Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Playing With Tigers in Gulf Shores, Alabama!

Lovingly Referred to as "The Little Zoo that Could" The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is in a class all it's own!
On a recent crisp December afternoon several friends from Ideaworks of Pensacola, Florida joined Bill Stromquist of the Board of Directors, Davenport Properties, Inc. Broker Alison Davenport and her daughter Austin to meet many of the newest members of the zoo family.
Pictured here is Austin feeding a one year old "snowey" bingal tiger that was raised by head zookeeper Cindi Johnson.
The AGCZ is the only zoo in the country that is home to all four types of bingal tigers - the snowey, golden tabby, golden and white.
Ms. Johnson has raised many tigers over the course of her tenure. Some have gone on to other zoos, some have even become entertainers with Sigfried and Roy in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Currently she is raising Sita, a six week old white tiger who was her mother's first offspring and was rejected by her. Once she reaches a safe age, she will be transferred to a different facility. This is to protect the tigers from inbreeding that would undermine their health over time.
The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is located at 1204 Gulf Shores Parkway, Gulf Shores, Alabama and they can be reached at (251) 968-5732. When visiting the area, be it Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Perdido Key or Pensacola, you owe it to yourself to make a trip to what Animal Planet calls "the little zoo that could". They even created a 13 part reality tv series about it!

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Substantial Growth" Predicted in Florida's Economy

Michael Norton The News Service of Florida
Posted in part November 13, 2010

The pace of the recovery in the nation is moderating and the lift spurred by nearly $800 billion in federal stimulus spending is fading, but there are several promising signs that growth will continue, including in Florida, a leading national fiscal analyst told reporters Friday morning.

Moody’s Analytics economist Chris Lafakis said the Federal Reserve will remain aggressive, with a quantitative easing plan that he equated to “basically flooding the global monetary system.” Lafakis predicted the strategy would lift asset prices, reduce corporate borrowing costs, and increase the willingness of consumers to spend.

Lafakis predicted substantial growth in Florida’s economy, mentioning that areas are expected to recover “quite significantly” due to a rebound in population growth and a willingness of more people to travel to Florida for vacations. “The story of pent-up demand is true in no place more so than Florida,” he said.

Nationally, corporate balance sheets are strong and business profits have “fully recovered from the recession,” he said, adding that businesses are in the position to hire more employees, but their level of willingness varies.

“It’s truly the case that profit growth leads job growth,” Lafakis told state government reporters gathered for the annual conference of the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors.

Household liabilities in the United States have fallen by $900 billion since peaking two years ago and a shift to spending and addressing pent-up demand for purchasing “creates a lot of economic juice,” Lafakis said.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Great Article from ProPublica

Homeowner Tips for Getting Loan Modifications

by Srinivas RaoProPublica, Sep. 15, 11:48 a.m.

ProPublica asked a simple question of more than 700 homeowners dealing with the administration's mortgage modification program: Knowing what you know now, what tips would you give someone who's struggling with a mortgage payment? Their advice: Get help, stay organized, and don't give up.

In total, 718 homeowners, all of whom applied for a loan modification through the Home Affordable Modification Program, volunteered tips and tricks for struggling homeowners. While more than a third of respondents were skeptical about the value of program, the majority of respondents suggested simple steps homeowners should take to survive the process of applying for a modification. Culling through the hundreds of responses, three pieces of advice stood out.

Have you worked for a servicer in a loan modification call center? We want to hear from you.

Are you a homeowner who's struggling to pay your mortgage? Are you seeking a loan modification through the government program? We want to hear from you.

Don't do it alone. The most popular suggestion was a simple one: Don't be afraid to ask for help. One hundred thirty-five respondents advised struggling homeowners to hire lawyers, contact their elected representatives, alert the media and file complaints with a variety of government agencies; they also advised homeowners to rely on emotional support from friends, family and other homeowners in the same situation. As one California homeowner put it, "Find others to talk to, or you will go crazy."

One of the most recommended resources for struggling homeowners was the HOPE Hotline, at 1-888-995-HOPE. The Treasury Department-sponsored hotline, operated by the nonprofit Homeownership Preservation Foundation, helps connect callers with HUD-approved counselors who can provide struggling homeowners with information and support. Homeowners who suspect their servicer of making mistakes can escalate their case to a special HOPE Hotline team. The Hotline can also connect homeowners to local HUD-approved counselors; homeowners can access the list of counselors directly at HUD's website.

Stay organized. Research and organization were important themes among respondents, with 125 of them advising homeowners to take notes, to do online research, and to get everything in writing during their campaign to get a loan modification. For many respondents, the process of applying for a loan modification stretched across months, involving an ever-changing parade of customer representatives that 64 percent say gave them contradictory answers at times. Respondents recommended everything from pen and paper to certified mail, phone recorders and video cameras to keep track of the process. As one New Mexico homeowner explained, "document your journey thoroughly -- you will never be able to recall or communicate all the madness you will go through."

Just keep trying. Another 48 homeowners stressed the importance of making mortgage payments by any means possible. Despite what 52 percent of respondents say they were told by their servicer, homeowners do not have to be behind on a mortgage to be eligible for a HAMP modification. By making their monthly payments, however painful, struggling homeowners can prevent themselves from descending into a spiral of debt, and perhaps avoid the loan modification process altogether. As one Massachusetts homeowner put it, "Sell your furniture, car, dog and your soul to the devil to get your mortgage payment. The banks are liars, incompetent and not trustworthy."

Others offered optimism to those searching for loan modifications, asking struggling homeowners to not give up the fight. Ninety respondents told homeowners that they had to "be relentless," to "persevere" and to "just keep trying." Many who stuck with the program remarked that it eventually paid off, with one homeowner saving over $25,000 after treating the application process like "a part-time job." While most described the struggle as heroic, at least one respondent put her advice bluntly: "It sucks, but stick with it."

Still others gave homeowners common-sense advice, ranging from tips on how to getting a consistent story from your servicer (by building a relationship with one or two representatives you can reach directly) to how to improve your application's viability (by watching your spending and not using your ATM card for eating out). One Maryland homeowner spoke for a handful of respondents in stressing the importance of being polite. "Above all, don't be combative on the phone, or the entire conversation and time spent on hold will be for nothing."

But some respondents were less hopeful about the value of the program. 193 respondents advised homeowners to steer clear of the program altogether, describing it as "pointless," "humiliating," "hopeless" and "not worth the hassle." "Quit paying, save your money and find an apartment," said one Nevada homeowner, echoing a common theme of many of the more downtrodden responses. "They're going to get your house anyway they can."

To many of these homeowners, the loan mod program is at once deeply frustrating and their best shot at securing their home and financial future. They have spent months, sometimes years, navigating a bureaucratic maze set up by their servicers, all the while in the dark about the final the status of their loan modification.

For struggling homeowners looking to start the process of a loan modification, one Florida homeowner may have had the most practical advice of all: "Pray."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Real Ideas for Real Estate Salespeople Impacted By the BP Oil Spill

Proposed Method for Calculating Income Losses
For Real Estate Agents, Brokers, Brokerages in Directly Impacted Locations

There exists irrefutable evidence that the BP oil spill disaster absolutely and directly impacted the ability of Real Estate agents, brokers and brokerages from selling properties along the gulf coast.

These agents, brokers and brokerages have historical data to prove that their incomes have been derived through sales activity on these impacted shores, yet they are to date denied the ability to receive appropriate compensation for their losses.

This is in direct conflict with the $93M advertising campaign that BP has funded stating that they will “make it right”, “make you whole”.

If these businesses are not appropriately and adequately assisted, they will perish. That will be as a result of inaction on the part of BP and now the Gulf Coast Claims Facility.

Please consider this approach to calculating lost income due to agents/brokers and brokerages:

• Compare 2008, 2009 and 2010 income.

• Determine what percentage of income is derived from real estate sales commissions.

• Establish what percentage of the real estate commissions are from property sales in DIRECTLY impacted areas.

• Use this factor to determine loss of income due to lost sales POSSIBILITY in the DIRECTLY impacted area.

If my income is 100% derived from real estate commission sales, and historically 50% of those sales were in the DI area, then it would stand to reason that 50% of the income that I would have made in 2010 would have also been derived from that area. That would mean that whatever my 2010 projected income should have been would be 50% attributable to real estate commission sales that I would have made on the DI area.

Shouldn’t I then be eligible to receive compensation for that loss based on the proportionate part of my income that is dependent on sales in that area?

Proximity, and Dependency on the Gulf – Check, Check.

Monday, September 13, 2010

42% of Perdido Key Listings Have Price Reductions!

Saavy buyers are checking out gulf front and resort properties hoping to take advantage of the seasonal adjustments as the third quarter of the year approaches.

The current inventory of residential properties on Perdido Key stands at a moderate level of just 267 units. This includes single family, attached homes and condominiums, and is far from excessive.

Still between April and September a little more than 40% of sellers have reduced their prices.

Search available listings in Perdido Key, Pensacola and Pensacola Beach and see for yourself!

Interested in Orange Beach, Gulf Shores or Fort Morgan, Alabama? Search here for available properties.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Kenneth Feinberg Makes Another Visit to Pensacola

Today Kenneth Feinberg - the "Pay Czar" spoke to a crowd of about 300 people about his Gulf Coast Claims Facility which will become active on August 23, 2010. The forum took place at University of West Florida and was hosted by UWF and Senator Bill Nelson, (D) of Florida.

Having had the privilege to speak with Mr. Feinberg on two separate occasions prior to this forum I believe he is the best possible administrator that those of us affected by the BP oil spill could hope for.

That said, he is not Santa Clause.

Claimants must be 1) Eligible - which he states will be judged based on proximity to the gulf, industry impact and how dependent the business is on natural resources.

He has made it clear that actual physical damage by the oil is not necessary to be eligible - perception can be enough in certain instances.

2) You have to prove your claim. This may be done with income tax returns, sales receipts, cancelled contracts or any number of other resources. Any claims that are paid will be followed with a 1099 and reported to the IRS.

Initially an "emergency" payment equivalent to 6 months payment in advance will be issued to eligible claimants that have proven their claim. This payment will come with "no strings attached".

Ultimately a final claim amount will be calculated taking into account lost income and projected lost income into the future. At that point the claimant will have the choice of accepting that amount and waiving any right to sue BP or rejecting the claim and pursuing BP through litigation.

Mr. Feinberg specifically spoke to real estate values and said "the fund will not recognize diminished value of real estate". He qualified this with stating that there were instances where a loss would actually have been sustained, but generally speaking everyone with real estate will not necessarily have a loss based on reduced value.

At this time the deadline for "full and final" payments on claims is set for August 23, 2013.

I do not expect that all of us will be thrilled with the outcome at the end of this saga. Surely each of us would love to hit the "undo" button and be reset to April 19, 2010 taking our chances on what the weather would bring our way.

Mr. Feinberg may be the closest thing to an "undo" that we will see.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Perdido Key pursuing Pepsi Refresh Prize!

Perdido Key is vying for the opportunity to "give away the keys" to the island with help from the Pepsi Refresh program.

A 15 mile long barrier island that lies west of Pensacola Beach and east of Gulf Shores, AL and Orange Beach, AL, Perdido Key is Florida's 'first beach'.

Thanks to the BP oil spill this hamlet by the sea has suffered tremendous loss of business this summer, though the actual physical affects of the spill have been minimal.

In an effort to reignite the public to visit the area, the Perdido Key Area Chamber of Commerce came up with the idea of providing about 200 FREE condominium stays that would be paid for by $250,000 grant by the Pepsi Refresh program.

By providing free accommodations the traveler can enjoy the island activities 'risk free'. The Chamber requests that you vote now and everyday until the voting closes on August 31. Log on now!

Send this link to all of your friends and encourage them to vote daily!

Pepsi is "doing Good on the Gulf" you can too!