Trip to the UK

I would like to let everyone know that I will be in the UK during the last 10 days of February this year. If anyone is interested in meeting me somewhere please call the office or send an email to arrange a date and time.


Chris Wilson
Universal Trust Group

Trip to the UK

Loan Modification

Hi Everyone,
Let me take this time to wish you all a very warm and festive holiday season. Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, we can hope to achieve a little more before the end of the year.

And, in time for the festive period I want to offer those of you still struggling with making mortgage payments, a possible solution. We have just recently found that some lenders will consider a "loan modification" program to assist customers who are significantly late with current mortgage payments. This will not apply to everony and we dont have a list of lenders who will consider this, it does depend on each individials circumstances. So, basically we will not know until we actually approach and submit on behalf of a client. But the idea is to restructure your loan and brng your payments down. If you are interested in pursuing this as an alternate way of reducing your monthly mortgage payments, please contact us for a form to complete. We will need a copy of your most recent mortgage statement. The cost will be between $1,500.00-$5,000.00 and payable at closing, there is however a $250.00 administration fee payable in advance.

We will not be able to proceed until the two documents are returned. Please do not bombard me with questions, as many answers will only be determined as work progresses.

Later this month we will be sending out Rental Income worksheets for tax purposes. Please remember, that intangible tax returns are due by April 1 and Federal Tax returns are due by June 15, 2009. The rules on intangible tax returns have changed this year. So if you have questions about this or any other tax questions please dont hesitate to send me an email to

Thanking you in anticipation,


Chris Wilson
Universal Trust Group

Loan Modification

Up Coming Seminars

We will be giving our Seminar again in Late October and Early Nobember. Please check again later for further details.


Saturday 23rd June, 2007 Time 11.00-3.00pm
Location: Holiday Inn, London Heathrow Airport, Bath Road, Hayes Middx UB3 5AJ Telephone 08704009040

Just off the M4 at Junction 4. Take the Heathrow exit, take the spur motoway and exit before the tunnel, onto the Bath Road (go west bound.

Sunday 24th June, 2007 time 11.00-3.00pm
Location: Holiday Inn Hotel, Manchester Airport, Altrincham Road, Wilmslow, SK9 4LR Telephone 08708742730

Just off the M56 at Manchester Airport

Please register at

NAR: Gradual rise projected for home sales

NAR: Gradual rise projected for home sales

WASHINGTON – Jan. 11, 2007 – After bottoming in the fourth quarter of 2006, existing-home sales should gradually rise through 2007 and into 2008, while new-home sales should turnaround by summer, according to the latest forecast by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).
David Lereah, NAR’s chief economist, says annual totals for existing-home sales will be fairly comparable between 2006 and 2007. “We have to keep in mind that we were still in boom conditions during the first quarter of 2006 with a high sales volume and double-digit price appreciation,” he says. “We are starting 2007 from a relatively low point, so even with a gradual improvement in sales it’ll be pretty much of a wash in terms of annual totals. The good news is that the steady improvement in sales will support price appreciation moving forward.”
Existing-home sales for 2006 are expected to come in at 6.50 million, the third highest on record, with a total of 6.42 million seen in 2007. New-home sales in 2006 should tally 1.06 million, the fourth highest on record, with 957,000 projected this year.
Total housing starts for 2006 are likely to be 1.81 million units, with 1.51 million forecast in 2007, which would be the lowest level in a decade. Builders are pulling back on new construction to support prices of remaining inventory.
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will probably rise to 6.7 percent by the fourth quarter of 2007. Last week, Freddie Mac reported the 30-year fixed rate at 6.18 percent – far below earlier consensus forecasts. “The current interest rate environment and housing inventory levels present a window of opportunity for potential buyers,” Lereah says.
The national median existing-home price for all of 2006 is expected to rise 1.1 percent to $222,100, and then gain 1.5 percent this year to $225,300. The median new-home price, after rising only 0.3 percent to $241,600 in 2006, is projected to grow 3.0 percent in 2007 to $248,900.
“With all the wild projections by academics, Wall Street analysts and others in the media, it appears that much of the housing sector is experiencing a soft landing,” Lereah says. “Despite the doomsayers, household wealth will not evaporate and the economy will not go into a recession. If you’re in it for the long haul, housing is a sound investment.”
The unemployment rate is likely to average 4.8 percent this year, following a rate of 4.6 percent in 2006. Inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, is expected to be 2.2 percent in 2007, down from 3.2 percent last year, while growth in the U.S. gross domestic product is seen at 2.5 percent in 2007, compared with 3.3 percent last year. Inflation-adjusted disposable personal income should grow 3.4 percent this year, following a rise of 2.7 percent in 2006.


Magazine to Promote Local Vacation Rentals at Home, Abroad

Published Thursday, December 7, 2006
Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Magazine to Promote Local Vacation Rentals at Home, Abroad

By Mike Grogan
The Reporter

FOUR CORNERS - A trade publication aimed at vacation home owners, managers and Realtors in the United Kingdom will soon be expanding to Florida.

According to Jack Osborn of Inborn Media Inc., some 12,500 copies of the bi-monthly magazine called "World of Property" are distributed in Great Britain to promote the vacation home industry. In April, it will become a monthly publication. A second magazine focusing on the industry in the U.S. and Caribbean will also be produced.

"It will be called Holiday Homes of The Americas and will be a stand-alone magazine," Osborn told members of the Central Florida Property Managers Association at the groups monthly meeting at Mystic Dunes last week.

In Great Britain, Osborn said, the new magazine will be distributed with "World of Property" to provide information about vacation home investing in the United States, the Caribbean and Central American. Here in Central Florida and throughout its region of interest, "Holiday Homes" will be a stand-alone publication to be distributed through property management firms and real estate agents.

With a format calling for a 50-50 mix of advertising and editorial content, the magazine will begin with a circulation equal to its sister publication, with about 12,500 to be distributed in the region monthly.

David Leather, who operates Hayes Vacation Homes in Kissimmee and is president of the CFPMA, said the magazine will be welcome in Central Florida as a place prospective vacation home investors can go to guard against the pitfalls of unscrupulous property management companies.

"The main thing is that people will know where to go to find people they can trust," he said.

Leather is one of the founders of CFPMA, which was started as a professional organization to help drive unethical management companies out of business and to give those interested in buying vacation homes as investment properties a legitimate organization to belong to.

Earlier this year, Yvonnes, a Davenport-based property management company, closed and is being investigated by local and state law enforcement agencies after charges of fraud were levied by several homeowners - many of them from Great Britain - who hired Yvonnes to manage their properties in Central Florida.

Leather said the CFPMA will advertise in Holiday Homes of The Americas so prospective investors will know where they can turn to find responsible management companies in Central Florida. In turn, he added, the association will help distribute the magazines locally to help get the publications in the hands of possible investors.

Also at the meeting, the annual election of members to the board of directors was conducted. Nine current members were returned to their seats and four new members - Lloyd Hart, Randy Thomson, Jeff Case and Donna Stutts - were voted onto the board. At a future meeting, board members will select association officers: a president, a vice president, a secretary and a treasurer.

U.S. security measures are deterring foreign buyers

U.S. security measures are deterring foreign buyers
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Oct. 20, 2006 -- Real estate professionals in Florida are speaking out against federal security and immigration policies that make it difficult for foreigners to purchase homes in the United States.

Agents in the state also say that some longtime foreign property owners have found it difficult to renew their visas in recent years and that some foreigners and/or their relatives have not been allowed to return to the States after leaving to visit their home countries.

"It seems like were putting the thumbscrews down on the very type of people we want here," notes Tony Macaluso, vice chairman of the Florida Association of Realtors (FAR) international operations committee.

Foreigners who want to stay in the United States for more than 90 days are required to obtain visas, and even then the Department of Homeland Security can turn them away. They also must undergo more comprehensive background checks as well as routine fingerprinting.

FAR is urging the government to offer a retirement visa to foreigners who meet specified financial guidelines, as visa issues are prompting international property buyers to settle instead in Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico and other countries with fewer barriers to entry.

Source: International Herald Tribune (10/19/06) Brass, Kevin

Copyright 2006 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

THE BRITISH AREN'T COMING! London Makes Visa Process Longer and More Expensive

Published Thursday, September 28, 2006
London Makes Visa Process Longer and More Expensive

The Reporter Editor
FOUR CORNERS -- In the past 12 months, the waiting time for a visa from the United Kingdom to the U.S. has been extended from one month to up to nine months. For businesses in Four Corners that rely on a steady and solid influx of British vacationers, that spells a potential disaster.

Michael Eckersley, director of Sunsplash Vacation Homes in Davenport, said any tightening of the visa rules could become detrimental to a region that hosts 7,088 vacation rental properties in Polk County alone. He noted that some British residents are now paying $1,000 to "fast track" their visa approval, but are still waiting several months just to get an appointments at the London Embassy.

"Weve got one guy who has been waiting six months for a renewal," Eckersley said. "And six months is nothing."

The tightening of the once loose visa rules for British visitors to the U.S. has a lot of local vacation rental property owners nervous. The story of Four Corners would be incomplete without mentioning how popular the region is with British tourists, who not only spend weeks or even months each year in the area, but have purchased many of the new homes built here in the past five years. British pubs are multiplying along sections of U.S. 27 and U.S. 192, British tabloid newspapers are easy to find in convenience stores in Four Corners, and specialized British foods are sold in area stores, including the Wal-Mart Superstore on U.S. 27 in South Lake County.

So its no surprise that property managers like Eckersley, who rely on those visitors, are worried about the changes coming about in their native countrys visa program. Last week, Eckersley took his concerns to a group that clearly shares them, the Central Florida Property Managers Association, which held its monthly meeting at the Mystic Dunes Golf Club near ChampionsGate.

Eckersley blamed London for the tougher visa requirements.

"Theyre the ones dragging their feet," he said. "London is the problem. They dont understand the problem here in Central Florida. London is seeing repeated applications for visa renewals. I think it has frightened them."

The delay in getting a visa has become an expensive nightmare for many British property owners in the region, he said, noting that the cost of traveling back to the U.K. to renew a visa can be as high as $15,000. He also noted that those selling local businesses and vacation rental properties dont want to wait several months for a visa to be obtained, which has caused potential investors to start looking elsewhere.

Another problem, he said, is that the children of visa holders get penalized when they reach age 21, and technically have to leave this country -- regardless of the fact that many were brought up as Americans in local schools.

"We are going to request that at the age of 16, or after three years in the U.S., they should be able to apply for citizenship," he said.

Eckersley also noted that when a visa holder dies, that persons spouse is given three weeks to prepare for a funeral and burial -- then asked to sell the family business and all property before being required to leave the country.

"You are breaking up a family," he said.

These difficulties are having an impact on service industries like vacation rentals, Eckersley said.

"The immigration personnel do not seem to be aware that there are some 25,000 private homes in the Four Corners area, making it the equivalent of a 100,000-bed hotel," he said. "That would require a minimum staff of 70,000. Most of these (short-term rental) companies are not huge conglomerates. Theyre mom-and-pop shops, and they add a lot to the economy. People having to wait so long for their visas are not putting money into any more of their property."

Eckersley has been asking British visitors and property managers to contact him by e-mail at and let him know if theyve had similar problems. He hopes to put together a report that can be sent to the London Embassy, letting officials there know just how problematic the visa delays have become.

"We have to understand their problems," he said. "We have to try to give them and the politicians the answers theyre looking for."

"We should really learn all the facts and figures and be in a position to throw them at anyone who is in a position of authority," said David Leather, president of the Central Florida Property Managers Association.

Salesman Pitches Highspeed internet card to Vacation Rental

Published Thursday, October 12, 2006
Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Salesman Pitches High-Speed Internet Card to Vacation Rental Property Managers

The Reporter Editor

KISSIMMEE -- Vacation rental properties in Four Corners are in the business of finding vacationers who want to rent a home during their stay in Central Florida. But are vacation properties now ready to tackle an entirely new field: telecommunications?

Darren Latimer certainly hopes so.

He recently met with the Central Florida Property Managers Association to present them with a card that he said could provide them with a potentially profitable side business: high-speed dialups for their Internet-hungry guests.

"This product gives you all a chance to earn some revenue from these cards," he told the property owners and managers. "If you have a guest that has used the service and likes it, they can take it with them. We can even pay you a commission if they do that."

Latimer is a sales representative for American Fiber Systems Network, a telecommunications company that has been focusing on rental management companies -- which, of course, flourish in Four Corners. There are more than 7,000 vacation rental properties in Polk County alone.

Latimer came to the CFPMAs September meeting at the Mystic Dunes Golf Resort with a high-speed wireless card that is specifically designed for a high-speed computer. He said the goal is to let guests have quick, easy and portable access to the Internet.

"Its going to give completely portable service to every guest," he said of the card.

Known as AFNConnect High Speed Wireless, the program has a one-time startup fee, and a $250 replacement fee if the card is stolen by a guest.

"You would want to get a $250 deposit from them," Latimer said.

But it wont, he added, be especially costly for the property owner or manager. In fact, Latimer said, it could help them earn some added money.

"We block the long distance (charges) from homeowners so they dont get charges from their guests," Latimer said. "No homeowner participation is required, but it will provide a revenue stream for those owners."

The way the program works, he said, is "any guest who comes to your property with a laptop will be able to hook onto the Internet and have portable, high-speed Internet access."

The card is portable in the sense that the guest can "use it in the (property) unit, at the beach, at the theme parks, or by the pool," Latimer said. "AFNConnect does not require a modem or wired connection in the home. Just put the card in, and its running. AFNConnect is fully portable and can be exchanged from one computer to the another, and you will not have to ask guests to pay."

The cost of the card is $54.99 a month.

If guests like the card and decide to get one, he said, the vacation rental property can earn a commission from American Fiber Networks.

"The cards can be used in most metropolitan cities, and most airports," Latimer said. "It actually has very good coverage."

Housing Market Becomes a Buyer Seller Stalemate

Published Thursday, October 12, 2006
Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Housing Market Becomes a Buyer, Seller Stalemate

The Reporter Editor

FOUR CORNERS -- The reports nationwide sound grim: Housing inventories are way up, sellers are cutting their asking prices, and housing markets across the nation appear to be slumping.

But wait.

Then lender Freddie Mac reports mortgage rates are going down, perhaps helped by the Federal Reserves decision to keep interest rates steady.

And while housing prices are falling in some instances, theyre not dropping anywhere near the prices found at the start of the decade, meaning the sharp housing appreciation in the past five years is hardly being erased overnight.

"In Celebration, I dont believe the prices have moved a whole lot," said David Bennett, spokesman for the Osceola County Association of Realtors. "The home for sale six months ago for $600,000, its still around for $600,000. Prices are not declining that rapidly."

So is it a true buyers market today? Bennett thinks so, but hes not sure its going to remain one.

"In August, hopefully, we hit bottom, and thats the extent of the damage," Bennett said. "When youve got demand out there and theres supply, but the price is not right, the buyers will wait. Theyll say, `Ill stay in this apartment a little longer and wait for the prices to come down before buying. There are people who got into this market for the wrong reasons and got in for a quick buck, and real estate is a long-term proposition. The normal market is a 3 to 5 percent (price) appreciation, and thats it."


At the same time, while buyers are being stubborn and waiting for prices to keep falling, Bennett said some sellers are equally stubborn and waiting patiently for the prices to start taking off again. Neither side is sure whats coming up next.

Noting that some sellers wont budge on the price tag, he added, "The consumer that owns the property doesnt want this to be a buyers market."

Real estate has been perhaps the key force driving the growth and expansion in Four Corners throughout the past decade, dating back to when the first newly built subdivisions began replacing vast open fields that once served as citrus farms fueling the local economy.

The pace began to accelerate between 2002 and 2005, when the Federal Reserve drastically lowered interest rates to help keep a nation recovering from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks from falling into a severe recession.

Those rock-bottom low interest rates made housing affordable across this region, and -- accompanied by special loan arrangements like interest-only loan payments and adjustable rates -- helped bring a flood of buyers to the region, from new families to second-home buyers, to British tourists seeking vacation properties to investors hoping to flip their homes for a quick short-term return. For a while, it seemed builders couldnt construct homes fast enough to meet the demand.


When the economy appeared on the verge of overheating -- and sending inflation on an upward spiral -- the Federal Reserve began raising interest rates, and borrowing costs got tougher. The results of this rate hike campaign could be felt this past summer in the nations housing market, as prices began falling for the first time in years, inventories soared, and the length of time homes spend on the market went from weeks to long, frustrating months.

So has the market truly hit bottom and is about to go up again? Or did prices just go up too fast nationally to the point where too large a segment of the home-buying public was simply priced out?

"There are indicators were moving in different directions," said Walt Molony, spokesman for the National Association of Realtors. "Its an indicator of a market in transition."

NAR sees evidence that housing markets that did not see rapid price escalations are doing fine, since affordability is not as much of an issue there. But markets that experienced the highest demand and the sharpest price hikes -- including Florida -- are a different matter.

"That really has a greater impact on the higher-cost housing markets in California and parts of the Northeast and parts of South Florida," Molony said. "Because in some of those higher-cost markets buyers have had to stretch themselves using nontraditional loans tied to short-term interest rates. Rising interest rates have led to the biggest (housing) slowdowns -- California, Florida, Virginia and Arizona, the markets that epitomized the biggest booms."


Still, the talk of sellers cutting prices is overblown, he added.

"On an annual basis, full year to year prices have never gone down," he said. "Since 1968, there are only six months on record where the median home price was below where it was a year ago."

In addition, todays high inventory of homes for sale pales in comparison to the inventory available during the recession of 1990-1991, when interest rates hovered around 10 percent and there was a nine-month supply of homes constantly on the market.

"Back then," Molony said, "you had an inventory level much higher than today. Today weve got a 71/2 month supply. A year ago it was a 41/2 month average."

Molony agreed that in August, the housing market stumbled, and as a result, "Were now definitely tilted toward buyers in the housing market." The national median existing-home price was $225,000 in August, down 1.7 percent from August 2005 when the median was $229,000. Total housing inventory levels rose 1.5 percent at the end of August to 3.92 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 7.5-month supply, the highest since April 1993.

Still, he added, "Were looking at a period of stabilization currently."


Although inventories are up, mortgage rates are going down, Molony noted, helped perhaps by the fact that the Federal Reserve decided twice not to keep raising interest rates.

"Freddie Mac reported that mortgage rates fell to 6.31 percent, and earlier this year we thought wed be at 6.9 percent," Molony said. "Mortgage applications are up, and we created 3.8 million jobs in the past two years. I think buyers are on the sidelines right now, waiting for stability. We think that right now, we have a lot of buyers who have been taking a wait-and-see attitude.

"We have a remarkably different situation than we did a year ago," Molony added. "Last year, we had a tight supply, and buyers bidding over the asking price. This year weve had a decline, inventories have built up dramatically, and buyers have plenty of choices. Sellers now have reason to negotiate. Sellers have gotten the message and are lowering their asking price. We think well see that for the rest of this year."

In 2007, though, NAR is anticipating a change in this pattern, though not a dramatic one.

"The good news is inventory levels are at or close to a peak," he said. "We had a dumping on the market of investor-owned properties. Were seeing fewer new listings coming on the market now. Sellers were stubborn. They werent cutting their asking price. Probably early next year well see prices nationally start to grow again, although were looking at overall appreciation to be less than the historic norms. Were looking for growth -- but slower growth -- in 2007."


Despite the weakened housing market in Florida, Molony thinks Central Floridas strong job market will keep new buyers actively looking for homes.

"Areas that are seeing strong inmigration and job creation can absorb the inventory much better than parts of Michigan, for example, that have had significant job losses in the auto market and an out-migration of residents," Molony said. "Floridas economic situation is much better."

In Osceola County, 354 homes sold in August, a 29 percent drop in sales compared to August 2005, when 499 homes were sold. Osceolas median home price in August was $240,000, a 2 percent drop compared to a year earlier, when prices were at $245,000.

The big story in Osceola in August was the sharp increase in inventory -- 4,978 homes on the market, compared to the 1,422 homes available there in August 2005.

"The tremendous increase we are seeing in inventory suggests that buyers and sellers remain at an impasse, with buyers waiting for a `fire sale that will not occur, and sellers still hoping for the sort of gains that are no longer realistic in todays market environment," said Cyn Zellner, president of the Osceola County Association of Realtors.

"This is the first time in August weve had a real big hit," Bennett added. "The previous month wasnt so bad. But I think its bottomed out now. Locally, weve had a softer landing than most. It may involve the ability for home sellers to see that if they want to sell their property, they may have to come down a little on the price to meet the need. Its now more of a buyers market, rather than the sellers market that it was for a long time. Everybody gets their turn."

But Bennett noted that Florida is a unique case because so many people keep moving here -- or vacationing here when the cold winter winds begin to blow. Traditionally, he noted, home sales plummet in mid-November as the holidays come on. But in Florida, that might not be the case, he added.

"It used to be a real rule of thumb, and we would see a decline in those months during the holidays," he said. "But Florida is a different market. If you have people who live somewhere where its minus 17 degrees out and they come to Florida for Christmas, thats a great opportunity for us."

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Fewer for rent signs in Orlando

A survey shows 5,041 vacant apartments in Metro Orlando, the smallest total since 1998.

From the ORLANDO SENTINAL, Jack Snyder, Sentinel Staff Writer
May 9, 2006

Finding a vacant apartment in Metro Orlando is harder now than at any time since 1998, as thousands of condo conversions and scarce construction have squeezed the vacancy rate to another record low. "If youre on the street looking for an apartment, youre not going to find much," said Jim Lewis, president of Charles Wayne Consulting Inc., a Maitland company that has tracked the market for nearly two decades. "You very well may end up on a waiting list." The number of available apartments in the four-county metro area shrank to

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Short-Term Rentals Examined

KISSIMMEE, FL USA -- It was exactly one week before Tropical Storm Ernesto began ominously taking aim at Florida that Ken Toney met with the members of the Central Florida Property Managements Association to talk about insurance. His outlook was as bright and sunny as the weather outside.

Toney, owner of Florida Chartered Insurance Group, largely discounts the view that two very destructive hurricane seasons in a row have sent a lot of insurance carriers packing their bags, closing up shop and leaving Florida for less stormy destinations -- and leaving behind customers now scrambling to find new carriers. Toney said...

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Vacation Rental Home Management Company Closes, Suspected of Defrauding Owners

DAVENPORT, FL USA -- A local property management company that has specialized in handling vacation homes owned by out-of-state and overseas investors has closed and is being investigated by local and state authorities for the way it has done business. Yvonnes Property Management Inc. on Waverley Barn Road in Davenport, shut its offices Aug. 24 and in so doing "dumped on 225 vacation homeowners," according to Peter Stanhope, president of the Florida Brits Club, an association of people in England who own homes in the Sunshine State. Stanhope contacted The Reporter by e-mail shortly after...

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