Despite claims that buyers are migrating to Florida, evidence from Atlas Van Lines and the Florida 2020 Demographic Estimating Conference indicate that migration trends are minor.

In the shadow of the pandemic, there has been a lot of news about home buyers migrating to Florida: Northeasterners pursuing sunshine and lower taxes, celebrities searching for their next grand estate, and fast-paced city dwellers looking for a more casual way of life in trendy Palm Beach.

In the wake of the Florida buzz, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has taken to Twitter to try to woo Silicon Valley powerhouses like Elon Musk with company proposals. Despite the state’s recent real estate success, many people leave Florida every year, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report.

Hurricanes, scorching temperatures, and rapidly increasing home prices move almost as many people out of Florida each year as those who move in.  According to Florida’s November 2020 Demographic Estimating Conference, despite strong narratives of buyers flocking to Florida during the pandemic, the state’s population growth has slowed to its lowest pace since 2014. Between April 2019 and April 2020, the state’s population increased by 1.83 percent, or 387,479 people.

It is projected to rise by just 1.38 percent, or 297,851 people, between April 2020 and April 2021. Is it really greener in Southern pastors?

According to an annual relocation report performed by national moving company Atlas Van Lines, the year 2020 saw the fewest amount of moves to Florida from other states than every other time in the previous nine years. According to Atlas, about half of Florida moves in 2020 will be incoming rather than outgoing, compared to 60% in 2015.


“As many people are moving in as are moving out [of Florida], which kind of shocked me because when you hear some of the news headlines about the number of people moving to Florida, I expected the number [of incoming moves] to be greater,” said Barry Schellenberg, president and COO of Atlas Van Lines, to the Journal.


Demographers, on the other hand, are well-versed in Florida’s history. According to Hamilton Lombard, a demographer at the University of Virginia, the state’s population has been steadily increasing for decades, but many people have left the state in the last 20 years or so, mostly returning to their home state. I support these elements as I have seen this progressing especially in the last 5 years. “A lot of people realize they don’t like hurricanes when they come to Florida” It brings to mind a sale I lost that my buyers chose to forfeited a $20,000 security deposit due to Tropical Storm Irma.


With many high-profile out-of-state buyers making multi-million-dollar purchases, Florida’s luxury market has seen a recent boom. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, as well as Sylvester Stallone, are only two of the most recent high-end owners, both of whom closed on estates worth more than $30 million.

Sales at the other end of the market scale, on the other hand, have not done as well.

Contracts on homes under $500,000, on the other hand, fell 56% year over year in January 2021. Contracts in Naples show a similar trend: there were 624 contracts signed on single-family homes over $2 million in January, up 62 percent from the previous year. According to the Naples Area Board of Realtors, contracts on homes under $300,000 fell 20% over the same time span. Northeast Florida MLS indicated 98 homes over $800,000 sold this year a 50% increase and 1,534 homes sold between $200 to $800,000 a 30% increase. We can manipulate the numbers in so many ways, nothing supports more than these numbers.

According to real estate brokers, many of the luxury buyers leading to those higher-priced transactions are snowbirds or full-time residents who already own homes in Florida. Moreover, despite several reports that Northeasterners have been pushing traffic to the state in recent months, the movement has been “very slight,” according to results from the state’s Demographic Estimating Conference.


However, the jury is still out on how long the state’s newcomers will stay in the Sunshine State. According to Peter Zalewski, founder of Miami real estate consultancy company Condo Vultures, “a lot of people don’t last more than five years.”

It is my opinion that three (3) out of five (5) newcomers move back home or another area of the United States. My feed back is the weather is too hot! It took me three (3) years to acclimate to the Florida Climate and still have summers that can be extremely uncomfortable. Another reason is of course the encounter with a Hurricane. I have lived through many, and in 2004 Hurricane George, Francis, and Jeanne came right over our home in a two-month period. No one can imagine the trauma one may experience with so much devastation. We are still here, now living in Northeast Florida and in my opinion is the less likely region to experience the destruction caused by hurricanes. Yes, this area has experienced title surges, flooding, but nothing compared to my experiences with Florida weather. I have even experienced three tornadoes and one waterspout. None of which were a game changer.

Yes, Hurricanes or extreme heat are the two main reasons why their stay could be brief, but for some, the state’s soaring prices are justification enough to sell and benefit handsomely. All the wow stories you hear are not without question. I am seeing homes above $800,000 and higher are generating the most reward in selling now. Under this price point the rewards are minimal in most scenarios.   

So before you sell, reach out to an area professional that understands the market, the driving force for selling and the patterns you actually can support for buyers moving to Florida. Call me, Dan Swing 904-671-9225 I am an award winning Realtor for Luxury, 55 Plus, Military Relocation, and more!

The interior design trends that are molding how we live

For luxury buyers, interior design has long been a top priority, and a NEW Identity is appearing! “Interior architecture,” has recently pushed up the list of buyer priorities. The reason for this is simple: as more people work remotely, shop via digital platforms, and spend significant amounts of time in their homes, it is as important to have templates, features, and flexibility as beauty.

What is the distinction between interior architecture and interior design, exactly? Interior design primarily focuses on the home’s “software,” features such as wall colors or furnishings that are usually added and simple to alter by the homeowner. On the other hand, interior design includes the “components” of the home and the designed environment that defines what each room is for and how different spaces fit together.

Interior architecture is not always permanent. While this appears to be a broader undertaking involving structural, electrical, and plumbing facilities, homeowners transform their living spaces all the time. As such, the interior architecture of a home does not always match the architecture of the exterior. I have interconnected with many luxury agents who have brought up a Mediterranean feeling to the property on the outside with a lot of originality but have been stripped to the bones and made on the inside ultra-modern and unobtrusive.

It’s important to have conversation starters. Experiencing this is the in thing now!

In their ideal homes, what are luxury buyers looking for? “In the last few years, buyers have gotten very savvy. This is partly because a lot of diverse architecture and design elements have been exposed to them. Many of my clients are drawn to fixtures that look like art installations, organic outdoor elements, black steel window and door frames, and durable hardwood floors, such as oak. Each of these elements is indicative of a wider set of changing preferences for the consumer. To see what buyers are prioritizing, I have gathered some details and broken them down for you to perhaps help you visualize the big picture.  

Buyers are attracted to homes with design elements that excite them, with the home being the center of imagination, and because we have basically been staring at the same four walls since early 2020. “Today’s trends are driven by anything that sparks emotion in one’s space, and many of our design-focused trophy homes include dramatic entrances, debate-provoking fixtures, and exotic finishes that are usually found in swanky hotels or trendy restaurants. It is profoundly popular today to have a space that excites you and has a tale behind it. In short, in 2021, a sense of mild eclecticism is making a comeback, with consumers appreciating harmonies that have character, courage, and a touch of eccentricity.

Are buyers appreciating more rooms? Baby Boomers, Millennials, Gen X, Gen Z!

This may sound rhetorical; however, the age of the open definition has come to a tentative end after many years of prevalence. Although new buyers do not necessarily want their homes to feel closed off, they have rediscovered the need for privacy and are putting renewed emphasis on being able to differentiate their work, education, and family lives. Barn doors are a trend and allows for flexibility in an open concept at times. Dark colors and materials are coming back with millennials and appears to add personality while helping to firmly define spaces within the home.


We are seeing an eye for lively, sunny spaces to let excitement pour in, but we see the love for cozy, activity-specific rooms with moody decor. The combination makes a sound change possible during the day.

We are finding that generational variations can affect whether a buyer is looking for a closed or open floor plan.” Younger buyers want more open concept living, such as a kitchen that flows into a family room that opens onto the pool; in many ways, baby boomers tend to enjoy the opposite. Millennials perhaps in their first condo, an executive or retirees moving from Northern U.S. and abroad, it is important to consider what drives patterns and disparities for their needs!  

Bringing the outdoors, indoors seems to be the top interests now days!

In the past year, Covid 19 has created a new world of access to outdoor spaces and has become one of the major attractions and focal point for homes, and these variables have been integrated into interior design in various aspects: by integrating fixtures and furniture that look and feel natural, and by expanding the comfort and practicality of interior living to the outside of the home. The consumer has remained focused on the extreme functionality of the outdoor space, and there is a huge demand for homes with multi-purpose outdoor areas, and this has been shared broadly over the internet.

Imagine coffee in the morning on your balcony facing dawn, my bride captures this whenever possible. Hosting dinner in your Lanai an extended living area of your home, or under the stars, and watching your outdoor living room games on Sunday. We have seen this emerging for some time, however it is becoming an attraction we can’t deny. 

Choosing practical over flawless

Ultimately, after a long day at the office, we are hearing buyers are no longer just enjoying their homes in the evening. It is important now, in ways that it was not before, to have floors and surfaces that can weather the wear and tear of daily life and can tolerate imperfection. Functionality has become really a thing of beauty.⠀

I find there is nothing like exploring homes with my buyers and seeing how they react to various finishes and designs; when you walk into a space, you can learn a lot about what they like and dislike immediately. I love to listen to the comments on a home and take notes. Nothing more rewarding than finding my buyers the right fit!

Supply and demand may prohibit negotiating well beyond what a builder offers.

While pure supply and demand may prohibit you from negotiating well beyond what a builder provides, knowing how to handle the process lets you save some cash whenever you can. In the current climate of growing costs and dwindling inventories, saving money on new construction can look difficult, if not almost impossible. The resale stock is poor and is a seller’s market across many regions.

If you purchase a new construction, I want you to understand, you can enter into an agreement and stop paying for certain things on the new build. Here are some suggestions and ways to make it possible for you. To know what communities are being launched before the public gets the word. For example, Ponte Vedra, Nocatee I am a “Certified Nocatee Realtor” and have the privilege to these communities. The floor plans, availability and price choices are important matters that I have availability to. I may even have the site agent’s contact information.⠀

Builders do not list each home for sale in the MLS and certainly will not list what is available and move in ready. It is extremely important to find a realtor you are familiar with and in areas you might be unfamiliar with. I can show you more often than not who the real site agents are in different communities and will direct you to the specialist in the field you are interested in. My staff and I know if you need to contact them directly or whether I can arrange appointments in a more efficient manner. Every construction manager functions a bit differently. Site supervisors are frequently linked to appointments and dealing with current buyers following their homes process. Supervisors cannot respond in a timely manner. In any case, you should have someone like myself that can direct you to key individuals that will run down necessary details quickly. 

2. Buying new construction? Knowing when a new community pulls the trigger.

At the beginning of selling a new neighborhood, a large part of the savings of new development usually occurs, when you are one of the first buyers to write an agreement. The moment the builder starts sales, rates are at their lowest on lots and floor plans, and they only have one direction to go from there, up.

The best offers are the first deals, and indecisiveness can and will cost a buyer cash and probably their lot and floor plan option if there are limits on how many homes can be constructed around each other on a street or unique portion of one model (so that every home is not the same). This also applies to how much heated Square footage is allowable on any specific lot.

After you close, you may find out the home you built, knowing it’s 2500 square feet, is recorded on record as 2100 square feet. A potential nightmare becomes real! Buyers looking for the stunning view of the elusive cul-de-sac lot or the highly desirable lot with no one next door or across from them? They are best equipped to leap out of a parachute or available to come in on Zoom, Skype or other video conferencing software that anyone can use to make this happen.

Waiting a couple of days could change the whole scenario. The response to “we’re not quite ready yet, but we can check it out next time we’re in town in a couple of weeks” may result in a huge price rise on both lots and home base prices. Not to mention, the home you want may not be available at all by that time.

It is important to have a Realtor help you understand the mentality of “should, could have, would have!” Having a coach on board is like the captain of the ship. It’s importance of instantly acting can most likely be a game changer. In a matter of days, prices can adjust, and site agents often do not know when their management may be responsible for a price rise. A few days later, the same lot and home that you were contemplating over the weekend would suddenly cost $20,000 more.

3. Options, benefits, and costs for closing—oh my!

It can be possible to get distracted by hearing numerous deals being bantered around, such as: the builder is currently providing an incentive sum that you can use to minimize the price or options and improvements, and if you use one of “THEIR CHOSEN LENDERS,” a certain amount may go against closing costs. Based on supply and demand, offerings wax and wane, and if the rate of sales is brisk, the builder would possibly step back on incentives and boost prices at the same time.

At the start of a new community, and an attempt to get some signed contracts, builders can give more generous incentives, however this may also offer the opportunity to increase prices rapidly! It is likely that when you visited a week ago, the $25,000 reward the builder was providing could no longer be available now. If you use their chosen lender with respect to closing costs, more often than not will save some cash out of pocket for closing costs that you would otherwise have to come up with.

Bear in mind that by using a builder’s preferred lender, the interest rate will be marginally higher compared to lending through the bank of your choice, and they can save more out-of-pocket expenses in the short term. Compared to saving on closing costs, home buyers must weigh the gap in the mortgage payments between the builder and an outside lender to see how long it will take them to recover the out-of-pocket costs. In my opinion you should take all of the benefits you can to prevent a pause in making a decision while working with a builder. Otherwise, not only may the price rise, but there might not be any incentives to benefit from it.

4. Controlling the unexpected!

This is where you can quickly tip the final purchase price well above where it was supposed to be when it comes to options and improvements. If possible, preview the design center well ahead of time before the actual appointment to get a summary and understanding of the various levels of finishes and features. Believe when a design appointment is normally just a few hours (or can be completed in a few meetings), but in a limited period a buyer more than likely is under a time crunch to determine several important finishes and color schemes for their home. To succumb to the pressure of the moment and select items that are needless extras and may very well “more often than not” drive you over your allocated budget very quick.

My experience and Via the builder, some things are better off being finished, and other items are best completed outside the builder. Often having a seasoned Realtor to prepare you for the journey makes sense to when committing to spending money on cabinetry and countertops at the time of the deal, as well as structural improvements such as expanding a covered lanai under the roof line or adding some additional square footage to the garage.

FLOORING…… TO BE or NOT TO BE!

Going with tile in the kitchen through the builder may make sense depending on the type of flooring you are interested in. However, if you choose to splurge on wood floors, engineered wood flooring, premium vinyl plank or other flooring of choice. Having carpet installed in the living, dining and bedrooms could be a better alternative and you want to be able to shop outside of building options to find a material and installer that fits your budget best. Our last build, the design studio said we had NO OPTIONS but to use this suggestion will win you more happiness and less grief knowing you may not be able to remove the choices the builder offered.

There is usually an important markup with builders on certain types of flooring, particularly when it comes to wood floors, and you can find better prices outside the design core of the builder. That said, after closure, there is generally some difficulty getting this completed instead of just being able to step straight in, so as a buyer, you may need to decide if that’s feasible with your current situation and timetable. Going through vendors of your choice after closing would likely be more cost-effective for products such as tile backsplash, crown molding, built-ins, custom window treatments such as plantation shutters, curtains, gutters, fencing and front door glass inserts. Same for fixtures with illumination. Go with the simple ones if provided, and after closing, do your shopping on your own for preferred models. The same goes for getting a paver patio, fire pit or summer kitchen added by the design center. These assistants work on commissions and may not always be your best option.

Pools through a builder, there is always a bit of a markup. However, for the convenience of doing it during the building process, you may choose this option opposed to getting your yard dug up after closing, permit issues, and attempting to supervise it all yourself, which can often be a massive mess. A thing like too much icing on a cake can be there, and the same applies to putting improvements into a home. This is where you a buyer will be properly directed by an advisor versed in new construction as to how best to invest your money and what to spend it on.

5. Timing is Key!

Though the real estate market hasn’t slowed down a great deal, there are usually busier and slower periods in each market under more natural post-pandemic circumstances. Determine when those are, and if possible, try to schedule the transaction around a slower time. Typically, the end of the year has always been a timelier time to purchase new builds, particularly inventory homes, as builders are more driven to clear current inventory off their plates to free up capital to build new homes.

When a builder is a publicly traded business, as their end of quarter or calendar year comes, they are always more driven as there may be some sales targets they have to reach for each zone. During these times, offers are always sweetened, but the option of available homes and lots can be small.

6.The Leftovers

There are a few remaining lots in every new neighborhood, which are usually some of the last to go. If they have not been sold to a buyer to build a home, they will generally be speculating on them.The house may be magnificent and highly sought-after, but the lot may be a challenge to deal with in some way. It could be in or out of the neighborhood on a busy corner with heavy traffic. It may lack confidentiality, or have no views. With little outdoor space to do something with, like adding a pool, a patio area, a fire pit or a summer kitchen, it could also be small. You will be able to negotiate a better price on anything like this if you can see beyond those things, against a lot that may be more conforming and in the neighborhood in extremely limited supply. In other words, to sweeten the deal, reduce the asking price and provide more options and incentives to get this property off his or her plate, the builder can bend over backwards.

7.Title and closing fees and elements of surprise!

When possible, and the builder allows, buyers who select the closing and/or title insurance agent, it may be possible to bargain if they do not choose the chosen lender of the builder. That said, it can be difficult to do this. Usually, builders connect the benefits they provide with the condition that their own closing and title services are used. While they will encourage buyers to choose their own, it is likely to negate closing costs charged on their behalf, which may potentially cost them more cash.

There may be some closing costs that are usually charged by a vendor on a resale that a buyer needs to pick up on new development, depending on what is customary in the local real estate market, but a contractors closing cost incentives tend to compensate them. A builder can agree to cover some closing costs, even with a cash purchase, that are linked to the use of their closing and title services. As your Realtor it’s possible for me to direct you to closing agencies that perhaps may get you some competitive quotes. We may be able to receive the closing and title vendors of the builder to see if they can fit the fees you present. By doing perhaps we can save on closing costs, title insurance, as well as a survey.

Although pure supply and demand makes it impossible to negotiate well beyond what a builder offers, knowing how to manage the process will help you, “the consumer,” better time your purchase and save some cash wherever possible.  

AN EXCEPTIONAL PLANNED COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT; NOCATEE, PONTE VEDRA, FL 32081 I have been asked “WHY Nocatee, Ponte Vedra Florida? This was selected as the top 8th Planned Development Communities in America.

NOCATEE MONUMENT

I’m providing you some links for the schools in the St. John’s County Ponte Vedra Florida area. From preschool through high school. You can break down the opportunities in high schools, and a NEW K thru 8 is opening up this August at the South end of Cross water Parkway, in Nocatee. With these amazingly developed preschool facilities it challenges the Middle, and High schools to continue to be rated the highest in the State of Florida and our nation. It would not surprise me to eventually more than a few rated the best in the Nation!

For outstanding Preschools in Nocatee we have St. John Paul II Early Learning Center. https://www.stjp2elc.net/

Primrose Schools are another extremely designed educational preschool environment preparing our children for tomorrow!

Valley Ridge Academy https://www-vra.stjohns.k12.fl.us/about/ K thru 8th an A rated school!
New St John’s County K-8 at the End of Cross Water Parkway Opening August 2021 SEE BELOW graphic and link
https://www-mm.stjohns.k12.fl.us

Ponte Vedra High School, serves mostly Ponte Vedra Beach A+ Rating
https://www-pvhs.stjohns.k12.fl.us/
NEASE High is one of the most diverse High Schools in Florida
https://www-nhs.stjohns.k12.fl.us/

For an overall review of all the schools in St.John’s County Florida go to;

https://www.niche.com/k12/search/best-public-schools/t/nocatee-st-johns-fl/

Zillow economist Treh Mahertz shares Communities of color have long had to deal with housing discrimination problems. And while Black and Latinx home prices remain lower overall, Zillow data shows that since the greatest difference in values seen since the Great Recession, the gap between these groups has fallen by around 4 percent.

“The home value gap has taken almost a decade to return to pre-recession levels, but still, the gap remains very large,” Zillow economist Treh Manhertz said in Zillow’s study. With the pandemic hitting Black and Brown communities and jobs especially hard, there was reason to fear that another dip could be on the horizon that could slow or stop progress. This is not the case, though, as this time the same variables that widened the gap in the Great Recession are not surfacing. There are no signs of another widening of the gap coming this year, thanks to rock bottom rates on the most stable mortgages, expanded forbearance schemes, and rising home prices.

According to Zillow data released Tuesday, black-owned homes are worth 16.2 percent less and Latinx-owned homes are worth 10.2 percent less than the usual U.S. house. Typically, non-Hispanic, white-owned homes and Asian-owned homes are priced at 2.9% and 3.7% higher than the average house.

Prior to the Great Recession, the difference between black-owned home prices and all home values was around 15 percent and rose to 20 percent by March 2014. At 14 percent, 2 percentage points higher than pre-recession, Latinx-owned home values hit a peak gap between all home values in May 2012.


As subprime loans targeted marginalized populations, the disparity between home prices across races peaked during the housing crash, and, as a result, subsequent foreclosures and declining home values hit Black and Latinx homeowners especially hard. Starting in August 2012, overall U.S. home value growth rebounded to become positive, but it did not turn positive for Black and Latinx homes until two years later.


However, sustained diligence and targeted action by politicians is essential to keep change going for communities of color during these tumultuous times, “Manhertz added.”

With the historic election of Warnock and Ossoff in addition to breaking a 56-year run by Republican legislators and nominating the first Black Senator of the state, Warnock and Ossoff’s success may tip the scales back in favor of the Democrats, ensuring the party has an easier road to passing a host of housing and economic initiatives, including the $2,000 stimulus checks blocked on Dec. 29 by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell


Georgia’s two Senate seats will be able to dislodge Mitch McConnell on January 20th. The Atlantic political strategist and reporter Russell Berman described in an op-ed published Wednesday that he would be able to remove the most formidable congressional foe of the party from a post where he might have thwarted Biden at almost every turn. The Senate’s democratic influence under the probable majority leader, New York City’s Chuck Schumer, will mean that Biden should be able to get the best out of his cabinet and judiciary.

However, as lawmakers fight over the government’s coronavirus response, stimulus packages, the eviction moratorium, and measures to cancel and freeze leases, Berman and other political reporters and critics have been quick to temper the hopes of Democratic supporters of exactly what Georgia’s runoff results mean for 2021.


Biden will likely need to yield to varying levels of GOP support in the Senate to meet his priorities and promises. Legislation needs 60 votes to clear a senate filibuster, meaning even a Democratic majority would need Republican support for most bills!

Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked the CASH Act from going before the senate. The CASH Act has a stronger chance of being passed when the Senate reconvenes after Inauguration Day, with McConnell on the threshold of being dethroned as the majority leader. Expanded unemployment insurance and moratoriums on evictions


On Dec. 29, President Donald Trump signed a $900B COVID-19 relief bill which extended the national eviction moratorium of the Centers for Disease Control, extended unemployment introduced another round of loans for business owners from the Paycheck Protection Program, offered partial debt forgiveness for loans from Small Business Administration and $25B in rental assistance.

“In an emailed statement, CLPHA Executive Director Sunia Zaterman said, “The Council of Large Public Housing Authorities (CLPHA) congratulates Raphael Warnock on his historic victory and Jon Ossoff’s election to the United States Senate, thereby ensuring a Democratic Senate majority. “The incoming Biden-Harris administration and Marcia Fudge, HUD Secretary-designate, have now expanded once-in-a-generation opportunities to improve the lives of low-income Americans who were particularly hurt by the pandemic of COVID-19.”


“The first course of action is for Congress to pass a new stimulus relief bill that addresses housing insecurity and homelessness with $50 billion in emergency rental assistance,” Zaterman said. “… CLPHA looks forward to working to make these legislative goals happen with the Biden-Harris administration and the 117th Congress.”

Housing advocacy groups are now exerting pressure with the scales tipping in favor of Biden and Democrats by issuing statements calling for the President-elect to advocate for new legislation that extends the moratorium, further expands unemployment insurance, and offers greater renter assistance in the form of cancellation and freezing rents.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development experienced a 180-degree change under the Trump Administration that resulted in the wholesale repeal or demolition of Obama-era initiatives, including Affordable Housing Affirmatively Promotion.


Biden pledged to reinstate AFFH during his campaign, allocate $640B over the next 10 years to significantly increase the availability of housing throughout the country, provide more comprehensive support for affordable housing initiatives through the Housing Trust Fund, set up “eviction diversion programs” for at-risk tenants, and create emergency funding for housing vouchers and homeless shelters.

He also introduced a $15,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit and vowed to roll-back the tax cuts of President Trump, which could include the reintroduction of mortgage interest deduction laws and local and state taxes.

The nomination of Representative Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH) to lead HUD by Biden came with some criticism, as members of the Black Congressional Caucus advocated for Fudge to lead the United States Department of Agriculture among other Black and progressive political organizations.

Marcia Fudge

“While we believe that Rep. Fudge can excel in any position of leadership, we share the confusion of many about this move and are left to believe that this choice stems from shallow racial stereotypes about the office,” Varshini Prakash, Executive Director of the Sunrise Movement, told USA Today.


If Biden appoints Vilsack to head the USDA, the Black Americans who delivered the election to Joe Biden will be a slap in the face,” she added.” “Vilsack had failed Black farmers before, when other candidates are well qualified for the role, it is not necessary to give him another shot.”

Fudge said she is more than capable of leading HUD, given the pushback, and is eager to cooperate with housing advocates to reactivate HUD’s charge to abolish segregation and discrimination in housing.


“Fudge said of her past work in the same USA Today article, “Everybody knows how passionate I am about feeding hungry kids and school lunches and the kinds of things we do about food and nutrition. “It is a passion of mine. With HUD, I can do so much of the same things.

Biden’s housing proposals would not be an automatic shoo-in, just like more immediate legislative priorities surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, as he has to tackle Republican resistance alongside in-fighting between leftist and centrist democrats who disagree with the future of the country.


“A Guardian article read: “Senate control would give Biden his best shot at signing big new legislation on key issues such as the global emergency, immigration, civil rights, poverty, and racial justice. “But even the two Democratic victories in Georgia does not mean that a progressive legislative agenda could easily be implemented by Biden, because centrist Democrats in the Senate may break with the party in close votes.”

Credits Inman News writers Lillian Dickerson and Marian McPherson

Mortgage applications and refinance applications increased during the week ending Dec. 11, 2020, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s weekly survey Mortgage applications increased 1.1 percent week over week during the week ending Dec. 11, 2020, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The market composite index, which calculates the volume of mortgage loan applications increased 1.1 percent from the previous week on a seasonally adjusted basis The index increased 0.4 percent from the week before on an un-adjusted basis.

The refinance index rose week by week by 1 percent and year by year by 105 percent. A great deal of tricky marketing strategies, saying “Government is giving away free money in Florida” misleading qualified mortgage holders to explore options! Meanwhile, on a seasonally adjusted basis, the purchase index increased 2 percent week over week. However the un-adjusted purchase index decreased 2% from the week before, but it was still up 26% year on year.

In a press release, Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and business forecasting, explained how during the week’s survey, dropping mortgage rates continued to have a positive effect on mortgage applications!

U.S.— Treasury rates stayed stable last week, mainly due to uncertainty about the prospects of additional government pandemic-related stimulus, as well as concern about the sharp rise in national COVID-19 incidents, Kan said. As a result, mortgage rates dropped to another survey low, with the 30-year fixed mortgage rate declining to 2.85 percent by five basis points. Once again, homeowners reacted to the fall in prices, with refinancing activity growing for the second straight week and up 105 percent for the second straight week.

JOEL KAN

Kan said in a statement, “The ongoing strength in the housing market has spread into December.” In five weeks, applications for purchasing a home increased for the fourth time, as both conventional and government target markets saw gains. Government purchase applications rose to the highest level since June for the sixth straight week, perhaps a sign that more first-time buyers are exploring the market.

The percentage of refinance applications also subsequently increased, from 72.0 percent on a weekly basis.The average contract interest rate reached a survey low of 2.85 percent on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances, down from 2.90 percent the previous week. For 80 per cent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans, points have decreased to 0.33 from 0.35. 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA also saw a drop in the average contract interest rate from 2.97% the previous week to a new survey low of 2.96%. For LTV loans of 80 percent, points grew from 0.40 to 0.42.

The average contract interest rate also touched a survey low of 2.49 percent on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, down from 2.51 percent the previous week. For 80 percent of LTV loans, points declined from 0.35 to 0.29.

Have your heard, it’s a “SELLERS MARKET” we’re experiencing buyers on a waiting list, in most every community in America. Before a home goes on the market, a Realtor or Brokerage more often than not has an inventory of buyers for that property. Providing sellers the opportunity to net the ‘MOST CASH” at closing is the best scenario. A property needs to be introduced to the Multiple Listing Service. We hear rumors of buyers offering as much as $100,000 more for the property than the market price, how credible are these deals.

In a perfect world, this does not hold up. I am experiencing buyers making these offers in communities that will sustain a much larger buy in! Buyers that have portfolios to easily manage a purchase. These communities with values that exceed $800,000 or more and provide incredible amenities, and location, are factors making these deals happen.

In Communities where the homes begin in the mid $300,000 value, and top out close to $800,000 are receiving offers anywhere from $20,000 to $60,000 above market value and are closing! Why, these buyers are putting down enough capital to offset the lopsided value that comes in by an appraisal. For example, a home goes on the market for $515,000, the sellers accepts the best of four offers at $545,000, the appraisal comes in at $515,000. Does the lender provide the mortgage for the buyers. Perhaps, as long as the buyers put down, for example $125,000, a lender may make this work. If it’s a CASH offer, no appraisal, survey or additional contingencies hamper the purchase should succeed at closing.

When sellers do not open the door to multiple offer experiences, they may be leaving a great deal of CASH on the table at closing!

15 questions as sellers you need to understand.

This is my organized way that makes sense for my sellers.

Believe it, a seller’s markets is still holding strong across most sectors of the country. In many cities, buyer demand is up while inventory remains low — leaving home buyers battling it out in multiple offer situations. You the seller trying to navigate it all can be daunting.

Having multiple offers can be a great thing, but how do you ensure you choose the best offer, and you do not pass up on an even better one? With multiple-offer situations becoming the norm in hot markets, knowing how to navigate these scenarios is a must, and it’s my job to provide the best possible counsel in this matter.

You are the seller, and you might be tempted to accept the highest offer, but price is only one obstacle. Aside from price, there are many other variables that you should consider as the seller, and it is my job to help you make a decision, not just part of it, based on the whole picture. There are two things we need to recall before we jump into how we assess an offer:

I want to get the absolute best price for my sellers, and we first need to understand your sales goals, to help you do that, are you looking for the most money to make from the sale? Do you need the versatility, or do you just need to sell quickly, to pass on your timeline? Are you able to effectively buy a new home in another location? You find your new home and at this time your current home has NO buyers, how are we getting around this challenge? Knowing these goals for selling ensures we are effective in helping you make the best decision.

We need to prepare you for what to expect until we understand what is most important to you as my seller. You need to understand which purchasing agreement is appropriate based on your objectives and which ones will impede your goals. Terms we need to pay attention to before we start receiving offers, and what these terms mean. Taking the time to understand the process helps to set priorities upfront while helping the you to quickly understand and analyze offers as they come in.

Making sure the terms match with your expectations is the secret to assessing offers. We have found an efficient way to pragmatically evaluate the various aspects of the offer if we

receive an offer on a listing by grouping offer terms into three categories: “SPEED” “CERTAINTY” and “PRICE!”

Speed: How fast do you want to move?

Although speed mostly revolves around the closing date, there are a few other factors to consider, but I will start with the most obvious:

What is the closing date, and does the timetable fit for it? When does the buyer want to close on the home? This one is self explanatory. But more importantly, how closely does your timeline match this date with it? A more urgent date is probably better if you are planning to move out as soon as possible. But if you’re waiting for a new home to close, it’s important to look for a little more versatility, more than likely.

How flexible is your timeline?

If your circumstances require you to move on a specific timeline, is the buyer willing to accommodate that? More flexible buyers might present an offer with a leaseback option, “NOT RECOMMENDED” which could be a great alternative for you as a seller if you need to buy more time before moving out. I also have Mortgage Brokers that maybe able to assist you with a bridge loan. Not too awfully expensive and well worth exploring.

When does the offer expire?

Many offers include an expiration date set by the buyer. This date can be a good indicator of how fast the buyer is looking to move to close the deal. However, this can sometimes put you as a seller in a tricky situation, especially when there are multiple offers on the table, and you need to decide within a short time frame. 

Certainty: How qualified is the buyer?

Once we have considered how well the offer aligns with your timeline, we move on to evaluating the certainty of the offer:

Is it an all-cash offer?

Most times, all-cash offers mean quicker and less risky sales, which is what makes them so appealing. The primary benefit to an all-cash offer is not having to worry about the possibility of an appraisal coming in too low or third-party financing falling through. But even though all-cash offers bring a heightened level of certainty, they often come with a lower price tag, so depending on your goals, they will have to weigh this cost. 

How financially secure is the buyer?

Having a financially stable buyer will help ensure a smooth closing. A few factors can help you determine how financially secure a buyer is: how much they are putting down, their earnest money deposit, and if they are pre-approved or approved for a loan.

Down payment?

Typically, a higher down payment is indicative of a serious and more financially secure buyer. The higher the down payment, the better. Down payments between 20-50 percent are a strong indicator of financial stability.

  • Earnest money deposit: Earnest money is a signal of good faith from the buyers that they want to purchase the home. The buyers will not get this money back if they back out of the deal unless specified in the contract. Typically, buyers will default to 1 percent of the purchase price. An earnest money deposit higher than 1 percent means they are profoundly serious about buying the home.
  • Preapproval: These days, being preapproved for a loan is pretty much a necessity in competitive markets. Even though preapproval “does not guarantee buyers financing,” it’s a good indicator that they’re ready and able to make a purchase.

Are there contingencies?

When a buyer submits an offer with contingencies, they are stipulating additional requirements that must be met before the sale can be finalized. Any contingency included in the contract should be noted and taken into consideration. When presenting offers it is critical that you understand how contingencies might impact the sale.

Financing, appraisal, and inspection contingencies are standard inclusions. Although home-sale contingencies are also common, they do add another layer of complexity to the deal. In any case, the fewer contingencies, the fewer chances the buyers can back out of the sale. Throughout the pandemic, we have seen buyers wave contingencies to craft a stronger offer, and I have seen buyers become diagnosed with Covid and must terminate the Purchase Agreement!

How much is the option fee?

In some states the option fee is a nonrefundable fee paid to the seller at the start of the option period,  Florida has specific timeframe in which the buyers can terminate the contract for ANY reason without risking their earnest money deposit, depending on the type of purchase agreement we accept. This can be specified in the offer instructions. If the buyers terminate, you may get to keep the option fee. In competitive markets, the amount of the option fee is one of the best indicators of certainty. When buyers offer to pay a larger option fee, it suggests they are not afraid to put some skin in the game. 

Price: How much are they offering?

Although price is self-explanatory, there are a few additional factors we always take into account when evaluating an offer. It’s been my experience and we have seen some tricky and hidden clauses that may they’ll end up affecting your net proceeds

Is the buyer offering to pay closing costs?

Generally, both the buyers and the sellers are responsible for paying a portion of the closing costs. But in a competitive market, buyers might offer to pay more than their typical share. Sellers can often negotiate closing costs like the owner’s title policy, in many counties in South Florida it is customary for the buyers to pay the title policy — the third-largest closing cost expense. This is negotiable and can be stated in the purchase agreement.  

You can also negotiate facets such as escrow fees, home warranty fees, HOA transfer fees, recording fees and title insurance fees — all a part of your closing costs. It is important to take these expenses into account when calculating your net proceeds from the sale. 

If needed, will the buyer pay for a new survey?

It is typical for lenders — and title companies — to require a survey before finalizing the buyers’ loan. If the seller has an existing survey, the buyer will often opt to use that, however the buyer’s lender may ask to have it re-certified. In cases where there is no survey, say if it were misplaced or insufficient to meet a lender’s requirements, one party would have to pay to draw a new survey. In their offer, the buyer will indicate which party they expect to pay. Typically, this burden is on the buyer.

Will the buyer pay for the survey endorsement or coverage?

The survey endorsement, also known as survey coverage, protects the buyer against any survey errors. If the buyers opted to use an existing survey provided by you the seller, they would usually add this coverage to their title insurance policy. Because this expense is negotiable, the buyers might stipulate that they or you the seller pay for the coverage, which will ultimately impact your net proceeds.

Is the buyer requesting you the seller pay for the home warranty?

Although home warranties are not required, most buyers choose to purchase one for peace of mind. Sometimes the listing agent will offer to pay this for listing your home. For example, it is standard for the you the seller to pay for the buyers’ home warranty, but the buyers might also choose to pay for it themselves to make their offer more appealing.

Is the buyer offering a leaseback — at what expense?

If you are flexible with this, and in Florida “I do not ever recommend it.”  Buyers who are in-the-know might add the option for a leaseback to their offer, giving you the seller the flexibility to move out on their terms. Typically, the buyers require you the seller to pay rent during this time. But in competitive markets, buyers might agree to lease at an under-market rate or for nothing at all — a gesture that could end up saving you seller a nice chunk of change. When it comes to helping you navigate multiple-offer situations, it’s important for me to provide a comprehensive analysis. But when you receive five, 10 or even more offers, thoroughly evaluating each offer and presenting this information in a clean and organized way that makes sense to you is no easy task.  

I hope I’ve shed some light on the daunting tasks your Realtor has when presenting offers and that phrase, “Highest and best offer,” may not always apply!

  • The buzz is all about how it is a great time to sell your house

In today’s real estate market, the buzz is all about how it is a great time to sell your house. Buyer demand is high, and there simply aren’t enough homes available to buy to meet that growing need. This means now is the time to move or is it? In many regions and communities, you can close the deal on your ideal terms.

Even in today’s strong sellers’ market, there are homeowners who are choosing not to sell due to ongoing concerns around the health crisis, financial uncertainty, and life in general. According to Zillow, here are the top three reasons homeowners who are thinking of selling sometime in the next three years are not putting their houses on the market right now:

  • 34% – Life is too uncertain right now
  • 31% – Financial uncertainty
  • 25% – COVID-19 health concerns

If you identify with any of these, you are not alone. Whether it is the future of your employment situation or simply being uncomfortable having guests in your home for showings, life feels a lot different than it did last year. The good news is we have been revolving, refining, and modifying these daunting challenges, and it’s paying off for those who are choosing to move this year. Many of us are doing two things very well to make selling your property-home possible.

1. Agents Are Implementing Technology in the Process

While abiding by state and local regulations as a top priority, real estate agents are making sales happen safely and effectively by leveraging key pieces of technology. Agents know exactly what today’s buyers and sellers need and how to put the necessary digital steps in place. For example, we have capitalized on the technology buyers find most helpful when deciding on a new home:

We are listening to you, “our audience” and leveraging the tools that help buyers get an initial look at a home without having to step inside. This helps reduce the number of people entering your home, so only those who are very seriously interested need to take the next step: in-person showings.

2. Agents Are Facilitating Safe and Effective In-Person Showings

After leveraging technology, we define serious buyers who still want to see your house in person, agents are following the guidelines set by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and utilizing safe ways to proceed. Here are a few of them, understanding again that the an agent’s top priority is always to follow­ state and local restrictions first:

Getting comfortable with your agent – “A true trusted advisor” – taking these steps under the National Association of Realtors and ERA safety standards might be your best plan. This is especially important if you are in a position where you need to sell your house sooner rather than later.

If you are in these percentages, you are not alone. Whether it is the future of your employment situation or your uncomfortable having guests in your home for showings, life feels a lot different than it did last year at this time. The good news is, as a professional, I have spent the majority of 2020 figuring out how to sell homes safely, and it’s paying off for the most part. We at RE/MAX are providing many ways to make selling your home pleasant, safely saturating the media and social marketing platforms.

  • Virtual tours
  • Accurate, detailed, and creative listing information
  • Detailed neighborhood data and statistics
  • Professional, high-quality photos defining your homes qualities
  • Even video chat when available.

We also offer (3D) three dimensional visual tours, because this process is very time consuming, an additional fee or negotiated terms maybe determined if you choose to add this feature to your listing.

2. We encourage safe and successful showings in-person 

After leveraging technology, we follow the guidelines set by the National Association of Realtors  (NAR) and use sure ways to proceed if you have serious buyers who still want to see your home in person. Here are a few protocols, knowing again that our top priority is always to first meet state and local constraints:

  • Limiting in-person activity
  • R­­­equiring guests to use alcohol-based sanitizer
  • Removing shoes or covering them with booties
  • Following CDC guidance on social distancing and wearing face coverings

We insist that you are comfortable with our team and or staff. A true trusted adviser taking these steps under these implemented ERA safety standards might be your best plan. This is especially important if you are in a position where you need to sell your property sooner rather than later.

Jeff Tucker, Senior Economist for Zillow “Homeowners who feel life is uncertain right now may think they can still get a strong price if they delay selling until they have more clarity. The catch is that waiting to sell may raise the cost of a trade-up. This fall’s record low mortgage rates, which make a trade-up more affordable monthly, are not guaranteed to last.”

I have found, especially in 55 and older communities, this philosophy is “NOT always the best when sharing their best options.  In this new ERA in our lives, things are shifting quickly, sometimes daily, and virtual strategies for sellers may be your ideal option. I’m finding that opening your door to new approaches is a game changer, and in most environments is a game-changing venue. When it comes to selling your home while the market is leaning in your favor. As always, a trusted real estate professional is your best option and will safely and effectively navigate all that is new when it comes to making your next move.

Bottom Line

In this new ERA in our lives, things are shifting quickly, and virtual strategies for sellers may be your ideal option. Opening your doors up to new approaches could be game-changing when it comes to selling your house while the market is leaning in your favor. As always, a trusted real estate professional can help you safely and effectively navigate all that’s new when it comes to making your next move.

I’m Passionate about service animals and truly believe in their amazing abilities to detect and protect their owners!

Handling competing disabilities under fair housing laws can be difficult. As an investor this has content pertinent to Owners/Landlords, for example, how does a landlord balance one resident’s request for a service or assistance animal with another resident’s severe allergy to animal dander? Neither the Department of Justice (DOJ) nor the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides much guidance beyond instructing housing providers to  find a way that accommodates both.

The Iowa Supreme Court recently tackled this  issue with a new approach under the Iowa Civil Rights Act. A landlord was faced with a challenging situation when seven (7) months after Ms. Cohen, a resident with severe allergies to pet dander, moved into the no-pet building, a new resident, Mr. Clark, requested and was granted a waiver for his assistance animal. Despite the landlord’s attempt to accommodate both disabilities with use of air purifiers and different stairways, Ms. Cohen continued to experience allergy attacks, ostensibly from exposure to Mr. Clark’s assistance animal. When the landlord refused to evict the dog from the premises, Ms. Cohen filed a lawsuit alleging that the request for an assistance animal wasn’t reasonable because of her severe allergies and should have been denied.

The court resolved the matter by adding a new “priority-in-time” factor into a balancing test. After they deemed both disabilities “equal,” they held that Ms. Cohen had priority because she moved into the building first and as such, the accommodation for Mr. Clark’s assistance animal was unreasonable.

This is a bizarre outcome given federal fair housing laws and the court’s own reasoning. I urge caution before using this holding as a lodestar when faced with competing disabilities. With the devil lodged squarely in the details, a closer inspection of the facts and analysis raises more questions than it answers. While there are many issues with this decision, this post will focus on the “priority-in-time” factor the court created.

The majority opinion failed to explain how they determined that the need for an assistance animal versus the need for a pet-dander free environment was effectively a wash. In a rather odd admission, the court stated that outcome would have been different had the resident requested an accommodation for a seeing-eye dog, essentially finding that sight impairments are more important than mental health issues. Such a finding likely violates the Fair Housing Act if put into practice.

Moreover, this standard puts the housing provider in the uncomfortable position of serving as the arbiter of a disability hierarchy. Housing providers are not qualified to determine whether one disability should take priority over another. The court’s suggestion that housing providers triage impairments in this way lies beyond the scope of their expertise, is inappropriate to expect of them, and increases the risk of violating fair housing laws.

Clearly, housing providers may deny a request for an assistance animal if the specific animal poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others. However, the facts were murky as to whether the dog posed a direct threat to Ms. Cohen. While Ms. Cohen was severely allergic to cats, her allergies to dogs were more speculative. Additionally, she stated that she thought there was a cat in the building, muddling the source of her allergy attacks.

When a request poses a direct threat to others, housing providers are still required to engage in the interactive process to seek alternative accommodations that can eliminate or significantly reduce the threat. The record in this case shows that the landlord failed to fully explore other reasonable alternatives that could have mitigated the risk of triggering an allergy attack, such as designating certain floors as allergy-free or even moving one party to an available unit in another one of the landlord’s nearby buildings. Such options are not ordinarily permissible for reasonable accommodation requests, but because life doesn’t exist in a vacuum, sometimes it’s necessary to engage flexibility and ingenuity to establish the healthiest and safest environment for everyone involved.

The final takeaway? Before denying a reasonable accommodation due to conflicting needs between residents with disabilities, the best course of action is still the most direct: keep the lines of communications open with residents and make sure you contact your attorney.

Content Author Abby Volin