Florida Real Estate News: April 2018
Florida Real Estate News: April 2018 Compiled by Fast Florida House Sales
Although there are infrequent reports on the prices and volume of sales in home and domestic real estate, recent reports indicate that industrial and commercial real estate in Florida is booming. With many high-profile properties achieving sales above expectations, now could be a great time to cash-in on the value of your property. “Fast Florida House Sales”, cash buyers of any home in Florida, have compiled the latest news relating to real estate in Florida:
Howard Hughes’s Former Florida Property Is on the Market for $17 Million
The eccentric billionaire and business leader, Howard Hughes, was born in Texas but owned land in Miami’s luxe Coconut Grove area. In 2003, a seven-bedroom, 10-bathroom oasis was built on Hughes Cove by architect Jorge Hernandez, as Town and Country reports. Now on the market for nearly $17 million, the home also has a tennis court, chef’s kitchen, and a private boat dock. See the listing at Engles & Völkers here and scroll down to go inside the impressive residence.
The property at 3310 Devon Ct is described as “one of the most stunning and exclusive private residences in Coconut Grove, this estate sits on land originally owned by real estate tycoon Howard Hughes, this stunning estate. Characterized by spectacular bay views, perfectly manicured grounds, its own boat dock and lit tennis court, this home is nothing short of stunning. With the large living room, billiard room and chef’s kitchen all overlooking the infinity edge pool and a spectacular roof top terrace, this home is perfect for enjoying with your family as well as entertaining. An absolute must see.”
Real Estate Developer from Florida gets 7-years in Jail for Investment Scheme
A real estate developer from Florida has been sentenced to over 7 years in prison at a federal court hearing in Connecticut, report the Orlando Sentinel.
Seventy-five-year-old John DiMenna of Vero Beach operated an extensive real estate investment scheme that defrauded investors and lenders out of millions of dollars between 2010 and 2016.
U.S. Attorney John Durham says DiMenna prepared spreadsheets that inflated projected cash flows for real estate projects, and then shared them with colleagues knowing the figures would be shown to potential investors.
DiMenna also provided his business partners with false sales contracts and lease commitments.
Victim-investors lost $28 million, while lenders lost approximately $37 million. DiMenna pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud in September 2017, and was released on a $250,000 bond. He is ordered to report to prison in July.
Sarasota-Manatee Ranks Last for Millennials Buying Homes
Millennials rank as the key target in the economic development world setting sights on future prosperity, reports the Herald-Tribune. A new study casts a pall over efforts to build the Sarasota and Manatee population of this prized demographic. Out of the largest 100 U.S. metropolitan statistical areas in the country, Sarasota-Manatee ranked dead last among cities favored by millennial homebuyers.
The study, conducted by LendingTree, focused on the percentages of all loan requests to the online loan marketplace that came from millennials. That figure for Sarasota fell far from top-ranked Des Moines, Iowa — 17.9 percent versus 42.4 percent. Fort Myers ranked just above Sarasota, with 19.8 percent.
Nationwide, millennial homebuyers — defined as consumers 18 to 35 — made a third of the mortgage requests through LendingTree from Feb. 1, 2017, to Feb. 1, 2018. The average loan request came in at $166,863, far from the median sales price of a single-family home in Sarasota ($272,500) and Manatee ($300,000).
“I am not surprised that Sarasota-Manatee did not fare well because of where our median home price is,” Jacki Dezelski, president and chief executive of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, told the Herald-Tribune.
Greg Owens, president of the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee and a broker and owner with Keller Williams on the Water, cited another key factor. “The reality is we are a second-home and retirement market. The demographics of our area drive the market.”
Both counties’ economic and business organizations engage millennials in their young professional groups and they all work together on issues that are important to the rising generation. The Manatee Young Professionals, a program of the Manatee Chamber, is deeply involved in its parent organization’s annual retreats and strategy sessions, Dezelski said.
“It’s probably no surprise that affordability and attainability of housing is a major topic,” she said.
Mark Huey, president and chief executive of the Sarasota County Economic Development Corp., said that, contrary to the LendingTree study, a recent Brookings Institute report identifies the counties as a high-growth area for millennials.
He cited “the expansion of quality internship programs at businesses throughout the community as initiatives that will help retain more millennial talent, many of which are supported by Career Edge funding.”
“Our primary contribution in this area,” Huey said, “has been to encourage job growth in companies that hire millennials. A recent example of that would be bringing the digital marketing company Floor Force to our community. They are projecting to add approximately 70 jobs that would be primarily staffed by millennials.”
The Manatee Chamber plans a “deeper dive” into the millennial housing issue over the next few months and to update data collected three years ago in conjunction with the county and municipal governments. The Attainable Housing Task Force’s goal is gaining a sharp focus on millennial priorities, from housing type and size to neighborhoods and nearby amenities.
The chamber has put millennials out front on two successful initiatives. The organization led efforts to create a more progressive noise ordinance in Manatee County, including in Bradenton, which frees entertainment venues from strict hours and decibel limits — a nod to millennial desires. And the chamber worked with the county to encourage live-work-play and mixed-use hubs near urban centers and colleges, another ingredient important to attracting this key demographic.
Millennials are also “quite active” in the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee, Owens said. “We do talk about (housing) a lot.”
LendingTree’s chief economist cited one barrier to millennial homebuying that is particularly acute here. “From a housing market perspective, tight inventory is boosting prices in many markets,” Tendayi Kapfidze wrote, “and millennial homebuyers must now contend with rising mortgage interest rates reducing their buying power.”
The millennials’ impact on the nation’s housing market will only rise.
“These young homebuyers are at the forefront of a slowly but surely increasing number of young buyers returning to the housing market,” Kapfidze wrote. “The largest single-age population in the U.S. is 27-year-olds, at almost 4.8 million, suggesting that millennials’ influence on the housing market has years to run before it peaks.”
The lowest Top 10 Cities Favored by Millennial Homebuyers
91 — Albuquerque, N.M.
92 — Tampa
93 — Reno, Nev.
94 — Tucson, Ariz.
95 — Lakeland
96 — Las Vegas
97 — Palm Bay
98 — Honolulu
99 — Fort Myers
100 — Sarasota
The highest Top 10 Cities Favored by Millennial Homebuyers
1 — Des Moines, Iowa
2 — Pittsburgh
3 — Buffalo, N.Y.
4 — Lansing, Mich.
5 — Fort Wayne, Ind.
6 — Grand Rapids, Mich.
7 — Scranton, Pa.
8 — Syracuse, N.Y.
9 — Youngstown, Ohio
10 — Minneapolis
A Boom in Residential Real Estate, for Some
Reported by Chris Wille, the Herald-Tribune’s real estate editor.
On the surface, the annual ranking of the country’s top brokerage firms shows “significant growth” in residential sales volume — a “boom year,” RISMedia states in the 30th edition of the real estate information company’s Top 500 Power Broker Survey.
But underlying the sales volume is a troubling indicator of the overall market and the growing dearth of affordable housing.
While the industry can celebrate the $1.3 trillion in sales last year — exceeding 2016′s total by $146 billion — the number of transactions in 2018 rose marginally, by only 140,000, to bring last year’s total to 3.8 million. While it can’t be said that those additional 140,000 sales brought in $146 billion, which would put the average sale price a tad over $10 million, the clear indication is a surge in residential real estate prices.
The market imbalance of surging home values and an inventory shortage are exacerbating the affordable-housing dilemma that plagues the country.
Florida Realtors reported several weeks ago that the ongoing shortage of housing inventory in many markets across Florida and rising median sales prices is putting pressure on potential homebuyers. That’s true here. The number of active listings for single-family homes was down 5 percent in Sarasota and 1.6 percent in Manatee, according to the March report from Florida Realtors.
RISMedia found that 71 percent of the Power Brokers reported insufficient inventory is the highest hurdle they are confronting.
ATTOM Data Solutions’ most recent U.S. Home Affordability Report shows median home prices in the first quarter of 2018 were not affordable for average wage earners in 304 of 446, or 68 percent, of U.S. counties in the analysis. Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte ranked among those. Only three counties in Florida — Marion, Duval and Escambia — earned affordable status.
“Coastal markets are the epicenter of the U.S. home-affordability crisis,” Daren Blomquist, senior vice president with ATTOM Data Solutions, said in the report.
“But affordability aftershocks are now being felt further inland as housing refugees migrate from the high-cost coastal markets to lower-priced markets in the middle of the country where good jobs are available. That in turn is pushing home prices above historically normal affordability limits in those middle-America markets.”
Irvine, California-based ATTOM, which specializes in real estate data analysis, also found that home-price appreciation outpaced average weekly wage growth in 370 of the 446, or 83 percent, of the counties analyzed in the report.
Seventy-three percent of the markets were more expensive in the year-over-year percent change in the affordability index. Manatee County’s affordability rating dropped by 11 percent from last year’s first quarter, and Sarasota’s fell by 5 percent.
The affordability gap just keeps widening.
After inventory concerns, RISMedia found the next two challenges were competitive firms, 16 percent, and recruiting 9 percent. On market confidence, the survey showed 52 percent checked “cautiously optimistic” while 43 percent expressed high hopes.
The report’s brokers said the greatest opportunity for the industry are first-time homebuyers and Millennials, 38 percent, followed by move-up buyers, 26 percent, and the luxury market and new construction, both at 12 percent. The continuing upward pressure on home prices is particularly worrisome for first-time homebuyers and Millennials, while the upper echelons looking for a change of address appear shielded from the market imbalance.
The luxury market
The popularity of luxury residences tracks back to Sarasota’s early days when the area was portrayed as a tropical paradise. After purchasing more than 90,000 acres, Bertha Honore Palmer not only established a reputation for her ranching and agricultural reforms but also for encouraging her wealthy friends and connections in her international social circles to visit. Winter residences became popular, as they remain today.
One of the region’s top Power Brokers, Michael Saunders & Co., became a trailblazer in the sales of the luxury residence. Saunders “has been at the forefront of targeted, glamorous marketing for upper-end properties for 42-plus years — long before it became the vogue with other companies,” founder Michael Saunders told me. “We are fortunate to be part of the largest global real estate family in the world, with other like-minded independent firms. … International is not just a word or a tagline for us; it has always been in our DNA.”
Her company lists residences in a wide variety of price points. It ranked highest among local firms in the Power Broker standings, at 67th among the 500 largest agencies nationwide. Saunders posted $2.63 billion in sales in 2017, an increase from the $2.43 billion reported in the 2016 study.
While Saunders logged $200 million more in residential sales last year, the number of transactions dropped by 111 to 5,746. Prices are rising in the luxury market, too, but nobody would ever associate the word “affordable” to this piece of the pie.
Central Florida Neighborhoods where Home Values are Surging
Home values grew solidly across Central Florida in 2017, but they really skyrocketed in some of Orlando’s outlying neighborhoods.
Data from the Orlando Regional Realtor Association broke down single-family home sales in 2017 by ZIP code. For the entire region, the median sales price increased 10 percent to $220,000.
Of the Top 25 Central Florida Wealthiest ZIP codes, Orange County had 14 ZIP codes, Lake County had seven, and Seminole and Osceola counties each had two. Few of the ZIP codes with large percentage gains in home values were in affluent areas. Relatively lower income neighborhoods, such as Holden Heights, Pine Hills and Orlovista had strong growth.
The hunt for dirty money in Miami real estate is working — and will continue, feds say
The Miami Herald reports that the federal government says its hunt for dirty money the luxury real estate market in South Florida and other high-priced housing markets is working — and the temporary initiative is being extended yet again.
Since 2016, the U.S. Treasury Department has mandated that secretive shell companies buying luxury homes with cash in certain areas disclose their true owners to the government.
The anti-money-laundering initiative began in Manhattan and Miami-Dade County — to the protests of South Florida politicians — and has gradually been expanded to other areas in Florida, New York, California, Texas and Hawaii. Drug dealers, corrupt officials, money launderers and other criminals often buy expensive real estate to legitimize dirty cash. They use shell companies — which don’t have to disclose their owners — in order to keep their identities hidden, frustrating law enforcement agents and sometimes stopping investigations dead in their tracks.
Anti-corruption advocates have called for the disclosure rules to be made permanent. The flood of foreign money — most of it clean — pouring into markets like South Florida is partially blamed for rising home prices.
The temporary orders, issued by a Treasury agency called the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), are known as geographic targeting orders, or GTOs.
“The GTOs issued to date have provided FinCEN and law enforcement important information about money-laundering vulnerabilities in the real estate sector,” Stephen Hudak, a FinCEN spokesman, wrote in an email Wednesday. “GTOs are a valuable tool and FinCEN is extending the current GTOs to continue studying this vulnerability.”
This marks the third time the GTO has been extended. But unlike previous announcements, FinCEN this week issued no news release or other information publicizing the decision. The rules have been met in the past with skepticism from the powerful real estate industry. President Donald Trump is a former real estate developer and still holds a stake in his family company, the Trump Organization. The Trump administration recently appointed Kenneth Blanco, a former South Florida federal prosecutor and longtime Department of Justice lawyer, to lead FinCEN.
Federal officials describe the initiative as a data-gathering tool to gauge how vulnerable U.S. luxury real estate is to manipulation by money laundering.
Last year, FinCEN reported that 30 percent of home deals reported under the GTOs were linked to people who had been the subject of “suspicious activity reports” filed by banks.
“Shouldn’t that be enough to say, ‘We’re on to something,’ … and that this is something that should be made permanent and nationwide?” said Clark Gascoigne, deputy director of the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition, which advocates for greater transparency. “I think the answer to that is yes.”
But the initial GTO order was limited in scope because by law the Treasury Department was not allowed to monitor wire transfers. Wire transfers are the financial mechanism used by most wealthy buyers to buy homes. That created a huge loophole. A subsequent act of Congress gave Treasury the power to monitor those transactions, meaning the number of home purchases captured in the government’s net greatly increased.
FinCEN has not released data showing how many people using wire transfers to buy homes were linked to suspicious activity.
It wasn’t immediately clear how long the order, which expired Tuesday, is being extended. Typically, GTOs last for six months. The latest order applies to the areas that have already been under government scrutiny: Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties; the New York City boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx; San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties in California; and the areas that include Honolulu, Hawaii and San Antonio, Texas.
In South Florida, the rules kick in for shell companies buying homes priced at $1 million or more.
The markets targeted by the feds have three things in common: expensive homes, lots of all-cash deals and plenty of foreign buyers looking to park their money in the United States. They are also generally markets where financial institutions file a high number of suspicious activity reports.
Miami-Dade’s condo market has slumped over the past year because of over-building and a strong dollar shutting out foreign buyers. But it’s recently started bouncing back. In February, the number of sales for condos priced above $1 million rose 31 percent year over year, according to the Miami Association of Realtors. In January, the number of sales jumped 58 percent.
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