August, 2011:

Rescuing the Housing Market

According to a CNNMoney article today, many experts believe that the best medicine for the housing market is to speed up the foreclosure process,  and they believe that the Obama administration should pave the way!


Those of us who work in the trenches fully realize the futility of the attempts thus far by the Obama administration to stem the rising tide of delinquencies and foreclosures.  Jacksonville Florida based  Lender Processing Services, Inc.  states that of the 2.2 million loans in foreclosure today, approximately 37% (more than 800,000) have not made a single payment in more than 24 months. 750,000 of them have not made a payment in more than 12 months.


A rapidly growing number of such properties are in a declining state of disrepair, many are abandoned. How can this be good for neighborhoods, communities, and/or the housing market in general?  That which is good for the communities is good for our economies. That which is good for our housing markets is good for our economies. Want to create jobs and put people to work?  Stimulate the housing market!  


Generally speaking, I believe in and fully support a more limited federal government role in our lives. However, a very wise man once said, “If you find yourself in a hole, quit digging”. That is exactly what needs to be done in this case.  Somehow, some way, the nation’s largest lenders must be encouraged to accelerate the processes of a) Modifying the rates and/or terms on delinquent loans in their portfolios; b)  Approving short sales; c) Foreclosing the rest.


Often, it is the most complex problem that has the most simplistic solution. But don’t try to sell that in Washington, ‘cause as we say in the south, that dog won’t hunt.

Oil Spill Dollars on the Way

Our Florida legislators have seen fit to earmark $30 million dollars for economic development in NW Florida. The funds will be doled out to the tune of $10 million per year for the next three years to the eight counties most affected by the BP oil spill last year. The recipient counties include Okaloosa, Walton, Bay and Santa Rosa. NW Florida’s most prolific economist, Rick Harper will administer the funds through the University of West Florida Office of Economic Development.


The Oil Spill Recovery Act will place NW Florida front and center in terms of any state sponsored incentive programs. According to Harper, “This money can then work in concert with existing state incentive funding and local dollars to give more firepower to economic development opportunities. Counties outside the eight-county region will also benefit, by providing residential areas and helping meet increased regional demand for labor.”

File your insurance claim with a mobile app?

According to Florida Trend, some national insurers now have mobile apps to enable policy holders to file claims via a smart phone. Only one Florida based company has jumped on the bandwagon so far, that being Security First Insurance down in Ormond Beach. Just imagine … If you are involved in a fender-bender, you can file your claim and upload the accident photos immediately  while waiting in your car!  The apps can also be used for things like obtaining quotes and making payments. With more than fifty percent of all cell phone users expected to own smart phones within the next several years, we expect to see many more insurers stepping up to the plate in the near future.

What makes the better deal today, a foreclosure or a short sale?

Although either can make an excellent investment, both have pros and cons. The foreclosure inventory has been somewhat depleted this year, making these properties more difficult to obtain. Short sales are much more plentiful, but can take an extensive period of time to complete.


The foreclosure inventory is low mostly the result of the robo-signing debacle of 2010.  Many of the nation’s lenders chose to curtail their foreclosure activities while reviewing their processes and procedures. There is a great deal of “shadow”  out there, and it is just a matter of time before these properties start hitting the market. Some lenders are even considering interim options such as long term rental agreements to deal with the issue of abandoned properties.


The best advice is to develop a relationship with a Realtor that specializes in such properties because the best deals do not last long. Investors represent more than 50% of the buyers in certain market segments and are rapidly scooping up the best deals.


For information on Destin, Ft. Walton Beach, Seaside and Emerald Coast  short sales, bank foreclosures and general real estate topics, please visit  ,  or email us at

The Low-Ball Offer

What to do as a seller when you receive a low-ball offer? A timeless question. More often than not, the low-ball offer never even gets to first base.  Many sellers will tend to disregard the low offers and do not counter. Rather, they choose to outright reject.


In these cases, sellers are more rejecting the buyer as opposed to the offer. They are sending an emotion-motivated message to the buyer that says “You insulted me, I do not need your money”.  How many times have we seen such a rejected buyer go elsewhere and then pay even more? These are often opportunities lost.


Over the years, we have received many a low-ball offer. One thing that we have learned is that a buyer’s first offer is seldom his last. For that reason alone, sellers should almost ALWAYS be encouraged to counter. Keep the dialogue open. Successful real estate agents are the ones who have learned to build bridges, not walls. We have seen very hopeless looking initial offers that ultimately, successfully closed. You can make lemonade out of lemons if you can simply find a way to keep emotion out of the equation. In doing so, your odds for a successful conclusion have improved dramatically!


For more on general real estate topics, including short sales and REOs, visit Ed and Terri Smith at