that you will need. I send my clients ongoing pertinent educational information to keep them on the cutting edge of what’s happening in the mortgage industry. Carol Goldman stays in touch regularly with her customers because she wants to be your trusted advisor for life.  Email Carol Goldman 

April 4, 2007

How did so many homeowners get so upside down in their homes?

The recent trend in the Broward County housing market has prompted those of us who care to ask the question – how did so many homeowners get so upside down in their homes? I suppose this question has a three part answer…the declining market, the foolish homeowner, and the crazy mortgage/lending industry. The declining market is out of the average homeowner’s hands. We find ourselves having to place our faith in our legislature to keep our economy strong and in businesses to continue to invest in South Florida. Placing our faith in either, as of late, seems foolhardy at best, and certifiably insane at worst. These two groups of people we are forced to rely on appear to be on opposite sides. The foolish homeowner problem almost always exists. Homeowners always believe their house is worth thousands more than it actually is. Just ask them, and you’ll see. If a house has sold within a 4-mile radius of their house for $600,000, their house miraculously is the mirror image of that house and is suddenly worth $100,000 or more. After all, their house has a 2 1/2-car garage and that house only had a 2-car garage. Based on their irrational exuberance built into the self-assessed values of their own homes, homeowners began using their homes as ATMs to cash out all of the equity in their homes. In some cases, they even cashed out more equity than they had built up in their homes. All they needed to justify it was a job, the notion that the house “around the corner” sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that housing values would continue to rise indefinitely. 

The more people I talk to overwhelmingly point their fingers at the crazy lending institutions that loaned marginal borrowers unbelievable amounts of money. I hear it every day how insane it was for a lender to loan 100% or in some cases more than 100% of the value of the house, interest only, 3-5 year ARMs, with a debt-to-income ratio nearing 50%. What did the lending institution think would happen when (as every market eventually does) the South Florida housing market hit a bump in the road? More and more I see homeowners who (partly to blame) took out these crazy loans, and more unbelievably I see lenders who issued them. The mortgage industry literally bit the hand that was feeding them, and in some cases they ate the whole arm. By setting homeowners up for almost certain failure, the industry didn’t do anyone, especially themselves, any favors. In record numbers, homeowners are unable to sell their homes for what they owe. In record numbers, South Florida homeowners are unable to refinance their homes because of lack of equity. In record numbers, South Florida homeowners are staring escalating interest rates in the face as their ARMs mature. In record numbers, South Florida homeowners are simply walking away from their homes, no longer able to afford them. In record numbers, South Florida homeowners are filing bankruptcy or losing their homes in foreclosure. In record numbers, South Florida homes are sitting vacant – for sale as a bank-owned or REO property. And in record numbers, lending institutions are seeing the fantastic profits realized during the lending boom, slowly melt away.  Only now are people questioning the loans that were given and the criteria used to issue them. The people I talk to are blaming the lenders most of all. They argue that the lending institution, even if not ethically bound not to issue some of these loans, should not have issued them purely for profit. The “lend to anyone” policy of some organizations has served only to turn a slumping South Florida housing market into one that appears to have jumped from the plane without a parachute. What I hear the most is that “they should have known better.” Lenders made obtaining loan approval for huge loans as easy as getting a credit card. The caveat always used to be “buyer beware,” but it seems now that it’s become “borrower beware.” We need to hold our businesses, legislators, lenders, and even ourselves to a higher standard; we need to make wise decisions; and we need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and move on. We need to practice a little more fiscal responsibility and realize that deficit spending on any level is irresponsible and dangerous.

February 26, 2007

Act now for 2006 tax year benefits and 2007 capital and cash planning!

Even after the fiscal year ends, and business owners of improved commercial real estate are seeking tax deduction opportunities, one popular option is to conduct a cost segregation study. Cost segregation will identify any item that can be depreciated over a shorter period of time. These studies can result in additional depreciation for properties including new buildings, renovations of existing buildings, leasehold improvements and commercial real estate purchases after 1986. Cost segregation allows business owners to increase depreciation and generate more tax deductions. 

Cost segregation involves separating up to 135 components of real estate that depreciate faster than the building itself. Taxpayers can depreciate many components of real estate using a five-, seven-, or 15-year recovery period. Within permissible bounds, there is a huge tax savings opportunity for depreciating this property accurately. Examples of these categories include items such as carpeting, certain fixtures, window treatments, site improvements and some wall coverings. 

Cost segregation typically apportions about 20% to 40% of the improvement cost basis to short-life property. Short-life property depreciates over a shorter life period and provides a higher level of tax deductions annually during the first 15 years of ownership. Most business owners increase depreciation by 50% to 75% by obtaining a cost segregation analysis. 

February 3, 2007

Matt Irvin, Loan Officer to NFL Coaches

Matt Irvin, a full service discount mortgage broker at Team Funding Group, provides residential loans.  Matt is teaming up with Courtney Silverman to work with National Football League coaches in Davie, FL finance their home purchases. Matt Irvin


“I spoke with a number of different companies while shopping for a mortgage this past April.  Matt Irvin explained the process in the most detailed and understandable way.  In fact, he was willing to take the time to educate me on various loan options.  He had excellent ideas and suggestions for products that would fit my requirements.  Most importantly, he always responded promptly and around my busy schedule.  Some companies did not return my calls for a week to 10 days.  Matt called me back in 10 minutes.  I have no reservations in recommending him to my friends and family members.”

Matt Schiotz
Assistant Coach
San Diego Chargers

January 23, 2007

Mortgage boost offsets house price declines

The LOW INTEREST RATES today……will offset any decline in housing price tomorrow. .IF rates rise!! Buyers LOCK in today – at the low rates…..and insure you will be ahead tomorrow! 

January 5, 2007

Home Sales Bode Well for Big Picture

Second Consecutive Rise Points to Limited Fallout From Market Slump in 2007

WASHINGTON — Sales of existing homes rose for the second consecutive month in November, a sign of rebounding demand that suggests the economic fallout from the housing market’s slump will be limited next year.  The National Association of Realtors said sales of existing homes last month increased 0.6% from October to an annual rate of 6.28 million units, down 10.7% from a year earlier. Spurred by lower interest rates and home prices, sales have now increased in back-to-back months for the first time in more than a year. 

Together with a recent upturn in the rate of new-home sales, the modest rise in existing-home sales indicates that home-buying activity may be stabilizing after a yearlong downturn. “The change was small, but the results were encouraging nonetheless because they suggested activity is beginning to form a bottom” said Michael Moran, chief economist at Daiwa Securities America Inc.

If the housing slump is indeed bottoming out and starts to reverse itself in the months ahead, it would gradually lift a great weight off the broader economy. Housing-related industries have been shedding thousands of jobs in recent months, and builders have been forced to scale back construction to match waning demand. That has been a major factor behind the slowing economy this year, and many economists say growth — now running at an inflation-adjusted annual rate of about 2.0% — won’t fully bounce back until the housing correction has run its course.

Of course, it is far from certain that the housing slump is over. Inventories of unsold homes remained large in November, with a 7.3-month supply on the market at current sales rates, according to NAR data, up from a five-month supply a year earlier. That suggests builders will continue to cut production until supply is better aligned with demand. In the meantime, large inventories will continue to put downward pressure on prices.

Last month’s median home price — the price at which half of homes sold for more and half sold for less — was down 3.1% from a year earlier. November was the fourth month in a row that median home prices were down from a year earlier. NAR President Pat Vredevoogd Combs described current conditions as a “window for buyers” to re-enter the market.  Go to Courtney Silverman’s website to look at
local inventories in Broward County, Florida.

  Additional support for a rebound is coming from the competitive labor market, which is producing solid wage gains and lifting consumer sentiment. As with the recent data on housing, which generated more relief than enthusiasm among economists, the improved sentiment reading was due more to a moderation in pessimism than any surge in optimism. More than anything, the data suggest the nation’s economy will be able to maintain its current pace of slow-to-moderate growth as the housing imbalance is corrected. “There’s nothing signaling a severe downturn or a severe upturn,” said Lynn Franco, who oversees the Conference Board survey. 

December 19, 2006

Warning! Some lenders are late in paying from homeowners’ escrow accounts and they are passing the late fees on to the homeowners.

What you can do?
Review your Escrow Account Statement:
Did your lender or loan servicer:
Forget to pay your taxes? 
Pay your taxes late? 
Charge the late fees/penalties to your escrow account? 
If so, complain directly to your lender or loan servicer and ask for a refund of the late fees.  Some questions and answers: 
Question 1: What’s the law require? 
Answer: Section 6(g) of RESPA requires loan servicers to pay taxes, insurance and other escrow account charges on time to avoid late fees or penalties. (Section 6(g) is found at: 12 U.S.C. 2605(g).) HUD interprets Section 6 (g) of RESPA to require lenders to pay borrowers’ tax bills on time so long as the homeowners were current in their mortgage payments. If the lender pays the tax bill late and the homeowner is current in making the mortgage payment, HUD would consider the lender responsible for any penalty or late charge, barring any justifiable excuse. 
Question 2: If I paid my mortgage on time, why was my lender late in making my tax payment? 
Answer: Mistakes happen for any number of reasons.  Most late payments are due to computer glitches, or may occur when loans are being transferred from one servicer to another or when lenders merge. Most lenders do not routinely pay tax bills late. Many lenders get a computer “tape” from the taxing authority for all borrowers who owe taxes in that jurisdiction and sometimes names and bills are left off the tape by mistake. Some lenders expect homeowners to forward the tax bills and some homeowners may not do so timely. 
Question 3: How can I check to see that I haven’t been charged for my lender’s mistake? 
Answer: RESPA requires your lender to send you an Annual Escrow Account Statement. Compare your Annual Escrow Account Statement with your tax bill. If you did not receive a bill from your county, city, or other taxing authority, you can ask the taxing authority what you owed in taxes for the time in question. You will need to check both to make sure that the amount the lender paid from your escrow account matches your tax bill. If the amount the lender paid from your escrow account is more than your tax bill, that difference may be a penalty or late fee. 
Question 4: What can I do to get a refund? 
Answer: In a written letter (not a phone call), ask your lender for an explanation and refund if the lender was at fault for paying the tax bill late. Your written letter should be labeled a “qualified written request under Section 6 of RESPA.” You may follow the Sample Complaint to Lender format for complaints. 
Please send HUD a copy of your “qualified written request.” That way we can better monitor lenders for compliance with this law. Our address is: 
Office of RESPA and Interstate Land Sales 
Office of Housing, Room 9154 
US Department of Housing and Urban Development # 451
Seventh Street, SW
Washington, DC 20410 
Question 5: What can HUD do to help? 
Answer: HUD has started a broad review of the practices of the largest loan servicers in the country. Unfortunately, HUD may not be able to get involved in every dispute that occurs between a homeowner and a loan servicer over escrow charges. By following these instructions, homeowners can help themselves get refunds directly from their lenders. By sending copies of your complaints to HUD, you will help us identify the worst offenders so that we may take appropriate action against companies that are doing the greatest harm.
Find out more about homeowner associations in Weston, FL

December 6, 2006

HUD Enhances Its 1-800-669-9777 Fair Housing Complaint Line

 WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that an increase in calls coming into its toll-free fair housing complaint line, 1-800-669-9777, shows that recent enhancements made to the system have helped achieve the agency’s goal of enabling more individuals to report housing discrimination to its Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO). About 13,000 calls a month now come into the hotline, up 8 percent over previous months. Chief among the enhancements that have contributed to the increase was the inclusion of 64 recently created area codes in the hotline’s automated program, which refers callers to intake specialists at HUD’s regional offices based on area-code recognition. The last few years have seen the addition of more than 100 new area codes for businesses and residences throughout the nation.

In anticipation of the increased call volume, HUD also added two more phone lines to its hotline, making it easier for callers to connect quickly with a live person in one of HUD’s regional offices.

The addition of new area codes and extra phone lines helped contribute to the 21 percent increase in discrimination complaints HUD has received this fiscal year, which ends September 30th.

“We are excited about the new changes to our phone system,” said Kim Kendrick, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Anything we can do to enhance our customer service assures our callers that we are here to serve them better and helps us continue our mission to ensure equal access to housing for every resident of this nation.”

Another benefit of the changes is that they enable HUD to analyze call data better. For example, “If we discover we are receiving more calls of discrimination from a particular city, we can step up our enforcement efforts in that area,” explained Kendrick. “The system is allowing us to utilize our resources better.” Similarly, if HUD receives few complaints from some areas of the country, the Department can explore whether its education-and-outreach efforts in those communities are adequate. The system allows HUD also to monitor how the public responds to targeted initiatives.

For all calls coming into the discrimination hotline, HUD can track the city and state the call is coming from, as well as the time of day of the call and the duration of the call. This information helps hotline phone representatives to be more responsive to callers.

In addition to calling HUD’s toll-free Fair Housing complaint number at 1-800-669-9777, individuals who believe they have experienced discrimination can also file a complaint by using HUD’s on-line form at www.hud.gov/fairhousing.

Housing discrimination charges heard before an administrative law judge carry a maximum civil penalty of $11,000 for a first offense, in addition to actual damages for each complainant, injunctive or other equitable relief, and attorney’s fees. Sanctions can be more severe if a respondent has a history of housing discrimination. Parties also have the right to elect to have their cases heard in federal district court.

December 4, 2006

10 Questions to Ask the Condo Board

Filed under: South Florida Resource — admin @ 5:12 pm

Before you buy, contact the condo board with the following questions. In the process, you’ll learn how responsive — and organized — its members are.

1. What percentage of units is owner-occupied? What percentage is tenant-occupied? Generally, the higher the percentage of owner-occupied units, the more marketable the units will be at resale.

2. What covenants, bylaws, and restrictions govern the property? What grandfather clauses are in place? You may find, for instance, that those who buy a property after a certain date can’t rent out their units, but buyers who bought earlier can. Ask for a copy of the bylaws to determine if you can live within them. And have an attorney review property docs, including the master deed, for you.

3. How much does the association keep in reserve? How is that money being invested?

4. Are association assessments keeping pace with the annual rate of inflation? Smart boards raise assessments a certain percentage each year to build reserves to fund future repairs. To determine if the assessment is reasonable, compare the rate to others in the area.

5. What does and doesn’t the assessment cover—common area maintenance, recreational facilities, trash collection, snow removal?

6. What special assessments have been mandated in the past five years? How much was each owner responsible for? Some special assessments are unavoidable. But repeated, expensive assessments could be a red flag about the condition of the building or the board’s fiscal policy.

7. How much turnover occurs in the building?

8. Is the project in litigation? If the builders or homeowners are involved in a lawsuit, reserves can be depleted quickly.

9. Is the developer reputable? Find out what other projects the developer has built and visit one if you can. Ask residents about their perceptions. Request an engineer’s report for developments that have been reconverted from other uses to determine what shape the building is in. If the roof, windows, and bricks aren’t in good repair, they become your problem once you buy.

10. Are multiple associations involved in the property? In very large developments, umbrella associations, as well as the smaller association into which you’re buying, may require separate assessments.
Call Courtney Silverman for your South East Florida residential property needs at 954-292-0743

December 1, 2006

December Is The Best Time To Buy Real Estate

Filed under: South Florida Resource — admin @ 4:45 pm

The months of December and January are generally good months for home buyers, but given current conditions in the real estate market, now is even a better time than usual to buy a home. Here’s why:

■ Mortgage rates are currently lower than they’ve been in almost a year, making homes more affordable.
■ Inventory is once again on the decline. After months of record numbers of homes on the market, the number is dropping. As it does, the selection of homes will again become limited. For prospective buyers, now might be the best time ever to buy a home.
■ With the market correction nearing an end, home prices are expected to rise again. According to the National Association of Realtors, research shows that home prices will not go any lower, and the median home price is expected to rise 1.6 percent for 2006 and will again increase in 2007. That means waiting could be a costly mistake.
■ Real estate remains the best investment available. The average home purchased five years ago has appreciated 49 percent, according to the NAR. While year-to-year fluctuations do occur, real estate remains one of the best-performing, most consistent long-term investments.

Savvy real estate investors will be in buying mode this winter. The savviest will keep these five things in mind to make their holiday investing season a happy one:

1. Negotiate the best deal possible. Sellers are motivated this time of year, and with the number of sellers out there, there is room to wheel and deal. 

2. Do your homework and some legwork. There are plenty of options for low-interest investor loans; find the best one for you. Get pre-approved before shopping for a house. Find an Realtor who is investor herself, and work with a lender who has a track record for working with investors. Research the market and buy in an area where there is demand.

3. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you need to be rich to invest in real estate. Many investments can be made with little money out of pocket. Don’t waste valuable time because you think you must save more money before getting into the game.

4. Find a system that works and stick with it. Many people have made a lot of money investing in real estate, so don’t try to re-invent the wheel. Decide on your tolerance for risk and invest accordingly. Rehabbing houses might turn the best short-term return, but it is risky. Single-family homes are more stable and provide returns over the long term.

5. Get over your fear. Many will never think twice about signing a check over to their stock broker, but they hesitate to enter the much more stable world of real estate investing. With this unique buyers market, this is the worst possible time to let your fear paralyze you.

The year 2007 will represent a fantastic buying opportunity for real estate investors, and the months of December and January are a great time to get started. 

The question is: Will you leverage this opportunity to its fullest potential? This buying opportunity may be like buying Microsoft stock back when Bill Gates was just getting started. How many shares of Microsoft would you like to have purchased back then?

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