The year 2012 was expected to be a good one for residential property values in south Florida and it did not disappoint. The median prices of south Florida homes rose again in December, up 21 percent from December a year ago to $230,000. After a long downturn, home prices climbed steadily throughout the year 2012 with December at the peak. Median prices of Palm Beach County homes also rose by 21 percent in December, reaching $229,750, according to the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches.
The year 2012 was a good one for Florida’s home prices, however for the first time Florida surpassed Nevada to take the number one spot for having the most foreclosure activity in the United States. With a 53 percent increase in foreclosure filings for the year, some analysts worry about the effect this will have on growing home values within the state.
In an effort to stabilize the future of our housing market, the government is announcing new mortgage lending guidelines. Although the new rules may decrease the number of loans made overall, they are necessary for this country to maintain a stable housing market. According to the Chicago Tribune, “For most borrowers, the rules will mean no more interest-only mortgages, no more loans where the principal due increases over time, no more loans that carry a balloon payment and no more loan terms of more than 30 years.
According to a Zillow analysis, about 21 million Americans (or 29.3 percent of homeowners) own homes unencumbered by mortgages. Out of these, the largest group composed of 65-74 year olds makes up about 20 percent. Also, Zillow found 34.5 percent of 20-24 year olds are also own their homes outright. Only 28 percent of homeowners in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area are debt-free compared to 33 percent in Tampa.
Currently in Florida, it takes an average of 600 days for the foreclosure process to be completed. This figure is the average among both contested and uncontested cases. Last year a bill designed to speed up the process faced protests and consumer outcry and did not pass. This week, Rep. Kathleen Passidomo proposed a new bill, HB 87, which is a more moderate version but still aims at speeding up and cleaning up the foreclosure procedure.
Part of the fiscal cliff deal signed by Congress this past December dealt with the tax consequences that loan modifications, short sales, and foreclosures have on the American tax payer. Their decision extended the current Section 108(a)(1)(E) so it expires December 31, 2013. Current tax law states that anytime a mortgage is reduced (the mortgage must be recourse, or where the signer has personal liability beyond the home value), the borrower is required to recognize Cancellation of Indebtedness, or COD, to the extent of the value forgiven.
Ten banks are involved in an agreement brokered by the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency resulting in $3.3 billion in direct payments to borrowers and $5.2 billion in other assistance such as loan modifications and forgiveness of deficiency judgements. Banks included in this settlement are Aurora, Bank of America, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, MetLife Bank, PNC, Sovereign, SunTrust, U.S.
As part of Bank of America’s continued effort to settle with Fannie Mae, the bank has announced approximately $11.6 billion dollars worth of settlements as well as a $1.8 billion dollar sale for the collection rights to home loans. Bank of America is paying $3.6 billion to Fannie Mae to buy back $6.75 billion in bad loans that the bank had mistakenly sold to the government.