As the leaves turn and Halloween decorations adorn our neighborhoods, October brings with it not only spooky festivities but also a reminder to be vigilant in safeguarding our digital realms. In the spirit of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we're here to shed light on the importance of cybersecurity in the world of real estate and title insurance while offering insights to keep your digital domain secure.
In an era where digital transactions have become the norm, the real estate and title insurance industry has rapidly embraced technology. While this shift has made processes more efficient, it has also opened new avenues for cyber threats, putting sensitive information and transactions at risk. In this blog post, we'll explore the world of cybersecurity in the context of the real estate and title insurance industry, providing insights and tips to help you stay secure in the digital frontier.
The Digital Transformation of Real Estate
The digital transformation in real estate has been a game-changer. From virtual property tours to e-signatures, technology has streamlined the home buying and selling process. However, with convenience comes risk, and it's crucial to be aware of the potential threats lurking in the digital landscape.
Wire Fraud: A Growing Concern
Wire fraud is a significant concern in the real estate industry. Cybercriminals have become increasingly sophisticated in their methods, often posing as legitimate parties in a transaction. Their goal? To divert closing funds into their accounts. To prevent falling victim to wire fraud, consider the following precautions:
Protecting Non-Public Information
The real estate and title insurance industry deals with a treasure trove of non-public information. From Social Security numbers to financial records, protecting this data is paramount. Here's how you can enhance data security:
Cyber Insurance: An Added Layer of Protection
Consider investing in cyber insurance. While it may not prevent cyberattacks, it can provide financial protection in the event of a breach. Cyber insurance typically covers legal fees, notification costs, and even reputation management in the wake of a data breach.
Stay Informed and Vigilant
Remaining informed about the latest cybersecurity threats and best practices is vital. Promote ongoing training for your team and stay current on industry-specific cybersecurity developments. Threats evolve, so should your defenses!
In the spirit of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we encourage you to bolster your digital defenses and share this valuable knowledge with your peers. The key to navigating this digital frontier securely is education, diligence, and a proactive approach to cybersecurity. By implementing robust security measures, staying informed, and fostering a culture of cybersecurity awareness, you can protect your clients, your business, and yourself in an increasingly connected world. To further enhance your cybersecurity know-how and learn about Sun Life Title's commitment to security, explore our resources this October. As guardians of your real estate journey, we're here to keep your digital realm secure and your confidence intact.
As a real estate agent in Florida, staying informed about the latest legislative changes is vital for your business success. In May 2023, the Florida Legislature enacted Chapter 2023-33, commonly known as Senate Bill 264, which could have a significant impact on your real estate transactions involving foreign entities. In this blog post, we'll break down the key provisions of Chapter 2023-33 and explain how it may affect your day-to-day operations and interactions with clients.
Understanding Chapter 2023-33
Chapter 2023-33 is designed to address the interests of specific foreign countries, including the People's Republic of China (PRC), Russian Federation, Islamic Republic of Iran, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Republic of Cuba, Syrian Arab Republic, and the Venezuelan regime of Nicolás Maduro. The legislation aims to regulate real estate dealings involving select persons from these countries, referred to as "foreign principals," and ensure transparency in the process.
Key Provisions and Their Impact
What It Means for Real Estate Agents
As a real estate agent, you may encounter clients or investors from the mentioned foreign countries. Chapter 2023-33 requires you to exercise due diligence in ensuring compliance with the legislation during real estate transactions. You will need to be aware of the registry and registration requirements for foreign principals, and failure to comply may result in penalties for both you and your clients.
Moreover, the legislation may influence the types of properties your clients can acquire and impact their long-term real estate investment strategies. It is essential to communicate these changes to your clients and guide them through the implications of the law to make informed decisions.
Chapter 2023-33 marks a significant development in the Florida real estate landscape, impacting transactions involving foreign countries of concern. As a real estate agent, staying well-informed about the provisions and requirements of the legislation is crucial to ensure successful and compliant dealings with foreign principals. Be proactive in explaining the implications to your clients and consult legal counsel when needed to navigate this complex regulatory environment. At Sun Life Title, we are here to support you and your clients throughout the process, ensuring your real estate transactions are secure, transparent, and compliant with the new regulations.
Blockchain Technology and its Potential Impact on the Real Estate Industry: What Realtors and Lenders Need to Know!Read Now
Blockchain technology has been making headlines in recent years as a game-changer in many industries, including finance, healthcare, and supply chain management. But what about real estate? In this post, we'll explore what blockchain is, how it works, and the potential impact it could have on the real estate industry.
What is Blockchain Technology?
At its most basic level, blockchain is a decentralized digital ledger that records transactions in a secure and transparent way. Unlike traditional ledgers, which are centralized and controlled by a single authority, blockchain allows multiple parties to access and update the ledger simultaneously. Each transaction is verified and encrypted using complex algorithms, making it virtually impossible to tamper with or hack.
Potential Applications in Real Estate
So, what does all this have to do with real estate? The potential applications are numerous and exciting. Here are just a few examples:
As with any new technology, there are both opportunities and challenges associated with blockchain in real estate. Realtors and lenders will need to stay informed about the latest developments and be prepared to adapt to a rapidly changing landscape. Some potential implications include:
Tax season is upon us, and for many real estate investors in Florida, it means evaluating their options to minimize taxes while maximizing profits. One popular option is a 1031 exchange, which allows investors to defer paying capital gains taxes on the sale of an investment property if they reinvest the proceeds into a similar property.
But how exactly does a 1031 exchange work, and what impact does it have on the Florida real estate market?
First, let's break it down. A 1031 exchange gets its name from Section 1031 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, which outlines the rules for this type of transaction. Essentially, it allows investors to sell one investment property and use the proceeds to purchase another "like-kind" property without paying capital gains taxes on the sale.
So why would someone choose to do a 1031 exchange? For starters, it allows investors to defer paying taxes and reinvest the full amount of the sale proceeds into a new property. This can be a huge advantage, especially for investors who are looking to grow their portfolio and maximize their returns.
But there are some important rules to keep in mind when it comes to 1031 exchanges. For example, the new property must be of equal or greater value than the property being sold, and the entire transaction must be completed within a certain timeframe. Additionally, there are specific rules around how the sale proceeds can be handled, such as using a qualified intermediary to hold the funds during the exchange.
So what impact does this have on the Florida real estate market? Well, for starters, it can lead to increased demand for certain types of properties. Investors who are looking to do a 1031 exchange may be on the hunt for specific types of properties, such as multi-family units or commercial properties, which can create competition and drive up prices.
Additionally, it can lead to more activity in the real estate market as investors look to take advantage of this tax strategy. This can be a boon for realtors, who can help investors navigate the process and find the right properties to reinvest in. By leveraging their expertise and connections in the market, realtors can help investors make informed decisions and ensure a successful 1031 exchange. With the potential for increased business, it's an exciting time for realtors in Florida's thriving real estate market.
Overall, a 1031 exchange can be a powerful tool for real estate investors in Florida. By deferring taxes and reinvesting the full amount of the sale proceeds, investors can maximize their returns and grow their portfolio. And with the help of a trusted title company, the process can be smooth and seamless, allowing investors and their agents to focus on what they do best - building wealth through real estate.
Can a closing be delayed due to a hurricane or tropical storm?
The short answer is, yes.
Should a delay occur, knowing what your clients legal rights and obligations are can help ease the stress on all involved.
Occasional closing disruptions caused by tropical storms and hurricanes include:
Most Florida residential real estate contracts provide relief for these issues, including an automatic extension of 5 - 7 days if a “casualty” (e.g. fire, flood, extreme weather, or force majeure) prevents the buyer from obtaining insurance on the property at a reasonable rate or causes “services essential for closing” to be unavailable.
If the disruption continues 30 days after the “casualty”, either buyer or seller may terminate the contract.
A FARBAR Sales Contract-As Is (Residential Improved Property) form grants the exception only when the buyer is unable to get insurance due to extreme weather.
Once a hurricane or storm enters a certain proximity to the area, there might be a pause on issuing an insurance policy for a loan. If there is no insurance, a loan can’t close.
Most willing buyers and sellers usually agree to delay a closing rather than starting all over again.
If this content is helpful please share with clients and friends. Follow Sun Life Title on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn for more industry news and education.
The State of Commercial Real Estate
The Miami Tower, famous for contributing to the third tallest skyline in the country and partaking in countless culturally iconic pop media, has been sold to the Boca-Raton-based CP Group for just $163.5 million. That is $56.5 million less than what it went for six years ago. Though Miami’s office rent growth is the strongest in the country, Miami Tower’s vacancy was nearly thirty percent. Yet, just a mile south, the 1221 Brickell Class A Tower sold for $286.5 million, marking a record for South Florida office deals since 2016. Why is there a seemingly stark difference between Brickell and Downtown?
The answer, in short, is amenities. Between a global pandemic, record inflation with the Federal Reserve aiming to increase rates further, and the looming prospect of a recession, you’d expect an economic downturn. However, it appears that Miami’s lack of city and state tax, international allure, and geographical advantages is attracting investors. The trendy Brickell district has a corporate but modern vibrancy with no shortage of restaurants, retail, nightclubs, and other hot spots for young urban professionals. Brickell has proven to be the core of Miami’s banking, investment, and financial sector with rent increasing on an average of 13.7% annually.
Brickell’s explosion into prominence is proving the CBRE’s Spring 2022 Occupier Sentiment Survey correct, where they revealed that most companies are back to developing long-term plans to expand or contract their office space now that employees are returning after nearly two years of mostly remote work. To avoid the high rent of Brickell, some companies are looking to relocate to Class A buildings Downtown. This is part of CP Group’s plan.
In March, The CP Group bought the Bank of America Plaza in Atlanta and sunk an extra $50 million in renovating the lobby, adding a high-end restaurant, and adding other amenities to attract employees back to their desks. The CP Group has been very active as it also bought The Las Olas Square in Downtown Fort Lauderdale for $144.5 million.
It’d be negligent not to mention that the annual rent growth in Miami and Fort Lauderdale are 16.9% and 16%. These two Florida cities are only behind Orlando which leads the nation in annual rent growth at a whopping 18.6% which is over eight percent higher than the national average. These figures have led to a new trend amongst investors and developers of repurposing aging offices and hotels into affordable housing for workers. In Orlando, we are seeing investors such as T2 and California-based Vivo Living buying hotels that have lost business due to the expansion of Disney’s value-category hotel rooms, converting the building into a unit property that contains studio apartments for rent under $1,000 per month. Similarly, The Estate Companies recently completed a hotel conversion in Hialeah, converting the old Ramada Inn across Westland Mall into 245 luxury studios and six one-bedrooms. According to representatives at the newly constructed Alture Westland, they are already at 98% occupancy with units costing roughly around $1,800 monthly.
With all the continued activity in the market, it appears that the old adage ‘time in the market is better than timing the market’ holds true. Buy now, as the commercial real estate in major Florida cities, including Miami, is only on the rise.
Email us with your thoughts on commercial real estate in Florida, we'd love to get talking about how we can help you close on your next transaction.
Keep the conversation going. Share your thoughts on social media and tag us @sunlifetitle.
Has South Florida Peaked? In Short, no.
Investor sentiment remains strong in South Florida. With record leasing volumes and consistent year-over-year rent growth, the market is still a hot spot for investment opportunities.
The trendy locations of Lincoln Road and Brickell have proven to be attractive to many businesses. Kaseya, the software company, has leased over 65,000 square feet within the last year. Other notable companies include Marsh Insurance, with 23,000 square feet leased, and Industrious Coworking, which leased 40,000 square feet.
Miami’s leasing activity has totaled more than 1.4 million square feet in the first quarter of 2022, making it the fourth straight quarter where leasing volume eclipsed the one million square feet mark. Currently, South Florida only has 900,000 square feet of sublet space which is less than 1% of Miami’s overall inventory. The office inventory listed for sublet nationally is just over 2%. In part, deal volume decreased during the early months of this year; however, that may be subject to change.
Recently, two development groups won initial approval from the city of Miami Beach to build office spaces in two city-owned parking lots on Lincoln Road. Combined, the two groups are looking to build 210,000 square feet of office space. Despite the additional supply, Miami’s strong leasing activity and rent growth should maintain as the demand for properties in South Florida remains high.
Watermark, a real estate investment trust, recently sold a twenty-five-hotel portfolio in an all-cash transaction of $3.8 billion to Brookfield Asset Management. Two of the hotels were the Ritz-Carlton of Fort Lauderdale and Key Biscayne. Early in May, a twelve-acre storage facility outside of Norland was sold to CenterPoint Properties for $47.5 million. The same property was bought in 2019 by Drake Real Estate Partners for just $12.5 million, further highlighting this combustible market. Not to mention, Miami’s office rent is 10% above where it was in 2020 at the start of the pandemic.
South Florida’s year-over-year 6% office rent growth leads the nation by nearly double. The closest to this figure would be Phoenix and Orlando with 3.4% and Tampa with 3%. With the expected jump in transactions due to increased supply, many experts believe that these numbers and the current investment market should maintain its strength for the foreseeable future.
https://product.costar.com/home/news/shared/1507163206 https://product.costar.com/home/news/shared/14705873 https://product.costar.com/home/news/shared/15294341 https://product.costar.com/home/news/shared/1564033123
Is Builder Confidence Decreasing?
The national housing market index (HMI) has dropped once again, making this the fourth consecutive month that builders’ confidence has decreased in the U.S. The decline started from December where the index has slowly decreased from 84 to 79. NAHB Chief Economist, Robert Dietz, has stated that the “impact of elevated inflation and expected higher interest rates suggests caution for the second half of 2022.” However, the same may not be said for the state of Florida.
The NAHB Wells Fargo Housing Market Index asks builders to rate housing market conditions based on their experiences. The builders rate their sales expectations from “good” to “poor,” and rate traffic of prospective buyers from “very high” to “very low.” These responses are then placed into a formula to produce an index. About 400 responses are obtained each month.
Why should we listen to this survey? Builders, with their experience and close contact with local market conditions, provide information about current housing market conditions and how home sales are likely to behave in the future. This is why Wall Street firms, the Federal Reserve, and other government officials have used the HMI over the past few years.
The HMI has contributed this hesitancy to the increase in price of lumber and other building materials. Lumber prices have increased dramatically since 2020, going from $242.80 to $1,193.00 per thousand board feet. This has driven construction costs up by 20% over the span of 12 months. There is also an expectation for higher interest rates as the year progresses. With all this in mind, we can see why builders’ confidence has continued to decrease nearly everywhere in the United States except Florida.
We have seen approved construction sites in North Miami, a Broward trailer park marked for redevelopment, and new sales for an oceanfront condo in Miami Beach just this month alone. Let’s not forget about the multi-million, lavish Florida condo on top of the Tiffany & Co. in Palm Beach. Four of the six largest hotel markets in the U.S. since 2019 consist of Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa, and Ft. Lauderdale. Despite the pandemic, Florida’s population growth of 360,758 between April 1, 2020 and April 1,2021 was the strongest annual increase since 2005-2006. Between 2021 and 2025, Florida’s growth is forecasted to average 1.41%.
All in all, with the population increase and steady tourism markets, Florida homebuilders should be optimistic as buyer demand remains solid.
“Lumber2022 Data - 1978-2021 Historical - 2023 Forecast - Price - Quote - Chart.” Lumber - 2022 Data - 1978-2021 Historical - 2023 Forecast - Price - Quote - Chart, https://tradingeconomics.com/commodity/lumber.
“NAHB: Examining the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI).” Www.nahbclassic.org, www.nahbclassic.org/generic.aspx?sectionID=734&genericContentID=73820&channelID=311&_ga=2.46718564.251118127.1647704155-1365678725.1647511044. Accessed 25 Mar. 2022.
The Florida Legislature Office of Economic and Demographic Research 850. Vol. 487, 2022, p. 1402, edr.state.fl.us/Content/presentations/economic/FlEconomicOverview_2-17-22.pdf. Accessed 25 Mar. 2022.
“CoStar News - Miami Hotels Seeing Strong Recovery.” Product.costar.com, product.costar.com/home/news/shared/47279014?culture=en-US&source=sharedNewsEmail. Accessed 25 Mar. 2022.
“CoStar News - Breakfast above Tiffany’s? Unique Retail Rehab with Luxury Penthouse Makes It Possible.” Product.costar.com, product.costar.com/home/news/shared/779379527?culture=en-US&source=sharedNewsEmail. Accessed 25 Mar. 2022.
“Builders’ Confidence Dips Four Months in a Row.” Florida Realtors, www.floridarealtors.org/news-media/news-articles/2022/03/builders-confidence-dips-four-months-row. Accessed 25 Mar. 2022.
International Women's Day