Central Florida Real Estate and Community News

March 9, 2023

Just Closed | Towers Ten | 3425 S. Atlantic Ave, Daytona Beach, FL 32118

Towers Ten Condominium | $725,000.00
3425 S. Atlantic Ave, Daytona Beach, FL 32118

Congratulations to my customer William on the purchase of his new beach front, corner unit condo in Towers Ten. This gorgeous 3-Bedroom, 3-Bath unit has amazing features including a beach view, wrap around balcony, wood floors, updated kitchen with exotic granite countertops and stainless appliances. It was a pleasure to assist you throughout the homebuying process and I wish you and your family years of enjoyment.

If you, or anyone you know is looking to purchase a beachfront property throughout Volusia, Brevard or anywhere in the Central Florida area, please contact Joe Bornstein, Broker, Rock Springs Realty at Cell# 407-252-8092, joe@rockspringsrealty.com and I'd be happy to assist. Also visit: www.RockSpringsRealty.com
"It's All About the Results"
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Posted in General Posts
March 9, 2023

Just Listed | Wekiva Club Estates | 301 Blyth Court, Longwood, FL 32779

Just Listed | Wekiva Club Estates | $529,900.00
301 Blyth Court, Longwood, FL 32779

"MOVE-IN READY" 4-BEDROOM, 2-FULL BATH POOL HOME IN WEKIVA CLUB ESTATES WITH OVER $40,000 IN RECENT UPGRADES, LONGWOOD, FL 32779. This gorgeous "Country Farmhouse Design" offers a split plan and will impress the pickiest of Buyers. It is also zoned for some of Seminole County's most desirable schools including Lake Brantley High. The home features separate Living & Dining rooms which include vaulted ceilings, "New" flooring & custom painted accent walls. The fully "Updated" Kitchen includes 42" Solid Wood Upper & Lower Cabinets, Custom Marble Countertops, Full Whirlpool Stainless Steel appliance package including a Flat-Top Range/Oven, French Style Refrigerator, Ultra Quiet Dishwasher, Brick Style Backsplash with Pickle Finish, Breakfast Bar, Deep 60/40 Stainless Steel Sink with Gooseneck Faucet, Tons of Counter & Storage Space, Closet Pantry, Brushed Nickle Hardware, Recessed Lighting and a dinette with French Doors that offers direct access to the Florida Room. The Master Suite is oversized & a perfect couples retreat while offering ample room for all your oversized furniture. It includes a vaulted ceiling, a "Huge" Walk-In & Secondary Closet, Spacious Sitting Area, French Doors leading to the Florida Room and a Custom Ceiling Fan & Light Kit. The Master Bathroom has been fully renovated and all the following are "NEW" including a 60" Custom Wood Vanity with Dual Sinks, Granite Countertop & Backsplash, Dual Oval Mirrors, New Glacier Bay High Efficient Toilet, Decorative Tile Flooring, Brushed Nickle Hardware and a Custom Designed Walk-In Shower that includes Gray Glass Floor to Ceiling Wall Tile, Hexagon Ceramic Mosaic Floor Tile, Recessed & Decorative Niche Shelf, and new Brushed Nickle Shower Head & Hardware, all overlooking a private garden area with sliding door access. The home also features a large 14'x20' Family Room which is a central gathering place & includes a vaulted ceiling, Custom Wood Buring Fireplace w/Decorative Stone from Floor-to-Ceiling, Wood Mantle and a Flagstone Hearth, Custom Shiplap Wall Accents, 4'x3' Nook with Triple Shelves, and French Doors leading to the "Huge" 12'x31' Florida Room with Overlooks the Pool and is "Fully Heated & Cooled" & includes Dual Ceiling Fans, Ceramic Tile & Decorative Vinyl Floor along with Two-Full Walls of Sliding Glass Doors which fully open up to the Pool and Open Deck. If you enjoy outdoor space, you'll love the Custom Designed Fresh Water Pool that features a Triple-Step Stepout, Tile Inlays, Sitting Bench, Pool Sweep, 27'x42' Cool Deck and a Full Screened Enclosure overlooking the fully fenced "Huge" backyard. Additional Features Include: Oversized Corner Lot, "Newer" Roof (2021), "Newer" AO Smith Hybrid Water Heater, HVAC (2016), Replumbed, "New" Interior Paint Throughout (2022), "New" Dream Home 8mm Laminate Flooring Throughout (2022), "New" Hall/Pool Bathroom Fully Remodeled (2022), "New" 5 1/4" Baseboards Throughout (2022), "New" 6-Panel Interior Doors Throughout (2022), "New" Pool Pump & Chlorinator (2022), "New" Water Softener (2022), Roll Down Hurricane Shutters Around Florida Room, Ceiling Fans & Light Kits Throughout, Window Blinds Throughout, Garage Door Opener, Attic Access with Drop Down Stairs and much more. Located in the heart of Wekiva, this home is centrally located and just a 3-minute drive to the Wekiva Springs State Park & Marina. Close to I-4, Hwy 436 and a variety of Dining & Shopping options. Call Listing Broker, Joe Bornstein, Rock Springs Realty, Cell# 407-252-8092 for more info or to schedule a private showing.

301 Blyth Court, Longwood, FL 32779
301 Blyth Court, Longwood, FL 32779
Posted in General Posts
Jan. 28, 2023

Senate Bill 2A | The Affordability and Availability of Residential Property Insurance in Florida

On December 14, 2022, during the Legislative Special Session, the Florida Senate passed Senate Bill 2A and then Governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill on December 16, 2022.

The primary purpose of this legislation was to address the affordability and availability of residential property insurance in Florida by removing Assignment of Benefits option for new polices and forcing each party to be responsible for attorney’s fees. The bill also requires insurers to communicate, investigate, and pay valid claims more promptly. 

Here are some highlights

Claim Filing Deadline

  • Reduces the deadline for policyholders to report a claim from 2 years to 1 year for a new or reopened claim, and from 3 years to 18 months for a supplemental claim.
  • As the claims filing deadline nears, insurance companies begin to receive an increased number of claims filed. Insurance companies report that many of the claims filed years after an event and closer to the filing deadline are usually fraudulent and orchestrated by a bad actor or third party. 

Prompt Pay Laws for Property Insurance

  • In an effort to resolve and pay claims quicker, the bill amends the prompt pay laws to encourage the prompt payments of claims, as follows:
    • Reduces the time for insurance companies to pay or deny a claim from 90 to 60 days. Allows the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) to extend the 60-day period an additional 30 days if a state of emergency, cyberattack, or computer systems failure prevents the insurance company from meeting the time frame.
    • Reduces the time for insurance companies to review and acknowledge a claim communication from 14 days to 7 days.
    • Reduces the time for an insurance company to begin an investigation of a claim from 14 days to 7 days.
    • Reduces the time for an insurance company to conduct a physical inspection from 45 days to 30 days and applies this requirement to hurricane claims.
    • Specifies that insurance companies may use electronic methods to investigate the damage and allows policyholders to participate in the use of such methods.
    • Requires an insurance company to send any adjuster’s report estimating the damage to the policyholder within 7 days after it is created.
    • Provides that the requirements of the section are on hold when a mediation or alternative dispute resolution procedure is pending and upon failure of a policyholder or representative to provide material claim information within 10 days, if the request for such information was made within the first 45 days after notice of the claim.
  • These provisions are effective March 1, 2023. 

Awards of Attorney Fees in Property Insurance Lawsuits
Repeals the one-way attorney fee provisions related to property insurance claims. This means that neither party can be awarded attorney fees in a property insurance claims lawsuit. Each party is responsible for payment of their own attorney fees.

Assignments of Benefits

  • Prohibits the assignment, in whole or in part, of any post-loss insurance benefit under any residential property insurance policy or under any commercial property insurance policy issued on or after January 1, 2023.
  • This means that Assignment of Benefits are no longer an option to be used in property insurance claims. You are unable to sign over your insurance benefits to a third party if your policy is issued on or after January 1, 2023.   

Bad Faith Failure to Settle Actions Against Property Insurers

  • Requires a court finding of breach of contract before a policyholder can sue a property insurance company for bad faith based on how the insurance company settled the claim. Acceptance of an offer of judgment or the payment of an appraisal award, alone, is not sufficient to support a lawsuit.
  • Receiving an appraisal award higher than an insurance company’s appraiser’s final estimate may be evidence of bad faith; but on its own, does not give rise to a bad faith claim. 

Flood Notice
Requires the flood notice to be part of the declarations page of an insurance policy and encourages policyholders to purchase flood insurance.

  • Arbitration is a legal process in which an arbitrator (a neutral party, usually a judge or attorney) addresses disputes in a property claim, including coverage. The arbitrator listens to and reviews evidence regarding the claim from both you and the insurance company and determines the outcome of the dispute.
  • Clarifies that insurance companies may only issue an optional endorsement related to mandatory arbitration with consent from policyholders. Companies must also offer a policy without a mandatory binding arbitration clause. A premium discount is required for policies with mandatory arbitration.
  • If you select mandatory arbitration on your policy, the decision is binding and you waive the right to file a lawsuit against the company.

To review the entire bill, follow this link: 

Posted in General Posts
Dec. 18, 2022

Housing Market Predictions for 2023 | Six Experts Weight In

Housing Market Predictions: Six Experts Weigh in on the Real Estate Outlook in 2023

Story by Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy, USA Today. 

If “hot” was the overused word to describe the U.S. housing market in 2021, then lukewarm to outright freezing might best describe how the market fared overall this year. 

The pandemic housing market boom, which saw home prices go up by 40% over a two-year period, began slowing down in the second half of the year as mortgage rates doubled compared to the beginning of the year.  

As the Federal Reserve sought to tamp down decades-high inflation with rate hikes throughout the year, rising mortgage rates contributed to the growing mismatched expectations between buyers and sellers. Homes sat on the market for months as sellers continued to price homes at rates buyers could no longer afford. Contracts were cancelled, asking prices were slashed and inventory levels dropped.

After crossing 7% in October, mortgage rates have been falling steadily over the last five weeks, which could offer some relief to buyers but might not offset still-high asking prices.

So, what's ahead for the housing market in 2023? We spoke to six experts for their predictions:

The Federal Reserve and mortgage rates

The Fed raised its key short-term interest rate by half a percentage point Wednesday, a smaller hike than its previous four, as inflation showed signs of easing.

The Fed also indicated that the economy would be grappling with slower growth, higher unemployment and higher inflation in 2023.

Weaker growth typically leads to lower long-term interest rates, including mortgage rates, says Mike Fratantoni, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association.

 “The housing market has certainly welcomed the recent decline in mortgage rates,” he said. “This decline is reflecting market expectations of being near the peak for short-term rates, as well as increased signs that the U.S. is headed for a recession next year.”

Innovations in mortgage finance


Housing finance has reached an inflection point, says Janneke Ratcliffe, vice president of the Housing Finance Policy Center at the Urban Institute. 

She expects to see innovation accelerate with lenders, startups, advocates, researchers, and policymakers actively pushing the envelope around what’s possible in mortgage finance.

“We’re seeing pilots and new programs around alternatives in credit scoring, artificial intelligence, climate adaptation, manufactured housing, and more,” she says. “Not only does the industry see the problems of inequality, but many players are also actively voicing their commitments to close the racial homeownership gap.”

Ratcliffe also expects to see increased use of adjustable-rate mortgages, which made up 12% of total applications in November, up from 3.3% in November 2021.


“Would-be homebuyers should not fear this financial instrument,” she says. “Their use has always been common, and regulatory reforms instituted after the Great Recession have substantially mitigated their risk.”

No ‘foreclosure tsunami’

Foreclosure is the result of two simultaneous triggers: the lack of ability to pay, which results in delinquency and the lack of equity in a home, says Odeta Kushi, deputy chief economist for First American Financial Corp...

With enough equity, a homeowner has the option of selling the home or tapping into that equity to weather a temporary financial setback. The inverse – a lack of equity in the home without a financial setback that leads to delinquency – will again not end in foreclosure.

Homeowners have very high levels of tappable home equity today, providing a cushion to withstand potential price declines, but also preventing housing distress from turning into a foreclosure, says Kushi.

“In fact, if distressed homeowners are required to resolve delinquency, given their equity buffers, involuntary sales are much more likely than foreclosures,” she says. “While we can expect the number of foreclosures to drift higher as the labor market slows and house prices fall from their peak, the result will likely be more of a foreclosure trickle.”

Housing inventory will remain low

The chronic lack of listing inventory has been the key driver of price gains during the pandemic-era housing boom, and it will be the key underpinning of prices during 2023, says real estate appraiser Jonathan Miller, who prepares the monthly Douglas Elliman Real Estate report for New York City.

“Listing inventory was piled to the sky in past housing downturns,” says Miller. "Consumers are wedded to the low rates they refinanced into or purchased homes during the boom. Excess supply is not the story for 2023 because, even with modest listing inventory growth, price declines should be kept to a minimum.”

Redfin forecasts about 4.3 million home sales in 2023, which is fewer home sales than in any year since 2011 and a decrease of 16% year over year.

Declining home prices

While there will be no wave of foreclosures, home prices will decline in 2023, says Taylor Marr, deputy chief economist for Redfin.

Marr expects the median U.S. home-sale price to drop by roughly 4% in 2023. Even with prices falling 4% year over year, homes will be much less affordable in 2023 than they were before the pandemic homebuying boom, he says.


“Taking next year’s projected prices and mortgage rates into account, the typical homebuyer’s monthly payment will be about 63% higher in 2023 than it was in 2019, just before the pandemic began.”

Home prices will decline the most in pandemic boomtowns while markets in the Midwest and Northeast will hold up best, says Marr.

Prices are expected to fall most in pandemic migration hotspots like Austin, Texas, Boise, Idaho, and Phoenix, as well as expensive West Coast cities. Meanwhile, housing markets in relatively affordable Midwest and East Coast metros, especially in the Chicago area and parts of Connecticut and upstate New York, will hold up relatively well.


“Those areas tend to be more stable than expensive coastal areas, and they didn’t heat up as much during the pandemic homebuying frenzy, meaning they also don’t have as far to fall,” he says.

New home construction outlook


Single-family housing starts are set to post a calendar decline in 2022, the first such drop in 11 years, despite a persistent structural deficit of housing in the U.S., according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Home builder sentiment, as measured by the NAHB/Wells Fargo HMI, has declined for 11 straight months, signaling an ongoing contraction for home building in 2023.

“Single-family home building will ultimately lead a rebound for housing and the overall economy in 2024 as interest rates fall back on sustained basis, bringing demand back to the for-sale housing market,” says Robert Dietz, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders.

Dietz also expects multifamily construction volume will fall back in 2023, after a very strong year in 2022. Multifamily home building, which is more than 95% built-for-rent, experienced strength in 2022 as mortgage interest rates increased and for-sale housing affordability conditions declined.


“However, there are nearly 930,000 apartments under construction, the highest total since January 1974,” he says. “A rising unemployment rate, increased apartment supply, rising vacancy rates and slowing rent growth will slow multifamily construction next year.” 

Building Conversions? 


Commercial to residential conversions will stay more talk than action, according to Marc Norman, associate dean of the New York University School of Professional Studies’ Schack Institute of Real Estate.

“We've lived with the pandemic for almost three years, but that still is not enough time to shift ownership, financing, and regulatory systems for conversion of underutilized office space,” he says. “We might see the beginnings of conversions, but most buildings will stay in limbo due to long-term commercial leases and the continuing high cost of financing.”

Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy is a housing and economy correspondent for USA TODAY.  You can follow her on Twitter @SwapnaVenugopal and sign up for our Daily Money newsletter here.


This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Housing market predictions: Six experts' weigh in on the real estate outlook in 2023

Reposted on Rock Springs Realty Apopka FL Blog on 12/18/22. If you are looking to Sell or Purchase a home anywhere in the Central Florida area, please visit our website at www.RockSpringsRealty.com to search all active MLS Listings or to schedule an appointment to receive a full Home Valuation Analysis & Report. Call 877-333-2811 for more information. 

Posted in General Posts
Dec. 17, 2022

10 Life Saving Tips That Might Save Your Life | Written By A Cop

Here are 10 Life Saving Tips on things to do or consider in an emergency Situation. This was originally posted on Facebook. Great ideas & tips!


Everyone should take 5 minutes to read this. It may save your life or a loved one's life. In daylight hours, refresh yourself of these things to do in an emergency situation... This is for you, and for you to share with your wife, your children, & everyone you know. After reading these 9 crucial tips, forward them to someone you care about. It never hurts to be careful in this crazy world we live in.

1. Tip from Tae Kwon Do: The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do!

2. Learned this from a tourist guide. If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse... DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM.
Toss it away from you... Chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse than you, and he will go for the wallet/purse. AND RUN LIKE MAD IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!

3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car, kick out the back taillights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy... The driver won't see you, but everybody else will. This has saved lives.

4. Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit (doing their checkbook, or making a list, etc.). DON'T DO THIS!

The predator will be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get in on the passenger side, put a gun to your HEAD and tell you where to go.
AS SOON AS YOU GET INTO YOUR CAR, LOCK THE DOORS AND LEAVE...If someone is in the car with a gun to your head DO NOT DRIVE OFF... Repeat: DO NOT DRIVE OFF!!!! Instead gun the engine and speed into anything, wrecking the car. Your Air Bag will save you. If the person is in the back seat, they will get the worst of it. As soon as the car crashes......BAIL OUT AND RUN!!!! It is better than having them find your body in a remote location.

5. A few notes about getting into your car in a parking lot, or parking garage:
a.) BE AWARE... look around you, look into your car, at the passenger side floor and in the back seat.
b.) If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars.
c.) Look at the car parked on the driver's side of your vehicle, and the passenger side...If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the mall, or work, and get a guard/policeman to walk you back out. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (And better paranoid than dead.)

6. ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. Stairwells are horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot. This is especially true at NIGHT!

7. If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS RUN!
The predator will only hit you (a running target) 4 in 100 times; and even then, it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ. RUN!!!! Preferably in a zig -zag pattern!

8. As women, we are always trying to be sympathetic: STOP!!!
It may get you raped or killed. (Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good-looking, well-educated man, who ALWAYS played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often asked 'for help' into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when he abducted his next VICTIM).

9. Another Safety Point:
Someone just told me that her friend heard a crying baby on her porch the night before last and because it was late, and she thought it was weird...She called the police. The police told her 'Whatever you do, DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR! The lady then said that it sounded like the baby had crawled near a windrow and she was worried that it would crawl to the street and get run over. The policeman said, 'We already have a unit on the way, whatever you do, do not open the door.' He told her that they think a serial killer has a baby's cry recorded and uses it to coax women out of their homes thinking that someone dropped off a baby. He said they have not verified it but have had several calls by women saying that they hear baby's cries outside their doors when they're home alone at night.

10. Water scam!
If you wake up in the middle of the night to hear all your taps outside running or what you think is a burst pipe...DO NOT GO OUT TO INVESTIGATE! These people turn on all your outside taps full blast so that you will go out to investigate and then attack. Stay alert, keep safe, and look out for your neighbors! I'd like you to forward this to all the women you know. It may save a life. I was going to send this to the ladies only but guys, if you love your mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, etc.... You may want to pass it onto them. Everyone should take 5 minutes to read this. It may save your life or a loved one's life.

Reposted by Rock Springs Realty Apopka FL as a public service announcement and in hopes that this is circulated to as many people as possible. Please share this with everyone you love and care about. www.rockspringsrealty.com

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Posted in General Posts
Dec. 10, 2022

Major Florida property insurers paid out excessive executive compensation packages, dividends for years

As posted on https://www.propertyinsurancecoveragelaw.com/ 
Merlin Law Group

Note: This guest post was prepared by Kevin Connor for the American Policyholder Association.

For years, property insurance companies in Florida paid out excessive executive compensation packages and stock dividends, essentially transferring profits into insiders’ pockets instead of preparing for future years of adverse underwriting experiences as most insurers do.

Now these same companies are pointing to the cost of fraud and litigation as reasons for losses and rate increases which seem to be a strategy to divert attention away from the impact of mismanagement and corporate greed. Some continue to pay out generous cash dividends to shareholders even as they file for substantial rate hikes, stop writing policies in parts of the state, or look to withdraw from the Florida markets altogether.

To compound the problem, multiple Florida insurers have failed, and information as to why has not been released to the public. While the Florida Division of Financial Services is required to release findings on why insurers failed, no one seems to be able to get copies of these reports. Florida law requires the department to release initial findings within four months of being appointed as receiver and also a comprehensive report once proceedings have completed. One of the few final reports available on homeowners' insurance companies is regarding the failure of Sunshine State Insurance Company in 2014. The company reported that due to an “accounting error,” it did not have the required reserves and was placed into receivership. Sunshine State was later found to have shifted millions of dollars in payments to its parent company and subsidiaries, as well as large executive bonuses while the company was on the verge of insolvency. An interesting component of the required insolvency reports is that the department is required to do an analysis of the effectiveness of the Office of Insurance Regulation’s oversight of insurance companies that have later failed. Some have speculated that this is the reason why these reports appear to be suppressed.

Little attention has been paid to this aspect of Florida’s insurance market: Insurance executives lined their pockets for years instead of operating the companies responsibly and building up adequate reserves and are now pointing the finger at consumers, lawyers, and roofers. We have seen questionable statistics often repeated to support this theory, but no one has produced validation or verification.

Regulatory oversight is supposed to protect against insurance companies being aggressively stripped of cash and reserves, such as through limits on dividends. Florida’s regulators appear to have been insufficient in keeping insurance companies from being run like personal piggy banks or having funds in years when losses were low.

The following are three examples of insurance companies that currently write a significant percentage of homeowners insurance policies in Florida and have paid out excessive compensation packages and dividend payments.

These companies are highlighted in part because they are publicly traded, which means that their compensation packages and dividend payments are disclosed and, in part, because their payouts have been excessive.

The below are not comprehensive analyses of the compensation and other business practices of these companies or those of the industry as a whole. They are meant to offer a window into some of the ways in which top insurance executives in Florida have stripped cash out of their companies with no eye toward long-term viability.

I. Heritage Insurance: Former chairman raked in $27 million in compensation and cashed in on $19 million in stock in one year, averaged nearly $10 million per year in compensation

Heritage Insurance is a relatively new property insurance company that was founded in 2012 and had its initial public offering in 2014. After an initial period of rapid growth, thanks in large part to a sweetheart deal with the state of Florida and years without major storms, the company has been experiencing significant losses over the past two years, recently stopped writing policies in Florida, and is attempting to leave the market. A recent Tampa Bay Business Journal headline says it all: “Heritage Insurance can’t exit Florida’s property market quickly enough as losses mount.”1

Before these losses began mounting, the company paid outlandish sums to its top executive – former chairman, chief investment officer, and co-founder Bruce Lucas.

Between 2013 to 2020, the company paid Lucas $78 million in compensation, an average of nearly $10 million per year, including $27.2 million in 2015. This is more than the CEOs of AllState, Progressive, and Travelers made in 2021, all of which are much, much larger than Heritage. The smallest of these companies in terms of market capitalization, Allstate, currently has a market cap 800 times larger than Heritage Insurance ($35 billion compared to $43 million). Even at the height of Heritage’s stock price, in 2015, Allstate’s market cap was 40 times larger than Heritage and paid its CEO half as much.

Much of the compensation paid to Lucas was in the form of cash – about $58 million of the $78 million total, or 75%. This is a relatively large cash percentage for an executive compensation package. It also means that Lucas was able to strip a great deal of wealth out of the company before its stock price declined since he was not paid in the form of stock.

Table I: Bruce Lucas Compensation from Heritage Insurance, 2013-20202

Additionally, Lucas sold substantial initial Heritage shareholdings the year after the company’s IPO. Over the course of 2015, Lucas sold nearly $19 million worth of stock, more than half of his total holdings at the time. The stock price at the time averaged $22 and hit its all-time peak during this period. It is currently trading at $1.65. If Lucas had held onto his stake rather than selling it, it would be worth just $1.4 million, 93% less than what he sold it for in 2015.

Lucas’s $27 million compensation package in 2015 made headlines, partly because the company requested a 15% rate hike in 2016.3 But Lucas was able to sell the $19 million in existing shareholdings quietly (and in accordance with a plan agreed upon with the company in March 2015 to avoid insider trading charges4). The stock he sold was basically paid back to him, again, by the company, as part of the $27 million pay package: he sold 850,000 shares from March through July of 2015 and received 750,000 shares from the company in November 2015.

Table II: Bruce Lucas’ $19 million in Heritage stock sales (2015)5

Lucas stepped down with impeccable timing in November 2020, just as storm-related losses began picking up. Since he stepped down, the company has reported seven straight quarters of losses, including a $48 million loss in the third quarter of 2022.6 The company’s stock price is down about 85% since he left the company.

Support from the state of Florida was key to Heritage’s growth in its early years. In 2013, when Heritage was still a startup and Lucas was still Heritage CEO, Heritage was able to acquire $52 million in policies from Citizens in an unusual deal that did not go through the standard approval process. Florida lawmakers questioned whether the company had received favorable treatment due to its $110,000 in contributions to then-Governor Rick Scott.7

In a recent podcast interview, Lucas described how important this was for the company’s growth and subsequent initial public offering: “We had a lot of things happening that were very positive. We had Citizens Insurance, which is the state-run insurer, had 1.5 million policies and they’d let you come and just cherry pick whatever you wanted, right? Just take it out. So you could instantly get hundreds of millions in revenue…”8

In the same interview, Lucas bragged that “by every metric, when you look at Heritage, it was an absolute home run,” and that it booked a profit every year he was chairman, including $500 million in pre-tax profits.9

Lucas did not address the mounting losses the company has experienced since his departure.

Lucas had been a bankruptcy attorney for Enron and a hedge fund manager prior to founding Heritage. He is now the CEO of Slide, an insurance technology startup. The companies have a formal partnership, which Lucas called “phenomenal” in the same podcast cited above. He cited it as a crucial reason Slide was able to raise $105 million in a Series A fundraising round.10

Florida regulators awarded Slide Insurance $400 million in policies from St. Johns Insurance after that company went insolvent earlier this year. The move came under fire to the point where industry insiders spoke out against it publicly, arguing that the company had received a sweetheart deal.11 Slide and Heritage gave a combined $190,000 to Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis in 2022.

Despite its current woes, Heritage had until recently continued to pay a substantial dividend of $0.06 per share per quarter, or $0.24 per year. This amounts to nearly $7 million a year and a dividend yield of roughly 15% (meaning that 15% of its market capitalization was paid out as dividends on a yearly basis). The company elected not to make a dividend payment in August 2022.

Lucas made much more money than other top executives at Heritage during his time there, though they still received substantial pay packages. Richard Widdicombe, President and CEO during Lucas’s time as chairman and chief investment officer, made $7.6 million in 2015, and routinely made $3 million per year, much of it paid in cash.

II. United Property & Casualty / United Insurance Holdings Corp: $10 million in dividends each year, including $4 million in dividends to CEO

United Property and Casualty, the main operating subsidiary of United Insurance Holdings, is currently in the process of withdrawing from and winding down its business in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. Its stock is now trading at just $0.33 per share, down from $22 in 2018 and a high of $27 in 2015. Recent press reports suggest that Hurricane Ian has pushed it to the brink of failure.12

UPC’s parent United Insurance Holdings Corp., continued to pay a $0.06/share quarterly dividend, more than $10 million a year, even as its stock price slid dramatically. It finally stopped declaring dividend payments in the second quarter of 2022.13 Its current market capitalization, $13.85 million, is not much more than its dividend payments in 2021, $10.3 million.

United Insurance CEO Daniel Peed is paid a relatively low salary (he made $180,600 in 2021),14 but he owns 40% of the company’s common stock. This means that the company has been paying him $4.2 million per year in cash since 2017, when the company was formed out of a merger. He does not appear to be reinvesting that in the company by purchasing more stock.

Greg Branch, a longtime director and former chairman, also has a sizable stake in the company and is making about $550k a year in dividend payments. Branch used to be non-executive chairman and CEO of a predecessor company and had a very generous compensation package when he served in that role.

The below table shows estimated United Insurance Holdings dividend payments to Peed, Branch, and all directors and officers as a group. Notably, the company is majority-owned by directors and officers. Payments to executives and directors are estimated based on the number of shares they own according to the proxy statement for that year.

Table III: United Insurance Holdings Dividend Payments, 2017-202115

Peed only became CEO in 2020 but had joined the company as vice chairman in 2017 when United and the company he had been running/owned in large part, American Coastal, went through a merger. Peed had remained CEO of another company, AmRisc, which is partially a subsidiary of Truist (formerly BB&T), and provides underwriting services to American Coastal. Peed also owned nearly 8% of AmRisc. Until recently, United paid AmRisc commissions of about $100 million a year.16 Peed stepped down as AmRisc CEO in December 2018 and divested his stake. UIHC continues to depend on AmRisc (particularly for commercial residential) for underwriting/agent services. Peed’s insider relationship with AmRisc raises questions of profit-shifting, though further analysis is needed.

III. Universal Property & Casualty / Universal Insurance Holdings: Massive pay packages of $14-$25 million for its former CEO, $25 million in dividends each year

Universal Insurance Holdings’ main operating subsidiary, Universal Property & Casualty, is Florida’s largest property insurance carrier. The company’s financial condition has declined significantly over the past year: it posted a loss of $48 million in the fourth quarter of 2021, year-over-year decreases in net income in the first two quarters of 2022, and a net loss of $72 million for the third quarter of 2022.17 Its third-quarter loss was driven by an estimated loss of $1 billion resulting from damage caused by Hurricane Ian.

Universal’s stock is now trading at $10.99 per share, down 40% from its January 2022 stock price and down 77% from its 2018 peak of $48.55.

Executive compensation packages at Universal were extremely inflated for many years. Its former CEO, Sean Downes, received annual compensation packages that reached as high as $25 million (in 2015), totaled $107 million, and averaged $13.7 million during his time as CEO. Downes has continued to receive compensation in 2020 and 2021 in his role as executive chairman. Much of this compensation was paid in cash, including $17 million in salary and $38 million in non-equity compensation.

As discussed above in the section on Heritage and Bruce Lucas, these compensation amounts are higher than CEOs at large insurance companies that are many times the size of Universal.

The table below shows Downes’ compensation packages for his years as CEO (2013-2019) and executive chairman (2020 and 2021).

Table IV: Sean Downes’ Compensation as Chairman and CEO and Executive Chairman, 2013-202118

Notably, Downes took over as CEO in 2013 after its prior CEO, Bradley Meier, stepped down. That year, the company had been fined for a number of significant violations, including improper delays and denials.19 Meier’s compensation packages also ran into the millions.

The current CEO of Universal is Stephen Donaghy. Donaghy’s compensation packages as CEO have been substantially lower than Downes, but are still significant, including $3.3 million in 2020 and $3.5 million in 2021.

Much like Lucas, Downes sold a substantial amount of Universal stock over the years, including over one million shares from 2013-2018, during a period when few major storms hit Florida, and Universal stock was surging. Downes cashed in on an estimated $19 million worth of stock during that period and has sold an estimated $29 million worth of stock since 2007.

The below table shows these estimated figures. The value of stock sold is calculated by using an estimated stock price for each given year, which is the average of the high and low stock price for that year. Determining the actual value of Downes’ stock sales at the time of the sale is possible but would require finding the price for each of the 77 transactions.

Additionally, the table below only captures sales of stock – some other kinds of disposals of stock, including gifts, were excluded for the purpose of simplicity. A more comprehensive analysis would likely produce a higher total.

Table V: Sean Downes Stock Sales and Estimated Value, 2007-2022***20

Notably, Universal also pays a substantial dividend each year, about $25 million each year. These payments have totaled nearly $208 million since 2013, the year Downes became CEO. Downes himself has been paid an estimated $14.4 million in dividends since 2013 – between $1 and $2 million per year. Directors and officers as a group have been paid an estimated $24.4 million.

Despite its current financial woes, Universal continues to pay its dividend and has shown no signs of suspending its dividend payment.

Table VI: Universal Insurance Holdings Dividend Payments, 2013-202121

1 https://www.bizjournals.com/tampabay/news/2022/11/10/clearwater-property-insurer.html
2 Sources: Proxy statements for Heritage Insurance available on EDGAR: https://www.sec.gov/edgar/browse/?CIK=1598665&owner=exclude
3 https://www.palmbeachpost.com/story/news/state/2016/06/27/rate-hike-greedy-insurance-ceo/6881037007/
4 See footnote 1 for an explanation of the plan: https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1552968/000089924315001146/xslF345X03/doc4.xml
5 Sources: Form 4s filed by Bruce Lucas in 2015, available on EDGAR: https://www.sec.gov/edgar/browse/?CIK=1552968
6 https://www.bizjournals.com/tampabay/news/2022/11/10/clearwater-property-insurer.html
7 https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2013/09/27/306476.htm
8 https://alejandrocremades.com/bruce-lucas/
9 https://alejandrocremades.com/bruce-lucas/
10 https://alejandrocremades.com/bruce-lucas/
11 https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2022/03/07/657010.htm
12 https://www.bizjournals.com/tampabay/news/2022/11/18/uihc-property-insurance-florida.html
13 https://www.sec.gov/ix?doc=/Archives/edgar/data/1401521/000140152122000112/uihc-20220630.htm
14 https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1401521/000140152122000020/uihcproxy2022.htm
15 Source: Proxy statements for United Insurance Holdings Corp filed with the SEC and available here: https://www.sec.gov/edgar/browse/?CIK=1401521&owner=exclude
Note: Dividend payments to Peed, Branch, and executives and directors as a group are estimated based on the number of shares they own according to the proxy statement.
* It is difficult to estimate dividend payments to Peed in 2017, since it was the year of the merger.
16 https://www.sec.gov/ix?doc=/Archives/edgar/data/0001401521/000140152122000010/uihc-20211231.htm
17 https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2022/04/29/665320.htm https://news.ambest.com/newscontent.aspx?refnum=245432&altsrc=23
18 Source: Proxy statements for Universal Insurance Holdings Corp filed with the SEC and available here: https://www.sec.gov/edgar/browse/?CIK=891166&owner=exclude
19 https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2013/10/09/307620.htm
20 Source: Insider transactions for Sean Downes, available here: https://www.sec.gov/cgi-bin/own-disp?action=getowner&CIK=0001287040
*** Note that value is estimated by using an estimated stock price for each given year, which is the average of the high and low stock price for that year. Determining the actual value of the stock sales would require going through the 77 Form 4s that these sales are reported on to find the sale price for each transaction. Downes’ Form 4s are available here: https://www.sec.gov/edgar/browse/?CIK=1287040
21 Source: Proxy statements and 10-k’s for Universal Insurance Holdings Corp filed with the SEC and available here: https://www.sec.gov/edgar/browse/?CIK=891166&owner=exclude
Note: Dividend payments to Downes and executives and directors as a group are estimated based on the number of shares they own as reported in that year’s proxy statement.

If you have questions regarding homeowners' insurance or need a referral to a local insurance company for a quote in Central Florida, please call Joe Bornstein, Broker, Rock Springs Realty, 407-252-8092, joe@rockspringsrealty.com  or visit www.rockspringsrealty.com for more information. 
Posted in General Posts
June 30, 2022

Just Closed | Emerald Cove | 2073 Hayfield Way, Apopka, FL, 32712

Just Closed | Emerald Cove | $372,000.00
2073 Hayfield Way, Apopka, FL, 32712
Congratulations to our Customers Michael & Sherin Caldwell on the closing of your gorgeous home in Apopka. On behalf of co-listing agents Joanne Montchal and myself, we truly appreciated the opportunity to list and close on your home. We were able to get a full price, cash offer and was also able to negotiate a delayed closing until your new home in Mount Dora was ready.
If you, or anyone you know is looking to purchase a home in Apopka, Mount Dora, or anywhere in the Central Florida area, please contact Joe Bornstein, Broker, Rock Springs Realty at Cell# 407-252-8092, joe@rockspringsrealty.com and I'd be happy to assist. Also visit: www.RockSpringsRealty.com
"It's All About the Results"
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June 30, 2022

Just Closed | Lake Franklin Park | 166 N Lake Franklin Dr, Mount Dora, FL, 32757

Just Closed | Lake Franklin Park | $387,000.00
166 N Lake Franklin Dr, Mount Dora, FL, 32757
Congratulations to my friends & customers' David & Isaura Crump on the closing of your family home in Mount Dora featuring over $37,000 of recent upgrades, including a brand-new kitchen & bathrooms. It truly was my pleasure working with you both and I wish you the best of luck in your move out of the country.
If you, or anyone you know is looking to purchase a home in Mount Dora, Apopka, or anywhere in the Central Florida area, please contact Joe Bornstein, Broker, Rock Springs Realty at Cell# 407-252-8092, joe@rockspringsrealty.com and I'd be happy to assist. Also visit: www.RockSpringsRealty.com
"It's All About The Results"
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Posted in General Posts
May 12, 2022

What Is a Kick-Out Clause? Helping Sellers Get the Best Deal in a Timely Manner

What Is a Kick-Out Clause? Helping Sellers Get the Best Deal in a Timely Manner as Published on Realtor.com (www.realtor.com) by Tara Mastroeni on May 8, 2022
A kick-out clause gives sellers the ability to continue marketing a house in the event that they receive an offer with contingencies, or conditions that must be met. One of the most common contingencies is that the buyers must sell their current home. But a kick-out clause in the sales contract allows the seller to “kick out” a buyer with contingencies (after a certain time period) if a better offer comes around. Read on to learn how this clause works and what to do if you see one in an agreement of sale.
What is a kick-out clause?
Let’s say a seller has found some buyers, but the buyers are unable to purchase the house until their current home is sold. Since it’s not in the seller’s best interest to take the home off the market for an indefinite period while waiting for the buyers to sell their home, a compromise known as the “kick-out clause” may be used. This clause says the seller can continue to market the house even under a contingent contract. If another qualified buyer is found, the seller gives the initial buyers a certain amount of time—usually 72 hours—to either remove the contingency and keep the contract alive or use the contingency to decide not to purchase the new property. A compromise for buyers and sellers for sellers, a kick-out clause is an acceptable arrangement because, although they have signed a contract, they remain able to keep the house on the market. They still have the right to show it to other potential purchasers and (depending on state laws and restrictions) potentially accept backup offers. For buyers, a kick-out clause can make their offer look weaker than one without it. Sellers may not want to take the risk, especially if other offers have been made. A seller who accepts an offer with a kick-out clause is likely to have more leverage during the home sale contingency period (the period during which the contingency must be met). For instance, a seller who gets a higher offer could use other contingencies—such as the financing contingency—as proof that the initial buyer is incapable of purchasing the property. When this happens, the original contract will be dissolved, leaving the seller free to negotiate with the person who made the higher offer.
Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, make sure that you understand the specifics of a sales contract before signing on the dotted line. If your contract is to include a kick-out clause, Ben Kass of the Washington, D.C., law firm Kass, Mitek & Kass, PLLC, recommends that sellers remember to include that “satisfactory evidence” of the buyer’s home sale should be provided and that buyers include a clause stating that their earnest money deposit will be returned in the event that the kick-out clause is invoked.
If need be, consult a real estate agent or lawyer for advice on specific language in your sales contract.
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Posted in General Posts
May 12, 2022

What Hot Market? The Secret Shame of Owning a Home That Just Won’t Sell

What Hot Market? The Secret Shame of Owning a Home That Just Won’t Sell
as Published on Realtor.com (www.realtor.com) by Janet Siroto on May 12, 2022
It’s a hot seller’s market, says, oh, just about everyone: Housing inventory is down, prices are up, and even modest abodes ignite bidding wars within days (or hours) of going up on listing sites. But what if, amid this frenzy, you have a perfectly respectable house that just won’t sell? It happens. Certain homes will almost seem cursed in that they sit and sit. And these real estate wallflowers can really mess with a home seller, both logistically (if they’re hoping to move soon) and emotionally. After all, most people love their homes and assume someone else will, too. So when no offers come a-calling, it can plunge sellers into a spiral of questions, from “What’s wrong with my house?” to “Will I ever get to leave?”
Denial, anger, embarrassment—all these emotions and more fill a home seller’s long days as they wait for their real estate agent to text or call with good news. Curious to hear more about what it’s like to be stuck in selling limbo, we spoke to some home sellers who struggled to land a buyer. (Spoiler: All of their homes did sell eventually, although that doesn’t make their pain feel any less real.) Let these stories serve as a hard lesson about the need to temper expectations in a hot market. And, in case you list your home with high hopes yet hear nothing but crickets, we also have some advice on how to deal with it and what you can do to turn this state of real estate paralysis around into something positive.
When a house just won’t sell: What’s wrong?
Nancy Stern lived in a former commercial building on Long Island, NY, that had been lovingly renovated into a unique living space. It had even been featured in a magazine or two. Yet despite its design pedigree, when she decided to list the home two years ago, the house sat for months, and her frustration grew. “There were houses [selling] that were so ugly—on a tenth of our property at our price point,” she laments. “I hated when people asked, ‘So, did your house sell yet?'” Finally, after several months on the market and a price reduction, her house got an offer below list price—which she grudgingly accepted. And now that her home-selling saga is over, Stern has some perspective on how her expectations were off-base. “My mistake was thinking people moving from the city would appreciate a home that was architecturally interesting,” she says. “But unless you have a Colonial or standard new construction, many prospective buyers can’t imagine living there.”
How a slow sale can put your whole life on hold
Jessica Clark, a gluten-free eating expert in Lincoln, NB, had a similar experience late in 2020, only it was intensified by the fact that she’d already made an offer on a new house. She needed to sell her old home to finance her purchase. “We had a contingent acceptance on our dream home,” she says. Told they were in a seller’s market, she and he husband were optimistic about their prospects and had the home shown like crazy. But there were no offers. It was a painful time, she says: “We felt defeated and so worried.” Despite hearing of homes selling within days, her house sat for well over a month—which felt like an eternity with their dream home hanging in the balance. Finally, one buyer lowballed them an offer. Having heard plenty of stories of homes selling for over asking price, Clark admits that this felt like a blow to the ego. “It wasn’t the best,” she admits. “But we felt forced to accept.”
‘I was close to giving up’
Buying and selling properties at the same time is just one of many predicaments that can ratchet up the pressure sellers feel to unload their home quickly. Matthew Hart, an automotive expert near New York City, was going through a divorce when he put his home on the market in 2019. The hopes were high for a quick and profitable sale, given that the sunny, cute-as-a-button Colonial was in a desirable neighborhood. At first, all seemed well as a gaggle of buyers called to schedule a tour. “We had over 40 people come to look at the house but had no luck,” Hart says. The reason, he surmises, is that although the home was in good shape, his disclosures alerted buyers to an oil tank buried in the backyard. He and his wife had known it was there when they bought the place, but it had never caused any problems. They knew that was a negative, so they priced the home appropriately. But it made no difference. No one put in bids. Matt refers to it as one of the hardest moments he’s ever faced. “Bills were piling up, and I was close to giving up and turning the house over to the bank,” he admits. “It felt as if I was stuck in another dimension, and things would never, ever get better.” Finally, after six months, a couple made an offer, which Matt and his wife gratefully accepted, even though it was under the asking price.
Home won’t sell? What to do
As helpless as home sellers might feel when their house sits without offers, there are things you can do. Ask your agent what time frame for a sale is realistic in your area and given your home’s condition. And if your home sale drags past that point, ask your agent what’s up. Is it priced too high? If you’ve had buyers take a tour, was there anything in particular that made them steer clear? “The agent should get feedback from anyone viewing the property,” explains Tami Bonnell, co-chair of EXIT Realty Corporate International. And even if no buyers have toured the house yet, your agent can also consult other agents and colleagues. With this intel, your agent can suggest ways to boost interest. Decluttering, rearranging furniture, staging, and even a bit of renovating can often nudge a home sale forward. Yet if you’ve done all you can and are still playing this waiting game, you might need to pivot. Since you can’t change buyers’ minds, the better tactic at this point is to change your own. For starters, stop trying to keep up with the neighbors, even if they sold their home fast for top dollar. “A hot market leads people to believe that, because the house down the street had a bidding war and fast sale, they will follow suit. When reality falls short, there’s disappointment,” says Laurie Leinwand, a licensed professional counselor, of Three Steps Forward. “Your objective is to sell. Let go of time frame. It will happen when it’s supposed to. If it takes a little longer, that’s OK. And if the thought “What if it never sells?” starts spiraling in your mind, know that you don’t need to buy into that worry and feed it. “Shift from ‘what if’ to ‘what is,’” Leinwand says.
“Trust the right person will come along. It’s similar to dating. You just need one right person,” she adds.
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