New changes from Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac in regards to interest rate changes

by Tim Hart – VanDyk Mortgage

Some people have dubbed this the “Biden rule”, but this is really a change from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Read More…Conventional loans are the only loan program that this has happened with.

First step. It is for new mortgages only. Your existing mortgage will not be affected.

Here’s the Facts

  • Are borrowers with high credit scores going to be paying the same or higher rates than a borrower with lower credit scores? NO
  • Are borrowers with high credit scores going to be paying a higher rate than they did before these changes? YES
  • Are borrowers with lower credit scores going to be paying a lower rate than they did before these changes? YES
  • Better credit score borrowers ARE NOT paying higher rates than lower credit score buyers.

The issue many people are having is that Fannie Mae has increased the costs for higher credit scores and lowered costs for lower credit scores.

I don’t agree with this change, but I wanted to clear the air on some misinformation I have already seen. Continue to pay your bills and keep that credit score high!

Visit FreddieMac/FannieMae website for more information

Circular Design Helps Homeowners Waste Less, Preserve More

REALTOR® Magazine

Interior design experts unpack this future-minded design philosophy that centers on reducing waste.

Circular Design Helps Homeowners Waste Less, Preserve More
April 27, 2023 Design Trends By: Leandra Beabout

The word “sustainable” is an all-encompassing idea that breaks down into many parts. It could refer to anything from a product made with environmentally-friendly materials to a lifestyle that minimizes one’s carbon footprint. Within the overarching sustainability movement are specific philosophies that seek to solve the various issues facing the environment today. Circular design is one such specific philosophy that focuses on creating décor, fixtures and spaces with extended life cycles, thus reducing waste.

“In contrast to linear design, in which a material is designed, built, used, and discarded, circular design seeks to extend the lifetime of a material by ensuring multiple uses …” explains Mackenzie Collier, interior designer and founder of Mackenzie Collier Interiors(link is external) in Phoenix, Ariz. “In circular design,” she adds, “a product is designed to simplify future reuse or recycling.”

Circular Design 101

First things first: Circular design is not an aesthetic style. Unlike biophilic design or Art Deco, this refers to the philosophy and intention behind a product or space.

“In a circular model, materials and products enjoy endless, closed-loop lifecycles as they … are reused, recycled, upcycled and transformed into new products and materials,” says Laurence Carr, interior architect and designer, founder, and CEO of Laurence Carr, Inc(link is external). in New York, N.Y. In other words, waste is designed out of the equation. One example of circular design are bathroom tiles made from recycled materials, which are designed to be recycled again.

The built environment generates nearly 50% of annual global CO2 emissions …,” says Carr. “Any small efforts we can each make in our own lives add up in a big way, so please do keep circularity at the top of mind whenever making decisions about your home and lifestyle!

How Homeowners Can Incorporate Circular Design

Both design experts prefer not to call circular design a “trend.” Collier says it’s just a good, environmentally aware practice — and it’s not going away anytime soon.

  • Going vintage. “This way, our clients get something different than what everyone else is picking up at West Elm or Crate and Barrel this season,” Collier says. “It creates a gathered-over-time aesthetic, is often more cost-conscious, AND is the more environmentally sustainable choice.”
  • Prioritizing recycled and recyclable products. In circular design, it’s essential to do everything possible to eliminate waste. One way to do that? Recycling. Collier suggests buying from companies with recycling programs (like FLOR recyclable carpet tiles) or products made from recycled materials.
  • Getting pickier about building materials. For Carr, that means using certified and reclaimed woods for flooring. It also looks like using sustainable materials such as bamboo, cork or biomaterial derived from waste.
  • Sourcing “forever” pieces. This could mean quality pieces from local artists or timeless furniture styles that are made to last. Today’s circularity-minded clients are turning away from flashy trends and toward homes and products that are made to stand the test of time.
  • Reimagining the home structure itself. Homeowner clients will probably have an easier time using circular designs during room refreshes or renovations. But for those looking to build, Carr points to prefabricated homes. “[They’re] created with a focus on energy efficiency and durability, able to be disassembled and repurposed at the end of their useful life,” she says.

Depending on the client and project, circular design might look like a combination of several of the following:

Circular Design Resources for Clients

Infusing a house with circular design takes time. It happens product by product, room by room.

So, where should you and your clients start? Third-party certifications, says Carr. That means looking for products and materials verified as sustainable or circular.

Here are some of the third-party stamps of approval Carr looks for:

Happy Gopher Tortoise Day!

News Release – For Immediate Release
April 10, 2023
City of Sanibel, FL
Contact: Natural Resources Department (239) 472-3700

April 10, 2023

In 2016, the Gopher Tortoise Council adopted April 10th as Gopher Tortoise Day in Florida in order to increase awareness and appreciation for this protected species. The gopher tortoise is considered a keystone species (a species on which other animals within an ecosystem largely depend on) and is an important indicator of ecosystem health. Gopher tortoise burrows are home to more than 360 other species of wildlife, some of which would not exist without gopher tortoises. Unfortunately, due to obstacles, such as habitat loss, disease, and poaching, gopher tortoise populations have declined an estimated 60-80 percent in the last century. Because of this, the gopher tortoise is listed as threatened species and is protected by the state of Florida.
On September 28, 2022, the island’s gopher tortoises, their burrows, and their habitats were significantly impacted by Hurricane Ian, the full extent of which remains unknown. Prior to Hurricane Ian, Sanibel Island sustained a sizeable population of gopher tortoises, which inhabited conservation lands, residential neighborhoods, and commercial properties. In areas where gopher tortoises habitat was damaged or destroyed by saltwater intrusion and hurricane debris, tortoises may seek new areas on the Island to establish new burrows and home ranges.In accordance with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Gopher Tortoise Management Plan guidelines, the City requires that all Development Permit applications include the following: identification and location of wildlife habitats of gopher tortoises and their burrows; a plan to preserve gopher tortoise habitat in perpetuity or to mitigate for unavoidable impacts; verification that gopher tortoises have been protected on the site or have been removed from the proposed area of construction by a State authorized gopher tortoise agent according to a plan approved by the City and State.Due to the upland habitat requirements of the gopher tortoise and potential conflicts with human development activities, gopher tortoises and their habitats on Sanibel have been afforded additional protections. Therefore, the City of Sanibel recognizes that maintaining healthy populations of gopher tortoises is essential to sustaining Sanibel’s ecology and sanctuary characteristics. On April 12th, 2023, City Council will issue a proclamation designating April 10th as Gopher Tortoise Day on Sanibel.The recovery of gopher tortoise populations and their habitats will require a continued commitment by the citizens of Sanibel. You can show your appreciation and help ensure the long-term recovery of gopher tortoises on Sanibel by creating a “tortoise friendly landscape”, including a diversity of native grasses and wildflowers. Also, residents are encouraged to keep a watchful eye for gopher tortoises while traveling across Sanibel by vehicle, cycle, or on foot. If you see a gopher tortoise crossing a road, pick it up and place it on the roadside in the direction it was heading, but only if it is safe for you to do so.
Please join us in celebrating Gopher Tortoise Day!  Spread of the word on the importance of conserving and protecting this important keystone species on our sanctuary island. 
For more information regarding gopher tortoises on Sanibel view the City’s Gopher tortoise brochure, visit the City’s informational webpage about gopher tortoises, or contact the City of Sanibel’s Natural Resources Department (

Housing Data Solidifies Broad Market Recovery

March 29, 2023

Being a Real Estate Professional By: Melissa Dittmann Tracey

For the last three months, major market indicators, including contract signings, new construction and existing-home sales, have been turning positive.
In another strong indication of a housing turnaround, pending home sales rose for the third straight month in February, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Wednesday. Though the 0.8% increase was modest, it’s on an upward trajectory along with existing-home sales and new-home construction, painting a picture of a market on the mend, says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. Still, contract signings—a forward-looking indicator of home sales—were down 21.1% from a year ago.
The West was the only major U.S. region to post a decline in pending home sales in February. The news follows a double-digit lift in existing-home sales in February—the first increase for that measure in a year—and the first decline in home prices in more than a decade.
“The affordable U.S. regions—the Midwest and South—are leading the recovery,” Yun says. “Mortgage rates have improved in recent weeks after the federal government guaranteed the status of most mortgages amidst uncertainty in the financial market. While access to commercial mortgage loans could become increasingly difficult, residential mortgage loans are expected to be more readily available.”

Homeowners’ Zeal for Curb Appeal May Pay Off Handsomely

March 17, 2023 RemodelingDesign Trends By: Melissa Dittmann Tracey

Demand for outdoor features has boomed since the start of the pandemic. These projects stand to earn the most at resale, according to a new survey.
© welcomia – iStock/Getty Images Plus
Many homeowners have turned their attention to enhancing their outdoor space since the pandemic began—and that may pay off at resale, according to a new survey from the National Association of REALTORS® and the National Association of Landscape Professionals. Ninety-two percent of REALTORS® say they recommend that sellers improve their curb appeal prior to listing, finds the 2023 Remodeling Impact Report: Outdoor Features. REALTORS® most often recommend general landscaping maintenance, standard lawn care service and tree trimming.
“It’s no surprise that nearly all REALTORS® and most homeowners place a high value on the curb appeal of a well-maintained yard,” says NALP CEO Britt Wood. “Healthy outdoor living and green spaces help the environment, increase home values, make communities more desirable and improve people’s mental and physical health.”
The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way Americans use their homes for daily living, relaxation and entertainment, adds Jessica Lautz, NAR’s deputy chief economist and vice president of research. “Homeowners have embraced their outdoor spaces, transforming them into oases with pools, patios, plants and greenery,” Lautz says. “These outdoor features … can also attract buyers if the owner wants to sell.”
Prioritizing Outdoor Projects for Resale
Most homeowners indicate a desire for an in-ground pool or an outdoor fire feature, but the ROI on these items may not be as high as simple lawn care and landscape maintenance, the report finds. The survey defines “standard lawn care service” as six seasonal applications of fertilizer and/or weed control on a 5,000-square-foot lawn and “landscape maintenance” as mulch application, regular lawn mowing, pruning shrubs and planting about 60 perennials or annuals.

The features that make homeowners happiest, however, aren’t necessarily the ones that earn the most at resale. The least expensive projects, such as standard lawn care service, have the highest cost recovery but one of the lowest “joy” rankings from homeowners, according to the survey. Instead, the report found that the following outdoor projects received the highest satisfaction marks among homeowners:

  • In-ground pool
  • Landscape lighting
  • New patio
  • New wood deck
  • Fire feature

On the other hand, the items that ranked the lowest on homeowners’ “joy” scale were:

  • Outdoor kitchen
  • Tree care
  • Standard lawn care service
  • Installing a yard irrigation system

The majority of landscape professionals surveyed say the size and scope of outdoor home improvement projects have increased since the pandemic began. REALTORS® surveyed say the landscape projects they’ve seen most often since the pandemic began are the addition of an in-ground pool, landscape maintenance and a new patio.

Federal Assistance For Hurricane IAN reaches 5.5 Billion

More than $4.5 billion in federal grants, disaster loans and flood insurance payments have been provided to the state of Florida and to households affected by Hurricane Ian. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has provided more than $647 million in housing assistance, while the Small Business Administration has given out $1.68 billion in disaster loans and the National Flood Insurance Program has paid $2.29 billion in claims to survivors of the storm.
Support for Hurricane Ian Disaster Recovery Assistance
The Hurricane season of 2022 was one of the worst Florida has ever seen. Specifically, the damage to Southwest Florida has been catastrophic and will likely take years to recover. Congressman Byron Donalds is coordinating with “other Florida congressional delegation offices on a bicameral proposal to address both the 10% cap/itemized deduction components as well as providing Ian victims the same broader benefits as those from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.” While our area has been declared a Presidentially Declared Disaster area, the losses associated with Hurricane Ian are yet to be treated as “qualified disaster losses” which would result in a favorable tax treatment than what currently exists.

Please get in touch with your local representatives to let them know if you support this effort. For convenience, we have included links below so you can determine who your representative is.

Citizens Roof Coatings Clarification

In response to questions about roof coatings and sealants used with the intent to

repair and/or extend a roof covering’s useful life, Citizens would like to provide the following information to assist agents with determining roof insurability under our underwriting rules.

When a roof replacement is required, and a coating or sealant is used in lieu of

roof replacement, the risk remains ineligible for coverage with Citizens. Use of such materials does not constitute a roof replacement. See the following for further

Roof Coatings and Sealants
For new and renewal business, where a sealant or coating has been applied to the roof, Underwriting will review the risk, including age and condition of the roof, to

determine eligibility for coverage.

• Citizens may conduct inspections to verify the risk meets eligibility requirements.
Roof coatings – such as acrylic, silicone, urethane, soy, elastomeric or other similar coatings used for waterproofing or UV protection – do not meet Citizens’

requirements for proof of roof replacement.