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Updated: 38 min 10 sec ago

Housing Affordability Gets a Boost in August

Tue, 10/12/2021 - 12:02

Barriers to homeownership eased up in August as recent reports from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) showed signs of improved housing affordability nationally.

According to NAR’s Housing Affordability Index, August saw an increase in affordability, as the monthly mortgage payment fell by 1.1%—median family income also declined slightly, however.

The breakdown:

– August marks the second consecutive month of improved affordability.

– Monthly mortgage payments fell by 1.1%, while the median family income fell modestly by 0.7% in August.

– Year-over-year affordability declined as the monthly mortgage payment increased 13.9%, and the median family income rose by 3.9%.

– The 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 2.89% in August 2021 compared to 3.00% the year before.

– Monthly mortgage payment rose to $1,210 from $1,062 compared to a year ago, up 13.9%.

– Median existing-home sales price increased 15.6% from one year ago in August 2021.

– The Midwest was the most affordable region in August, while the West region was the least affordable.

What this means:

Affordability issues have plagued buyers in the market in 2021, as record-high home prices, lagging inventory and uncanny demand have created a frenzy that is finally cooling as Autumn gets into full swing.

As of August 2021, the national and regional indices were all above 100, which means that a family with the median income had more than the income required to afford a median-priced home.

“Mortgage rates have fallen in back-to-back months and are historically low below 3%,” wrote Michael Hyman, NAR research data specialist, who authored the report. “Home price growth has also slowed down, which is a good sign for first-time homebuyers who have been priced out of the market. As such, the income needed to afford a mortgage (qualifying incomes) has declined since June due to the seasonal decline in home prices and continued decline in mortgage rates.”

The Midwest was the most affordable region in August, recording an index value of 196.8. That equates to a median family income of $86,614, while the qualifying income to afford a mortgage was $44,016.

The West region was the least affordable region with an index of 114.9, a median family income of $94,372, and a qualifying income of $82,128.

The South and Northeast fell in the middle with an index of 160.6 and 149.1, respectively.

Year-over-year affordability took a hit, despite the monthly improvement as mortgage payments increased by nearly 14% in August 2021 compared with 2020.

Jordan Grice is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to jgrice@rismedia.com.

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Credit Loosens Again as Lenders Adjust

Tue, 10/12/2021 - 12:00

For the third straight month, more people are gaining access to mortgage credit according to a new report from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). The index measures overall credit availability and reached its highest level since May even as that metric remains far below pre-pandemic levels.

“We are still seeing elevated rates of home-price appreciation and lenders are responding by offering a wider range of loans to accommodate qualified buyers,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of Economic and Industry Forecasting.

The loosening of credit can be attributed to conventional loans, which saw an increase of 4.5% in September according to the report. Government credit, which has remained steadier over the past several months, fell 0.7% last month.

Jumbo credit—loans for properties too expensive for conventional lenders—actually reached its highest level since March of 2020 after jumping 5.8%, according to the report, as creditors have found ways to accommodate self-employed borrowers and those with non-traditional sources of income, according to the report.

The Big Picture

MBA’s credit index, which was created in the wake of the housing crisis a decade ago, uses a variety of data points to measure how easy it is for borrowers to receive a mortgage loan, drawing on credit scores, loan type and other underwriting criteria. Set to a baseline of 100, the index topped 185 in early 2020 before plummeting at the onset of the pandemic. It currently stands at 125.6.

Jesse Williams is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to jwilliams@rismedia.com.

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Millennials Go Their Own Way When it Comes to Tapping Home Equity, Survey Finds

Tue, 10/12/2021 - 03:03

(TNS)—Maybe the millennial generation values having a good time more than their baby boomer parents and Generation X siblings. Perhaps this cohort’s financial tastes have been shaped by historically low mortgage rates and soaring home prices. Whatever the reason, Americans ages 25 to 40 display noticeably different attitudes about tapping their home equity than do older homeowners.

According to a recent Bankrate survey, fully 14% of millennial mortgage holders say they’d tap home equity to bankroll a vacation, compared with just 4% of Generation X (ages 41 to 56) and 3% of baby boomers (ages 57 to 75).

And 10% of millennials say they’d pull cash from their homes for non-essential purchases, such as electronics or a boat. Just 3% of Gen Xers and boomers say that sounds like a good idea.

On the other hand, only 49% of millennials say they’d tap equity for home improvements, compared with 64% of Generation X and 66% of boomers.

Michael Golden, co-founder and co-CEO of @properties, a 4,000-agent real estate brokerage in Chicago, says the differing attitudes aren’t a surprise. Millennials long have been said to value work-life balance more than their parents and older siblings.

“They’re a little bit more balanced,” Golden says. “Life experiences are a little more important to them. They’re willing to spend money in a different way, and they’re willing to tap equity in their home in a different way.”

Traditionalists urge caution when it comes to tapping home equity. Melinda Opperman, president of Credit.org, recalls that many homeowners regretted pulling cash from their homes during the boom that preceded the Great Recession.

“Building up wealth in a home is a long, deliberate process, and that wealth creation increases the longer one stays in a home,” Opperman says. “In general, we wouldn’t advise anyone to cash out that equity unless they’re using it to improve the property, thereby increasing the value of the home and rebuilding equity faster.”

A Much Different Rate Picture

Part of the generation gap is simple: millennials have entered their home-buying years with mortgage rates at microscopic levels.

By contrast, baby boomers lived through 30-year mortgage rates topping 18% in the early 1980s. Gen Xers experienced rates hovering at 9% in the 1990s. Millennials barely recollect 5% rates—from Jan. 1, 2010, to Jan. 1, 2020, the average rate on a 30-year loan was just above 4%.

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, and 30-year mortgage rates fell below 3%, the lowest levels ever. With borrowing so cheap, old rules about avoiding debt might strike some as less relevant.

“Now you’re borrowing in the two’s or the low three’s,” Golden says. “When interest rates are so low, the psychology of debt is much different. It makes sense to have debt.”
Another reality: Americans ages 25 to 40 are focused on living their lives rather than saving for a distant future.

“Millennials have a longer runway,” Golden says. “They’re not thinking about retirement; they’re in the building mode now.”

Home Values Are Soaring

An additional factor plays a big role in millennial homeowners’ feelings about home equity: They were fortunate enough to buy during the hottest housing market in U.S. history. Nationally, home values jumped a record 19.7% from July 2020 to July 2021, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index.

Tapping home equity is possible only if you have equity, and homeowners have it in unprecedented amounts. According to mortgage data firm Black Knight, Americans possessed more than $9.1 trillion in “tappable” home equity as of mid-2021.

“Some of the attitudes toward home equity may be influenced by the recent surge in home prices,” says Greg McBride, Bankrate’s chief financial analyst. “Those that recall the housing bust and how highly leveraged homeowners got squeezed are likely more reluctant to tap equity unless absolutely necessary.”

Why You Should Tap Equity, and Why You Shouldn’t

Here’s a breakdown of reasons to pull cash out of your home, along with guidance about whether that rationale makes financial sense:

Home Improvements and Repairs: Green Light
Boomers and Generation Xers give the thumbs-up to this reason for tapping equity. Not much argument from financial experts. Home improvements are likely to last for years, a timeframe that matches the horizon of mortgage debt. Kitchen renovations and bathroom updates are no-brainers.

But non-essential projects, such as a swimming pool or a game room, won’t necessarily reward you with a corresponding increase in property value. However, if you need a new air conditioner or an updated electrical system, a mortgage is the cheapest money you’ll find.

Consolidating Debt: Yellow Light
If you’re carrying credit card debt and paying double-digit interest rates, it could make sense to swap out expensive revolving debt for historically cheap mortgage debt. This strategy comes with a big caveat, however: Pull cash out of your house to pay off the credit cards only if you’re not going to simply run up more credit card debt.

“Using home equity to do a debt consolidation really depends on whether the root cause of the debt has been addressed,” McBride says. “A pattern of overspending could lead to running the credit card debt back up all over again, plus now carrying home equity debt as well.”

Opperman says homeowners who use home equity as a lifeline can dig themselves a deeper hole in the long run. “You only get to cash out that equity once, then it’s spent,” she says. If you follow up your cash-out refi with more spending, you’ll face what she calls a “second reckoning”—but this time, with less of a home equity cushion to pad the fall.

Investing: Yellow Light
Millennials are more likely than other generations to use home equity to invest. While 26% of that age group said they liked that idea, just 17% of Gen X and 10% of baby boomers signed off on the notion of redirecting home equity to another investment.

As with using home equity to pay down debt, the calculus around investing is nuanced. If you want to tap cheap mortgage money to fatten up your retirement savings, and to put those proceeds in a well-diversified portfolio, financial pros give their blessing. There’s a solid case to be made for using cheap mortgage money to shore up your retirement account.

On the other hand, if you aim to tap equity to day-trade stocks or to play the cryptocurrency boom, the smart advice is to think again. Such a gambit might pay off, or you might lose big.

Paying Down Student Loans: Yellow Light
This one is a bit of a gray area. If you owe student loans from private lenders, it can make sense to pay those down by tapping home equity. In contrast to federal loans, private student loans carry higher rates and less flexibility.

On the other hand, if you have federal loans, you need not rush to pay them down, McBride says. Their reasonable interest rates and income-based repayment plans mean federal student loans may not be a crippling form of debt.

Going on Vacation or Buying Electronics: Red Light
Here’s one where financial experts agree with those prudent elders of the baby boom and Gen X.

Think of it this way: Your home loan’s term is 15 or 30 years because real estate is a long-lived asset that will give you years of use and almost certainly gain value. A Caribbean cruise or a gaming console, on the other hand, will be long forgotten even if you’re paying it off for decades. If a cash-out refi is your only option for paying for a vacation or another big-ticket item, better to put the purchase on hold.

Keeping Up With Household Bills: Red Light
Millennials are more likely than other generations to tap home equity just to pay the bills. Fully 28% of 25- to 40-year-olds say they’d pull cash out for that purpose, compared to just 17% of Gen X and 14% of baby boomers.

Yes, the economic reality is harsh for many millennials: Home price appreciation has far outpaced wage gains over the past decade. And many young adults are saddled with hefty student loans.

However, this is another area where financial planners’ advice aligns with the wisdom of older generations. Borrowing for 30 years to pay this month’s child care, groceries and car repairs isn’t a sustainable lifestyle. If that’s your situation, look for ways to boost your income or to tighten your budget.

©2021 Bankrate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Howard Hanna Revamps Hanna Health & Wealth

Tue, 10/12/2021 - 03:02

Howard Hanna Real Estate Services recently updated its agent benefits and business planning solutions program, Hanna Health & Wealth.

Hanna Health & Wealth is a relaunch of a former benefits program, previously known as Secure Advantage. While the former program has been available for nearly 30 years, the updated Hanna Health & Wealth program offers agents more opportunities, including access to programs that many agents were not previously eligible for or did not utilize when they joined the company.

On Oct. 15, an open enrollment period will begin for all Howard Hanna agents in their legacy markets to enroll in a multitude of services, including guaranteed issued life, short- and long-term disability, dental, and vision insurances. In the weeks to follow, agents will also be able to enroll in the Hanna healthcare and automatic contribution programs. The health platform offers several products and services, including the benefit of telehealth, which allows instant access to healthcare professionals for agents on the move.

“The Hanna Health & Wealth programs were designed to provide our agents and their families with options to safeguard their personal and financial well-being,” said Leah Gibbons, senior vice president and general manager of Brokerage for Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, in a statement. “The peace of mind our agents experience as a result of having these programs at their disposal is a game-changer that allows them to focus on their business without additional stresses and distractions.”

The business planning management portion of the program was developed to provide enhanced assistance and security for agents looking for methods of tax withholding and planning for future retirement. This program comes with built-in advisors that can develop strategies with agents on the financial wellness and planning portion of their business.

“We developed this program to support the whole agent—today, tomorrow and into the future,” said Annie Hanna Engel, president and chief operating officer for Howard Hanna Insurance Services and chief legal officer for Hanna Holdings, Inc, in a statement. “We are proud to launch this program which will streamline and manage the overall health and wellness of what we believe to be our biggest asset—our agents.”

As Howard Hanna continues to grow and enter new markets, both organically and through strategic partnerships, the company plans to introduce this program to new partners along the way.

The open enrollment period that begins on Oct.15 is slated for current agents in Howard Hanna’s legacy markets; however, new agents that join the company now and into the future will be able to plug into these products immediately when they join.

For more information, please visit www.howardhanna.com.

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Largest BHHS Affiliate Leveraging Inside Real Estate’s kvCORE

Tue, 10/12/2021 - 03:01

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices (BHHS) The Preferred Realty and Stouffer Realty, the largest Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices affiliate in the U.S., has partnered with Inside Real Estate to provide kvCORE—along with CORE Present, a CMA and presentation solution—to its 2,300 plus agents.

The brokerage will also be among the first in the country to provide their agents with unlimited CORE Team Add-On accounts.

With 56 offices, BHHS The Preferred Realty and Stouffer Realty are a market leader throughout Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania and Northeastern Ohio, according to the company.

“We’re thrilled to announce the launch of the industry-leading platform, kvCORE, across our entire brokerage,” said Tom Hosack, president and CEO at BHHS The Preferred Realty and Stouffer Realty. “It’s a proven solution designed to fuel growth for our agents and top teams—helping them build and manage their business—all in one place. It’s just what they’ve been asking for! And to truly empower teams, we’ll be providing unlimited CORE Team add-on accounts, which unlock advanced capabilities to support their unique needs and high scale growth. We’re delivering the best tools for the best agents.”

Highlights of the enterprise-level implementation of the kvCORE Platform for BHHS The Preferred Realty include:

– IDX websites for every agent and team with deep consumer behavior tracking and intelligent nurturing to convert more leads into customers

– A built-in lead generation engine helping agents and teams expand their pipeline with new buyers and sellers at no cost

– A personal, private CRM that keeps agents and teams in control of their database while leveraging behavioral automation to engage more clients

– Communication tools including email campaigns, mass-texting, CORE Video messaging powered by BombBomb and a built-in mobile dialer to drive more high- value conversations

– CORE Present, the CMA and presentation builder

– Unlimited CORE Teams, typically only offered as a paid upgrade option, which unlocks team lead generation and lead routing, pond accounts, team accountability rules, agent performance reporting, and more

“The kvCORE Platform is the most innovative system we’ve seen, but the beauty behind all of that technology is a user-friendly solution that we know our agents will use and love,” said Hosack. “We are consistently hearing success stories from agents who increase their productivity and save time with kvCORE, so we knew we had to make it available to every agent. The decision to add CORE Present to our kvCORE tech ecosystem was a simple decision to make: it gives our agents a huge competitive advantage, and it’s the best CMA and presentation tool out there. Now, our agents and teams can focus on what they do best: provide the exceptional service the BHHS family is known for to homebuyers and sellers.”

“We’re honored BHHS The Preferred Realty and Stouffer Realty chose us as their long-term technology partner,” said Joe Skousen, CEO of Inside Real Estate, in a statement. “They are one of the largest and most productive brokerages in the country for a good reason—their leadership team’s commitment to providing the very best technology and resources to drive business for agents and teams is unwavering. We look forward to supporting their continued growth.”

For more information, please visit www.insiderealestate.com.

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ERA Real Estate Launches the ‘Hera Society’ to Advance Women Leadership

Tue, 10/12/2021 - 03:00

ERA® Real Estate recently announced the launch of the “Hera Society,” a new group within ERA® Real Estate with a mission to strengthen both the individual and collective impact women real estate leaders have on the network, in the industry and in the communities they serve. The Hera Society celebrated the launch with an inaugural event during Ignite 2021, ERA’s exclusive conference for affiliated broker/owners and managers.

Despite the strong history of women professionals in the real estate industry, there remain important opportunities to accelerate the advancement of women as brokerage owners and industry leaders. As a result, the ERA brand identified the need to create a dedicated platform to offer resources, ideas and mentorship opportunities to drive the success of affiliated women leaders now and in the future. Inspired by the name of the Greek goddess of women and families, the “Hera Society” will serve to help its members navigate the unique challenges to their professional growth, including financial fitness, leadership development and inclusion.

“ERA has been a pillar of the industry for nearly 50 years. It is a network of collaborative leaders who have supported one another’s growth and success since the brand’s founding—a natural extension of ERA’s culture is to advance women’s leadership strategies within the ERA brand and the industry,” said Sherry Chris, president and CEO, ERA® Real Estate, in a statement. “Building upon our strong foundation of exceptional women leaders within ERA and the support of Realogy through the What Moves Her platform, the Hera Society is well positioned to offer members unique leadership development opportunities, content and new areas of impact.”

The Hera Society will feature several components to fuel engagement with its members, including:

– ERA Event Integration: Hera Society’s first virtual event will be held in December, with future in-person and virtual events held throughout the year at events including Fuel, ERA’s global conference and Ignite, ERA’s broker/owner and managers conference.

Leadership Workshops: Interactive workshops, held both virtually and in-person, will serve as forums for best practice sharing, business planning and mentorship.

Communications Channels: In addition to featuring content and highlighting leaders across the ERA brand’s social media channels, the Hera Society’s members will have exclusive access to a real-time communications platform to further encourage best practices and idea sharing beyond the leadership workshops.

ERA® Real Estate is a family. We support one another to grow and succeed, both personally and professionally. We realized the importance of harnessing the power within the ERA family to learn, build relationships and be inspired by each other’s stories and journeys,” said Lee Ann Roughton, national vice president, Franchise Performance, ERA® Real Estate, in a statement. “The formation of the Hera Society demonstrates ERA’s commitment to fostering an environment where our affiliates can come together to discuss new ways to better leverage each other’s strengths and insights to grow and succeed. Our members will take the knowledge and inspiration from our time together to overcome barriers and raise everyone up around us.”

“As a new franchise owner within ERA, I’m elated to be a part of the founding of the Hera Society. I’m looking forward to being a part of this illustrious, talented and dedicated women leaders of ERA,” said Erica Texada, broker/owner, ERA Brawn Sterling Real Estate, in a statement. “The Hera Society will contribute to bridge gender gaps and drive women’s empowerment within and through the brand. I’m looking forward to the Hera Society bringing women together for uplift, collaboration, and fun and to make an impact in the real estate space that is positive and meaningful for all women.”

“I love the mission of the Hera Society,” said Tania Moore, qualifying broker, Wilkinson ERA Real Estate, in a statement. “I’m inspired by the opportunity for women to unite, empower each other and positively impact the communities where we live, work and play.”

For more information, please visit www.era.com.

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With Flood Insurance Overhaul, Industry Hopes for Minimal Disruption

Mon, 10/11/2021 - 12:04

Flood insurance rates skyrocketing by 1,000% overnight. Property values plummeting in coastal communities as markets dry up. And buyers obliviously drawn into purchases before being slammed with enormous, rapidly increasing premiums.

These are the fears that have echoed around the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) massive overhaul of its flood insurance arm, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Dubbed “Risk Rating 2.0,” the changes went into effect Oct.1, and policymakers are saying it is the biggest single adjustment to how the federal government manages flood insurance in at least 50 years.

But are any of these fears grounded in reality? What, if anything, should professionals in the real estate industry be concerned about?

Nothing catastrophic, according to agents and experts. Though due to the complex and sprawling nature of the new rules, it remains impossible to fully predict long-term ramifications. Most are expecting some (maybe significant) short-term bumpiness, but not a dramatic collapse of markets, as both agents and homeowners adjust to what amounts to a complete rewrite of flood insurance policy across the country.

“It’s a transformational change in the program,” says Chad Berginnis, executive director of the Association of State Flood Plain Managers (ASFPM), a non-profit that has lobbied in support of Risk Rating 2.0. “We have been supportive of this notion that people are finally able to get and understand their full risk rates, because that then drives behaviors and actions.

“We think that is hugely important.”

What Is Risk Rating 2.0?

At an essential level, Risk Rating 2.0 is completely changing how properties are assessed for flood risk, relying less on broadly drawn (and often outdated) flood maps and instead making an actuarial calculation for every individual property. This is meant to give a more realistic picture of flood risk to homeowners and homebuyers, as well as distributing the cost burden more equitably between high-risk and low-risk properties.

A vast majority of policyholders will see only a modest increase in their premiums in the first year of the new program, according to FEMA—less than $10 a month. About a quarter of people will actually see decreased premiums.

Also important, the program sets a cap on the maximum a homeowner will pay for a premium at just about $12,000 annually, with rates established for a full year. This is in contrast to previous rules, which effectively allowed premiums to rise indefinitely based on risk and flooding events with rates that could change at a moment’s notice.

Those who will see an increase still have the relief of a previously approved rule that prevents premiums going up by more than 18% in most cases (25% in some rarer circumstances). But there is no limit on how many annual increases a property will experience, meaning a homeowner might see a small bump to their premium annually for several years, with bigger increases concentrated in later years. FEMA has made it clear it will continue to evaluate risk and also that the $12,000 cap could change.

New policies are reflecting the Risk Rating 2.0 changes as of Oct. 1, while current policyholders will not see updated numbers on their renewals until after April of next year. Policyholders can still transfer their policies to a new owner, maintaining any discounts they have, according to FEMA.

Where the Land Meets the Sea

Cyndee Haydon has a front-row seat to any kind of flood-related issue in real estate. Working for independent brokerage Future Home Realty on the perennially hurricane-prone Florida coast, she herself lives “on a peninsula on a peninsula.” The name of her team—”Sandbars to Sunsets”—aptly describes her market on the state’s gulf coast, which includes a scintillating strip of vacation beaches home to celebrities like NFL superstar Tom Brady and Hollywood actor Tom Cruise.

Haydon says that Risk Rating 2.0 is fundamentally a good thing—creating more equity, resiliency, certainty and scientific underpinnings for flood insurance.

“Common sense tells you that there’s a lot of logic [in the new system],” she says.

Because of government subsidies, homeowners and homebuyers did not actually know the true actuarial costs of insuring a given property with the NFIP until now.

Though congress tried to eliminate those subsidies in 2012 (with the program around $20 billion in the red), elected officials and advocates balked as insurance costs ballooned for property owners, threatening to push people out of their homes.

Haydon says only about 0.2% of policyholders in Florida would eventually end up at the top rate of $12,000. Even for those markets that will be hit the hardest though, she argues that the most important thing for the real estate industry is transparency—something that Risk Rating 2.0 has promised, though not yet proved it will deliver.

Essentially, if people are going to choose to live—or not live—in a flood-prone area, they should do so with both eyes open, Haydon says.

“I do think that there’s various decisions that people make, but they will be wiser now,” she says. “I think consumers may get better long-term options that they can evaluate in that process…in my perception, in many places people will understand the real cost of ownership and be able to make better informed decisions.”

Somewhat surprisingly, the state that will experience the highest proportion of what FEMA calls “substantive” first-year premium increases (more than $20 per month) is not Florida, and is not located anywhere in the hurricane-prone southeast.

In the small New England state of Connecticut, Michael Barbaro is a broker and also president of the state’s consolidated MLS system, SmartMLS. He says he is not sure why his state is bearing such a heavy burden in Risk Rating 2.0, though he speculated that two large storms—Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012—probably figured into the calculation.

In the short term, Barbaro says he is most worried about the fact that right now, as Risk Rating 2.0 goes into effect, the new insurance adjustments remain opaque and the specific policy changes are not being fully explained.

“What has the most significant impact on the real estate market at any one time is uncertainty,” says Barbaro. “Without certainty and until there is certainty in the market—and it’s not based on some table, it’s actually what the prices are going to be—I fear we’ll see the same impact we saw [in 2012].”

Ideally, flood insurance quotes will be delivered quickly and with at least some idea of the reasoning behind the underlying actuarial calculation, Barbaro says—something real estate agents cannot do themselves, and must depend on the insurance industry to provide to clients.

Both Haydon and Barbaro refer to that 2012 legislation, which was known as the Biggert-Waters Act, with distaste. Though again, the goal of that policy change was well-intended and necessary, they say that a lack of good communication, and the suddenness in which property owners were swamped with huge new premiums, rocked markets.

“For the longest period of time after [Hurricanes] Sandy and Irene, people were calling up and just saying, ‘Is this property in a flood zone?’ And if it was, they were just hanging up the phone,” says Barbaro.

Haydon says she hopes now, in 2021, people are more aware of flooding issues after years of increasingly severe weather events, and will not be surprised by flood danger reflected in their insurance premiums. She adds that the overall state of the economy and housing is more likely to allow people flexibility in their living choices compared to 2012.

“I can’t think of a better time for a homeowner to have more options. And so what’s really been lacking has been information,” she says. “REALTORS® and our code of ethics are really about standing up for the consumer to have the information to make good decisions.”

Though Haydon says she has had occasional clients who have simply walked away from the idea of living in flood-prone areas, she does not expect towns and regions like hers to suffer too much in the long-term.

“We’re going to be figuring this stuff out,” she says.

The Big Picture

Real estate agents and other stakeholders are not particularly worried that Risk Rating 2.0 will cause the same major problems that Biggert-Waters did a decade ago. Though the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) lobbied in favor of Biggert-Waters (and has also supported Risk Rating 2.0), changes in both the new policy’s language and implementation, as well as the larger resiliency landscape seem designed to avoid a repeat of 2012.

NAR’s support spokesperson Tori Syrek tells RISMedia that Risk Rating 2.0 fixes the problems of Biggert-Waters, which the organization says was flawed from the beginning.

“We did not know that FEMA was using a 50-year-old rating methodology and only one or two pieces of information in a zone to rate each and every property in [Biggert-Waters],” Syrek says. “This resulted in untenable and scientifically un-defensible outcomes.”

Risk Rating 2.0 evolved with support from an NAR-convened insurance committee, which Syrek says worked closely with FEMA to develop the “state-of-the-art system” utilizing the input of flood experts and other scientists.

The $12,000 cap and the continuation of the max 18% annual increase in premiums will certainly help people adjust to the changes with a “glidepath,” according to Berginnis. Still, over the longer term, there are even more potential supports that will allow property owners to increase the flood resilience of their homes—and likely offset their insurance costs at the same time.

“I don’t know if it’s serendipity right now, but we potentially have a once in a lifetime surge of mitigation funding that’s coming out of FEMA that can actually help property owners do something about that risk,” he says.

The federal government has already earmarked just under $3.5 billion through an initiative called the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), which is meant to fortify regions against all kinds of natural disasters. The “Build Back Better” budget reconciliation bill proposed by Democrats in Congress contains an additional $1 billion meant for disaster preparedness, and the bipartisan infrastructure bill allocates another $3.5 billion specifically for highest-risk or repeatedly flooding properties.

Berginnis calls this investment—much of which is at least partially facilitated through various COVID disaster declarations—a “historic” opportunity to prepare for future flooding. If both bills pass, the total monies available to potentially help homeowners do things like lift their homes, fix grading issues or even fully rebuild structures would reach about $8 billion.

“The timing couldn’t be better,” Berginnis says.

But like the short-term effects of the changes, much of the specifics around these grants remain unknown. Much of the $8 billion would be distributed to state and local governments, which would then have some discretion on how to allocate and prioritize them, Berginnis says. Other chunks of money are directly administered by FEMA, and recently those grants have gone to larger projects—though they could theoretically be directed toward individual homeowners or properties according to Berginnis.

Additionally, federal elected officials have proposed means-tested financial assistance to help lower-income property owners with premiums—something Berginnis says has been popular across the political and geographic spectrum.

“Now Congress has just gotta get the job done,” he says.

Buyers and Sellers

Barbaro is less optimistic than some, at least in the short term. Recent transactions his company is involved in have already hit hiccups, he says.

A relatively modest, inland multifamily home Barbaro just sold was quoted as needing $8,700 in flood insurance right off the bat. That might not have had anything to do with Risk Rating 2.0, he posited, but because no one has been able to say for certain, buyers are getting skittish.

“When people get scared and they have uncertainty in the real estate market, they react pretty quickly—particularly the negative things,” he says.

In Florida, Haydon compares adjustments in the real estate market to computer programmers bug-testing code in software that has already been released—adjusting on the fly as they encounter problems. She credits FEMA with taking a slower approach, and NAR for putting out plenty of guidance for REALTORS® so this process can happen as painlessly as possible.

“We’ve been out in front…trying to educate our members to be able to communicate to the consumer in a way that gets in the facts,” she says.

Regular, damaging hurricanes have not consistently driven people away from certain neighborhoods or towns in Florida, Haydon points out, positing that some consumers will always be willing to take on flood risk.

But apart from wealthier homeowners whose insurance premiums are a relatively small portion of their incomes, Barbaro cautions that policymakers need to adjust to protect the little guy—those who might have smaller, older homes that they inherited or purchased decades ago at a lower price point.

“These families can no longer keep that property,” he says.

But he also agrees that communication is probably the most important way to protect markets in the short-term. He says he can see a scenario where disruptions are mitigated—maybe even limited to a few months between now and April 2022 when Risk Rating 2.0 is applied to policy renewals.

“This one appears to have more certainty in the policies,” he says. “This one is much more organized, much more well-thought out. So I think if there is any disruption, my hope is that it’s going to [last] a much shorter period of time.”

Jesse Williams is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to

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Tech Innovations That Should Be on Your Radar

Mon, 10/11/2021 - 12:03

The days of viewing tech as ancillary in real estate have disappeared. The race to deliver the best agent- and client-facing tools and resources rages on as several brokers agree that embracing digital innovation is critical to succeeding in the future.

Four panelists discussed the topic at length during a break-out session of RISMedia’s 2021 Real Estate CEO & Agent Leadership Exchange. Co-presented by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), the exclusive, full-day virtual event attracted thousands of industry professionals on Sept. 14.

Prem Luthra, president of Elm Street Technology, led the “Tech Innovations that Should Be on Your Radar” broker-track panel that unpacked emerging tech trends and how real estate brokerages of all sizes can adapt and innovate within their companies to stay competitive.

The panel consisted of Josh Harley, CEO and founder of Fathom Realty; Matthew O’Conner, COO, Terrie O’Connor REALTORS®; Denis Pepin, broker partner at United Real Estate Professionals; and Ryan Raveis; co-president, William Raveis Real Estate.

“Having been in this industry on the tech side for three decades, I have realized you have a spectrum,” Luthra said before asking each panelist to share their approaches to either building or outsourcing technology solutions at their respective companies.

Harley highlighted the benefits of the former, noting that Fathom opted to develop all of the platforms and resources that its agents use.

“Ultimately, this gives us greater control over the functionality of the platform and can begin to differentiate ourselves from all the other brokerages,” Harley said. “When you license with third-party vendors, you lose some of that, and you risk looking like many other brokerages.”

Pepin offered a favorable perspective on working with vendors to deliver tech solutions that focus on what his agents are using and missing.

“Technology is changing so rapidly, and I think we are going to see it exponentially increase even farther as we go along here,” he said. “Our belief is that we will look to those that specialize in that sector and depend on them to give us and feed us exactly what we need.”

Raveis and O’Conner also discussed their hybrid approaches to meeting their tech needs, with Raveis adding, “We found that we don’t want to spend all our time researching and developing tech for technology’s sake. Instead, we want to find what are the relevant technologies out there and sow them together, so it’s a seamless experience for our agents.”

Looking toward the industry’s future, each panelist agreed that technology’s footprint in real estate is destined to grow, and provided the trends that they predict will mature in the coming 12 to 14 months.

“I think we’ve seen such an inflow of capital into the real estate market in general and real estate finance markets that it is going to continue,” Raveis said, adding that the growing pools of vendors will continue to bring new products to the industry.

Pepin expects artificial intelligence (AI) to creep into the tech already in use within real estate as companies look to differentiate themselves.

Harley agreed, adding that the growth of video and virtual platforms exacerbated by the pandemic will continue to play a part in the industry moving forward.

“When COVID hit, we didn’t skip a beat, and yet we saw so many companies become paralyzed for a month or two as they try to figure out how to operate,” Harley said. “Now, I see more people trying to figure out how to do that.”

Despite the growing significance of tech in the industry, each panelist drew a consensus that agent buy-in and adoption of new digital tools and resources still pose a challenge that companies need to address.

O’Conner suggested that agents tend to reject new tools because they don’t recognize how to improve their businesses.

“Part of it is just making sure that you have the right tools that are addressing the needs of the agents and helping them address the needs of the clients,” O’Conner said.

Harley echoed similar sentiments, adding that the path toward building better adoption is to focus on the benefits of the tools and not the features when talking to your agents.

“Help them to understand why they want to use the product, not just how to use the product, and then provide online and in-person training and workshops on how to use it,” Harley said.

RISMedia is providing free access to select sessions from the event. Watch a recap of this session below:

Miss the event? Click here to purchase access to all the sessions at a special discount.

Real Estate CEO & Agent Leadership Exchange 2021 Sponsors

Diamond Sponsors
Buffini & Company
Center for REALTOR® Development
Inside Real Estate
Real Estate Webmasters
Realty ONE Group

Platinum Sponsors
Elm Street Technology

Master Sponsors
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
LoneWolf Technologies

Host Sponsors
Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®
Rocket Mortgage

Event Sponsors
Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®)
David Knox Real Estate Training
Pillar To Post Home Inspectors
Sherri Johnson Coaching & Consulting

Stay tuned for additional coverage from RISMedia’s Real Estate CEO & Agent Exchange.

Jordan Grice is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to jgrice@rismedia.com.

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Lessons From Fathom Realty’s Successful IPO

Mon, 10/11/2021 - 12:02

Someone once told me that taking a company public the right way would be one of the hardest things I’d ever do in my life. As an eight-year Marine Corps Infantryman, that idea was absurd. While it certainly wasn’t harder than fast-roping onto the deck of a moving ship or clearing enemy combatants from a building, I can now fully appreciate what they meant. It’s a different kind of hard.

Many people ask us why we decided to go public so early in our business, and the answer is simple: We had more opportunities than we had capital. Our biggest expense wasn’t offices, employees or technology. It was keeping up with our explosive growth. After two years and countless man-hours, plus millions of dollars spent on the process, we made our debut on the NASDAQ on July 31, 2020.

During our IPO, we stated that we were raising capital for three main purposes: accelerate growth, invest in our proprietary technology, and make strategic acquisitions to include mortgage, title, insurance and smaller brokerages. We didn’t miss a beat executing on our vision.

Fathom Realty has a unique business model. We charge our agents a simple, small, flat transaction fee per sale. Plus, we don’t charge monthly fees. Yet, even with taking a fraction of the fees our peers charge, we could still achieve profitability on the brokerage business at fewer than 10,000 transactions per quarter. To accomplish this, when most of our peers didn’t achieve profitability at even 30,000 transactions per quarter, is a testament to our operation, especially when we provide everything an agent needs to be successful without sacrificing anything.

Running a profitable real estate business with our model requires us to keep our costs low. The best way to do that is by owning our technology and eliminating the bloat that accompanies office spaces. Our full technology platform allows us to streamline our operations, reduce required manpower, cut our costs and reliance on others, and provide a better user experience for our agents and clients. As we invested capital in our technology, we made two more strategic acquisitions: home search and CRM company Naberly, and big data aggregator and hyperlocal content creator LiveBy.

In the last 15 months, we’ve grown revenue, agent count and transaction volume. We made numerous strategic acquisitions, and we’re exceeding every promise we made on our IPO roadshow. Plus, as we expand across the U.S., we’re talking to more brokerages about mergers and acquisitions. I couldn’t be prouder of our humble beginnings and the fantastic employees and agents who I’m honored to serve every day.

To learn more about Fathom Realty, visit FathomCareers.com.

Josh Harley is a serial entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Fathom Holdings, tech geek, innovator, disruptor, marketer, teacher, artist, U.S. Marine and Alaska-raised sweet tea fiend. He believes deeply in the principles of servant-leadership and strives to be an example to his leadership team and his agents on serving others first.

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Commercial: Apartment Demand Increasing Amid Robust Price Growth

Mon, 10/11/2021 - 12:01

Commercial renter demands shifted this past week, with an increased focus toward more affordable and suburban class B/C apartments.

The latest Commercial Weekly report from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) found that overall apartment demand in the commercial sector skyrocketed during the pandemic and reached a decade-high level in the third quarter of 2021.

Key findings:

– Vacancy rate down to a decade low of 4.5%

– Asking rent increased significantly to 10.5%

– 94% of 183 metro areas experienced double-digit price growth for median single-family existing-home sales

– Owning is unaffordable compared to renting in the Western half of the country

– Class A is still accounting for a larger portion of net new absorption, but they are still down to 48%, while Class B increased to 37% since the pandemic

– The New York-Newark-Jersey City metro has the most units under construction (59,013 units), followed by Washington D.C. (30,384), Dallas (26,928), Los Angeles (26,161), Phoenix (22,307), Seattle (21,044) and Houston (20,277)

For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.

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Regional Spotlight: 2022 California Housing Market Could See Decline in Single-Family Home Sales

Mon, 10/11/2021 - 12:00

Supply constraints and higher home prices will bring California home sales down slightly in 2022, but transactions will still post their second highest level in the past five years, according to a housing and economic forecast recently released by the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.).

The baseline scenario of C.A.R.’s “2022 California Housing Market Forecast” sees a decline in existing single-family home sales of 5.2% next year to reach 416,800 units, down from the projected 2021 sales figure of 439,800. The 2021 figure is 6.8% higher compared with the pace of 411,900 homes sold in 2020.

The California median home price is forecast to rise 5.2% to $834,400 in 2022, following a projected 20.3% increase to $793,100 in 2021 from $659,400 in 2020. An imbalance in demand and supply will continue to put upward pressure on prices, but higher interest rates and partial normalization of the mix of sales will likely curb median price growth.

Additionally, a shift in housing demand to more affordable areas, as the trend of remote working continues, will also keep prices in check and prevent the statewide median price from rising too fast in 2022.

“A slight decline next year from the torrid sales pace of the past year-and-a-half will be a welcome relief to potential homebuyers who have been pushed out of the market due to high market competition and an extremely low level of homes available for sale,” said C.A.R. President Dave Walsh in a statement. “Homeownership aspirations remain strong and motivated buyers will have more inventory to choose from. They will also benefit from a favorable lending environment, with the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage remaining below 3.5% for most of next year.”

C.A.R.’s 2022 forecast projects growth in the U.S. gross domestic product of 4.1% in 2022, after a projected gain of 6.0% in 2021. With California’s 2022 nonfarm job growth rate at 4.6%, up from a projected increase of 2.0% in 2021, the state’s unemployment rate will decrease to 5.8% in 2022 from 2021’s projected rate of 7.8%.

Growing global economic concerns will keep the average for 30-year, fixed mortgage interest rates low at 3.5% in 2022, up from 3.0% in 2021 and from 3.1% in 2020 but will still remain low by historical standards.

“Assuming the pandemic situation can be kept under control next year, the cyclical effects from the latest economic downturn will wane, and a strong recovery will follow,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Jordan Levine in a statement. “However, structural challenges will reassert themselves as the normalization of the market continues. Demand for homes will continue to outstrip available supply as the economy improves, resulting in higher home prices and slightly lower sales in 2022.”

Source: C.A.R

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Op-Ed: National Coming Out Day Has Meaning in Real Estate

Mon, 10/11/2021 - 03:04

CEO Ryan Weyandt shares the importance of providing support for the community within the real estate industry.

One of the questions I get asked a lot as CEO of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance is, “how many LGBTQ+ people are there in real estate?” Unfortunately, there is really no way to know except to do some quick math. Gallup recently shared that 5.6% of the U.S. population is part of the community. With about 1.5 million REALTORS®, let alone the thousands in mortgage, title and other ancillary services, the LGBTQ+ population in the industry is likely more than 100,000.

Frankly, there’s no reason to think that number isn’t greater but we simply don’t know it as a fact, yet. As society welcomes the LGBTQ+ community into the light, so many are becoming comfortable with living their truth. That is likely why Gallup’s same report found that the younger the generations, the greater the LGBTQ+ population. A whopping 15.9% of Gen Z self-identifies as being part of the community followed by 9.1% of millennials, 3.8% of Gen X, 2.0% of baby boomers and 1.3% of the oldest generation.

And by the way, Zillow recently shared that approximately 12% of all real estate sales in 2021 were from those who identify as LGBTQ+. Clearly our community is growing in size and stature. Which brings us today: National Coming Out Day.

This annual Oct. 11 celebration began 33 years ago to mark the one-year anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, which attracted more than 500,000 folks. The modern version has evolved since 1988 and is now celebrated in all 50 states with more and more global visibility.

This day of acceptance and celebration helps ensure that everyone feels safe, secure and has a groundswell of support if they decide to “come out of the closet.” It doesn’t matter where we are on the journey. We may just be starting to come to grips with our sexual orientation and/or gender identity or ready to tell our friends, work colleagues and families. We continue to evolve every day learning about ourselves as we navigate life’s different experiences. Today is your day; it’s our day.

And the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance has a front row seat at a major Coming Out Day event in Minneapolis as we join with national leadership of the LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Bank, Best Buy, the Minnesota Twins and others. Alliance Board member Feroza Syed, an associate broker with Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty, will be delivering the keynote address at the event and she will share her incredible story.

Feroza is a transgender activist and advocate who was appointed by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to the first LGBTQ Advisory Board for the City of Atlanta. She was also the 2019 Grand Marshall for Atlanta’s 50th Pride celebration and was recently featured in Vogue.

But Feroza began her real estate career with a fear of being discriminated against, leading her to remain in the closet for the first 12 years in the business. Think about that. One of the industry’s greatest voices and successes was not ready to come out. That is what today is all about.

I believe there are a lot more “Feroza’s” in real estate. There are people who may be on the journey to coming out, and maybe have in certain aspects of their lives, but possibly not in their professional life. There are others afraid to do so, fearing their business might suffer. The number of reasons are plentiful as are the steps we take towards making the decision to come out.

Today especially, I urge all of us to look at and to the youth of this country. They are amazing in their support of the LGBTQ+ community. They are more self-aware and confident in who they are despite the burdens of social media and growing up in a 24/7 news cycle. I can’t count how many times I have heard a story of a young person coming out to friends or family who react with a simple, “Congratulations,” give a hug and then move ahead with the rest of the day together.

That is what National Coming Out Day is about. Collectively, we can provide a national embrace and allow so many of our friends, acquaintances, colleagues and family the opportunity to live a happy and joyful life without the fear of rejection, judgement and reprisals.

I want to close by letting anyone who wants to talk about a desire to come out, or have concerns in doing so, know that the membership of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance is here for you. We can answer questions, provide perspectives, and help you connect with local support groups including our friends at PFLAG and the Trevor Project. Feel free to visit our website at realestatealliance.org or connect with me at info@realestatealliance.org.

Veteran mortgage lender Ryan Weyandt officially became the CEO of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance on Sept. 30, 2020 on the eve of the organization’s launch. Weyandt has spent the last 10 years in the mortgage industry, most recently as a mortgage loan officer at US Bank after serving six years at Wells Fargo. Prior to his lending career, he held a variety of senior roles with firms in operations and event management. He has served on the Minnesota Realtors® Diversity and Inclusion Committee and previously led the NAGLREP Foundation, along with being a past-president of the organization’s Minneapolis chapter. He is a University of St. Thomas grad who completed his Master’s work in Organizational Leadership at St. Catherine University. Weyandt was named as a RISMedia Real Estate Newsmaker in 2021.

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‘Tokenization’ and Its Role in the Post-Pandemic Real Estate Model

Mon, 10/11/2021 - 03:02

There has been a lot of talk about how to keep real estate transactions safe if they continue to take place in a digital space rather than a physical one. While we’ve already become accustomed to sending and signing forms electronically, the next phase is all about making sure every step of the process is protected. This is where “tokens” come into play.

We already use tokens in several forms as part of many digital interactions, including online banking. If you ever look at your bank statements online, you’ll notice that every transaction has a long number attached to it. This number distinguishes the transaction from any other, even if they have the same payee and amount. That number, in digital lingo, is called a token. You can also think of this string of numbers as a key or digital stamp that proves that the transaction is unique.

This same concept of using tokens to track each individual transaction is likely to work its way into real estate, but with a slight twist. Instead of tracking the flow of money, tokens will be used as a way to track the paperwork that flows back and forth during a negotiation. Tokens can also be used to protect an agent’s online marketing presence, which can be especially important when identifying who represents a listing.

When dealing with the paperwork associated with contract negotiations, document tokens can be used to save signed contracts. If any disputes arise along the way, there’s clear proof as to the version that was used to finalize the transaction. A document token can also be used for documents that support the chain of title if the true owner of a home, or a deceased’s will, is ever questioned.

The concept of a token begins to evolve on the marketing side of things, though the premise is still the same. An agent can create digital marketing assets that are secured on a document token so that it becomes clear who has ownership of the document, and by extension, the information contained in the document. It also opens an opportunity to explore new ways of using documents to market ourselves and our listings.

Currently, we all rely on a mix of websites, newsletters, social media and other platforms to disseminate information in bite-sized chunks. These outlets all have our company branding, so audiences can be reasonably assured that the site isn’t run by an imposter. But our industry’s future will be more successful if we have a way to convey larger amounts of information all in the same place. One way to achieve this goal is to turn to digital paperwork that has digital security backing it up so that clients know they can trust the source.

Allen Alishahi is president of ShelterZoom, the technology company behind DocuWalk. For more information, please visit www.docuwalk.com.

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D’Angelo Realty Group Inc. Rebrands to RE/MAX Pathway

Mon, 10/11/2021 - 03:01

Stephen Fleming, president of D’Angelo Realty Group Inc., and new RE/MAX broker/owner has rebranded their real estate sales brokerage to RE/MAX Pathway.

Fleming, who’s been in the business since 2003, said they recognize that the Harrisburg area is an increasingly competitive market, and that aligning with RE/MAX was the best way to keep his office’s edge and provide substantial growth by adding jobs to the market.

“Our suite of marketing tools for homes has never been better, and leading industry technology will help streamline the real estate process for my agents’ clients,” said Fleming in a statement. “I’m proud to join an internationally recognized brand with a proven track record of productivity, and joining RE/MAX was the next logical step in growing our business as I look forward to adding to my roster of experienced agents.”

Harrisburg was recently recognized by realtor.com® as a hottest zip code. Fleming said he’s not surprised. “Central Pennsylvania’s small towns have great walkability and quality of life, and the revitalization trend is alive and booming across the Cumberland Valley. Solid infrastructure improvements keep suburban and rural areas accessible for those that desire to live in those locations.”

RE/MAX Pathway serves families throughout Central Pennsylvania, and specializes in residential real estate. Originally founded by Tom D’Angelo in 1980 as a real estate brokerage, D’Angelo Realty Group Inc., opened a professional property management arm four years ago to serve investment property owners and their residents with a property management service. D’Angelo Realty Group Inc. will continue to operate this business under their flagship brand.

For more information, please visit www.remax.com.

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Coldwell Banker Receives Partner of the Year Award from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Mon, 10/11/2021 - 03:00

Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC was selected to receive the 2021 St. Jude New Partner Campaign of the Year Award, for its efforts to help cure childhood cancer. In its first year, the CB Supports St. Jude partnership aimed to raise $250,000, a goal it met within the first six months. By October, the Coldwell Banker network doubled its initial goal, fundraising a total of more than $500,000.

The brand also announced it will be continuing the CB Supports St. Jude partnership through 2022, so Coldwell Banker affiliated agents can continue choosing to donate for every home sale or purchase they complete to support the lifesaving mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®: Finding cures. Saving children.®

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital treats more than 8,600 kids a year from across the United States and around the globe and provides patient families with a home-away-from-home while they receive treatment.

Thanks to funds generated through partnerships like this one, families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing, or food—because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.

At the company’s Gen Blue Experience, David DiGregorio with Coldwell Banker Realty in Waltham, Massachusetts, received the Coldwell Banker Stars of Hope designation, awarded to DiGregorio as the No. 1 donor as well as to 107 of the top 15% of participating U.S. agents in the CB Supports St. Jude program. The donors who achieved this milestone are shining examples of what we can do together in support of the St. Jude mission. Because of these Stars of Hope, the light shines brighter for so many families and children.

“The CB Supports St. Jude partnership is a truly special program. It’s the first industry partnership of its kind and has exceeded our expectations. In the first year of this partnership, the Coldwell Banker network has managed to double our initial goal of $250,000 and received the honor of being awarded the 2021 St. Jude New Partner Campaign of the Year Award for our efforts. Our network continues proving to be remarkable and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to continue making a difference in the lives of children being treated for cancer and other life-threatening diseases.”

 “Our mission at Coldwell Banker is guiding people home, something we’ve been doing for 115 years. For many children, St. Jude serves as a home-away-from-home, and through the work of our network’s donations, we hope to help these children get back home as soon as possible,” said M. Ryan Gorman, president and CEO, Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. “Extending this partnership into 2022 will help further St. Jude’s mission to find cures. Here’s to another successful year of fundraising for St. Jude!”

“Coldwell Banker and its affiliate agents are truly deserving of the New Partner Campaign of the Year Award as the CB Supports St. Jude program continues to grow and help advance research and treatment at St. Jude to save more lives,” said David Marine, CMO, Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. “Partnerships with organizations like Coldwell Banker are essential to help support the new six-year, $11.5 billion St. Jude strategic plan that will accelerate groundbreaking research and treatment for kids at St. Jude and around the globe.”

For more information, please visit

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ULI Framework Calls for More Equitable Approach to Regional Planning and Investment

Sat, 10/09/2021 - 03:01

A new, more equitable approach to regional planning and investment is critical to enabling economic growth and opportunity, according to a new report from the Urban Land Institute (ULI). The company’s latest report summarizes the views of leading national experts and practitioners that were brought together for the 2021 Shaw Symposium on Urban Community Issues.

The summary report, “Equitable Investment in Infrastructure and Housing,” has been co-published by the ULI Terwilliger Center for Housing and ULI Curtis Infrastructure Initiative, and includes ten key takeaways for tackling some of the most critical housing and infrastructure challenges facing the United States. One of the most worrying trends highlighted is an investment gap of $3.8 trillion for much-needed infrastructure, and the report establishes a framework to assist local communities in designing and implementing future investments in an equitable way. The goals of the framework are to:

– Enable equitable access to transportation.
– Improve access to and affordability of housing for moderate- and lower-income households.
– Reconnect and reinvigorate neighborhoods damaged by past infrastructure investments.
– Address historical disparities in community investment, particularly those based on race, and ensure equitable access to the economic opportunities and the benefits of development.
– Improve health, enhance environmental sustainability and reduce climate risks.

“As the U.S. begins to emerge from a tumultuous year and Congress debates an infrastructure package, it is important to look to the future informed by the knowledge of the past,” said Craig Lewis, chair of the ULI Curtis Infrastructure Initiative and principal, CallisonRTKL–US, who chaired the 2021 Shaw Symposium, in a statement. “Many of the challenges facing today’s cities and neighborhoods are linked to the decisions made decades ago. These decisions include positive, transformational investments in transit, parks and other community assets that have been critical to restoring urban vibrance. However, they also include the disastrous legacy of redlining, segregation and the intentional dismantling of neighborhoods that have produced generational harm for minority households, and Black families particularly.”

“If the U.S. is to compete in a rapidly changing global economy, we must build our cities, towns, suburbs and regions in a manner that enables and empowers all people to meet their full aspirations and potential,” added Lewis. “We hope that this report will help inform the housing- and infrastructure-related conversations that are to come at the federal, state, regional and local levels.”


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Mortgage Applications Down, With Refis Reaching Lowest Level in 3 Months

Sat, 10/09/2021 - 03:00

Mortgage applications decreased 6.9 percent for the week ending October 1, 2021, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey.

The details:

– The Market Composite Index decreased 6.9% on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier.
– On an unadjusted basis, the index decreased 7% compared with the previous week. – The Refinance Index decreased 10% from the previous week.
– The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 2% from the previous week.
– The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 2% compared to the previous week.

The takeaway:

“Mortgage applications to refinance dropped almost 10% last week to the lowest level in three months, as the 30-year fixed rate increased to 3.14%—the highest since July. Higher rates are reducing borrowers’ incentive to refinance, as declines were seen across all loan types,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate vice president of Economic and Industry Forecasting, in a statement. “Purchase activity also fell, driven by a drop in conventional loan applications. Government purchase applications were up over 1%, but that was still not enough to bring down the average loan balance of $410,000. With home-price appreciation and sales prices remaining very elevated, applications for higher balance, conventional loans still dominate the mix of activity.”

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NAR Advisory Board Approves Motion to Alter MLS

Fri, 10/08/2021 - 12:04

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) is proposing a series of changes to its multiple listing services (MLS) in the new year, according to recent reports.

NAR’s MLS Technology and Emerging Issues Advisory Board passed a bundle of motions focused on sprucing up the transparency and functionality of its association-operated MLS for participants and subscribers.

“The advisory board moved forward with these recommendations because we think they ensure that MLSs are up-to-date with advancements in technology and consumer preference, operate with transparency and maintain policies that make the consumer experience better,” said Greg Zadel, chair of the advisory board in a statement following the committee’s Sept. 9 – 10 meeting.

If accepted by the Multiple Listing Issues and Policies Committee and NAR Board of Directors in November, the policies will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022, and MLSs will have until Mar. 1 to adopt the changes locally, according to NAR reports.

Zadel, who is also the broker/owner of Zadel Realty in Firestone, Colorado, suggested the proposed policies would serve the interest of consumers while also strengthening NAR policies and its code of ethics.

Based on the list of recommendations, the advisory board wants to eliminate filtering features that show MLS listings based on the level of compensation offered to the cooperating broker or by the name of a brokerage or agent.

The advisory board recommended amending the language in the Internet Data Exchange (IDX) policy and the Virtual Office Website (VOW) policy to make it consistent with the prohibition on filtering and restricting MLS listings.

Another motion would restrict MLS participants and subscribers from advertising their services to buyers and sellers as “free,” according to the list of recommendations.

“While REALTORS® have always been required to advertise their services accurately and truthfully, and many REALTOR® services have no cost to the recipient, this change creates a bright-line rule on the use of the word ‘free’ that is easy to follow and enforce,” read an excerpt from the advisory board’s recommendation list.

Along with improving transparency, the advisory board recommended a batch of best practices for the MLS Standards Work Group that it claimed could “deliver a higher level of service and engagement with MLS participants and subscribers.”

The suggested best practices include:

– Disciplining participants who violate MLS rules
– Informing participants about the data feeds and technical support available to them and their vendors on the MLS site
– Sharing aggregated data with state associations and NAR for statistical and advocacy purposes
– Clarifying MLS officers’ and directors’ fiduciary duty
– Developing an annual MLS strategic plan with specific consideration to leadership training, partnerships, technology, participant outreach, financial independence, diversity, equity and inclusion

The group also suggested creating a written plan with a timeline and cost estimate for complying with the Real Estate Standards Organization’s (RESO’s) Data Dictionary by July 2022.

Other recommendations included adding listing broker attribution in the IDX and VOW policies and requiring MLSs to offer participants or their designees a single data feed and a brokerage back-office feed.

The list of potential changes could grow as the advisory board prepares for another meeting in October.

The MLS Issues and Policies Committee and NAR Board of Directors are set to vote on the policies on Nov. 13 and 15, respectively, during the REALTORS® Conference & Expo.

Jordan Grice is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email him your real estate news to jgrice@rismedia.com.

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Overall Job Growth Disappoints in September, But Construction Is on the Rise

Fri, 10/08/2021 - 12:03

Jobs are on the rise, but September growth was slow—a follow-up to a slow August. According to the latest report from the Labor Department, employers added 194,000 jobs for the month, and unemployment decreased by 0.4 percentage points to 4.8%.

Most job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, retail trade, and transportation and warehousing.

Jobs in real estate and rental and leasing have increased by 6.9% YoY. While construction increased by 22,000 in September, it is still 201,000 below its February 2020 level.

What the industry is saying:

“The latest job additions of 194,000 in September are light considering there are still 5 million fewer Americans working now versus before the pandemic. There is some comfort in the 22,000 new jobs in the construction industry, though more jobs went to non-residential sectors rather than for homebuilding. Another 16,000 more workers were hired at building material and garden supply stores, which has consistently been one of the strongest sectors since the onset of the pandemic and clearly implies a greater focus toward home by consumers.

“One concern for interest rate-sensitive industries is inflation. The hourly wage rate rose 4.6%. This increase is higher than the usual 2% to 3% annual gains witnessed in the prior two decades before the pandemic but is needed to keep up with broader consumer price inflation (5.2%). Nonetheless, spiraling inflation of prices and wages could feed off each other, thereby forcing an increase in mortgage rates. The first-time homebuyer share has already sunk to a near two-year low of 29% and further affordability challenges loom ahead. Housing affordability looks to be available only in the outlying exurbs and smaller towns.” — Dr. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, National Association of REALTORS®

“Job growth remained lackluster in September following similarly disappointing gains in August. Although private sector job growth was at 317,000, and several categories showed gains—including professional services—there was a large drop in education employment. This was a byproduct of school hiring still being relatively weak compared to the typical seasonal patterns. The household survey showed a stronger, 526,000 increase in employment over the month, indicating that the payroll survey may not be capturing all the recent employment gains in the economy.

“The ongoing decline in the unemployment rate, and the rise in wage growth, is good news for the housing market, as it will continue to support strong housing demand. With 7.7 million people unemployed and looking for work, and a record 10.9 million job openings, we expect the unemployment rate will continue to drop over the next year. It was also positive to see the number of long-term unemployed fall by almost 500,000 last month.

“With respect to implications for the housing and mortgage markets, the drop in the unemployment rate below 5%, and the other indicators of job market strength, are likely to be sufficient for the Federal Reserve to move forward with tapering their asset purchases. This will likely lead to modest increases in interest rates, putting additional pressure on housing affordability at a time when home-price appreciation is still very high.” — Mike Fratantoni, SVP and Chief Economist, Mortgage Bankers Association

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U.S. Households Spend 27% of Income on Rent

Fri, 10/08/2021 - 12:01

The National Apartment Association (NAA) recently released new research analyzing rent-to-income percentages, which are based on professionally managed residential lease applications screened by TransUnion’s ResidentScreening platform. As the nation continues to grapple with housing affordability challenges, this analysis will help illustrate the actual conditions on the ground for countless renters and rental housing providers. Further, it will help the rental housing industry, policymakers and stakeholders understand the hyper-local issues and complexities that contribute to housing affordability.

Importantly, the analysis found that U.S. renters spent on average 27% of their income on rent and that just six states exceeded the 30% threshold, often cited as cost-burdened households. Further, the analysis shows that the percentage of income that households spent on rent remained relatively flat year-over-year, as of Q1 2021, the average share of income households spent on rent was 27.6%.

“Housing affordability is a prominent and pressing issue, compounded by economic complexities and hyper-local factors,” said Bob Pinnegar, NAA president and CEO, in a statement. “This important data can help guide the industry and policymakers toward responsible and sustainable solutions and result in positive outcomes for America’s 40 million renters. We are encouraged by this data and look forward to pursuing informed solutions that will help make housing even more affordable for more Americans.”

NAA’s analysis examines year-over-year spending rather than focusing on single-year examples. This is critical to a holistic understanding of rent growth and trends, particularly under the unique circumstances cultivated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Understandably, there is a broad variation in the share of income renters spend on rent at the state level. States that are often considered to be affordable are not necessarily so because households in those areas have lower incomes.

Though this data is encouraging, the nation still has work to do on housing affordability. By responsibly utilizing the tools and affordability data at hand, the nation can pursue a responsible housing policy that allows the industry to operate efficiently and fairly and ultimately construct more apartment housing.

Source: National Apartment Association

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