If you need help or advice during Hurricane Irma where do you turn? To the groups and people below once you’ve written down your personal insurance companies’ phone numbers – property, auto and health.

  • Call 911: For any situation that requires immediate action
  • Call 511: Travel information, including info on road and bridge closures, toll suspensions and major evacuation routes: FL511.com
  • Florida disaster updates: www.floridadisaster.org
  • Florida Emergency Information Line: (800) 342-3557
  • Find a hurricane shelter: Text the word “shelter” and your zip code to 4-FEMA (43362)
  • Report price gouging: Florida’s price gouging hotline is (866) 9-NO-SCAM
  • Federal disaster assistance: (800) 621-FEMA (3362); TTY (800) 462-7585; www.fema.gov
  • Low-interest loans and business help: Offered through SBA disaster assistance loans, https://www.sba.gov/loans-grants
  • Insurance questions about policies: Florida CFO’s free Insurance Consumer Helpline is (877) 693-5236
  • American Red Cross: (800) HELP-NOW or www.redcross.org
  • Salvation Army: (800) SAL-ARMY or www.salvationarmy.org

PRESS RELEASE: LOCAL REALTOR® ACHIEVES NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® GREEN DESIGNATION 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

LOCAL REALTOR® ACHIEVES NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® GREEN DESIGNATION

October 11, 2013

Orlando, FL – Pamela N. Seetaram with Florida Quality Homes and Investments Inc. has been awarded the National Association of REALTORS®’ [NAR’s] Green Designation, the only green real estate professional designation recognized by NAR.

Pamela Seetaram achieved this prestigious designation after completing 18 hours of course work designed specifically for REALTORS®.  The courses were created in collaboration with a multidisciplinary team of industry experts from across the country; ensuring designees gain comprehensive knowledge of green homes and buildings and issues of sustainability in relation to real estate.

More specifically, Pamela Seetaram was trained in understanding what makes a property green, helping clients evaluate the cost/benefits of green building features and practices, distinguishing between industry rating and classification systems, listing and marketing green homes and buildings, discussing the financial grants and incentives available to homeowners, and helping consumers see a property’s green potential.

“Living green is about making healthy choices that are also easy on your wallet. NAR Green Designees have the necessary resources & relationships to effectively work with you on your next green project.” said Kristen Short, Executive Director of NAR’s Green Designation.  NAR’s Green Designation was developed in response to growing consumer awareness of the benefits of resource-efficient homes and buildings. The designation helps consumers who care about energy efficiency and sustainable building practices identify REALTORS® who can help them realize their green real estate and lifestyle goals.

As an NAR Green Designee, Pamela Seetaram has gained the knowledge and the tools necessary to become a trusted green resource for Central Florida.  For more information about Pamela Seetaram, please visit www.FLQH.com or e-mail pamelaseetaram@aol.com

 

For more information about NAR’s Green Designation, visit www.greenresourcecouncil.org

NEWS AND INFORMATION 

ORLANDO IS #1 IN TOP 25 MARKETS WHERE FLIPPING HOMES IS MOST PROFITABLE 

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OUR NEW LOGO 

As we enter our 20th Year in business we are pleased to present our new company logo.

FHA TO TIGHTEN SOME LOAN RULES 

WASHINGTON – Jan. 31, 2013 – The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced a series of changes to be issued this week.Commissioner Carol Galante calls the changes “essential and appropriate” as the administration tries to bolster its cash reserves in its Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund (MMI Fund).Changes to mortgage insurance premiums
FHA will increase the annual mortgage insurance premium (MIP) added onto most new mortgages by 10 basis points (0.10 percent). Premiums on FHA jumbo mortgages ($625,500 or larger) will go up by 5 basis points (0.05 percent). There are a few exceptions, such as some streamline refinance transactions.In addition, most new FHA borrowers will pay the MIP for the life of their loan.Previously, FHA automatically cancelled MIP on loans when the current principal balance reached 78 percent of the original principal balance. FHA’s Office of Risk Management and Regulatory Affairs says that cancellation has cost the MMI Fund billions of dollars in premium revenue on mortgages endorsed from 2010 through 2012.

Manual underwriting on higher-risk loans
If a buyer has a credit score below 620 and a total debt-to-income (DTI) ratio greater than 43 percent, FHA won’t allow lenders to automatically approve a loan request. Lenders must now manually underwrite these loans, document compensating factors that support their approval based on FHA guidelines.

Higher downpayment on loans above $625,500
FHA says it will raise the mandatory downpayment on jumbo loans from 3.5 to 5 percent. It will officially announce it soon in the Federal Register. FHA says the change will encourage more private lenders to participate in the housing finance market.

Home equity conversion mortgage consolidation
FHA will consolidate its Standard Fixed-Rate Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) and Saver Fixed Rate HECM pricing options. This change will be effective for FHA case numbers assigned on or after April 1, 2013.

FHA loans after a foreclosure
FHA has a minimum waiting period of three years for a borrower who went through a foreclosure. However, the administration says it’s not that simple – a buyer must also reestablish good credit and qualify under other FHA loan guidelines.

“It has come to FHA’s attention that a few lenders are inappropriately advertising and soliciting borrowers with the false pretense that they can somehow ‘automatically’ qualify for an FHA-insured mortgage three years after their foreclosure,” FHA says in a release. “This is simply not true and such misleading advertising will not be tolerated.”

FHA says non-FHA lenders have also started advertising FHA mortgages. “FHA will work with other federal agencies to address such false advertising by non-FHA-approved entities,” according to the release.

© 2013 Florida Realtors®

HOUSING UP 

ORLANDO, Fla. – November 26, 2012 — There is good news all around in the housing market, whether we look at the nation, at Florida, existing homes, new homes, or even how builders are feeling. It’s no surprise to see the housing market’s recovery gain traction with the attractive opportunities that exist. Let’s see how far we’ve progressed over the past year.

Nationally, existing home sales are up 10.9% year-over-year in October 2012. National inventory shrunk to a 5.4-month level compared to the 7.6-month supply in October last year. Prices continued upward. The national median existing home price rose from $160,800 in October 2011 to $178,600 in October 2011, an 11.1% improvement.

Florida’s housing has also been on an upward path. Median prices increased 9.0% and 20.0% year-over-year for single-family homes and townhouse-condos respectively. Inventory dropped to a level of 5.2 months for both single-family homes, and for condos and townhouses in October 2012. Florida is edging into a sellers’ market as buyers and investors quickly sweep up attractively priced homes knowing that now is the time to buy.

Closed sales for single-family homes jumped 25.3% from October 2011 to October 2012. Townhouses-condos showed a similar gain of 16.4%. With pending sales shooting upward 56.7% for single-family homes and 47.1% for townhouse-condos, it’s no wonder closed sales are following despite hurdles in the market.

Florida Closed Sales

Housing starts were 894,000 in October 2012. This is a 2.7% improvement from last month and a 29.8% gain since last year. Builders are feeling the market turnaround. The housing market index, which measures builder confidence, reached 46 in November 2012. Compare this to the reading of 24 in April 2012 to grasp just how far the market has advanced in the past eight months.

Housing market gains are finally becoming noticeable to everyone. While the pace of recovery is still slow, it’s moving steadily upwards and consumers are taking note. With inventory shrinking and prices increasing, you can encourage buyers to enter the market now. At the same time, you can nudge those sellers who were reluctant to join the market a few years ago to rethink their plans.

– Erica Cross, research analyst, Florida Realtors

MORTGAGE RATES 

Weekly national mortgage survey

Results of Bankrate.com’s May 2, 2012, weekly national survey of large lenders and the effect on monthly payments for a $165,000 loan:

30-year fixed 15-year fixed 5-year ARM
This week’s rate: 4.05% 3.25% 3.02%
Change from last week: -0.04 -0.03 -0.01
Monthly payment: $792.50 $1,159.40 $697.43
Change from last week: -$3.82 -$2.41 -$0.89

FLORIDA RANKED FIRST IN 2011 HOME SALES TO CANADA 

SARASOTA, Fla. – March 15, 2012

The strength of the Canadian dollar, sustained low pricing in the U.S. housing market, and perceptions regarding the general economic outlook continue to encourage Canadians to purchase a home in the Sunbelt states.

According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) 2011 Profile of International Buying Activity, Florida and Arizona are top choices because of their favorable winter climate. In fact, 58 percent of all international sales in 2011 came from just four states: Florida at 31 percent, followed by California at a distant 12 percent, Texas accounted for nine percent and Arizona at six percent.

Even for international buyers it’s location, location, location. Forty-three percent of those surveyed report a favorable location as their clients’ most important factor when choosing where to purchase. That was followed by 27 percent who stated their clients’ top reason to buy in the U.S. was that they view U.S. real estate as a profitable investment.

Canadians specifically purchase due to a perceived positive return on their investment. They also showed a strong desire for a lakefront recreational location. In fact, eight percent of Florida re-sales were to Canadians in 2010. Similar culture, closeness to their native homeland and lack of a communication barrier are also factors steering Canadians to the lower 48 U.S. states.

The NAR profile also showed that in the 12-month-period ending March of 2011, Canadians accounted for 23 percent of all foreign buyers – the largest of any country. In a 2010 article, Canada’s largest daily newspaper The Globe and Mail reported that a vast majority of Canadians were paying cash for their purchase.

“There are few lenders who have a mortgage process tailored for Canadians looking to purchase a home in the U.S.,” said Sheila Blom, Florida mortgage market manager for M&I, a part of BMO Financial Group. “Our parent company is based in Toronto, so naturally we have relationship products specifically designed to meet the needs of Canadian customers for purchasing or refinancing their primary residence, second home or investment property in the U.S.”

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

HUD GIVES FLA. $49.6M FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING 

MIAMI, Fla. – Feb. 13, 2012 – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan awarded Florida public housing authorities $49,658,600 to make major large-scale improvements to public housing units.Nationwide, HUD granted a total of almost $1.8 billion, with the top amount, $321.5 million, going to New York.The grants are through HUD’s Capital Fund Program, which helps public housing authorities build, repair, renovate and/or modernize public housing in their communities. The funding can be used to make large-scale improvements, such as new roofs, or to make energy-efficient upgrades to replace old plumbing and electrical systems.“This funding will help housing authorities address long-standing capital improvements, but it only scratches the surface in addressing the deep backlog we’re seeing across the country,” says HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan.In November 2011, Congress gave HUD approval to test a new oversight tool to preserve public housing and other HUD-assistant housing, the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD). Public housing authorities need almost $26 billion to keep these homes safe and decent.

In FY 2012, HUD says RAD funds will help authorities and owners make standard life-cycle improvements to their inventory and modernize or replace obsolete units. The demonstration will bring more than 60,000 properties into a reliable, long term, project-based rental assistance contract – and allow public housing authorities to raise more than $6.1 billion in private financing to reduce the large backlog of capital repair needs.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®