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Government News

This category is where we discuss how government actions affect real estate and mortgage lending.

There are currently 25 blog entries related to this category.

Important Announcement - Defective Drywall and Your Health

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014 at 3:31pm. 8,719 Views, 0 Comments.

Important Announcement - CDC Releases Defective Drywall Health Report FindingsThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta finally released their report confirming that Defective, or Chinese, drywall "does impact the health of residents"  where it was used in the original construction process. Most of the Chinese drywall was installed in new construction during 2005 and 2006 and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) feels that approximately 11,000 homes were impacted in the Southern region. They found that the health implications are worse in Florida, where the heat and humidity are higher than in other locations.

The U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease (ATSDR) at the CDC says that the most vulnerable could be children with asthma and older individuals with respiratory diseases. The…

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Cape Coral City Utility Expansion Project - Prepayment Discount Extended to July 31, 2014

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013 at 9:49am. 2,508 Views, 0 Comments.

Cape Coral City Utility ExpansionCape Coral’s City Council voted to start expansion of utility hook ups for sewer, water, and irrigation to Southwest Cape Coral’s section 6 and 7. City utility service will be extended to more than 6,100 properties in an area of Southwest Cape Coral.

Annualized payments for the payments will extend for six years on the Capital Facility Expansion Charge ($6,750 this year) and 20 years for the Line Extension Assessment ($10,011). The City reported that this is the lowest amount since expansion was resumed in 2002 for their utility expansion project. If you wish to prepay your assessments you will receive a 20% discount on the Capital Facility Expansion Charge, but that offer will expire on July 31, 2014 – an extension from October 31st of this year.

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Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act

Saturday, October 12th, 2013 at 1:21pm. 2,024 Views, 0 Comments.

FEMA Flood Zone MapsOctober 1, 2013 was the day that the largest increases in flood insurance kicked in. Florida's governor, Rick Scott, and Attorney General Pam Biondi are filing a "friend of the court"  brief in support of Mississippi's challenge to the 2012 Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act. If you own an older property that has been subsidized for years, then your subsidy is gradually being phased out to the tune of 20-25% rate increase each year.

If you purchased a home after July 2012, then your renewal could have no "phasing"  and is most likely subject to a huge increase in your rates. There is one reported rate increase of a policy that was $1,800 in 2012 and is now $14,000 in 2013. Over 40% of all the nation's flood insurance policies are in Florida and…

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HUD Announces New Short Sale Guidelines for FHA Loans

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013 at 9:29am. 1,784 Views, 0 Comments.

Short Sales and ForeclosuresEffective October 1, 2013 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced the following changes to their Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Short Sale requirements.

Eligibility Requirements

To successfully complete a short sale under the FHA short sale program, the borrowers must meet the following:

  • They cannot list the property with or sell it to anyone with whom they are related or have a close personal or business relationship. In legal terms, it must be an "arm's-length"  transaction. Any knowing violation of the arm's-length requirement may be a violation of federal law.
  • Your mortgage must be in default, on the date the short sale transaction closes.
  • Before closing, any additional liens against the property must…

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Estero Looks to Incorporate as the Village of Estero

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013 at 5:29pm. 1,753 Views, 0 Comments.

The unincorporated area of Lee County in Estero is proposing to its residents, Lee County, and the State that it's time for them to become a municipality. Both Bonita Springs and Estero are preparing to battle for the residents and businesses located in the unincorporated sections for annexation to their cities. 

Because Florida law requires a two mile buffer between municipalities, the residential communities of The Brooks and Pelican Landing, and the commercial developments of Coconut Point Mall, The Hyatt Regency at Coconut Point, along with the planned Hertz World Headquarters is creating the biggest issue between the proposed Village of Estero and the City of Bonita Springs. Although both Estero and Bonita Springs decided in 2007 to remain separate…

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Bonita Springs Annexes 136 Acres - Bordering Unincorporated Estero

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013 at 5:29pm. 1,539 Views, 0 Comments.

The city of Bonita Springs voted to annex 136 acres on its NW border within unincorporated Lee County. Estero, planning for an attempt at incorporating this fall, wanted the land in their municipality. The land includes the 22-slip Coconut Point Marina, which was recently purchased by Pelican Landing Community Association and WCI-owned conservation land. WCI is the developer of Pelican Landing and has on-going construction at The Colony at Pelican Landing. The annexation did not include about 600 of Pelican Landing's residences and homes in The Colony, a private enclave of upscale homes that are part of the Pelican Landing Homeowner's Association, nor the Hyatt Regency at Coconut Point. Mayor Ben Nelson recently mailed a description to Pelican Landing…

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Bonita Keeps Real Property Tax Rate the Same

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013 at 5:29pm. 1,560 Views, 0 Comments.

Bonita Springs City Council voted last week to keep our property tax rate the same for 2013-2014 fiscal year! The City's current rate is .8173, or roughly $0.82 cents per $1,000 of taxable property value. More disappointing news was the delay of the $1M downtown redevelopment project which is being pushed into 2014-2015. Nothing much has been done on the project since 2012 and it's impossible for our city to draw new businesses and residents to this area of Old US 41 until Bonita Springs' City Council takes up the challenge. Let's roll up our sleeves!

The City's current budget is $20.6M, down from $21.1M this year, that's a $500K savings. One line item that caught our eye was a decrease in budgeting for law enforcement services. That decrease was in the…

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Florida Real Estate: 2011 Legislative Update

Saturday, May 7th, 2011 at 3:02pm. 6,798 Views, 10 Comments.

The 2011 Florida legislative session ended late last night and the Florida real estate market scored some impressive victories as everything was said and done.

Here's a synopsis of some of the more important real estate changes:

Tax relief for non-homesteaded owners and first-time buyers - Voters in 2012 will get a chance to adopt HJR 381 which will reduce the yearly assessment cap on non-homestead property from 10% to 5%. It would also give anyone who hasn't had a homestead exemption in Florida for three years a property tax discount of 50% of the home's assessed value, not to exceed the median home price in that county. This additional first-time homestead owner exemption phases out for the property owner over five years while their Save Our Homes…

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Fannie and Freddie Announce Foreclosure Guidelines

Friday, April 29th, 2011 at 5:02pm. 3,652 Views, 8 Comments.

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae Foreclosure NewsThe government sponsored GSEs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have announced new standard guidelines for Loan Servicers to follow during the foreclosure process.

Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Acting Director Edward J. DeMarco said "by the end of 2011, foreclosures under Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac must follow the same procedures and Loan Servicers under Fannie and Freddie will be rewarded if they perform well and punished if they do not."  In addition, the GSEs hope the new guideline will help minimize taxpayer losses by ensuring that (Fannie and Freddie) loans are serviced more efficiently and fairly.

Under the new guidelines:

  • Loan servicers cannot work with homeowners on their loans while simultaneously moving forward with a foreclosure,…

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IRS Guidance for Forgiven Mortgage Debt

Sunday, March 13th, 2011 at 5:47pm. 8,103 Views, 4 Comments.

IRS Guidance for Forgiven Mortgage DebtAccording to a couple of articles I read in the Sunday papers this morning, the IRS has released additional guidance for homeowners that have negotiated a loan modification or short sale and need to understand how to deal with their canceled mortgage debt.


Here's a breakdown of the key points in their latest guidance:

  • First and foremost, the debt canceled by your lender must have been used by you to "to buy, build or substantially improve your main principal residence."
  • Second, you cannot deduct forgiveness on debt for second homes, investment properties, or seasonal properties you occupy for less than 6 months in a year's time.
  • Third, refinanced debt that was used for non-qualifying purposes - tuition, a new car, paying off credit card…

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