South Florida’s home prices were at 2002 levels in June, an increase from May’s pricing but down from the same time last year.
According to the S&P/Case Shiller Home Price Index, prices in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties, increased .6 percent from May, but fell 5.1 percent from June 2010.
Nationwide, the index was up a substantial 3.6 percent in the second quarter of this year from the first quarter, but remained 4.1 percent below the same time in 2010. The national level index hit a new low in the first quarter of 2011.
“This month’s report showed mixed signals for recovery in home prices,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Indices. “No cities made new lows in June 2011.”
The index was set at 100 in January 2000. South Florida’s June index was 139.46, down from a high of 280.8 in December 2006.
Detroit and Las Vegas were the only housing markets that remain below the 100 index benchmark, at 65.4 and 95.6 respectively.
Source: Palm Beach Post
JUPITER — Tiger Woods has leased a Jupiter office building and plans to move his business empire here from Orlando.
The building formerly was home to the business holdings of fellow pro golfer Greg Norman, who, like Woods, owns a mansion in nearby Jupiter Island.
A notice to contractors was filed Aug. 19 in the Palm Beach County clerk's office and lists ETW Corp., Wood's company, as the tenant. Chris Hubman, Wood's top executive, signed the notice.
Sources say ETW is expected to be up and running by October in the Jupiter space, located at 501 N. A1A., just north of Indiantown Road.
Commercial Florida Realty's Peter Reed, who handles the property's leasing, confirmed the space has been rented but declined further comment.
A spokesman for Woods did not respond to an email seeking comment.
The move signals Woods' growing presence in northern Palm Beach County.
He owns a palatial oceanfront mansion in nearby Jupiter Island. Increasingly, he has been spotted in and around town at area restaurants, including Cabo Flats at the Downtown at the Gardens shopping center in Palm Beach Gardens.
In addition, his top executives have been putting down roots in the exclusive Frenchman's Reserve community. Two months ago, Kathryn Battaglia, an ETW vice president, paid $827,000 for a property in the Palm Beach Gardens enclave. She joins ETW's Hubman, who paid $2.14 million last year for a home in the same community.
Woods' new business command center is a 10,000-square foot, two-story, Mediterranean-influenced office building. The building features a large corner office with balcony, private restroom and shower, according to marketing materials. Interior features include French doors, a wood-paneled executive office and hallways ringed by imposing white columns.
The property was being offered for rent at $24.50 a square foot, including insurance and taxes, according to a marketing brochure.
Norman used to lease the property for his Great White Shark Enterprises but he moved his business to offices at the Vista Center in West Palm Beach.
Wood's new office is owned by CTM Realty LLC, which purchased the building in 2010 for $1.38 million, down substantially from the 2008 sales price of $2.65 million.
By all accounts, Woods appears to be following in Norman's footsteps, and not just when it comes to his choice of office space.
Woods recently built a $54.5 million estate on 12 acres on Jupiter Island, where Norman is a longtime resident. Woods' former caddy, Steve Williams, also formerly worked for Norman.
In addition to leasing the office where Norman once plotted his business ventures, Woods also now strolls a golf course designed by the Australian-born golf champ. The Greg Norman Medalist Club in nearby Hobe Sound now is Wood's home course.
Source: Palm Beach Post
With foreclosures flooding the real estate market, prices of distressed properties in Palm Beach County are plunging, research firm RealtyTrac says in a report to be released today.
The average price of a foreclosure sold in Palm Beach County in the second quarter was $116,642, down from $142,997 a year ago. And the discount for foreclosure sales compared to non-foreclosure sales widened to 38 percent this year from 23 percent a year ago.
"Lenders are getting more aggressive about getting them sold," said Daren Blomquist, spokesman for Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac. "It's definitely not at the point where it looks like a fire sale, but those prices are coming down."
The trend was less dramatic in the Treasure Coast, but foreclosure prices also fell there, and discounts widened.
Foreclosure sales remain a major part of the region's real estate market.
There were 3,253 distressed sales - including foreclosure sales, pre-foreclosure sales and sales after a lender has taken ownership - in Palm Beach County in April, May and June, according to RealtyTrac. Those sales made up 37 percent of all transactions in the county.
In St. Lucie County, 701 foreclosure deals in the quarter accounted for 44 percent of all sales.
Statewide, there were 34,558 foreclosure sales in the second quarter, accounting for 35 percent of all sales in the state.
With Florida's job market still weak, Palm Beach County home prices still falling and loan delinquencies still high, the pace of foreclosures is unlikely to slow.
"Foreclosure sales are going to make up a significant percentage of the market for at least another year," Blomquist said.
Source: Palm Beach Post
Lenders have long resisted cutting loan amounts for struggling homeowners, fearing it would entice more borrowers to default.
But one locally based servicer, Ocwen Financial Corp., believes it has found a solution.
The company is rolling out a new loan modification plan for underwater borrowers that lowers the amount owed on the loan - thus reducing the monthly payment - but asks for a share in the appreciated value when the house is either sold or refinanced.
The kickback to the lender may deter people who can afford to make their payments from defaulting, while giving an incentive to either the lender or investor to modify the loan.
"We think this answers some of the critics who say that by reducing principal, you are rewarding imprudent borrowing behavior," said Ocwen Executive Vice President Paul Koches. "What we see is unprecedented delinquencies, and we're doing our best to resolve them."
Offered in 33 states, including Florida, the plan is available only on loans where it will earn more for either the lender or investor than if the home went into foreclosure.
Called a shared appreciation modification, it's fairly simple on its face.
A home's principal amount is reduced to 95 percent of the current market value. That portion is forgiven in equal amounts over a three-year period as long as the owner stays current on the loan.
When the house is later either sold or refinanced, the homeowner must give the lender 25 percent of the appreciated value of the home.
For example, say the principal balance on a loan is $125,000, but the current value of the home is only $100,000. Ocwen's plan would reduce the balance to $95,000, putting $30,000 in a non-interest-bearing account that will be forgiven over a three-year period.
If the house is later sold for $120,000 - marking an appreciation of $20,000 - the homeowner would get to keep $15,000, while $5,000 would go to the lender. If the home doesn't appreciate, then the sale occurs as it normally would.
Ocwen, which has about 245 employees in its West Palm Beach office, estimates about 53,000 homeowners nationwide will be eligible for the principal reduction program.
The company specializes in servicing the nation's riskiest home loans and has a portfolio of about 460,000 loans. Ocwen's recent acquisition of Litton Loan Servicing will add 250,000 loans to its portfolio.
A test of the new loan modification program that was launched last year found that of borrowers offered the plan, 79 percent accepted it. The default rate has been about 2.6 percent.
"You have folks breaking their necks to make payments on a home where there is no hope in their lifetime of it regaining equity," Koches said. "A homeowner in a negative equity situation is one-and-a-half to two times more likely to go into delinquency."
In Palm Beach County, nearly 43 percent of homes with mortgages were underwater during the first quarter of 2011, according to real estate analysis firm CoreLogic. Nationwide, 23 percent of homes with mortgages were underwater in the same period.
Most home loan modifications result in an interest rate reduction, which can do little in the long run for homeowners who owe more on their loan than their home is worth, said Kathleen Day, spokeswoman for the Center for Responsible Lending.
"We've felt for a long time that unless you do principal write-downs, you really aren't getting at the problem," Day said. "It's in everyone's best interest to keep a credit worthy person in their home."
Diane Thompson, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center, is optimistic that Ocwen's plan will work for many borrowers. But she has concerns that it isn't enough for people whose home purchase was based on fraudulent appraisals that artificially hiked the value of a home.
"People who were ripped off should get more than shared appreciation or principal write-down," she said.
And whether the nation's largest lenders will follow Ocwen's new model is unknown.
"Ocwen has been out front for years in doing principal reduction modifications, but the other lenders have been slow to follow," Thompson said. "There is always some hope it will catch on."
Source: Palm Beach Post 8/24/11