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RealtyTrac: Fla. leads in 3Q foreclosures

October 15, 2014

foreclosure_stampIRVINE, Calif. – Oct. 15, 2014 – In the third quarter, Florida once again had the highest state foreclosure rate – default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions – in the nation, according to RealtyTrac’s U.S. Foreclosure Market Report.

Still, Florida foreclosures declined both month-to-month and year-to-year, at 4 percent and 17 percent respectively. One in every 153 Florida housing units had a foreclosure filing – a total of 58,589 Florida properties.

By metro area, Orlando, Atlantic City and Macon, Ga., posted the nation’s top metro foreclosure rates in the third quarter.

With one out of every 117 housing units facing a foreclosure filing in the third quarter, Orlando posted the highest foreclosure rate among metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) with a population of 200,000 or more. Orlando saw its foreclosure rate decline 1 percent since the second quarter, but it rose 16 percent year-to-year.

In Ocala and Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, third quarter foreclosure activity decreased year-to-year. However, the two cities still posted the nation’s fourth and fifth highest overall metro foreclosure rates in the third quarter.

The remaining five metro areas with top 10 foreclosure rates were all in Florida:

* Miami at No. 6 (one in every 137 housing units with a foreclosure filing)
* Jacksonville at No. 7 (one in every 140 housing units)
* Tampa at No. 8 (one in every 148 housing units)
* Lakeland at No. 9 (one in every 158 housing units)
* Port St. Lucie at No. 10 (one in every 175 housing units).

Florida also remains one of the top states for the length of time it takes to complete a foreclosure, ranking second at 951 days. Only New Jersey (1,064 days) foreclosures take longer. Hawaii (937 days), New York (902 days) and Illinois (889 days) round out the top five states.

National foreclosures

Nationally, RealtyTrac reports that third quarter foreclosures were down 16 percent year-to-year but up 0.42 percent quarter-to-quarter. Looking at just September, U.S. foreclosure activity decreased on a year-over-year basis for the 48th consecutive month.

“September foreclosure activity was back to pre-housing bubble levels nationwide, in large part thanks to a continued slide in bank repossessions,” says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “However, a recent rise in scheduled foreclosure auctions in many markets across the country shows lenders are continuing to clean house of lingering delinquent loans. This rise in scheduled auctions foreshadows a corresponding rise in bank repossessions and auction sales to third party buyers in the coming months.”

© 2014 Florida Realtors®

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Still no short sale tax forgiveness this year

October 15, 2014

Short-Sales-1024x855WASHINGTON – Oct. 15, 2014 – In a short sale, an owner sells his home for less than the amount stated on his mortgage, with the balance forgiven by the lender.

Last year, homeowners could move on after the sale. Any money forgiven by the bank could be forgotten.

This year, however, Congress has failed to extend the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Relief Act. If passed as it was in previous years, lawmakers would have made the law retroactive to Jan. 1, assuring all 2014 short sellers that they would not be taxed on mortgage money they never actually received.

This year, however, the story is different – so far. In January 2014, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) and other practitioners expected a retroactive passage of the mortgage debt act because it generally had bipartisan support in Congress. In May, NAR and others felt the same way, but with a bit less assurance.

The law has still not passed Congress, however, and fewer observers are now sure that it will.

However, the November election may be a deciding factor. While little Congressional action is expected before Americans go to the polls, there is still a small window of time afterward when Congress could act.

For more information on the Mortgage Debt Relief Act, visit NAR’s “Mortgage Debt Cancellation Relief” page.

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Debt collectors can call years after a foreclosure

October 15, 2014

Cara-menghadapi-debt-collectorWASHINGTON – Oct. 15, 2014 – Thousands of Americans who lost their homes to foreclosure years ago have moved on and rebuilt their finances, only to find that their past problem isn’t staying in the past.

In more and more cases, mortgage lenders are contacting these homeowners and attempting to collect the debt forgiven as part of a short sale or foreclosure.

“Using a legal tool known as a ‘deficiency judgment,’ lenders can ensure that borrowers are haunted by these zombie-like debts for years, and sometimes decades, to come,” Reuters reports. (Effective July 1, 2013, the lender has one year on residential properties to initiate the process.)

“Before the housing bubble, banks often refrained from seeking deficiency judgments, which were seen as costly and an invitation for bad publicity. Some of the biggest banks still feel that way. But the housing crisis saddled lenders with more than $1 trillion of foreclosed loans, leading to unprecedented losses. Now, at least some large lenders want their money back, and they figure it’s the perfect time to pursue borrowers: many of those who went through foreclosure have gotten new jobs, paid off old debts and, in some cases, bought new homes.”

Mortgage giant Fannie Mae is one of the most aggressive in pursuing deficiency judgments. Of the 595,128 foreclosures the government-sponsored enterprise was involved in through owning or guaranteeing the loan, it has referred 293,134 to debt collectors for possible deficiency judgment, according to a report by the Inspector General, reflecting the time period from January 2010 through January 2012.

Some of the largest mortgage lenders – JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo & Co., and Citigroup – say they don’t usually pursue a deficiency judgment, but they do reserve the right to do so.

“We may pursue them on a case-by-case basis, looking at a variety of factors, including investor and mortgage insurer requirements, the financial status of the borrower, and the type of hardship,” says Wells Fargo spokesman Tom Goyda.

Many borrowers may be surprised to learn that their years-old foreclosure isn’t really behind them. For example, former homeowner Danell Huthsing thought she was in the clear after a foreclosure in 2008 on a home she shared with her boyfriend. But this summer, she was served with a lawsuit demanding $91,000 for the amount of mortgage still unpaid after the home was foreclosed and sold.

Huthsing plans to appeal, but if she loses, the debt collector who filed the lawsuit will be able to freeze her bank account, garnish up to 25 percent of her wages, and seize her paid-off car, Reuters reports.

“For seven years, you think you’re good to go, that you’ve put this behind you,” said Huthsing. “Then wham, you get slapped to the floor again.”

Source: “Americans Face Post-Foreclosure Hell as Wages Garnished, Assets Seized,” Reuters (Oct. 14, 2014)

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JUST SOLD: Landmark Place in Countryside

October 7, 2014

JUST SOLD!
3205 LANDMARK DR. #3102
CLEARWATER, FL 33761
MLS#: U7707317

GetMeqdia.ashx

2 bedrooms, 2 full baths, 1,225 square feet: $89,900

Super nice GROUND FLOOR condo in the heart of Countryside! 2 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms with over 1,200 square feet. 1-car carport plus plenty of parking for guests. The AC is around 6 years old. Carpet installed in Sept. 2013! Screened patio has a wonderful view of the community swimming pool and spa. Master bedroom is quite large, bright and the master bathroom shower had brand new tile installed in Sept. of 2013. All appliances are staying including the washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator and microwave. Landmark Place is near Westfield mall which has tons of great restaurants, shopping and a newer movie theater. 2 pets allowed. Must be under 25lbs. No aggressive breeds.

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JUST SOLD: Bryn Mawr of Countryside

September 9, 2014

JUST SOLD!
2721 COUNTRYSIDE BLVD, #107
CLEARWATER, FL 33761

GetMdedia.ashx

2 bedrooms, 2 full baths, 1,005 square feet: $79,900

This is a great condo with a great location IN CLEARWATER… 2 bedroom, 2 bath, Featuring living room / dining room combo with sliding glass doors to enclosed/screen patio area, nice size kitchen has eating space and breakfast bar, master suite with walk-in closet and private bathroom with passage door, 2nd bedroom also has passage door, this condo also features inside washer/dryer hook-up. Many amenities within the community such as refreshing swimming pool, clubhouse and spectacular wooded view. Minutes from beautiful beaches, state parks, golf courses, colleges, shopping and restaurants. This is a Fannie Mae Home Path Property. Purchase this home for as little as 5% down Approved for Home Path Mortgage and Home Path Renovation financing. For Details regarding the first look period and Home Path please go to the Home Path website.

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JUST SOLD: 160 Mayfair Circle W. in Palm Harbor

September 8, 2014

JUST SOLD!
160 Mayfair Circle W.
Palm Harbor, FL 34683

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3 bedrooms, 2 full baths, 2-car garage, 2,511 square feet, pool: $309,800

Built by Van Horn this 3-bed, 2-bath block construction pool home resides in Palm Harbor’s prestigious Mayfair Woods. Conveniently located on Tampa Road between US 19 and Belcher next to the Ferrari dealership. Zoned for Palm Harbor Middle School and Palm Harbor University. This house has serious curb appeal with immaculate landscaping and an inviting covered front porch. You’ll be proud to call this your home. The backyard is massive, completely fenced, private, beautifully landscaped and ready for your kids and pets. Large swimming pool, screened enclosure and plenty of covered/shaded space under the roof so you can relax or entertain on sunny OR rainy days.

This is NOT a fixer-upper and is in move-in condition w/plenty of upgrades such as hardwood floors, recessed lighting, crown molding, double-paned sliders, vaulted ceilings, and a NICE kitchen! All appliances included. Upgraded cabinets, lots of counter space, handy pull-out drawers, and tile back splash. Sliding windows provide an unobstructed view of the pool and backyard. The family room is quite large with vaulted ceilings and a wood-burning fireplace. The living room is just as big. Master bathroom features dual vanities, upgraded cabinets, private potty, large walk-in shower and a Jacuzzi garden tub under a gorgeous stained glass window. The pool bathroom is extra large with two sinks, bathtub and private potty. Tons of storage closets and attic space. Indoor laundry room with wall-to-wall cabinets and a wash tub. Washer and dryer are included.

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Just Sold in New Port Richey!

July 24, 2014

JUST SOLD!
6154 DELAWARE AVE.
NEW PORT RICHEY, FL 34653
MLS #: W7537919

Exterior Front

3 bedrooms, 2 full bath, 1-car garage with 1,498 square feet: List Price $88,500

Unique opportunity to buy a completely renovated house at a very affordable price.Located in the heart of New Port Richey this home features 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, large family room with a wood burning fireplace, updated kitchen, spacious living room in an open floor plan.Freshly painted with neutral colors, maintenance free tile floors and renovated bathrooms, this home is a spotless clean, move in condition gem. Situated on a fenced over sized lot with a separate garage building large enough to even have workshop there.There is room for a boat or RV with alley access, no restrictions. No flood insurance needed. Quiet old world Florida ambiance with the benefit of being walking distance to all the cultural events, riverside music festivals, public boat ramp and a fantastic recreational center. Excellent family or turn key investment home! Don’t miss it!

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Just Sold! Queen Anne Gate in Palm Harbor, FL

June 30, 2014

JUST SOLD!
1189 ROYAL BLVD.
PALM HARBOR, FL 34684
MLS #: U7619383

Exterior Front

3 bedrooms, 2 full bath, 2-car garage Villa with 1,677 square feet: List Price $230,000

Discover Queen Anne Gate, one of Palm Harbor’s best kept secrets. All ages are welcome in this maintenance free gated community, with beautifully manicured grounds, a community pool and hot tub, all in a private setting. This spotless and very well maintained 1677 sq. ft. villa has soaring cathedral & vaulted ceilings throughout, large porcelain tile everywhere and wall to wall in the bedrooms and den. The spacious eat in kitchen with breakfast bar is open to the main great room. Windows & skylights keep it light and bright and save on electricity! The kitchen has plenty of cabinets, counter space and a pantry. The inside laundry room with cabinets and shelving is right off the kitchen. The large master suite has a private full bathroom with beautiful vanity, large walk-in shower and separate garden tub. French doors lead from the master to an additional den, study or Florida room. There are also French doors from the great room to the den. The split bedroom plan has two good sized additional bedrooms. Check out this fabulous two-car garage with work bench! This home is in tip-top turn-key condition and awaits new owners. Low maintenance fees. Bring your pet! Centrally located to all major roads. Walking distance to Publix, Einsteins, Steinmart and other shopping. Under 30 min to the beach (Crystal beach only a few miles) and airports. Mr. & Mrs. Clean live here. Move in ready. Call Pam for a personal tour!

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“On Top of the World” Clearwater Condo for Sale!

June 10, 2014

JUST SOLD!
2449 Columbia Dr. #39
Clearwater, FL 33763
MLS #: U7609253

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2 bedrooms, 1 full bath, 1,100 square feet: List Price $38,600

Great location in “On Top of the World,” the most desirable 55+ community in Clearwater. Building #16 is Fee Simple, NOT land lease, and within walking distance of the main clubhouse and heated swimming pool. This is a 2nd floor condo very close to the elevators, stairs and laundry room. Cash or Conventional Loans only. “On Top of the World” requires a 35% down payment for all units purchased with financing with no exceptions. Community offers golf, tennis, lawn bowling, shuffleboard, multiple swimming pools, fitness center, and a recreation center with planned activities like Bingo, dancing and exercise classes.

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Buyers ready, but home seller wants to back out

May 16, 2014

Man Signing ContractFORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – May 15, 2014 – Question: We found a house and entered into a contract to buy it. We did our inspections, got our mortgage loan set up and are ready for the closing about three weeks from now. Last night, the seller called and told us that she had an unexpected issue and will not be able to sell us the house. But don’t we have rights here? And do we have to wait until the closing date comes and goes before we start taking action to enforce the contract?

Answer: Most contracts contain contingencies allowing a party to cancel the deal if certain things happen, such as a bad inspection or the financing falls through. You need to carefully review your contract to make sure that the seller does not have a contractual way to cancel. If not, she is bound by what she agreed to, meaning that she must sell you the house.

Because she told you clearly that she is not moving forward, you don’t have to wait until the closing date to start enforcing the agreement. You or your lawyer should send her a letter now asking her to confirm in writing whether she is moving forward to closing. Once she confirms that she isn’t, most contracts give you the right to sue her for “specific performance,” meaning that you can ask the court to force her to sell you the property.

The practical problem with this is that it can take some time for the case to wind its way through the courts. So if you have concerns with where to live while this happens, or you are worried that you will lose your mortgage loan, this might not be the best option for you. It might be better to get your money back and move on to a similar house without all the trouble. But if this truly is the house you want, you appear to have the law on your side.

About the writer: Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He is the chairperson of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is an adjunct professor for the Nova Southeastern University Paralegal Studies program.

The information and materials in this column are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed. Nothing in this column is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

Copyright © 2014 Sun Sentinel, Gary M. Singer. Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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