Mortgages & Loans

Capitalizing on lis pendens real estate
27 May 2014

Capitalizing on lis pendens real estate

Whether you’re new to real estate or a battle hardened professional, we all know there is an opportunity to make money with distressed property. If you have the skills and/or nerve, you may be able to make money in this sector as an investor, agent, appraiser, lender or some other angle.

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Many real estate professionals rely on lis pendens as their first indication that a property is facing foreclosure. The term lis pendens is used frequently, sometimes without a full understanding. This guide should help clear a few things up but is by no means complete. Feel free to add your own thoughts and insight in the comments section.

What is a lis pendens?

Lis pendens is latin in origin, with a very loose translation that means “suit pending,” or pending legal action. When it comes to real property, a lis pendens is often filed by a mortgage lender when a borrower is no longer making payments.

Is this like a 30, 60 or 90 day lateness on a credit report?

Not really. While both deal with late payments, a lis pendens doesn’t inherently tell you how late a borrower is, it just means the borrower is late on their payments.

A 30/60/90 is a credit matter, whereas a lis pendens is a legal matter.

How long does a lender wait before filing a lis pendens?

There’s no set number of months a borrower is late before a lis pendens is filed, it’s up to the individual lender.

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Why is a lis pendens so important?

Since a lis pendens is a matter of public record, it’s the first notice to the world that this property may be facing foreclosure. Having this information is useful to a potential buyer since it can either discourage them from purchasing the property, or they can use that information to purchase the property below market value.

What information is made available in a lis pendens?

It depends on the county of city, but you’ll often get the property address, the plaintiff, defendant and date of filing. From there, it’s either up to you to fill in the blanks as far as the details of the property, what it’s worth, who else owns it, if there are other liens on it, etc., or you can subscribe to a third party data source that will do the work for you.

How do I market to lis pendens?

That depends on what you’re trying to do. An investor or wholesaler is going to want to try to get in touch with the owner in an effort to buy the property. A real estate agent will also try to contact the owner, but to list the property or introduce them to a buyer instead. If the amount of the mortgage is more than what the property will sell for, you’ll need to negotiate a short sale with the bank.

What’s a short sale?

In summary, a short sale occurs when a property sells for less than the sum of the mortgage balances on it.

You’ll often need lender approval to complete a short sale.

How does an appraiser benefit from seeing lis pendens?

Here’s one big example: An appraiser will receive an assignment to appraise a property for the purpose of a mortgage. The client (in this case the mortgage lender or appraisal management company) may not know the property is facing foreclosure.

When the appraiser looks up the property in a third party data source, he or she will find this out and be able to share it with their client. This can save their client a great deal of time, money and trouble, making the appraiser look like a hero.

Regardless of your real estate profession, the distressed real estate market has been around for a number of years and has continued to play a significant part in the real estate economy despite every prediction to the contrary. Getting access to this data as an investor, appraiser or agent may prove beneficial to those who want to capitalize on a lis pendens property.

This article was published by Erik Wind, technology entrepreneur and President of GeoData Plus, a real estate data source used by thousands of agents, investors, appraisers and mortgage companies in New York. In 2011, National Mortgage Professional Magazine included Erik in their “40 Most Influential Mortgage Professionals Under 40.” You can connect on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

6 Things you can do to negotiate better terms from your lender
06 May 2014

6 Things you can do to negotiate better terms from your lender

I have spent the last 10 years working as a financial analyst from hedge funds and Fortune 500 banks to smaller community banks. Along the way, I also became a real estate investor. Seeing things from both sides as a real estate investor (borrower) and a banker (lender) has given me a unique advantage on this process.

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Here are 6 things you could be doing to negotiate better terms from your lender.

1. Request a personal credit report

Believe it or not, business debt shows up on your personal credit report. This is why it is absolutely critical to be pro-active and request a copy of the report. There are significant differences between how a commercial underwriter treats credit reports and how a traditional mortgage underwriter treats them.

One difference is that a commercial underwriter treats all of your credit cards as if you used the maximum availability. Therefore penalizing your borrowing capacity. However, a traditional mortgage underwriter treats this credit availability as a key asset and this enhances your creditworthiness.

Again, this is why it is absolutely critical you get a copy of your report so you can show your banker that certain credit cards are never used and some are business debts so they can make the appropriate adjustments.

2. Have separate entities

Having a separate entity for your real estate or other investments significantly increases your creditworthiness and as such increases your negotiating power with a bank.

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The reason why? The bank has two legal borrowers now, and by nature the deal is better since two is better than one and they might want you to personally be a guarantor or a co-borrower.

3. Provide K-1s to show cash distributions

You get penalized for any cash contributions you made to the respective company.

Any cash distributions you took from the company helps your personal credit worthiness.

4. Deposit accounts

Specifically, non-interest bearing accounts. The banker will likely want 10% of the loan amount on deposit (since banks are leveraged 10:1), but any amount will help in negotiating terms. It’s best to throw this out at the end of the negotiation. Once you have the best terms possible, then ask: “Could you waiver the origination fee, if I bring my business checking account over?”

Another thing you can do is tell your banker that you like to keep things simple and would like to set-up “auto-pay” out of this account for your new loan. This does the following:

  • Assumes the approval of your new loan.

  • Gives the banker comfort that you guys (or gals) are on the same page.

  • Usually bankers get some kind of incentive for opening up non-interest bearing accounts, which further incentivizes the banker to get your loan approved.

5. Have a presentation

I’m not talking about 100 PowerPoint slides. This could even be a 1 page summary of the deal. Lenders see countless deals everyday.

You want yours to stand-out as an “easy” deal where they don’t have to do much work.

Here is what they are looking for:

  • 2 sources of repayment (examples: rental income, wage income, collateral selling).

  • Collateral value – lenders have to report values above 85% LTV to the FDIC so don’t go over this ratio. If you have to, request a separate unsecured facility for property improvements.

  • Guarantor support – any guarantor support or other collateral you could combine with this new loan facility makes it that much stronger.

  • Debt service/cashflow of a property.

6. Be nice

The last piece of advice is basic common sense: be nice. For some reason, banking is the only industry where people come in, yell, cuss and scream and demand a loan.

Ugh? Bankers don’t have to make loans.

Yes, adding loans helps everyone, but at the end of the day, this is a service business and bankers will go out of their way to make a loan or help someone when they are nice. When they aren’t nice, it’s the reciprocal effect.

This article was published by Jimmy Moncrief, a real estate investor and underwriter at a bank that specializes in real estate lending. You can connect with him on Twitter or check out his blog at

Photo by: Dilek Türk.

Get rich with vacant houses, Part 3
18 Feb 2014

Get rich with vacant houses, Part 3

Last month I revealed the solution to the ever increasing problem of zombie mortgages. In this article you will follow a real life example which will enable you to see those steps practiced in real life and how you can do it.

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Starting with the usually unsuspecting zombie mortgage homeowner, real estate investors must help these people out of their predicament, settle debts with their creditors, clean up these properties and help with the economic recovery of the US, while quickly recouping their at risk capital allowing very good profits in the process.

Here are the numbers of a real life example of how this can work for you:

Zombie mortgage

This property is located in the city of Brockton, Massachusetts. It’s a typical 3 stacked apartment on 3 separate floors with 3 bedrooms each.

Year 1, January – Homeowner #1 purchased the property:

  • Purchase Price: $388,000

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  • Down Payment: $11,640

  • 1st Mortgage: MERS – $310,400

  • 2nd Mortgage: MERS – $65,960

  • Total Mortgages: $376,360

Year 3, October

The homeowner tried to keep it going but finally gave up and moved out of the property. The property stayed vacant for over a year and a half. Meanwhile, either the city or the bank boarded up and left the property abandoned.

Year 5, May

After about a year and a half later the zombie mortgage investor found the owner of the property and acquired the property rights (without legal title). That being said, the property was still vacant and boarded up, the copper plumbing was stolen and many of the windows and doors were smashed.

The investor then fixed up the apartment and started renting it out. Using the rent money to repair the other units allowed him to only be out of pocket a few thousand dollars. Over the course of a few months, the entire building was rented out and the continuing rent money allowed for further improvements and positive cash flow to the investor.

  • Down Payment: $100 (Yes, only one hundred dollars)

  • Total Repair cost: $11,200 (expended over time)

  • Monthly rental income: $3,000

  • Total number of months until property is purchased: 14

  • Total rent collected $31,000 (there were vacancies)

Year 5, September

After collecting rents for about a year and a half and without paying any mortgage payments or property taxes, the investor purchased the property at short sale for $120K. All back taxes and municipal bills were paid at closing and was included in the purchase price.

Year 5, November

Only 1 ½ months later, the investor (#1) sold the property to another investor (#2) for $210K, which was still a bargain value.

  • Income from sale: $90,000

  • Income from total rental: $31,000

  • Total Income: $121,000

  • Repair/renovation costs: $11,200

  • Total Profit: $110,000

13 months later, investor #2 resold the property for $255K.

This was a case where the zombie investor #1 made profits on the property before closing by renting the property out, then short selling and flipping the property, and finally leasing it back and operating it as a normal house.

This is a typical zombie mortgage property acquisition using the specialized methods discussed in last week’s article with very little money down ($100), no credit needed and cash flow during the short sale process. Initially, only a small amount of money was needed for repairs allowing future rents to cover the repair/renovation costs. I know this because I was zombie mortgage investor #1.

Obviously, the more times an investor takes on a zombie property the more people he can free from the stressful burden that all the bank fraud and financial collapse has entombed them in their zombie mortgage property.

The neighbors are delighted because the hazardous property that was dragging down their neighborhood and their property values has been transformed into an asset to the community. The town collects taxes and has fewer “problem calls” associated with the property. It’s a win- win situation and that’s how real estate investing should be done.

What also occurs is that positive cash flow is almost immediate. As the example above illustrates, the cash flow allows the investor to recoup the monies initially expended on bringing the property up to rental standards – a risk the investor takes on.

Each month thereafter, the investor realizes a monthly profit until either a successful short sale brings ownership to the investor or – if the lender is legally able to – a proper foreclosure is completed and recorded.

When either of these 2 actions occurs, the zombie property owner will finally be free of the financial and legal responsibility of the property. They also finally begin the psychological emotional healing that is much needed.

The more people you help, the wealthier you become and this is a way you can do both – real estate investing at its best.

Alan Kosinski is the co-founder of where homeowners can learn & find help, and where investors can see how it’s done. This is the third article of a 3 part series. See part 1 to learn what is a zombie mortgage and part 2 for the 10 steps to zombie mortgage success.

Photo by: Gary Tucker.

2014 Property Predictions for Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota
24 Jan 2014

2014 Property Predictions for Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota

LouisianaLouisiana: Southern markets show promising growth

Mathew Laborde is a commercial real estate agent based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His specializes in the sale of investment property and distressed real estate. At age 23, Matthew became one of the youngest people in the world to ever receive the CCIM designation. His prediction for Louisiana in 2014:

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“The real estate outlook for Louisiana is bright. The billion dollar expansions of petrochemical companies are having ripple effects across property types making South Louisiana a particularly attractive place to invest. These expansions should continue to drive demand up and push values higher in 2014.  

I would recommend investing in the Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lake Charles markets as they are expected to see the most growth given their location along major ports. Within these markets, there are attractive build-to-suit and lease opportunities in the industrial sector as service companies flock to industrial corridors to handle the new business. There are also opportunities in multi-family as construction workers and permanent employees relocate to the area.

I would be careful when investing in North Louisiana. While there are a few businesses located in this region, the majority of the action will be taking place in Southern Louisiana.”

Maryland: Metro stations lead to good investmentsMaryland

Chris Speicher is Co-Founder and Realtor of the Speicher Group in Montgomery County, Maryland. The Speicher Group is ranked in the Top 100 RE/MAX teams in the United States, #6 in Maryland and #1 in Montgomery County. His prediction for Maryland 2014:

“The market will continue to improve based on employment levels, federal government spending and federal contract workers. However, the Baltimore Metropolitan market will remain steady.

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Investors should continue to look for opportunities in and around very strong cities, such as BethesdaRockville and Silver Spring, that are close to Metro stations. I would avoid any area that isn’t near a Metro station, Blue Ribbon school or any new construction.”

MassachusettsMassachusetts: Avoid coastal communities

Patrick Palzkill is a real estate Broker Owner in Boston, Massachusetts. He has 28 years of experience and has both a real estate brokers license and mortgage originators license. His prediction for Massachusetts in 2014:

“As a whole, the market in Massachusetts should increase 5% in 2014.

I would recommend investing in the Greater Boston area because it was not overbuilt during the last real estate cycle and there is a great job market here. There’s also an international appeal as Boston is looking to put in a bid to host an upcoming Summer Olympics.

I would avoid investing in coastal communities as a result of the new FEMA maps. The cost for flood insurance will increase, it’s just a matter of how much. Many vacation areas that are second home markets, like Cape Cod, which were already reeling from last year’s downturn, could now be devastated by the huge increase in flood insurance premiums being imposed by FEMA and the banks. This will slow down any appreciation of what is normally a rock solid investment.”

Michigan: Recovery mode means gradual increaseMichigan

Kathy Toth is a realtor in Michigan and leader of a highly trained and experienced group of agents, Kathy Toth & Team. Kathy has been interviewed and featured in the book,  Billionaire Dollar Agent, a mentor with iSucceed and presenter for REDominance. Her prediction for Michigan in 2014:

“The market in Michigan will gradually increase in 2014 as the state as a whole is in recovery mode. We are still below our peak years of 2005 and are making our way back to those prices. The 32% decline in the Ann Arbor area is being offset by a gradual increase in values with the help of low interest rates, limited inventory and increasing employment.

I would recommend investing in apartment buildings around the University of Michigan as campus housing is in short supply.

I would avoid single-family homes in high tax millage areas. Instead, investors should look for single or multiple-family homes on the outskirts of town with well and septic systems to minimize taxes, water bills and housing inspector costs.”

MinnesotaMinnesota: Increasing supply and demand

Brenton Hayden is a licensed realtor in Minnesota and CEO and Founder of Renters Warehouse. His prediction for 2014:

“The market in Minnesota will continue to improve in 2014. Today, there is limited inventory which is creating a supply and demand issue in the market place. Because of this, properties are selling much faster and receiving multiple offers.

Rent prices will also increase 3-5% across the state. Single-family homes typically rent for just under $1.00 a square foot. Apartments on the other hand are seeing $2.00-$2.50 per square foot causing more prospective tenants to leave the high rises and apartment buildings and move to the suburbs where they are able to get more space for less.

I would recommend investing in commercial real estate. It is undervalued and set to appreciate nicely over the next few years. It’s also not uncommon to buy a commercial property for about $80.00 a square foot, while replacement cost is $200.00.

I would avoid investing in high rise apartment buildings as they are overdeveloped in Minnesota. The average number of units under construction annually used to be around 2,000 a year and today we are seeing 14,000-15,000 units under construction.

I would also avoid investing in cabins or second homes. Not only are the prices of these properties high, but taxes in Minnesota are also at an all time high, making the carrying costs of a second home much more expensive than in previous years.”

2014 Property Predictions for Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas and Kentucky
17 Jan 2014

2014 Property Predictions for Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas and Kentucky

GeorgiaGeorgia: Build-to-rent grows in popularity

Bruce Ailion has worked as a broker, property manager, investor and attorney in Metro Atlanta for the past 34 years. From 2009, he also became an equity fund manager and has purchased approximately 150 properties in the REO to rent market. His prediction for 2014:

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“The overall value across most markets in Georgia will continue to increase and investors will continue to be a dominant factor in many of the larger markets. There will also be growth and improvement in new homes and building-to-rent is becoming more popular.

Additionally, debt for buy-to-rent investors will become available across a broad range of markets and securitization will continue for the larger debt and equity single family investors.

I would avoid buying any property Class C and below. You should also avoid buying a property just because it’s cheap. Instead, buy the best property you can afford.”

Idaho: Capital attracts state’s populationIdaho

Tom Turner has been in real estate for over 8 years. He and his family team specialize in short sales for Keller Williams Realty Boise. His 2014 prediction for Idaho:

“The Boise Metro area of Southwest Idaho is continuing to grow and approximately half of the state’s population lives in the metro area around the state capital.

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Distressed properties are dropping in the 2 main counties, Ada and Canyon. In Ada,14.43% of the sales were distressed and in Canyon, it was 24.16%. On the other hand, prices for single family homes have been rising – up over $27K for Ada from this time last year and over $20K for Canyon. Inventory is also shrinking – down to an average of 4.7 months’ supply in Ada and 6.1 months in Canyon.

I would suggest investing in the Meridian/Nampa area. Nampa is the second largest city in the state and is centrally located. Additionally, with the construction of the new Ten Mile interchange, growth will continue as the road will relieve congestion and improve access to the 2 cities.”

IowaIowa: Renovations raise profits

Heather Starr is a licensed Realtor serving central Iowa buyers and sellers. In 2013, she received the Des Moines Area Association of Realtor’s Rookie of the Year Award and the Des Moines Business Record’s Forty Under 40 Award. Her 2014 prediction for Iowa:

“The overall residential market will go up due to low interest rates and favorable economic conditions in Iowa.

I would recommend investing in foreclosures and distressed properties, especially with homes priced under $200K after renovations. The key is picking the right neighborhoods within larger metropolitan areas or smaller towns within commuting distance.

There are also a lot first time home buyers without the skills or cash flow to renovate properties themselves looking for updated homes. However, with fewer foreclosures on the market the competition is tight among investors to land profitable properties.

I would avoid small rural communities beyond a 40-minute commute to a city. Isolated small towns in Iowa are falling victim to loss of industry and dwindling population, decreasing home sales. Farmland is almost always a good investment, but the record breaking demand for tillable ground in Iowa seems to have peaked due to higher input cost and lower commodity prices for farmers.”

Kansas: Increasing competition for buyers and sellersKansas

Joel Weihe is one of the top producers in units sold with Realty World Alliance in Wichita, Kansas. He has more than 20 years of experience in the industry including construction management, property management, buying and flipping properties and consulting. His prediction for Kansas in 2014:

“In Kansas, there are fewer REO’s for sale and the properties that do become available often have multiple offers driving up prices. The Fed keeping interest rates low is also encouraging many investors in the area to take out lines of credit when cash runs low. This makes for plenty of competition and when desirable properties come on the market, they are quickly snatched up.

I would invest in more expensive homes as opposed to the smaller starter homes that were popular in 2012 and 2013. REO’s and rehab projects in middle class neighborhoods will be the best place to invest in 2014. You can make a profit by adding some inexpensive upgrades to the properties to make them stand out.

2014 will also be more about quality than quantity. There will be fewer more expensive properties bought and sold in the investment market which will increase competition for both buyers and sellers.”

KentuckyKentucky: Dependable appreciation in Louisville counties

Bob Sokoler is Owner of The Sokoler Medley Team at RE/MAX Properties East and is ranked 137th among all agents in the US according to REAL Trends. His prediction for Kentucky in 2014:

“The housing market is recovering nicely in Kentucky and we’ve seen steady growth in some areas of Louisville this past year. The main factors that will affect the market in 2014 will be whether or not interest rates rise above 5% and the buyer’s perception of how the economy is doing.

If you’re an investor from outside Louisville or are looking to move there, I would recommend investing in areas like St. Matthews, the Highlands and subdivisions in Oldham County. They are proven winners and outperform other parts of Louisville when it comes to appreciation of home prices.”

2014 Property Predictions for Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado and Florida
08 Jan 2014

2014 Property Predictions for Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado and Florida

AlabamaAlabama: Continued growth in inventory and price

Chris McNatt is a lifelong resident of North Alabama. He has been a successful licensed realtor for 10 years in Alabama, in addition to having 20 years experience in the auction industry. His prediction for 2014:

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“As it has in the past, the real estate market in Alabama will continue to grow. Several industries are looking to our state for business which means there are more job opportunities and more people are moving here.

It’s also a good time for investors to transition from purchasing rental homes rather than flips. As families relocate here, we will need the inventory of rental homes for those families that may have blemished credit or just uncertainty around their length of stay in Alabama.

Real estate auctions are the way to a great buy for investors because they are quick sales and to close. Although usually sold as-is, you still have a lot of time to inspect prior to the auction date.

New construction is also continuing to do well. A lot of people are buying new so they can get exactly what they want in the area they want.”

Arizona: Shift to a stable marketArizona

Asher Cohen is a top producing realtor and coach of 10+ agents at True Realty based in Scottsdale, Arizona. His website, provides 1st time home buyers and sellers along with seasoned investors with professional representation, necessary knowledge and skills to successfully close transactions. He says:

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“The market is continuing to recover and more buyers are able to obtain seller concessions as buyers have been able to bid on properties without 10-20 other potential offers already submitted.

Sellers are still able to sell their homes in a few days to a couple of months on the market, but need to make sure the price is set correctly and that the home is clean and staged nicely.

Arizona will also see more transplants of individuals and families due to the need from local companies hiring thousands of new employees. Some of the major cities including Central and Northern Phoenix, Scottsdale, Chandler and Gilbert have all seen continued growth in the value of homes. I would recommend investing in or near the major cities due to the large amount of companies hiring employees in these locations.

I would also recommend investing in a rental property near Arizona State University as there has been an increase in the number of students attending and wanting to rent.

I would avoid investing anywhere South of Phoenix. Most of my clients have avoided these areas due to lower rents and not enough demand for fix and flip opportunities. However, the upside with these areas have been builders and local municipalities purchasing land to start building improvements like community parks.”

CaliforniaCalifornia: Rising market, stable prices

America Foy is a top-producing real estate agent with 10+ years of experience in the San Francisco Bay Area. His expertise is in buying and selling high-end real estate in East Bay and has yearly sales in the multi-millions. America is also known for his extensive knowledge of the EB-5 program and being a compassionate advocate for the foreign investor. His prediction for 2014:

“California is an expansive state with a diverse housing market.

Overall, the market will go up, especially in urban areas. Areas with high populations, such as Los angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, San Jose and San Francisco will benefit from the rising market and overall price increases will begin to stabilize.

I recommend investing in any of the cities that have gone bankrupt, are in bankruptcy, or are coming out of bankruptcy – Vallejo, Stockton, or San Bernadino, for example. Any city that is under performing, but has good public transportation access to a major city is also a great location to invest in real estate.

For the long haul investors, I advise them to get in now and hold. I recommend against short term investors (flippers) as potential buyers now have access to information online to see how much the short term investors purchased the homes for and have the ability to judge for themselves the cost of the rehab work. Sometimes it will not make any sense to buyers to purchase the flipped home and those properties will sit on the market and go for less than asking price.”

Colorado: Increasing market due to growing economyColorado

Steven Robertson has been a licensed realtor for 22+ years and has experience in various facets of the real estate industry. He lives in the Metro-Denver area and specializes in the sale of single family residences, distressed properties, negotiations and income properties. His prediction for 2014 is:

“The Colorado market will increase throughout 2014 and the amount of change will depend on how much interests rates increase due to the growing economy. The job market in Denver looks positive for the next couple of years and it’s cheaper to buy a home than to rent which both signify increasing values.

Large government movements like The Affordable Care Act always cause a bit of uncertainty in the market and will have to play out in order to know how it will directly affect the real estate industry.

I would recommend investing in entry level homes for rental opportunities. Rentals are in high demand and are going at high market values. Investors should also think about purchasing homes they could eventually retire in or use as an extra home.

Apartment buildings should be avoided because of the large number of new builds right now making it a bit saturated and will result in high competition and low occupancy.”

FloridaFlorida: Continuous growth expected

Before becoming a real estate agent in Florida, Bunni Longwell spent several years in the title and mortgage industries. The experience she gained with these careers has helped her in the real estate industry. Her prediction for 2014:

“Florida has 2 cities on the top 10 list of best cities to buy in 2014: Jacksonville and Miami. In the upcoming year, we should see a continuous growth in property value up to 5% and Florida will be one of the top states to increase the number of homeowner buyers due to population growth and low unemployment rates.

I would recommend buying in neighborhoods that saw a lot of foreclosures. These areas are looking for investors to come in and buy some of these homes to bring some value back into the neighborhoods. They also make great rentals.”


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