Mortgage Rates Still Near Record Low

With a much-anticipated speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen looming on Friday morning and a possible Fed rate hike on the horizon in September, average fixed mortgage rates remained flat over the week but still hovered just above record lows, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS) released Thursday.

For the week ending August 24, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage(FRM) was 3.43 percent, unchanged from a week earlier but still only 12 basis points higher than the record low of 3.31 percent set in late 2012. At this time last year, the average 30-year FRM was 3.84 percent.

The average 15-year FRM for the week ending August 24 was 2.74 percent, also unchanged from the previous week but down from 3.06 percent from a year earlier.

“Treasury yields were little changed from the prior week and the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage held steady at 3.43 percent this week,” said Sean Becketti, Chief Economist with Freddie Mac. “This marks the ninth consecutive week that mortgage rates have been below 3.5 percent. Markets are erring on the side of caution ahead of the second estimate for second-quarter GDP and Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s speech on Friday.”

The advance estimate for second quarter GDP growth, released in late July, came in at a disappointing 1.2 percent after an ever more disappointing 0.8 percent for the first quarter. The second estimate for Q2 GDP will be released on Friday morning by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Yellen’s speech on “Designing Resilient Monetary Policy Frameworks for the Future” is scheduled for 10 a.m. EST on Friday morning, August 26, as part of the Kansas City Fed’s monetary policy symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

There has been widespread speculation that a rate hike from the Fed will happen at the next policy meeting, which concludes on September 21. Until then. . .

“Mortgage rates remain in virtual stasis,” said Keith Gumbinger, vice president of “Quiet financial markets, no imminent threat of a move by the Federal Reserve as of yet and continuing moderate economic data have seemingly lulled markets to sleep for now, but that probably won’t last forever.” reported a slight uptick in the 30-year FRM for the week, from 3.50 to 3.51.

“Despite some increased probability of a rate hike by the Fed, interest rates remain closer to bottoms than not,” Gumbinger said. “We may get some additional indication of the Fed’s intentions from Fed Chair Janet Yellen when she speaks at a global central banking conference in Wyoming on Wednesday, but probably not much in terms of a clean, clear signal that the Fed is poised to act. More likely is that mortgage and other rates keep drifting along in a soft pattern until we get a lot closer to the next Fed meeting.”

Homes near good schools worth more

Housing data firm’s research shows homes near good elementary schools are valued 77 percent higher

  • homes-near-good-schools-worth-more The average estimated home value across 1,661 ZIPs with at least one good school was $427,402
  • The average home value in ZIPs that lack high-performing elementary schools is of $241,096.
  • Median home prices in ZIP codes with good schools are up 4.5 percent compared to the same period in 2006.
  • The overwhelming majority (83 percent) of metros showed stronger home values near highly-ranked elementary schools.
  • Real estate agents can agree that high-performing school districts make for good home investment locations.Many homebuyers figure good schools make for stronger demand at resale, and Attom Data Solutions’ Schools and Housing Report shows that ZIP codes with at least one good elementary school truly do hold higher home values.

    The average estimated home value across 1,661 ZIPs with at least one good school was $427,402 — or 77 percent higher than the average home value of $241,096 in the remaining ZIPs that lack high-performing elementary schools.

  • Intuitively, buyers already know that schools are important when buying a home, even if they don’t have school-aged children. It’s a nice amenity to have for quality of life,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at Attom.“But this data proves that there is a tangible financial impact that good schools have on home values and home price appreciation over time.”

    In order to school rankings and nearby home values, Attom considered good schools to hold test scores 33 percent higher than the statewide average.

    Compared to 2006, year-to-date median home price in ZIP codes without good schools is 1 percent less. But, median home prices in ZIP codes with good schools are up 4.5 percent compared to the same period in 2006.good schools and home values

  • ROI typically stronger near good schools

    Since purchase, homeowners near good schools have gained an average of $74,716, or a 32 percent return on investment (ROI). The average ROI for homes farther from highly rated schools is 27.5 percent, or $23,311.

    Homeowner ROI in ZIP codes with at least one good school was 3.1 percent higher in San Francisco and 6 percent stronger in New York. In Miami and Chicago, good school ZIP code ROI was 6.7 and 5.9 percent higher, respectively.

    In the Houston metro area, the difference in ROI was a staggering 773.9 percent — favoring the good school ZIPs.

    On the other hand, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., showed stronger ROI in ZIP codes without at least one highly-rated school. In both metros, ROI was 4.2 percent higher in ZIPs outside of the good school district.

    Blomquist says in these metros specifically, home prices may be lower in ZIP codes without a good school, but those areas are in higher demand right now. Affordability has somewhat outweighed the school affect in certain metros.

Lake Nona lays groundwork for more homes

A new project is in the works in Lake Nona that’ll pave the way for a first in the growing southeast community.

Two new roads, Hitchings Avenue and Watson Street, will create access to 9.7 acres slated for Lake Nona’s first age-restricted community near the Orlando VA Medical Center, documents showed. Lake Nona Land Co. LLC, an entity related to Tavistock Development Co. LLC, this week applied for an environmental resource permit from the South Florida Water Management District for the new roadway project, documents showed.

Winter Park-based Donald W. McIntosh Associates Inc. is the project engineer/surveyor; Orlando-based Aecom Inc. is handling ecological services; Orlando-based Broad and Cassel is the legal counsel; and GAI Consultants Inc. is handling landscape, irrigation and hardscape, documents showed. These are the same companies involved in the development of The Gatherings of Lake Nona age-restricted community, as previously reported by Orlando Business Journal.

Tavistock also is seeking a permit for The Gatherings of Lake Nona, and has submitted specific parcel master plan documents to the city of Orlando. Plans include 216 residential units, a pool, a 4,400-square-foot clubhouse, shuffleboard, standalone garages and a 218-space surface parking lot, documents showed.

Beazer Homes USA appears to be the builder of the project, documents showed.

The new projects will create plenty of construction, vendor and temporary job opportunities for local businesses. It also will expand the housing stock in Lake Nona, which already boasts more than 11,000 residents and 5,000 jobs in its Medical City life sciences hub.

Housing market sees 2Q 2016 increase in listings, prices

Realtors, Housing market sees 2Q 2016 increase had more new listings, higher median prices and fewer days to a sales contract during the second quarter of 2016, according to the  Realtors.lake-nona-homes-for-sale

Closed sales of single-family statewide totaled 76,748 in second-quarter 2016, up 1.4 percent from second-quarter 2015.

“Florida continued to add new jobs, which attracts new residents, encourages economic growth and strengthens the housing market,” said 2016 Florida Realtors President Matey H. Veissi, broker and co-owner of Veissi & Associates in Miami. “Traditional housing sales increased statewide over the three-month period, while sales of distressed properties continued to decline. In another positive sign, new listings for single-family homes over the three-month-period rose 2.9 percent year-over-year.”


Orlando Homes


The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in second-quarter 2016 was $220,000, up 10 percent from the year-ago period, according to data from Florida Realtors. “Existing home sale prices throughout most of Florida’s metro areas are continuing to exhibit robust year-over-year growth,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Brad O’Connor. “Demand is strong and supply is limited. The inventory of homes at the more affordable end of the price spectrum – which includes the vast majority of distressed properties – continues to decline significantly, and new construction has not come close to making up the difference.”

Meanwhile, traditional sales for single-family homes increased 14.4 percent year-over-year. Closed sales typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written. In second-quarter 2016, the median time to a contract (the midpoint of the number of days it took for a property to receive a sales contract during that time) was 42 days for single-family homes and inventory was at a 4.3-months’ supply, according to Florida Realtors.

The interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.59 percent for second-quarter 2016, down from the 3.96 percent average during the same quarter a year earlier, according to Freddie Mac.

Beware, warns Gary Keller ‘shift’ in housing market

Keller Williams co-founder is not bullish on the

Keller Williams co-founder Gary Keller — who owns the largest real estate company in the world, according to its count — is very bullish about his company.

But he’s not as bullish about economic and housing market conditions.


Gary Keller

He points to five indicators of a downturn of some sort. Days on the market are up, the supply of move-up and higher end housing is now growing, home prices are going down in some markets, unit sales are slowing and construction is flat. “Only four times in U.S. history have home sales been higher, it’s a sign of a shift,” said Keller.

Plus, the “median home price is higher that it has ever been in the history of recorded time — last time we were here we were on the verge of a recession,” he said.

“It wouldn’t take much right now to push us into a buyer’s market.”

“I want you to get ahead” of these trends, he implored his troops. And there can be long-term implications. “We lost homebuilders in the last downturn that we never got back.”

And in the meantime, “nationally, home sales are on pace for another post-crisis record; sales are slowing in some markets as affordability becomes a serious issue.”


Housing market

He also said that, “we are now seeing many markets split by price point. Entry-level remain in a seller’s market, but some and move-up markets show signs of shifting.”

The macroeconomic picture is not helping. Economic growth has been held back by low levels of investment in 2016, even though consumer spending remains strong. Low interest rates and an improved employment picture are good news, according to Keller.

But affordability has been declining since January as prices continue to outpace wage growth, hurting home sales. Construction has been focused on the high-end market, which is now showing signs of stress as high net worth buyers sit on the sidelines due to political and economic uncertainty here and abroad.



VillageWalk is a gated, tranquil and pristine community in the sought-after Lake Nona area in Central Florida.   Offering resort style, worry-free living, it is a One-of-a-kind Master development with an intricate system of canals and walkways.  There are single-family , attached villas, and town homes, with a total of approximately 1200 homes within the neighborhood.

Keller Willlams Lake Nona Florida



VillageWalk is a vibrant community, with a mix of young families, professionals, as well as retirees.

VillageWalk at Lake Nona is conveniently located on the southeast side of Orlando, and is within the city limits.  The short commute to the attractions such as Disney World, Universal, and Sea World, as well as its proximity to the Orlando International Airport, Kennedy Space Center and the Atlantic Ocean, make it a desirable location for home-buyers seeking an active lifestyle.

Being only a few minutes away from the Medical city, which is home to some of the leading hospitals, research companies, and health & life science companies, VillageWalk is the neighborhood of choice.  The US Tennis Association and Soccer Association are also scheduled for inauguration within the next few months.

There are many opportunities to participate in volunteer projects and entertainment.  Activities such as free tennis instruction, water Aerobics, Walking Groups, Yoga, Poker and Zumba are offered, to name a few.  Each month there are many fun and educational programs planned for adults and children by the extremely competent Life Style staff.lake nona real estate

Walking along the shady winding walkways, is a peaceful, rejuvenating experience. Even after sunset, a stroll with one’s dog or even alone, for exercise, is very safe. Sunrise and sunsets are spectacular, with the light reflecting over the canals. Seasonal waterfowl are fun to watch.

The place is well maintained and clean. The Town Center offers excellent amenities like a well-equipped gymnasium, a lap and family pool, a deli, a gas station, a hair salon, a dry-cleaners and spa.

With property prices on the rise and the life-style Village Walk offers, it is definitely the place to be! 


$65 million project near new SunRail station

Construction has begun on downtown Kissimmee’s Hansel Plant, Sunrail Toho Square, part of a $65 million redevelopment project



The $16 million Toho Square project, located between Ruby Avenue and East Monument Avenue, includes a $7 million, 400-space parking garage, wrapped on three sides by 37 one-bedroom apartments for rent. The project developer is Mosaic Development.

Mosaic is also building 13 townhomes on Ruby and Monument avenues, which will include some small interior parking lots.

In addition, Mosaic is streetscaping Pleasant Street and Arlington Avenue at the north end of the project. The new streets will feature brick and white sidewalks to provide a cohesive tie to downtown Kissimmee, said Craig Holland, Kissimmee’s community redevelopment agency director.

The contractor for the garage is Tampa-based RR Simmons, and the contractor for the residential development is Lansing, Mich.-based Wieland Construction.

The redevelopment is also a block to two blocks away from the future downtown Kissimmee SunRail station, and less than a block away from Lakefront park.

“We’ve had a downtown plan for sometime, and it’s focused on bringing residential to downtown,” said Holland. “We just happened to have these 10 acres that we owned and had full control over. We’ve had a lot of development interest with SunRail coming, and we’re one of three stations where there’s an existing downtown.”

kissimmee Development

Kissimmee Development

The parking garage and  will be finished by the summer of 2017, in anticipation of SunRail’s arrival in early 2018, said Holland.

The apartments at Hansell Plant, the second portion of the development, should be ready soon after.

The Hansell Plant project includes a 120-room hotel, a 260-unit apartment complex and 15,000 square feet of commercial real estate space. The commercial space is being marketed for “lake-friendly” uses like restaurants, convenience stores or bike rental spaces, although Holland said it could be used as office space, as well. There will also be 3,500 square feet of community space.

‘Boomerang’ buyers poised for Homeownership

Seven years after the housing crash, Orlando has been dubbed a “” as former homeowners begin to restore their credit enough to purchase another house. Check out this Video on the now.’Boomerang’ buyers poised for homeownership in Orlando.

More than almost anywhere in the country, Metro Orlando has the makings of a housing market poised to benefit from foreclosed homeowners ready to buy again, according to a report released Tuesday by RealtyTrac.

The first wave of more than 100,000 foreclosures and short sales engulfed the Orlando market seven years ago, and some of those former homeowners have cleaned up their credit in that time. Whether they re-enter the market depends largely on wage increases and home-price appreciation.

“We are now paying in rent what we couldn’t afford in mortgage back then,” said Orlando resident Hilary Liermann. Following a short sale of her Gotha home in 2010, her family of four now lives in the Dr. Phillips area. She said they could consider buying a home again, depending on her family’s income and on home prices in their school district.

In the four-county Metro Orlando region, more than 123,000 “boomerang” buyers who lost their in foreclosure and short sales since the market crashed in 2007 could regain the ability to purchase houses through 2022, according to RealtyTrac.

Typically, it takes seven years for homeowners to repair their credit score after a foreclosure, or as little as four years for homeowners who went through a short sale. Andy Insua, Florida director of mortgage for Fifth Third Bank, said new types of mortgage loans are even more forgiving of distress-home sales.

Northlake Park home photo


But potential boomerang buyers might still face problems.

“There’s going to be some head winds for people coming back into the market: One is that wages haven’t grown significantly, and prices have gone up, so affordability has come down,” Insua said. “And, also, the inventory in that space is thinner, so it can be tougher to find what you’re looking for.”

And then there is a “kind of emotional scar tissue” and also a lack of understanding that prospective buyers may, in fact, qualify for a mortgage, Insua added.

In Dr. Phillips, Liermann said it’s been nice to see her children settle into high-performing schools and to call the landlord last summer when the air conditioning needed to be replaced. Financially, though, it’s not easy to write a mortgage-sized check for the monthly rent. And while renters risk being forced to relocate if their landlord decides to sell, the pain of a short sale isn’t easily forgotten, she added.

Boomerang Buyer

“We’re real nervous, and we’re kind of putting it off and putting it off … maybe in the next few years,” she said Tuesday.

During the last 10 years, Orlando’s homeownership rate has dropped from 77 percent to 66 percent, property records show. About a third of Orange County’s new residential construction last year was apartments — more than double the rate from the housing-boom years of 2003 through 2006, property records show.

A shift of former Orlando-area homeowners from their rentals back into homeownership could strengthen the housing market, but it could also signal weakening demand for new apartments and the region’s expanding pool of rental houses.

“It’s not a slam-dunk they’re going to become buyers. At this point, it’s still a wild card,” said RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist. “But how they behave moving forward will affect a lot of people in the industry.

“If they do move forward, that could be a problem for some of these developers who are counting on them to remain renters for some time.”

RealtyTrac outlined three factors driving the boomerang market for Metro Orlando:

•The area has enough former homeowners to purchase 13 percent of the housing stock in the four-county area during the next seven years.

•Orlando-area buyers pay a median of just 23 percent of their income for a median-priced home — far below the 28 percent point at which a market is no longer considered affordable.

•The two Orlando groups most likely to have lost their homes — Generation X and baby boomers — have grown larger from 2007 to 2013, the real-estate-research company found.


Orlando airport pitch 1,800-acre project


Orlando Airport

Roads slated to access the project include Boggy Creek Road, Narcoossee Road and Medical City Boulevard. A planned extension of Osceola Parkway would access the southern end of the project.

With the Greater Orlando Airport to the north, plans mention transit prospects for the property, which has long known as the Poitras property.

Located in a southeast Orlando sector planning area, owners are seeking “urban village” land use approval. About 236 acres would be set aside for conservation, according to plans submitted last week. Plans also mention connections to the existing sidewalks and bike lanes in Lake Nona.

The project proposals comes as Starwood has submitted plans for the 1,572-acre Vista Park north of State Road 528 and west of State Road 417. And further east, Tavistock is working through the process of a project that would engulf other proposals. With more than 24,000 acres, Sunbridge would span stretches of Orange and Osceola counties.

Shops, eateries planned near Lake Nona

Looks like more space for shops and restaurants is on its way to the area near the Orlando International Airport.

Plans for Vista Park — a new mixed-use neighborhood slated for 1,572 acres north of State Road 528 and west of State Road 417 in Orlando — now include up to 80,000 square feet of retail space, up from the original 20,000 square feet, city of Orlando documents showed. This gives construction firms a larger potential job, and gives businesses more opportunities to set up shop in the neighborhood.

This comes after nearby homeowners raised concerns with the development, including 20,000 square feet of retail not being sufficient for the 4,300 homes and 20,000 square feet of offices Nona parking garage 2also planned for Vista Park. “This is a compromise we had agreed to at a quasi-judicial hearing,” said Miranda Fitzgerald, land-use attorney with Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed PA, who represents the land owner. Mockingbird Orlando LLC, an entity related to South Florida casino and horse racetrack owner John J. Brunetti, owns the land.

Jay Thompson, managing partner of developer Palm Beach Gardens-based Land Innovations LLC, has had his eyes set on Vista Park and catty-corner property, Starwood DRI, for a “mini Lake Nona” that may create an economic impact of $4.5 billion, he previously told OBJ. Plans for Starwood DRI include thousands more , square feet of retail, office and industrial space.

Orlando’s city council during a July 25 meeting approved Vista Park getting a planned-development zoning as it’s consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan. The project can now move forward after concerns from home owners were reviewed by a hearing officer.

The project still needs to be reviewed by the state Department of Economic Opportunity, and specific zoning ordinances need to go before the city. Overall, development is not expected to begin until 2018, Fitzgerald told OBJ.

Meanwhile, the land slated for Vista Park is being cleaned up, as World War II-era bombs are buried beneath it. Permits for the clean-up process were issued last summer, Fitzgerald said.