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Overall Polk County Home Sales rose and prices fell in 2009 from the previous year.

Is this true in your neck of the woods?  I’m sure you heard about that this is a buyer’s market in the news and media outlets, but is it really? Real Estate still remains very local and real estate statistics in each town or even in each neighborhood/community could differentiate by a great margin resulting in a seller’s market. Therefore consulting with a local Realtor® with market knowledge and experience is essential to your home buying or home selling needs.

636 existing homes sold – an increase of 7.98% from the previous month (589 sold homes) in Polk County – an increase in sales activity of 185 Polk County homes sold from the previous year. Overall Polk’s median price for existing homes decreased by 4.59% from the previous month to $99,700 and declined 18% from the previous year of $122,000.

Take a look at the city you live in and see what the numbers are for December 2009 for existing home sales – single family homes, condominiums, manufactured homes, duplex, villas, and townhomes -including distressed properties in Polk County.  Please take note only sales recorded by Realtors® are taken into account. The source for this data is Mid-Florida Regional MLS Service, it is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

City                              Average Sold Price          Median Sold Price           # of Homes Sold

ALTURAS 170,000 170,000 1
AUBURNDALE 130,567 119,000 18
BABSON PARK 125,000 125,000 1
BARTOW 124,190 116,000 10
CLERMONT 69,167 71,000 3
DAVENPORT 131,928 123,925 126
DUNDEE 89,100 89,900 5
EAGLE LAKE 64,500 64,500 2
FORT MEADE 70,000 50,000 3
FROSTPROOF 66,167 56,500 3
HAINES CITY 102,388 87,500 42
HOMELAND 54,900 54,900 1
KISSIMMEE 75,317 67,500 15
LAKE ALFRED 88,207 94,200 6
LAKE WALES 100,233 80,000 21
LAKELAND 123,866 113,950 194
MULBERRY 128,936 133,500 17
POINCIANA 81,444 74,950 80
POLK CITY 72,430 63,000 10
WINTER HAVEN 98,405 92,500 78

Let me break down December 2009 Polk County existing homes sales into various categories:

  • 571 Single family homes, townhomes, villas and ½ duplex – median sold price $105,100 – 150 Average Days on Market
  • 26 Condominiums – median sold price – $72,250 – 136 Average Days on Market
  • 38 Modular, manufactured/mobile homes in park/out of park – median sold price $52,750 – 181 Average Days on Market

Let’s take a look at the distressed Polk County real estate market!

There were only 258 existing homes sold, not categorized as distressed properties, at a median sold price of $125,000 with 162 average days on market, which counted for 41% of our total sales. The distressed properties however; which includes Bank owned, pre-foreclosure, in foreclosure and short sales counted for 59% of our total sales in Polk County for the month of December.

  • 300 sold homes were Bank Owned – median price $77,250 – Average Days on Market 45
  • 78 sold homes were Short Sales – median price $110,140 – Average Days on Market 196

Update for the Lakeland real estate market! Currently, there are 1903 homes for sale throughout Lakeland – as of 01/28/10. Newly listed homes for the period of January 01st through January 15th jumped to 166 Lakeland homes recently listed. The average sales price of Lakeland homes listed with area Realtors® for decreased to $162,992 from my previous report.

The types of homes and average prices just listed in Lakeland, Florida according to the Multiple Listing Services (MLS) are as follows:

2 duplex units with an average sales price of $82,000

4 condos listed with an average sales price of $105,425

15 mobile homes listed with an average sales price of $71,400

2 Townhomes/Villas listed with an average sales price of $67,400

143 single family homes with an average price of $176,679

Lakeland’s newest homes listed! The priciest Lakeland real estate is a 2004 pool home; featuring 4 bedrooms and 3 ½  baths with over 3,800 square feet of living space currently offered for $849,000 located in the Eaglebrooke Community.  On the contrary, the cheapest Lakeland home newly listed is a bank owned 3 bedrooms 2 bath property listed for $33,000 – just over $22.00 per square foot – located in the Idlewild subdivision.

All data for this report was obtained from the Mid-Florida Regional MLS, it is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. This report does not include “For Sale By Owner”.

Take a look at the breakdown by zip code:

33801 – 14 with an average sales price of $95,229

33803 –24 with an average sales price of $159,950

33805 – 08 with an average sales price of $141,450

33809 – 17 with an average sales price of $168,318

33810 – 41 with an average sales price of $150,190

33811 – 15 with an average sales price of $152,833

33812 – 15 with an average sales price of $181,473

33813 – 27 with an average sales price of $240,393

33815 – 05with an average sales price of $45,720

Update on distressed homes in Lakeland

A total of 563 properties are currently actively being marketed that are facing foreclosure. There were 69 Lakeland homes newly listed in the distressed category with average prices of $132,768 or $73.95 per square foot. Distressed homes are categorized as “Bank-Owned”, “Require 3rd party approval (Short Sale)”, “Pre-foreclosure”, and “In-Foreclosure”.

January update on Lakeland Real Estate “Sold & Pending”

So far only 103 Lakeland properties have sold that have been recorded in the Multiple Listing. I suspect the numbers will increase even though we are at the end of the month.

459 Lakeland homes have gone to “pending”, awaiting closing.

If you are interested in a specific area or neighborhood, feel free to contact me at petra@petranorris.com or click the search button below.

Hi folks! It is time for our annual Tiger Town Pig Festival next to Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland Florida. At this free event, yes free and even parking is free, you will find the best barbeque around – every taste buds will be mesmerized by the variety of finger lickin’ barbeque with all sorts of variety.

In its 14th year, Lakeland Pig Fest is well known for its barbeque competition enticing professional barbeque teams to travel to our beautiful city and compete in four categories: Ribs, Chicken, Pork and Brisket. Of course they are interested in the $10,000 in prize money and the $1000.00 Big Green Egg Prize Package.

Gates open on Friday, January 29, 2010 at 5:00 p.m. with live music on the mainstage performed by Bitter Edge followed by Damon Fowler.

The gates open on Saturday, January 30th at 10:00 a.m. for some barbeque braggin’ rights competition.

On both days there is plenty of entertainment for the whole family to enjoy including: NASCAR Simulators, Interactive Children’s area, Live Music, Tasting Opportunities and some world class barbeque.

A tad bit of history lesson! It started all in 1994 when a small group of local businessmen attended the Blue Ridge Mountain town of Tyron, N.C. to watch a barbeque championship. From then on, a festival committee was established and Lakeland’s Pig Festival welcomed its first barbeque competitors in 1997. Since then, professional teams and backyard teams travel great distances to compete separate in now five different categories in Ribs (loin and spare), Pork (shoulder and butt), Chicken, Brisket (beef) and Sauce. The Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) Professional Competition and Judging School considers Lakeland’s Pig Fest to be one of the finest events sanctioned by KCBS.  Lakeland’s annual  Pig Fest held at Joker Marchant Stadium has since then grown to over 300 Barbeque Teams competing for prize money and attendance growing quickly each year.

The Junior League of Greater Lakeland became in 2005 the lead organizer for this great event and they do an outstanding job providing volunteers to see that this free event is run smoothly. The event in itself is free, such as the concerts – as you walk towards the gate, let me suggest you buy “Pig Dollars” near the entrance for food and drinks and also some for your kids, since I’m sure they want to take part in arts & crafts, climbing and jumping. Don’t worry if you run out of the “Pig Dollars or “Pig Bucks”, there are various locations throughout the area for you to buy more.

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Lakeland mortgage borrowers looking to finance a home purchase using an FHA loan may experience higher levels of difficulty and cost come the Spring of 2010.

Issuing a statement on Wednesday, the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) presented some significant policy changes to its mortgage assistance programs designed to minimize its risk and boost the financial position of the mortgages that it backs.

So, what does this mean for Lakeland mortgage borrowers?  Put simply – these changes mean higher costs.

Per the FHA’s official announcement, there are 3 key guideline updates you need to consider when planning to use an FHA mortgage:

  1. There will be an increase in up front mortgage insurance premiums from 1.75% to 2.25%
  2. The minimum downpayment requirement for borrowers with credit scores below 580 will rise to 10 percent*
  3. Sellers will only be able to contribute 3% of their home’s selling price towards borrower closing costs, down from today’s allowable 6%

*Note: Though the FHA may allow credit scores at or below 580, nearly all mortgage lenders today require credit scores of 620 or higher.  Lenders have and often exercise the right to establish borrowing criteria that go above and beyond what backers like the FHA and VA require.

In addition to these planned changes, the FHA has asked Congress for permission to increase the monthly mortgage insurance premiums currently being charged to FHA home loan borrowers.

What Are the Real Reasons Behind the FHA’s Newly Tightened Guidelines?

It’s pretty clear what the FHA is trying to accomplish with these newly tightened mortgage borrowing restrictions.  It’s a balancing act, really.  On one hand, the FHA wants to provide deserving families and individuals with affordable home loan financing – something that they express in the FHA mission statement.   However, the FHA must also maintain control over the risk that comes with insuring lesser-quality loans.  (In this case, I point to FHA loans as being lesser quality as opposed to Conforming loans that often have tighter credit restrictions and higher downpayment requirements.)

By ramping up its guideline requirements, the FHA hopes to limit the negative impact of “bad lenders”  – who often do not provide any additional limits past what the FHA requires – in hopes of stopping problems like higher loan default rates where they start.  To this end, the FHA is also introducing what it calls a “termination clause.” If banks or loan officers begin to issue more than an acceptable number of loans to less than qualified or risky borrowers, they will lose their right to originate FHA mortgages.

As a result, homebuyers in Lakeland should expect tougher FHA underwriting in 2010. Not because the FHA says so, necessarily, but because banks don’t want to do “bad loans.”  This is where additional restrictions past what the FHA requires will begin to become more and more prevalent.  See, mortgage lenders are incented to turn down at-risk applicants and, already, we’re seeing examples of this.   As I’ve stated above, despite FHA allowing 580 FICOs and lower, many banks have made 620 their minimum.   Additional guidelines above what the FHA requires may also come into play as banks and lenders try to protect their right to issue FHA loans.

The FHA’s new guidelines don’t go into effect until spring.  So, between now and then, the old guidelines will apply.  Therefore, if you know you’re going to need a Lakeland FHA home loan in the next few months, consider moving up your time-frame.

If nothing else, you’ll save some money at closing.

6931 Ashbury Drive Lakeland FL 33809 – Lakeland FL Home for Sale – Hampton Chase Subdivision

Custom built brick home by Paul McKinley located on a spacious corner lot. The home is artistically by fossil painting on the interior wall as well as throughout the house meticulously maintained by the owner. Features include formal living room and dining room with and open floor plan for entertainment and family gatherings. You will enjoy the easy access to the pool area from 4 rooms via sliding glass door screened for a pool/barbecue parties and the privacy of a custom galvanized steel fencing. Spacious walk-in closets in all the bedrooms, vaulted ceilings, plant shelved and with a beautiful decor throughout the house. The master bath suite features his and her walking closets, linen closet, jetted tub with separate shower as well as block glass window for privacy. Kitchen has plenty of cabinet and counter space featuring flat cook top and granite counter. New maintenance updates such as roof replacement in 2004 and pool resurfacing in 2007 were completed. The home is truly a pleasure to show and own. It is adjacent to the Wendell Watson Elementary School – an A rated school according to the Polk County School Board’s website and nearby access to I-4 driving to Orlando & Tampa for commuting.

New Price: $229,000.00

Bedroom: 3

Bathroom: 2

Square feet: 2,391

Pool: Gunite/Concrete in-ground with screen enclosure

Fireplace: wood burning

If you’re considering a move on a Lakeland mortgage in an effort to take advantage of the homebuyer tax credit, you be advised that the clock is ticking.

If you’ll recall – back on November 6, 2009, Congress granted and extension and expanded the First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit program.  As of now, you have 100 days left to claim it.

Providing a tax credit of up to $8,000, the deadline for homebuyers has been moved forward to spring, requiring Lakeland homebuyers to have a contract on a home by no later than April 30, 2010.  You’ll also need to be sure that you close on your Lakeland home by no later than June 30, 2010.

“Move up” homebuyers in Lakeland also stand to gain from this tax credit.  If you’ve lived in your home for 5 of the last 8 years, then the IRS will allow you to receive a tax credit of $6,500.

Important Facts to Know About this Tax Credit:

Buyers should keep the following things in mind when determining whether taking advantage of this tax credit is a viable option:

  • You may not buy your home from a parent, spouse, or child
  • It is not permissible to purchase your home from an entity in which you have a majority ownership position
  • Homes acquired through a gift or inheritance are not eligible
  • All individuals involved with the purchase of the home have to meet eligibility requirements

There are also a few new updates to keep in mind:

The sales price of the home you buy cannot be more than$800,000.  You must also make less than $125,000 as a single-filer and $225,500 as joint-filers.

It’s also important to remember that this program provides for a true tax credit — not a deduction.  What this means is that if you are eligible for the full $8,00 credit, and your tax liability is,$5,000, you will get a $3,000 refund from the U.S. Treasury at tax time.

For a complete list of qualifying criteria, visit the IRS website.  Talk this move over with your accountant or other qualified tax professional.  Then put a big red circle on your calendar around April 30, 2010.  You have 100 days left!

Lakeland real estate ended the year on a high note in sales. With 194 homes sold overall, a 43% increase from the previous year, the month of December proved to be the best month for 2009 with an average sales price of $123,865, a 1% increase from the previous month.

Lakeland Homes sold in December: 194 – previous month:  174 – previous year December 08: 136 sold

While home prices are at 2004 level and still showing signs of downward market adjustments, the adjustments for December compared to last year’s figures are no longer in double digits.  Although the distressed properties continue to power market values for Lakeland Real Estate, I suspect in the coming month that we see the market will stabilize.

December – average sales price $123,865

Previous month: $122,590 (+ 1%) – previous year December 08: $134,370(-7.82%)

December – median sales price $113,950

Previous month: $119,000 (-4.24%) – previous year December 08: $125,420 (-9.15%)

The graph below represents average and median prices in Lakeland for various categories.

What are the various average prices in each Lakeland zip code?

Take a look at my spreadsheet below. I’ve separated the report by zip code instead of school zones; it gives you a more accurate report in my opinion. The data and graphs for this report were obtained from the Mid-Florida Regional MLS, it is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. This report does not include “For Sale By Owner”. The numbers highlighted in pink represents the zip codes where average sold prices have exceeded.


Which zip codes represents the most sales activities since January 2009?

Zip Code Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
33801 20 12 15 21 13 16 17 12 20 27 20 31 224
33803 11 10 16 18 16 19 26 19 22 25 20 24 226
33805 12 11 12 9 5 10 14 14 8 14 12 14 135
33809 13 12 16 11 18 17 16 17 25 17 21 23 206
33810 25 31 34 31 46 37 40 33 42 46 43 40 448
33811 10 16 17 18 18 22 20 15 22 15 18 17 208
33812 10 5 8 13 7 9 16 15 10 9 13 14 129
33813 9 25 27 28 26 33 35 38 29 22 24 25 321
33815 5 3 7 5 7 6 4 3 5 2 3 6 56
Total 115 125 152 154 156 169 188 166 183 177 174 194 1953

Distressed properties in Lakeland, Florida

For the month of December, Lakeland’s real estate market of distressed homes and bank-owned (REO) properties had a market share of 53%. There were a total of 103 properties sold in December compared to 49 distressed Lakeland homes sold the year prior, according to Mid-Florida Regional MLS.

Average days on market (DOM) for bank-owned properties are 49 days

Average days on market (DOM) for other distressed properties are 146 days.

28 Distressed Homes Sold – average sold price $118,425 – median sold price $122,000

75 Bank-owned (REO) sold – average sold price $94,819 – median sold price $80,000

For more information on the location of these sold homes in Lakeland, price and size of the home click on map picture which leads you to the interactive Community Walk map created by Chuck Welch of Lakeland Local.


If you are interested in a specific area or neighborhood, feel free to contact me at petra@petranorris.com or click the search button below.

Home buyers looking to buy Lakeland real estate using FHA loans take note, the FHA has released its loan limits for 2010.

FHA home loans represent federal assistance mortgages made by lenders and receive backing by the government.   Though some believe that the FHA lends money – this is not the case.  Rather, the FHA insures loans made to homeowners by federally-qualified lenders.

Though home sales in Lakeland have been lower than we’d like to see, those homes that are being financed are – by in large – being done so using FHA mortgages.  This trend meets with national figures on FHA mortgages when we compare 2006 figures vs. 2009 figures…

  • 2006, FHA insured 3.3% of all mortgages made
  • Q2 2009, FHA insured 19.2% of all mortgages made

FHA guidelines play a large role in the rise in FHA mortgage popularity.

A big guideline placing FHA mortgages in a brighter light for most entry level borrowers is the fact that they have lower downpayment requirements than do their conforming mortgage cousins Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Credit standards tend to be a bit more lenient as well.  The FHA allows downpayments of 3.5 percent for homes in Lakeland and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do not, as an example.

Lakeland FHA loans are also attractive because they aren’t subject to credit score fees the way that conforming mortgages are. Through Fannie or Freddie, Lakeland home buyers with a 650 credit score and 20% down are subject to 3% in risk fees.  Using FHA mortgages, the fee is zero, making FHA the better “deal.”

2010 FHA Mortgage Limits

The FHA published its 2010 loan limits. There’s no change from 2009.

The base 2010 FHA loan limits are:

  • 1-unit : $271,050
  • 2-unit : $347,000
  • 3-unit : $419,400
  • 4-unit : $521,250

We say “base” because these loan limits don’t apply to all areas equally.  Higher-cost regions get higher loan limits, based on typical home values.

The official FHA announcement included a complete, county-by-county FHA loan limit list. The first spreadsheet shows each county at or above the $729,750 maximum; the second list is everyone else.

If your home’s county is on neither list, use the “base” numbers above.

Beat the rush and file your Polk County property tax homestead exemption on your Lakeland real estate or anywhere in Polk County Florida early, because – believe it or not – March 1st, 2010 deadline is fast approaching.

If you took residency on your newly purchased home after January 1, 2009, which includes mobile home if the land the mobile home sits on is owned by the same owner, you may qualify for the initial $25,000 Homestead Exemption. In addition, you may also qualify for an additional $25,000 homestead under Amendment 1 that began with the 2008 tax year for a total of $50,000.  You surely want to file for a 2010 property tax exemption, also known as homestead exemption.  Have you owned a home previously in Florida? You may be eligible for “Save our Home”. Saving money these days is on everybody’s mind – there are other ways of qualifying for additional savings:

  • Amendment 7, which was voted by Florida voters on November 7, 2006 and is intended to be an additional discount on taxes owed after all other ad valorem tax exemptions are computed for eligible veterans 65 years and older.
  • Senior exemption, widow, disability, veterans and total exemption – if qualified you may be eligible to save up to an additional $5,000. Widow or widower must provide a copy of their late spouse’s death certificate. Disability exemptions applicants must provide an attest from a certified Florida physician.  Veteran exemptions applicants must show proof of percentage (minimum 10%) of service-connected disability from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

First-time homebuyers filing for homestead exemption must apply in person and bring their recorded deed and proof of residency, such as Florida drivers’ license with current address, Florida voter registration with current address, Florida vehicle registration with current address or resident alien card. Applicants filing for any exemption are required to present their Social Security cards.

Where to file?

Bartow Office

255 N. Wilson Ave                     Phone: 863-534-4777

Bartow, FL 33830                      Fax: 863-534-4753

Hours: 8:30am-5:00pm (M-F)

Lakeland Office

912 E. Parker St.                          Phone: 863-413-2549

Lakeland, FL 33801                   Fax: 863-413-2550

Hours: 8:30am-5:00pm (M-F)

Winter Haven Office

3425 Lake Alfred Rd.                 Phone: 863-401-2424 3

Gill Jones Plaza                         Fax: 863-401-2428

Winter Haven, FL 33881

Hours: 8:00am-5:00pm (M-F)

Website: http://www.polkpa.org

Update for the Lakeland real estate market! Currently, there are 1878 homes for sale throughout Lakeland – as of 01/08/10. Newly listed homes for the period of December 16th through December 31st totaled 121 Lakeland homes recently came on the market. The average sales price of Lakeland homes listed with area Realtors® for decreased to $197,553 from my previous report.

The types of homes and average prices just listed in Lakeland, Florida according to the Multiple Listing Services (MLS) are as follows:

4 condos listed with an average sales price of $81,175

10 mobile homes listed with an average sales price of $64,720

1 Townhomes/Villas listed for $64,900

106 single family homes with an average price of $171,831

Lakeland’s newest homes listed! The priciest Lakeland real estate is a 2006 pool home; featuring 4 bedrooms and 4 ½  baths with over 3,700 square feet of living space currently offered for $750,000 located in the Grandview Landings.  On the contrary, the cheapest Lakeland home newly listed is a bank owned 2 bedrooms 1 bath property listed for $16,900 – just over $20.00 per square foot – located in the Winston Heights subdivision.

All data for this report was obtained from the Mid-Florida Regional MLS, it is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. This report does not include “For Sale By Owner”.

Take a look at the breakdown by zip code:

33801 – 13 with an average sales price of $73,750

33803 –10 with an average sales price of $232,710

33805 – 06 with an average sales price of $78,450

33809 – 11 with an average sales price of $169,063

33810 – 35 with an average sales price of $154,603

33811 – 17 with an average sales price of $179,220

33812 – 05 with an average sales price of $117,460

33813 – 22 with an average sales price of $199,572

33815 – 02 with an average sales price of $99,450

Update on distressed homes in Lakeland

A total of 550 properties are currently actively being marketed that are facing foreclosure. There were 60 Lakeland homes newly listed in the distressed category with average prices of $116,479 or $66.69 per square foot. Distressed homes are categorized as “Bank-Owned”, “Require 3rd party approval (Short Sale)”, “Pre-foreclosure”, and “In-Foreclosure”.

December was a record breaking month – update on Lakeland Real Estate that have sold

December proved to be the best month for 2009 for the Lakeland real estate market in terms of the number of Lakeland Homes sold. There were 192 Lakeland homes sold so far reported with an average price of $123,943. Look for December’s detailed market report on my blog – coming soon. Lakeland Real Estate under contract but have not closed (Pending) Lakeland homes that are in pending status are at 424.

If you are interested in a specific area or neighborhood, feel free to contact me at petra@petranorris.com or click the search button below.