Florida condos falling on blacklist

TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: Well, Uncle Sam's poured a lot of money into banks here at home to jump start the housing market. But some of those financials seem to be jumping on a bandwagon. They're refusing to lend to certain condo complexes, regardless of a buyer's credit history. It is a trend that's slowly spreading across the country. From Miami at WLRN, here's Marketplace's Dan Grech.


Dan Grech: The names on the Bank United blacklist evoke an era when buying a condo was like minting money. The Jade, Sunset Harbour, Quantum on the Bay.

In all, 191 condo complexes made the list. because they're saturated with speculators or prices are in freefall. Most of the condos are in Miami. Bank United declined to comment on its "non-permissible" projects list.

Donna Berger is executive director of the Community Advocacy Network. She says properties on the list are essentially untouchable.

Donna Berger: If Mrs. Smith goes to sell her unit, she's now going to have a problem with her potential purchaser in finding a lender who's going to make a loan in that unit in that community. She's stuck.

Analysts say other banks are drawing up similar blacklists on projects in Nevada, Michigan and California, though the lists are rarely made public.

The problem is compounded by tough new lending standards enacted last month by government-backed Fannie Mae. Before Fannie will write a mortgage in any new condo building anywhere in the U.S., 70 percent of units should be sold. It used to be just 51 percent.

Analysts 1 one in 4 condo buildings in South Florida could be shut out of financing from Fannie and other lenders that take Fannie's lead.

Jeremy Resnick: When a lender won't lend in a building, that's basically the death of the building.

That's Jeremy Resnick. He's with UpsideDownFlorida.com, a firm that helps people who owe more than their home is worth.

Resnick: If no one can get financing, no one can buy the available units, eventually those units go into foreclosure. When multiple units go into foreclosure, homeowner's association fees aren't being paid, so the common areas don't get kept up. The cable gets cut off, the electricity gets cut off. It's a spiral that goes out of control.

Experts say with blacklists, banks are trying to turn back the clock on their loose lending practices. But they can't erase the dozens of gleaming condo towers that have emerged over the past decade. Or the thousands of people who staked their fortunes on a piece of real estate in the sky.

In Miami, I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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