Coastal Community Bank Taken over by FDIC

Friday at 5:01 pm cst, Coastal Community Bank in Panama City Beach was taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC).  All Coastal Community branches will be taken over and operated by Arkansas-based Centennial Bank.  This seizure comes just more than 6 months after the area’s largest local bank, Peoples First, was taken over and redistributed by the FDIC.

Continue reading “Coastal Community Bank Taken over by FDIC”

City Budget Talks Looming

Panama City Beach officials will meet at city hall for a workshop aimed at framing the budget for 2010. While these are somewhat preliminary workshops, it is apparent that hard economic times, which have disturbed budgets everywhere, will muddle Panama City Beach’s budget as well.

As it stands, draft projections for the 2010 city budget forecast recreation expenditures to increase from $2,563,803 to $3,509,428, nearly $1 million. The new library, which broke ground back in April, will cause library expenditures to increase from $889,010 to $1,675,950. On top of that, law enforcement expenditures will increase from $5,301,011 to $5,888,759 more than $500,000. But the plus side to that is police officers will finally get the upgrade in patrol cars which were delayed last year. And as the economy continues to turn around as well as the completion of the new airport, Panama City Beach tourism should see a significant increase amplifying the need for well-equipped officers.

The city’s contingency fund, by the end of the 2010 fiscal year will take an estimated $2.2 million dip.

These continuing workshops should help city officials stamp out what will be a tough budget to manage.

Gov Crist Here, Comments on Airport, No Education Cuts, and Offshore Oil Drilling

Dancing on the animated floor projection, Governor Charlie Crist made an appearance at the Panama City Beach’s Chamber of Commerce last Tuesday to attend a “round-table” meeting with 10 of the leaders of the Panama City Beach community.  Among many topics, the dynamics involved with education funding, offshore drilling, and the new Panama City-Bay County Airport were discussed.

A restricted schedule kept the questions to a minimum, but 5 were able to address the Governor including Anthony DuBose on the lending industry, Al McCambry on private vs public education funding, Dan Rowe on offshore drilling, Tom Morgan about the new airport, and Gary Walsingham regarding college funding.  The answers varied and actually resulted in around 50 minutes of video footage.

Starting off discussing the housing market, Governor Crist talked about the current 10% annual cap on property taxes for 2nd homes and businesses and the possiblity of that being cut in half, should the people of Florida vote on it on the November 2010 ballot.  The Florida legislature just passed this to be on the ballot.  In addition, there will also be a 25% reduction in property taxes to first-time homebuyers.

Governor Crist also commented on state-wide education in that when he first came into office, Education Weekly ranked Florida education 31st out of 50 in the United States.  Last year, the state of Florida was ranked 14th and this year Florida ranked 10, marking a clear improvement, Crist said.  The Governor humbly credited his predecessor Gov Jeb Bush for setting in play most of what led to the increase in quality education in Florida.

Regarding offshore drilling, Governor Crist voiced his opinion in support of drilling citing that if “it’s safe enough, far enough and clean enough,” then he thinks we should do it.  He discussed a new technology that was presented to him three weeks ago that placed a mushroom-shaped dome on the ocean floor that housed all the oil extraction equipment so that no surface equipment would be needed any longer.  He said that this could be the future of drilling and could lead to less environmental risk.  “I believe the founders of our country signed the Declaration of Independence, not the Declaration of Dependence,” said Crist, describing how we need to alleviate our dependence on foreign oil.

Governor Crist commented on the airport saying that the timing couldn’t be better to help push this part of Florida into prosperous economic times.  Enterprise Florida, a new initiative to grow industry in the State of Florida has the potential to spread its influence further into the Bay County area, and Crist said that is largely due to the economic opportunities the new airport will make possible.  There lies huge opportunity in the aerospace, bio-engineering, cargo, and more.  Crist, excited about the opportunity, “This is so much the right thing to do.”

Crist also cited that there was an increase in education funding to the tune of $2.1 billion which will lead to about $43 million in increased funding for community colleges and $100 million in increased funding for university-level colleges.

In attendance:

  • Beth Oltman, President/CEO of the Panama City Beach Chamber
  • Anthony DuBose, President of Coastal community Insurance and PCB Chamber
  • Mayor Gayle Oberst of Panama City Beach
  • Philip Griffitts Jr., Owner of Sugar Sands Inn and Suites
  • Paul Wohlford, VP Sales and Marketing of the Resort Collection of Panama City Beach
  • Marty McDaniel, President of Oaseas Resorts, Chairman of the Bay County TDC
  • Dan Rowe, President of the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Jessica Pfefferkorn, Commanding Officer, Naval Support Activity Panama City
  • Robert Carroll, Vice President, McNeil Carroll Engineering
  • Al McCambry, General Manager of Knology
  • Karen Blackerby, Vice President of Magnum Capital
  • Jack Bishop, Restaurant Owner
  • Steve Counts, President of Counts Real Estate Group
  • Gary Walsingham, CEO Walsingham Investment/Ripley’s Beleive It or Not
  • Elizabeth Walters, Attorney/Partner of Burke Blue Hutchison Walters & Smith
  • Edy Rivard, Gulf Coast Medical
  • Tom Morgan, St. Joe

Hot Dog Story – Do What You Do and Change for No One

viking_dog1

Okay, I know there is so much talk about all the awful things that people see happening in our world. Lucky for me I DO NOT  buy into that.  There will always be challenges and struggles and while this one seems to be very daunting I have learned that those that find the bright spots and DO NOT operate out of fear end up on the top and better yet they enjoy getting there.

Please go to this link and read this incredible hot dog story that just might convince you to just keep on doing those things that you know work.  I have always loved this story and it is quite relevant today.  Do not give in to the negative small minded thinking and talking that we hear so much of. Most of us have more than we need and plenty that we could be sharing with others.

I am so grateful to all of you that have made my life so bright and always filled with promise.  I decided a long time ago to align myself with people that were looking for the possibilities rather than the problems.  I have been writing gratitude list since I was 10 years of age and it has never failed that my life is so filled with more goodness than not.

Thanks to all of you and go read that story and share it with others…. lets the spread the good stuff.   I believe the world needs a shot of happy stuff and I am just the girl to deliver it.

Remember my get even list, it is really long…. “The only people we need to get even with are those that have helped us”

with overflowing gratitude,

Karen Key Smith

Adjustable Rate Mortgages Are Our Friends

Yes, I know what you’re probably saying already. Where has this guy been? Living under a rock somewhere? Hasn’t he heard the nightmare stories about sub-prime mortgages, option ARMS and “liar loans” and how all of these ultra-risky vehicles got us into the mess we’re in right now? Indeed, the media has placed much of the blame for the collapse of home prices and the ongoing foreclosure crisis on the loose credit and lax credit standards for the proliferation of these exotic mortgage products that now make up much of the toxic debt on banks’ balance sheets. Yet, somehow, the plain old adjustable rate mortgage that has been around for decades has been painted with the same brush as the other mortgage products and unfairly so. Let me explain why ARMs are still around, always will be around, and why they may be the best friends we have right now.

The complete evaporation of a secondary mortgage market for condominiums and their twin the condo-tels, has forced banks to develop new vehicles for financing these properties. This is where the in-house loans, or portfolio loans as we call them, come in to play. These loans accept the risk associated with condos as collateral in a market that has seen condo prices plunge in recent years and ignore other factors that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, along with all the mortgage insurance companies, deem derogatory. But banks can’t loan money on these properties forever when they have no market to sell the loans. Eventually, they would have no money left to lend and would simply have a fat portfolio of nothing but condo loans and no capital. Corus Bank, the owner of Laketowne Wharf, is a great example of this scenario. That is why banks, like the bank I work for, turn to ARMs – they provide interest rate protection to the bank while offering the consumer a quantifiable risk scenario where they can weigh the pros and cons and make an informed decision.

I have been a little perplexed lately when potential borrowers call to inquire about financing for a fantastic deal they are getting on a condo. When I explain I have two options, a 3/1 ARM at 6.00% or a 5/1 ARM at 6.75% there is often an immediate rejection of anything that isn’t a fixed rate and an inferred suspicion that I am some sort of snake oil salesman. Never mind there are no other options out there. What about the fact these ARMs have initial fixed periods at very attractive rates? What about the fact that there are no pre-payment penalties, (we want them to pay it off) very low fees, and annual and lifetime rate caps of 2% and 6% respectively? Do they even give me the opportunity to explain that the ARMs are tied to the 1 year Treasury yield which is one of the most stable indexes to be found having averaged 4.38% over the past twenty years? Do I have a glimmer of hope that they will listen to me explain how ARMs work and that if these ARMs were to adjust today they would actually go down? Nope. If it’s an ARM it’s snake oil and will lead them to financial ruin. Yet for those who don’t associate every ARM loan with housing horror stories and who weigh the pros and cons are using my ARM loans to scoop us fabulous deals on beachfront condominiums and stand to make substantial returns on their measured risk proposition. Did I say risk? Of course there is risk with an ARM. Rates could sky rocket in a worst-case scenario but given that the U.S. will probably keep short-term rates low for a very long time, the risk is acceptable.

No one wants you to take an ARM more than the bank someone once told me. Over the years I have found this to be more or less true from a banker’s perspective. So why have I, personally, taken out several ARM loans over the years? It is because that while an ARM provides some safety for the banks, it also provides opportunities to borrowers. Lower rates equate to qualifying for more loan. If I anticipate a rise in property values or an increase in my income, why not look at an ARM? But most significantly, when it is the only mortgage option available and there perhaps once in a lifetime opportunities on beach-front real estate, do ARMs not beg some consideration? ARMs are like bridges, they get us over an obstacle though we may not know what we’ll find on the other side. One borrower said to me recently when we were discussing the end of that bridge on a 5/1 ARM he was applying for, he poignantly stated, “If things aren’t better than this in five years then God help us all.” This lead me to reflect that the bank portfolio ARMs may not be a panacea but they do offer buyers, Realtors and bankers alike, a bridge to better times ahead.

For this and more, visit my blog at www.activerain.com/blogs/hpalmer

With over fifteen years of mortgage and real estate experience, Hunter Palmer has the knowledge and expertise to help home buyers and Realtors navigate the ever changing real estate finance landscape.

Laketown Wharf – Corus Bank "Unlikely to Survive '09"

The future of Laketown Wharf in Panama City Beach is again dealt a blow of uncertainly as the owning bank, Corus shows increasing signs of weakening.  Friday, they reported a quarterly loss of $260.7 million and stated that more than a third of their “$4.1 billion in outstanding loans were nonperforming.”  On the bright side, Mike Dulberg, Corus’s CFO reported that they have $758 million in capital and $4 billion in liquid assetts and the vast majority of its $7.6 billion in consumer deposits is federally insured.

In the article, Daniel Cardenas, senior vice president at Chicago brokerage Howe Barnes Hoefer & Arnett Inc., was quoted:

“The company is in dire straits.  Barring a surprise injection of private capital and/or a dramatic rebound in condo values, Corus appears unlikely to survive 2009.”

The article was published in the Wall Street Jounal Commercial section in limited “subscriber only” format, but I found it elsewhere, in full:

Condo King Corus Weights Its Options

Few Borrowers Benefiting from latest "Refi Boom"

I can remember back sixteen years ago when thirty-year mortgage rates fell below 7% sparking a flood of refinances. I also remember 2003 when rates dipped again and another “refi boom” ensued. So with thirty year mortgage rates now at their lowest levels in history, why are we not seeing the kind of refi hysteria we have seen in past? Ironically, the cheap mortgage money of the past that helped drive up homeownership rates and property values has left us between a rock and a hard place. Despite historically low rates, much tighter underwriting guidelines coupled with the crash in home values leaves few borrowers in a position to refinance.

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported on Wednesday that the national average interest rate for thirty-year, fixed-rate mortgages stood at 4.89% at the end of last week, down from 5.07% a week earlier and down from 6.50% in October. Much, if not all, of the decline in interest rates can be credited to the Federal Reserve’s program of buying up to $500 billion in mortgage-backed securities from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac which started on January 5th. This has narrowed the risk premiums associated with mortgage yields leading to the unprecedented drop in long-term rates.

However, according to Doug Duncan, chief economist for Fannie Mae, only a third of outstanding mortgage debt is eligible for refinancing. “Nearly 70% don’t make the cut,” he said ” because their credit isn’t good enough or they owe more than the current values of their homes.” Another set of homeowners locked out of the refinance opportunity are “jumbo” loan holders whose loan amounts exceed the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac maximum. Rates on “jumbo” loans have failed to follow the downward trend of conforming loan rates and have stayed stubbornly around the 7% mark.

Mortgage lenders are reporting that while refinance activity is up, only 50% of applicants end up closing due to credit or appraisal issues. In Florida, where home values have fallen sharply, only 25% of refinance applicants make it to the closing table. While Fannie Mae is looking into the possibility of allowing borrowers to refinance up to 120% of the current property value to help more “upside down” borrowers refinance, there is still no viable program in place. So while refinance “booms” of the past allowed a majority of homewowners to benefit from lower rates and monthly payments, along with the relatively cheap access to their home’s equity through cash-out, the only ones benefiting this time around seem to be those who need it least.

Borrowers who have been in their homes for a number of years and have substantial equity along with excellent credit are taking advantage of the lowest rates in history while those struggling in “upside down” mortgages are stuck with their higher rates. A silver lining would be if the rates stay low enough for long enough, borrowers may begin to choose to move up rather than sit tight in their homes. It will be that slow increase in demand that, ultimately, will stabilize home prices and spread the opportunity of lower rates to more homeowners.