COVID-19 Virus Effects on Real Estate Market – Part 2

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By Michael J Posner

It is now been more than three months since the coronavirus pandemic entered our world, severely impacting our daily lives as well as the Florida economy. This impact has been felt especially hard in the real estate market, resulting in a substantial drop in the number of sales compared to 2019.

The first quarter of 2020 reflected the strong economy with a year-over-year growth of over 10% from 2019.  In addition, inventory for single-family homes was a low 3.4 months and the inventory for townhomes/condominiums was on average 5.5 months. The time period from listing to contract was a short 43 days for single-family homes and only 55 days for townhomes/condominiums.

In addition to the strong economic news in the first quarter of 2020, the low mortgage interest rates also helped encourage sales, dropping nearly three quarters of a point from the same time in 2019, from an average of 4.37% to an average of only 3.51%.

The effects of the virus on the real estate market came to a head in April 2020. In Miami, sales declined 40% compared to April 2019. Broward County experienced a decline of 37.4%, and Palm Beach County experienced a decline of 33.8% compared to April 2019. Continue reading

4th of July Fireworks and Your HOA

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By Dane Leitner

Floridians may now legally use fireworks during designated holidays.  On April 8, 2020 Governor DeSantis approved an amendment to Chapter 791 of the Florida Statutes dealing with the sale and use of fireworks.

Previously, Floridians seeking to buy fireworks would have to sign a form claiming that they met certain industrial or agricultural use exemptions to buy fireworks, for example to scare birds from fish hatcheries.  It seemed that twice a year, on Independence Day and New Year’s Eve, Florida was overcome with industrial and agricultural hardships which occurred at night and was remedied with a bombardment of fireworks.

The amendment to the Statute now provides an exemption and permits the use of fireworks during designated holidays, which include Independence Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

However, the Statute does not supersede any local governmental regulation relating to the use of fireworks.  Therefore, you will still need to check your local county/city/town regulations to ensure that the use of fireworks is permitted. Continue reading

COVID-19 Virus Effects on Real Estate Market

COVID 19 Real Estate

By Michael J Posner

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic continue to grow with each passing day disrupting almost every industry sector and market.  As a result of the virus, the Florida real estate market has also been turned upside down, in both negative and positive ways.

2019 ended with Florida single family sales up nearly six percent, with townhomes and condos mostly flat.  South Florida had a more modest two percent growth rate for single family homes, but townhomes and condos fell by nearly two percent over 2018.  Prices continued to climb with the average single-family homes selling for $360,000.00.

2020 started with a bang, with single family sales through February 2020 up thirteen percent and townhomes and condos up twelve and one-half percent.  Nationally, new home sales jumped nearly eight percent, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 764,000 units last February, the highest level since July 2007.

Then the virus hit, dramatically changing the real estate landscape.  Reaction in the financial sector was swift.  At the beginning of March, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates by one-half percent, then two weeks later, another rate cut to make the borrowing rate from the Federal Reserve essentially zero percent.  The goal was to make money cheaper and protect the economy from falling into recession. Continue reading

Does Your Business Insurance Cover COVID-19 Losses?

LEGAL ALERT FOR BUSINESSES #8

Coronavirus Action Alert #8
From The Ward Damon Business Law Team
By Ronald S. Nisonson

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted businesses throughout our country.  While Congress has enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Stability Act (CARES), businesses should also consider turning to their insurance carriers for coverage to mitigate the fallout from this virus.  Businesses can and should consider the insurance coverages listed below that may be triggered by COVID-19 losses or claims:

  • Business Interruption Coverage
  • General Liability Coverage
  • Workers Compensation Coverage
  • Directors and Officers Coverage

Please keep in mind that each situation is unique and is based on the policy language, factual circumstances and applicable state law.  As a starting point, businesses should examine their policy language carefully and consider retaining counsel to assist in determining whether coverage may exist for COVID-19 related losses or claims.
Continue reading

Can You Still Close While Staying at Home? RON is the Answer

LEGAL ALERT FOR BUYERS & SELLERS #7

Coronavirus Action Alert #7
From The Ward Damon Real Estate Law Team and Lighthouse Title Services
By Colleen Sullivan

As Floridians continue to practice social distancing to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), everyone wants to know whether they can still close their transactions without physical contact?  The answer, in short, is absolutely, thanks to Remote Online Notary (RON).

What RON is:
RON is an electronic closing platform where the signatory, witnesses and notary all handle their part of the signing process electronically via the internet using a webcam and a series of multi-tiered identity verification requirements.  The final document, with digital certifications, is then used for closing just like a normal document with a wet ink signature.

How RON works:
Request an Electronic Meeting
A RON signing consists of an electronic meeting between the notary, witness(es) and signatory, in addition to the title agent when possible. After the title agent uploads the document and requests the signing, the signing client is sent a meeting link prior to the date and time of the signing, which they can (and are encouraged to) click on to review their closing documents in advance, ask questions and request changes, if applicable, prior to closing. This ensures a more efficient signing process. Continue reading