As of the first of the year HUD issued new rules regarding Good Faith Estimates (also know as GFE’s). These newly adopted rules called for stricter guidelines for the preparation of GFE’s by lenders, mortgage bankers and mortgage brokers. Obviously the look of the GFE and layout has changed; however, the real change in the rules is how accurate the preparer must be in estimating closing costs and loan origination fees. In the past there were not many guidelines regarding the accuracy of these items. Although, I feel that there are many great mortgage brokers and lenders working in our market; I must also admit that I had many instances where the final HUD at he closing table had significant differences from the original GFE, and trust me, it was never in the favor of the buyer. Although, there is no way to prove it; it would appear that preparers of GFE would under estimate closing costs, prepaid items and origination fees in order to get the buyer / borrower to commit to them, only to later at the closing table, at the 11th hour change-up the numbers. “Well, now what here we are a the closing table, with a ton of deposit money in escrow at risk if we don’t close.” Naturally, this would anger any buyer and anger any agent or broker representing the buyer.
I for one am glad that the new rules are in place. The rules basically state that there is only a small margin of acceptable variance from the GFE to the final HUD for the previously mentioned fees. Also, if these fees do vary by more than the acceptable margin then the lender must absorb the difference. I feel that this will help in more honest and responsible lending.
Lenders are naturally concerned about this rule as they see it as potential losses. Therefore, many lenders have responded by creating “initial fees worksheet”. This worksheet will give an estimate of fees and prepaid items, etc. However, this particular worksheet will be provided prior to application, that is prior to the borrower having their credit pulled, or even providing the property address. The main thing for a buyer / borrower to remember is that this is not a GFE and should not be taken as such. The “initial fees worksheet” offers no guarantees whatsoever.
South Florida Brokers & Associates, Inc.
According to a recent article in the Miami Herald 2009 was a pretty good year for condo sales in the Downtown Miami area. The article expresses that buyers snatched up good deals at a rate of 7 condos per day. In my opinion this is extremely impressive in light of the downturn in the real estate market in recent years. The article goes on to describe a possible reason for the buying frenzy, that is developer slashing of prices by roughly 33% from an average of 300 per square foot to 200 per square foot. We ourselves can say that we have seen many sales closing in our office in this 200 per square foot for condos off the ocean (areas such as Downtown, Brickell and even Aventura).
However, I don’t believe this means we are out of the woods yet. I also read another report where realty track is depicting the foreclosure filing shooting up by 21%. This may keep the inventory at high levels, meaning good news for buyers who will be able to shop in a market that will still have great deals due to high inventory, but hopefully in a recovering real estate market.
Take a look at the great priced unit available in Downtown Miami and Brickell areas.
South Florida Brokers & Associates, Inc.
At Miami Rent Seekers we specialize in residential real estate in the Aventura, Sunny Isles, North Miami, Hollywood, Hallandale, Bal Harbor, Miami Beach, Brickell and Downtown Miami markets. In recent months we have noticed a significant drop in the inventory levels for available rentals. I believe this may be attributed to several factors which we are noticing in the market.
1. The market is offering excellent rental rates for properties which in the past would have rented for much more.
2. There are many people unfortunately losing their homes to foreclosure, this sector is turning to the the rental market for there housing needs. Increasing the pool of potential tenants
3. Banks are placing REO or Foreclosure properties on the market for sale but not for rent.
4. We are currently in the “snow bird” season; therefore, many owners which have rental properties in buldings which allow short term or vacation rentals will simply take advantage of the increased rental rates for a vacation rental during the season.
In essence all these factors are adding up to a decrease in available inventory.
Our advise is that if you are currently in a rental property and you do not need to move yet, but your lease is expiring, that you simply negotiate a renewal with your current landlord. If you used a real estate agent to locate the unit in the first place, you can simply contact your agent and they will be happy to take care of the negotiations for you. When one of our associates attempts to negotiate a renewal with a landlord on behalf of the tenant they will typically suggest a rate reduction when appropriate due to market conditions; pointing out aspects of the deal like; your “great payment history”, the fact that there will be no down time for rental payments (no waiting for a new tenant), the idea that the landlord will not need to paint or clean the unit for a new tenant.
If you do not need another year, landlords are sometimes apt to renew for a shorter period of time. Again, the agent you originally used should be able to assist you with this process.
If you must move we recommend you contact an agent which is familiar with your desired area and you start your apartment hunt as early as possible. We recommend 45 to 60 days prior to your lease expiration. This will provide ample time and will avoid the pressure situation of having to settle because you are in a hurry. This will also allow proper time for the application process.
In short rental rates are still great; you will get much “bang for the buck”, but your choices may be less than in the past.
Miami Rent Seekers