“Don’t Sell Your Property Without It”

Learn to stop being cheated, by selling your property yourself. Here are the revealing insights that most home sellers don’t know about.

For most people, the prospect of selling their home can be positively daunting. First of all, there are usually plenty of things to do just to get it ready for the market. Besides the traditional clean-up, paint-up, fix-up chores that invariably wind up costing more than you planned, there are always the overriding concerns about how much the market will bear and how much you will eventually wind up selling it for.

To Be Continued

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Will you get your asking price, or will you have to drop your price to make the deal? After all, your home is a major investment, no doubt a rather large one, so when it comes to selling it you want to get your highest possible return. Yet in spite of everyone’s desire to get the top dollar for their property, most people are extremely unsure as to how to go about getting it. However, some savvy sellers have long known a little financial technique that has helped them to get top dollar for their property. In fact, on some rare occasions, they have even sold their properties for more than they were worth using this powerful financing tool. Although that might be the exception rather than the rule, you can certainly use this technique to get the most money possible when selling your property.

 

To Be Continued

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Seller carry-back, or take-back financing, has proven to be a surefire technique for closing deals. Even though most people do not think about when it comes to selling a property, they really should consider using it. According to the Federal Reserve, there are currently over 100 Billion dollars of seller carry-back (seller take-back) loans in existence. By any standard, that is a lot of money. But most importantly, it is also a very clear indication that more people are starting to use seller take-back financing techniques because it offers many financial benefits to both sellers and buyers. Basically, seller take-back financing is a relatively simple concept. A seller-take back loan is created when a property is sold and the seller performs like a lender by assisting in financing all or part of the total transaction. In effect, the seller is actually lending the buyer a certain amount of money toward the purchase price, while a traditional mortgage company usually funds the balance of the purchase price. A seller take-back loan is secured with the property. The loan then becomes the primary mortgage and is fully secured by the property. In most seller take-back financing transactions, the buyer repays the seller with interest in accordance to mutually agreed terms over a period of time. Usually, the terms call for the buyer to send the payments, consisting of principal and interest, on a monthly basis. This is advantageous because it creates a steady monthly cash flow for the note holder. And if the note holder decides to cash out, he or she can always sell the note for a lump sum cash payment.

To Be Continued

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Regardless of market conditions, seller take-back financing makes sound financial sense; whereas, it provides both buyer and seller with flexible financing options, makes the property easier to sell at higher price and shortens the sales cycle. It also has the added advantage of being an excellent investment that generates a steady cash flow and high return. If you ever need immediate cash, you can always sell the note through our office. If you are planning to sell a property, then consider the many benefits of seller take-back financing.

Posted in Uncategorized

Florida cities see greatest percentage of price cuts as housing market cools

Nationwide, 75% of listings predicted to sell below asking in Q2

Florida cities see greatest percentage of price cuts as housing market cools

Nationwide, 75% of listings predicted to sell below asking in Q2

April 5, 2019 Jessica Guerin

The housing market is tipping in favor of buyers, with a significant percentage of homes on the market selling for less than their original listing price.

This is according to real estate startup Knock, which reveals which markets have the highest percentage of homes that will sell below asking in its second quarter Deals Forecast.

Homebuyers are increasingly likely to score a deal, Knock says, forecasting that 75% of current listings will sell below their original listing price in Q2, and pinpointing the average number of days on the market as 25 and the average price reduction at 3.3% below asking.

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The best deals, it reveals, can be found in the South.

Among the top 10 cities that had the greatest percentage of houses sell for less than asking, seven were located in the South.

Florida took the lead, with four cities in the sunshine state making the list, including Miami, which nabbed the No. 1 spot for both the size and the frequency of price reductions.

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In the first quarter of 2019, 88% of homes in Miami sold below their original listing price, and the average number of days on the market before a sale was made was 82, Knock said. Further, 79% of homes in Miami sold for at least 2% below asking.

Here is a chart from Knock predicting the cities that will see the greatest percentage of price reductions in Q2:

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http://www.housingwire.com/articles/48736-florida-cities-see-greatest-percentage-of-price-cuts-as-housing-market-cools

Posted in Uncategorized

Affordable housing in Florida: Déjà vu, all over again

As the economy has recovered, affordable housing is again an issue in many parts of Florida.

Amy Martinez | 10/26/2018

As home prices rose in the years before the Great Recession, complaints about a shortage of “workforce housing” became common in many communities throughout Florida. Those complaints are back again, with a vengeance. In most fast-growing areas of Florida — particularly in South Florida and Orlando — housing affordability for low- and moderate-income workers is a bigger issue than ever.

According to the Florida Policy Institute, 36% of Florida households are paying more than 30% of their incomes for housing, including mortgage or rent, utilities, taxes, insurance and neighborhood or condo association fees. Nearly 20% of Floridians are spending more than half of their incomes on housing.

THE ISSUES

Florida’s population growth has increased demand for housing of all types. The state is adding some 335,000 people a year — the equivalent of a city about the size of St. Petersburg. The population is projected to grow 6.5% from 19.9 million in 2016 to 21.5 million in 2020. Recently, rising interest rates have further bumped up the monthly costs of purchasing a home.
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Demand from new residents has driven up median home values at an even greater rate than rents, making it tougher for lower-wage workers to afford a home — and further increasing demand for affordable rental housing. Experts estimate that only 31 affordable rental units are available for every 100 renters who make less than 30% of the median income in their area. According to Cushman & Wakefield, the median home value in Miami-Dade is now more than $330,000, meaning a renter who could afford a 10% down payment on a median-priced home in Miami-Dade would have a mortgage of about $2,000 — well above the average cost of a Miami-Dade rental.

Local land-use restrictions and impact fees raise construction costs, preventing the development of smaller, lower-cost housing units, such as apartments, mobile homes and mother-in-law suites

Last year, the state’s Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund and other programs helped nearly 25,000 people buy their first home or stay in their home and financed the construction or renovation of about 9,400 affordable rental units. But the Legislature’s diversion of money from the Sadowski Fund has limited its resources.

To Be Continued

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Continued


Homeownership Trends: 30 Years

  • Between 1988-98, the percentage of homes in Florida that were owner-occupied ranged from 64% to 67%.
  • Homeownership rates rose from 67% in 1988 to a high of 72.4% in 2006 but then fell back to 67% by 2012.
  • Homeownership rates have continued to fall during the recovery from the Great Recession, hitting 64% in early 2018.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Florida’s Most-Expensive Areas

Hourly wage needed to afford an average two-bedroom apartment:

$29.12 — Monroe County

$27.35 — West Palm Beach

$26.67 — Fort Lauderdale

$25.98 — Miami

$23.46 — Naples

Source: National Low-Income Housing Coalition, 2018

Rent 

  • Over the course of a decade, the number of low-income, cost-burdened renter households in South Florida increased 29% from 202,447 in 2005 to 260,510 in 2015, according to the Shimberg Center for Housing Studies at the University of Florida.
  • Between 2000 and 2015, South Florida’s rental housing supply increased by 240,641 units, but the number of rental units affordable to families making less than 60% of the area median income actually declined by 84,640, according to the Shimberg Center. The center considers a housing unit affordable if rent and utilities cost no more than 40% of household income. In Florida, affordable generally means no more than $1,180 a month, including utilities, for a one-bedroom unit or $1,420 for a two-bedroom unit. Most low-income renters in Florida are cost-burdened.
  • Last year, 30,573 apartments were built in Florida, according to RENTCafe.com, a national apartment search website. The average unit was 996 square feet and rented for $1,266 a month. RENTCafe projects 25,083 apartments will be built in Florida this year. New developments range from The Alexander in downtown West Palm Beach, where rents start at $1,825 and go up to $4,000 for units of between 648 square feet and 1,700 square feet, to City Vista in Pompano Beach, where rents are regulated at below-market levels — between $408 and $816 for a one-bedroom unit and $489 to $979 for a two-bedroom unit. Prospective tenants at City Vista must meet annual income requirements, which range from $21,750 to $43,500 for a family of four.

Sample Rents (For a modest two-bedroom apartment)

$1,351 — Fair market rent in Miami

$1,387 — Fair market rent in Fort Lauderdale

$1,422 — Fair market rent in West Palm Beach

Note: Fair market rent is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s best estimate of what a family seeking a modest rental home quickly can expect to pay

Supply and Demand

The Orlando Sentinel reported that approximately 8,000 prospective tenants inquired about 201 available units when the Pendana at West Lakes development, a mixed-income apartment complex of one- to three-bedroom apartments, opened near Camping World Stadium. The complex, now completely occupied, has stopped taking applications. It was developed by a partnership of affordable housing groups and features a mix of market-rate and rent-subsidized units. Orlando ranks among the country’s toughest housing markets for the lowest-income renters, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The same supply/demand dynamics are playing out in South Florida. Over the past five years, the region’s population grew by 369,000. During the same period, 42,388 apartment units were built. That’s one unit for every 8.7 net new residents, according to Cushman & Wakefield.

To Be Continued

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Continued

THE RESPONSES

Targeted Building

In Miami-Dade County, the school system and housing department are considering whether to build housing for teachers as part of a new school in the Brickell area. The county is discussing the idea with federal officials. Meanwhile, JPMorgan Chase has given a grant to a non-profit to develop plans for a separate project that would involve building 300 apartments on the campus of an elementary school north of downtown, according to the Miami Herald.

Regulatory Set-Asides

Since 2006, Palm Beach County has had a program that allows developers to build at increased densities if they include a percentage of price-capped, workforce housing units as part of their developments. The program has largely failed, producing about 870 apartments and townhomes but no single-family homes. Developers have chosen to pay an $81,500 “buyout fee” instead of building the workforce housing, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. County commissioners are now considering whether to raise the buyout fee and offer developers even greater density, and a consultant has recommended offering developers a guaranteed 10% profit on the affordable housing units.

Help from the State

In addition to federal programs administered by the state, Florida has two major affordable housing programs: The State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP), which gives money to cities and counties to provide homeownership and rental assistance to low- and moderate-income residents, and the State Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL) program, which provides low-interest loans to developers to build affordable rental housing.

Both programs fall under the Sadowski Act trust fund, which the Legislature created in 1992 as a dedicated funding source for housing programs using doc stamp revenue from real estate transactions. For the first 10 years, the Legislature routinely appropriated all the money in the Sadowski fund to affordable housing. In 2003, however, the Legislature began diverting money in the fund for other purposes, and in 2005, it set a limit on the amount of doc-stamp revenue the Sadowski fund could receive at $243 million a year. (Because this was during the housing boom, annual doc stamp revenue ranged from $450 million to $600 million, well above today’s levels.) Although it repealed the cap later, the Legislature has continued to divert money from the Sadowski fund for other purposes.

Since 1992, more than 207,000 housing units statewide have received assistance under SHIP and more than 75,000 units have been financed through SAIL, according to the Florida Housing Finance Corp., which administers the programs. In all, $4 billion of Sadowski money has gone to providing affordable housing, while $2 billion has been swept for other purposes, translating to about 165,000 units foregone.

“It’s become the norm to use the trust fund for member projects or to fill deficits,” says Jaimie Ross, executive director of the Florida Housing Coalition, a Tallahassee-based non-profit that advocates for affordable housing. “Fortunately, this may be coming to an end.”


State Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, plans to introduce a bill next year to stop the raids on the fund. Ross says she’s encouraged that affordable housing has emerged as a top political issue this fall. “We expect there will be more than $300 million in the state and local trust funds for 2019-20, and we need every penny of it and more,” she says.

To Be Continued

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Continued

 

Printed Homes

3-D printing involves using heat and force to fuse materials like powdered metals and plastic. The process doesn’t require injecting the materials into a mold or carving an object out of a block of material. Instead, metal or plastic is applied layer by layer until the object emerges. The “printer” allows for control and precision and produces very little waste. 3-D printers are now used routinely to manufacture items like engine parts and prosthetics, including dental implants.

Since the mid-1990s, researchers have experimented with ways to apply 3-D printing technology to construction. In recent years, builders in China, the Netherlands and the U.S. have produced small buildings in which concrete is applied, layer-by-layer, until the basic structure is completed. In some cases, a crane-like robot with an arm lays down the concrete; in others, a gantry-like structure allows an applicator nozzle to move around, dispensing concrete.

The relevance of the technology to affordable housing is its potential to reduce construction costs. Less than two years ago, a company called Apis Cor printed a 400-sq.-ft. home in Russia for about half the cost of traditional construction. In March, a non-profit in Austin called ICON unveiled a 3-D printed home using a printer it says can produce a 600- to 800-sq.-ft. structure in less than 24 hours for less than $4,000.

An Englewood man, Don Musilli, is trying to bring the technology to Florida. He got interested in 3-D-printed homes after creating the non-profit Englewood Innovation Center, which teaches basic 3-D printing skills to K-12 students in Sarasota County. Since 2012, he has helped place desktop 3-D printers in more than 50 schools, libraries and youth organizations in Southwest Florida.

Thirty years ago, Musilli founded a manufacturing company, Pure Air Systems, which he’s since sold, that introduced high-end air-filtration systems to the residential market. He has now formed 3D Build Systems to develop a 3-D printer that he says will be able to build the basic structure of a house in 24 to 36 hours. Each printer will cost more than $250,000, he says.

Using the printer, a home that today would cost about $250,000 could be printed for $150,000 or less, Musilli says. Cost savings come from both materials and labor — only a couple of workers are required to operate the printer that creates the shell of the house, with additional labor required to install the roof, windows and plumbing and electrical systems. Musilli believes the entire process ultimately can be automated.

Last year, Musilli hired a company in Ontario to create software to translate architectural plans into printing instructions that a robot can follow. He now owns the software and is working with another Canadian company, i-cubed, to develop a robot that can print cement up to a height of 13 feet and a width of 22 feet, for homes between 400 and 1,900 square feet. He says he hopes to have a robot ready for testing and fine-tuning by the end of this year. After that, he plans to lease or license it to local builders.

Obstacles remain, including a lack of industry standards — and whether the printed structure can meet state building regulations. “The first thing people ask us is, ‘What about the building codes?’ The reality is it’s just a different method of making a wall,” he says.

And even if 3-D printing lowers construction costs, it can do little about rising land costs and other things that go into the price of a new home, including impact fees, permits and utility hookups. Those “soft” costs account for about 40% of a home’s total construction costs, according to the non-profit Florida Housing Coalition.

Damon Allen, an adjunct professor in the School of Construction Management at the University of Florida, says it’s up to entrepreneurs like Musilli to invest the time and money required to take 3-D-printed homes mainstream.

“There aren’t a lot of machines available for purchase or use, and there aren’t a lot of companies out there using the technology,” he says. “But the potential of it is great.”

To Be Continued

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Continued

 

THE RESPONSES

Build It Smaller

Developers and municipalities are changing building codes to create affordable housing options, allowing for more density and smaller units.

Micro Apartments

Last November, Miami officials reduced the minimum allowed size for a micro unit to 275 square feet from 400 square feet. The city also is considering allowing micro-unit developers to forgo parking for projects close to public transit.

Miami-based Related Group is building two micro projects in the Wynwood neighborhood. Each unit will have a kitchen, bathroom and a bedroom. Studios will have bedrooms that double as a living room. Rents are expected to start at $1,400. To offset the smaller unit sizes, the buildings will have pools, fitness centers and dog-washing stations, among other amenities.

In April 2017, West Palm Beach’s downtown zoning board approved plans by developer Jeff Greene to build 348 apartments of about 450 square feet. Greene said he hoped to set rents at less than $1,000. He has since pulled his plans, telling the Palm Beach Post he had underestimated the cost of providing amenities.

Tiny Houses

With many hotel and restaurant workers priced out of the local housing market, the Keys have become a focal point of Florida’s affordability crisis. Last year, the situation was made worse by Hurricane Irma, which destroyed nearly 1,200 homes in Monroe County.

In August, Monroe officials called for proposals to build “tiny” houses on county-owned land for people displaced by Irma. Initially, the houses will be used to demonstrate inexpensive ways to build small, affordable replacement homes.

The county does not define tiny, but each house must be able to fit on a small lot. Proposals will be scored higher for “home-like” features, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability, says Assistant County Administrator Kevin Wilson. The county says it eventually might use the structures for its own employees. Monroe already uses county-owned dwelling units at Big Pine Key Park and Key Largo Community Park to house several employees.

“We want to show that you can bring an affordable solution for the construction of a house to existing properties on the Keys and make it sustainable and compliant with all the codes,” Wilson says.

In St. Petersburg, city officials approved plans for six houses of about 720 square feet at the site of a condemned apartment building due for demolition. Each house will have two bedrooms and a porch and initially be rented out. “A lot of people don’t need much to be comfortable and happy,” developer Pedro Medina told the Tampa Bay Times. “There is something efficient, sexy and modern about tiny houses.”

To Be Continued

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Container Housing

Crisis Housing Solutions (CHS), a Davie-based non-profit founded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, aims to build one of Florida’s first apartment complexes made of repurposed shipping containers. Last year, CHS received a $450,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase to create housing in Central Florida for working-class families. The non-profit estimates that shipping containers can reduce construction costs at least 15% compared with traditional concrete blocks.

CHS now is working to acquire land in Central Florida. Mike Smith, deputy director of CHS, envisions units ranging from 320 square feet for efficiencies to 1,280 square feet for a three-bedroom, two-bath apartment.

“We could do something on as little as a half-acre. It would have 16 to 20 units in a three-story garden-style complex,” Smith says. “The whole purpose of the program is to come up with a way to reduce construction costs and increase the supply of affordable rental housing.”

Source: National Low-Income Housing Coalition, 2018

https://www.floridatrend.com/article/25725/affordable-housing-in-florida-dj-vu-all-over-again?page=1

Posted in Uncategorized

How much does Flood Insurance Cost in Florida? Prices & Premiums

  •  By Susan Augustyniak
  •  Posted on Monday, June 19, 2017

Flooding is the #1 Natural Disaster in the US. 

In 1968,  The U.S. Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to help property owners obtain flood insurance.  Congress assigned the responsibility to administer the flood insurance program throughout Florida and the United States to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).  As part of that responsibility, FEMA mapped Florida’s topography to learn which communities and properties are most likely to sustain a flood.   FEMA  grouped properties into low, moderate, and high risk areas or flood zones.  A flood zone represents a properties’ risk to flood damage.  High Risk Flood Zones include A, AE, V, VE.  Low and Moderate Risk Zones are X, C, and B.

Here are some facts you should know:

  •  20-25% of all flood events occur in low-risk flood zones.
  •  Your house may be in a low-risk flood zone, it is never in a NO-RISK flood zone. Florida is surrounded by 3 sides of water, and is at sea level. 
  •  Homeowners, condo, and renters insurance policies do not typically cover flood damage, including flooding caused by hurricane storm surges.
  • Purchase a flood insurance policy so you are protected from a flooding catastrophe.

The cost of your Florida Flood Insurance policy will vary depending on three things: 

  1.  how much insurance coverage you need,  
  2.  how the property is used (home, rental, or business)
  3.  the flood zone assigned to your home or property. 

Flood Insurance Rates in Florida – 2017: Moderate Risk Areas

Mortgage companies or lenders will not typically require flood insurance in low risk zones. Low and Moderate Risk Zones are X, B, and C.

The chart above shows Flood Insurance costs for Florida homes that qualify for the Preferred Risk Program ). Rates of June 19, 2017. 

In low- to moderate-risk areas, premiums range from roughly $130 to $450 per year for homes. In high-risk zones, they can reach into the thousands. Use this chart when:

  • Your home is found in an Low or Moderate Risk Flood Zone (Zones X, B, or C) & doesn’t have a basement
  • The home is your primary residence & you occupy it 50% of the time.
  • If you live in the home less than 50% add $225 a year to the rates above.
  • If this is a rental home, add $225 a year to the rates above.

To Be Continued

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Continued

What is a Flood Zone?

Cost of High-Risk Flood Insurance in Florida: Zones A, AE, V, VE

When your home is located in a higher risk area, it is more likely to be affected by a flood event. Higher risk flood zones in Florida are typically found near beaches, lakes, rivers, ponds, and marshes.  If you have a mortgage, your lender will require you to purchase flood insurance for your home when it is located in a high risk flood zone.

Unlike low-risk areas,  properties in high risk zones do not have standardized rates, and every property will have different cost.  The cost of high risk flood insurance  is based on 4  things

  1. the base flood elevation in your area; (BFE)
  2.  how many feet above or below the base flood elevation your home was built 
  3.  the type of foundation and flood proofing. 
  4. Your Flood zone  AE vs VE

 FEMA determines all BASE flood elevations throughout the state, and publishes them on flood maps.  One thing to keep in mind is that base flood elevations are based of  the sea level and not in relationship to  yourneighbors home.  The base flood elevation is the elevation to which floodwater is anticipated to rise during an anticipated flood event.   A surveyor will measure and determine your property’s specific elevations in relation to the base flood elevation.  A surveyor provides this information on a standardized form called an elevation certificate. 

An elevation certificate is always recommended when your home is a high risk flood zone. You can get a quote without an elevation certificate, however, without the certificate, the cost may be thousands or tens of thousands of dollars more out of your pocket.  

If you are in a one of these high risk zone or special flood hazard, your premium will be based on how far below or above the BFE your home’s actual elevation is (measured from sea level).   Flood insurance for homes located in an AE flood zone cost substantially less than those in VE flood zones. VE flood zones apply to areas that have a risk for storm surges during hurricanes or tropical storms.  

To determine your actual cost for flood insurance, our best recommendation is to get a flood elevation certificate. Then talk to us 

Read our blog post about “what is a flood elevation certificate” to learn more about these forms and their costs.

Locating Your Flood Zone

It is easy to locate your estimated flood zone using an online mapping tool found at 

https://fema.maps.arcgis.com

Simply click above. In FEMAs map tool, enter your property’s address into the address search bar on the top right hand side.  It can take 1 to 2 minutes to return the zone on the map.  The map will provide you the properties flood zone, sometimes you may need to zoom out to see it.

To Be Continued

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Continued

What is a Flood Zone?

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has mapped the topography of Florida to show which communities and properties in Florida are most likely to sustain a flood within 100 years. FEMA assigned a letter ( X, B, C, A, V) to properties based the susceptibility to flooding. The letter assigned by FEMA is the Flood zone of a property.    Low Risk Zones are X, B, C.  High Risk Zones include A, AE, V, and VE.  Remember, in Florida there is no such thing as NOT in Flood Zone. All properties are in a Flood Zone. Some are in a LOW risk zone rather than high risk zone. Keep in mind that most of Houston was in a Low risk  X flood zone.

What is a Flood Zone?

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has mapped the topography of Florida to show which communities and properties in Florida are most likely to sustain a flood within 100 years. FEMA assigned a letter ( X, B, C, A, V) to properties based the susceptibility to flooding. The letter assigned by FEMA is the Flood zone of a property.    Low Risk Zones are X, B, C.  High Risk Zones include A, AE, V, and VE.  Remember, in Florida there is no such thing as NOT in Flood Zone. All properties are in a Flood Zone. Some are in a LOW risk zone rather than high risk zone. Keep in mind that most of Houston was in a Low risk  X flood zone.

Is there a 30 day waiting period?

You can buy flood insurance at any time. However, there’s a 30-day waiting period from date of purchase before your flood insurance policy goes into effect.  This means you can’t buy flood insurance 2 days before a hurricane hits Florida and be covered.  Some private flood insurers (not FEMA) will provide a policy with a 3 day waiting period.  Please call us to discuss this option.

However, if you are increasing, extending, or starting a mortgage loan, there is no waiting period. Coverage becomes effective at the time of the loan, provided that the flood insurance application and payment of premium was made at or prior to loan closing.

To Be Continued

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How to Buy Florida Flood Insurance

You cannot buy flood insurance directly from NFIP (the national flood insurance program) or FEMA. To purchase a policy, contact an insurance agent.  NFIP works through many different insurance agents and companies. No matter where you choose to purchase a NFIP policy, they will be identical in coverage and price.  You may also contact an Independent Insurance Agency in Florida.

There are private flood insurance companies that will also offer flood insurance in Florida. They have different rates and rules than the NFIP or FEMA’s programs.

https://www.weshopinsurance.com/news/2017/06/how-much-does-flood-insurance-in-florida-cost-2017-prices-premiums

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , ,

Zillow is showing its own listings first for some users

The real estate giant is running tests on its website and app that display its Zillow Offers for-sale homes ahead of other competing listings

By Patrick Kearns Staff Writer

Source: www-inman.com/2019/02/01/zillow-is-showing-its-own-listings-first

Real estate search giant Zillow has become the owner of hundreds of homes in the last year through its Zillow Offers service, in which the company buys properties directly from consumers for all-cash in select cities through its namesake website, and re-sells them on the open market.

Now the company confirms that it is running tests on Zillow.com and its mobile apps that will show its own for-sale homes at the top of its home search pages, ahead of other competing for-sale listings.

To Be Continued

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Continued 

Inman first observed this behavior when searching for properties in Phoenix, Arizona, on Zillow’s website and mobile app. Take a look at the first four properties displayed in the screenshot below:

In fact, 22 of the 26 homes listed on the first page of an Inman reporter’s search results of for-sale and potential listings on a desktop, were homes owned by Zillow.

In Las Vegas, Zillow Offers’ second market, it took until the second page of searching for a non-Zillow-owned home to show up, searching only for-sale and potential listings under $600,000.

“Searching on Zillow is designed to be personalized to allow a home shopper to tailor their results based on their specific criteria (ie, newest homes on market, number of bedrooms, house size, price range, neighborhood),” a spokesperson for Zillow told Inman, in a statement. “If a Zillow owned home fits that criteria, it will show up in a consumer’s search results.”

To Be Continued

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Continued 

“Additionally, as we experiment to improve the overall search experience on Zillow, we do test different ways we display search results, and that does include prominently displaying Zillow Owned homes, but we also prominently display listings that have video tours and 3D walkthroughs,” the spokesperson added.

Agents whose listings appear on Zillow through agreements with local multiple listing services or direct feeds from their brokerage could feel slighted by Zillow Offers boosting its own listings above those of other companies.

However, it should be noted, that as users change their filters or narrow their search on Zillow’s website and mobile app, it will further instantly change which listings rise to the top.

The above video shows a screen recording of that Las Vegas search on a desktop. In a search of all homes for sale in Las Vegas on the mobile app, the first 34 results were all homes owned by Zillow, outside of one promoted listing.

Zillow spokesperson also told Inman that other real estate businesses and platforms boost their own listings

On Redfin, when searching in Seattle with no filters, the first two pages of results are Redfin listings.

However Redfin, unlike Zillow, is a real estate brokerage that employs its own agents and is directly competing with other brokerages and franchises such as RE/MAX, Keller Williams, Century 21, etc. Zillow does not operate as a traditional brokerage in that it does not employ agents (though it has brokerage licenses in several states) and uses outside real estate agents at other brokerages to represent its Zillow-owned homes for-sale.

Phoenix and Las Vegas are the two markets in which Zillow Offers has operated the longest, but even in Denver, the first two listings are homes owned by Zillow, when this reporter searched for-sale and potential listings.

One commenter wrote in an Inman Facebook group thread about this phenomena that the first listing he saw in Phoenix was from rival online homebuyer and seller Opendoor.

“Odd,” wrote John A. Brassner, a broker-owner in Las Vegas. “I clicked on your link and the first home was Opendoor not Zillow.”

To Be Continued

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Continued 

Multiple Inman staffers got different results when searching in Phoenix and Las Vegas.

On homes that aren’t owned by Zillow, browsers are greeted by the message, “Buying but need to sell first? Get a Zillow Offer for your home,” under the listing photos.

Page one of a search for homes in Las Vegas. Every home on the page is owned by Zillow.

Zillow Offers is live in Phoenix, Las Vegas, Denver, Atlanta, Charlotte and Raleigh. It’s not clear if, in the latter three markets, whether Zillow has not prioritized their own listings or if, instead, the company doesn’t own enough homes for sale in those markets yet to display them.

Zillow’s direct-to-consumer homebuying and selling platform – known in the industry as an “iBuyer” – plans to additionally launch in Houston, Dallas, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, Orlando, Portland and Riverside, California, in 2019.

So far, however, investors on Wall Street have not been happy with Zillow’s foray into this new business, with the stock falling after Zillow’s iBuyer announcement in April 2018 and Zillow’s acquisition of a mortgage lender meant to aid in the effort.

Zillow will announce its fourth quarter earnings on February 21, at which time the public will likely gain more insight into the first-year success of Zillow Offers.

At the Inman Connect real estate conference in New York City this week, the CEO of Knock, another competitor to Zillow Offers, predicted that in 10 years, more than 50 percent of home sales will go towards iBuyers.

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