Stalled foreclosures could swamp local home-buying market

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ORLANDO, Fla. – Oct. 25, 2010 – As big lenders’ recent freeze on foreclosures begins to thaw, local real-estate agents worry that those bargain properties will now flood the market and further sink housing prices.

Just a few weeks after Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase and other big banks announced a temporary halt to foreclosures because of concerns about improperly signed documents, they are preparing to restart the process. The question is: How many of those stalled foreclosures will lenders put on the market at the same time?

“That’s the big question – will they come back in a big thud or will they trickle in?” said Winter Park real-estate broker David Welch of Re/Max 200. “Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone who knows what the answer is. I think if they come flooding back it obviously won’t be a good thing in the market.”

Since the moratoriums were announced at the beginning of the month, 53 percent of the scheduled foreclosure sales in Orange County have been canceled – creating a backlog of as many as 850 properties that lenders pulled from the process just prior to their hitting the market. In the three weeks preceding the freeze, only 38 percent of the county’s auctions had been canceled, primarily because of judicial requirements for mediation and for face-to-face conversations between lenders and borrowers.

In Orange County Courthouse Room 350, crammed with investors attending the daily foreclosure auctions, longtime buyer Jack Coughlin said last week that he sees banks sitting on a growing inventory of foreclosed houses just waiting to hit the market.

“Are they going to release them all? If they do, there is going to be a 20 percent drop in values,” Coughlin said. “People ask, ‘Where are these properties?’ They are sitting in banks’ vaults.”

Thomas Kelly, a spokesman for J.P. Morgan Chase, said last week his company is still reviewing cases and had not announced any kind of timetable for releasing foreclosed properties to the market.

Orlando ranks 10th in the nation for foreclosure filings, according to a September report by the real estate research company RealtyTrac Inc. The crash that followed the peak-market conditions of three or four years ago has dragged down Orlando’s median resale price from $264,000 in July 2007 to $105,000 last month. Bargain-basement prices already dominate the market: More than 70 percent of the area’s existing-home sales currently involve bank-owned or short-sale properties that sell for less than market value, according to the Orlando Regional Realtor Association.

Lenders’ decision to halt foreclosures in early October did two things to Orlando’s real-estate market: drove up prices and drove down sales. The absence of those bargain properties from the market has caused the median price to spike about $10,000 in recent weeks, to about $115,000, said Welch, who continually tracks the market. And the inventory of active listings has dropped by about 3 percent, he added.

State attorneys general had stepped up pressure on lenders after it was revealed that bank employees had signed foreclosure affidavits without verifying that the documents were accurate – a process known as “robo-signing.” But after reviewing more than 100,000 documents in Florida and 22 other states, Bank of America announced last week that it was restarting the foreclosure process. GMAC Mortgage also said it was resuming work on its foreclosures.

The banks had never stopped litigating the cases; they had just canceled the foreclosure sales to give themselves time to investigate the suspect paperwork and signatures, said Orlando lawyer Matt Englett, whose firm handles tens of thousands of foreclosures. He said robo-signing can become apparent if the names of certain bank employees continually show up on certain documents.

People will still lose their homes, Englett said, but they may be able to walk away without a deficiency judgment against them – without owing any additional money, in other words – if it turns out their paperwork includes suspect signatures. Owners may also be in a better position to get their mortgage terms modified if their foreclosure paperwork has been tarnished in some way.

So far, local real-estate agents haven’t seen any signs of once-stalled foreclosures hitting the market.

“I had more than a third of my listings pulled,” Maitland real-estate agent Lee Acker said. “We had a buyer ready to close on one. It’s just frustrating. These were properties ready to go to owner-occupants.”

In the short term, Acker said, the moratoriums “created an artificial demand for the property that’s left. What I’m afraid of is when they go back on the market.”

Copyright © 2010, The Orlando Sentinel, Fla., Mary Shanklin. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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TDC Debit Cards Going Fast in Okaloosa County

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Posted on The Destin Log, written by Dusty Ricketts.

Tourists and locals likely only have a few days left to take advantage of the Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council’s Emerald Money debit card program.

The TDC restarted the program last week. It offers a $200 debit card to people who book a minimum two-night stay at an approved lodging in the county.

“The debit card promotion is going very well and smoothly,” said Mark Bellinger, executive director of the TDC. “Everybody’s extremely happy we did the restart. Everyone was for it. It was the right thing to do. It is helping out our economy. When you take a million dollars and put it right back into the community, it helps a lot of private businesses.”

The program is designed to increase fall tourism to make up for a dismal summer because of the BP oil spill.

The promotion initially kicked off last month, but was stopped after only two days when it was discovered that some lodging properties did not follow the program’s guidelines. After some adjustments, including having guests reserve their debit card online rather than the lodgings, the promotion restarted Oct. 7.

The program had 3,793 cards remaining from the original 5,000 that were available at the beginning. As of 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, 1,660 cards remained.

About 315 cards are being reserved each day. If that rate holds, they will be gone in about five days.

Some 200 establishments that collect bed taxes in Okaloosa County have signed up to participate.

“We were real excited to see that start up again,” said Eric Outzen, director of sales and marketing for Dale E. Peterson Vacations. “It started off pretty well for us a couple weeks ago when they initially launched. We were disappointed they had to shut it down temporarily. So picking back up, it has been beneficial to us in increasing our bookings for this fall.

“It’s been a successful campaign,” Outzen added. “We’re glad to have the help. I think it’s going to do what it was designed to do, which is improve the area’s economy, at least in the next month.”

The cards are available on a first come, first served basis to people who book and pay for a minimum two-night stay until Nov. 7.

The cards can be spent anywhere in the county.

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Crab Trap – Destin, FL

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Today was another gorgeous day in Destin.  The water was crystal clear and the sand as white as can be.  The weather is cooling off and fall is just around the corner.

The Debit Card Promotion started back up on October 7th.  This will continue till November 7th or while supplies last.  This program offers a $200 debit card to people who book a minimum two-night stay at an approved lodging in the county.  For more details, please click on the following link:

Thanks for watching and we hope you had a wonderful day!!!

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Destin Fishing Rodeo

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The Destin Fishing Rodeo is a little over a week away, so get your line & tackle ready.  Established in 1948, The Destin Fishing Rodeo is the ultimate fishing tournament for saltwater anglers of all ages.  The Rodeo will be going on from October 1 to the 31.  Weigh-ins everyday on the docks at A.J.’s Seafood & Oyster Bar from 10am until 7pm.  Check out their website for more information at

Destin Harbor

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Holiday Isle Beach Restoration Update – Destin, FL

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The Holiday Isle Beach Restoration is a Little Over Halfway Done with an Estimated 80,000 of the 140,000 Cubic Feet of Sand Placed. Jetty East Already Looks a Thousand Times Better Even with the Piping Still on the Freshly Laid Beach. The Restoration Project is Scheduled to be Complete Wednesday or Thursday. Thanks for Watching & We will Continue to Keep You Updated!

Jetty East,Holiday Isle,Beach Restoration

Here are some before and after shot…Enjoy!!!

Jetty East Looking East – Before

Jetty East,Holiday Isle,Beach Restoration

Jetty East Looking East – After

Jetty East,Holiday Isle,Beach Restoration

Jetty East Looking West – Before

Jetty East,Holiday Isle,Beach Restoration

Jetty East Looking West – After

Jetty East,Holiday Isle Beach Restoration

Jetty East Pavilion – Before

Jetty East,Holiday Isle,Beach Restoration

Jetty East Pavilion – After

Jetty East,Holiday Isle,Beach Restoration

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The First Day of the 32nd Annual Destin Seafood Festival

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Today Kicks Off the 32nd Annual Destin Seafood Festival. It is being Held in a New Location at The Fisherman’s Wharf and Down on the Harbor. There is plenty to do including Concerts, Food, Shops, and a Children’s Play Area. Here are Some Pictures from Today. We Hope You Enjoy and Get a Chance to go Check it out.

For More Information on the Festival this Link.

Welcome to the Destin Seafood Festival

Destin Seafood Festival

Festival Entrance

Destin Seafood Festival

Festival Food & Art Vendors

Destin Seafood Festival

Destin Seafood Festival

Destin Seafood Festival

Children’s Play Area

Destin Seafood Festival

Concert Stage

Destin Seafood Festival

Down on the Harbor

Destin Seafood Festival

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The 32nd Annual Destin Seafood Festival

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The 32nd Annual Destin Seafood Festival is this Weekend, Sept. 17-19!!!  The Seafood Festival has a new location and will setup shop on the Destin Harbor at the Destin Fishing Fleet Marina, City of Destin Royal Melvin Heritage Park, and Fisherman’s Wharf. 


  •  Friday @ 8pm:
    • Starship – Performing hits by Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, and Starship.
  • Saturday @ 8pm:
    • LOVERBOY – Performing hits including “Working for the Weekend,” “The Kid is Hot Tonight,” “Turn Me Loose,” and “Hot Girls in Love.”

Other Entertainment includes Black Eyed Blonde, The Blackbirds, Donnie Sundal, The Sal Salaz Project, Jones and Company, and The Forrest Williams Band.

The stage will be located by the docks, facing east, near Dewey Destin and will have room for 8,000 to 10,000 people.

The festival will also feature arts and crafts vendors, prizes and a kids’ area with rock climb, inflatable’s and more.


There will be both exotic and local foods with 20 vendors on site.  Some of the local restaurants will include Louisiana Lagniappe, Fisherman’s Wharf, Caribbean Café, McGuire’s, The Back Porch, Papa John’s Pizza, and San Gelato.  There will also be traditional carnival foods like pretzels and funnel cakes.

Admission & Parking:


Free Admission to Children Under 12

Adults Admission:

  • Friday & Saturday – $5
  • Sunday – $10
  • Weekend Pass (3 Day) – $15


There will be no on-site parking, but a free shuttle service will run from the following locations:

The shuttle service will run 30 minutes prior to opening and 30 minutes after the festival closes

Additional Parking:

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