Thursday, May 6, 2021

COURT STRIKES DOWN EVICTION BAN











U.S. District Court Judge Dabney L. Friedrich of the District of Columbia struck down a nationwide eviction moratorium Wednesday, calling it unlawful. Friedrich’s ruling applies nationwide.









 


The eviction ban was put in place last year by the Trump administration using public health powers granted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during health emergencies.  The ban was most recently extended by President Biden through the end of June.









In her 20-page ruling, Friedrich said, “It is the role of the political branches, and not the courts, to assess the merits of policy measures designed to combat the spread of disease, even during a global pandemic. The question for the Court is a narrow one: Does the Public Health Service Act grant the CDC the legal authority to impose a nationwide eviction moratorium? It does not.”


The Georgia and Alabama Association of REALTORS®, two housing providers, and their property management companies, filed the suit in defense of mom-and-pop property owners around the country struggling to pay bills without rental income for more than a year.


NAR—which helped secure nearly $50 billion in rental assistance provided by Congress since December to help tenants pay their bills and provide relief to housing providers who have lost income—supported the lawsuit, saying the ban was no longer needed.


“NAR has always maintained that the best solution for all parties was rental assistance to cover the rent, taxes and utility bills for tenants struggling during the pandemic,” says NAR President Charlie Oppler. “This decision prevents two crises—one for tenants, and one for mom-and-pop housing providers who do not have a reprieve from their bills. With rental assistance secured, the economy growing, and unemployment rates falling, there is no need to continue a blanket, nationwide eviction ban. With this safety net firmly in place, the market needs a return to normalcy and stability.”


Oppler adds that “our attention now should turn to the swift and efficient implementation of rental assistance.”












Source: National Association of Realtors®


Wednesday, May 5, 2021

USE OF 'ESCALATION CLAUSE' SKYROCKETS IN HOT SELLER'S MARKET




As escalation clauses become more popular during this hot seller’s market, buyers should consider the pros and cons of using them – as well as the broader legal context of their offer.


 


During this white-hot seller’s market, many conversations on Florida Realtors® Legal Hotline involve multiple offer scenarios. Buyers are desperately seeking ways to try and make their offer stand out. One method that has rocketed in popularity is using an escalation clause.


There are many variations of these clauses, but the one thing they have in common is that a buyer is willing to increase the purchase price above the amount in the initial offer. A simple version of an escalation clause may read something like this: “Buyer agrees to pay $____________ more than the next highest offer, not to exceed a final purchase price of $___________.”


This is the core concept, at least. Most clauses will also include some combination of the following components, although this is by no means an exhaustive list. The clause can get increasingly more complex the more a buyer adds to the clause.








      • The amount of money to add to the next highest offer (the escalation amount)




      • The maximum purchase price




      • Seller’s obligation to show the buyer a copy of the next highest offer used to calculate the final purchase price




      • Whether the financing amount will increase, or whether the buyer will pay cash to cover the escalation amount




      • How to handle a situation involving two or more competing escalation clauses




      • Whether the buyer or seller will be obligated to sign or initial further documents if the escalation clause is triggered




      • Whether the escalation is based on the purchase price or net proceeds to the seller (to account for costs and credits in a competing offer)








 


The positive side of escalation clauses is that they may make a buyer’s offer stand out. It also invites a seller to take an easy path to finalize negotiation.


Most of the confusion we hear about these clauses on Florida Realtors Legal Hotline centers around the fact that the buyer’s offer is just that – an offer. A seller who receives an offer can accept, reject, counter, or even ignore an offer.


For example, can the seller send a brief message that instructs the buyer to submit a new, “highest and best” offer, with a fixed purchase price by a deadline? Yes – the seller is welcome to reject the buyer’s offer.


What if the seller removes the escalation clause and counters the buyer’s offer right at buyer’s maximum price cap with no information about any other offers? Can the seller do that? Yes – the seller is welcome to counter buyer’s offer.


Can the seller go with a different buyer’s offer (even a lower-priced one) and never inform the buyer with the escalation clause? Yes – the seller is welcome to ignore the buyer’s offer.


As you can see, the crux of most buyer frustrations centers on the concept that the seller isn’t bound to follow the rules in the escalation clause unless the seller accepts the offer.


Please note that there are additional angles to this issue – this brief article is simply designed to give an overview of the escalation clause itself. For example, although this article mentions a seller’s right to ignore an offer, a listing Realtor must comply with this Standard of Practice from NAR’s Code of Ethics:


REALTORS®, in response to inquiries from buyers or cooperating brokers shall, with the sellers’ approval, disclose the existence of offers on the property. Where disclosure is authorized, REALTORS® shall also disclose, if asked, whether offers were obtained by the listing licensee, another licensee in the listing firm, or by a cooperating broker.


 


Joel Maxson is Associate General Counsel for Florida Realtors


Source: Florida Realtors®



Tuesday, May 4, 2021

RELIEF ON THE WAY FOR BUYERS? MORE SELLERS READY TO LIST HOMES?






Analysts think that over the next 6 months, more sellers are ready to list their homes in numbers that could give buyers broader choices and ease home prices.




 


Evidence is emerging that sellers who have hibernated for months are ready to list their houses. Over the next six months, enough of them are expected to add to the thinning number of homes for sale that buyers could have broader choices, according to analysts, brokers and home search sites.




Among the encouraging signs:


In a survey released Monday, realtor.com concluded that an “improving landscape” awaits first-time buyers who have been frustrated by soaring prices, as well homeowners who are looking to “trade up” for better digs.


Many sellers have been holding off listing properties for a variety of reasons, including a fear of opening their homes to people who might be carrying the virus. Others were simply riding the wave of higher prices. not wanting to leave money on the table. In many instances, their patience has been rewarded in the form of bidding wars, cash offers and an influx of out-of-town buyers.


“In the high-end market, some people now are considering selling their houses and listing because it’s gotten to the point where there is enough money to decide to sell,” said Miami real estate lawyer Mark Meland of the Meland Budwick law firm.


“They may take some chips off the table,” he said. “Is it enough to satiate the demand? I don’t know.”


The tight supply has helped drive sales of homes in communities under construction.  CC Homes is building 45, low seven-figure luxury homes in Southwest Ranches. Only five are left, said chief operating officer Andrew Miyares.  “Supply remains very tight,” he said. “We started selling in the fall of last year. We’re very pleased with the results so far.”






Much of the allure is the town’s status as a haven for race and show horses and horses for recreational riding. Most of the buyers are “almost exclusively locals” who know the area well. Another development the company is building in concert with Lennar in Miramar is 85% sold out, Miyares said.


George Ritiu, senior economist at realtor.com said the growing distribution of COVID vaccinations should give sellers of existing homes more confidence that the time to list isn’t far off.


“More supply should tame down this incredibly hot price appreciation we have seen for the last eight months,” he said in a telephone interview. “We should basically see a much, much healthier market from May through August.”


He said his firm’s survey also found 58% of the sellers surveyed expected to let go of their homes at prices that are below $350,000, “which is precisely where first-time buyers are frustrated.”


Another 28% said they would sell at between $500,000 and $750,000, which is a “sweet spot for trade-up buyers.”


“It will go a long way to solve this Catch-22 where they want to put their home on the market and they can’t find a replacement,” Ritiu said.


An overvalued market?


Those scenarios could serve as safety valves for a market believed by local analysts to be dramatically overvalued.


In Southeast Florida, homes have been selling for an average of roughly 13% more than they should, according to a report released last week by real estate economist Ken H. Johnson, at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, and Eli Beracha, a professor at Florida International University’s Hollo School of Real Estate in Miami.


Based on an analysis of 25 years, they concluded in a report released last week that properties in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties were overvalued by 12.54% in April, an increase of more than 1% from 11.52% in March.


“While still far below the 65% overpricing achieved at the peak of the historic housing collapse of 2007, the size of the month-to-month jump is a concern,” they said in a statement.


“Prices are clearly accelerating at a pace that could become worrisome,” they said. “While the re-acceleration of prices is extending the current boom, it could cause issues in the local housing market, especially if interest rates should rise because higher rates tend to suppress the demand for housing ownership and therefore housing prices.”




 


Source: Sun Sentinel & Florida Realtors®



Monday, May 3, 2021

U.S. CONSUMER CONFIDENCE RISES SHARPLY AGAIN IN APRIL




While consumers were a bit more optimistic about the future this month, the big jump came when measuring attitudes about current conditions, which surged 11% higher.


 


Consumers appear to be regaining their confidence in the economy, which bodes well for future purchases of anything from homes to appliances.  The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index rose sharply again in April, following a substantial gain in March. The Index now stands at 121.7, up from 109.0 in last month. It’s returned to levels last seen before the pandemic fully hit.


The Present Situation Index – based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions – soared from 110.1 to 139.6. The Expectations Index – based on consumers’ short-term future outlook for income, business and labor market conditions – rose moderately, from 108.3 last month to 109.8 in April.  “Consumer confidence has rebounded sharply over the last two months and is now at its highest level since February 2020,” says Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved significantly in April, suggesting the economic recovery strengthened further in early Q2.”


Future assessments, which improved only a little, still rose.  “Consumers’ optimism about the short-term outlook held steady this month,” Franco adds. They were “more upbeat about their income prospects, perhaps due to the improving job market and the recent round of stimulus checks.”


Expectations for inflation in the short-term held steady, but Franco says they “remain elevated.” However, the economist also noted that “vacation intentions” had a “healthy increase, likely boosted by the accelerating vaccine rollout and further loosening of pandemic restrictions.”


Current conditions: The percentage of consumers claiming business conditions are “good” increased from 18.3% to 23.3%, while the proportion claiming business conditions are “bad” fell from 30.1% to 24.8%.


Assessment of the labor market also improved. The percentage of consumers saying jobs are “plentiful” increased from 26.5% to 37.9%, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” declined from 18.5% to 13.2%.


Future conditions: The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months rose marginally, from 40.3% to 40.5%, while the proportion expecting business conditions to worsen stood relatively unchanged at 11.9%.


Outlooks regarding the job market were slightly less upbeat. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead fell from 35.9% to 34.5%, while those anticipating fewer jobs rose from 14.4% to 15.5%.


Regarding short-term income prospects, 17.9% of consumers expect their incomes to increase in the next six months, up from 15.4% in March. Those expecting their incomes to decrease fell to 10.9%, down from 12.6%.


The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a probability-design random sample and conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was April 16.


 


Source: Florida Realtors®



Friday, April 30, 2021

Weekend Happenings on the Treasure Coast




Farmers Market and Craft Show at the Fort Pierce Marina


Farmers Market


St. Lucie County

Date: Event occurs every Saturday of every month.

Time: 8:00 am – 12:00 pm

Location: Downtown Fort Pierce

Address: 1 Avenue A – Fort Pierce

Category: Other


Come enjoy the extraordinary Downtown Fort Pierce Farmers’ Market where there are over 70 friendly vendors that offer a wonderful and diverse selection of delicious foods, exotic plants, savory spices, and much much more!


 


Spring Plant Sale



St. Lucie County

Date: Saturday May 1, 2021

Time: 8:00 am – 1:00 pm

Location: St. Lucie County

Address: 911 Parkway Drive, Fort Pierce, FL 34950

Price: Free

Category: Sale


Indoor Boutique and Outdoor Plant Sale

Saturday, May 1, 2022, to benefit Garden Club of Fort Pierce community projects.

A great selection of household treasures and locally grown plants!

Doors will be open from 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Garden Club of Fort Pierce

911 Parkway Drive (Georgia and 10th St.) Ft. Pierce, FL 34950

See our Facebook page for more information.


 


Port St. Lucie Spring Art & Craft Expo


Spring Art &Craft Expo


MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Event Center

Date: Saturday May 1, 2021 through Sunday May 2, 2021.

Time: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Location: MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Event Center

Address: 9221 SE Event Center Pl, Port St. Lucie , FL, 34952

Price: FREE

Category: Expo



Join us for the third annual Port St. Lucie Spring Art & Craft Expo benefiting the Port St. Lucie Arts League. Just in time for that one-of-a-kind, handmade Mother’s Day gift! Featuring over 200 booths of inspiration and creativity, you’ll be sure to find something new. FREE admission & parking, kids zone, yummy food, adult beverages, live music, and FUN!


Saturday, May 1st:

10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Sunday, May 2nd:

10 a.m.-4 p.m.


Please note:

Face Coverings are Recommended. This event will be hosted outdoors.

The MIDFLORIDA Event Center is dedicated to providing smart, safe entertainment for the residents of Port St. Lucie and surrounding areas. To ensure guest safety, the Event Center will be operating under the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Florida Department of Health at the time of the show.  For more information, please visit www.midfloridaeventcenter.com.  More info




 


12th Annual Indian River Marine Flea Market and Seafood Festival


2


Indian River County

Date: Saturday May 1, 2021 through Sunday May 2, 2021.

Time: All Day Event

Location: Indian River Fairgrounds

Price: $7 Children 12 under Free

Category: Exhibits



The Indian River Marine Flea Market Announces 2021 dates the 12th annual event is set for May 1st and 2nd at Indian River Fairgrounds in Vero Beach, Florida. For two days May 1st and 2nd the 139-acre fairgrounds will be transformed into the Treasure Coast’s largest nautical “Flea Market.” THE LARGEST EVENT OF THE TYPE ON THE TREASURE COAST!


This event is held at the Indian River County Fairgrounds, in Vero Beach, FL.


Buyers can visit marine booths as vendors exhibit and sell their nautical and marine related merchandise and services during the two-day festival. The marine flea market area will have offshore rods, reels, tackle dock lines, halyards, sheet lines, anchor lines, ladders, seats, bimini tops, life vests, mooring whips and bases, gauges, wakeboards, skis, wake surfers, kneeboards, boat covers, scissors, fenders, antique collectibles and maps, marine artifacts, lures and lines, boating apparel, taxidermy, diving equipment, and all kinds of other marine items. Come by for some super discounts on surplus, liquidation, closeouts, new and used boating and fishing supplies


Admissions is $7 and Children 12 and under are free. www.FLNauticalFleaMarket.com for more information, discount tickets, vendor applications and specific driving directions. Contact Under the Sun Promotions, Inc. at 954-205-7813.




 


Hippie Fest!


Martin County

Date: Sunday May 2, 2021

Time: 4:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Location: Martin County

Address: , , FL,

Price: $5 cover charge

Category: Entertainment


A wonderful afternoon and evening of live music – not to be missed. Special and unique you won’t find this just anywhere. The Old Hippies play music you’ll remember and adore! Some soft and mellow, some lively. CONTEST FOR BEST HIPPIE OUTFIT – win a gift from Stephanie’s Tye Dyes! $5 Cash at door (exact change is wonderful). Includes chips and salsa. Opening act Rogue Breeze followed by The Old Hippies – OUTDOORS, all ages, safe and fun and inexpensive! SEE YOU HERE for good positive vibes and kindness!



Thursday, April 29, 2021

Common Heart Disease Drug Reverses Obesity By Targeting Inflammation in Mice




It has long been known that obesity is an inflammatory disease, i.e. a chronic defensive reaction of the body to stress caused by excess nutrients.


Based on this knowledge, a group of researchers led by Nabil Djouder, Head of the Growth Factors, Nutrients and Cancer Group at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), decided to try to fight obesity by preventing inflammation—and they succeeded.


Their paper, published this month in Nature Metabolism, shows that digoxin, a drug already in use against heart diseases, reduces inflammation and leads to a 40% weight loss in obese mice, without any side effects.


Digoxin reverses obesity completely, according to CNIO. Treated mice became the same weight as healthy, non-obese animals. The mice were also cured of metabolic disorders associated to obesity.


Digoxin reduces the production of a molecule called interleukin 17A, (IL-17A) which generally triggers inflammation. The study identifies it as a causal factor of obesity: “When you inhibit the production of IL-17A or the signaling pathway that this molecule activates, you don’t have obesity,” says Djouder.


The Madrid researchers found that IL-17A acts directly on adipose tissue to cause obesity and severe metabolic alterations associated with body weight gain, the so-called metabolic syndrome, which includes type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.


“Since no effective treatments for obesity and metabolic syndrome are available, digoxin may represent an effective therapeutic option,” they wrote in the paper in Nature Metabolism.


Same food—but metabolism was speeded up


The animals, obese due to a high-calorie diet, continued to eat as before when they were taking digoxin. However, they showed activation of their basal metabolism, which results in the burning of excess fat and weight loss.



Djouder’s group at the CNIO already observed weight loss within a few weeks, with no adverse effects. The benefits were maintained for at least eight months, suggesting that resistance mechanisms do not develop.


These findings are therefore clinically relevant: “It is tempting to propose that obese patients could take digoxin for a short period until weight loss stabilizes, and then follow a healthy diet,” says Ana Teijeiro, first author of the paper. “The drug could also be indicated for obesity-related pathologies, such as hypercholesterolemia, hepatic steatosis and type 2 diabetes,” adds Teijeiro.


But the researchers also stress that the results were obtained in mice and that epidemiological studies and clinical trials are required to corroborate them in humans.


The ‘first causal link between obesity and inflammation’


In addition to this potential clinical relevance, the finding has basic value because it “identifies a causal link between inflammation and weight gain,” says the authors. It opens new avenues for crucial research to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that make obesity an inflammatory disease.


“Thanks to this study, we know that weight loss and systemic metabolic changes are controlled by a unique molecular mechanism, IL-17A, which acts directly on adipocytes and changes their genetic profile and responsiveness to excess nutrients,” Djouder says.


“We still don’t know how nutrients trigger the inflammatory reaction or which cells produce interleukin 17A, and that is what we are going to study next,” Djouder reveals. “Understanding the connection between nutrient excess, inflammation and obesity is essential to find novel approaches to treat weight gain,” he adds.


Defined by the authors of the paper as “excessive fat accumulation usually caused by chronic overfeeding and/or inadequate physical activity,” obesity today has no effective treatment.


“Current options are limited and have not improved in the last 20 years, mainly due to insufficient knowledge about the pathophysiology of obesity and the mechanisms governing fat accumulation,” wrote the team.


Therapies based on lifestyle changes—changes in diet and physical activity—achieve a weight reduction of approximately 10%, and drugs that target appetite or fat absorption typically result in a loss of body weight between 2% and 7%.


This study provides a possible therapeutic strategy based on a novel approach: fighting obesity by targeting its inflammatory component.


The team started this line of research five years ago, when, in another study on inflammation and liver cancer, they observed that mice were losing weight, so they postulated that blocking the production of IL-17A with digoxin would reduce the action of IL-17A and thus reduce the weight of the mice. “That was indeed what we saw immediately,” says Djouder.


An already available drug


Digoxin has long been used to treat heart failure, and it was known to act on IL-17A. Its effect on body weight, however, had never been observed. Djouder ascribes this to the fact that the cardiovascular disease of patients using digoxin causes high liquid retention, which masks the weight-loss effect of digoxin.


Moreover, the dose at which digoxin is currently used in humans is three times lower than that used in mice to combat obesity, with no toxic effects. The fact that no side effects were observed in animals suggests that, in humans, the dose at which weight loss could be observed may not be harmful.


This study was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, the State Research Agency, co-funded by European Regional Development Fund., the Carlos III Health Institute, the European Foundation for the Study of Diabetes and the Pfizer Foundation.


 


Source: CNIO


 



Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Buyers Want Sense of Community, Nice Neighbors









Buyers are increasingly looking for a neighborly community. Fifty-one percent of buyers between the ages of 18 to 43 and about one-third of buyers between the ages of 57 to 75 say that community has become more important to them over the past year. House hunters are looking for neighbors who share similar interests and are active in the community, according to Bank of America’s newly released 2021 Homebuyer Insights Report, based on a survey of 2,000 adults who currently own a home or plan to in the future.


“Over the last year, people have had plenty of time at home to reassess their priorities and goals, including how their living space and surroundings fit into their lives,” says AJ Barkley, senior vice president of Neighborhood Lending and Retail Sales East Executive, Consumer Lending at Bank of America. “We know homeownership remains as important as ever, especially for younger generations looking for that sense of community.”


Homeowners were more likely than non-homeowners to say they like their neighbors—42% versus 29%. They were also more likely to say positive things about their neighborhood—44% versus 32%. The feeling of safety is also important to home buyers, the Bank of America survey shows.


Besides the importance of community, home shoppers have tweaked their home wish lists after spending more time at home over the past year. Nearly half—or 48%—of prospective home buyers between the ages of 18 to 43 say the importance of square footage has increased for them. Sixty percent are putting more weight on the outdoor space, too.


More activities are heading into the home and that has made potential buyers—particularly younger buyers—assess homes in new ways. For example, survey respondents between the ages of 18 to 43 say their home is now used as an office (45%), a school (31%), a movie theater (28%), and a gym (27%). Younger prospective buyers also expressed more desire for new technology in their homes, such as smart or Wi-Fi–enabled security systems (51%), solar energy products (42%), and smart or Wi-Fi–enabled appliances (44%).







 


Source: Bank of America