Friday, December 31, 2010

SI Real Estate Wishes You a Happy New Year!

2010 has been an exciting year for the real estate market in the Tampa Bay area. SI Real Estate has reported the year’s real estate events on our weekly blog to keep our readers abreast of our ever changing real estate market. Major notable factors in the real estate market came into play producing a fast paced year of sales. The extension of the 2009 First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit into 2010 fueled the market for the first portion of the year. REO (bank owned) properties sold just as quickly as they came on the market, many seeing multiple offer situations. A huge influx of foreign investors getting into the real estate action here in Tampa and in many places across the country caused an interesting adjustment to the home buyer pool. Interest rates hovered at near record lows for the entire year. Wow! No wonder the year went by so fast.

SI Real Estate hopes you have had a prosperous year, and looks forward to continuing to report Tampa Bay’s real estate news and events to you in 2011.

Happy New Year to our friends, families, colleagues and clients. Be safe, be at peace. May 2011 be your best year yet!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wishing You a Very Happy Holiday Season!

We at SI Real Estate would like to wish families, friends and real estate clients a Very Happy Holiday Season! We are grateful to each and every one of you, and we truly appreciate your support during this past year.

All our best wishes to you during this joyful season.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Tampa Bay Real Estate Market in 2010 The Year in Retrospect

This has been an exciting year in the real estate market in Tampa, Florida. The real estate market moved at a fast pace in the first half of the year when the federal government decided to extend the 2009 Homebuyer Tax Credit. Originally, the tax credit was to end on November 30, 2009. However, the 2009 First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit was extended so that those with a binding contract on or before April 30, 2010 and closing on or before June 30, 2010 would be able to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity to become a homeowner. This fueled the real estate market in a big way.

Another major force in the real estate market this year has been the abundance of REOs (bank owned) properties that were for sale on the market. These properties sold just about as quickly as they were listed. Not only did they sell quickly, but they received multiple offers which caused an interesting bidding situation for all involved parties. This resulted in a serious reduction in the housing inventory which has been important to bringing pricing stability to the real estate market.

One cannot look at the past year without mentioning the force and affect of foreign investors on our market. International investors swarmed to buy properties in Florida and across the nation. The bloated inventory of homes combined with high unemployment and a weak currency created an incredibly attractive buyer’s market for the savvy international investor. Rather than investing in the stock market, many international investors purchased property and reaped immediate financial rewards for doing so.

Several factors have been at play in the real estate market in 2010. Tax incentives for first time home buyers and move-up/repeat home buyers, record high affordability in housing prices, near record low mortgage interest rates, and an influx of foreign investors, all combined have been and will continue to be critical to the housing and overall economic recovery.

SI Real Estate has had a fantastic year in 2010 and is excited about the upcoming year and opportunities in the real estate market. Are you interested in getting a piece of the real estate action? Give us a call at (813) 631-5144 any time.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Strong Rebound in Pending Home Sales

Pending home sales saw a jump of 10% in October which is a positive sign that the real estate market is stabilizing, according to a December 2, 2010 National Association of Realtors® article, Strong Rebound in Pending Home Sales. Housing affordability can be credited to drawing buyers to the table and causing this rebound in Tampa, Florida and across the nation.

According to Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist of the National Association of Realtors®, “It is welcoming to see a solid double-digit percentage gain, but activity needs to improve further to reach healthy, sustainable levels. The housing market is clearly in a recovery phase and will be uneven at times, but the improving job market and consequential boost to household formation will help the recovery process going into 2011.”

Yun went further to say, “A return to more normal loan underwriting standards and removal of unnecessary underwriting fees for very low risk borrowers is needed and could quickly help in the housing and economic recovery.”

Another interesting indicator is that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reports show very low default rates on new mortgages, much lower than the default rates during the 2002-2003 housing boom. All of these factors combined show the real estate market is on the road to recovery. This is a welcomed report for not only the real estate market, but the overall economic health of our country.

Call SI Real Estate today at 813.631.5144 for more details. SI Real Estate, Tampa is your full-service real estate boutique who can assist you with any real estate needs you may have. We provide the complete spectrum of real estate services, utilizing our vast real estate experience and extensive Tampa Bay area knowledge to meet the needs of our buyers, sellers, relocations, investors, landlords, and tenants. After all, SI Real Estate is “Global Real Estate in Every Way!”

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Time to Give Thanks!

This is the time of year when the weather begins to change and thoughts of being thankful come to mind. We at SI Real Estate wish to give thanks to our families, our friends and our loyal clients. We are very thankful to be thriving in a difficult industry and challenging economy. Thanks to all of you for your continued support.

We wish you and yours a Very Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010

REALTORS® in Tampa, Florida Gain New Perspective on Global Real Estate Market

SI Real Estate has specialized in working with international real estate clientele for many years, and it appears that many other REALTORS® in Tampa, Florida and around the nation are learning the importance of understanding this sector of the real estate marketplace. The real estate market continues to enjoy a large international investor pool of buyers. This is great for the real estate market and the economy as a whole as it helps to reduce inventory of properties for sale and will lead to housing price stabilization.

The 2010 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in New Orleans that was held in the first week of November had a series of international discussions to gain global real estate insights during the “Bringing International Real Estate Practices to the U.S.” seminar at the conference. S. Nicolai Kolding, partner at REAL trends and Murray Consulting, spoke about the real estate landscape saying, “As a real estate professional, especially one that works with international clients, it is vital that you are educated on the differences in real estate practices throughout the world. Not only does it make you more valuable as a professional, but also it helps the U.S. real estate industry learn from other countries, essentially becoming a more global society.”

Vicki Cox Golder, president of the National Association of REALTORS® echoed that by adding, “According to the 2010 NAR Profile of International Home Buying Activity, more and more REALTORS® are working with international clients who want to buy in the U.S. and realize the importance of understanding different cultures and real estate practices – it’s just one more way REALTORS® add value to buyers, sellers and investors.”

International investors most often purchase real estate in the United States with cash. Cash is still king in any marketplace, and it is especially true in the world of real estate. So, while some prospective home owners and investors in this country sit waiting on the fence to see when the market may bottom out, international investors are snapping up properties in large numbers.

Ultimately, we will be living in a truly “global” society. SI Real Estate has prepared itself for this trend. Have you? To learn more about international investment in the United States, call SI Real Estate at 813.631.5144. After all, we are “Global Real Estate in Every Way!”

Monday, November 8, 2010

SI Real Estate Brandon & Vicinity

Come and Visit Today, Come to Stay!

Brandon is conveniently located just east of Tampa, and is known as Tampa’s premier bedroom community. Brandon and surrounding vicinities such as Apollo Beach, Riverview, Ruskin, Seffner, Valrico, and Wimauma comprise one of the most highly sought after areas in the Tampa Bay region. Known for its convenient location, affordable property prices, and amazing natural beauty… come see what all the talk is about.

Those interested in residential real estate in Brandon will find many types and styles of homes for sale in Brandon, as well as community events of interest and local amenities unique to the Brandon area. Others may enjoy outdoor activities and family friendly atmosphere of Brandon. If you are considering buying or selling property, planning to relocate, looking for Brandon homes for sale, or looking for any other information about real estate in Brandon, or the surrounding areas, you have come to the right place.

The Brandon area and surrounding vicinity offer many award-winning master planned communities such as Covington Park, FishHawk Ranch, MiraBay, or Panther Trace, just to name a few. Live amongst the natural beauty of the area has been diligently preserved. FishHawk Ranch is Tampa’s first residential community to be certified “green” by the Florida Green Building Coalition and boasts nearly 30 miles of trails serve to connect the parks, amenities and villages. MiraBay is located on beautiful Tampa Bay and offers an unspoiled waterfront lifestyle to be envied. Enjoy the many lakes and parks, canoe and kayak along the Alafia and Little Manatee Rivers, and savor in the sweet lifestyle offered by living on the sparkling waters of Tampa Bay.

Brandon and vicinity boast many wonderful fresh and new communities. Many homes are built by builders such as Arthur Rutenberg, Ashton Woods, Bayfair Homes, Beazer Homes, Cardel Homes, Centex, David Weekley, D.R. Horton, Hannah-Bartoletta Homes, Homes by John C. Fowke, Homes by WestBay, Hyde Park Builders, K. Hovnanian, Sabal Homes, Standard Pacific Homes, M/I Homes, Minto, Pulte, and Taylor Morrison.

Brandon is an unincorporated community located in Hillsborough County. The community is situated about 10 miles east of Tampa, near Florida's Gulf Coast. Highway 60 is the main corridor where everything can be found from retail shops, restaurants, movie theaters, and medical facilities. Easily accessible from Interstates I-4 and I-75, Brandon is the largest unincorporated community in the state of Florida. Quick and easy access to Hwy 301, US 41, and the LeRoy Selman Crosstown Expressway make living here very desirable. Located within minutes of downtown Tampa, Brandon combines small town living with easy access to the big city.

There is plenty to do within Brandon itself, but even more when including the beaches and attractions nearby. The city of Orlando is about 90 minutes away from Brandon. In addition to Walt Disney World, attractions in the Orlando area include Universal Studios and Sea World Florida. The Tampa area, only minutes away, has its own share of popular attractions such as Busch Gardens and Lowry Park Zoo. Also, the Tampa International Airport, St. Pete Times Forum, The Florida Aquarium, Tampa, Theatre, and the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts are less than 20 minutes away.

All the convenience of city living at a fraction of the cost – come and visit today, come to stay!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Foreign Investors Not Scared of Housing Market At All

The word is out…real estate in Tampa Bay and around Florida is a hot commodity for foreign investors! Not only is the weather hot in Tampa, Florida, so is the real estate market. International investors from Argentina, Canada, Colombia, France, Israel, Italy, Norway and Venezuala are swarming to Florida for what they see as irresistible real estate deals.

According to’s recent article, Foreign Investors Not Scared of Housing Market, “For the international investor class, the United States’ bloated inventory of homes, high unemployment and weak currency make for an unusually attractive buyer’s market.”

Peter Zalewski, founder of Condo Vultures, a consulting and brokerage firm stated, “I have never seen such a high concentration of foreign nationals acquiring real estate. Eighty percent of the sales in downtown Miami are foreign-based. This is unprecedented.” And Miami is not the only “hot spot” for international real estate investors. Surges have been seen in Tampa, Washington, New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

A recent National Association of Realtors report points to this trend as well. 28 percent of brokers reported they had worked with at least one international client, up from 23 percent a year ago. Among these, 18 percent had completed at least one sale, compared with 12 percent in the 2009 report.

These international investors are choosing to invest in real estate rather than in the stock market. The math is easy and seductive for foreign investors who pay with cash as there deals start making money for them right away. Interestingly, due to the fire sale prices in the United States, real estate is now within the reach of the global upper-middle class, and no longer just for the wealthiest of investors.

The reduction in inventory is a very positive outcome for our real estate market as it will ultimately aid in the overall stabilization of the economy. “It’s a positive in a sea of negatives,” says Jonathan Miller, chief executive of Miller Samuel, a real estate consulting firm in New York.

To learn more about how international real estate investing or to become one of those taking advantage of a fantastic buyer’s market, please call SI Real Estate today. SI Real Estate is “Global Real Estate in Every Way!”

Call us at (813) 631-5144

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Foreign Investors Buying Up Property in the U.S.

The real estate market in Tampa, Florida and is seeing an increase in sales to foreign investors, and we aren’t the only city witnessing this spike in foreigners purchasing real estate. Florida and many states across the nation have become target markets for international investors looking for a place to invest their money. Who can blame them? Real estate prices are phenomenal, interest rates are maintaining in the low 4% range, and the strength of foreign currency in relation to the dollar make this a smart investment choice for many.

Interestingly, this swarm of foreign investors could very well be what catapults the real estate market into a long-awaited rebound. As the real estate inventory gets bought up, a natural outgrowth will be housing price stabilization. And that is good news for the real estate market! A reduction in inventory and house price stabilization along with fantastic mortgage rates will continue to spur economic recovery.

SI Real Estate works with many international investors and is well aware of this trend. In a recent article Foreigners Buying Up U.S. Property, Jack H. Levine, chairman of the board of the Miami Association of Realtors recently commented on this as well saying, “Record affordability, a wide selection of properties to choose, and an enviable lifestyle continue to attract both international and U.S. buyers.” Many know that we are definitely in a buyer’s market, but what they may not be aware of is that this is very much an international buyer’s market.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Foreign Investment in United States Real Estate Remains Strong

At SI Real Estate, we are keenly aware of the fact that international investors continue to seek to purchase real estate in Florida and in other regions in the United States. We have seen a steady influx of foreign investors who are actively investing in our Tampa Bay housing market. While some naysayers about the real estate market here in Tampa, have been sitting idly by, the global investor community are buying real estate, and making money doing it!

Some may ask, “Just who is it that is investing in our real estate market?” Well, the latest profile of international activity in the U.S. housing market published by the National Association of Realtors® has revealed many interesting figures regarding that question. Foreign Investment in U.S. Real Estate (2010) – The Stats (Realtors Report) shows the biggest finding was in the state by state breakdown of foreign purchases. The report shows that Florida had 22% of the transactions by international purchasers, California had 12%, Arizona had 11%, and Texas had 7%.

Also shown in the report is a look at the nationalities that are most prevalent in the U.S. housing market:

Another finding in this report was the breakdown of foreign purchases by purchase price.  During recent years there was a lot of talk about prime property markets performing better than lower bands, but the NAR report has confirmed that this is not the case in the U.S.
“All in all the report contained few surprises, right down to the fact that most properties purchased by foreigners were cash-sales. None the less it is still good to get a look at how the market today compares with the last few years, and if anything the lack of differences between the market during the boom and during the bust is the biggest surprise.”

SI Real Estate has worked with international investors for many years and continues to do so. The weak dollar along with bargain-basement real estate prices in the Tampa, Florida area makes this a great place for the international investor to purchase multiple investment properties. Feel free to contact us for more information on investing in the Tampa, Florida real estate market.

Call us at 813.631.5144
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

International Real Estate Investors Find Florida Real Estate Irresistible

International buyers of real estate are purchasing homes, townhomes and all types of properties here in Tampa, Florida, and around the state. Tampa has long been known to be a destination city due to the abundance of sunshine, beautiful beaches, a world-renowned international airport, and world-class entertainment and amusement parks. Florida has a history of attracting European, Canadian and South American buyers due to its proximity to these countries. According to International Interest in U.S. Homeownership Increases, Realtors® Report, a recent article published by the National Association of Realtors®, “International buyers were reported in 39 states in 2010, but a slight majority of the total buyers are concentrated in Florida, California, Arizona and Texas. These four states account for 53 percent of purchases and have remained the top destinations for the past three years, with Florida and California remaining the top two destinations.”

“A large majority of Realtors® report the changes in value to the U.S. dollar have had a strong impact on the international real estate business. In addition, perceptions abroad about trends in the U.S. Real estate market have led many international clients to believe purchasing a home in the U.S. is more affordable than in their country and holds more value.” Many Realtors indicate that they have worked with at least one international client in the past year, which is up from 2009. Between April 1, 2009 and March 31, 2010 foreign buyers have purchased $66 billion of U.S. residential property which equates to 7 percent of the U.S. residential market.

Tampa will continue to be a strong attraction to international real estate investors as a large percentage of properties that are for sale today and that will be coming on the market will be at phenomenal prices. “The strength of the dollar, the value and desirability of U.S. real estate, and the emerging economic recovery, continue to drive international interest in owning a home in this country.”

So, while some buyers may be sitting on the fence wondering when the real estate market will bottom out, international real estate investors are buying up Florida real estate. Those still sitting on the fence will look back and wonder, “Why did I wait so long?”

Call SI Real Estate today to find out how to invest in Tampa, Florida real estate. As our tag line illustrates, SI Real Estate is “Global Real Estate in Every Way!”

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Who’s In the Real Estate Market Now?

Investors…That’s Who!

Local, national and international investors are putting their real estate investment dollars into Tampa, Florida real estate. And why wouldn’t they? Tampa is truly a destination city. Fabulous weather year-round, sparkling beaches, super shopping spots, wonderful restaurants for casual and fine dining, and world-class tourist attractions here in Tampa and in nearby Orlando make this a fantastic place to be.

Combine the fact that Tampa is a beautiful place to live, and realize the unbelievable deals here in the real estate market, and it becomes a no-brainer. Tampa, Florida is a great place for investors wishing to purchase real estate!

It is no secret that property values took a major dip when the real estate bubble burst and much of the real estate that is on the market are properties at fire-sale prices! The statement that it is a buyer’s market is absolutely true.

SI Real Estate is anticipating the next wave of bank-owned assets will provide even greater opportunities for smart investors. Opportunities are abundant, and more chances for finding those great real estate investments are on the way. For those investors who are already participating in the real estate market, good for you! For those who have investment dollars and are not considering purchasing real estate we ask, “Why not?” What questions do you have that we can answer for you? Just ask!

SI Real Estate has a long history of experience dealing with investors. We already know that Florida tops the nation for attracting foreign interest. That knowledge is backed up by the National Association of Realtors® summer report which places Florida first with 22 percent of all foreign clients choosing to purchase here, and California in a far second with 12 percent of the international market.

We live in a global marketplace. “While all real estate in the U.S. is local, the same is not true for property owners,” said NAR President Vicki Cox Golder. “The U.S. continues to be a top destination for international buyers from all over the world”, according to an article titled International Interest in U.S. Homeownership Increases, Realtors® Report by the National Association of Realtors®.

So, if you have been thinking about investing in Tampa, Florida real estate, think no more. It is time to act. Call us today to learn how you, too, can join the ranks of the smart investor. After all, SI Real Estate is “Global Real Estate in Every Way!”

Call us at 813.631.5144
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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Westchase | A Premier Tampa Bay Real Estate Community

One of Tampa’s premier residential real estate communities offering something for everyone’s taste…single family homes, townhomes and condos are available and waiting for you!

Enjoy the lifestyle of highly desirable Westchase!
Pedestrian friendly, shopping, and a Westchase way of life.
Live in the best location with plenty of space, and amenities to envy...

Relocating to the Tampa Bay area? Want to find your home in Hillsborough County? Then come find Westchase, a fabulous community where property values have remained strong. Westchase is a community that enjoys an immense amount of real estate interest and activity. Current residents already know that Westchase enjoys a wonderful geographical location in the Tampa Bay area. Why not come and see what everyone is talking about in northwest Tampa, Florida.

Come home to Westchase and live a lifestyle specific only to Westchase Residents!

This is an award-winning community where you can enjoy hundreds of acres of preserved land, playgrounds, clubhouse, an 18-hole golf course, parks, nature trails, a soccer field and two swim and tennis centers. Plus, it is an A+ rated school district!

Talk about an ideal location! This community is located in western Hillsborough County near the Hillsborough/Pinellas County line. Just minutes from the Veterans Expressway, yet you can walk to shops, salons, restaurants and boutiques. A short drive to our beautiful beaches as well.

Close to West Park Village shops & restaurants. Convenient to Tampa International Airport & all major highways. The Citrus Park Towne Center, a fabulous mall which houses Regal Cinemas 20. Go shopping, grab a bite to eat, and take in a movie all in one place.

The general area of Westchase boasts of community pools, parks, sports, basketball, tennis courts, entertainment & golf. Call today!

SI Real Estate is a full-service real estate company that can assist you with whatever your real estate needs may be. We provide the complete spectrum of real estate services, utilizing our thorough real estate experience and extensive Tampa Bay area knowledge to meet the needs of buyers, sellers, investors, landlords, tenants, and relocations.

SI Real Estate proudly offers the Westchase community to you.

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Call us at 813.631.5144

Monday, August 23, 2010

SI Real Estate News in Tampa, Florida

Home Ownership Benefits Local Neighborhoods and Communities

A recent report by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR) Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing explores the impact of home ownership on communities. Many home owners in Tampa, Florida who have made an investment in their future by purchasing a home rather than renting already know the positive impact home ownership has had on their lives, but are they aware of the positive impact real estate and home ownership is making in their community as a whole?

This report takes a close look at the ownership of homes and the impact of stable housing, as opposed to transitory housing and homelessness, on social outcomes looking at educational achievements, civic participation, health benefits, crime, public assistance, and property maintenance and improvement.

“Homeownership certainly contributes to positive social outcomes, but those outcomes are truly a result of stable housing communities,” said Vicki Cox Golder, President of the NAR. “With strong social ties and a cohesive community, home owners can enjoy not only the long-term financial benefit of owning a home, but also a more satisfying life – which is what’s really at the heart of the American Dream.” After all, homeownership has been a key element of the American Dream for decades and remains very much alive even today.

Homeownership plays a key role in educational achievement as students from families who own their homes are more likely to stay in school. Students from families that rent move more frequently and this has a negative impact on the level of stability and achievement in academic settings.

Civic participation is more likely from those who own their own homes, as opposed who rent as homeowners have a vested interest in their community. Homeowners are more likely to vote and be active in an effort to bring about positive change in their own communities.

Golder adds, “The research shows that home owners report higher self-esteem and happiness than renters, resulting in better overall health, both physically and psychologically.”

It only stands to reason that home owners are more vested both emotionally and financially in their property than renters. Therefore, property owners are more likely to establish crime prevention programs designed to keep their neighborhoods safe and their property values high. Neighborhoods with higher rates of renters tend to be less stable, and many times the result is social disorganization, which ultimately leads to higher rates of crime.

Those who own their own homes spend more time and money maintaining their homes than renters will. Property values and stability are therefore higher in neighborhoods with higher rates of homeownership.

SI Real Estate believes that homeownership is at the heart of the American Dream. Call an SI Real Estate Specialist today to learn how you can become a homeowner and start living the American Dream.

SI Real Estate is a full-service real estate company that can assist you with whatever your real estate needs may be. We provide the complete spectrum of real estate services, utilizing our thorough real estate experience and extensive Tampa Bay area knowledge to meet the needs of buyers, sellers, relocations, investors, landlords, and tenants.

Call us at 813.631.5144
E-mail us at
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Friday, August 20, 2010

30-Year Mortgage Rate Drops Back to Record Low

Another Reason Why Now is the Time to Buy Real Estate in Tampa, Florida!

If prospective real estate buyers in Tampa, Florida ever needed a reason to buy now, the fact that the national 30-year fixed-mortgage rate is back at a near record low average of 4.28% is a good place to start serious consideration. Incredibly low mortgage rates and real estate prices should be adequate incentives to prompt home buyers to act now. According to the Zillow Mortgage Marketplace weekly update, the recent decrease in mortgage rates is down 0.02% from last week.

Consider the facts. Rock-bottom real estate prices combined with record low mortgage interest rates add up to NOW factually being the best time to buy an existing home or the brand new home you have been dreaming of! Florida’s average rate is now 4.21%, which is down from 4.24% from a week ago. The average rate for 15-year fixed home loans remained at 3.86%, and the rate for a 5-1 adjustable-rate mortgage is 3.23%.

So, if you have been dreaming about buying your home and have been waiting for the right time to act, now truly is the best time ever to buy! Call SI Real Estate to speak with a real estate specialist today, and make your dream of homeownership a reality.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

SI Real Estate News | FHA Launches Refi Opportunity to Underwater Homeowners

Real estate mortgage holders in the Tampa Bay area, and across the country, can now seek relief on their mortgage with a new Federal Housing Administration (FHA) refinancing program. According to a press release FHA Launches Short Refi Opportunity for Underwater Homeowners dated August 6, 2010, “Starting Sept. 7, 2010, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will offer certain ‘underwater’ non-FHA borrowers a new FHA-insured mortgage. To qualify, an owner must be current on his existing mortgage, and his lender must agree to write off at least 10 percent of the unpaid principal on the first mortgage.”

This is a drastic effort to help responsible homeowners who, like so many, owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth, which therefore puts them in the so-called “underwater” category. The effort is one of many real estate and financial remedies employed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help bring stabilization to the housing market and the overall economic stability of the country.

FHA Commissioner David H. Stevens stated, “We’re throwing a life line out to those families who are current on their mortgage and are experiencing financial hardships because property values in their community have declined. This is another tool to help overcome the negative equity problem facing many responsible homeowners who are looking to refinance into a safer, more secure mortgage product.”

To qualify for this new refinancing program, homeowners must:

• Owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth
• Be current on their existing mortgage
• Must qualify for the new loan under standard FHA underwriting requirements
• Have a credit score equal to or greater than 500
• The property must be the homeowner’s primary residence
• The borrower’s existing first lien holder must agree to write off at least 10% of their unpaid principal balance, bringing that borrower’s combined loan-to-value ratio to no greater than 115%
• The existing loan must not be an FHA-loan insured
• The refinanced first mortgage must have a loan-to-value of no more than 97.75%

"In order to help facilitate this refinancing of new FHA-insured loans under this program, the U.S. Department of Treasury will provide incentives to existing second lien holders who agree to full or partial extinguishment of the liens. To be eligible, servicers must execute a Servicer Participation Agreement (SPA) with Fannie Mae, in its capacity as financial agent for the United States, on or before October 3, 2010.”

This effort following on the heels of the First-Time Homebuyers Tax Credit and the Move-Up/Repeat Homebuyers Tax Credit is leading the way to the stabilization of the housing market in Tampa, Florida. While not everyone will qualify for this refinancing program, those who do should contact their lenders to find out if they will agree to write down part of the unpaid principal.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Real Estate Outlook is Positive as Sales Jump

The real estate outlook is positive in Tampa, Florida as well as in most parts of the nation. A ReatlyTimes® article titled Real Estate Outlook: Sales Jump states “Single family sales jumped by 24 percent seasonally-adjusted basis over May, and were 19 percent above the totals for June 2009. The sales rebound verged on spectacular in the Northeast region – up 46 percent over the prior month. Gains were 33 percent in the South, and 21 percent in the Midwest.”

“Bob Jones, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, called the latest sales figures ‘an encouraging sign’ that housing activity is springing back from the expected deep lows experienced after the credits expired.”

Sales were not the only positive indicator. Home prices were 1.3 percent higher compared with the month before, but they gained 4.6 percent year-over-year, which is a very encouraging sign that sales and home prices are both on the upswing. This is good news for the overall outlook that the real estate market is experiencing stabilization.

Another positive sign is that mortgage applications to buy houses continue to increase. “The Mortgage Bankers Association reported a 2 percent jump in purchase applications last week.”

The Greater Tampa Association of Realtors recent statistics support this overall outlook as the Tampa Bay area real estate market continues to see positive signs of improvement as 2,069 properties sold in June, which is the best month for sales since the December of 2006.

Record low interest rates, stabilization of housing prices, and an increase in mortgage applications are helping to lead to the recovery of our Tampa Bay real estate market. This is good news that SI Real Estate is happy to share with you. For more real estate news, call us 813.631.5144, e-mail us at, or visit us at

Friday, July 23, 2010

Real Estate Statistics Greater Tampa Bay

June 2010 real estate statistics compiled by the Greater Tampa Association of Realtors are in... The news is positive for our local real estate market in Tampa, FL. The number of properties that sold in June 2010 was at a phenomenal level of 2,069 – the best month for sales since December of 2006, the very peak of our market.

The statistics provided by the Greater Tampa Association of Realtors also showed the current inventory is at a multi-year low of only 13,514 homes, which translates to 6.5 months of inventory remaining.

One of the factors influencing this was the number of home buyers who wished to purchase homes in time to earn the First-Time Home Buyers Tax Credit and the Move-Up/Repeat Home Buyers Tax Credit. These federal stimulus plans had an amazingly positive effect on the real estate market in Tampa, Florida. Other areas across the nation have witnessed similar encouraging trends.

So, what does this mean to those who wish to buy or sell right now? Now remains the time to buy or sell! The market is active. Buyers are buying, sellers are selling, and investors are investing in real estate -- property inventory is moving on all fronts.

Realtors at SI Real Estate are engaged in an dynamic real estate market and transactions are being made. Many times properties are receiving multiple offers on them, especially if priced correctly. Whether you are someone who wishes to purchase a home, or sell your real estate, now is the time! Don’t get left behind!!!

Call us today @ 813.631.5144, or e-mail us at to find out how you too can make the best of this real estate market.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Home Buyers Get Tax Credit Closing and Flood Insurance Extensions

The National Association of Realtors® article dated July 1, 2010 Home Buyers Get Tax Credit Closing and Flood Insurance Extensions Without Lapse in Coverage; Bills Now Headed for the President reported that Congress passed two bills which directly affect the real estate market and its stability. One bill extends the home buyer tax credit closing date and the other bill reauthorizes the National Flood Insurance Program. These bills are now headed to the President for his signature.

This is certainly good news for those home buyers in the Tampa Bay area and around the country who are trying to take advantage of the First-Time Homebuyers Tax Credit or the Move-Up/Repeat Tax Credit! The original deadline dates for these tax credits were that the a fully executed contract must be in place by April 30, 2010 and the deadline for closing these real estate transactions was June 30, 2010. Now the closing date deadline has been moved to September 30th, and there will be no gap between June 30 and the date the President signs the bill into law.

National Association President Vicki Cox Golder stated, “What a great way to begin celebrating our nation’s most patriotic holiday by opening the door to the American dream of homeownership to thousands of home buyers who would have been shut out of the homes of their dreams through no fault of their own.”

The passage of H.R. 5623, the Homebuyer Assistance and Improvement Act, affects approximately 180,000 home buyers who were eligible for the tax credit who would not receive the benefit had the closing deadline date not been extended. This extension only applies to those who had fully executed contracts in place as of April 30, 2010.

The National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act of 2010 (H.R. 5569) allows the extension of the NFIP until September 30, 2010, allowing transactions to move forward. The bill is retroactive and covers the lapsed period from June 1, 2010, to the date of enactment of the extension. This means that any new applications for policies or renewals that were signed and submitted during the lapsed period will be effective from the date of application. “We know that thousands of property owners seeking flood insurance policies will now be able to close transactions. NAR appreciates the extraordinary efforts in both house of Congress to end the lapse in flood insurance,” Golder said.

The passage of these bills will have an enormously positive effect on many home buyers in the Tampa Bay area who have dreamed of homeownership. That dream is now one step closer to becoming a reality. Good news for the home buyers. Good news for the real estate market. Good news indeed!

For more information about this and other real estate news, contact an SI Real Estate team member at (813) 631-5144. E-mail us at or visit our website at www.SI

SI Real Estate is on your side!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Featured South Tampa Builder of the Week


Homes of Enduring Significance

The Grand Tradition of Homebuilding

Bayfair has been a presence in the Tampa Bay home market since 1989, acclaimed as a premier builder in the region and valued by a loyal clientele. Through the company’s extraordinary growth since its inception as a custom builder, the foundation of quality craftsmanship and uncompromising customer service has remained at the core of the Bayfair experience.

Led by J. Michael Morris and David Seidenberg, Bayfair began exclusively in South Tampa neighborhoods, where the company’s distinctive designs from classic to contemporary are still clearly recognizable. Today, as they’ve expanded to include custom homes throughout Tampa Bay’s premier neighborhoods, an experienced team of professionals preserves the Bayfair tradition of attaining the highest standards in homebuilding, and a dedication to make the building process as memorable and pleasurable as the distinctive home itself.

A Community of Unwavering Appeal

The graceful tree-lined streets, lending only a glimpse into the distinctive and well adorned homes provides for an impressive community that attracts the most discerning. The distinctive allure of South Tampa is its exclusivity. However, all want the chance to live in the heart of the Bay, to enjoy its comforts and bask in its Southern charm.

A neighborhood such as Bayshore Beautiful offers a picturesque neighborhood of older homes and large old oak trees. New construction in South Tampa and especially Bayshore Beautiful has been hard to come by.

A chance to find your home amongst this renowned area can be found nestled in a gated enclave. Bayfair Homes has now launched an endeavor to develop custom homes within Bayshore Beautiful called Chapin Square.

Bayfair Homes offers an in-house architect to assist with the custom design process at Chapin Square. This completes the suite of quality services offered by Bayfair Homes, a celebrated custom home builder.

SI Real Estate is partnering with Bayfair Homes to provide a full service custom home building experience in South Tampa along with excellent service and “Global Real Estate in Every Way.”

For more information, please call SI Real Estate at 813.631.5144
E-mail us at or
Visit our website at

Monday, June 21, 2010

Real Estate Investors Just Know

Now Is the Time to Buy Property in Tampa, Florida

Although U.S. real estate prices have taken a hit during the troubled economic conditions, there are reasons to cheer if you are looking for diversity in your investment portfolio. While the discounted prices may not be good for short-term investors who wish to purchase real estate in a booming economy and then immediately resell it for a profit, investors with a long-term vision see bigger opportunities. With the ever changing conditions of the U.S. real estate market, right now appears to be the best time for bargain hunters to grab cheap properties that will grow in value over time.

National and international investors are keenly aware of the unprecedented rock-bottom prices of real estate here in Tampa, Florida and around the country, and they are taking advantage of the opportunities in this market. Savvy investors are using their strong cash postures to invest in real estate. Cash is still king, and those with cash are purchasing bank-owned properties, foreclosure properties, short sales, and even non-distressed sales as the overall market has led to a lowering of home values across the board.

While investors already know that “Now is the time to buy”, others may still be sitting on the fence. Those sitting on the fence will look in their rear view mirror and wish they had not waited at all. Builder, resale, and REO inventory is being purchased at a rapid rate, and this is stabilizing the real estate market. Once the market has realized a balance, those who did not purchase now will wish they had, no doubt. Whether you are a national or international investor or just an individual looking to make a wise investment in your own future, now really is the time to buy!

For more information on how you can invest in real estate in Tampa, Florida, contact SI Real Estate at (813) 631-5144, or e-mail us at Don’t get left behind!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Why Rent in Tampa, Florida When You Can Buy?

Many people have yet to take full advantage of the buyer’s real estate market that still exists today in Tampa, Florida. While renting seems to be an easy option for many individuals, the benefits of home ownership far outweigh the benefits of renting. Drastically reduced home prices combined with historically low interest rates make this a fantastic time to buy.

Take a moment to consider the real estate facts. When renting a home, every monthly payment is going to pay off your landlord’s mortgage. Not one dime is going into paying off anything for you. By making the sound investment decision, every time you make that monthly payment, you are making an investment in your own future. Not only does mortgage debt get reduced, but your credit worthiness is increased which is an absolute must in today’s credit driven society. Additionally, homeowners enjoy tax benefits such as property tax deductions when their taxes are filed. Renters receive no benefits from a tax standpoint whatsoever.

There are not only tangible benefits to be considered, there are also intangible benefits to homeownership that are immeasurable. There is a real feeling of comfort and satisfaction in buying a home, and fixing it up to make it just the way you want it. You just can’t do that when living in someone else’s property. Many relocating to the Tampa Bay area, military personnel, and University of Tampa students’ families are jumping in to own rather than to rent, realizing the financial benefits. Even if some of these individuals will move on eventually, the overall financial landscape dictates buying rather than renting, and they know it.

Bear in mind that these rock-bottom real estate prices will not be here forever either. Inventory is starting to dry up, and once it does, prices will begin to increase once again. The old adage, “buy low and sell high” comes to mind.

Join the ranks of smart investors who are taking advantage of today’s buyers market. Local, national and international real estate investors are already making the most of the opportunities that exist in this real estate market. Why not join them?

Stop investing in your landlord’s happy retirement, and start investing in yours! It just makes good financial sense. Contact a real estate professional at SI Real Estate today at (813) 631-5144 or to find out more about how you too can invest in the real estate market while the time is right.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Foreign Buyers are Flocking to Florida Condos Again

The Florida real estate market is enjoying a real boom in condo sales and many of the buyers are coming from abroad. International investors are showing their confidence in our real estate market and are snapping up condos, sometimes in bulk. A recent article in the Miami Herald titled, Foreign buyers are flocking to Florida condos again discusses this trend saying, “Lured by rock-bottom prices, international buyers are now flocking to buy Florida properties. It’s especially true in countries where the currency is strong against the dollar.”

Recent increases in real estate sales over the past several months have been in large part due to the federal government tax incentive programs for first-time home buyers and move-up/repeat home buyers; however, as these programs wind down, sales are remaining strong and the international real estate investor is a big factor. Peter Zalewski, a Condo Vultures principal stated, “The stampede from overseas is kind of like a foreign subsidy helping us resolve our real estate problems. This time the assistance isn’t coming from Washington. It’s coming from Caracas, London, Milan, Bogotá.”

SI Real Estate is acutely aware of this segment of the market as many transactions conducted here in Tampa are by international real estate investors who have the cash to buy condominiums and other properties as investments. We are seeing first-hand an increase in purchases by international investors, especially in the downtown Tampa, Westshore district and Hyde Park areas. The urban appeal to business and medical professionals and students of the University of Tampa make these areas highly desirable. Demand is so great that we could sell or rent whatever listings we obtain. It just makes good sense to investors when prices are so attractive and the potential for profit is so evident. It is not only good for the investor, but also good for our local real estate market as inventory is being gobbled up, which ultimately will lead to price stabilization and an overall market correction.

For more information about real estate investments, please e-mail us at or give us a call at (813) 631-5144. We are SI Real Estate, “Global Real Estate in Every Way!”

Friday, June 4, 2010

International Investors Fueling Florida Real Estate Market

Just the Facts!

There is so much talk and press about whether now is the time to buy real estate in Tampa, Florida. Well, let us let you in on a not-so-little secret. Whether locals have come to realize it or not, real estate is a hot commodity to international investors. Canadians, South Americans, Europeans, Russians and Middle Easterners are all pouring money, usually cash, into our real estate market, right here and right now.

Tampa, Florida is a destination city for the international community. Its location plays a big part as we are near multiple international airports, making traveling here a breeze. A huge consideration for the Canadian investors is that we are actually a drive market for them. Not only can they hop on a plane, but they can jump in their car and be here in no time flat. Additionally, Tampa is only a 20-40 minute drive to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Orlando being just an hour away offers world-class fun to the international traveler. What is there not to love? How good does it get?

So, in spite of the global economy and rumors by naysayers, Tampa, Florida real estate is in high demand by international investors. This is SI Real Estate’s first-hand experience. Numerous sales have come about already this year due to the influx of international dollars in to this market; and SI’s international clients want more properties. More transactions are in the cue and demand is growing.

Just the facts…Tampa, Florida real estate is on the radar of international property investors! SI Real Estate is front and center in Global Real Estate. We are culturally diverse and can meet the demand of multi-lingual communities. SI Real estate is up to the global interest and demand. Are you?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mortgage Rates Fall to Lowest Level of the Year

Tampa Bay real estate homeowners, sellers, buyers and investors – take note! There is good news today for anyone involved with real estate. reported in an article titled Mortgage Rates Fall to Lowest Level of the Year that mortgage rates have fallen to the lowest level of the year.

Both 30-year and 15-year mortgage rates have dropped this past week. ”The average rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dipped to 4.84 percent this week from 4.93 percent a week earlier. The average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was 4.24 percent, down from 4.3 percent last week.”

Home buyers will benefit from these near historic low rates. Home sellers will benefit as a larger number of buyers will be looking to purchase a home. Investors can cash in on the great rates with their investment purchases as well. Let us not forget those homeowners who already have a mortgage and would like to consider refinancing. Everyone stands to benefit!

These low interest rates following on the heels of the First-Time Home Buyer and Move-Up/Repeat Home Buyer Tax Credit incentives should help lead the way to further stabilization of the Tampa Bay real estate market. Contact your real estate or financial professional today to see how this affects you.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tampa Bay Area Home Sellers

Relief with HAFA Short Sale Program!

Real estate and home sellers! Help is on the way! The 2009 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit and the Move Up/Repeat Home Buyer Tax Credit have been wildly successful programs that were specifically designed to help those who wished to buy a home. With all of the programs designed to help home buyers recently, many may be asking what about help for home sellers? Certainly sellers are in need of some long overdue relief as well. The Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) program may just be that long awaited help that sellers have needed for years.

According to the National Association of Realtors® article Home Affordable Alternative Program (HAFA), ”In 2009, the Treasury Department introduced the HAFA program to provide a viable option for homeowners who are unable to keep their homes through the existing Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). The HAFA program takes effect on April 5, 2010—although some servicers may implement it sooner, if they meet certain requirements--and sunsets on December 31, 2012.”

This program provides incentives related with a short sale or a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure (DIL) in order to avoid actual foreclosure and the credit chaos, financial and emotional stress that follows. These incentives apply to sellers who are eligible for modification under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). The article adds that the HAFA program compliments HAMP by providing a viable alternative for borrowers (the current homeowners) who are HAMP eligible but for a multitude of reasons and circumstances cannot keep their home, maintain their mortgage and sell their real estate in a conventional manner.

Struggling home sellers and their realtors frustrated by the confusing, long and involved process of short sales now can look to guidelines implemented to help streamline this process, and give incentives to the seller for taking this course of action. Did you know some incentives include $3,000 for borrower relocation assistance, and $1,500 for servicers to cover administrative and processing costs?

This should absolutely help speed up this dreadful process. In the past, sellers have often listed their homes without having negotiated the terms of the sale price with their lender, often times leading to disappointment for all parties concerned. An additional positive to this equation is that agents and buyers will be “less likely” to avoid short sale listings like the plague, making it “more likely” the sellers will get their homes sold…finally!

This is certainly good news for home sellers in the Tampa Bay area and across the country. Sellers should learn about these options by talking with their real estate and financial professionals to see if they qualify. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tampa Bay Real Estate Purchases Made as Tax Credit Comes to a Close

Tampa Bay area real estate buyers, agents and sellers worked feverishly to meet the demands of first-time home buyers and move-up/repeat home buyers as they raced to beat the April 30th deadline to get a binding contract in place. The good news was not just for home buyers who were able to meet the deadline to earn the tax credit, but also for sellers who were able to benefit from this opportunity. With so many people eager to place an offer on a home, many sellers found themselves in a unique position of receiving multiple offers and dealing with bidding wars. This, of course is in contrast to an otherwise difficult market for sellers as buyers have been in the driver’s seat for a few years now.

The tax credit was an extension of the original first-time home buyer tax credit which was enacted in February of 2009. The original deadline for first-time home buyers was November 30, 2009, but that deadline was extended to April 30, 2010. Additionally, a separate credit was enacted for move-up/repeat home buyers. Both groups were required to have signed contracts in place by April 30th to enjoy the benefits of this generous tax credit.

The real estate market in the Tampa Bay area, as well as other areas across the nation, will benefit from this flurry of activity. Time’s article of May 2nd titled Real Estate Agents, Buyers Cut Deals for Tax Credit reported that “The tax credit, which through February had cost the U.S. Treasury more than $12 billion, appears to have helped kick-start the housing market by spurring many renters to make the leap. Forty-four percent of sales right now are first-time buyers,” said Walter Molony, spokesman for the National Association of Realtors.

As the dust settles, it will be interesting to see the overall affect of the tax credit and how it contributed to the stabilization of the real estate housing market. With so many homes purchased, real estate inventory somewhat depleted, it should only stand to reason that there will be positive news for the real estate sector in the overall scheme of things. Let’s see what happens!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Urban Bungalow for Sale - $139,000!!!

Featured Property of the Week – 3504 N. 12th Street
 Tampa, Florida

This lovely bungalow style home was originally built in 1928 and the gorgeous architecture gives the home loads of character, and also serves as a proud reminder of the amazing history of the Ybor City District. This eye-catching home sits in the heart of historic Ybor Heights with a fantastic location that is close to Ybor, downtown, I-275, I-4, Tampa’s finest restaurants and nightlife! This area is undergoing an incredible revitalization and the chance to live here is NOW!

New homeowners will love the imaginative architectural design concepts and the charm of the 1920's that just is not found in the homes built today! Along with its impressive features, the home is 100% mechanically complete and cosmetically appealing. Additionally, the home has a new roof, air conditioner, hot water heater, and floors. The electric and plumbing in this historic home have been completely updated and brought to 2006 standards. There is also fresh interior and exterior paint and stucco, and new sheet rock has been installed. The interior and exterior doors are new and the home has upgraded base moldings and trim. Top to bottom, left to right: It’s all new!

The kitchen is immaculate and has new appliances and a redesigned layout with all fresh features such as maple cabinets, tile countertops and backsplash, smooth top stove, refrigerator with ice maker, microwave, dishwasher and disposal! The home also boasts berber carpet, cherry laminate flooring and ceramic tile. The two bathrooms have been reconfigured and include beautiful vanities, faucets, tubs, and toilets!!

The integrity and fabulous features of this remarkable home have been preserved maintaining the natural charm that is apparent throughout the neighborhood. No detail has been missed such as upgraded light fixtures, hardware and new windows. This home has also received fresh sod and landscaping, including a new fence surrounding the entire home! You will be able to enjoy Florida’s weather on your oversized front porch (26x10) and relax in the backyard with privacy. Seated on a large lot, this spacious home is perfect for ALL!

The home is being offered at $139.000 and is an incredible value! It will qualify for FHA and VA loans. Seller is willing to contribute towards buyer’s closing costs with reasonable offer. This is a solid home filled with details, updates and upgrades, and offers all of the benefits of urban Living. Who could ask for more?!

Friday, April 23, 2010

First-Time Buyers Take Larger Share of Home Sales in March

Real Estate Buyers: This is Your 11th Hour!

First-time homebuyers have been making up a large share of home sales in Tampa, Florida and across the nation. The extension of the First-Time Homebuyers Tax Credit has been a huge factor in this equation. According to HousingWire’s article First-Time Buyers Take Larger Share of Home Sales in March , first-time homebuyers accounted for 48.2% of all home purchases in the month of March, which was greater than the previous high of 46.9% last October 2009.

Thomas Popik, research director for Campbell Surveys stated “The strong participation of first-time homebuyers this spring is a welcome surprise. Many observers had felt that the pool of first-time homebuyers had been depleted last fall, but this is turning out not to be the case. Instead the normal spring-summer buying season is combining with the tax credit to produce blow-out results for first-time homebuyers.”

SI Real Estate has seen first-hand the enormous affect of the extension of the tax credit in the Tampa Bay area. The phones have been ringing, showings are set, and transactions are being made. Real estate listings are going under contract within days of being placed on the market. If a buyer finds a home they really like they better put an offer on it quickly. Otherwise, someone else will and they will be back out looking for another option. Buyers should be reminded that the clock is ticking as the deadline for the tax credit approaches, and there is nothing to indicate that another extension will be offered. April 30th is just around the corner. This is your last chance for the incentive of a lifetime! Call SI Real Estate to learn more about this tax credit and any other real estate option that is of interest to you.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Act Fast – Time is Running Out

Time is running out! The real estate clock is ticking for those interested in purchasing a home and taking advantage of the First-Time Homebuyers Tax Credit or the Move-Up/Repeat Homebuyers Tax Credit. Anyone who has been tuned into the real estate market at all is aware that the April 30, 2010 deadline is looming to get a binding contract in place in order to qualify for the tax credits. First-time homebuyers stand to earn up to $8,000 and move-up/repeat homebuyers up to $6,500 in actual tax refunds. However, time is truly of the essence. Your time is now!!

In an effort to motivate buyers to find their perfect home and meet the tax credit deadline, Florida realtors and sellers held a statewide open house on April 10th and 11th to showcase properties for sale. Florida is not the only state to participate in this open house concept. April 10th and 11th were officially designated “Open House Weekend” and states across the country participated. It was an incredible opportunity for buyers to really see what is out there and make that critical decision to place an offer on a home.

The time to buy is now. The tax credit deadline, along with rock-bottom interest rates, and affordable home prices all combine to make it the time to buy. The real estate inventory is drying up and competition is fierce. Those who don’t act will look in retrospect and wish they had. So, act fast as time is running out! Contact an SI Real Estate professional today, your Tampa Bay real estate boutique.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Real Estate Update | Mortgage Principal Forgiveness

Life after April 30, 2010

The clock is ticking for first-time home buyers and move-up/repeat home buyers wishing to take advantage of the generous federal tax credit. April 30th is the drop-dead date to get a binding contract in place with June 30th being the date these deals must be closed by in order to qualify for these incredible tax benefits. As realtors rush to find that home for their buyers to purchase and lenders work to get those deals closed, many wonder what real estate life will be like after April 30, 2010. Will there be another wave of aid to come to the housing market? If so, what will it be?

The Obama Administration continues in its efforts to stabilize the housing market, and there is much talk now of focusing the next round of aid on mortgage principal forgiveness. These efforts are both creative and somewhat controversial at the same time. According to NuWire Investor’s recent article Next Wave of Housing Aid Will Focus On Mortgage Principal Forgiveness, “As the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) prepares to release new plans for addressing the mortgage crisis, industry leaders are concerned that the new program may lack incentives and create additional problems in both the short and long-term. “

HousingWire’s article FHA Mortgage Workout Lacks Incentives and Creates Problems: Industry Sources reported “Under the terms of the voluntary program, lenders will be required to write down at least 10% of the mortgage principal for borrowers who are current on their payments. The program is open to borrowers whose mortgage isn’t currently insured by the FHA. The principal reduction must bring the new FHA loan to value (LTV) to 97.75% and make the new payments account for 31% of the borrowers with second lien mortgages similar to principal reduction and refinance options. The maximum allowed LTV of the combined loans is 115%.”

The article continued adding, as Steve Horne, president of specialty servicer Wingspan Portfolio Advisors said, “principal forgiveness absolutely has a place at the table as a loan resolution strategy and makes more sense than foreclosing at the rate that the industry has been foreclosing, though like many things, the devil is in the details.”

One big issue is what valuation method will be used in determining the LTV of the borrower who is in trouble. Traditional appraisals still appear to be the most accurate gauge in determining a property’s value, but some fear that this valuation method might keep some borrowers from being eligible for the program.

Although a consensus on how to remedy the complex issues of the real estate market will most likely never occur, most will agree that something needs to be done to help correct the economic situation that has stemmed from Wall Street and the mortgage crisis. Only time will tell, but one way or the other, it appears that additional help is on the way.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Most Common Mistakes Home Buyers Make

Home buyers often times make mistakes that can be avoided by working with a licensed REALTOR®. It is an exciting process to search for and find that “perfect home”, but home buyers who take on the task by themselves quickly find that they would have been better off asking for the help of a skilled real estate professional right from the beginning. Finding a home for sale that a buyer likes is not the challenge, but finding a home that the buyer can actually afford, that is priced properly in today’s market so that the deal does not fall through at the time of the appraisal, and that is a good investment takes far more knowledge than a person without a real estate license possesses. Hire a professional. Interview your potential agent.

The article Most Common Mistakes Home Buyers Make posted by® addresses this topic. “By working with an agent from the get-go, you will only see properties that are within your budget and located in the neighborhoods that best match your criteria. Express your “shopping list” to your agent – who will then pick and choose homes based on that list. Doing it on your own is hit and miss – and can be terribly disappointing.” Not having all the facts about a property can lead to disappointment and, even worse, having the deal fall through for any myriad of reasons that an unlicensed person is not aware of going into the contract process.

If you are interested in buying a home, contact a licensed REALTOR® and avoid the most common mistakes home buyers make. Be ahead of the game by enlisting the help of a skilled real estate professional.

Friday, March 19, 2010

FHA to Tighten Lending Requirements

Real Estate buyers in the Tampa Bay area have been in the driver’s seat for nearly a year with the First-Time Home Buyers Tax Credit, slumping real estate prices and incredibly low mortgage interest rates. If all of those factors were not reason enough to make that long dreamed about real estate purchase, the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA’s) announcement of impending tightening of lending requirements should get buyers to take action in short order. According to the Realty Times article, Tighter Requirements for FHA Loans Loom, “After notice and comment periods, but beginning this spring, the FHA will raise mortgage insurance fees that borrowers must pay, cap the amount of cash that sellers can contribute for closing costs and require higher down payments for the borrowers with poor credit scores.”

FHA has become more exposed to mortgage defaults as it has become the main avenue to financing for many in this country since the subprime market collapsed. Vice President of RealtyTrac, Rick Sharga said “foreclosures were up 21 percent from a year ago and 120 percent from two years ago and it could get worse.” In an effort to lessen the impact of defaulting borrowers, FHA has made its decision to move forward with its more stringent loan requirements.

So, what does this mean for those home buyers who need to obtain FHA financing to make their real estate purchase?

It will translate to buyers having to pay 2.25 percent for the new upfront mortgage premium, which is currently at 1.75 percent. It will also require borrowers to have a minimum FICO score of 580 in order to qualify for the 3.5 percent down payment program. Those with lower credit scores will be required to put down 10 percent of the home price to obtain FHA financing. Additionally, seller contributions towards closing costs will be capped at 3 percent of the sale price from the current 6 percent.

These moves by the FHA could have a real impact on the recovery of the housing market. Buyers who could count on the FHA’s affordable loan program can now count on that program costing them more in the very near future. The saying “Buy Now” has more meaning than ever. Time is of the essence!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Real Estate Business is Booming in Tampa, Florida

Realtors in Tampa, Florida are finding themselves very busy, the phones are ringing, and the deadline is approaching for home buyers to qualify for the federal tax credit. The now extended First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit offers up to an $8,000 tax credit to first-time home buyers and the Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009 offers up to a $6,500 tax credit to move-up or repeat home buyers. In order for people to take advantage of these tax credits, buyers must have a fully executed sales contract by April 30, 2010 and the deal must close by June 30, 2010. The saying “time is of the essence” really applies here.

The looming deadline of the federal tax credit, drastically reduced home prices and near record low interest rates have real estate professionals hopping. Transactions are closing, inventory is being reduced and many people are becoming home owners for the first time in their lives. These are all positive factors for the real estate market here in the Tampa Bay area. Real estate truly is booming in Tampa, Florida.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Housing Inventory Drying Up!

An interesting thing is happening in the Tampa Bay real estate market. Have you tried to put a contract out on a house that is unbelievably priced only to find that there are already several offers on the table? If so, you are not alone. Housing inventory is drying up. The drastic dip in supply is due to several factors. With fewer foreclosures, bargain basement prices on homes for sale, and incredible tax incentives being offered, investors and first-time home buyers are gobbling up Tampa housing inventory. Current demand has definitely reduced available housing supply.

The National Association of Home Builders article Slow Recovery May Be Leading to Serious Housing Shortages addresses this saying “NAHB economists project that the industry will need to deliver 16 million homes over the next 10 years to keep pace with the demand. As the excess inventory is worked off, which is likely by the end of 2012, the long-run demand for new housing – based on population growth, immigration and the replacement of losses from the housing stock – will average approximately 1.5 million single-family and 300,000 multifamily units annually, or about 1.8 to 1.9 million starts.”

No matter what the media may say or do, the dream of homeownership is alive and well in Tampa, Florida. Don’t be fooled by thinking that nothing is happening in the real estate market! Homes are receiving multiple offers and true transactions are taking place every day. Investors, first-time home buyers and move-up/repeat home buyers are abundant, and they are taking advantage of this unprecedented real estate market. Maybe you should think about your real estate goals and options.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fewer People Behind on Home Loans

Experts tell us, the end of the foreclosure crisis is finally in sight. This is good news indeed for the real estate market in Tampa, Florida. “Housing is on a path to recovery,” said Mike Larson, a real estate analyst with Weiss Research in a News and Events article titled Fewer People Behind on Home Loans. Jay Brinkmann, the trade group’s chief economist added the figures probably mark “the beginning of the end” of the crisis.

In an effort to bring some relief to homeowners who are experiencing problems with their mortgage payments, the Obama administration’s $75 billion mortgage-relief effort is underway. All borrowers who are experiencing problems with their mortgages may not qualify for help under this plan, but it is a big step in the right direction for many homeowners.

In addition to the $75 billion mortgage-relief effort which lowers payments and extends mortgage loan terms, President Obama has also stated that Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan and Nevada will receive $1.5 billion in financial rescue money as these states have been hit extremely hard in this foreclosure crisis. This money “will go to local programs to help unemployed homeowners, under water borrowers who owe more than their home is worth, or to give lenders incentives to assist borrowers with second mortgages. The programs will need to be approved by the Treasury Department.”

Combine the fact that the number of homeowners falling behind on their loans is declining for the first time in three years, the $75 billion mortgage-relief effort is underway, and the Obama administration has implemented $1.5 billion in rescue money to hardest-hit states for relief programs and there starts to be some light at the end of the tunnel for this foreclosure crisis. There is no doubt that It will still take time for the real estate market to continue on its path to full recovery, but many of the indicators are that the real estate market is stabilizing. This is evidenced by the amount of activity and true transactions that SI Real Estate has handled in the Tampa Bay area since mid-2009.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mortgage Rates Hover Near Record Lows

Great news for those wish to buy a home or sell your real estate in Tampa, Florida! Mortgage rates are hovering at near record lows. Freddie Mac performed a Primary Mortgage Market Survey® and the results show that 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.93 percent. The 15-year FRM averaged 4.33 percent, and the 1-year Treasury –indexed adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 4.23 percent. What does that mean in the big scheme of things for the real estate market? It means buyers have the ability to obtain financing at near historically low rates. It is also good news for sellers as buyers have more reasons to get off the fence and purchase that home they have been dreaming of but thought they could not afford. It’s a win-win for buyers and sellers. We have heard for months that the time to buy is now! It could also mean the time to list or sell your home is also now. Buyers are abundant.

RealtyTimes® article Mortgage Rates Hover Near Record Lows adds “The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) reported that existing home sales rose in 48 states and the District of Columbia between the third and fourth quarters of 2009; 32 states experienced double-digit growth. In addition, 67 metropolitan areas saw positive annual house price growth in the fourth quarter, more than double that in the third quarter, according to the NAR.”

Record low mortgage rates, positive house price growth, and first-time home buyer and move-up/repeat home buyer tax credits combined make this a unique time in the real estate market. Opportunities exist for everyone to benefit in Tampa, Florida and around the country. Call your real estate professional and find out how you can make the most of these extraordinary opportunities.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Move-Up/Repeat Home Buyers in Tampa, Florida Can Benefit from Home Buyer Tax Credits

Don’t Miss the Boat!

Part 2 of a 2-Part Series

Are you a home owner in Tampa Bay, Florida and wish to move up to a larger home or even downsize? Are you uncertain whether you are financially able to make that move in today’s real estate market? Well, think again. Many people are unaware that tax credits are now available for existing and repeat home buyers. Time is of the essence. Time is ticking on this soon-to-expire opportunity!

With historically low interest rates, an abundance of aggressively priced homes listed for sale, and the home buyer tax credit being offered, nobody is excluded in today’s real estate market. Everyone is included.

Who is eligible for the $6,500 tax credit? U.S. citizens or those with permanent resident status who have owned and lived in the same home for at least 5 consecutive years of the 8 years prior to purchasing are eligible for this tax credit.

What are the income limits for this tax credit? Single taxpayers can earn up to $125,000, and married taxpayers filing a joint return can earn up to $225,000. Taxpayers who exceed these limits will receive a reduced amount of credit and limits are based on a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI).

What types of homes qualify? The purchase price of the home cannot be more than $800,000 and it must be the principal residence of the home buyer(s).

Questions? Contact a real estate professional to answer any questions you may have.

Time is truly running out as binding sales contracts must be signed by April 30, 2010 and the deal must be closed by June 30, 2010. Real estate tax credits like this do not come along often, and there is nothing to indicate that an extension of this tax credit will occur. Take action now to purchase that home and make your real estate dreams become a reality.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Move-Up/Repeat Home Buyers in Tampa, Florida Can Benefit from Home Buyer Tax Credits

Don’t Miss the Boat!

Part 1 of a 2-Part Series

For the past six months, there has been a wealth of information and press about the 2009 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit, but there has not been as much talk about the fact that move-up home buyers can also benefit from the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009. Who are move-up home buyers and how can they benefit from this tax credit by purchasing a home right here in Tampa, Florida? All real estate buyers should benefit in the first quarter of 2010.

According to the National Association of Home Builders Home Buyer Tax Credits, “The law defines a tax credit qualified move-up home buyer (“long-time resident”) as a person who has owned and resided in the same home for at least five years of the eight years prior to the purchase date. For married taxpayers, the law tests the homeownership history of both the home buyer and his/her spouse. That is, both spouses must qualify as long-time residents, with at least five years of principal residency for each. Repeat home buyers do not have to purchase a home that is more expensive that their previous home to qualify for the tax credit.”

There are many factors involved with this tax credit such as how the amount of the tax credit is determined, income limits of taxpayers, partial tax credit, claiming the tax credit, and types of homes that qualify. Those who do not fully understand this program are encouraged to consult a qualified tax advisor or legal professional to discuss their unique situations.

This is an incredible opportunity for those who have owned a home, and now wish to purchase another to enjoy the financial advantages of a tax credit while doing so. Don’t miss the boat! Real estate opportunities like this don’t come around often and do not last long.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Buyers in Tampa, Florida - More Reasons to Buy Your Home Now

Just the FHA Facts

The federal government’s decision to extend the 2009 Homebuyer Tax Credit is strong incentive for first-time homebuyers and move-up homebuyers to get off the fence and purchase a home. If that were not enough, new Federal Housing Administration (FHA) policy changes may push those who have been waiting to take the leap to make that real estate purchase sooner rather than later in Tampa, Florida and around the nation.

FHA is one of the largest sources of financing with its low down payment program and generous seller concessions. FHA is often the only way for many to afford to purchase a home. It is a well-known fact that many are able to afford monthly housing payments, but coming up with the down payment is extremely difficult for a large majority of those who wish to purchase a home. Bearing that in mind, FHA is taking new measures to help manage risk while maintaining support for the housing market and its recovery.

In a HUD Press Release on January 20, 2010 FHA Announces Policy Changes to Address Risk and Strengthen Finances, FHA’s Commissioner David Stevens announced policy changes. “Striking the right balance between managing the FHA’s risk, continuing to provide access to underserved communities, and supporting the nation’s economic recovery is critically important,” said Commissioner Stevens. “When combined with the risk management measures announced in September of last year, these changes are among the most significant steps to address risk in the agency’s history. Additionally, by continuing to provide affordable, responsible mortgage products, FHA will support the housing market’s recovery. Importantly, FHA will remain the largest source of home purchase financing for underserved communities.”

Policy changes will be made to mortgage insurance premiums. The premiums will increase from 1.75% to 2.25% and this will go into effect in the spring. Also addressed are FICO scores and corresponding minimum down payment amounts. New borrowers will be required to have a minimum FICO score of 580 to qualify for FHA’s 3.5% down payment program. Those borrowers with scores lower than 580 will be required to put at least 10% down, allowing FHA to better balance its risk. Additionally, seller concessions will be reduced from 6% to 3%. Down payment and seller concession changes are expected to go into effect in the early summer. Increased enforcement on FHA lenders is also slated in an effort to make information more user-friendly and hold lenders more accountable.

What do these changes mean to potential homebuyers in Tampa, Florida and the real estate market in general? These changes will have the result of increased fees and tighter qualification guidelines. That being said, buyers who have been on the fence waiting to see how low the real estate market will go should understand how these policy changes will affect them and take action to purchase their homes prior to these new policy changes taking effect.

Friday, January 22, 2010

FHA Has Lifted the 90-Day Seasoning Requirement!

The Tampa housing market has been hit hard with a glut of foreclosed properties that have forced home prices to spiral downward, along with most areas in Florida and the rest of the nation. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan has announced a temporary policy to ease FHA 90-day seasoning guidelines to facilitate the sale of foreclosed properties, which should bring price stabilization to the real estate market in Tampa, Florida and other areas across the country.

FHA has prohibited insuring mortgages on a home owned by a seller for less than 90 days. This has slowed the sale of many foreclosed homes. In the January 15, 2010 press release HUD Takes Action to Speed Resale of Foreclosed Properties to New Owners , HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan addressed this problem saying, “As a result of the tightened credit market, FHA-insured mortgage financing is often the only means of financing available to potential homebuyers. FHA has an unprecedented opportunity to fulfill its mission by helping many homebuyers find affordable housing while contributing to neighborhood stabilization.” FHA Commissioner David H. Stevens added, “FHA borrowers, because of the restrictions we are now lifting, have often been shut out from buying affordable properties. This action will enable our borrowers, especially first-time buyers, to take advantage of this opportunity." The waiver will take effect on February 1, 2010 and is effective for one year, unless otherwise extended or withdrawn by the FHA Commissioner.

The lifting of the 90-day seasoning requirement by FHA will not only help first-time homebuyers and move-up real estate purchasers, but also investors who have purchased homes and have been unable to sell them in a timely and cost-effective manner. The press release stated, “In today’s market, FHA research finds that acquiring, rehabilitating and the reselling these properties to prospective homeowners often takes less than 90 days. Prohibiting the use of FHA mortgage insurance for a subsequent resale within 90 days of acquisition adversely impacts the willingness of sellers to allow contracts from potential FHA buyers because they must consider holding costs and the risk of vandalism associated with allowing a property to sit vacant over a 90-day period of time.” Investors as well as purchasers stand to benefit directly from this policy made by FHA.

Ultimately the bottom line should be more home sales at a faster pace, reducing the inventory of all real estate including foreclosed properties and bringing some long awaited stabilization to the Tampa, Florida real estate market.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

First-Time Home Buyers Dominate Tampa Real Estate Market

First-time home buyers dominated the Tampa real estate market in 2009 and that trend is expected to continue into the first quarter of 2010. The 2009 First Time Home Buyer tax credit has been extended so that those with a binding contract on or before April 30, 2010, and closing before June 30, 2010, will be able to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity. That combined with fire sale real estate prices will create a second wave of first-time home buyers eager to take advantage of the benefits of homeownership. It will be forthcoming first quarter 2010 according to real estate market forecasts.

Paul Bishop, vice president of research of the National Association of Realtors stated in an article titled NAR Survey First-Time Home Buyers Set Record in Past Year that “several factors have been at play. Tax incentives, record high affordability conditions and pent-up demand brought a record share of first-time home buyers into the market. These buyers are critical to housing and a general economic recovery because the market always heals from the bottom up – they absorb inventory, free existing owners to make a trade and stimulate related goods and services.”

SI Real Estate forecasts that this is the calm before the storm. Just as home buyers rushed to take advantage of the tax credit prior to November of 2009, indications are that real estate sales will increase markedly once again, helping lead the way to recovery of the real estate market.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Florida Real Estate Market – Condo Updates

Fannie Mae Relaxes Florida Condo Standards

There was considerable movement for certain sectors of the real estate market in 2009. Thanks to the 2009 Home Buyer Tax Credit, many first-time homebuyers were able to purchase properties and enter the arena of homeownership. Additionally, international, national and local investors were able to take advantage of record low prices that were caused by the foreclosure crisis. Condo sales were one segment of the real estate market that was largely left out due to difficulties with obtaining financing. Due to strict mortgage standards, condos were available primarily to only those who were cash buyers.

According to the Palm Beach Post Money article, “Fannie Mae is seeking to prop up Florida’s ravaged real estate market by reviewing hundreds of condo projects in the state that don’t qualify for its loans. The mortgage finance company said Thursday that buildings deemed stable after the review will be given a special approval lasting up to 18 months. If they are approved, lenders will be allowed to offer mortgages to homebuyers and sell those loans to Fannie Mae, which pools them into bonds and sells them to investors.” Karen Pallotta, executive vice president of the company’s single family mortgage business stated that the initiative “is geared toward providing maximum support for Florida’s distressed condo market.”

The article continues saying, “Under nationwide regulations enacted in March, Fannie Mae has been rejecting any mortgage for a condo buyer if more than 15 percent of a development’s other owners are delinquent on their association fees. Fannie Mae has been willing to make exceptions to that rule, but now it is actively seeking out applications for exceptions.” This easing of financing restrictions will create opportunities for those who wish to purchase a condo to do so. Many people seeking the maintenance-free, amenity-rich lifestyle will be able to secure the financing they need, setting the stage for a boon to condo sales in Florida in 2010.