Residential Properties

green-homeFlorida might just be about to go greener. That is of course, if the proposed WildBlue development is approved and thereafter created. Situated right by the Florida Gulf Coast University, Lee County, the project is a unification of property development and green living. The housing will be put up in the Panther Habitat Area and Groundwater Resource Area and will encompass one thousand homes, over 3,500 acres.

Next week there will be a discussion of these plans led by Real Estate Investment Society's (REIS) Private Equity Group.  The discussion will be led by Don Schrotenboer from the group and will focus on the project’s “innovative planning and exceptional conservation efforts.”

Right now the project is still awaiting approval. Once that happens, design will commence and then ways of expanding the current 332 units to 1,000 clustered ones – surrounded by lakes and preserves – will forge ahead.

Ultimately should it gain approval, WildBlue will offer an incredible chance for restoring the environment. General restoration, such as Stewart Cypress Slough is also in the plan and funding will come from private sources.

by Ricardo Mangual
by Ricardo Mangual

Special needs adults in the Brevard region will soon be able to apply for one of the 125 units at a new innovative residential campus. Conveniently located near the Hammock Landing shopping mall, Brevard’s Promise is intending on building three three-floor apartment buildings, together with a 13,000 sq. ft. clubhouse.

This initiative is a real dream come true for parents of now adult children with special needs. One of these such individuals is the organization’s own founder and executive director, Betsy Farmer, whose child Luke has Down Syndrome. The organization was founded by Betsy and Luke back in 2005. The project received $11.8m in federal low-income housing tax credits by the FHFC along with a further $3m developmental disability grant. In addition, the project received $1m from a state apartment-initiative loan program.

Similar packages were received last year for the construction of Jacksonville’s Arc Village and Noah’s Landing village for disabled people.

This is hopefully just the beginning. It is anticipated that the organization will launch a variety of businesses to give jobs to between 80 and 90 percent of its residents with special needs.


It seems that mortgage lenders are actually finally dealing with South Florida’s disastrous housing situation.  Today, the region ranks as one of the top metro areas vis-à-vis mortgage modifications. Ever since the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) began back in 2009, a staggering 46,032 trial/permanent modifications have been approved in the following counties to date: Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach.

But the question is, what’s the fine print?  Do these modifications really help, and, if so, how much?  Over 92,000 have been attempted in South Florida, which indicates that approximately 50 percent of them have failed.  Still, that means half have worked and since before the settlement was established one could only pay lower interest rates and add years on to the mortgage in a modification, today, there are more choices, which ultimately provide much better relief as lenders are offering more realistic and helpful assistance to homeowners, such as mortgage balance forgiveness.

What this means is, that homeowners become more motivated.  They see that they are being offered something real – the loan modification is going to actually help them.  One example was of a lender “forgiving” $112,000 in principal for a client who was paying approximately $4,000 per month on an underwater mortgage (whereby the property is worth less than what they are repaying).  As well, a slashing of bank interest rates from 7 to 2 percent, reduced the monthly payments further to $2,300.

It thus looks like there is a far greater grasp of reality on what people can afford which seems to be the most sensible way of assisting the present housing crisis in South Florida.

A new program – Hardest Hit – has provided Florida with $1bn to help those who are unemployed (or underemployed) keep their homes.  Around 3,400 home-owners are being helped in this way.  The program began nine months ago from Florida and since that time, around 23,320 have filled out applications.  A staggering $77.3 m has been given to those applications that were approved (or set aside for them).  Moving over to Palm Beach County, out of the 1,931 applications received, 348 were approved and $7.7m was paid out or reserved for this program.

Program Eligibility

To be eligible for the program, homeowners need to be Florida residents, using the property as their primary residence.  As well, they need to be unemployed/underemployed with a total household income that does not reach 140 percent of the area median income.  Finally, their financial hardship must be the result of something that the homeowner did not cause themselves.

Program Critics

There have however, been some critics of the program.  For example, some have complained that too many people are not eligible.  Indeed, close to 10,000 homeowners failed the eligibility test.  One of the reasons was that they were more than 180 days late for mortgage payments.  But that seems unfair as they probably did not pay because they were unable to and thus need the help from the Hardest Hit program. 

So while Hardest Hit is a great program, it definitely has room for improvement.

And now, no matter where you are, you can see what is going on in your home.  Go out for lunch, go to work, but still be able to keep track of the happenings in your home. This is already the case in Naples, Florida, where monitors are being put in into homes. One homeowner said she likes the new technology just to be able to keep an eye on things at home when she’s not there.


The new technology – called E-Monitor – employs the same idea as a car dashboard. People using it can track their doors being locked, energy efficiency and even let them turn lights on and off.  As a result, it is able to reduce energy bills by around a quarter.  While it is currently available for use in Florida, experts believe it will be nationwide and a $15bn industry within the next three years. Presently, the system costs $1,500 to install. But it’s great if someone immediately finds out that their appliance is not working properly. Co-owner of Your Home Watch Professionals, Bob Weiss, said, “we’re always afraid that when we leave and turn the key something is going to break so we're able to monitor that by knowing that 7-10 days out we won't have to worry as much because if it breaks in three days we get an email alert.”

The first ever official partnership between Atlas Real Estate Partners and Andover Real Estate partners took place when a 336-unit building – Sawgrass Cove Apartments – was acquired by the two companies.  They will now join together to develop this multifamily platform in Florida over the next two years. 

Greystar Collaboration

Greystar will be working alongside Atlas and Andover in this project as the community is reabsorbed in its new location.  It is, overall, a phenomenal opportunity for the Sawgrass Cove community as the new location is very centrally located from great shopping and eatery areas – Bradenton and Anna Maria Beach.  As well, the properties themselves will have upgraded amenities and the hope is a new sense of community will develop quickly.  On the schedule are events for residents and town hall meetings so that the people living there can really be heard.

New homes are to be built in the Lely Resort, which is located in Naples, Florida.  The company engaged in the building work is Stock Construction.  The residential units will comprise five floors plans which are named: Santa Ana, Santa Clarita, San Clemente, San Pablo and San Pablo B.  In each of them, there will be maximum natural light capacity as additional windows will be fitted.

Santa Ana

This property will comprise three bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms, living and dining areas, and a garage for two vehicles.  This will span 1733 sq. feet.

Santa Clarita

The building will be a town home with two floors, covering 1989 sq. feet, which will have two/three bedrooms, a half-bath, a side-loaded entrance, covered porch from the kitchen and a Juliette balcony off the guest suite.  Attached to the unit will be a garage suitable for two vehicles and two closets for storage.

San Clemente

Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, two lake-facing lanais, garage for two cars, large living area and altogether measure 1404 sq. feet.

San Pablo

This will span 1774 sq. feet and be on the second level.  It will comprise: three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fancy kitchen, large front porch, a garage with the capacity for two vehicles.  San Pablo B will be the same.

All five new designs call for installation of more windows which leads to optimum natural light penetration.

It may be true that condos in South Florida are going down the pan, but it’s certainly not the case for the area’s apartments.  Indeed, plans are in motion to erect over 4,000 rental apartments: two high rises in downtown Fort Lauderdale; around 400 apartments on Young Circle and a complex with about the same amount of units in Boca Raton, at the old Levitz shopping center.

What happened was, in response to when real estate was doing great in the area, many apartment buildings and complexes were made into condos.  But given that it seems like there is now a greater supply for tenants, apartment buildings are being constructed once again.  Today, lots of young professionals who are somewhat skeptical about entering the property purchasing market, are looking to rent apartments or are unable to afford the mortgages on the original homes they bought so need an alternative.

It seems that these days instead of buying big homes with tough mortgages, the trend is moving towards smaller places, that do not require a down payment, with less monthly payments and someone to take care of any problems in the property.  It is much less of a hassle than having to deal with it on your own and way cheaper.  And it’s certainly been a huge plus for the South Florida community vis-à-vis people looking for affordable housing.

The figures for this year real estate market in South Florida, show quite simply that there are not enough properties to go around.  According to real estate agencies, there has been a steady decline in property availability in the area in the last few years.  For example, the amount of single-family homes and condominiums for sale in the Broward County and Palm Beach County area is around 50 percent lower than it was a few years ago.  According to Keyes Co. Chip Rowand, there are tons of people going for the same few properties available, and almost as many offers being made.  The bottom line is, more properties are needed.  According to a comment he made in a recent article, Rowand says “analysts expect that’ll happen soon enough as a new wave of foreclosures hits the market.”

Shadow Inventory Homes

According to CoreLogic, last July, the “shadow inventory (homes that will soon enough be on the market due to a foreclosure but cannot be counted in the figure of homes for sale as are not yet on the market) of homes for sale” was at 1.9m.  That figure dropped to $1.6m this July.   The research company’s chief economist, Mark Fleming said, “the steady improvement in the shadow inventory is a positive development for the housing market.  However, continued price declines, high levels of (underwater mortgages) and a sluggish labor market will keep the shadow supply elevated for an extended period of time.”

In today’s strapped economy, many struggling homeowners have difficulty selling their properties. Oftentimes, those in need of immediate cash flow will find themselves selling their properties at a substantial discount.  The real estate research firm Radar Logic, for instance, estimates that the discount that sellers face at the moment averages approximately 40%-.

Helping those in need, companies like Transcendent Investment Management with Jordan Kavana offer a balanced strategy.  While purchasing properties from banks, courts and other sources, TIM can purchase and sell single-family homes, condominiums and multi-family properties while also purchasing properties for rental.

As TIM explains, “This provides capital gains balanced with a stable cash flow from a portfolio of value-priced hard assets.”  Transcendent earns its returns by serving as a capital provider for distressed properties and best in class investment manager across the country. Their knowledgeable team finds high absolute return investments in real estate that show fundamental value, a favorable risk-return profile and an identifiable exit.