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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Seven real estate laws drafted by the 2017 Florida Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott went into effect Saturday, including a Florida Realtors priority: estoppel fee caps.

Laws effective July 1

  • Cap on estoppel certificate fees – Sellers of properties who live in an HOA, condo association or co-op will have a limit on the amount they’ll pay for an estoppel certificate, a document that informs a buyer if the seller is current with their dues and assessments. SB 398 (Sen. Passidomo, R-Naples) caps estoppel certificate fees at $250 for unit owners who are current in their assessments. Associations may charge an additional $100 for expedited estoppel certificates (delivered within three business days) and another $150 to owners who are delinquent in their assessments. The bill sets the price of estoppel certificates for multiple units owned by the same person and establishes a uniform, statewide format that ensures buyers and closing agents receive the appropriate information needed to close the real estate transaction. This bill also requires certificates to be valid for 30 days if delivered electronically or 35 days if delivered by mail.
  • Florida’s natural resources – More than $500 million is earmarked for Everglades restoration, beach renourishment and springs restoration. During the session, SB 10 (Sen. Bradley, R-Orange Park) served as the primary piece of policy legislation for Everglades restoration and establishes how the funding will be used for these projects. A key provision of SB 10 is the construction of a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee that is designed to curb nutrient and salinity levels that are harmful to Florida’s valuable natural resources.
  • Condominium termination law – Legislation passed in 2015 to protect condo owners from being forced to sell – possibly at a loss – has several loopholes that real estate investors and bulk buyers exploited. SB 1520(Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater) fine-tunes the rules and modifies the process by reducing the percentage of owners required to reject the termination – from 10 percent to 5 percent.
  • Condominium oversight – A South Florida news report of fraud in condo board elections, misappropriation of funds and rigged bids resulted in a Miami-Dade grand jury recommending changes to Florida’s Condominium Act. HB 1237 (Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami) provides several new condo oversight rules: (1) a condo association with more than 150 units must publish its financial reports and other documents (bylaws, articles of incorporation, condo rules) on a password-protected web page; (2) if an owner is denied documents and fraud is proven, persons responsible for fraudulent activity could face felony charges; (3) the term of a condo board director is limited to eight years, with some exceptions.
  • Private flood insurance – As Realtors petition Congress to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), Florida lawmakers continue to work to attract private flood insurance capital to Florida. HB 813 (Rep. Larry Lee Jr., D-Fort Pierce) accomplishes two primary goals: (1) Rating flexibility for flood insurers is extended from 2019 until 2025 before they must follow guidelines similar to other lines of coverage – a way to encourage private insurers to enter the Florida market; (2) insurance agents can place flood policies with surplus lines insurers for two more years – until 2019 – before they must make a “diligent effort” to place the coverage with carriers regulated by the state. Diligent effort requires an agent to seek coverage and be rejected by at least three regulated carriers writing the same type of coverage.
  • Drone regulation – HB 1027 (Clay Yarborough, R-Jacksonville) preempts the regulation of unmanned aircraft systems (drones) by local governments and grants oversight to the state of Florida. This will prevent drone operators from having to potentially comply with ordinances adopted by 400+ local governments.
  • Pollution notification – SB 1018 (Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Lake Placid) sets a threshold for when an operator is required to notify the Division of Emergency Management and the Department of Environmental Protection about a pollution event. It also provides a timeframe for the notification and defines what a reportable event means. This legislation is the result of pollution from a sinkhole at the Mosaic fertilizer facility in Mulberry, Fla., last summer. The Scott administration created an emergency rule that shifted the burden of pollution notification from the state to the owner of the property where the spill occurred. Florida Realtors was part of a coalition that successfully challenged the legal authority for this rule, creating an opportunity for the passage of this friendly legislation.

© 2017 Florida Realtors

These are some of the best “Smart Home” devices that may help to sell your home or increase the selling price of your home. Some may even help to lower the cost of your homeowner’s insurance. Worth checking out. Let me know what you think or which ones you’ve utilized.

 

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June 2016 Visit my Website | AnnalisaWeller1@gmail.com
Pinellas Realtor Organization
Neighborhood Advocates Initiative
Flood Programs (Campaign #6 / 6.17.16)

Here’s an opportunity for homeowners in Pinellas County to reduce their flood insurance premiums. Many homeowners with flood insurance unknowingly pay higher rates for flood insurance than they have to.

There are many factors to consider when generating a flood insurance policy and its rates, and sometimes mistakes or miscalculations are made. These two events will give you the opportunity to hear about new changes to flood insurance. Afterwards, flood insurance evaluation professionals will sit with homeowners, one-on-one, to evaluate their policies.

On July 11 and July 12 you’ll have the opportunity to have your flood insurance policy evaluated with the possibility of a rate decrease. The first event is at the Pinellas Realtor Organization, 4590 Ulmerton Road in Clearwater. The second event is at the Tarpon Springs Community Center, 400 S Walton Ave in Tarpon Springs. Both events begin at 6:00pm with a general session, the individual meetings starting at 6:30pm.

Here are some questions worth noting:

  • How Do I RSVP? Email stpete@yourfloodrisk.com for the event in Clearwater or tarpon@yourfloodrisk.com, or call 856.723.3666 for both events.
  • Who is conducting the seminar? A company called Flood Risk Evaluator with the support of the Pinellas Realtor Organization and the Florida Association for Insurance Reform.
  • What is the cost? The entire event and evaluation is FREE. The only cost is possibly the overage you are paying for your current flood insurance policy!
  • What do I need to bring with me? You MUST have your elevation certificate and current flood insurance policy with you.

These issues have the potential to affect you and our local economy, so I thought that you might want to know about it. If you ever have questions, you can email me at AnnalisaWeller1@gmail.com or call me at 727-804-6566. Thank you so much.

© 2016 Pinellas Realtor Organization

flood-Insurance_WEB

 

Neighborhood Advocates Initiative Flood Insurance April 2016

I’m sure that you have heard that flood insurance rates increased starting April 1.

In 2012 Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Act, creating sharp rate increases for properties in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Those increases went into effect in the fall of 2013, and crisis ensued for many homeowners. Congress acted by passing the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which addressed many of the problems.

The sharp increases from Biggert-Waters were postponed, and a glide path was proposed instead of the immediate increases. On Friday, April 1, 2016 the glide path went into effect.

Here is what a property owner should know:

  • The type of property matters: Residential vs. Commercial, Pre-FIRM (Flood Insurance Rate Map), Severe Repetitive Loss, non-primary residential, etc. It is important for a property owner to understand that the property’s characteristics will dictate the maximum annual increase in premiums. A typical Pre-FIRM, primary residence will see a maximum annual increase of 18%, but on average will see a 9% increase.
  • High likelihood rates will continue to increase: Pinellas County, FL has the most NFIP policies of any county in the country, and Pasco and Hillsborough are close behind. This is based on several factors that will continue to drive risk and increased rates for years to come. Those risk factors are weather, building codes at the time of construction of Pre-FIRM homes, and proximity to bodies of water.
  • How do I know exactly what I will be paying? It is important to involve an insurance professional during this conversation. The many facets of flood insurance, or any other form of property insurance, make it a complex question to answer. An insurance professional can navigate the ins and outs, and properly advise you on how best to limit your cost. Keep in mind, you won’t see an immediate increase in costs until your next renewal period, you purchase a new property requiring flood insurance, or you have to re-initiate your flood insurance policy due to a lapse in coverage.

 

Because this issue has the potential to affect you and our local economy, I thought that you might want to know about it. If you have questions or comments, please email me at AnnalisaWeller1@gmail.com Thank you so much.

© 2016 Pinellas Realtor Organization

When you pay your mortgage, do you know exactly what you’re paying for? As a homeowner, you should,so here is your mortgage decoded and explained: http://bit.ly/1q3lvfZ

PITI: Your Mortgage Payment Explained – realtor.com
As a renter you are used to sending your landlord a monthly payment, which sometimes even includes your utility payments.Once you become a homeowner, your monthly mortgage payment becomes more complicated.Unless you are paying cash for your home, you will have a mortgage payment. There are typically four parts to this monthly mortgage payment, often referred to as PITI:

  • Principal: This is the portion of your payment that goes to pay down the balance that you borrowed. If you opt for a fixed-rate loan, your monthly payment will not change over the loan term, but the makeup of your payment will change. In the early years of your loan, you mostly pay interest, but gradually you will begin to pay more of the principal. For example, in the first month of a 30-year fixed-rate loan of $200,000 at 4.5%, your payment will be $1,014 with $264 toward principal and $750 toward interest. In 20 years, the payment will still be $1,014 each month—but the payment will be shifted to $647 toward principal and $367 toward interest.
  • Interest: The interest you pay is the cost of borrowing money.
  • Taxes: Your lender usually requires an escrow account and will collect one-twelfth of your annual property tax bill in this account with each mortgage payment.
  • Insurance: You will pay one year of homeowners’ insurance premiums at your home settlement as part of your closing costs, and then your lender will collect one-twelfth of your annual insurance premium in this account with each mortgage payment.

If you make a down payment of less than 20%, your mortgage payment may also include mortgage insurance, a fee you pay that protects your lender in case you default on the loan.

While there are sometimes exceptions to the rule, lenders generally require your house payment to be 31% or less than your gross monthly income. So when you are calculating how much you can afford to spend on a home, you should keep that figure in mind.

Other Housing Expenses

If you buy a condominium or a home within a homeowners association (HOA), you will also need to pay association dues. These dues are not part of your mortgage payment but will be considered as part of your debt-to-income ratio. Condo fees are usually collected monthly, and HOA fees can be collected monthly, quarterly or annually.

When you are making up a housing budget, you also need to estimate your utility costs—which you will pay separately from your mortgage. You can ask the sellers of a home you’re interested in for their average utility bills. Don’t forget you may need to pay not only gas and electric bills but also a water bill and possibly a trash removal fee.

As a renter, you’ve been able to call your landlord when an appliance breaks or you have a plumbing leak, but as a homeowner these problems will become yours. You need to budget for maintenance and repairs, but it can be difficult to predict what issues will arise in any particular year.

It also depends on the age and condition of your home. A home inspector can give you an idea of when you might need to replace particular appliances, but you can also keep about 1% of your home value available for emergency home repairs.

Budgeting for homeownership is a key element to maintaining your ability to keep your home and to help it hold onto its value. Making your monthly house payment is the biggest part of the financial commitment—but certainly not the only one.

Well, here’s a cheery way to start the week. No, actually, this is one of the best infographics I have seen on preparing your home for natural disasters. I like that it is concise & full of information as well as debunking some myths. Which natural disaster causes the most damage? 6 of the 7 people I asked, responded with the wrong answer. See how you fare.

 

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WASHINGTON – Jan. 15, 2014 – An omnibus budget bill expected to pass Congress and become law includes language that offers a bit of flood insurance relief for some homeowners, and a ray of hope for all owners impacted by rapidly rising premiums for flood policies issued under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Because the current change is part of a largely bipartisan budget bill, it’s expected to pass the House and Senate, and be signed into law by Pres. Obama.

The law doesn’t help anyone trying to sell a flood-zone home. In those cases, a buyer must immediately pay the higher actuarial rate for flood coverage, forcing some owners to sell for less or making a sale impossible.

The law does help some current flood policy homeowners – owners of older homes built to code at the time of construction who voluntarily bought flood insurance. Sometime after construction, new flood maps issued by FEMA moved these owners into a higher-risk zone, but the program, so far, has subsidized their flood insurance rates to a level below their actuarial level. These owners were supposed to see their rates start to rise incrementally this year, but the expected law delays any increase for 10 months.

Still, the expected law raises homeowners’ hopes: It includes a mandate that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has 60 days to issue a report on ways to make flood insurance more affordable.

Homeowners would see greater relief from an unrelated bill currently moving in the Senate, though its passage – approval by the Senate, the House and signed by Pres. Obama – is less assured. If the current version becomes law, it would provide a four-year delay in flood insurance rate hikes. During that time, the National Academy of Sciences would conduct an affordability study and FEMA would certify the accuracy of its floodplain maps.

While this second bill could get a full Senate vote within the week, its future in the House is less clear.

As a result, the bill currently expected to pass “is only a partial solution and there is still work to be done,” says Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

© 2014 Florida Realtors®

Pinellas County Real Estate Statistics, which includes St Petersburg, St Pete and Clearwater in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, for September 2013 indicate a slow continued improvement in sales and market activity over September 2012. While industry professionals work hard to overcome obstacles, the most recent being the flood insurance issues and the government shutdown. Inventory is still historically low but the positive news is there is improvement this year over last year.

Here is a brief summary of the September 2013 report:

Closed sales for single family homes are up 20.4% from September 2012. Closed sales on townhomes/condos are up 20%.

Cash sales for single family residences are up 7.3% over last September and cash sales for townhomes/condos is up 17.9%.

New single family home listings are up 23.1% and new condo/townhome listings are up 8.2% over last year.

Traditional closed sales for single family residences are up 38.4% and for townhomes/condos, up 41.9% over last year.

Consumer confidence could take a bit hit, along with our market stability, with the new proposed flood insurance increases. Your real estate professionals and our Pinellas Realtor Organization are hopeful the government will sort out the issue that has been created and act in the best interest of homeowners across the USA. Several bills are on the floor that could put a moratorium on the rate increases, and it is important we all continue to put pressure on our elected officials, stay informed and proactive, share your experiences, and

…call, email, fax letters, send your concerns and your story to Washington. As of this writing, all local cities, County and State Legislators are on board to STOP BW12. Please show them your support.

There has been a great deal of movement in Congress.  Working with Karl Eckhart at National Association  of Realtors (NAR) and John Sebree at Florida Realtors®, here is what we know.

Legislation in Congress is finally close to introduction.  We expect a bipartisan bill to be introduced in the US Senate.  Among other important provisions, this bill would delay the implementation of rate increases for the following properties until 2 years after FEMA completes the affordability study mandated in Biggert-Waters and the Administrator of FEMA certifies that the agency has adopted sound engineering practices to accurately determine flood risk:

  1. All grandfathered homes and businesses that were built to code and later remapped into a higher risk area;
  2. All properties sold after July 6, 2012; and
  3. All properties that purchased a new policy after July 6, 2012.

The legislation also requires FEMA to propose regulations that address the identified affordability issues within 18 months after the completion of the study and establishes a 6-month moratorium thereafter to provide for Congressional review.  Affordability measures addressed under this section may include targeted assistance to individual policyholders and factor in the impacts of rate increases on overall program participation.  FEMA has estimated it will take an additional 2 years to complete the affordability study before regulations can be issued and reviewed by Congress meaning rate increases would be delayed for approximately 4 years.  

Also, Representative Maxine Waters has announced that the U.S. House will introduce a similar bi-partisan bill this week.   You can read more about Representative Waters intentions here.

There has been an article from an insurance journal circulating that states a “Bipartisan Deal has been Reached to Delay Flood Insurance Premium Hikes.”  While there has been significant progress, as indicated above, the legislation has not yet been introduced.  It could be a month or more before Congress takes final action on this legislation.  Again, this is positive movement but please know this legislation just has a long way to go before it reaches the president for his signature.

You may go to www.tampabaybeaches.com/chamber/government_affairs.aspx. for news and political information from the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Sept. 26, 2013 – It’s been a busy week for those seeking to stem the tide of the flood insurance debacle.

As many Florida property owners brace for higher flood insurance premiums starting next Tuesday, Oct. 1, legislators from Florida and other coastal states worked overtime to convince Congress to hit the pause button on implementation of the federal Biggert-Waters Act passed last year.

On Tuesday morning, Florida Realtors President Dean Asher testified before the Florida Cabinet about the devastating impact significantly higher flood insurance premiums would have on the state’s real estate market.

Hours later, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) attempted to delay the flood rate increases for one year by adding an amendment to an existing bill that’s working its way through the Senate.

Nelson attached the flood insurance amendment to a controversial short-term appropriations bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last week to keep the government operating until Dec. 15. While several bills to stall flood insurance increases are slated to go before the Senate, Nelson’s amendment will likely get a vote soon since Congress must work out a budget, according to his press secretary, Ryan Brown.

Nelson also wrote a letter Tuesday to Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater asking for them to lobby Congressional Republicans to pass the measure.

On the House side, Florida’s Congressional delegation signed onto a letter addressed to House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi asking that an amendment delaying the flood insurance rate increases be attached to any federal legislation that’s in play.

“While we continue to work toward a comprehensive legislative solution,” the letter says, “it is imperative to secure temporary relief for the millions of homeowners and small businesses susceptible to steep rate increases across the country.”

Closer to home, the Florida House Insurance and Banking subcommittee yesterday considered a number of options to help homeowners. The proposals range from lifting state laws and regulations to attracting more private insurance companies into the market, and even to setting up a state-backed agency – similar to the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe (CAT) Fund – to back coverage.

Many Floridians receive federal subsidies for the federal flood program, but according to Florida House subcommittee chairman Bryan Nelson (R-Apopka), the state collectively pays almost four times as much into the program as it receives in return – $4 for every $1 that has come back to Florida.

“We want to look at anything, we just need to take care of the citizens of Florida,” Rep. Nelson said. “The easiest and quickest would be for (Congress to delay the law’s implementation) and give us some options.”

“In addition to asking Congress to delay implementation of the devastating provisions of Biggert-Waters, Florida Realtors’ leaders feel strongly that we also need to look at more state-based solutions,” says John Sebree, senior vice president of public policy for Florida Realtors. “At a minimum, Florida Realtors is requesting that the Florida Division of Emergency Management quantify the number of affected homes and businesses by these rate increases – by county and community – as soon as possible. We also request that the division clarify the re-mapping process for each community in the state and put these maps online.”

Florida Realtors plans to explore the feasibility of the state opting out of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

“Florida has paid over $16 billion in premiums to the NFIP since 1978, but the program has paid out only about $4 billion in claims here,” says Sebree. “Instead of floating the rest of the country, we might be able to rely on the NFIP for mapping and such, and process premiums and payments through a state CAT fund for flood insurance. It’s definitely something to think about.”

© 2013 Florida Realtors®

Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist

(727) 804-6566
AnnalisaWeller1@gmail.com

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