Monday, February 27, 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Lender Processing Services, whose mortgage performance statistics are derived from its loan-level database of nearly 40MM mortgage loans, gives the above headline statistics for loans 30 or more days delinquent and in foreclosure, about 15% of all mortgages in the database.  

Nevertheless, they report that the delinquency rate is down 10%+ from January 2011, and foreclosure rate is up 1.1% compared to December 2011.  LPS says Florida had the highest percentage of non-current mortgages last month.

Capital Economics, a leading independent international macro-economic research consultancy, predicts the housing crisis will end in 2012 as banks loosen credit standards, now lending at 82% LTV with average required credit score to be 700.  They caution that, “Any improvement in credit conditions won’t be significant enough to generate actual house price gains.”  They also say that potential ramifications from the euro-zone pose a threat to future credit availability. “Shadow inventory” is not included, nor how long it will take for those properties, not yet on the market, to be sold.

HomeValueForecast mentions positive trends including an improving jobs picture, low interest rates and a slowing of distress sales on the market, but note that here too, the end of shadow inventory is not mentioned. They state that current Florida prices are at 2002 levels.


Monday, February 20, 2012


Founded in 1984, Gumbo Limbo Nature Center at 1801 North Ocean Boulevard is a unique, outstanding cooperative project of the City of Boca Raton, Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District, The Palm Beach County School District, Florida Atlantic University (FAU), and Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, Inc. Each year, more than 100,000 local and tourist visitors receive valuable environmental education while enjoying respite from the city bustle.  Gumbo Limbo is a great place for all ages to visit.

As a beacon for environmental education, research, and conservation, Gumbo Limbo’s 20 acres of protected barrier island not only provide refuge to many varieties of plants and animals - some rare or endangered - but also represent a commitment to protect our natural resources by our members, volunteers, and the organizations that comprise the Center.

Florida boasts some of the most important nesting beaches for loggerhead sea turtles in the world, and also offers important nesting habitat for green and leatherback sea turtles, as well as the occasional Kemp's ridley and hawksbill turtle nests.  Florida's waters provide important development habitat for many species of sea turtles in a variety of life stages.  The Boca Raton Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program works under permit from, and in coordination with, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
All species of sea turtles in the world are either threatened or endangered species. Sea turtles face many threats in the world today that were not an issue hundreds of years ago. 

Some of these threats include:

·         Collisions with boats
·         Direct and Indirect glow from artificial lighting
  • Interactions from commercial fisheries
  • Loss of nesting habitat
  • Pollution

Gumbo Limbo instructs more than 10,000 Palm Beach County school students in coastal and marine ecology every year with programs constructed to meet the Sunshine State Standards Requirement in science education.  They monitor 500 nests a year within a five mile span of beaches and rescue injured turtles and release more than 6000 stranded hatchlings each nesting season. More than 50 programs are offered for children, adults, and families facilitated by qualified naturalists and biologists with Small class sizes and a low cost with more than 13,000 people participating annually.

The FAU lab conducts valuable scientific research which enhances our understanding of sea turtle behavior, physiology, and ecology.  The research creates practical applications in the conservation of sea turtles and other marine life.  The North Trails feature a Butterfly Garden, in full bloom in May and June.  The outdoor amphitheater holds plays.  The ¼ mile boardwalk is an opportunity to visit an ecosystem that once flourished thruout Florida before modern development and industrialization.  Take a free guided walk Wednesday mornings at 10 am.  Look into the half-day week long summer Environmental Camp where the children learn about about plants, animals and coastal habitats, and enjoy many other activities.
Visit Gumbo Limbo Nature Center to learn more about these threats and what you can do to help.   If you might like to volunteer, call 561-338-1588.

The 7th annual festival celebrating sea turtles and our ocean environment will take place at Gumbo Limbo on Saturday, March 3, 2012! The fun begins at 10 am and lasts until 4 pm.  Admission is free.  Stroll around the lush grounds, visit environmentally friendly exhibitors, attend a performance by Sol Children Theatre, and learn how to make leaf prints! There will be plenty of fun for all ages, from arts, crafts, and games, to educational talks and guided walks through the hammock. Keep your eyes open for Luna, the NEW Green Sea Turtle mascot – a great photo opportunity!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

LinkedIN's Report on the Housing Market

Almost 11 million homes are now underwater, says financial information provider CoreLogic, a leading provider of financial, property and consumer information. Around 3.5 million homeowners are behind in their payments and another 1.5 million homes are already in the foreclosure process, according to online marketplace RealtyTrac, the Foreclosure Authority™ , that delivers in bulk the most current and most accurate foreclosure data.

Capital Economics, one of the leading independent macro-economic research consultancies in the world, providing research on the US, Canada, Europe, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and the UK, and on the property sector expects the housing crisis to end this year, according to a report released Tuesday. One of the reasons: loosening credit. The analytics firm notes the average credit score required to attain a mortgage loan is 700. While this is higher than scores required prior to the crisis, it is constant with requirements one year ago.
However, other market indicators point not just to a stabilization of mortgage lending standards, but also a loosening of credit availability. 

Banks are now lending amounts up to 3.5 times borrower earnings. This is up from a low during the crisis of 3.2 times borrower earnings.

Banks are also loosening loan-to-value ratios (LTV), which Capital Economics denotes “the clearest sign yet of an improvement in mortgage credit conditions.”  In contrast to a low of 74 percent reached in mid-2010, banks are now lending at 82 percent LTV

While credit conditions may have loosened slightly, some potential homebuyers are still struggling with credit requirements. In fact, Capital Economics points out that in November, 8 percent of contract cancellations were the result of a potential buyer not qualifying for a loan. 

Additionally, Capital Economics says “any improvement in credit conditions won’t be significant enough to generation actual house price gains,” and potential ramifications from the euro-zone pose a threat to future credit availability.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Trulia’s top 10 list includes the number of interested out-of-area residents compared to each resident considering leaving. A rating of 2, for example, means that two people are considering a home inside an area for every one person considering a move out:

1. Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville: 8.80
2. Lakeland-Winter Haven: 7.60
3. North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota: 6.62
4. Cape Coral-Fort Myers: 2.59

5. Tulsa, Okla.: 2.48
6. West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Boynton Beach: 2.46
7. Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach: 2.44

8. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif.: 2.43
9. Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville, S.C.: 2.40
10. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford: 2.30

New York is the top source of long distance (100 miles or more) home searches for properties along Florida’s Atlantic coast and Central Florida (e.g., Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach).

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Wednesday, February 01, 2012


Picture a day of sunshine, fluffy white clouds, and the scent of ocean breezes all around beautiful gardens.  Head over to Bonnet House, on 35 acres of beachfront property in the heart of Ft Lauderdale. There are indications that the grounds already witnessed 4000 years of Florida history.  Human activity may date back to 2000 BC, and other archaeological evidence indicates it was one of the first sties of Spanish contact with the New World.

 The house was purchased in 1895 and given to the buyer’s daughter as a wedding gift in the 1920’s.  Construction began to build a haven where the daughter could pursue music and poetry and the husband could pursue his artwork.  Frederic Clay Bartlett left behind his family’s hardware business, was schooled in Munich’s prestigious Royal Academy, and developed a prolific and prosperous career as an artist.   He created murals and created faux painting throughout the house, including murals on the ceilings. He and his wife were also art collectors and amassed a priceless collection by artists including Gaugin, Picasso and Seurat which he gave, after her death, to the Art Institute of Chicago. 

When the wife died in 1925, until he remarried in 1931, visits were infrequent.  Soon a renaissance and renewal of the house began, adding many new decorations and embellishments.  Along with the main house were a separate artist’s studio and meditation house.  His third wife, Evelyn Fortune Bartlett began painting, with his encouragement, in 1933 and her works were well-received by many galleries.  Ponds with bonnet water lilies and lush tropical gardens surround the property today.  There are several interesting gazebos and covered sitting areas on the property.  Trip Advisor lists Bonnet House Museum and Gardens as the 2nd best out of 47 Ft. Lauderdale attractions.

After the husband died in 1953, the wife returned each winter to Bonnet House and later donated the property to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation.  It was soon listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  In 2002 the City of Ft. Lauderdale declared the property a historic landmark and it is now one of America’s 11 most endangered sites in 2008.  The Bonnet House Museum and Gardens is accredited by the American Association of Museums.  It is one of the last examples in south Florida of a native barrier island habitat with five distinct ecosystems including the Atlantic Ocean beach and primary dune, a fresh water slough, secondary dune including the house site, mangrove wetlands and a maritime forest.  There is a Desert Garden, hibiscus garden and, as Evelyn was a passionate orchid collector, Bonnet house comprised one of the largest orchid collections in the southeast US.

Today there are events scheduled during the day including orchid shows with booth after booth of magnificent orchids to view and purchase, orchid classes, composting and cooking classes by well-known vendors.  Adult birding, art, calligraphy and orchid classes are offered along with school classes.  An annual orchid festival and a juried art exhibit is held on the grounds as well as symphony concerts. A gift shop offers garden ornaments, books, jewelry and other items.  Lovely orchids are shown and being purchased including cattleyas, dendrobiums.  Tour costs vary from $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, $16 for children and those under age 6 are free.  Admission to the grounds only is $10.  Group tours are available for $13 each.   Open Tuesday thru Saturday 10-4.  Call 954-563-5393 ext. to reserve.  Take Sunrise Boulevard East from I-95 and turn right on North Birch Road to get to the property.

Tours, musical events and art classes are scheduled regularly and this pretty site is used for corporate events and weddings.  For more information see