Real Estate – Appraisers are not the Culprits

There have been a lot of anecdotal stories lately about how appraisals and appraisers contributed to the real estate meltdown and are currently preventing the market from recovering.  Your friends at (A certified general/certified residential appraiser in Colorado and Florida with 25 years of experience) would like to clear up some misconceptions. Continue reading “Real Estate – Appraisers are not the Culprits”

Short Sales – We Get By With A Little Help From Our Friends

If you read my articles you know by now I try to base them on real life problems and concerns of all the sweet people I encounter during my work week, especially in the area of short sales and foreclosures. I have had so many different mountain climbing experiences lately in relation to this I decided to seek advice myself and make sure I was equipped for the task. Continue reading “Short Sales – We Get By With A Little Help From Our Friends”

Let's Clear the Confusion – Home Buyer Tax Credit

I always share as I write that I am not an expert and I do not even play one on TV so I want to make some of last weeks article a little more clear if I can. As my husband says, “lets see if we can make this as clear as mud” There is still confusion surrounding the tax Credit with the emphasis on CREDIT and not deduction. Please take my limited knowledge and run straight to your banker and your favorite Realtor and see what you can come up with. I have borrowed some examples that may apply to you and have consulted again with my banker friends that are wiser than me.

  • A refundable credit means that if you pay less than $8,000 in federal income taxes, then the government will write you a check for the difference
  • In the case that you owe $4,000 in income taxes at the end of the year you would pay nothing to the IRS and and receive a $4,000 payment from the government.
  • If you are due to receive a $1,000 tax refund from the government, your refund would grow to a whopping $9,000. ($1,000 plus $8,000 from the home buyer tax credit)
  • If your final tax liability is $6,000, but you’ve underpaid through your payroll witholding by $1,000. Normally, you would have to write the IRS a $1,000 check. This time, the first $1,000 of the tax credit pays your bill, and you get the remaining $7,000 as a refund.

Additionally, there are income restrictions: To qualify, buyers must make less than $75,000 for singles or $150,000 for couples. (Higher-income buyers may receive a partial credit.)

This is short and sweet this week so you will have time to run on down and get all your ducks in a row so you can get that house. I like to think of this as a little house warming present. Some of my buyers are looking at it as a discount so to speak on their home and with money being tight that is a welcome and one more reason to purchase their first home. I will leave you with some resources that may help you clear up the process and navigate you to a successful purchase.

First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit information from the IRS.

State Housing Agencies with programs that provide short-term loans that may be used to fund a downpayment in conjunction with the tax credit.

Buying and Owning a Home Freddie Mac

Buying a Home Department of Housing and Urban Development

Buying and Owning a Home Freddie Mac

Buying a Home Department of Housing and Urban Development

The Home Buying Process Federal Housing Administration

FHA Loans Federal Housing Administration

Homeownership Resources Fannie Mae

NOTE: Please know that much of this knowledge is general in nature and your local lender will let you know what is available in your location.

Panama City doing better than most of Florida

Using Quarter 3 numbers in 2006 and 2007, Panama City is doing better than most of the rest of the State of Florida. The average percent change in sales numbers for the whole state is -29% with the greatest change being in Ocala with a whopping -53% and the smallest change in Sarasota at -5%. Panama City came in third for smallest percentage change between Quarter 3 2006 and Quarter 3 2007 at-7% with second place (Naples) only having 77 sales in Q3 2007 and 83 sales in Q3 2006.

I’m not alone when I say our area saw the effect of the downturn before most other places and I think our area is seeing a turn-around sooner than most other places. I think we are on the backside of this market plunge and while things may get slightly worse between now and who-knows-when, I think we will see some improvement between now and this time next year.


The Top Ten Reasons It's a Great Time to Buy Real Estate released a good article about the top ten reasons to buy real estate now.  The author references specifically Maricopa County a couple of times, but the reasons are still applicable everywhere.

The article talks about how there is plenty of inventory providing a great selection to buyers.  A couple of years ago, buyers often had to wait in lines, lists and “play games” just to be considered as a possible buyer.  Now, if you can dream it, you can probably find it, and at an affordable price.

I remember in the frenzy the bidding wars that were everywhere.  I remember I had this one set of adjoining lots that the buyers and sellers went back and forth on for weeks until the final sold price was 10% above the listing price.  Often if you wanted your contract to be considered, you had to give up your right for inspection/due diligence period and offer cash with no other contingencies.  Today, buyers are often afforded the time they need to make a good decision and given many opportunities to be sure the home will be right for them.

Now is a great time to buy, pricing is getting affordable, financing is becoming more realistic (not so many misleading adjustable products available) and there is a great selection that allows you to find what is right for you.

I’ve been watching the condo market pretty closely for the last couple of weeks and have noticed that several have gone under contract and many have sold.  I don’t know that prices are really coming down too much more and if you have the money and staying power, you should be buying right now.

Click here for the full article.

Florida Panhandle recongnized in national publication

Again Northwest Florida has been recongnized in a national publication.  Ocean Home Magazine featured our area in their Winter 2007/2008 issue in the article titled StoryBook Settings.  The article speaks into the area’s “picturesque developments [adhereing] to the principles of New Urbanism”.

I have to admit, after reading the first part, I wonder if St. Joe played a significant part in influencing this article, but it does speak into other areas such as SanDestin, Seaside and Alys Beach.   The article is very flattering and definitely reinforces my pride in our area.

Read the article.

Ocean Home Mag on Northwest Florida

Panama City Beach TDC Meeting Notes – Sea Turtle Lighting Ordinance

Notes of the December 19, 2007 TDC Meeting by Bryan J Durta.

8 of the 9 board members were present with Gary Walsingham absent.

Chairman Andy Phillips announced the meeting schedule for 2008.  The board will meet monthly on the 2nd Tuesday of each month with two exceptions.  The regular January meeting will be on the 9th and the November meeting will be on the 12th.  It was also announced that the Strategic Planning Retreat will be held on January 22nd.  In addition, Peter Yesawich of Y Partnership will make a public presentation on January 21st concerning the state of the tourism industry and how Panama City Beach fits in.

Mexico Beach Community Development District:  Tourism Director of Mexico Beach, Lynn Marshall, presented the 2007-08 Mexico Beach Community Development Council Budget and Program of Work to the TDC.  The total budget is $150,300.00.  TDC Office Manager Marcia Bush advised that it was her opinion that the budget met the statutory requirements.  The board voted 8-0 to recommend that the BCC approve the  contract with the CDD.  The CDD is the Mexico Beach equivalent of the Panama City Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau.

FL DEP Beach Management Funding Assistance Grant Agreement:  Lisa Ambruster of Sustainable Beaches LLC, recommended approval a grant agreement for the beach erosion control activities and the board approved the agreement 8-0. The DEP share of the $3,950,000 cost is $1,123,75 with the TDC being
responsible for the remaining $2,826,225.

Sea Turtle Lighting Ordinance Workshop:
Audience member Julian Bennett distributed a proposed motion to the board providing that the board make no restrictions on the number or length of public comments concerning the ordinance.  The motion was made by Mayor Oberst and passed 8-0. Chairman Phillips then explained to the board and audience that the purpose of the workshop was to hear input from both sides to assist the board in making a recommendation to the City of Panama City Beach and the BCC.

The draft ordinance written by staff was then presented by Doug Sale, TDC Legal Counsel.  Sale advised that the scope of the board’s work can be limited to the connection between the ongoing nourishment project and the Endangered Species Act.  He explained that the board did not need to be concerned about whether or not the sea turtles actually deserved or needed additional protection.  Sale also explained that the board was dealing with the 2006 pronouncement by U.S. Fish & Wildlife that they would not continue to provide positive consultation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concerning our renourishment project with a ordinance.  It is Sale’s opinion that the Corps would not continue to approve future projects without this positive consultation with USF&W.

Presentations by Janet Missi and Lorna Patrick of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service were then made.  Missi advised that the Endangered Species Act was invoked if just one turtle was impacted and that the Service did not believe that the public safety concerns of the community were legitimate.  Patrick advised that the Service finds the nest relocation option to be inconsistent with the Act.  Patrick also explained that any post-1996 development south of the Coastal Control Line should already have met the Service’s turtle protection requirements assuming no deviation from the development orders approved by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection had been followed.  Patrick also advised that the Service would allow the ordinance to ignore both interior lighting and  properties north of the southernmost road.  In response to a question from President Rowe, Patrick made it clear that the Service expected the TDC to follow their previous agreement to make their recommendation no later than December 31, 2007.  In response to a question by Rick Russell concerning the proposed compliance date of May 2009, Patrick explained that a compliance period of 1-2 years would be acceptable while Russell’s suggestion of a 5-7 period would not.

Kennard Watson of St. Andrew Bay Resource Management (aka Bay County Turtle Watch) discussed his group’s monitoring program and the 2002 West End Pilot Turtle Protection Ordinance.  Watson explained that he felt that the ordinance had been successful at reducing hatchling disorientation and suggested that the Board consider just extending the 2002 Ordinance to the entire beach.

Dr. Fletemeyer then discussed his 2006 lighting survey report prepared for the TDC.  Julian Bennet assisted with his presentation.  Although acknowledging that his study had problems, Fletemeyer defended his report that was rejected by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service mainly due to the methodology used.  Fletemeyer also expressed his belief that the Service’s emphasis on beachfront lighting will not solve the issue since there were
many other impediments to hatchlings successfully reaching adulthood.  For example, he explained that Frank Brown Park was the worst light polluter on the beach.  The Doctor also expressed his belief that relocation of turtle nests would be just as effective as a lighting ordinance and a better choice for this area due to economic concerns.  In response to a question from Marty McDaniel, Fletemeyer announced that he believed the positive effects from staff’s proposed ordinance would be zero or at least minor.  In response to a question from Mayor Oberst, Fletemeyer explained that the Service’s position that a lighting ordinance would have no effect on public safety conflicted with the opinion’s of three public safety experts. Counsel Sale suggested again that the Board deal with the fit between the renourishment project and the Endangered Species Act.  Sale also expressed his opinion that Fletemyer’s concerns would be better dealt with at the state or federal level.

After extensive comments from the public, Board Attorney Sale then made some suggestions to the board concerning the ordinance.  First, he advised that the Service is likely to reject any grandfathering of existing properties. He suggested that Board instead exempt specific lighting fixtures that can be proven to have no greater effect on our renourished beach that it would have had on our pre-1998 unnourished beach.  Sale explained that it was his opinion that even this limited grandfathering might be unacceptable to the Service.  He recommended that relocation not be addressed since it would be very difficult to defend in any legal proceedings.  Sale also recommended the board follow the TDC’s prior agreement to suggest approval of a lighting ordinance no later than December 31, 2007.  Sale then distributed and explained a new proposed ordinance that he completed last night after discussion with the community and the Service.

The Board then voted to continue the meeting on Friday at 9AM after the members and community had the opportunity to study Sale’s new proposed