House Unanimously Passes Condo Bill

mortgage interest puzzleOn February 2, 2016, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3700, “The Housing Opportunities through Modernization Act” with a unanimous vote of 427-0. This legislation sponsored by Reps. Luetkemeyer (R-MO) and Cleaver (D-MO) includes three major provisions that NAR supports:

1) The legislation solves a number of concerns regarding FHA’s condo rules:

  • Reduces owner occupancy ratio to 35%.
  • Directs FHA to streamline condo certification process.
  • Provides more flexibility for mixed use buildings.
  • Mirrors FHFA rules regarding private transfer fees.

2) The legislation provides permanent authority for direct endorsement for approved lenders to approve Rural Housing Service loans.

3) The legislation makes reforms to federally assisted rental housing programs to streamline the program.

NAR testified last year in support of H.R. 3700 before the U.S. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance. The bill now moves to the Senate.

Read the letter below:

February 1, 2016
U.S. House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative:
The more than 1 million members of the National Association of REALTORS® urge you to support H.R. 3700, the “Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act.” This bipartisan bill, sponsored by Reps. Luetkemeyer (R-MO) and Cleaver (D-MO), makes a number of reforms to federal housing programs that will streamline processes and create efficiencies for government and consumers.
H.R. 3700 reforms the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) single family mortgage insurance program and eliminates the current unequal treatment of buyers and sellers of condominiums vis-à-vis those purchasing single family homes. Condos are often the most affordable choice for first-time homebuyers, urban dwellers, and older Americans. Yet FHA places significant burdens on these borrowers, even though FHA’s condominium portfolio has performed stronger than traditional single family homes.  H.R. 3700’s provisions will ease restrictions, opening affordable home ownership opportunities for many American families.
This legislation also makes commonsense reforms to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) rental assistance programs. H.R 3700 would ease administrative burdens for housing agencies and owners, while delivering fairer and more efficient assistance to low-income families. The reforms also provide incentives for self-sufficiency.
H.R. 3700 also permanently authorizes the Rural Housing Service (RHS) use of direct endorsement lenders to approve RHA loans. FHA and VA home loan programs already utilize this approach, which uses approved private lenders and reduces the burden on the agencies.    NAR urges your support for H.R. 3700. This legislation will expand housing opportunities while protecting taxpayers.
Tom Salomone 2016 President, National Association of REALTORS®

Buying New or a Resale?

by Lynn M. Bower, PA
John R. Wood Properties


Lynn M. BowerBuying Real Estate – Old versus New

Our team has been helping customers buy and sell homes since 2004. We have gone through the good times starting in 2004 through 2007, and then we all saw the nationwide devastating period after the real estate boom. Those days are in the past and today we have over 50 new communities currently under construction in the Naples area. So when we work with buyers the question always arises “should I buy new or a resale”? This is a good problem to have but there are a few viewpoints we would like to share.

Buying in a new community:

·  New homes afford you fewer worries for a number of years in terms of appliance breakdowns and roofing issues. Most developers offer a one year warranty on their work and more on items like roofs and etc.

·  New will usually offer lower HOA fees until the community takes it over from the developer then they almost always rise.

·  New will enable you to take advantage of developer’s current incentives. NOTE: there are more during the summer slow months than in the peak of buying in the season/winter. Please note, if you are not working with a Realtor when it comes time to sign the contracts – you should. There are nuances in the contract that a seasoned agent know or will pick up and in the end help you the consumer. Also know that if you stop into a new community without a Realtor they ALWAYS have the visitor sign in. If you do so without your agent with you then you will not have any representation unless you hire an attorney before signing a contract.

·  If you have to sell before the developer finishes the project then you are in direct competition as a seller competing with the developer whose incentives could lessen your pool of buyers.

Buying a resale property

Naples was built from the beach eastward. Most of the buildings closer to the beach are older, however, in real estate it is always about location, location, location. With a resale you will have an established community most often closer to shopping, mature landscaping and almost always larger lots. The price developers are paying for land today coupled with labor costs drives them to build as many homes on a parcel as the county will allow them.

We have buyers who want the least expensive resale home in the nicest neighborhoods so they can remodel to their tastes. We also have buyers that want the home that has been remodeled so they don’t have to go through the mess. As far as condos go they are usually closer to the beach as well but again, older. There are some new condos being built for the first time in 8 years near the beach. Those prices start in the million dollar range.

When purchasing a resale the title search is imperative.  We have found so many mistakes in titling and building code infractions, all of which can undermine a closing. Needless to say Access Title Agency is one of our favorite go to companies for the last 4 years.

So, as they say “different strokes for different folks”. Until you work with a full time Realtor to discuss your wants and needs it can be a very daunting task finding that perfect home in Southwest Florida.

If you would like to see the quarterly statistics on Naples, FL resales you may go to  and then scroll down under Market News. The statistics represent a number of years in the past as well as most current.


Lynn M. Bower, PA
The Bower Team
Local Realtor. Global Reach.
Direct: (239)438-6784 for direct MLS access

John R. Wood Circle of Excellence 2012, 2013, 2014
Women’s Council of Realtors Past President

John R Wood logo


John R. Wood Properties
3255 Tamiami Trail N.
Naples, FL 34103



Monthly Newsletter Quiz: Mortgages and Florida Document Stamps and Intangible Tax

How Savvy are you in Real Estate?

Mortgages recorded in Florida are subject to document stamps and intangible tax.
How much is collected on a $250,000 Mortgage?


 A. $375.00
B. $1,375.00
C. $975.00
D. $1,037.00
The answer is “B”.


For more information on document stamps and intangible taxes, click on the links below.


Buyers Tips for Purchasing a Home in Today’s Market

by Christine Citrano, PA
Downing-Frye Realty

UChristine Citranonless you’ve been hiding under a rock you have probably read that the housing market is up all across the country and that low inventories are helping elevate pricing in some areas.  This is a great change for sellers, who have endured a slow market for the past 6 years.  But what does this mean if you’re a buyer?  The answer is that you must be prepared to act fast when you find a property that you like because chances are it won’t be available for long.

Here are some tips to help buyers act quickly:

Get preapproved, not just prequalified: This helps show the seller that the buyer is serious about this home purchase and has a greater likelihood of being approved for a loan and making it to closing.

Be responsive to lender requests for extra information:  By providing the lender with the information that they request you are going to improve your chances of being able to close in the time frame you choose.  Your title company and Realtor are there to make sure that all items are taken care of in a timely manner, according to the sales agreement timeline.

Be decisive, but not careless: Real estate professionals usually advise that no matter how much of a hurry a buyer is in they should still make their offer contingent upon a satisfactory home inspection. You don’t want to get stuck with a home riddled with problems.

Another thought is to make your offer, even if it’s a cash offer, be contingent upon an appraisal.  There will be a small fee associated with getting an appraisal but in the end it could be worth it as it can prevent you from paying too much for the property.

Working with a qualified buyer’s representative will greatly help you with all steps in the process of finding, negotiating and closing successfully on your property of choice.


Christine Citrano, PA
Downing-Frye Realty
Naples, Florida
[email protected]

Preparing for August 1st Changes in Real Estate Closings

Consumer Financial Protection BureauWith the rollout approaching on August 1st, we will now be required to show contact information for all parties involved on the Closing Disclosure Form (formerly called the Closing Statement, Settlement Statement, or HUD).  This will include State License ID numbers for Listing and Selling Agents.

To assist us in the transition of adding this required information by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to the Closing Disclosure Form, we will be sending out revised commission request forms. Our new commission verification form will have a line for agents to fill in with their State License id number.

Please note that Access Title Agency has encrypted email service to ensure that you and your client’s private or sensitive information does not get into the wrong hands.  Make sure that your Settlement provider is implementing recommended “Best Practices” and is prepared for a seamless transition in August.

Access Title Agency is here to assist you with these changes and to keep you informed.  Feel free to contact us if we can present to your group!

Geographical Competency and the Real Estate Appraiser

Real Estate ContractI often hear from real estate professionals that a sale has fallen through because the lender-ordered appraisal did not support the contract price.  In many cases, the appraiser assigned to the file has traveled from outside our market area and may not meet the requirements of “geographical competency” as required by the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) and Fannie Mae.  Lack of competence in any market typically leads to erroneous and unreliable value estimates.

The Competency Rule of USPAP is very clear on this issue:

Prior to accepting an assignment or entering into an agreement to perform any assignment, an appraiser must properly identify the problem to be addressed and have the knowledge and experience to complete the assignment competently; or alternatively, must:

1. disclose the lack of knowledge and/or experience to the client before accepting the assignment;

2. take all steps necessary or appropriate to complete the assignment competently; and

3. describe the lack of knowledge and/or experience and the steps taken to complete the assignment competently in the report.

Fannie Mae guidelines state that Lenders must use appraisers that:

Have the requisite knowledge required to perform a professional quality appraisal for the specific geographic location and particular property type; and have the requisite knowledge about, and access to, the necessary and appropriate data sources for the area in which the appraisal assignment is located.

Appraisers that are not familiar with specific real estate markets may not have adequate information available to perform a reliable appraisal.  Although the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) allows an appraiser that does not have the appropriate knowledge and experience to accept an appraisal assignment by providing procedures with which the appraiser can complete the assignment, Fannie Mae does not allow the USPAP flexibility.

To insure the lender receives an appraisal report that complies with USPAP and Fannie Mae guidelines, I suggest that when a real estate professional is contacted by an appraiser to schedule an inspection of the property, first determine that the appraiser has local knowledge and experience and has access to the MLS data systems for the market area in which the subject property is located.   If the answers to these questions are unsatisfactory, do not schedule the inspection, have the buyer instruct their lender to send a “geographically competent” appraiser.  Better perhaps to “nip it in the bud” rather than find yourself appealing the appraisal results at the eleventh hour.

Cindy Carroll, SRA
State-Certified Residential Real Estate Appraiser RD615
[email protected]

Carroll & Carroll logo




2805 Horseshoe Drive S., Ste 1
Naples, FL  34104-6161
Phone: 239.775.1147
Fax: 239.775.2154

Minor Child

Do You Know….

Exam Stress left


In a transaction involving a minor, which of the following would suffice for insuring title to real property owned by the minor child, being sold to a third party?


1.  Obtain the signature of the natural guardian(s) on the deed, assuming the equity of the minor does not exceed $15,000.00.
2.  Record an Order Removing Minority, showing the minor has been emancipated, and obtain the signature of the minor.
3.  Record a marriage certificate showing the minor is or was a married person and obtain the signature of the minor.
4.  Obtain the signature of the Plenary Guardian of the incapacitated person.


a. 1
b. 1, 2
c. 1, 2, 3
d. 2, 3, 4


The answer is: c.

Note: No legal advice or suggestions are being given.

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Good News for Borrowers who were Foreclosed on their Mortgage

FHA-Loan-UpdateIf you had the misfortune of having gone through a foreclosure, the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) is reducing the time for getting a chance to get approved for an FHA loan.

To read more about this, click here.


Note: No legal advice or suggestions are being given.
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Prescriptive Easement by Adverse Possession

People have the right to keep unwanted intruders off their property. They do this all the time, sometimes with fences or with signs, sometimes just by asking trespassers to please stay away. In cases of serious, repeated annoyance or threatened harm, landowners can call the police. They will usually warn the person to stay away and, if necessary, make an arrest. Trespass is a minor criminal offense, and someone convicted of criminal trespass can be fined and jailed. Another kind of trespass is more permanent: using another’s property as an owner would use it. If someone drives across a neighbor’s land every day, it is a trespass unless the owner has granted permission or the driver has a legal right, called an easement, to use that part of the neighbor’s property (see “Easements,” below.) The other neighbor who just put up a fence two feet over the boundary line is trespassing, as is the one whose garage has been in the wrong place on the neighbor’s property for several years. These trespassers can also be asked to leave or warned away. But there’s a chance that any of them may in fact have a legal claim to the property.


Many landowners are surprised to learn that under certain circumstances, a trespasser can come onto land, occupy it and gain legal ownership of it. The trespasser may acquire a few feet of property or whole acres in this way. If someone is using your property, even a small strip on the edge, you should be alert to the risk. A trespasser may also gain a legal right to use part of someone else’s property; this is called a prescriptive easement. (See “Easements,” below.) The legal doctrine that allows trespassers to become owners is called “adverse possession.” Although the name sounds nasty (and the results can be), the trespasser is not necessarily an intentional evildoer–far from it. The trespasser may simply have made a mistake–relying on a faulty property description in a deed, for example. In rural areas, the person who moves in and occupies several acres may believe he owned it, having purchased it from a scoundrel who sold someone else part of the Brooklyn Bridge. Questions about ownership often wind up in court after an absent owner of rural property discovers that someone is living on his land or, when a piece of urban property is sold, a title insurance company refuses to issue insurance because the neighbor’s garage is found to be standing squarely on the property. If the people involved can’t work something out, the property owner may sue the trespasser, or the trespasser may bring a lawsuit to quiet title–a request for the court to settle who owns what.


A trespasser is entitled to legal ownership of property if his occupation of the property is hostile, actual, open and notorious, exclusive and continuous for a period of years set by state statute. (We explain each of these terms below.) Some states, such as California, also require the trespasser to have paid the local property taxes on the land.(1) The time required, which varies from state to state, is usually twenty years. It can be as short as five years when the trespasser pays the property taxes.


The word “hostile” does not mean that the trespasser barricades himself on the land with a shotgun. Most courts follow one of two legal definitions of hostile. One is called the “Maine rule” and requires that the person be aware that he is trespassing.(2) For example, a man in Nebraska, a state which follows this rule, gained ownership of the neighboring eight acres by using them for years. He knew the property was not his, and a court characterized his action as hostile.(3) The other popular definition, the “Connecticut rule,” defines hostile simply as occupation of the land.(4) The trespasser doesn’t have to know that the land belongs to someone else. The Connecticut rule, kinder to the innocent trespasser, is followed by most states today.(5) Example: Jesse isn’t sure where his property line is, but he thinks an old fence marks the boundary. When he builds his new garage, he builds up to the fence line, which is actually ten feet over on his neighbor’s property. Under the Connecticut rule, Jesse’s intention doesn’t matter, and his occupation is hostile even though he thinks he is on his own land. A few states follow a third rule, which is directly opposite the Maine rule of requiring intentional trespass. The trespasser must be completely innocent and must have made a good faith mistake, such as relying on an invalid or incorrect deed. For example, in Iowa, which follows this good faith rule, a woman attempted to claim a strip of her neighbor’s land by adverse possession. The court denied her claim because she knew it was not her property, even though she had treated the property as her own for thirty years.(6) The chart below lists how each state has interpreted the requirement of hostile claim.

(1) Cal. Civ. Proc. Code Section 749.
(2) Preble v. Maine Cent. R.R., 85 Me. 260, 27 A. 149 (1893).
(3) Pettis v. Lozier, 205 Neb. 802, 290 N.W.2d 215 (1980).
(4) French v. Pierce, 8 Conn. 439 (1831).
(5) Helmholz, Adverse Possession and Subjective Intent, 61 Wash. U.L.Q. 331, at 339 (1983).
(6) Carpenter v. Ruperto, 315 N.W.2d 782 (Iowa 1982).

To read the whole article, click here.

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