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REMEMBER Cell Phone Numbers Go Public this month.

posted Jun 17, 2015, 6:16 AM by Gidget Jackson   [ updated Jun 17, 2015, 6:18 AM ]

REMEMBER Cell Phone Numbers Go Public this month.

All cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sales calls.


To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone:    888-382-1222.   
It is the National DO NOT CALL list It will only take a minute of your time.. It blocks your number for five (5) years.

You must call from the cell phone number you want to have blocked. You cannot call from a different phone number.

HELP OTHERS BY PASSING THIS ON. It takes about 20 seconds.

Please forward to family and friends.

Real Estate Bills Pass 2014

posted Apr 30, 2015, 12:31 AM by Gidget Jackson

Flood InsuranceSB 1094 expands an effort that began last year to establish a private, primary flood insurance market so property owners have an alternative to the National Flood Insurance Program. It allows insurers to offer "flexible" flood insurance coverage that, among other things, may be for an agreed upon amount or cover only the building, and not personal property or additional living expenses. 

Condominium Terminations. HB 643 ensures that bulk buyers cannot force condo owners out of their homes without providing adequate compensation. 

Foreclosures & Tenant Protection. HB 779 allows buyers of foreclosed properties to provide a notice to the tenant that has the effect of a lease termination. The bill allows the tenant to remain in possession of the property for 30 days following receipt of the notice. 

Drones. The commercial operation of a drone is still prohibited, but SB 766 will exempt a "person or entity engaged in a business or profession licensed by the state." This exemption will prove valuable to Realtors when such activities are permitted. 

Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. HB 715 allows some coastal properties that would have lost Citizens coverage due to reconstruction or renovation to maintain their coverage as long as the building does not exceed 125 percent of its original size.

Flood Insurance Guarantee Fund (FIGA). SB 836 lengthens the amount of time insurance companies have to pay assessments to FIGA, the fund that pays the claims of insurers who go bust. This change is designed to attract private market capital to the state. 

Real Estate Brokers & Appraisers. SB 608 provides the Florida Real Estate Commission the ability to reinstate null & void licenses when a hardship occurs; allows a brokerage to temporarily appoint a broker of record in the event of a death or other unexpected situation; and clarifies certain appraiser and appraisal management company recordkeeping requirements. 

Depopulating Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. HB 1087 enables policyholders to return to Citizens if the premium charged by a private insurer is 10 percent higher than the insurer's estimated cost. Policyholders may also return to Citizens during a renewal period if the new policy's rate increases more than 10 percent per year during the next 36 months. 

Recovery Residences. HB 21 establishes a voluntary process for recovery residences -- also known as "sober homes" and often located in residential areas -- to become state certified. Federal regulations greatly restrict the state's ability to govern sober homes. 

Private Property Rights. HB 383 codifies into law the provisions of a U.S. Supreme Court decision, Koontz vs. St. Johns River Management District. The court ruled that a government agency may not require a property owner to, among other things, perform off-site improvements or repairs to other properties he or she does not own and which are located miles away.

Provided by Florida Realtors, 7025 Augusta National Dr., Orlando, FL 32822 USA

Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Passed

posted Jan 12, 2015, 10:44 AM by Gidget Jackson

Polychron on passage of tax extensions

Posted in Legislative, by NAR on December 17, 2014

National Association of Realtors® President Chris Polychron has issued the following statement on key legislation passed by Congress:

“The package of tax extensions approved by the U.S. House and Senate, and headed to the President’s desk for signature, includes important provisions that will help distressed homeowners and commercial property investors with transactions made during 2014. NAR applauds Congressional leaders in both chambers for their effort to pass this legislation before adjournment.

“Realtors® strongly supported the bipartisan Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief Act, which was included in the package to prevent underwater borrowers from paying taxes on any mortgage debt forgiven or cancelled by a lender in a workout or after their home was sold for less money than was owed. We are grateful to Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Reps. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., and Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., for championing the provision.

“The legislation also includes one-year extensions of the 15-year depreciation schedule for leasehold improvements and the deduction for improvements to energy efficient commercial buildings.”

Marathon takes a new look at vacation rentals

posted Jan 8, 2015, 3:25 AM by Gidget Jackson   [ updated Jan 8, 2015, 3:25 AM ]

Marathon takes a new look at vacation rentals


The rules regulating vacation rental properties in Marathon could be in for stricter enforcement in 2015.

The City Council and the public will discuss issues surrounding the rentals at a 5:30 p.m. Jan. 7 meeting at the Marathon firehouse at Florida Keys Marathon Airport.

"The goal of the workshop is to do a review of what the state statute is, what we have on the books and what we can and cannot change," said Mayor Chris Bull.

Too many autos and boats parked, noise and trash are common complaints filed with the city, which received 20 complaints this year for the 498 licensed rentals within city limits. The rentals account for 11 percent of the 4,538 single-family homes in Marathon.

Despite the low number of official complaints filed, councilmen said numerous complaints are given to them in person from Marathon residents. Bull attributes the low number of complaints at the city level to a "live-and-let live" mentality. He said often, residents complain directly to rental managers to get issues resolved.

Under city code, registered vacation rentals have to be rented for a minimum of seven days and no more than 28. A rental manager must be within 24-hour contact. The manager has a one-hour period to respond to calls. Trash must be in covered containers and is prohibited from streets and rights of way.

There is no limit on the number of vehicles allowed.

Any major changes to the city's vacation rental ordinance could make it void, since it was grandfathered in after the state passed laws regulating vacation rental properties in June 2011.

"There's nothing we can do to change [the city ordinance] without getting ourselves into trouble," said Councilman Dan Zieg. "If we change, there can be daily vacation rentals. This is nothing the council is responsible for; we didn't make the ordinance."

Working within what the existing city ordinance dictates may be the only option for city officials.

If found violating city rules, the manager of a vacation rental could be fined $500 per day per violation. A property with three violations in a 12-month span can have its license suspended for a year.

New license fees for vacation rental homes run $500 and renewals are $250. Bull said licensing fees could be increased to help offset the costs for more enforcement.

"It might be a better way to solve problems as they arise," Bull said.

Hurricane Prep Sales Tax Holiday 5/31 - 6/8

posted May 28, 2014, 4:46 AM by Gidget Jackson

Hurricane Prep Sales Tax Holiday 5/31 - 6/8...

Tax Information Publication
TIP #14A01-03

2014 Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday
May 31 through June 8, 2014

The holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 31, 2014, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, June 8, 2014. During this holiday period, qualifying items related to hurricane preparedness are exempt from sales tax. This holiday does not apply to sales in a theme park, entertainment complex, public lodging establishment, or airport, or to the rental or repair of any of these items.

A list of qualifying items and a copy of this publication are
available on our Internet site: www.myflorida.com/dor

Qualifying Items
Selling for $10 or less:
• Reusable ice (reusable ice packs)
Selling for $20 or less:
• Any portable self-powered light source
• Battery-powered flashlights
• Battery-powered lanterns
• Gas-powered lanterns (including propane,
kerosene, lamp oil, or similar fuel)
• Tiki-type torches
• Candles
Selling for $25 or less:
• Any gas or diesel fuel container (including LP
gas and kerosene containers)
Selling for $30 or less:
• Batteries, including rechargeable batteries
and excluding automobile and boat batteries
(listed sizes only)
• AA-cell
• C-cell
• D-cell
• 6-volt
• 9-volt
• Coolers (food-storage; nonelectrical)
• Ice chests (food-storage; nonelectrical)
• Self-contained first-aid kit (already taxexempt)
Selling for $50 or less:
• Tarpaulins (tarps)
• Visqueen, plastic sheeting, plastic drop
cloths, and other flexible waterproof sheeting
• Ground anchor systems
• Tie-down kits
• Bungee cords
• Ratchet straps
• Radios (self-powered or battery-powered)
• Two-way radios (self-powered or batterypowered)
• Weather band radios (self-powered or
Selling for $750 or less:
• Portable generators that will be used to
provide light, communications, or to preserve
food in the event of a power outage
Note: Eligible battery-powered or gas-powered
light sources and portable self-powered radios
qualify for the exemption even though they may
have electrical cords.
For the list of qualifying items scan this QR code.

Articles Normally Sold as a Unit:
Articles that are normally sold as a unit must
continue to be sold in that manner; they cannot be
separately priced and sold as individual items to
get the sales tax exemption.

Example 1: A multi-battery package sells for
$25. The package contains an assortment of
AA, C, and D cell batteries. The battery package
will qualify for the tax exemption since the sales
price of the package containing qualifying items
is less than $30.

Example 2: A ground tie-down kit with four
tie-downs and related accessories sells for
$100. The kit cannot be sold as four different
packages to qualify for the exemption.

Sets Having Exempt and Taxable Items:
When tax-exempt items are normally sold together
with taxable merchandise as a set or single unit,
the price of the set or unit is subject to sales tax.

Example: Four AA rechargeable batteries
are sold in a package that includes a battery
charger for $25. Although the batteries would
qualify for the exemption if sold separately
during the holiday period, the battery charger
does not qualify. The full sales price of $25 is

Buy One, Get One Free or for a Reduced Price
The total price of items advertised as “buy one,
get one free,” or “buy one, get one for a reduced
price,” cannot be averaged for both items to
qualify for the exemption.

Gift Cards
The sale of a gift card is not taxable. A gift card
does not reduce the selling price of an item.
Eligible items purchased during the holiday period
using a gift card will qualify for the exemption,
regardless of when the gift card was purchased.
Eligible items purchased after the holiday period
using a gift card are taxable, even if the gift card
was purchased during the holiday period.

This document is intended to alert you to the requirements contained in Florida laws and administrative rules.
It does not by its own effect create rights or require compliance.
For forms and other information, visit our Internet site at www.myflorida.com/dor or call Taxpayer Services,
8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., ET, Monday through Friday, excluding holidays, at 800-352-3671.

Flood Insurance Notification

posted May 10, 2014, 4:36 AM by Gidget Jackson



FIRM would like you to be aware of two problems we've recently identified with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

PROBLEM 1.  You may receive a letter from your insurance company asking you to provide documentation that your policy is for your primary residence.  You will be asked to provide one of the following:
  • Driver's license
  • Automobile registration
  • Proof of insurance for a vehicle
  • Voter's registration
  • Documents showing where children attend school; or
  • Homestead Tax Credit Form for Primary Residence    
You will only have 30 days from the date on the letter to provide this documentation.  As you will have no control over when the letter was printed or mailed, or how long it took to reach you, or if it was delivered while you were out of town, for instance, this could be an extremely tight deadline. Further, the envelope in which the letter arrives may not appear to be an "official" correspondence that requires your immediate attention.

Be on the lookout for any letter from an insurance company, open and respond right away.  If you miss the 30-day deadline, call your insurance company to inform them, and then supply the documentation.  If your flood policy does in fact cover your primary residence, failure to provide this documentation could result in an increase in your premium of over 25%.

PROBLEM 2.  If you receive a renewal and your premium goes up, do a little math. If your premium has increased more than 15% on your primary residence, or if your premium has increased more than 25% on your second home or business, please:
  • Contact your carrier and question the increase.  We have found that if something is missing or illegible in your file, you may automatically be charged the highest possible increase, even if it should not apply to your home.
  • Contact us at firmkeys@gmail.com.  We are informing our Representative and working to eliminate this practice.
FIRM continues to work on issues related to flood insurance and the implementation of HR3370 to prevent these kinds of damaging errors, and to find a long-term solution to affordable flood insurance.  We are also working on lowering windstorm insurance rates through our Reduce InsurancePremiums Project.  The fight goes on!  

Thank you for your support.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


For more information 
call FIRM at (305) 294-3476.

"Home Rule" Vacation Rentals

posted May 3, 2014, 4:19 AM by Gidget Jackson   [ updated May 3, 2014, 4:20 AM ]

Local governments regain some "home rule" powers over vacation rentals. In 2011, the Legislature passed legislation prohibiting local governments from regulating, banning or creating new rules specific to short-term rentals. The industry grew -- 17 million Florida tourists stay in a rental home, according to the industry's trade group -- and so did the size of rental properties. In some communities, large homes with many bedrooms are being rented out to multiple families, creating a hotel-like atmosphere.SB 356 by Sen. John Thrasher (R-St. Augustine) empowers local governments to enact ordinances specific to vacation rentals, such as noise, parking and garbage. However, local governments may not pass ordinances that prohibit vacation rentals or regulate their duration or frequency. Effective July 1, 2014

The House Passes Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act 2014

posted Mar 18, 2014, 7:05 AM by Gidget Jackson

The House Passed the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act aka HR 3370.  Here is how it impacts the Florida Keys:

Information provided by FIRM (Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe)...Join FIRM and help protect rising insurance rates in the Florida Keys

The Bill instructs FEMA to strive to limit premiums to 1% of the coverage amount. Since coverage is capped at $250,000, that would mean that Congress would prefer that no single premium exceed $2,500. Further, FEMA is to report to Congress all premiums that exceed that cap. This is a goal, and not a requirement. While the Bill is silent as to whether this 1% increase cap applies to second homes and businesses, FIRM is taking the position that it should. Such properties are just as critical to coastal economies as primary homes; a structure’s vulnerability is not determined by its use. We will strongly advocate for their inclusion in the same actuarial soundness methodology.

For Primary Homeowners:
Pre-FIRM properties will see rate increases of 5%-15% on average by group class per year until the actuarial rate is reached. In addition, the maximum rate increase for any individual property is capped at 18% per year. (However, if your policy lapses not because you’ve paid off your mortgage or paid cash for your home, or if your community receives a “rating downgrade” in the Community Rating System, or if you decrease your deductible or increase your coverage, your premium could increase more than this.)
Further, refunds will be given directly to anyone who purchased a pre-FIRM primary home between July 2012 (when Biggert-Waters took effect) and the law is enacted and thus paid an exorbitant increase. These refunds should be distributed directly from NFIP within about 16 months.

Post-FIRM properties that complied with existing building codes when they were built remain grandfathered at least until Congress re-authorizes the NFIP or changes the law (scheduled for 2017). In other words, they are exempt from the 5%-15% average glide path increase (18% cap on any individual policy) and will remain in their current rate construct. If, however, they become included in a new flood plain due to zone re-mapping, they will pay the Preferred Risk Policy Rate in year 1, and then enter the rate increase glide path that applies to them.

A $25 annual surcharge will be applied to every policy on a primary home.

For Second Homeowners, Businesses, and Repetitive Flood Loss Properties:
Subject to the general umbrella thresholds for all properties set forth above, these properties will enter into an average 25% glide path rate increase until actuarial rates are reached. A $250 annual surcharge will be applied to these properties. FIRM does not believe that second homes and businesses should be treated the same as severe repetitive loss properties, and will continue to work towards more equitable treatment of second homes and businesses.

Other Beneficial Terms:
FEMA is required to complete an affordability study and develop an “affordability framework” within 18 months upon enactment of the law. They can utilize other Federal agencies in the analysis and have been given $2.5 million in funding. A second affordability study will determine the impacts specifically on small businesses, non-profits and houses of worship.

FEMA will now have the option of accessing the private reinsurance market if doing so makes financial sense. They must also be transparent in rate-making both for Congress and homeowners.

Homeowners can make payments on an annual or monthly basis. They may have the option of securing a “high deductible” policy ($10,000 deductible) at a lower premium. They will no longer be required to carry flood insurance on accessory, detached buildings but only on the structure that serves as their primary residence.

(305) 294-FIRM (3476) - 422 Fleming Street - Key West, FL 33040
www.firmkeys.org facebook.com/FIRMKeys firmkeys@gmail.com

Note: Pre-firm properties are those built before the effective date of the first Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for a community.  These properties were built prior to detailed flood hazard data, flood elevations regulations and before buildings were built with flood protection in mind.  For Monroe County these are structures built before 1975.

Good News For Now on Flood Insurance Rate Hike...

posted Oct 29, 2013, 9:56 AM by Gidget Jackson

Insurance Journal - Property Casualty Industry News

Bipartisan Deal Reached to Delay Flood Insurance Premium Hikes: Waters

Key House and Senate members have reached a bipartisan deal to delay changes to the federal flood insurance program that are raising premiums for many homeowners. The bill would require regulators to address affordability of the coverage before implementing rate hikes.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, announced the bipartisan legislative fix for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that she said will assure that “changes are implemented affordably.”

Senators Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Thad Cochran, R-Miss., Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., David Vitter, R-La., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., are among those sponsoring the legislation in the Senate.

Senate and House leaders, who are involved now in budget talks,  have not indicated if or when there might be a vote on any proposals to delay Biggert-Waters.

Waters was a chief architect of the bipartisan Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act that ordered an end to many premium subsidies for property owners and a remapping of communities along with other changes that are resulting in many homeowners facing big premium hikes and more property owners being told they must buy flood coverage. In some areas, the premiums hikes are beginning to affect home sales.

The Biggert-Waters law was intended to help reduce the debt of the NFIP, a debt now estimated at more than $25 billion, by bringing rates charged more in line with the risk and losses in flood-prone areas.

The new legislation calls for a four-year delay in most rate increases and requires FEMA, which administers the flood program, to complete an affordability study and propose regulations that address affordability issues.

The bipartisan deal comes after several weeks of negotiations with Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate. Waters said that on Oct. 9, in the midst of the government shutdown, she convened a bipartisan meeting of nearly 20 House members, as well as Senate staff, to build consensus around an agreement to delay and fix the program.

“Over the past several months, I have felt the harm and heartache that many Americans have already experienced as a result of changes to the National Flood Insurance Program. From the start, I have made clear that I would lead the effort to fix the unintended consequences of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act,” said Waters in a statement released by her office announcing the deal.

She said the legislation will be released this week in the House and Senate. It will impose a delay likely to total four years for the most vulnerable properties, by delaying implementation of rate increases until two years after FEMA completes an affordability study, which was mandated in Biggert-Waters but not undertaken.

In addition, the legislation requires FEMA to propose regulations that address the affordability issues within 18 months after the completion of the study and establishes a six month moratorium thereafter to provide for Congressional review.

Craig Fugate FEMA

Craig Fugate

The proposed delay applies to: primary, non-repetitive loss residences that are currently grandfathered; all properties sold after July 6, 2012; and all properties that purchased a new policy after July 6, 2012.

FEMA has estimated it will take two years to complete the affordability study before regulations can be issued and reviewed by Congress, meaning rate increases would be delayed for approximately four years in total, according to Waters.

In addition, Waters said the legislation:

  • Allows FEMA to utilize national flood insurance funds to reimburse policyholders who successfully appeal a map determination.
  • Eliminates the 50 percent cap on state and local contributions to levee construction and reconstruction
  • Protects the so-called “basement exception,” which allows the lowest proofed opening in a home to be used for determining flood insurance rates.
  • Establishes a Flood Insurance Rate Map Advocate within FEMA to answer current and prospective policyholder questions about the flood mapping process.
  • Requires FEMA to certify that the agency has fully adopted a modernized risk-based approach to analyzing flood risk.

Lawmakers from both parties have been clamoring for a delay in the Biggert-Waters reforms.

Business, taxpayer and insurance interests immediately criticized delaying Biggert-Waters as “unfortunate”and “preposterous.”

FEMA Director Craig Fugate, under pressure from lawmakers to delay the premium increases, told Congress last month that legislation is necessary because he does not believe he has the authority under the Biggert-Water Act to stop the changes administratively. He also said there was not enough time or money to complete an affordability study before the changes went into effect.

Good News for HOMESTEADED Property Owners that want to RENT

posted Sep 6, 2013, 12:06 PM by Gidget Jackson   [ updated Jan 8, 2015, 3:35 PM ]

Check out the new law regarding renting your homesteaded property....

SB 342 by Sen. John
Thrasher (R-St. Augustine) provides a "safe harbor" that lets people rent their homestead for up to 30 days a year without losing the exemption. However, rentals that exceed 30 days for two consecutive years jeopardize the homestead exemption in year two. Note that the law doesn't address how many days beyond the 30-day threshold triggers abandonment of homestead. A Department of Revenue opinion allows for rentals of up to six months every other year if proof of substantial residency and other conditions are met. Effective: July 1, 2013.

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