foreclosure process 2013 MAY BE THE BEST YEAR TO BUY A HOME

Aside from mortgage interest rates being at the lowest in almost 30 years, and home prices still well below what they were 6 years ago (although positively climbing…good for sellers, bad for investors) numerous elements of the fiscal cliff bill favor buyers and sellers alike.  This may mean 2013 is the best time to buy a home.

After consistent declines last year in interest rates, the start of 2013 marked another drastic dip in rates, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey.  The average 30-year fixed rates in January 2013 was 3.34, down form 3.35 at the end of 2012, and well below 3.90 at the beginning of 2012.  15-year fixed averages slid below 2.65, down from 3.23 exactly a year ago.

Lenders have also finally faced the  cold hard facts (it took them long enough)!  They have finally realized that it is much more profitable to accept a short sale then take a harder hit through a foreclosure.  Bank statistics show they lose about 20 percent in a foreclosure sale compared to 14 percent in a short sale, according to the National Association of Realtors data.

For this reasons, banks are not only approving short sales in record time (my firm is seeing between 45 to 50 day approvals) but are giving homeowners, buyers and even tenants money incentives to sell and close the short sale.  Attorney Jacqueline Salcines states “As recently as December 2012, my client received a $26,000.00 incentive, $20,000 from his lender and $6,000 from the HAFA program, AND, wrote off his mortgage balance.  This translates into an overwhelming incentive and gift to the borrower that is selling.”  This is good news for sellers selling and the buyer/investors still looking for a good deal.

While experts such as predict that home prices will increase about 3.1 percent in 2013, which is great for sellers and their realtors, there is still lots and lots of good news for buyers.  New home buyer incentives have been reinitiated giving first time home buyers credits to buy again.

All in all, whether you are buying or selling, it makes no sense to go it alone.  Consult with an attorney who is qualified to provide solid advice in the field of real estate home purchases and investments.




Last week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced new rules, known as the Qualified Mortgage (or QM for short), for mortgage financing. This new regulation, while creating a safer harbor for the lenders, reducing their risks, drastically impacts homebuyers and their ability to obtain loans.

At the start of 2013, lenders will face stricter guidelines in getting their loans approved. This translates into additional safeguards, additional manpower, additional fees and costs to borrowers. The rules will require tighter qualify control requirements for lenders including full documentation of applicant’s income, assets, employment, credit history, etc.

Plus, the Dodd-Frank Law in effect, limits points for qualified mortgages at 3 percent of the loan. This could heavily impact large lenders and home builders who provide incentives for home owners and use affiliated companies for their services, such as appraisers, title and surveyors.
Also affected are jumbo mortgages, which could affect higher end home sales in Counties and Cities with higher sales figures such as Coral Gables, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach. Jumbo loan limits in Florida counties are classified as follows:

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Under the new regulations, to achieve safe harbor status, a loan must not have a debt-to-income ratio in excess of 43%. David Stevens, Chairman and President of the Mortgage Bankers Association estimates that “between 22 and 25 percent of all jumbo loans that exceed those limits, have DTI’s beyone that cap” thereby they will be affected.

To read more on this go to:

So, a few tips to make financing your home easier and allowing you to escape this bureacacy:

● Preserve your credit and keep your credit scores high
● Put down at least a 20% down payment on your purchase
● Avoid PMI mortgage insurance
● Use a qualified mortgage banker or broker to find the best possible programs and loans
out there for you based on your particular situation.

And the best advice of all… don’t go it alone.

Hire a qualified attorney to handle your closing! By hiring an attorney and accountant, you pay no more than a title company would charge BUT get additional services from a qualified professional including

● Review of Good Faith Estimates provided by mortgage brokers to check fees and costs

● Review and examination of title on the home you are purchasing to make sure title is free and clear of all encumbrances
● Preparation of the Closing Statement HUD-1 to make sure all charges are accurate
● Attendance at closing and review of all lender documents including mortgage and note

Contact me for more information on our real estate closing services.

Jacqueline A. Salcines, Esq. 305|669|5280

Or email me directly at


On Friday, January 18, 2013, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced changes to their servicing requirements for short sales. These changes apply to all Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac short sales, with an offer and without an offer.

• Title Transfer requirement change:

o The buyer is prohibited from selling the property for any sales price for a period of 30 days from the date of the deed.

o After a 30 day period, and until 90 days from the date of the deed, the buyer is further prohibited from selling the property for a sales price greater than 120% of the short sale price.

This restriction runs with the land, meaning that it is not personal to the seller and will transfer to the new buyer.

Below is an example on how to calculate the 120%:

o Purchase Price is $100,000.00
o 120% of the purchase price would be $100,000.00 X 1.2 = $120,000.00

• Relocation Assistance:

o The borrower may be entitled to an incentive payment of $3,000 from Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac to assist with relocation expenses following successful completion of a short sale unless:

1. The borrower is required to contribute funds or execute a promissory note.

2. The borrower has Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders and receives a Dislocation Allowance (DLA) or other government relocation assistance.

3. The servicer has knowledge that the borrower is receiving relocation assistance from another source other than the servicer.

Note: If the borrower receives relocation assistance from a source other than Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac or the Servicer, the difference in the relocation assistance amount up to the $3,000 incentive maximum may be provided. If the borrower will receive relocation assistance from a source other than Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac or the Servicer and the amount is equal to or greater than $3,000, no relocation incentive will be provided.

With all these changes, now more than ever, it is crucial to have an attorney negotiate and close your short sale. THE LAW OFFICES OF JACQUELINE A. SALCINES, P.A. is dedicated to negotiating short sales, and providing both title work and title closing services for all closings. Call us for a free consultation. Tel: 305.669.5280. or visit us on the web WWW.SALCINESLAW.COM


Finally, Congress came to its senses, and extended the debt forgiveness benefits for qualified homeowners. Through the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, qualified distressed homeowners who have any debt forgiven as a result of a short sale, foreclosure or loan modification principal reduction, will not have to pay taxes on any debt forgiven. This protection is now extended through December 31, 2013. Homeowners will still receive a 1099-C form that will need to be reported to the IRS, but will not be liable for any amounts owed to the IRS for such cancellation of debt.

Under the Federal Tax Code, all types of forgiven debt are treated as income, and is subject to taxes. Because of the recently passed Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act, homeowners who get their mortgage debt forgiven through either a short sale or loan modification, will not face a tax on the amount forgiven, up to $2 million dollars. “Forgiven Debt” refers to the difference between the amount the homeowner owes on his or her mortgage and the amount the mortgage company receives at closing.

The law had short sellers scrambling to close by December 31, 2012, because had it not been extended, any forgiven debt would be considered taxable income. But now, with this new law, distressed homeowners are free to continue their short sales without having to worry about paying Uncle Sam any amounts after the closing.

Attorney Jacqueline Salcines states “In the advent of the housing market recuperating and so many homes in South Florida being in foreclosure and short sale, there was a dire need for the extension of this protection to homeowners. Many clients were coming into the office, wanting to walk away and face judgments or bankruptcy because they truly had no means of paying any amounts to the IRS. Now, with the protection extended, we can once again freely negotiate these short sale to completion without the homeowner worrying whether they will incur additional costs.”

“It certainly should not have taken so long to have this law extended. And it should be extended beyond December 31, 2013 because with so many homes in South Florida in distress, there will be principal reductions and short sales requiring forgiveness for years to come. This is not going to be cleaned up in one year.” Aida Pacheco, Loss Mitigation Manager at Jacqueline A. Salcines, P.A.

For now, we will have until December 31, 2013 to close existing short sales and modify loans. With our rapid team of short sale processors, we, at the Law Offices of Jacqueline A. Salcines, PA can get the job done.

South Florida Real EstateYou can’t talk South Florida Real Estate in a vacuum; the industry is too meshed up with the economy in general

Taking a bird’s eye view on where South Florida has been to where it is today, and what factors have contributed to it, helps frame the conversation more intelligently.

All and all South Florida Real Estate and local economy is pretty resilient. Tourism some would say is at the forefront of the recovery, slowly followed by Real Estate and Infrastructure (public works).

Progress is slow, and you could argue too negligible to make a positive mid or long term prognosis.

Tourism has been our bread and butter for some time now.

“According to Smith Travel Research, hotels in metropolitan Miami averaged $200.85 a night in Feb, up 9.2% from the same period a year earlier. By the way compared to New York City hotels avg $188.86 the same month. All Hotels in Broward and Palm Beach rose from a year earlier.”  –daily business review

But why is Tourism such a play for us?

According to Mike Maxwell, director of the real estate development program at the Huizenga School of Business at Nova Southeastern, “we are still a deal”.

It’s true!

If you compare hotel rates in New York, San Francisco and Miami, We ARE a deal! –and at the end of the day you are still in sunny South Florida.

As far as South Florida Real Estate is concerned, according to the Miami Association of Realtors, the median sales price of a single-family home in May was $190,000. This is about a 6 percent increase from a year ago.

The available homes inventory however has shrunk to $11,403 from $16,943 in the same period. There are also still quite a few foreclosures occurring with lots of cash buyers making their moves.

The condo market is rebounding together with the luxury homes sector. Commercial properties in addition to apartment complexes are also going for premium pricing.

So can you find deals out there today?

I think so! –they are not as attractive as they were a year to a year and a half ago. But there are a lot of people still hurting with their bad real estate assets weighing them down. The challenge is the financing.

Banks are still shy, some are lending, but most are waiting for stronger signs of a recovery. According to the FDIC, in the 1st Q of this year bank loan balances shrank by $56 billion.

On the flipside of that coin, there’s a lot of South American money coming into South Florida. For this group South Florida Real Estate and South Florida in general still provides them with a stable infrastructure where to park their cash and grow their real estate assets and business portfolios.

My personal view on our current South Florida Real Estate status and what it means for the average person is:

I’ve always believed South Florida can take the heat! As a community we’ve been through a lot, if we pull together we’ll always do better than if we don’t.

Regarding Real Estate opportunities:

Keep searching… the deals are out there!

I’m presented with opportunities in Real Estate on a weekly basis. It’s all about networking with the right Realtors, Attorneys and Homeowners and keeping a win-win viewpoint throughout the process!

Take care 🙂

Happy 4th of July from Salcines Law

I Hear America Singing
The Poetry Foundation

A collection of classic and contemporary poems from the Poetry Foundation archive to celebrate the Fourth of July.

by Becca Klaver

At no other time in the history of the Real Estate Industry, has the need for Miami Realtors to have a Team approach been more important.

Social Media and Team Building for Real Estate Brokers

Is tough for Miami Realtors these days. As an Attorney specializing in Real Estate Law I spend quite a bit of my time working elbow to elbow with Realtors in general.

Some Realtors are really good at what they do, and they do very well. Others are still struggling and trying to figure out how to adjust.

So I asked myself a question:


Why in spite of the same market economy and opportunities to make something happen, some of them do spectacularly well and others do poorly?

Let me offer you some insight on this topic:

As of July 1st 2012,  the amount of properties for sale in Coral Gables, FL which is where I live and run my practice from is 342.

If you estimate roughly about 100 strong listing agents that focus in the area (very conservative!)   -What’s the avg amount of available property per agent? Do the math!

The average property in Coral Gables has been in the market for 224 days and the median single family home price hovers at the $1.133 MM mark at an average cost of $337 per square foot.

The local economy is not out of intensive care yet, and in addition you not only have a very informed consumer, but also a well educated seller… A good thing!

However, an educated consumer also knows that if they must use a Realtor they are going to shop around for one that has the ability to move product and attract buyers! 

That means that today’s agents have to be equipped with a media-like platform housing their content creation and distribution, word of mouth networks and Social Media channels.

Because of a drying out of inventory, many Realtors have been focusing exclusively in the Short Sale Market,  because of  homes that are being foreclosed.

So if you think about all this in terms of  “customer needs and market trends” you soon realize that Miami Realtors have almost no choice but to say to themselves:    “I have to grab whatever comes my way, and sell anything that has a folio #”.

So, they want listings, buyers, help out with loan mods and shortsales, offer rental services, and if they have time, sell Life Insurance on the side.

I believe there is a broad definition to what a Real Estate consumer looks like these days. Their needs are versatile and they are educated and well informed!

So in search of an answer to my question I noticed that successful Miami Realtors do things a little different than average ones.

 A Miami Realtors mini-guide to Local Success


Surround yourself with a team of trusted advisors:

  • Team up with 1-2 bankers and financial institutions.
  • Create relationships with hard money guys and angel investors interested in Real Estate.
  • If focused on short sales and loan mods, get a good legal team to back you while you continue to focus on what matters most to your Real Estate practice:  marketing and prospecting.
  • Reach out to Relocation directors and introduce yourself.
  • Create alliances with value-based and consumer-centric Realtors. Do this with Listing and Buyer’s agents that you feel you can develop a working relationship with.

Get to know your ideal client better than they know themselves:

  • Do you work primarily with sellers or buyers? Each of them have unique content needs and decision making cycles.
  • If you focus on investors, foreign buyers… What are they looking for and why?
  • Anticipate their needs and provide content that helps their decision making process and ease their resistance points.
  • The needs of a retired couple are vastly different than those of a recently married couple, or even those with kids. I know you know this! But take advantage of that information when you create content around their personal needs.

What areas and neighborhoods do you feel you know like the back of your hand?

  • This makes a huge difference when you are working with motivated buyers. Buyers don’t just buy real estate, they buy the neighborhood, schools, hospitals, parks and libraries… you get the point!
  • Also, sellers want to know if you cultivate buyers streams and if you can sell and position their property in the right light. For them it’s also important that you get the local market they live in.

What type of property do you consider yourself an expert in?

  • If condos are your thing, then what kind of person buys a Condo in Brickell/Downtown?
  • What are the reasons why someone would but a condo? To live it, for their parents, flip it, rental? What’s going on in their lives?
  • Is the Luxury Residential market your thing?  If so, you need to start talking to Estate Planning attorneys, sports and celebrity agents, Publicists, CPAs, etc.
  • Find the right buying persona for the type of real estate property you’d like to specialize in.
  • Position yourself more as an Advisor and less as an Agent.

Build on these points and embed them in your model according to how you run your real estate business. But keep them front and center!

The fabric of the real estate industry is changing quickly, and even though there are those that feel realtors are not necessary, the fact is that “Over 80% of all FSBO’S end up listing with a Real Estate agent”

By the way, hint-hint! Mining FSBOs data  may not be such a bad idea since 8 out 10 sellers seek out a Realtor eventually.

Why is this a good thing for Miami Realtors?  –Because the FSBO that just spent 3 months attempting to sell their home is an educated consumer, the best kind!

Successful Miami Realtors also understand their local market and work within a team of professionals that are in turn well entrenched in the fabric of the community. These Realtors become an invaluable asset to anyone looking to buy or sell Miami Real Estate.

They also think of themselves more as Advisors and less as Agents. That idealized self image comes right through and it does make a profound impact on their prospects and current clients.

In summary, I think if at the local level Miami Realtors work as a team, with a consumer-centric mindset, not only will we prosper together but we’ll be offering remarkable value to those we aim to help:  Our customers and clients!


The Arts have always been a good catalyst for reviving local districts and neighborhoods, this is the case for Wynwood via the ARTPLACE Grant.


Wynwood Art ArtPlace is the product of a pioneering initiative of 11 of America’s top foundations, including Knight Foundation in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Arts, NEA, and seven other federal agencies.

To date, ArtPlace has raised close to $50 million to work alongside federal and local governments to transform communities with strategic investments in the arts.

“The aim of ArtPlace is to drive community revitalization by putting arts at the center of economic development.”

Read more… 

photo credit:

Patrons of the Arts have always fared better than your average investor it seems!

Take the House of Medici for example!

One could argue that they were primarily in banking which was the source of their unimaginable fortune in Florence, Italy.

What perhaps some fail to see is that they were fierce Patrons of the arts, banking and backing just about anyone with recognizable talent.

The artists supported by the Medici included Ghiberti, Brunelleschi, Donatello, Alberti, Fra Angelico, and Ucello.

During their rule, Florence became the cultural center of Europe and the cradle of the new Humanism.

They brought on the beginning of the renaissance by building the art industry and hence the market grew abundantly. This also gave opportunity for any artist to introduce his/her creativity and get sponsored by wealthy patrons.

Once peculiar characteristic is that they treated artists not as workers, but as creatives. So they gave them reign and and unstructured setting that fostered the creative spirit!

Sound familiar?

Not a bad business model for our local economy right?

The family went as far as building an art school which raised the greatest artist of the century such as Michaelangelo and Boticelli.

The Medici were smart!

They understood that making money, though essential, wasn’t enough, and that investing in the Arts raised the cultural standard of their society. This cycle would then become a breeding ground of prosperity and cultural development. In essence a long term investment in their local culture and people.

What ARTPLACE has accomplished as an organization that supports Artists Nationally is an incredible feat. I believe the effort must continue to be hyperlocal and grow from there!

Miami has proven to be a fertile ground for up and coming young artists. The long list of Artists born and bred here, our cultural history from so many different societies and of course The ARTPLACE Grant proves it!

But we need more Foundations and Patrons to step up and get more involved. This is a win-win for everyone!

When was the last time you sponsored a local artist?


Distressed Properties “With great power comes great responsibility” ~Peter Parker’s (Spiderman) Grandfather … Yes I have kids!

I’d like to rephrase that to: “With great value comes great responsibility and the good kind of risk”

So many properties coming on the market today are distressed properties, foreclosed, at massive discounts to market, selling “as is” and often times in questionable condition. defines “distressed property” as:

Property that is under a foreclosure order or is advertised for sale by its mortgagee. Distressed properties usually fetch a price that is below market value.

Read more:

The opportunities are obvious, and sure, you can buy a properties for pennies on the dollar “as is” but here are some points to consider:

  • the worse the condition the harder it is to assess value
  • the more the costs of improvement
  • the longer the time to either rent or re-sell
  • Value not subject to local comparables
  • Not finding a bank to finance the sale because of the condition

On this last bullet it’s necessary to point out that  Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently developed a classification system for housing condition ranging from C1 (the best) to C6 (the worst), but only C6 is unacceptable to the agencies in “as is” condition. Nonetheless, many lenders require a C4 or better.

But what should your purchase strategy for distressed properties be?

Here are a few interesting items to consider:

  • An inspection report from a licensed expert will help in the decision as to whether to buy the house but will not eliminate uncertainty regarding how an appraiser will classify the condition of the house. If the house is classified C5 or C6, a loan may not be available.
  • If the sales contract has a mortgage contingency clause, which is a standard provision in some states, the buyer who can’t get a mortgage because the property is classified C6 or C5 will get his earnest deposit back and the deal is canceled. However, the thwarted buyer will not be reimbursed for the cost of the inspection or the appraisal, which might total about $700.
  • If a property is being sold “as is” and the standard sales contract does not have a mortgage contingency clause, I would pass unless the seller agreed to return my earnest deposit if the property is classified C6 by the appraiser. You could be more conservative and require the return of the deposit with a C5, which would avoid a mortgage problem because most lenders will accept a C4 or better, but it may substantially reduce the number of sellers who will deal with you.
  • While accepting a C5 will give you access to more houses, you must find one or more lenders who will accept a C5. You would be well advised to do this in advance of purchase.

Read more: Buying Distressed Properties: A Guide To Opportunities and Hazards |® Blogs

As with all investment categories and types, there are always elements of risk at hand, real estate is no different. We’ve all been able to witness first hand what a downturn in a particular sector of a market can do.

But fear of risk itself should never be a reason to avoid good buying or selling opportunities when it comes to Real Estate, and education and research is the cure for doubt, what’s left after that is just indecision. I wonder if there is a cure for that?