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FAA subpoenas real estate firms that use drones
NEW YORK CITY – July 2, 2014 – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has the real estate industry in its crosshairs, as it begins to come down on the growing popularity of unlawful drone use for taking listing photos and videos.
The FAA has already targeted several brokerages in New York City that use drones, slapping them with subpoenas in a widespread move to learn more about how real estate professionals use the technology to advance their businesses.
This is the FAA’s interpretation of lawful model aircraft use.
The FAA does not condone the use of drones for commercial purposes but is expected to reveal proposed rules for such use next year. For now, practitioners who use drones for their business can be fined – and that’s exactly what will happen to a handful of NYC’s largest brokerages if they don’t stop their drone use immediately, FAA sources told the New York Post.
“It has completely blown up. We’re getting [subpoenas] all over the city and the Hamptons, and they’re just going to general counsel,” a source with New York-based Halstead Property told the Post. “It was a total shock.”
Several other NYC real estate firms have been subpoenaed as well, including Time Equities and Alchemy Property.
“We have a mandate to protect the American public in the air and on the ground, and the public expects us to carry out the mission,” FAA administrator Michael Huerta wrote in a memo, according to the Post.
It speaks to the risk real estate professionals take when using drones for their listings. The National Association of Realtors® has long warned that practitioners should steer clear of using drones for their business until the FAA releases solid rules on such use, which is expected by September 2015.
Source: “FAA takes on city Realtors using drones,” New York Post (July 1, 2014)
© Copyright 2014 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688
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LOS ANGELES – June 16, 2014 – When Taylor Billington and her husband, Gary, set their goals 10 years ago, one of the items they included on their “vision board” was a vacation home.
It was more than an idle fantasy. The Fort Lauderdale homeowners, who own a marketing firm, had traveled to Orange County many times, and they had a clear idea of what they were seeking.
“The house had to have a water view,” Taylor Billington said. “It had to be Zen. It had to be modern. It had to have a very organic feel.”
Earlier this year, they took the plunge, spending $2.9 million on a three-bedroom, 3,800-square-foot home overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Laguna Beach, where they’ll celebrate July 4th.
The home, perched on the edge of a canyon, beckoned with its fluid decks and an abundance of windows, as well as an infinity edge swimming pool and spa. The couple isn’t crazy about Laguna Beach’s summer traffic, but it did not come as a surprise. And it wasn’t a deal-breaker.
“We just don’t hate it as bad as here,” Taylor Billington said of the congestion on South Coast Highway, in an interview from her Florida home, “because the (Laguna) views are so amazing.”
The Billingtons followed one of the top rules that real estate agents cite about buying a second home: Make sure you know the area well first. Not just the draw. The drawbacks, too.
“Many people vacation somewhere, have a great time, then decide to buy something on a whim,” said Phil Malamatenios, Stanfield Group manager at Hom Sotheby’s International Realty in Orange County. It’s “not a good idea without researching thoroughly.”
Vacation home sales surged in 2013, the latest year available, according to the National Association of Realtors. They made up 13 percent of all residential transactions last year, the highest market share since before the housing crash in 2006.
If you’re on the market for a vacation home, here are some additional issues to consider, as laid out by agents and others knowledgeable about Southern California real estate:
Beware joint ventures
Ideally, one person or family will buy and use the home.
“If you involve friends or family members in a joint venture, be cautious and have an attorney to draft a partnership agreement,” said Phil Immel of ImmelTeam Luxury Real Estate in Dana Point. “Human nature changes business and family relationships. Divorce or financial change of circumstances over the years can get messy.”
If there’s more than one party involved, he advised, have a buyout agreement in advance.
Also, you would have to figure out who signs the loan documents. Some or all of the partners? The fewer involved, he said, the better.
He explained it this way: If two separate parties were on the documents, they’d be jointly – and separately – liable for the payments.
“If (you’re) not on the loan, the lender cannot use that against you” in evaluating whether you can afford other properties, Immel said. “However, you can count it as an asset, improving your creditworthiness overall.”
Consider renting it out
If you’re buying in a beach town and thinking of renting the home when you’re not there, get close to the water. Walking distance is most in demand, said Larry Aguilar of First Team Real Estate.
Aguilar is in the midst of closing a deal on a Balboa Peninsula condo for a client whose primary home is in Yorba Linda.
On the peninsula, Aguilar said, “You can make in the summer months what most people make in the whole year on a month-to-month rent somewhere else.”
“I own a lot of rental properties inland,” he said, adding, “Why don’t I buy something over there (near the ocean), and I can almost double or triple my income on rentals?”
If you are considering becoming a seasonal landlord somewhere, make sure you are clear on any rental restrictions, either by the city or a homeowners association.
Figure on extra costs
Think about how you would handle the business of rentals, including whether to hire a management company.
“Along the same lines, if you do not plan to do all of the work on the rental yourself, you need to consider having a team of people who can do repairs and manage the condition of the property as well,” said Christine Donovan, a real estate broker and attorney at DonovanBlatt Realty in Costa Mesa. “These all add up to additional costs of owning the home.”
Even if you don’t share your getaway with tenants, remember to factor in such costs as utilities, maintenance and landscaping.
Make it a stress-free trip
Many people prefer a relatively short trek to their second home, so buying something that’s between a 45-minute and a couple-of-hours’ drive from your primary residence can be a good idea.
Larry Aguilar’s Yorba Linda client is 56-year-old Hemant Agrawal. The Balboa Peninsula condo is his first vacation home. The search, Agrawal said, was a relative snap.
“It was much simpler than had it been for someone who’s not aware of what they need,” he said. “We were already clear we wanted to be as close to the water as we can.”
He also saw no need to travel far.
“Sometimes you just want to get away just to take a break,” said Agrawal, who works in the software industry and is married with two grown children in their 20s. The kids like the peninsula’s summertime vibe, busier than their quiet, inland neighborhood, he noted.
“They wanted to be someplace where there’s some action.”
Pick the right beach
Buying a house along the beach brings its own set of decisions.
“Do they want a busy beach or quiet beach?” asks Ken Ross of Surterre Properties, who sells oceanfront houses along a strip of Capistrano Beach where the homeowners also own the sand.
“Do they want to be closer or further away from the water?” he said. “In Orange County the water could be anywhere from 50 feet away to 500 feet away.”
And size doesn’t matter as much as it might in another area, according to Ross.
“Do they really need a bigger home?” he said. “When at the beach, they are outside 80 percent-plus of the time.”
Don’t isolate yourself
If it’s isolation you’re after, that’s fine. But be aware of the financial implications. Agents say that being an outlier can limit a vacation home’s resale potential.
“A remote location could be a hard resale, as most people don’t want to be remote,” Donavan said. They typically want to be near such amenities as restaurants and shopping, she said.
Gloria Jewell of Teles Properties, who sold the Billingtons their Laguna Beach house, agreed.
“Although a remote area does appeal to a few, the masses will prefer a destination resort for a vacation home,” she said. “Anywhere in a resort area – whether it’s golf, ocean, skiing (or) desert – will sell quicker.”
Above all, don’t let your vacation bliss lead you into a bad decision that could be with you for years.
“Purchasing a vacation home is such an emotional purchase,” Ross said, “that I have seen very smart people make decisions they would not do in any other circumstance.”
Copyright © 2014 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.), Marilyn Kalfus. Distributed by MCT Information Services.
SAN FRANCISCO – June 12, 2014 – The concept of value is subjective when it comes to home amenities, and sellers often find that price and cost do not equal value.
Buyers’ and sellers’ motivations and desires play a big role, but they can be difficult to calculate. Some people may be willing to pay more for a pool, a main-floor master bedroom or to live a certain location, for example, but these features may turn off others.
Experts point out that a home’s worth is based on the data as well as the role it serves for the person living there. Other factors to consider include functional obsolescence due to over-improvement, whether the market will pay more for unique features like outdoor kitchens or media and audio systems, and whether buyers want athletic equipment in their homes that they can access at professional gyms and training facilities.
It’s important for buyers to consider whether the home works for them, as the “value in use” to the occupant may not be supported by market data.
Source: Inman News (03/31/14) Miller, Hank
© Copyright 2014 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688
NAHB: Leading Markets Index shows 56 metros at or above normal levels in June
WASHINGTON – June 10, 2014 – Of the approximately 350 metro markets nationwide, 56 returned to or exceeded their last normal levels of economic and housing activity in June, according to the National Association of Home Builders/First American Leading Markets Index (LMI). This represents a net gain of nine metros year-over-year.
The index’s nationwide score of .88 held steady from the previous month. This means that based on current permit, price and employment data, the nationwide average is running at 88 percent of normal economic and housing activity. Meanwhile, 30 percent of metro areas saw their score rise this month and 83 percent have shown an improvement over the past year.
“Markets are gradually returning to normal levels of housing and economic activity,” said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly. “When we see more sustainable levels of job growth, this will unleash pent-up demand and bring more buyers into the marketplace.”
Baton Rouge, La., continues to top the list of major metros on the LMI, with a score of 1.4 – or 40 percent better than its last normal market level. Other major metros at the top of the list include Honolulu; Oklahoma City; Austin, Texas and Houston. Rounding out the top 10 are Los Angeles; San Jose, Calif.; Harrisburg, Pa.; Pittsburgh and Salt Lake City – all of whose LMI scores indicate that their market activity now equals or exceeds previous norms.
“Of the three components in the LMI, the one lagging is single-family housing permits, which is only 43 percent of the way back to normal while home prices are 26 percent above their last normal level and employment is at 95 percent of its previous norm,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “In the 22 metros where permits are at or above normal, the overall index indicates that these markets have fully recovered.”
“Well over one-third of all markets are operating at a level of at least 90 percent of previous norms, and this bodes well for a continuing housing recovery in the year ahead,” said Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman of First American Title Insurance Co., which co-sponsors the LMI report.
Looking at smaller metros, both Odessa and Midland, Texas, boast LMI scores of 2.0 or better, meaning their markets are now at double their strength prior to the recession. Also at the top of the list of smaller metros are Bismarck, N.D.; Casper, Wyo.; and Grand Forks, N.D., respectively.
The LMI shifts the focus from identifying markets that have recently begun to recover, which was the aim of a previous gauge known as the Improving Markets Index, to identifying those areas that are now approaching and exceeding their previous normal levels of economic and housing activity.
More than 350 metro areas are scored by taking their average permit, price and employment levels for the past 12 months and dividing each by their annual average over the last period of normal growth. For single-family permits and home prices, 2000-2003 is used as the last normal period, and for employment, 2007 is the base comparison.
© 2014 Florida Realtors®
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Survey: Growth to pick up, hiring steady
WASHINGTON (AP) – June 9, 2014 – U.S. economic growth should accelerate in the second quarter and remain healthy for the rest of this year, according to a forecast by a group of U.S. business economists. Still, growth for the full year will likely come in lower than they previously estimated.
Job growth should remain steady and consumer spending will also likely pick up, a survey by the National Association of Business Economists said Monday. The survey of 47 economists from companies, trade associations and academia was conducted from May 8 to May 21.
The survey also found that economists increasingly agree that the Federal Reserve will end its bond purchase program by the end of this year.
That’s partly because economists are optimistic about growth for the rest of this year: They expect it will jump to 3.5 percent in the second quarter and remain above 3 percent for the rest of the year.
But the pickup comes after harsh winter weather caused the nation’s gross domestic product to contract 1 percent in the first three months of the year, much worse than analysts had expected. GDP is the broadest measure of an economy’s output.
That weak first quarter reading has caused many economists to lower their expectations for 2014 as a whole. The NABE survey found that economists now project growth will be just 2.5 percent this year, down from a forecast of 2.8 percent in March.
The new forecast is still slightly above the annual average growth rate of about 2.2 percent since the recession ended in June 2009 and up from 1.9 percent in 2013. But stronger growth is needed to accelerate hiring and boost wage growth, which has been weak by historical standards.
The NABE’s survey is slightly more pessimistic than the Federal Reserve’s most recent projections, released in March. The Fed expects growth will be between 2.8 percent and 3 percent this year. The Fed may lower its growth outlook for this year when it releases its next forecasts later this month because of the first quarter’s contraction.
Economists are nearing a consensus about the timing of the Federal Reserve’s next moves. Nearly three-quarters expect the Fed will end its bond purchase program in the final three months of this year, the NABE survey found. That’s up from the 57 percent who said so three months ago.
The Fed is purchasing Treasury securities and mortgage-backed bonds in an effort to lower long-term interest rates to encourage more borrowing and spending. It has been steadily paring back the program, from $85 billion a month last year to $45 billion in May.
In addition, 86 percent of economists forecast that the Fed will raise the benchmark short-term interest rate it controls for the first time in 2015. In March, just 53 percent said 2015, while one-third said this year and 15 percent said a rate hike wouldn’t occur until 2016.
The NABE survey found that the economists are more optimistic about hiring. They project that employers will add 209,000 jobs a month this year. That’s up from their March forecast of 188,000.
So far this year, hiring has been a little bit better: it has averaged 214,000 a month from January through May.
More jobs means more people earning paychecks, and that can boost spending.
Economists are more optimistic about consumer spending this year, which they estimate will grow at a 2.9 percent pace. That would be the highest level since 2006.
Copyright © 2014 The Associated Press, Chris Rugaber, AP economics writer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.