South Florida Real Estate and Community News

May 17, 2023

Reducing Taxes Through a 1031 Exchange

A 1031 exchange is a provision of the Internal Revenue Code that allows real estate investors to defer capital gains taxes on the sale of one investment property by reinvesting the proceeds into another “like-kind” property. This can be a valuable tool for investors who want to grow their portfolio without having to pay a significant tax bill.

The Benefits of a 1031 Exchange

There are several benefits to using a 1031 exchange, including:

  • Tax deferral: As mentioned above, a 1031 exchange allows investors to defer capital gains taxes on the sale of one investment property. This can save investors a significant amount of money, especially if the property has appreciated in value.
  • Increased investment power: By deferring taxes, investors can use the money they would have paid to the IRS to reinvest in another property. This can help them grow their portfolio faster and achieve their investment goals sooner.\

The Process of a 1031 Exchange

The process of a 1031 exchange can be complex, so it is important to work with a qualified intermediary. The basic steps involved in a 1031 exchange are as follows:

  1. Identify the property you want to sell.
  2. Find a qualified intermediary.
  3. Sign a 1031 exchange agreement with the intermediary.
  4. Close on the sale of your property.
  5. Identify the replacement property.
  6. Close on the purchase of the replacement property.

It is important to note that there are deadlines associated with 1031 exchanges. You must identify the replacement property within 45 days of the sale of the first property. The purchase must be close within 180 days of the first property's sale. If the exchange is not completed within the deadline, the investor will be liable for capital gains taxes on the sale of the first property.

A 1031 exchange can be a valuable tool for real estate investors who want to grow their portfolio without having to pay a significant tax bill. If you are considering selling an investment property, it is important to talk to a qualified realtor that is experienced in investment properties.

Here are a few links to more information: - Like-Kind Exchanges Under IRC Section 1031

Investopedia - What Is a 1031 Exchange? Know the Rules

Posted in Real Estate News
April 24, 2023

45% of Florida homes are part of an HOA, the highest percentage in the nation

A full 45% of Florida homes are part of a homeowner association, the highest percentage by far among all U.S states.

Today’s Homeowner analyzed data from the Foundation for Community Association Research to determine which states have the highest and lowest percentage of homes in HOAs.

Nationally, about 22% of homes are part of an HOA. In Florida, 3.9 million of the state’s 8.6 million homes are in a homeowner association, with an average monthly fee of $389. 

The study noted that residents often have a love-hate relationship with HOAs. Homes in an HOA are, on average, worth about 4% more. But the monthly fees, which generally can increase at any time, may cause potential buyers to pause before making a purchase. And some HOAs have a reputation for crossing the line between what’s good for the community and homeowner autonomy.

HOAs have grown in number by about 13% over the last decade, the study found. The states with the highest percentage of HOA homes are: Florida (45%), Colorado (38.6%), California (36.8%), Washington (31.2%) and Arizona (31.1%). 

Missouri has the highest average HOA monthly fee, at $469, followed by Arizona’s $448. The national average is $390.

April 10, 2023

Renovations that can boost your bottom line

Buyers who can afford a home in today's market appear willing to pay even more for luxuries that personalize their space. 

New Zillow® research finds that listings touting chef-friendly amenities, such as steam ovens, pizza ovens and professional-grade appliances, can sell for as much as 5.3% more than similar homes without them. That adds up to about $17,400 on a typical U.S. home. Trendy statement features such as terrazzo and she sheds — the female equivalent of the man cave — can contribute to a 2.5% sale premium when mentioned in a listing description. 

Homes that sell faster than expected — signaling more competing buyers — boast more practical features, such as doorbell cameras, heat pumps and fenced backyards. A doorbell camera and open shelving are relatively affordable upgrades that can improve a home's functionality and boost sale speed by five days and three days, respectively. 

Zillow looked at 271 features and design terms mentioned in listing descriptions across nearly 2 million home sales in 2022. While there are many factors that contribute to a home selling faster or for more than expected, these features reflect what today's buyers are looking for in a home. 

Homes get personal

"Not every buyer will appreciate a chef's kitchen or a putting green in their backyard, but those who do are willing to pay more for these personalized amenities," said Amanda Pendleton, Zillow's home trends expert. "Post-pandemic home buyers who had plenty of time for self-reflection now have a greater sense of what they want and need in a home."

That said, sellers who have invested in personalized features may have to wait a bit longer to find the right buyer. For instance, homes with she sheds can sell for 2.5% more than expected, but spend an extra two days on the market. Similarly, listings that mention wine cellars can command a 1.2% sale premium but take five days longer to sell than similar homes. 

Buyers just want to have fun

Buyers who can not only afford today's higher mortgage rates but also pay above and beyond typical market value appear willing to splurge on fun features designed to impress. Multifunctional homes that offer retreat spaces and features for outdoor entertaining are particularly appealing to post-pandemic buyers, who expect their homes to be a place where they can work and play. 

"Homeowners looking to make the most of their sale can give their listing a wow factor and a dose of luxury by highlighting its outdoor entertainment areas," said Lily Moore, a Zillow Premier Agent in Westlake, Texas. "Mentioning differentiators like a saltwater pool, pizza oven, outdoor kitchen or putting green in a listing description can set a home apart from other properties for sale nearby and increase its selling potential."

Unique materials outshine old favorites

Today's buyers are branching out from traditional finishes, favoring trendy terrazzo floors and surfaces, and textured soapstone countertops over marble and granite. Homes with terrazzo can sell for 2.6% more, which amounts to $8,511 on a typical home. Soapstone can help sell homes for 2.5% more and four days faster than similar homes when mentioned in a listing description. 

Only quartz came close to rivaling these newly popular surfaces, with listings that mention quartz countertops commanding a 2.4% sale premium and selling one day faster than expected. Quartz had been the top-performing surface for two consecutive years. 

Features that don't sell

Certain home features, when mentioned in a listing description, can hurt a home's resale value by potentially signaling to a buyer that a home is dated and needs work. Homes with tile countertops can sell for 1.1% less than expected, while homes with laminate flooring or countertops can sell for 0.6% less than similar homes. Surprisingly, walk-in closets can hurt a home's value by 0.7%, perhaps because buyers no longer view that feature as a selling point and may prefer the space be used for something else

Takeaways for spring sellers

Homeowners looking to sell for top dollar this spring will want to highlight these home features if they've got them. But installing a steam oven — or any one of these features — solely for resale may not deliver the ROI they're looking for. These keywords should be viewed instead as signals of perceived quality. These are the features today's buyers associate with a "nice house," along with many other factors that go into that perception. For instance, if a home has a steam oven, the buyer assumes it likely has a lot of other bells and whistles that go into a high-end chef's kitchen. 

There are also geographic differences. A pool may be a must-have in Arizona, but a nuisance in Indiana. A local real estate agent with extensive market knowledge can help sellers highlight the right features to maximize their sale price. Homeowners who are thinking about listing their home this spring can use Agent Finder on Zillow to read reviews and make sure they're partnering with a top-rated pro.

Takeaways for spring buyers

Even in a less frenzied housing market, shoppers can expect more competition for homes with these desirable features. This spring, they have a new tool to quickly find and save all the listings that have these unique amenities. A new AI-powered feature on Zillow allows shoppers to enter phrases like "four-bedroom homes in Charlotte with a steam oven" directly into the Zillow search bar, instead of clicking through filters. This technology gives buyers a speed advantage by notifying them the minute that dream home with a chef's kitchen hits the market. 



Top 10 features that sell for more than expected 


Price premium

Steam oven

5.3 %

Pizza oven

3.7 %

Professional appliances

3.6 %


2.6 %

She shed

2.5 %


2.5 %


2.4 %

Modern farmhouse

2.4 %

Hurricane shutters/storm shutters

2.3 %


2.3 %



Top 10 features that sell faster than expected


Days faster

Doorbell camera




Open shelving


Heat pump


Fenced (back)yard










Gas furnace


March 29, 2023

10 Reasons Why You May Need a Real Estate Agent

If you’re thinking of selling your home, your mind may be swirling with questions about the process. While it may be tempting to try selling your home on your own, there are many reasons why you may want to consider working with a professional real estate agent. To gain insight, it’s helpful to understand what a real estate agent does and why you might want to hire one. You also may want to consider hiring a Realtor®, which is a professional designation for real estate agents who are members of the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). NAR members subscribe to a strict code of ethics for real estate professionals. 

Why You May Need a Real Estate Agent

Just as you’d likely hire a licensed professional to make repairs to your home, hiring a real estate agent can help give you peace of mind and confidence throughout the selling process. Below are 10 reasons why you may want to hire a real estate agent to sell your home.

1. Real estate agents can help price your home to sell.
Generally, as the seller, your primary goal is to sell your home as quickly as possible at the best price, so you can move on to your next place. However, a significant factor in making a quick sale is ensuring your house is appropriately priced for the market. As the homeowner, it’s easy to think you know what your home is worth, but there’s likely a bit of subjectivity that goes into your estimate. A real estate agent has a more fact-based process that involves pulling comparable recent home sales within a specified radius and reviewing your home against these to determine a fair asking price. If he or she is a professional with no emotional attachment to or biases against your home, your real estate agent can guide you in setting a competitive price that makes sense for the real estate market in your area.

2. They have home selling expertise.
Whether you’ve sold a home in the past or this is your first time, working with a real estate agent can help you gain home selling knowledge that only an expert can provide. That’s not to say tackling the process on your own is impossible. However, since a real estate transaction is likely one of the largest financial transactions you’ll ever make,1 it makes sense to leave the ins and outs to a professional to help ensure all goes smoothly.

3. Real estate agents offer valuable professional service.
As a seller, you can expect to pay a commission to your real estate agent at the closing. That factor alone is the reason behind many “For Sale by Owner” situations. However, it’s worth noting that many real estate agents offer their sellers certain perks at no additional cost, such as a professional photographer to take beautiful photos of your home, a deep-cleaning session, staging advice and more. All of these extras can make a big difference when it comes to how quickly your home sells and may not cost you anything out of pocket.

4. Real estate agents recommend ways to sell your home faster.
One thing most sellers wrestle with is whether they should tackle certain home improvement projects before listing their home for sale. A real estate agent can offer advice that will help you make an educated decision before you invest in a big home project that may or may not pay off during the selling process.

5. Only real estate agents can get your home on the multiple listing service (MLS).
One of the biggest challenges of selling a home without a real estate agent is finding the best way to distribute your home listing to potential buyers. Advertising is a pay-for-play process, so selling your home on your own will require you to spend money up front in order to get your listing in front of as many eyes as possible. Working with a real estate agent provides your home access to the MLS, which is generally considered to be the primary system all real estate agents use to search for the most up-to-date home listings. MLS listings are what most buyers look at when searching for a home.

6. Real estate agents have important connections.
Another benefit of working with a real estate agent is his or her access to valuable connections in the industry. Whether it’s putting you in touch with pros who can help with home repairs or simply sharing your listing with other real estate agents in their office who may have interested clients, your real estate agent can offer resources that may be superior to tackling the process alone.

7. They market your home professionally.
Marketing your home doesn’t begin and end with the listing. There’s much more that goes into it. Real estate agents are constantly marketing your home via their own websites, social media, videos, flyers and through events like open houses or broker luncheons. That alone may be a great reason to work with a real estate agent to sell your home. Not only is marketing your home on your own time-consuming, but you may not necessarily have access to all of the tools that a real estate agent has at his or her disposal.

8. Real estate agents take the time, so you don’t have to.
Speaking of time, selling a home requires a significant time commitment that most people simply don’t have. If you have a job or a family, it will be challenging to manage the entire selling process, from marketing your listing to scheduling showings and handling negotiations. Working with a real estate agent takes all those responsibilities out of your hands and allows you to focus on other things like keeping your home show-ready and finding a new home to move into once your current home sells.

9. Real estate agents handle the negotiation process professionally.
One of the trickiest, yet most important, aspects of the selling process is handling negotiations with potential buyers. A good real estate agent will tackle negotiations professionally and work hard to sell your home for the maximum price so you don’t have to give up any additional sale proceeds aside from agent commissions. Real estate agents handle negotiations day in and day out, so you can feel confident in their ability to look out for your best interests.

10. Real estate agents can offer objective support.
Let’s face it: selling a home is an emotional process. Your house is more than just four walls and a roof; it’s the place you called home and where you created memories that are special to you. Hearing feedback from potential buyers could be a tough pill to swallow – whether it’s something about the house or yard they don’t like, or maybe they do like the house but offered a lower price – having a real estate agent with an objective mindset can help to keep your emotions and stress at bay.

March 3, 2023

RE Q&A: What’s Going on with the Market?

Question: We have to move for family reasons and put our house up for sale. It has been several months, and we are not getting much interest.

Our real estate agent keeps telling us to lower the price, but I know what our home is worth. Just a year or so ago, several nearby homes sold for more than our listing price. What is going on? – Joan

Answer: The real estate market can change quickly.

Sometimes the changes are local, like when a new school is built close to an aging community, making it attractive to younger families. Other times, the change in the market is caused by more universal causes like a bad economy and rising interest rates.

Not long ago, houses were selling in bidding wars for above asking prices, and it seemed like property values went up every time you turned around. The seller’s market got so hot that it became hard to find an affordable home.

But that was then, and now the housing market has significantly cooled off.

Interest rates have risen, increasing mortgage payments for prospective buyers. Property taxes are up, as is the cost of insurance. Most homebuyers are limited by the monthly payment they can afford. As these costs have increased, so have the monthly housing payment tied to them. To compensate for this, buyers have started looking for less expensive homes.

Due to the foibles of human nature, it takes some time for home sellers to realize that the housing market has cooled.

No matter what houses were selling for in the past, homes are only worth as much as potential buyers are willing to pay today. Many sellers feel they are losing “profits” rightfully theirs and are slow to accept the new realities.

If you want to sell your house now, ensure it shows well. Keep it clean and uncluttered, and make sure the landscaping looks nice. You may want to spruce it up with a little fresh paint.

You will also need to accept that today’s prices are what matters, not what you could have sold it for a couple of years ago. Work with your agent to adjust the price to match what buyers are willing to pay now.

March 1, 2023

12 Months After Its Peak, Rent Growth Continues To Slow

Key Details:

  • January 2023 saw single-digit rent growth for the sixth consecutive month, after 12 months of slowing from a peak of 16.2% rent growth. 
  • Rent growth is cooling more slowly for all unit sizes, but rent growth has slowed the most for larger units and studio rents are growing the fastest. 
  • The least expensive metros are seeing faster rent growth and vacancy rates near their long-term lows for many of these areas. has released its January 2023 Rental Report, which shows single-digit rent growth for the sixth consecutive month, after 12 months of slowing from a peak of 16.2% growth in January 2022. 

Across the top 50 metros, median rent for 0-2 bedroom units rose just 2.9% year-over-year—the lowest growth rate in 22 months. 

At $1,726, the median asking rent was down $7 from the previous month and down $80 from last January’s peak—but still up $295 (20.6%) from the same time in 2020. 



Across the top 50 metros in’s analysis, only one major market has a median monthly rent below $1,000. 

Still, many renters are feeling the pain of rising housing costs this year, with median prices in some metros at nearly $3,000 a month. 

That said, in certain areas, renters can still find relative affordability—especially in the Midwest.  


In the January report, two-bedroom rental units saw a single-digit rent growth rate for the seventh consecutive month. 

At $1,934 nationally, the median rent for two-bedroom units fell by $3 from the previous month and $122 from the peak. This is up $47 (2.5%) from the same time last year. 

Though rent growth for larger units has slowed the most relative to last year, these units saw the biggest premium over the past three years—up 21.3% or $340 from three years ago, before the pandemic. 

Rent growth for one-bedroom units also continued to cool. At $1,609, median rent was down $11 from the previous month and down $70 from the peak—but still up $44 (2.8%) from the previous year and up $262 (19.5%) from January 2020. 

Rent growth for studios slid to 3.9%. As more renters search for affordable homes, studio rents have appreciated faster than rents for larger units. 

At $1,417, the median rent for studio or “efficiency” units was down $15 from the previous month and down $56 from the peak—but still up $54 (3.9%) from the previous year and up $188 (15.3%) from three years ago. 






The Midwest’s relative affordability is as much true of rental units as of properties for sale. 

Across the 50 metros in’s analysis, five of the 10 metros with the least expensive rents for 0-2 bedroom rentals—rents below $1300 a month—were in Midwestern states, while four were in the South and one in the Northeast. 

None were in the West. 



No doubt it helps that, in these metros, relatively affordable for-sale properties make homeownership a more attainable option for a broader set of residents—giving renters an outlet when rent growth puts a squeeze on their budgets. 

In some metros—like Birmingham, Memphis, and St. Louis—according to the December 2022 Rental Report, the monthly cost of purchasing a starter home was even more affordable than rent, tipping the scale in favor of ownership. 

Data for these affordable markets suggest more households choose to buy rather than rent. Six of the affordable metros above have homeownership rates higher than the national average of 65.9%

And while sales and sentiment data suggest home buyer interest remains low across the country, Rochester, NY, and Columbus, OH top’s January Hottest Markets Report, showing just how in-demand these metros remain.

Also, on the supply side, seven of those ten affordable metros have a rental vacancy rate higher than the national average (5.8%), indicating a greater abundance of options for renters, which helps keep rental prices down (comparatively). 


Unfortunately, cheaper rents don’t necessarily translate into slower rent growth. 

In fact, compared with historical data, vacancy rates in many of these lower-cost areas are near their long-term lows, pointing to lower-than-usual rental supply in those metros. 

In Q4 2022, for example, the average rental vacancy rate across these ten least expensive rental markets was 7.6% — down from a 9.7% vacancy rate in Q4 2017. 

As a result, the following metros experienced the fastest annual rent growth in January 2023:

  • Indianapolis, IN (10.5%)
  • Birmingham, AL (8.8%)
  • Columbus, OH (8.3%)
  • Kansas City, MO-KS (8.2%)
  • Cleveland, OH (7.1%)
  • Rochester, NY (6.2%) 

RENTAL REPORT METHODOLOGY’s report is based on rental data as of January 2023 for studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units advertised as for rent on®. 

Rental units include apartments as well as private rentals including condos, townhomes, and single-family homes. 

Rental sources report data reliably each month within the top 50 largest U.S. metro areas.® began issuing regular monthly rental trends reports in October 2020, with data history reaching back to March 2019. 

For more details, read the full January 2023 Rental Report

Jan. 11, 2023

Buying a Condo vs Single Family Home

This has been one of the most controversial topics with our clients when it comes to selecting a suitable property for their primary or secondary residence. In my experience, our south Florida second home owners prefer condominiums for simplicity of maintenance and security. The majority of them come from the upper east coast and the mid-upper west of the country, and they are unaware of the ups and downs of living in a community. Most of these individuals reside in single-family houses in their towns, unless they are from metropolitan areas and are surprised at how much room and location they can acquire for their money, and the converse is true for suburban residents who find south Florida properties expensive. Those who live in suburban condominiums are frequently empty nesters on the verge of retirement.


Because condominium rules did not become effective until 1963, many buildings in Florida are still organized as co-ops. Prior to this date, developers would lease such land from a landowner for up to 100 years and build a high- or low-rise building on it, with the lease fee included in the monthly HOA payments. For many individuals, this was a fantastic opportunity to acquire a home at a far lower cost than fee-simple property. Co-ops allowed residents to own a house with the lease and construction costs plus developer profit, resulting in a significant discount on these properties compared to single-family dwellings. People were not concerned about the lease period because 100 years looked far away. There were several examples when the lease had expired and the landowner refused to renew or requested a significant increase in monthly payments, but these were rejected by courts due to public interest and the leases were required to be renegotiated fairly. Of course, there is always uncertainty! Today, the majority of coops either own their property and retain the cooperative structure for complete control, or they acquire the land and convert to a condominium.


Co-ops have share holders rather than owners because, when you engage in a cooperative relationship, you own enough shares to be allocated a certain unit, but you do not receive a deed for that unit. These cooperatives have more authority and are exempt from condo restrictions, allowing share holders to freely select how they want their cooperative to function. Although the Housing Authority continues to oversee them for discrimination and other social concerns, the board members and share holders can dismiss anyone with a majority of votes from the members. That is why many co-ops want to be controlled in this manner so that they may be more stringent about who can become a shareholder and how the premises are used. Another significant disadvantage is the financing of these shares. Only a few local banks may consider financing land-owned co-ops with a minimum 50% down payment for a limited time. Banks do not consider them tangible assets. It's really no different than buying Google shares and receiving free computer rooms, entertainment, and other perks in exchange. These constraints can still result in a terrific deal for people who wish to be in a desirable section of town for half the price.


Condominium regulations were designed for this reason, so that people might own a portion of the building, including a portion of the common spaces, as an asset. When a buyer purchases a condo, he or she receives a deed for that specific unit in the building and agrees to pay HOA fees to the board to cover master insurance, management, and running expenses. The setup is quite similar to a co-op, with the exception of being accountable for the deeded unit and obtaining HO6 insurance. Condominiums are easier to finance based on their budget and the condition of the building, which is why they appreciate significantly faster than co-ops. Some condo buildings are even approved for the FHA's First Time Home Buyers Program, which requires only 3% down. The harsh reality is that 99 percent of structures in South Florida demand a minimum down payment of 10% to 20% and are not FHA-approved. The greater the reserves and the better the state of the building, the greater the down payment and approval on the mortgage note.


These two structures are not the same as single-family residences. The majority of single-family homes are built on fee simple properties, which means that the owner owns both the land and the structure. Unless the laws are different if the home is being financed, the owner has complete authority over property maintenance and insurance. If it is owned outright, the property owner can alter it, from the layout of the backyard to the architectural component of the home, without the need for another vote. Some communities may impose limits on the exterior color or height of the home, but independence is crucial when it comes to owning a single-family home with a high maintenance cost. People want to own a piece of the earth and build a house that represents their worth and image. Finance and transfer are considerably easier because there is no association that needs to authorize the buyer for financials and history. A fee simple property owner has the right to sell the property to anyone at any time.In addition, the building on the site may be destroyed to offer a less expensive option than holding on to it as an investment. The liabilities and taxes on vacant land are quite minimal.


Some alternative communities provide single-family houses through a volunteer group in order to maintain the area more orderly and secure for their inhabitants. With the city's permission, they might decide to put up a car gate or take care of the landscaping in the common area, for example.


The majority of the combined townhouses are fee simple properties; however, there is an association because of the shared roof and planting areas. Some people prefer This way of living is low-maintenance.


Based on the purchase price, the maintenance cost of a single-family home, co-op, or condominium will be quite similar. The key distinction is who and when decides to repair or improve it. Voted board members would be held accountable for any changes made after receiving community approval, whereas the single family owner could do whatever he wants. Ultimately, purchasers pick a lifestyle since either the insurance, landscaping, or utilities are paid through the organization or privately, and the cost is comparable!

Posted in Buying a Home
Dec. 16, 2022

Florida Legislature and Property Insurance: What Changed?

Lawmakers finalized three bills that, among other things, eliminate one-way attorney fees, nix assignment-of-benefit options and further depopulate Citizens Ins.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Legislature wrapped up their special session on Wednesday after passing three bills.

“If you had to sum up the major outcomes of the insurance reform bill in a single sentence, it would indicate that the bill will curb the massive amounts of lawsuits that are driving up premiums, stabilize reinsurance coverage and shrink the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp.,” Florida Realtors® Vice President of Public Policy Andy Gonzalez said after the session ended.

In addition to a sweeping property insurance bill, two other bills passed by lawmakers focused on disaster relief and another regarding toll relief for heavy users of Florida’s toll roads. All bills have been sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis. He is expected to sign them into law and has until Dec. 29, 2022, to do so.

Property insurance reforms

Senate Bill 2A: Gonzalez calls the reform in 2A “a huge win for the state of Florida and absolutely essential steps Florida needs to take to attract insurance and reinsurance capital back to the state.” They “tackle the root causes driving insurers away”:

  • Elimination of one-way attorney fees: Insurance industry experts have long blamed lawsuits for driving up costs that lead to financial losses and higher homeowner premiums. The chief driver of the lawsuits is a provision known as “one-way” attorney fees in property-insurance cases. One-way attorney fees allow the plaintiff (policyholder) to recover attorney fees, but not the defendant (insurer). The practice incentivized unwarranted litigation.
  • Elimination of Assignment of Benefits: AOB was another litigation-related cost-driver for insurers that pushed policy rates higher. Under AOB, homeowners who suffered a loss “assign” insurance benefits to a contractor that then deals directly with their insurance company.
  • New temporary reinsurance program: The cost for reinsurance – essentially insurance for insurers that kicks into gear following major post-disaster losses – has risen, and those higher costs are baked into the rates homeowners pay. Property insurers generally buy reinsurance coverage on the private market and from the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, a state program. The bill adds additional levels, known as “layers,” of reinsurance funded through $1 billion from the state and premiums paid by insurers.
  • Efforts to depopulate Citizens: Citizens Property Insurance – the Florida-operated “insurance of last resort” – more than doubled in size during the past two years and now has about 1.13 million policies. The larger the number of policies, the greater the risk faced by Florida taxpayers after a disaster. The bill includes new or boosted ways to move homeowners with Citizens policies back into the private market. For example, Citizens policyholders now can’t renew their coverage if they receive private-insurer coverage offers within 20% of Citizens premium costs. The bill also phases in a requirement that Citizens customers buy flood insurance, which is not included in other homeowners’ policies.
  • Shortened claims filing: To reduce the number of frivolous lawsuits, the bill reduces the deadline for policyholders to report a claim under their policy from 2 years to 1 year for a new or reopened claim, and from 3 years to 18 months for a supplemental claim.
  • Accelerating claims payment: Among other things, the bill amends the prompt pay laws to encourage faster claims payments. It reduces the time for insurers to 1) pay or deny the claim from 90 to 60 days, 2) review and acknowledge a claim communication from 14 days to 7 days, 3) begin an investigation from 14 days to 7 days, and 4) conduct a physical inspection from 45 days to 30 days.
  • More funding for the Office of Insurance Regulation: The bill allocates $1.7 million for Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation to investigate bad faith carriers and hire and retain the staff they need to properly regulate the industry.

For complete information, check the Florida Senate analysis posted online.

Leaders of the insurance reform efforts acknowledge that the bill likely won’t lead to immediate rate reductions for homeowners. They say it is designed, at least in part, to draw investments in the insurance market and spur competition.

Hurricane relief

Senate Bill 4A: Lawmakers passed a number of disaster relief efforts after two hurricane strikes in 2022. The bill provides:

  • Tax relief for residential property rendered uninhabitable for at least 30 days through property tax refunds. It also extends property tax deadlines and discounts for owners of property destroyed or rendered uninhabitable due to Hurricane Ian or Nicole.
  • $150 million for affordable-housing hurricane relief efforts. Of that money, $60 million will go to local governments to help with the repair or replacement of housing, relocation costs, housing reentry assistance and insurance deductibles; $90 million will fund the Rental Recovery Loan Program to promote development and rehabilitation of affordable housing in affected areas.
  • $350 million needed to secure funding from FEMA Public Assistance Grants – the entire amount required for a one-half local match.
  • $100 million to supplement the existing Beach Management Funding Assistance Program and $50 million to create the Hurricane Restoration Reimbursement Grant Program. 
  • $100 million to create the Hurricane Stormwater and Wastewater Assistance Grant Program to provide financial assistance to local governments. 
  • The bill also creates the Florida Emergency Management Assistance Foundation to provide assistance, funding, and support to the Department of Management services. 

For a full analysis, refer to the Senate staff analysis of the bill posted online.

Toll relief

Senate Bill 6A: The bill directs the Florida Turnpike Enterprise (FTE) to establish a toll relief program that will be effective for one entire calendar year (Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2023) for all Florida toll facilities that use a Florida-issued transponder or are interoperable with the Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT’s) prepaid electronic transponder toll system (SunPass). The bill will:

  • Provide a 50% account credit to Florida residents with an electronic prepaid toll program account, such as SunPass, who record 35 or more transactions a month. 
  • Appropriate $500 million to reimburse toll facilities for issuing these credits.
  • Require Florida drivers using the prepaid toll program to have an account in good stating, with the account credit posted the month after the credit is earned.

The full Senate staff analysis of the bill can be found here.

Dec. 15, 2022

Prepping to Buy a Home or Invest in 2023?

If so, ask some questions to help get ready for a successful outcome, like what would you be willing to sacrifice in terms of space to be able to afford a home?

It has been quite the year. In 2022, we’ve lived through high inflation, stock market lows, housing market frenzies and ongoing Federal Reserve rate hikes. Although we don’t have a crystal ball to predict what will happen to the economy next year, we could use this year’s events as a guide: Things may continue to be rocky.

If homeownership and investing are on your 2023 goals list, here are some questions to ask yourself before whipping out your spreadsheet, money apps or notebooks.

What am I willing to sacrifice in terms of space?

Whether you have a goal of buying a new home or renting a new place next year, there’s a lot to consider. For instance, 30-year fixed mortgage rates went from an average of 3.45% in January to 6.90% in October thanks to inflation and Fed rate increases. The Fed has already raised interest rates 75 basis points four times this year. This, coupled with housing shortages, has driven the national median price of homes above $400,000 for the first time, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Homeownership may still be an attainable goal, but you might have to make some sacrifices.  You need to evaluate what you are willing to give up in space in order to own property.  You may have to gradually get to where you want, as opposed to just going straight into a single-family house.

This could mean starting off with a condo or townhouse and then using the equity from the condo to purchase your next property, Harris says.

How can I make homeownership more affordable?

Another portal to homeownership  is the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, also known as NACA. It’s a mortgage program that allows working people to purchase a home with no down payment, closing costs, fees or stringent credit prerequisites.

Members can also buy their homes at a below-market interest rate. The program is currently in 28 states and the District of Columbia.

Buying a home in 2023 could also be more attainable if you’re willing to get a roomie, says Jocelyn Wright , a CFP and retirement income certified professional at PF Wealth Management Group in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. This is something she did with her sister in 2017.

“It’s not going to be forever necessarily, but this gave us the opportunity to have our own home, and we can leverage the equity and all of that going forward,” she says.

How diverse is my portfolio?

This year hasn’t been the greenest for investors – at the start of December, the S&P 500 was down more than 15% this year. The market’s volatility could understandably make investors unsure about how to move forward. Financial professionals say a diverse portfolio and taking the right amount of risk might be steps in the right direction.

Keep diversification in mind.  Diversification is when you invest in a variety of assets to manage risk and market volatility. The FTX and BlockFi collapses that happened in November are a reminder about why to avoid investing too heavily in one area.

Unfortunately, a lot of newer investors were very excited about Bitcoin, crypto, and all of that, and forgot those lessons.  You don’t put your short-term money into the market, and those rules always apply.  I consider short-term money to be cash you’ll need in 12 months to three years.

Instead of putting all of your money into the stock market, put the amount you’ll need in the near future into an emergency fund, high-yield savings accounts, a certificate of deposit or short-term fixed-income securities like Treasury bills.

How much risk can I take?

Ask yourself how much risk you’re comfortable taking. That depends a lot on your circumstances, but risk isn’t something to be afraid of when you have enough income, an emergency fund and a diverse portfolio. And risk is worth it when you invest for the long term and can reap those long-term rewards.

Younger people who are further away from retirement can and should be willing to take on more risk. 

If you haven’t started investing, or stopped investing due to money being tight, remember you can always invest at a pace that feels comfortable for you.

You have to invest and become comfortable with that, whether that’s biweekly, bimonthly or monthly.

You can always start with lower-risk investments if you want to play it safe. Some include I bonds, money market funds or Treasury-Inflation Protected Securities, also known as TIPS.

I hope you found this information useful and gave you some ideas for 2023!

Nov. 10, 2022

Eleven Takeaways From the 2022 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

1. First-time buyers drop to an all-time low of 26% from 34% just a year ago.

There is no question that housing affordability has shut out first-time buyers with the rise in interest rates and home prices. During the data collection period, buyers also saw the lowest inventory in the U.S. since 1999—a picture that impacted first-time buyers more than any other group as investors jumped in. Potential first-time buyers also face a rise in rental costs making it challenging to save for a down payment.

Line graph: First-time Buyer Share Among Primary Residence Buyers, 1981 to 2022

2. The age of first-time and repeat buyers hit all-time highs.

The age of first-time buyers jumped to 36 from 33 years, where it had been for three years. Provided the headwinds first-time buyers faced, this may not be a surprise. Twenty-six percent of first-time buyers reported "difficulty saving for a down payment" was a challenging task in the buying process and cited higher rental costs, car loans, credit card debt, and student debt as factors holding them back. For repeat buyers, the age has risen to 59 years, up from 56 years in last year's report. Americans feel confident taking on a mortgage later in life and purchasing a primary residence. Trades have happened later as tenure in the home has also increased.

Line graph: Median Age of Home Buyers, 1981 to 2022

3. The share of White and Hispanic/Latino buyers grew, while Black/African American and Asian/Pacific Islander buyers retreated.

From research produced throughout 2022 by NAR Research, Black/African American renters are paying a disproportionate amount to rental costs. As these rents rise, it is further holding back Black buyers, who are also more likely than others to be first-time buyers. White buyers are most likely to be repeat buyers and to have housing equity to assist them with the down payment of their next property.

Line graph: Race/Ethnicity of Home Buyers, 1997 to 2022

4. Small towns and rural areas saw a migration flow while there was a retraction of buying in urban areas and the suburbs.

Buyers choose their neighborhood based on many factors, but the top of the list was the quality of the neighborhood, affordability, and proximity to friends and family. Small towns and rural areas proved to be the winning dynamic for many when making that choice—affordability was key, and family support systems were just down the street.

Stacked bar graph: Location of Home Purchased, 2003 to 2022

5. How far a buyer moved jumped to an all-time high of 50 miles from a range that had been steady between 10 to 15 miles.

Buyers' migration to small towns and rural areas was undoubtedly at play. Another factor is remote and hybrid work settings. In January 2021, many headlines touted that CEOs provided employees with permanent remote work. This allowed buyers to separate themselves from city centers or inner suburbs and migrate to farther areas. Zoom towns were the boom towns in the last year.

Line graph: Distance Between Home Purchased and Previous Residence, 1989 to 2022

6. The share of all-cash repeat buyers jumped from 17% to 27% in the past year.

Homeowners have accumulated tremendous housing equity in the last decade and hold about $210,000. This has allowed many to avoid holding a property mortgage and pay all cash for their purchase. As the location to purchase in small towns and rural areas became more popular in the last year, this may have further allowed buyers to move from expensive areas to more affordable ones. The share of first-time buyers who paid all cash remained essentially unchanged at 3%.

Line graph: Buyers Who Financed Their Home Purchase, 2002 to 2022

7. Tenure in home, before selling, returned to an all-time high of 10 years.

After a pandemic-driven drop last year to eight years in the home, tenure has risen to an all-time high. Between 1987 and 2008, the typical tenure was just six to seven years before someone made a trade. The top reasons sellers made the change in the last year were to be closer to friends and family, moving due to retirement, and their neighborhood had become less desirable. In past years, moving had been more common due to a change in a family situation or a job relocation.

Line graph: Median Seller Tenure in Home, 1987 to 2022

8. Expected tenure for first-time buyers hits an all-time high of 18 years, up from seven years in 2007.

If a first-time buyer was able to enter the homeownership ladder in the last year, they would have less intention of moving from their home quickly. The expected tenure of first-time buyers even surpasses that of repeat buyers of 15 years. Buyers have locked-in rates in a rising rate environment, which likely plays a key factor. For others, the ability to purchase a home in a less urban area may mean just skipping the starter home altogether. One note is that expected tenure is always longer than actual tenure, as buyers have just finished the tremendous hurdle of finding a home and purchasing.

Line graph: Median Expected Buyer Tenure in Home, 2007 to 2022

9. Buyers are diversifying where they pull together the down payment for a home.

Given the rise in home prices, buyers are pulling together funds from multiple sources for their down payment. First-time buyers rely on savings as the primary source, but 22% (down from 28% last year) did use a gift or loan from friends/family, and 15% either sold stocks/bonds or took a loan from their 401k/retirement fund. New this year, 2% of first-time buyers sold cryptocurrency to help with the down payment. While half of repeat buyers used proceeds from the sale of their past home, this does not work for all. Forty-one percent used savings, and 11% even sold stock or took a retirement loan.

Bar graph: Downpayment Sources for Recent Buyers

10. First-time buyers moving directly from a family member's home into homeownership is at an all-time high.

Twenty-seven percent of first-time buyers had this prior living arrangement, up from 21% the past year. These buyers were able to skip rental increases by moving into a home. This allowed first-time buyers to pay down debt, work on their credit scores and save for a downpayment the way others may not have been able to. The share of first-time buyers who rented before buying dropped to 64% from 73%.

Stacked bar graph: Prior Living Arrangement of First-time Home Buyers

11. Buyers and sellers use and want the help and expertise of a real estate agent.

Eighty-eight percent of buyers used a real estate agent to purchase their home. Buyers are most satisfied with their agent's honesty and integrity, and knowledge of the purchase process. For sellers, 86% used an agent to help sell their home. Sixty-three percent of sellers used an agent that they had worked with before or that was referred to them. Sellers most wanted their agent to price the home competitively, help market the home to potential buyers, and sell within a specific time frame.

Line graph: Purchased Home Through an Agent or Broker, 1981 to 2022
Line graph: How Seller Sold Home, 1981 to 2022