Busting the Myth About a Down Payment for a House

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Owning A Home: The American Dream

Everybody has to pay to live somewhere. Some people rent, while others own their own home. Both are paying a mortgage, but there is one fundamental difference and it is a big one! The renter is paying for their landlord’s mortgage and is essentially helping them build their wealth. On the other hand, the homeowner is investing in their own future and building their own wealth. 

So if owning a home makes so much financial sense, why don’t more people own homes? The answer to that is not straightforward as there are many reasons that can keep someone from owning a home. However, there is one big myth, that keeps a lot of people from taking that first step toward their American Dream, and that is the myth of the down payment. 

Need more reasons to think about home ownership? Check out this article:

8 Reasons To Buy A House Instead of Renting


You Don’t Need A 20% Down Payment

Just the other day I was getting my nails done, and my nail technician, a young lady in here late 20s said to me “It is not that I don’t want to own a house, it is saving up for that down payment“.  So I asked her, “How much do you think a down payment on a house is?“. “Like 20%“, she responded. 

Her answer is typical of what a lot of people believe, especially if they don’t yet own a home. They think that the only way they can own a place is if they have 20% down. That means, in today’s market, in South Florida, a young couple looking for a starter home would need between $70K to $80K if they are looking a modest single family home in the $350K to $400K range. 

This could not be further from the truth, especially if someone is looking to buy their first home.

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So How Much Do You Really Need?

There are a lot of factors that go in to determining how much a person will need for a down payment. But generally, if you have good credit, steady income, and an acceptable debt to income ratio, you could qualify for loan with a down payment as low as 3.5% to 5%. 

That means that if you are looking to buy a house in the $350K range you will need a down payment between $12,250 (3.5%) to $17,500 (5%). I you are looking to buy in the $400K range you will need a down payment between $14,000 (3.5%) to $20,000 (5%). 

Find Out If You Qualify

Finding out if you qualify or learning about what you need to qualify for a mortgage is quick and easy. Click on the button below to take your first step toward homeownership. 


Pre-Approve Me Right Now!

Don’t Forget the Closing Costs!

The down payment amount does not include closing costs, so you have to factor that in as well. The lender may have programs that will allow you to get assistance toward or roll your closing costs into your mortgage payment. You can also ask the Seller if they will contribute some money toward your closing costs. Depending on the market they may or may not be receptive to your request, but unless you ask, you never know what they will say. 

Preparing to Fulfill Your American Dream

Now that you know that a down payment is not 20%, check out these additional resources to help you prepare for fulfilling your American Dream of homeownership.

12 Creative Ways to Save for a Down Payment on a Home

6 Tips To Help You Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

8 Things Not To Do When Buying A House

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Oakland Park Elks Lodge #2407 Gives Back to Veterans

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On Sunday February 28th the Oakland Park Elks Lodge #2407 had their first Focus Grant BBQ Dinner in honor of all Veterans. Thanks to all the volunteers and Elks, it went off without a hitch! While this was the first Focus Grant BBQ, it was one of the many events that the Elks puts on in order to give back to the community. 

In order to make the BBQ Dinner happen Doug Satran, ER (Lodge President) drafted a grant. The lodge was awarded the grant and with the monies received they were able to host the event.  All funding was provided entirely by the grant we received with the stipulation to spend it all on our Veterans. 

Veterans Get Some Extra Help

The total amount of the focus grant was $10,000.  $2000 worth of Publix food cards were purchased, $2500 was used to cater the event and $5500 was used for purchasing essential items. 

The Little Lodge That Could

So, early in 2020 the Elks began planning efforts to host a “giving back” dinner. The idea was to have a free dinner with all drinks included.   They had raised $23,500.00for charities through grants. Their efforts were unparalleled by any other lodge in their district.  This feat lead them to dub themselves  “The Little Lodge that Could”. Lodge member Michelle Renee, shares ” We are humbly proud of what we have done in such a short amount of time to put ourselves on the map“. 

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Free Dinner for the Community

While the focus of their efforts were the veterans, all were welcome to the Elks free dinner. The catering for the BBQ  was provided by Hunny’z Kitchen, LLC . Chef Anthony was the BBQ extraordinaire. His  wife and CEO, Dawn, kept everything organized and food flowing! 

Three Boy Scouts from CP Pack 179 were on site to help pick up with cleanup efforts. According to Renee “They were awesome and the Veterans loved seeing them in their uniforms and took pictures with them and Thank you to their Mom’s for sharing them with us for the day. We also thank Hunny’z Kitchen, LLC for all their help in making our BBQ for Veterans a huge success”.


More Good Times and Charity to Come at The Elks Lodge

The Elks are looking forward to more events this coming year. So stay tuned for information about their An Annual Luau in June and possible Chili Cook Off for Children’s Therapy Services in September. Next month, on April 9th, they will host a Pan Asian Night.  Oakland Park Mayor, Jane Bolin, will be there and will be serving up Korean BBQ and Elk’s Esquire Arnicua Cuarenta will be making Lumpia! So stop the Lodge, you never know the fun that awaits you at the Little Lodge That Could and Did! 

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The Truth About How Pulte Cleaned the Golf Course to Build at Oak Tree

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Pulte Comes to Oakland Park

Pulte Homes had already developed and was developing several other new home communities in Florida before it set its sights on 139 undeveloped acres in Oakland Park. The property, formerly the Oak Tree Golf Course, had been closed to the public for nearly 10 years. The 139 acres of contiguous, virgin land presented the builder with a rare opportunity to build a master planned community that offered residents luxurious and modern new homes with a built-in resort style lifestyle. But first they needed to have their plans for Oak Tree approved by the City Commission.

Initially Pulte proposed building a little over 800 homes on the site. That number of homes was not approved. Pulte went back to the drawing board and proposed the building of 273 single family homes and 132 townhomes on the site for a total of 405 new homes. In September of 2019 the Oakland Park City Commission approved the plans. After they received approval from the City Commission Pulte began clearing and cleaning the land so it could do what it is known for, building homes. 

Site Map of Oak Tree, Phase 1 Development

Cleaning The Land For Residential Use

In order to gain permission to develop land that was formerly a golf course, a builder – any builder – must comply with Broward County regulations for land clean up. A concern regarding the clean-up of the land and any potential hazards it could cause came up in a discussion amongst Oakland Park residents and so we decided to research it.

LivingInOaklandPark.com reached out to Pulte’s Vice President for Land Development, Patrick Gonzalez, P.E. . I asked Gonzalez about the steps taken to clear up the land and he stated the following:

At a high level what’s important for everyone to know is that the chemicals we are discussing were legal to use on golf courses and, also, that this course was closed for roughly 10 years where it wasn’t being maintained. Even after all this time without any maintenance, we have to follow a very specific process with the County to assess, remediate, test, and certify the levels of the previously used turf management chemicals now meet the requirements for residential use.

You are correct the City required confirmation of our golf course remediation approvals prior to starting homes however the process runs through Broward County Environmental Protection and Growth Management Agency who confirms we handled the golf course remediation per the requirements to convert a golf course to a residential development. This process has been successfully completed on many golf courses in Broward County and is similar to the process required on agricultural, polo field and other residential developments throughout South Florida.

In our case, we removed impacted soil from the lots and moved it to open space areas of the community and placed it beneath at least two feet of clean soil. After removing the soil from the lot areas, we tested the lots and confirmed the tests are all within the County’s requirements for residential homes. The County then reviewed and approved these testing results.

The groundwater still contains contaminants remaining from the use of the maintenance chemicals so groundwater use is prohibited in the future. A restriction is recorded on the property to notify any purchasers of the groundwater use prohibition but the restriction does not practically change how the neighborhood operates. Because drinking water is provided by the City and irrigation is provided by the HOA, individual homeowners wouldn’t use groundwater even without a restriction.

We also encourage anyone interested in learning more to contact the County directly. They can provide more information on the process and more project specific details if someone would like to see them.

Patrick Gonzalez
Vice President of Land Development for the Pulte Group

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Broward County’s Requirements

We took Gonzalez up on his suggestion and contacted the County in order to better understand the protocol for cleaning the land and making it safe for residential use. Eventually I connected with David S. Vanlandingham, P.E., Engineering Unit Supervisor at the Environmental Protection and Growth Management Department in the Environmental Engineering and Permitting Division of Broward County. We had a conference call in which he explained the County’s requirements and what Pulte had done and was doing to comply. 

According to Vanlandingham, many golf courses are not as lucrative as they used to be so the owners are selling parts of it in order to generate revenue. There are no exceptions when it comes to golf courses, all of them have some sort of contamination from the legal application of pesticides. The main concern at Oak Tree are the levels of arsenic, a naturally occurring metal that was used in the pesticides when Oak Tree was a fully functioning golf course.  When asked if there were other contaminants of concern at Oak Tree, Vanlandingham confirmed that no other contaminants were found on the site. 

When there is a land use change, such as that of Oak Tree to residential use, contamination is of the utmost concern to the County because people will be living there. The developer or responsible party must conduct a site assessment. They hire a 3rd party contractor assess the extent of contaminants in site soils and groundwater. The amount of assessment data is predicated upon the intended final land use. 

Pulte Goes Above and Beyond In Cleaning Up Oak Tree

Pulte is very familiar with the County’s requirements for converting golf courses to residential land use. They have already been through the process at their Hillcrest and Woodmont developments. They have already collected a large amount of data and based on that they are removing all of the contaminated soil from the area where the homes are being built. The contaminated soil is being placed on the perimeter berm which surrounds the development. 

On top of the berm they are placing 2 feet of clean silt. Arsenic, which is not volatile, binds to the soil and remains there, unexposed. The berm is then beautified with landscaping. Where the homes are being built Pulte is removing all the contaminated soil and capping the lots with 2 feet of clean silt. This is important because developers are not required to remove all the contaminated land. Pulte is making a point of removing it all so that homeowners will not have any restrictive covenants placed on the use of the land that is their home site.   

The perimeter berm in the making.
A portion of the completed perimeter berm.

Under the clean-up rules in Florida, developers are not required to present verification of clean soil sampling. However, the County, under their Chapter 27 Code of Ordinances, does require verification of sampling to be presented after the remedial action is taken. This way the County insures that when the properties are turned over for occupancy they are safe for residential use. After the lots are capped, they are taking five samples per lot to insure the soil is not contaminated. Five samples is more than the amount required by the County to verify the remedial action was successful.

Phase 1, which is currently being built, have all been tested and are free of contamination. Phase 2 is currently undergoing remedial action. Vanlandingham affirms that it is a very transparent process and all documentation is available online. 

In concluding the conversation with Vanlandingham, I asked him why future homeowners should feel safe about living at Oak Tree and this is what he shared with us : 

“Pulte through their consultant has done an enormous amount of site clean-up which has been verified by the County…they have really gone over and beyond to demonstrate that every single home lot is free of contamination in the soil”.

David Vanlandingham, P.E.
Engineering Unit Supervisor at the Environmental Protection and Growth Management Department

Keeping Oak Tree Safe : Declaration of Restrictive Covenants

In the community’s Declaration of Restrictive Covenants for the berm is not to be touched so as keep the contaminated soil safely packed below the surface and prevent any sort of exposure.  The document also states that Oak Trees homeowners are responsible for the maintenance of the top soil cap in perpetuity. 

The Declaration of Restrictive Covenants also provides for restrictions of groundwater use. Potable water will be provided by the City and the HOA will be responsible for irrigating the landscaping, so homeowners will not be exposed to any contaminated water. 

Learn More About The Clean Up at Oak Tree

Click here to access the public records regarding the clean up at Oak Tree.

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Oakland Park Real Estate Fourth Quarter Report 2020

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2020 Comes to A Close

2020 has been a year like no other. The pandemic changed the way we live and the way we interact with others. Financially it has affected people in different ways. Some people have thrived while others have fallen into financial distress.

The latter effect led many to wonder what would happen to the real estate market. Surprisingly, it did not, or perhaps, I can say, has not negatively affected the real estate market as many people anticipated, at least not yet. That could change as moratoriums are lifted and forbearances come due. But as I mentioned in my article Is Another Foreclosure Wave Coming? only time will tell. For now, the numbers show that the real estate market, especially in Oakland Park, is not only resilient but thriving.

Oakland Park’s Real Estate Market Continues To Thrive

Eco friendly house

A look at the number of overall sales in Oakland Park show that sales are up significantly. Combined single family home and condo sales are up 12. A closer look reveals that this rise is mostly due to single family homes sales that are up 24%! Condo sales are down by 1%, but this is not a significant enough decrease to merit any sort of concern.

The value of homes has also gone up significantly compared to the last quarter of 2019. Combined single family home and condo sales average value is up 18% and the median value is up 23%. Single family home sales average value is up 13% and median value is up 20%! Condo sales average value is up 16% and the median value is up 14%. 

See the table below for a summary of the statistics that were compiled from the MLS. 

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Statistics

Fourth Quarter 2019

215 Total Sales

Single Family Homes and Condo Sales Stats

109 Single Family Home Sales

106 Condo Sales

Fourth Quarter 2020

24o Total Sales

Single Family Homes and Condo Sales Stats

135 Total Single Family Home Sales

105 Total Condo Sales

Continued Cautious Optimism Moving Forward

As the value of homes continue to rise, as in my 3rd quarter report for 2020, I urge cautious optimism. The reason for this is that we are still battling a pandemic and, as a result, President Biden has extended the protections given to homeowners under his predecessor. The foreclosure moratorium  will remain in place through June 30, 2021 and homeowners whose forbearance started on or before June 30 of last year have the option to extend their forbearance period up to six more months.

This may provide the needed relief many homeowner require in order to restructure their loans or come up with a plan B. But at some point the piper is going to need to be paid and only when that bill comes will it be evident how many homeowners may need to consider other options besides loan modifications. Some may need to sell in order to relocate or downsize, some may need to rent their homes and temporarily move in with family, some many need short sell and some may need to look at even more creative options.

So while it is great that homeowners are being provided relief, the effect of this relief on our economy cannot yet be known. So in all things real estate proceed with caution.

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A Quick Guide to Starting a Small Business in Florida

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Small businesses have taken the brunt of the global health crisis. Here in Oakland Park, business owners had to make many adjustments in order to weather these tough times. These include: furloughing workers, establishing an online presence, and investing in safety and hygiene practices. Failing to adapt to the changes brought upon by the pandemic has forced many businesses to go under.

However, not all business owners were discouraged by the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, the New York Times notes that new businesses continue to open despite the pandemic ⁠— although at a slower pace. Small business owners are keen on launching new business ventures during these times of crisis because there is less competition for resources.

With that said, we’ve put together a list of the top considerations when starting a small business in Florida.

#1 – Conduct Market Analysis

An integral part of any robust business plan is an extensive market analysis. In order to ensure the success of your small business, you should first have an insight on customer segments, buying patterns, competition and economic environment.

Doing so allows you to define your target demographic with the utmost precision, as well as give you an idea of the best ways to infiltrate the market. Business News Daily’s guide to conducting a market analysis notes that you’ll know that your market analysis is successful if it’s able to answer questions such as: “What are my customers’ buying habits?” and “What are my competitors’ strengths and weaknesses?”

#2 – Determine the Right Business Structure

Your business structure will affect the safety of your personal assets, dictate how your business is taxed, and have huge implications on the financial success of your organization. So, it’s important that you figure out which business structure will work best for you before launching your new venture. There are four main business structures, namely: sole proprietorship, Limited Liability Company (LLC), S Corp, and C Corp ⁠— all of which have their own pros and cons.

Starting as a sole proprietorship is popular among new business owners, as forming this does not require a ton of documents and is easy to maintain. On the other hand, S Corps and C Corps are catered to organizations who want a more formal structure and have a lot of members or shareholders. LLCs often prove to be the best option for small businesses, as this can help protect your personal assets by limiting your liability in the event that your venture runs into legal problems. What’s more, ZenBusiness’ guide to forming an LLC in Florida points out that LLCs can also avoid double taxation. Plus, they require significantly fewer reports and meetings — making them relatively easy to maintain too. Ultimately, your business structure should be able to address your needs, so be sure to decide carefully before finalizing your documents.

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#3 – Figure Out Your Tax and Licensing Obligations

Your tax, license, and permit requirements vary in complexity depending on the nature of your business. Most Florida counties need businesses to have a general Florida business license, so be sure to have that down right away. Additionally, different industries have their own licensing requirements, so do your due diligence and ensure that your business is able to comply. You can also pay your local government office a visit to determine the federal and state taxes that you need to file and fulfill.

# 4 – Open a Business Bank Account

In order to further protect your business assets, you should strongly consider creating a dedicated business banking and credit account. This is because if you hold your business finances under your personal bank account, you’re putting your personal assets at risk if your business is sued. 

Aside from opening a business bank account, you should also consider getting a business credit card, as well as building your business’ credit score, because these improve your chances of getting your loans approved by lenders.

#5 – Find Ways to Finance Your Business

Starting a business doesn’t come cheap. If you don’t have the funds to finance your business, there are several funding options out there that can help you get your business off the ground. Some examples of these are: microloans, trade credit, angel investors, and crowdfunding. Of course, each funding option has its own caveats, so be sure to do your research first before settling on one.

There are certain organizations in Florida that can assist you with funding your small business. For one, there’s the Florida Small Business Development Corp, which provides free financial advice and affordable workshops to help you discover various viable financing options for your business. Furthermore, you can also try to connect with the Florida Finance Network to gain access to financing and loan programs to help you meet the needs of your organization.

Building any kind of business from scratch is always an overwhelming feat, but it can be done successfully and efficiently. In order to ensure the success of your business venture, there are indeed many considerations and decisions to be made. But with patience, perseverance, and hard work, we’re certain that your small business will eventually find success.

Looking for ways to support local businesses? Check out our article ‘How to Support Small Businesses in Oakland Park During COVID-19 Quarantine’.

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