Thursday, January 30, 2014

Real estate Q&A: Must owner pay attorney
fees on late HOA payment?
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Jan. 30, 2014 – Question: Last year, we missed paying our quarterly association dues because of illness. Several weeks later, we received a letter from the association’s attorney. I spoke to the president, and he just rudely told me we needed to pay. So I sent a check to the management company for the dues and late fee – but not the attorney fees demanded in the letter. We just got another letter threatening a lien and foreclosure if we don’t pay the full amount. What can I do? – Elaine

Answer: Attorney fees charged in the collection of overdue assessments can be passed on to the homeowner. When you sent in your partial payment, it probably was applied to the attorney and late fees before it was applied toward your dues. This means you paid only part of the quarterly bill. Now you are incurring more fees as your association attempts to collect what is still outstanding.

The best thing to do is to pay in full to stop further damage, and then try to get your association to refund the amounts that you do not think you owe. This shows you are not just trying to avoid paying. In the future, if you will be late with your dues, try to call and let the association know the situation. You might be able to work something out in advance and avoid having to deal with this headache.

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 (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Distributed by MCT Information Services.

SoFla home flipping slows down

RealtyTrac report shows investors opt to rent instead of resell
January 30, 2014 12:45PM

Home flipping is starting to slow down in South Florida, a sign that investors are moving on to other opportunities.
The latest report from Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac shows the region’s flipping increased only 8 percent in 2013. It nearly doubled in 2012. Buyers flipped 3,554 single-family residences in the tri-county area last year, up from 3,306 the year before.
RealtyTrac considers any home bought and resold within six months to be a flip.
Flipping in South Florida remained profitable in 2013. Those who flipped residences in the region generated an average profit of 45 percent.
RealtyTrac noted South Florida investors appear to be shifting from flipping homes to buying and renting them out. — Eric Kalis

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Governor: Reduce commercial lease tax by $100M
Governor's budget proposal
Florida Realtors’ commercial members were in attendance as Gov. Rick Scott announced his support for a reduction in the state’s sales tax on commercial leases. Watch video.
ORLANDO, Fla. – Jan. 28, 2014 – Florida Gov. Rick Scott joined commercial Realtors and other business owners today to announce that his proposed state budget, which will be released tomorrow, includes $100 million to support a reduction in the state’s sales tax on commercial leases.

“As governor, my mission is to make Florida the No. 1 place in the nation to live, work and play,” Scott told the crowd of more than 50 area businesspersons gathered at Conway Ace Hardware in Orlando. “Florida is the only state that imposes a 6 percent sales tax on commercial leases. That’s why I’m proud to announce today that, as part of my ‘It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget,’ we propose a $100 million reduction in the sales tax on commercial rent.”

The economic impact of a $100 million reduction in this tax would provide a $500 million value to Floridians in terms of jobs and economic activity, research indicates. Currently, businesses in the state pay a tax on commercial rent and other lease-related charges, such as insurance premiums, property taxes and common-area maintenance fees for such things as landscaping, janitorial services and building repairs.

Florida Realtors 2014 President Sherri Meadows was on-hand for the governor’s announcement.

“Most companies relocating to the Sunshine State are surprised to learn that Florida charges a 6 percent sales tax on commercial real estate leases,” said Meadows, CEO and team leader, Keller Williams, with market centers in Gainesville, Ocala and the Villages. “For Florida to be competitive with other states and online retailers, and considered pro-business by prospective employers and companies seeking to relocate, we must reduce – and eventually eliminate – the sales tax on commercial leases. Doing so will create jobs and is critical to our state’s economic growth and development. We appreciate Governor Scott for recognizing the importance of reducing this tax.”

Two bills filed for the 2014 Florida legislative session would begin a phase out of the tax: SB 176 by Sen. Dorothy Hukill (R-Port Orange) and HB 11 by Rep. Greg Steube (R-Bradenton) would lower the rate from 6 percent to 5 percent. Florida Realtors, NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and other business groups support the initiatives.

© 2014 Florida Realtors®

Beckham, Miami-Dade talk soccer stadium

Negotiations on potential sites, MLS franchise expected today
January 28, 2014 12:00PM

Miami-Dade County is expected to start negotiating a deal for a Major League Soccer stadium in downtown Miami with soccer legend David Beckham’s investment team today.
The office of Mayor Carlos Gimenez is having a private meeting with representatives of Miami Beckham United to scout as many as 30 potential stadium sites, the Miami Herald reported. That includes the much-discussed location on county-owned land at PortMiami. An announcement on the status of the negotiations could follow as soon as next week.
Major League Soccer has historically targeted expansion cities that construction soccer stadiums in primary urban areas. While Gimenez has been adamant that the county would not provide stadium funding, Beckham’s team has hired a Tallahassee lobbyist to push for a state sales-tax subsidy.
Beckham’s investment team includes New York real estate developer John Alschuler. [Miami Herald]Eric Kalis

Monday, January 27, 2014

Facebook going from next-hot-thing to ex-hot thing?
SEATTLE – Jan. 27, 2014 – Researchers from Princeton University predict that Facebook will lose 80 percent of its peak users between 2015 and 2017. What’s more, Facebook could suffer the same fate as MySpace, the once popular social network that has mostly faded away.

“Facebook … is just beginning to show the onset of an abandonment phase,” the researchers note, predicting “a rapid decline in Facebook activity in the next few years.”

Why the dim prediction for the world’s most popular social network?

Princeton researchers John Cannarella and Joshua A. Spechler equate Facebook to something like an epidemic – it first spread like an infectious disease, but the public will slowly become immune to its novelty and it will then ultimately die out.

“Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out, and have been successfully described with epidemiological models...,” they note in their study. “Ideas are spread through communicative contact between different people who share ideas with each other. Idea manifesters ultimately lose interest with the idea and no longer manifest the idea, which can be thought of as the gain of ‘immunity’ to the idea.”

Teen usage with Facebook is already declining as teens move in higher numbers to other platforms like WhatsApp and Snapchat. Facebook’s chief financial officer David Ebersman also recently announced that the site saw a decrease in daily users, particularly among younger teens, in the last three months.

Facebook will announce its latest traffic figures to investors at the end of the month.

Source: “Facebook Could Die Out Like an Infectious Disease by 2017,” Gizmodo (Jan. 23, 2014) and “Facebook on the Verge of Losing 80 Percent of its Users, Say Princeton Researchers,” TechSpot (Jan. 23, 2014)

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Let's Talk... Paradise in Demand: 2013 Solid Year for Real Estate...
 A service from the Naples Area Board of REALTORS®
 Paradise in Demand: 2013 Solid Year for Real Estate
NAPLES, FL - All signs point to stabilization for the local housing market as evidenced in the 2013 Annual Market Report released by the Naples Area Board of REALTORS® (NABOR®), which tracks home listings and sales within Collier County (excluding Marco Island). Overall pending and closed sales for homes over $300,000 increased by double digits in 2013.
"The first sign of stabilization can be seen in the increase of traditional closed sales for 2013," said Pat Pitocchi, NABOR® President and Corporate Trainer at Downing-Frye Realty. "At the beginning of the year, 74 percent of sales were traditional, while 26 percent were non-traditional [short sale and foreclosed properties]; but by December, traditional sales rose to 83 percent of all sales leaving 17 percent as non-traditional."
"This report indicates a tremendous market shift from home sales in the under $300,000 category to home sales in the over $300,000 categories," said Bill Coffey, Broker Manager of Amerivest Realty Naples. "Sales over $300,000 now drive the market. Closed sales of homes in the over $300,000 price categories increased by 22.5 percent in 2013."
According to the report, the overall housing market inched ahead of activity reported in 2012, which was considered a recovery year by market expert Cindy Carroll, SRA, with the real estate appraisal and consultancy firm Carroll & Carroll, Inc. Overall median prices for properties between $300,000 - $2 million leveled off in 2013 with little or no change. However, median prices in the lower-end (under $300,000) and higher-end ($2 million+) increased 16 and 5 percent, respectively.
"The report shows a clear and steady demand for housing in Naples," said Glenn Ginsburg, Broker/Owner of A Delta Realty of Naples, Inc. "The condo market was especially hot in 2013 with the most impressive activity in the $2 million and above category, which realized a 62 percent increase in closed sales from 60 units sold in 2012 to 97 units sold in 2013."
The NABOR® 2013 Annual Report provides comparisons of single-family home and condominium sales (via the Southwest Florida MLS), price ranges, and geographic segmentation and includes an overall market summary. The NABOR® Annual 2013 sales statistics are presented in chart format, including these overall (single-family and condominium) findings:
  • Overall closed sales in both the $300,000 - $500,000 and $2 million and above segments increased 27 percent from 1,366 in 2012 to 1,730 in 2013 and 234 in 2012 to 298 in 2013, respectively.
  • Median prices for single family homes in the $300,000 and below category increased by 17 percent from $150,000 in 2012 to $175,000 in 2013.
  • Overall inventory decreased by 18 percent from 6,557 properties in 2012 to 5,403 properties in 2013.
  • Inventory in the condo market decreased by 23 percent.
  • Closed sales in the single-family market rose 1 percent, while closed sales in the multi-family or condo market rose 8 percent.
"The report indicates the housing market is behaving in a normal manner," said Mike Hughes, Vice President and General Manager of Downing-Frye Realty. "The solid incremental growth we experienced in 2013, especially in the middle priced markets, is a good sign our housing market has recovered. Homeowners that want to sell but are sitting on the fence need to understand that the lax lending environment, which created the last spike in prices, no longer exists. Demand for existing homes has increased in all price segments and in all neighborhoods. This may change when new home construction catches up, so now is a good time to call a REALTOR®."
To view the entire report, visit www.NaplesArea.
As always if you have any questions please feel free to contact me by calling 239.404.7787 or by e-mail at
I hope you have a fantastic week!
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty
Cellular Phone 239.404.7787
Michelle J. DeNomme, REALTOR, GRI
Office: 239.659.2400
E-Fax Number: 239.236.5550
Twitter Me: DeNommeRealtor
The Naples Area Board of REALTORS® (NABOR®) is an established organization (Chartered in 1949) whose members have a positive and progressive impact on the Naples Community. NABOR® is a local board of REALTORS® and real estate professionals with a legacy of nearly 60 years serving 5,000 plus members. NABOR® is a member of the Florida Realtors and the National Association of REALTORS®, which is the largest association in the United States with more than 1.3 million members and over 1,400 local board of REALTORS® nationwide. NABOR® is structured to provide programs and services to its membership through various committees and the NABOR® Board of Directors, all of whose members are non-paid volunteers.
The term REALTOR® is a registered collective membership mark which identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and who subscribe to its strict Code of Ethics.