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Updated: 1 hour 30 min ago

Bill Scavone Named President of Weichert, Realtors

Mon, 07/25/2022 - 02:01

Weichert, Realtors has announced that it has named Bill Scavone as president. Scavone will continue to also serve in his present role as president of Weichert Real Estate Affiliates (WREA). In this new role, he will assume responsibility for all functional departments within both companies, including sales, recruiting and operations.

Scavone is an 18-year veteran with Weichert Real Estate Affiliates where he has held the positions of franchise sales leader, COO and president. In his most recent role, Scavone has led WREA through its fastest period of growth, achieving material increases in Net Franchises, Gross Commission Income and profit, a release stated.

During his tenure, WREA has been named to Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 500 Franchises for 18 consecutive years and the Franchise Business Review’s Top 200 Franchises for the past seven years. Scavone was recognized in RISMedia’s Newsmaker List in 2019 through 2022.

“Bill has earned the respect of his peers and partners as a visionary, inspirational and trustworthy industry leader,” said Aram Minnetian, president and COO, Weichert Companies. “In his new role, he will leverage the combined expertise, systems/tools, best practices and resources from both residential real estate companies to ensure that our franchise owners and sales associates achieve a leadership position in their market areas and grow their respective businesses.”

The leadership appointment comes at an important time for Weichert as the company is poised to launch a plan designed to accelerate its business success and long-term competitiveness. Dubbed Weichert REimagined, the plan’s objective is to rethink, redefine and recreate how Weichert delivers an experience to sales associates and customers, the company said.

For more information, visit www.weichert.com.

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Inside Real Estate Welcomes Industry Veteran Jack Markham

Mon, 07/25/2022 - 02:00

Inside Real Estate has announced that Jack Markham has joined its leadership team as executive vice president of homeownership. In his new role, Markham will lead the company’s homeownership division, focused on helping agents and teams create stronger relationships with their customers, increasing repeat and referral business, and increasing brokerage profitability by getting affiliated services directly to the consumer.

Markham is a real estate veteran with over 20 years of experience, having held executive positions at companies such as Constellation Realty Group, Equator, Trulia and Market Leader, a release stated. He was the creator of Market Leader’s Million Dollar Pipeline Program, a top agent coaching program, and in 2019, was honored as an RISMedia Newsmaker.

Markham joins Inside Real Estate from Realogy, where he was the senior vice president of strategic growth for Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate.

“Jack is an experienced leader and trusted advisor to real estate brokerages, agents and teams,” said Nick Macey, president of Inside Real Estate. “His deep experience innovating, combined with a clear understanding of the challenges and opportunities our customers face, will ensure we continue to lead in our vision for a market-leading homeownership platform. He will be a tremendous asset and we are excited to have him part of our Inside Real Estate family.”

During this pivotal time for the company, Inside Real Estate is unveiling the industry’s first-ever homeownership lifecycle solution, fully branded to the real estate brokerages they serve, the company announced. They said this solution solidifies the long-term relationship between agents and their customers by putting them at the center of every stage of the homeownership lifecycle. This lifetime relationship empowers brokerages to improve profitability by introducing affiliated services opportunities directly to the consumer at the key moments in their homeownership journey, the release stated.

The new homeownership technology called CORE Home has already produced remarkable results with 30x higher consumer engagements from initial beta launches. With the upcoming addition of CORE Service Connect, brokerages will be able to expand and increase their affiliate revenue to help drive higher profits.

“Portals, startups and other disruptors are actively trying to strip agents and brokerages from their relationship with the consumer,” said Macey. “We strongly believe that consumers want a local real estate expert, their agent, who can guide them through significant decisions about their greatest asset: their home. Agents, teams and brokerages are better empowered to maintain those relationships, demonstrate their expertise and improve their profitability using our homeownership solution.”

“Inside Real Estate leads the industry in innovation and is steadfast in their commitment to customers to provide software solutions that drive higher productivity and profit,” said Markham. “I am thrilled to join such a great organization and very excited to work hand in hand with agents, brokers and consumers to help personalize the homeowner experience.”

To learn more, visit insiderealestate.com.

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3 Bold Moves to Source New Listings

Sun, 07/24/2022 - 02:01

While there have been gradual improvements in housing supply, many agents would agree that there is still an overwhelming need for more listings. Rather than waiting for more homes to appear, in today’s competitive market, it pays to be bold if you’re looking to generate new listings to keep your business moving.

Here are three bold strategies to get you out of your comfort zone and generate additional listings in the shifting housing market.

Cold-calling/door-knocking 

This is a tried-and-true practice that professionals of all levels can—and do—leverage when listings are thin. Do your homework and identify a home within a target area before contacting the owner with a handwritten note or knock on the door. Once you’ve gotten their attention, get straight to the point and let them know that even though their home isn’t on the market, it fits your client’s exact needs. Once that’s out of the way, ask if they’d consider having a selling conversation.

It may seem a little scary to start, or disconcerting when you get a ‘no,’ but remember that it’s a numbers game that could pay off in the end.

Leveraging looky-loos

Call it a “post-pandemic rush,” but the open house market has been buzzing with potential buyers looking for new homes. On the other hand, the surge in public showings has been a hot spot for the looky-loos and nosey neighbors. In either case, those are opportunities that a savvy agent can leverage into a potential seller. Asking the right questions to gauge their interest in listing their house and doubling down on the relevant data and information by showing them the pros of listing with you can add another client to your list this year.

Influencing the market

Every agent knows the importance of partnering with a strong brand, and this philosophy can also apply when it comes to working with social media influencers who can help get eyes on you and your brand. Find the right influencer with reach in your market and team up to do a home showing or disseminate other content to their audience that can highlight your expertise as a listing agent. Best case scenario: you get some new clients who saw you working with their favorite Instagram or TikTok influencer.

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Thoughts on Leadership: Establishing a Solid Routine

Sun, 07/24/2022 - 02:00

This week…I attended a Berkshire Hathaway Energy meeting in the morning then participated in several other meetings throughout the week. I’m also focused on planning for this month’s CEO Leadership Meeting as well as upcoming meetings in San Diego, happening August 15th through August 19th.

As all this planning and strategizing ramps up, I’m reminded about the importance of a solid morning routine. When you have a good morning routine it sets you up for success throughout the day.

Bob Bowman (Coach to Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin, and other Team USAOlympic swimmers), once said: “The key to victory was creating the right routines.”

Just as Bowman believed that the key to victory for swimmers was about creating the right routines, I believe the key to victory in any business is creating the right routines. I spent the majority of my adult life studying success.

I’m a true believer in hard work but I also learned that I needed to work harder on myself than on my job in order to succeed. I needed to change my mindset from being afraid of the day, or trying to get through the day, to being fearless and confident so that I could take from the day. I designed a series of behaviors to change my state that would set me apart from other REALTORSⓇ, a few specific habits; nothing to do with real estate and everything to do with creating the right mindset.

These habits would give me the strongest mental state of any REALTORⓇ in any situation. My routine would allow me to find those tiny advantages in a business where victory would mean getting the deal.

And there’s science to back up the power of what a morning routine can do for you.

Researchers Steffanie Wilk of Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business and Nancy Rothbard of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study involving 29 customer service representatives at a large U.S. insurance company. Over the course of three weeks, participants were asked to rate and describe their mood at the beginning of the workday and at other random times throughout the day. They were also asked to rate the customers’ moods as they interacted with them. What did the researchers find? When the customer service representatives began the day in a “good mood,” they rated customers more positively not only for the calls at the beginning of the day but also throughout the day. The researchers found that a good mood positively corresponded to better verbal fluency on the phone and more confidence in speech (less “ums” or “uhs”). In other words, a good mood allowed these employees to perceive customers more positively and perform better in their respective roles. THAT is the power of a solid morning routine because it gets puts your mindset in an optimistic framework, which allows you to produce better, more often and see the world around you as an incredible place to be.

My own routine consists of M.E.D.S. – Meditation, Exercise, Diet and Sleep, which are the keystone habits that create small wins. I know if I start my day being calm, with some sort of meditation, get my exercise in, watch my diet, and get enough sleep, I’ll have a great day. Yes, these are small wins but small wins compound over time to create widespread changes and generate incredible results. Research has shown that small wins have enormous power, an influence disproportionate to the accomplishments of the victories themselves. Small wins are a steady application of a small advantage. Once a small win has been made, forces are set in motion that favor another small win. Small wins fuel transformative changes by leveraging tiny advantages into patterns that convince people to understand bigger achievements are within reach.

So, what’s the message? M.E.D.S., once accomplished, are small wins. Meditation calms the mind; exercise strengthens the body; diet nourishes the body; and sleep replenishes the body. As legendary NFL Coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” Stay tuned for Thoughts on Leadership next week, as we dive deeper into the importance of sleep.

This article is adapted from Blefari’s weekly, company-wide “Thoughts on Leadership” column from HomeServices of America.

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Creating Calmness in Chaos

Sat, 07/23/2022 - 02:01

Every summer, I take my family to Lake Powell, a huge reservoir in Southeast Utah. We love navigating our boat through the maze of Red Rock Canyons and swimming in the water. Our Powell trips typically go smoothly, but if you’ve ever spent time on the water, you know that things can change in the blink of an eye.

One night, while trying to get back to our mooring area, a storm rolled in out of nowhere. It was windy, rainy and pitch-black. We couldn’t see anything around us, and with the choppy water and unpredictable winds, there was a very real risk of crashing into the canyon walls that surrounded us or even running aground. We had to get back to our mooring area where we could safely weather the storm, but without any way to see where we were, I wasn’t sure how we would make it.

It was then that I remembered that I’d recently installed a GPS unit on the boat, which had created a breadcrumb trail of our journey that day. I could see our location relative to that trail, which meant that I had a map to follow. Even though I couldn’t see anything around me, I knew that if I followed the breadcrumbs on the GPS, we would arrive safely at our destination. And, sure enough, as I kept our boat on course, we arrived safe and sound.

In real estate, we often find ourselves in choppy, uncertain waters. The market, or myriad other forces beyond our control, can produce a feeling of chaos that makes productivity impossible. But this story illustrates what I firmly believe: If you have three essential things, your business can make it through any storm. Those things are:

  1. A clear goal. Having a crystal-clear idea of where you want to be provides a fixed point of focus as chaos builds around you.
  1. An accurate map. Having an actionable plan to follow gives you specific tasks to execute in pursuit of your goals, keeping you from getting distracted by uncertainties or unpredictable forces.
  1. A measuring stick. Having the ability to track your progress is the only way to know whether you’ve “arrived” at your goal or whether you need to make course corrections.

If you feel like you have no ability to direct your business through the storms and wiles of the market, I recommend taking a step back and figuring out if you truly have clear goals, accurate maps and defined metrics, or whether you’re sailing by sight alone. Only then will you be able to create the calm your business needs to truly flourish.

Verl Workman is the founder and CEO of Workman Success Systems, a real estate consulting company that specializes in performance coaching and building highly effective teams. Contact wssm@workmansuccess.com for more information and free downloadable resources.

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Accelerate Your Business With REACH Technologies

Sat, 07/23/2022 - 02:00

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) is at the forefront of innovation, leading the way with NAR REACH, the premier growth program for real estate technology companies. REACH drives transformation in the industry by identifying and investing in technologies that will keep REALTORS® on the cutting edge.

In April, Second Century Ventures (SCV), NAR’s strategic investment arm that operates the award-winning program, unveiled the 10th annual REACH cohort focused on scaling technology for the residential market. The 2022 cohort includes eight ground-breaking technologies representing diverse solutions across the real estate ecosystem.

At the front end of the transaction, leadPops offers a comprehensive solution to drive traffic, boost SEO and increase both volume and quality of leads, while REALTORS® can engage with fractional for lead-generation opportunities through a collaborative, full-service, community-driven real estate investing marketplace.

Inspectify applies the latest technology to make inspectors more proficient and effective, and Reggora’s appraisal management platform delivers unprecedented efficiency and agility, while Revive helps homeowners navigate the renovation process to maximize their ROI.

A professional networking platform, Courted empowers agents to make better data-driven marketing, hiring and referral decisions. PLACE is an all-in-one platform for top producers, delivering unparalleled consumer experiences, and Perchwell unifies real-time market analysis, listing data, seamless client collaboration and reporting.

Here’s a deeper look at two of this year’s cohort.

Revive: Focusing on renovations
With Revive, homeowners can take a page out of a house flipper’s playbook—doing the right renovations to increase a home’s value for optimized ROI. The company brings expertise, a network of contractors and access to capital to create a stress-free process with no out-of-pocket costs for homeowners.

According to Revive’s Co-Founder Dalip Jaggi, “Homeowners today have a real opportunity to unlock hidden equity in their property through pre-sale home renovations. The millennial-fueled buyer market demands beautiful, move-in-ready homes. Revive is excited to arm homeowners with the right updates without the upfront cost and uncertainty associated with home improvements. Ultimately, Revive enables them to maximize their return on their most significant asset—their home.”

PLACE: End-to-end support
A fully integrated technology and business services platform, PLACE powers high-performing agents and their teams to drive greater scale and efficiency, consumer value and profitability. “The industry has always been and remains highly fragmented despite incredible PropTech advancements in recent years,” says Co-Founder Chris Suarez. “Today, PLACE is helping the top real estate consultants and their staff, in every market and across all brokerages, eliminate nearly all daily business tasks, giving them more time to help buyers buy, sellers sell and homeowners take care of their assets.

“Not only are we heavily focused on helping our agent partners run and scale their businesses, but we are also building the platform to make homeownership easier and more accessible for consumers. Ultimately, we know the consumer would prefer to make fewer product decisions and eliminate the number of consultants and advisors they need when buying and selling a home. They want one PLACE for everything home that is convenient and seamless the entire time they own it. That PLACE is where the best real estate consultants will be able to simplify the process.”

Global REACH
SCV also operates REACH Commercial, which selected nine companies for 2022, as well as international programs REACH Canada, REACH Australia and REACH United Kingdom, to push the boundaries of innovation and advance the real estate ecosystem on a global scale.

REACH out!
Interested in being among the first to test new technology? Follow NAR REACH on LinkedIn and Twitter to stay up to speed on the latest events and company unveilings, and join the REACH Insight Panel to help shape and refine these technologies. Enroll and learn more at nar-reach.com.

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Freddie ADU Support Excites Lenders, Advocates

Fri, 07/22/2022 - 12:04

First they were a niche, then a novelty. But as the affordability crisis in housing grows worse, and land-starved coastal areas confront the limitations of single-family zoning, accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are now very much a serious part of the conversation.

Perhaps the clearest sign of how much potential policymakers see in these structures (sometimes still referred to as “granny flats” or “in-law suites”) came last month, as Freddie Mac rolled out new financing guidelines that theoretically will begin opening up opportunities for ADUs—as rentals, affordable housing and non-traditional living arrangements—to a huge new segment of the population.

“We have a unique opportunity where the cost of building is less than the cost of buying,” said Meredith Stowers, business development manager for Cross Country Mortgage.

Stowers joined a diverse group of advocates, real estate practitioners and policymakers on a University of Southern California-sponsored panel last week to discuss how impactful these changes can be in elevating lower-income families into homeownership, as well as how they can expand housing stock in areas that are traditionally resistant to growth.

The most immediate change from Freddie is support for ADUs in all their mortgage products—with plenty of requirements and restrictions. This includes loans for both existing homeowners looking to add an ADU as well as homebuyers who want to include the addition of an ADU with their purchase.

It’s also important to note that buyers will be able to use (some) rental income from the ADU in their mortgage application, giving low- or moderate-income buyers access to a larger pool of properties.

As local governments have loosened restrictions and encouraged ADU production in their areas, some have not seen a significant increase in people taking advantage of the new opportunities. According to Amy Anderson, senior vice president of the Wells Fargo Foundation, inaccessible, obscure or missing financing options for the structures are often to blame.

“Financing has emerged as one of the top barriers to production ,” she said. “A critical aspect of ADU financing…is how to change those federal agency programs that can really play a central role in unleashing more private lending financing.”

Only a month after going into effect, it is certainly too early to make any sort of judgment on how the new guidelines will shape markets. Some panelists were a little more cautious in their assessment of just how quickly or broadly ADUs will pop up in real estate markets based on the changes, describing them more as a first step than a huge leap forward.

“Why don’t you allow multiple ADUs particularly on a family property?” Stowers wondered. “Why can’t we build detached ADUs? We also need to eliminate random obstacles.”

Samar Jha, government affairs director for the AARP, said that a Freddie demand that applications using ADU rental income need at least one ADU comp for the appraisal could prove to be a significant roadblock.

“Some sort of flexibility on that requirement would be nice,” he said.

As the technical aspects of the Freddie program are worked out, and as more lenders look into ADUs as a potentially important part of their portfolios, the question is no longer whether they will erase inventory, affordability and accessibility challenges in the housing market, but rather, how much they can alleviate these issues—and where.

“ADU is part of the solution, not the solution,” Jha added. “People say ADUs are not going to solve affordable housing, but it has to be part of the solution.”

Who and where

None of these changes matter if ADUs aren’t in demand from consumers, or aren’t viable projects for builders. Stowers, who described herself as a boots-on-the-ground mortgage lender “slugging it out” in a competitive California market, said ADUs are growing to serve a mostly unrecognized niche for living.

“Our housing policies have tended toward a unique vision of family where we oust the kids out of the house and tell them to go buy a house,” she said. “In fact, most families—brown families especially—are used to ‘family compounds.’ That is the norm for most people around the world.”

Working in areas just north of the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego, California, Stowers claimed that ADUs are often perfect for upwardly mobile immigrant families who utilize the space for long-term multi-generational living situations—something becoming much more common at least in some areas.

Even though there is a demand, because financing and land use policies are historically unfriendly to ADUs, many who want an ADU are simply not able to pursue that living arrangement. Stowers said that in her experience, people will “ghost” contractors and blame the builders if there are hiccups in the financing, making them a riskier proposition for everyone.

But as financing becomes more stable, and more data allows better underwriting, builders will have a lot more confidence taking on ADU projects, she adds. Conversely, if financing remains difficult, builders and private lenders will likely back away.

“If we don’t address this financing more quickly, it will kill this trend,” Stowers lamented. “Freddie, in my view—God bless ‘em, it’s awesome—but it’s a baby step. Because we have to get built first.”

Susan Geddes Brown was a longtime mortgage lender who now runs her own company advising financial institutions on construction loan programs (with a specific focus on ADUs). She called Feddie’s changes “a really bold step,” and described how appraisers are working to quantify how valuable ADUs are, even as they are still scarce in some areas.

“I think the other piece of that is helping appraisers understand there are multiple ways to get to an opinion of value, where you’re extrapolating data, where you’re overlaying data to help demonstrate what those values are,” she said. “Appraisers just simply don’t have the tools, and it’s not a property tech they’re accustomed to just yet.”

Stowers said she once had an appraiser give a three-bedroom, 1,200-square-foot ADU a value of $0. That comes from federal guidelines, she claims, which only lets appraisers look at “marketability” for these structures, but not rental income. ADUs still cannot be considered part of “gross living area.”

“A clear change in those guidelines would solve every problem,” Stowers said.

Both Jha and the panel’s moderator, Ben Metcalf of the University of California at Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing, pointed out that many single-family neighborhoods do in fact, have properties with ADUs—they just don’t go by that name.

“We talk to people, they’ll be like, ‘We’ve been doing ADUs all along, we just call them duplexes.’ Or, ‘We do ADUs, but we just call them triple-deckers or three-flats,’” Metcalf explained.

Jha used an example from popular culture to help demonstrate that ADUs are not a new invention.

“The most famous, famous person to ever live in an ADU is The Fonz,” he said, referring to the iconic “Happy Days” character played by Henry Winkler. “ADUs have been since then.”

Appraisers and regulators can start to use these already existing structures, which vary regionally and take on all different shapes and sizes, as models of ADU values, the panelists argued.

Speaking to RISMedia late last year, Jeff Cohen, an economist at the University of Connecticut, says that the traditional single-family large lot neighborhoods—particularly in the Northeast and West—are going to fade.

“Taking these small starter homes, tearing them down and building multi-family units—that might be one way to resolve the supply issues in some ways,” he says.

He adds that savvy investors are starting to realize that a single-family lot can quickly be transformed into a multi-family property, sold or rented for significantly more return on investment. That has potentially negative effects with crowding or an overall loss of entry-level single-family homes, as well as positives, with more housing created in highly desirable, land-limited neighborhoods.

“Where I live, in a very popular suburb because of the schools and the parks and the relatively safe neighborhoods, you don’t see as much new construction because there’s really no vacant land. But if you move further out…you can have that kind of development, but that might not be where the majority of people want to live.”

Back to the financing side, other government entities are already expanding how (and how much) they will finance ADUs. The California Housing Financing Authority (CHFA) recently upped a grant program to $40,000 per family, and a representative who was attending the panel said they had already disbursed $1 million.

Amanda Chiancola, a planner working for the city of Salem, Massachusetts, told RISMedia that her relatively small, suburban town (population 44,000) is independently planning to announce a new financing program for affordable ADUs after pushing to facilitate and loosen restrictions around them over the last couple years.

She adds that while she is not familiar with the new Freddie guidelines, it usually takes some time for those things to percolate down to the point where builders and local governments will see new permits and applications. But regardless of the specifics, from a purely policy perspective, ADUs are very often well worth the investment.

“It’s the least expensive way to create affordable housing,” Chiancola says.

The post Freddie ADU Support Excites Lenders, Advocates appeared first on RISMedia.

Lawsuits and Investigations Slam Struggling Mortgage Companies Amid Market Shift

Fri, 07/22/2022 - 12:03

There’s something to be said about the financial woes that several mortgage companies have suffered amid the shifting lending market. While experts forecasted tough times ahead for the sector, recent weeks have highlighted how bad things have gotten for several brands.

That has been evident in the past month and a half as two lenders that provided “non-qualified mortgages” crumbled as rising mortgage rates and changing tides strained their bottom lines. The most recent was Sprout Mortgage, which shut down abruptly earlier this month and left hundreds of its employees in the lurch following a virtual conference call.

“This is just unbelievable what happened,” said a former Sprout employee, who asked that they remain anonymous so they could speak candidly about the event.

“I had no idea that this was coming,” the former employee continues, adding that they were reassured in a meeting before the conference call that there was nothing to worry about.

They tell RISMedia that employees were called to a mandatory “all-hands call meeting” where Sprout President Shea Pallante conducted the meeting to break the news to all staff.

According to National Mortgage Professionals reports, Pallante informed the staff that the company would close up shop, including both its retail and wholesale divisions.

“We got on there, and pretty much he said that, ‘with a heavy heart, I have to tell you that Sprout is closing their doors,’” they said, adding that the news came a day before payroll and without a severance package.

“They left us hanging,” the former employee says.

That wasn’t the end of Sprout’s troubles, however, as the company was swiftly sued by former employees looking for three weeks of back pay. The class action lawsuit, filed by former closing disclosure specialists Nathaniel Agudelo and Helen Owens, names Sprout, its parent company, Recovco Mortgage Management, and Sprout CEO Michael Strauss as its defendants and alleges that Sprout failed to provide the required advanced notice of the mass layoffs under the WARN Acts.

Owens and Agudelo filed the suit on July 8 on behalf of themselves and all similarly impacted current and former employees.

It also claims that Strauss instructed others at the company not to issue paychecks due to be sent out to employees on July 7 following the shutdown announcement the day before.

Since the shutdown, the plaintiffs claimed they hadn’t been paid for work dating back to June 16, 2022.

Sprout officials did not immediately reply to RISMedia’s attempts to gain comments for this story.

In a statement featured in National Mortgage News, attorney Brenna Rabinowitz of New York-based Menken Simpson & Rozger, spoke on behalf of plaintiffs.

“These employees are now left holding the bill for the company’s decision to take this drastic action without warning, which we believe violates federal and state law,” she said in the statement. “We hope the federal lawsuit we have filed on behalf of Sprout Mortgage’s employees secures justice for those affected.”

The fallout at Sprout came mere weeks after First Guaranty Mortgage Corp (FGMC) implemented a massive labor cut and filed for bankruptcy amid tumbling profits from the volatile mortgage lending market.

“While we have made considerable efforts to address our ongoing financial challenges related to the state of the mortgage market, we ultimately must do what is best for our borrowers and consumers,” said FGMC CEO Aaron Samples in a June 30 press release.

The bankruptcy filing came less than a week after the Texas-based mortgage lender abruptly laid off nearly 80% of its workforce—428 of its 565 employees—during a 10-minute virtual meeting on Microsoft Teams.

The woes of Sprout and FGMC are merely the most recent cases of mortgage lenders buckling under the pressure of shifting market conditions. Arguably the most notorious brand that has continued to make headlines has been Better.com, which has had to weather a storm of public scrutiny for several mishandled—and infamous—waves of layoffs and litigations.    

The hits haven’t stopped for the online mortgage company, which now has U.S. Regulators investigating it, and Aurora Acquisition Corp., the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that Better agreed to merge with.

According to a recent SEC filing, Better and Aurora received “voluntary requests” for documents to determine “if violations of the federal securities laws have occurred” as the online mortgage company pushed to go public. The requests cover aspects of Better’s operations, related-party transactions, and “certain matters relating to certain actions and circumstances” of Better CEO, Vishal Garg.

“As the investigation is ongoing, neither Better nor Aurora are able to predict how long it will continue or whether, at its conclusion, the SEC will bring an enforcement action against either of them and, if it does, what remedies it may seek,” read an excerpt from the filing.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding how the investigation will pan out, Aurora stated in the filing that the probe could impose a “significant cost” on the company.

“Such costs, together with the outcome of the actions if resolved unfavorably, could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations,” Aurora stated in the filing.

The company also acknowledged that the publicity surrounding the SEC probe and potential enforcement could harm the reputation and business of Better and Aurora.

Part of the investigation will also focus on recent allegations made in a whistleblower lawsuit filed last month by Better’s former head of sales and operations, Sarah Pierce.

Pierce, who parted ways with Better in February for undisclosed reasons, alleged in the suit that she was driven out of her role after she repeatedly raised concerns about Garg’s misleading statements regarding the company’s financial standing, market forecasts and its labor cuts.

It also accused Garg and the company of duping investors and shareholders to keep the planned merger with Aurora afloat.

The deal, which has yet to close, is valued at $7.7 billion between the two companies. According to TechCrunch reports, Better is still moving forward with its planned merger with Aurora despite recent hurdles.

The SEC declined to comment on this story.

The post Lawsuits and Investigations Slam Struggling Mortgage Companies Amid Market Shift appeared first on RISMedia.

Recession a ‘Coin Flip’ as Forecasters Lower Projections

Fri, 07/22/2022 - 12:02

Two major economic forecasters are now predicting recession in the near future, after nonprofit research group The Conference Board saw its Leading Economic Indicator (LEI) index drop 0.8% last month, and the Mortgage Banker Association (MBA) adjusted expectations for 2022 downward by 1%, projecting a fractional 0.6% GDP growth this year.

“While a recession is not in our baseline forecast, it is a coin flip at this point, as we estimate a roughly 50% chance that the U.S. could enter a recession over the next 12 months, with the most likely timing being in the first half of 2023,” the MBA wrote in their updated July forecast.

The LEI, which is an amalgamation of various forward-looking macroeconomic metrics including the S&P 500, consumer sentiment and new housing permits, fell for the fourth consecutive month and is down 1.8% on the year. Ataman Ozyildirim, senior director of economic research at The Conference Board, said in a statement that high inflation and tightening monetary policy are squeezing the economy, predicting a 1.7% growth in real GDP for 2022 (down from an earlier projection of 2.3%).

“Consumer pessimism about future business conditions, moderating labor market conditions, falling stock prices and weaker manufacturing new orders drove the LEI’s decline in June,” he said. “The coincident economic index, which rose in June, suggests the economy grew through the second quarter. However, the forward-looking LEI points to a U.S. economic downturn ahead.”

The MBA offered similar explanations for its new projections, adding that it expects inflation to decline over the next year, reaching the Federal Reserve’s target of 2% to 2.5% sometime in 2023 or 2024. As far as housing, the MBA revised their expectations lower for the year, predicting an 8% decline in existing home sales, but said mortgage rates would remain essentially flat, ending the year around 5.2%.

“In an already strained affordability environment, higher mortgage rates have reduced the pace of home sales, and now with the prospect of a weaker economy and an elevated risk of recession, potential homebuyers have pulled back even more,” they wrote. “Additionally, the new residential construction data have been weaker of late, with a slower pace of housing starts and permits, along with deteriorating homebuilder sentiment, driven by declining foot traffic of prospective buyers.”

Fed chair Jerome Powell has acknowledged that avoiding a recession while also bringing inflation down to its target level has been growing more difficult, pushing the central bank to increase the pace of interest rate hikes. Another hike of 75 basis points—or possibly even 100—is widely expected at the Fed’s meeting next week.

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RE/MAX Selects Inside Real Estate to Deliver kvCORE Platform to 75,000 Agents Across the U.S. and Canada

Fri, 07/22/2022 - 12:01

RE/MAX, LLC has partnered with Inside Real Estate to provide its kvCORE technology platform, at no additional cost, to all of its company-owned regions across the U.S. and Canada, the company announced this week.

RE/MAX will also provide the CORE Present CMA and presentation builder, CORE ListingMachine & Design Center, an automated print and digital marketing suite, and unlimited CORE Team accounts, a team solution built within kvCORE, ensuring all RE/MAX teams can operate with full autonomy to grow their own independent businesses, a release stated.

“RE/MAX is the world’s most productive real estate network, as measured by residential transaction sides, and now RE/MAX agents in the U.S. and Canada will be equipped with the industry’s most proven productivity platform, kvCORE,” said Nick Bailey, RE/MAX president and CEO.  “Inside Real Estate has the resources, scale, and vision to deliver innovative and proven technology solutions. We know they are the best partner to keep us moving at a pace that stays ahead of the market and the competition. They are the perfect choice to help power the next chapter of our technology journey.”

“We are proud to partner with RE/MAX, a brand well-known for supporting the highest level of productivity across its global footprint,” said Joe Skousen, CEO of Inside Real Estate.  “At Inside Real Estate, our tech is purpose-built to drive maximum results for every user, and we’re excited to deliver these solutions tailored specifically to RE/MAX.”

Inside Real Estate notes the highlights of the enterprise-level implementation of the kvCORE Platform for RE/MAX include:

  • High-performing IDX websites for brokerages, agents, and team with deep consumer behavior tracking and intelligent nurturing to convert more leads into customers
  • A powerful 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 connecting them with their RE/MAX-generated leads
  • Behavioral automation that works to nurture contacts at every stage of their homeownership journey, creating 5-10 times more client engagement
  • Powerful communication tools including dynamic email campaigns, mass-texting, CORE video messaging, and a built-in mobile dialer to drive more high-value conversations
  • Full RE/MAX branding, including mobile apps and tight integration to RE/MAX’s proprietary systems, tools, and support resources

‍In addition, the company said RE/MAX will provide the following, fully integrated kvCORE add-on solutions:

  • CORE Present, a fully interactive CMA and presentation tool to help agents win the listing, win the offer and wow clients every time
  • CORE ListingMachine & Design Center, a fully automated listing marketing solution to promote properties throughout the listing lifecycle. Plus, a newly enhanced digital and print design center for beautiful, on-brand marketing materials
  • CORE Team Accounts, which unlock powerful team functionality including advanced team lead generation and lead routing, pond accounts with dynamic lead nurturing, team accountability tracking and more
  • kvCORE Marketplace: a built-in and seamlessly integrated Marketplace for premium add-on solutions and integrations like PropertyBoost, done for you lead generation, and more

“RE/MAX’s history is rooted in innovation and a commitment to excellence,” said Alissa Harper, chief sales officer, Inside Real Estate. “Their leadership team has taken a bold stance to continue that legacy and provide their network with the most proven, highest-rated technology solutions available. We’re thrilled to be partnered with RE/MAX and excited to deliver our kvCORE Platform to their powerhouse network of franchisees, teams and agents.”

The RE/MAX instance of kvCORE will be delivered through a phased rollout beginning later in 2022 and continuing into next year for all RE/MAX affiliates in company-owned regions across the U.S. and Canada, the company noted.

For more information, visit https://www.insiderealestate.com/kvcore.

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Anywhere Real Estate Debuts New Headquarters In Madison New Jersey

Fri, 07/22/2022 - 12:00

Anywhere Real Estate Inc. (formerly known as Realogy Holdings Corp.), has unveiled the company’s newly renovated headquarters. Known as the Madison Hub, the redesign is designed to facilitate a hybrid work model, the company said. The building is home to flexible collaboration and innovation workspaces for Anywhere employees across the company’s brand portfolio: Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate, CENTURY 21®, Coldwell Banker®, Corcoran®, ERA®, and Sotheby’s International Realty®, a release stated.

“As we enter the next chapter of our transformation, attracting and accelerating growth of great talent is core to the Anywhere strategy,” said Ryan Schneider, Anywhere president and chief executive officer. “I am incredibly excited about how our newly redesigned Madison Hub will not only empower our employees to connect, collaborate, and drive results in a remote environment but also lead the industry into the future of work.”

Anywhere says it has adopted a remote-first work model and the Madison Hub’s design reflects this. The renovations mix individual ‘hoteling’ with tech-enabled collaboration spaces, along with training studios and event spaces for deepening employee and stakeholder connections. While there are no permanent offices, not even for company executives, the Anywhere brands each have dedicated space showcasing their unique values and visual identity for franchise sales prospects, affiliated brokers and agents, and employees, the company said. Other amenities include a grab-n-go café and coffee bar, wellness facility, technology services counter, and outdoor social space.

Anywhere noted that New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Bob Conley, mayor of Madison, New Jersey, joined local officials and members of the Anywhere management team to debut the Madison Hub for employees. Attendees were invited to tour the new space and engage in more than 20 celebratory experiences hosted by the Anywhere portfolio of brands.

“I am happy to join CEO Ryan Schneider and the entire Anywhere team for today’s ribbon cutting ceremony for the newly remodeled Anywhere headquarters in our very own Madison, New Jersey,” said Governor Murphy. “As every real estate professional knows, the three most important words in real estate are ‘location, location, location.’ By recommitting to Madison, Anywhere is proving that New Jersey is the perfect location for any business, the perfect location for your employees and their families, and the perfect location for their clients.”

Last month, the company officially completed its corporate rebrand from Realogy to Anywhere, signifying a strategic emphasis on building a more frictionless and digitized home buying and selling experience for any consumer, anywhere, the release stated.

 For more information, visit anywhere.re.

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Manage Your Seller’s Expectations Through Seasonal and Market Adjustments

Fri, 07/22/2022 - 02:06

The No. 1 goal of a listing appointment is to obtain the listing. As late summer/early fall approaches, it’s a challenging time due to sellers having unrealistic expectations. They’re looking at comparable properties that recently sold, but were listed in the spring or early winter when there was much less inventory. Whether it involves price or showing accommodations, it’s important to have these conversations upfront.

If you’re not setting expectations from the start, you could lose the sale later. This year, rising interest rates further exacerbate this problem. Here are a few tips on how you can set expectations correctly, get the listing and have a smooth sale:

  • Start by sharing market statistics and describing how the market is different. You’ll be revealing your potential value and a timeline of the sale in a more precise way for your sellers.
  • When going over price, have the seller give you a figure first so that you don’t become associated with a number. If it doesn’t sell for that amount, the only person they can blame is themselves.

Another great thing to mention to your sellers is the 21-day rule. Explain to them that within 21 days of listing a home, you/they will know if the price is right or not because one of three things will happen:

  1. The listing could get a lot of activity and an offer, or potentially more than one. Rather than over-promise, it’s essential to plant that seed of potential for high activity. Remind sellers to be more accommodating with showings, and let them know that every buyer matters.
  2. There could be few showings and light traffic at open houses. What would you do if 10 people saw the home and eight told you the price was too high? Share this info with the seller to help them recognize that it’s priced too high.
  3. What if nobody shows up, yet all other listings get activity? This would undoubtedly tell us that the property is priced too high. Remind the seller that you’re not testing the marketing; the only thing being tested is the price. Perhaps you’re setting deadlines too soon, especially when there are no offers in place, and it’s scaring away potential buyers. Or maybe you’re disclosing things too soon (e.g., subject to preferred closing date).

Depending on your seller’s motivation, ask them the following question: “If plan A is to list at that price, that’s okay, but what if we realize it’s priced too high? What is Plan B?”

I hope you can see how these discussions are better off being had in the beginning. Not everything that you list will sell as it has in prior months. You don’t want to waste your time and have an aggravated seller on your hands. Sometimes, they’ll be more motivated the second time around and more willing to listen to you and your recommendations. In this quickly changing market, you must get back to the fundamentals, because if you don’t, you’ll likely regret it.

Dave Karoly is vice president of sales at Lamacchia Realty. For more information, visit www.lamacchiarealty.com.

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Maintaining a Leading Edge

Fri, 07/22/2022 - 02:05

Danny and Charlene Sullivan
Co-Founders
Leading Edge Real Estate Group
Huntsville, Alabama
www.LeadingEdgeAL.com

Region served: Alabama and Southern Middle Tennessee
Years in real estate: Danny: 19; Charlene: 3.5
Number of offices: 5
Number of agents: 170

Having begun as a family-run business, what do you believe have been the hallmarks of your success?  
Danny Sullivan: We started Leading Edge at a time of adversity during the housing crisis in the early 2000s. We owned three real estate franchises at the time, and while we weren’t interested in starting or owning another business, we had 30 agents who needed a place to hang their license, so we hunkered down and created a low transaction-fee-based model. A majority of the offices in our marketplace were offering traditional splits, but we wanted our agents to keep as much of their hard-earned money as possible.
Charlene Sullivan: Leading Edge was born during a time when we knew the traditional model wasn’t going to work. Not only were we having a hard time identifying brokerages that were interested in Danny’s fee-based model, but we also noticed they all had rules as far as how the business should run, the way agents should dress, and the amount of time they needed to invest in agent training and coaching. With us, our agents are free to run their business the way they want while keeping 100% of their commission.

What attracted you to United, and what were the main reasons behind your decision to merge with them?
DS: While we weren’t looking to make a move, I knew that our days were numbered because it was getting harder to compete as a small brokerage. After talking to Tyler Anderson, United’s VP of Broker Network Development, I wanted to learn more. Everyone I spoke with had great things to say about United, and that’s what solidified our decision to join.
CS: Not only did we find ourselves struggling with agent retention, but we were also having a hard time figuring out how to bring technology to our agents. We were a small brokerage that couldn’t afford to spend millions to bring new tech tools into the office, and at the same time, our agents couldn’t afford to go out and purchase the technology that would allow them to compete. We needed to catch up, and United was the answer to our prayers.

How does being part of United enhance your value proposition to agents and support your brokerage’s growth?
CS: Besides the culture, which matches ours perfectly, United’s Bullseye Cloud-Based Productivity Platform places us on a level playing field. The marketing tools, seamless technology, comprehensive training, lead-generating websites and referral program make day-to-day tasks easy on our agents, ensuring that their pipelines are always full. Everything United provides is exactly what we were looking for.
DS: One thing that hasn’t changed is our identity. Staying true to ourselves was critical, and I’m happy to say that nothing has changed for our agents. The only difference is that they now have access to more tools, technology and training than ever before.

As a husband and wife team, how do you balance your roles?
DS: I’m more of the idea guy and the face of our company while Charlene works behind the scenes putting things into motion. She’s also a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to ensuring we have the necessary systems to make everything work efficiently.
CS: We learned early on in our marriage to divide and conquer, which has been beneficial in both our personal and professional lives. Our strengths and weaknesses complement each other, and we’ve learned to respect and appreciate those differences and use them to our advantage.

In what ways are your agents utilizing United Real Estate’s tools, resources and training?  
DS: Having come onboard in January, we couldn’t wait to see everything United would be unveiling at their ReUnited National Conference. Those agents who are plugging in and using the resources in Bullseye are beginning to see results, and many of our agents have had success with the automated marketing programs and listing videos. We understand just how important technology is, so we’re keeping an eye on those who may not be taking advantage of what’s available and getting them engaged. The Bullseye platform is user-friendly and extremely easy to use, even for those who may not be technologically savvy.
CS: Our agents are also finding success through the United Referral Network. If they’re clued in and using the tools, they’re starting to see just how easy it is to grow their business.

How does United’s home-office team support you when it comes to your day-to-day and back-office operations?
DS: Their leadership team and support staff have been amazing. Everyone is accessible, including Dan Duffy (CEO) and Rick Haase (president), who are never too busy to help solve an issue or answer a question.
CS: They also take time to touch base with our agents. Rick is constantly checking in to see how things are going and what they’d like done differently. He always asks about their families and shares openly about his as well.

What advantages have you experienced being part of a national organization yet maintaining your unique brand identity and culture?
CS: The areas in which we were struggling, we’re now excelling. The competition on a national level is huge, and it will become harder to compete with the Zillows of the world. We’re still a local brokerage with local recognition, as well as part of one of the top 10 national real estate firms in the U.S., which is a total win-win. Through United, our agents are part of a national lead and referral system. They also have all the benefits of a national organization. Our business is going to grow exponentially with United’s help.
DS: One thing that impressed me was the way in which Dan laid out United’s strategic plan to compete with the industry giants. He didn’t just talk about five years down the road, but rather, 100 years into the future.

For more information, visit http://www.growwithunited.com/.

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Fostering an Ecosystem of Productivity and Accountability

Fri, 07/22/2022 - 02:04

Jason Will
Chief Culture Officer and Business Coach
JWRE, powered by JPAR Impact
Birmingham, Alabama
https://www.jasonwillrealestate.com/

Region served: Fairhope, Gulf Shores, Birmingham, Hoover and Huntsville, Alabama
Years in real estate: 20
Number of offices: 4, with an aggressive plan for additional office openings over the next few years.
Number of agents: 84
Most effective recruiting strategy: Positioning myself as a free, on-demand productivity coach and investing in agents, both one-on-one and in group settings.
Most creative advertising, promotional or marketing campaign you’ve run: For a while, we were using land listings as opportunities to create humorous listing signs that we would borrow from TV shows and movies, the most popular of which was “Tiger King.”
No. 1 tip for motivating agents: The best and only way to motivate agents, in my opinion, is to hold them accountable.
Can’t live without tech tool: My mobile phone. From prospecting to social media content, I have all the tools I need to drive profitability right in my hand.

What is it about JPAR that most attracted you and ultimately led to your decision to affiliate with them? The business model. The JPAR model was the perfected version of what I was trying to achieve as an independent brokerage owner. I wanted a real estate company that was created by a productive agent for productive agents. JPAR is agent-centric, from compensation to branding, and we have one of the best technology toolboxes in the industry.

In what ways does your mentorship team concept enhance the level of agent training your firm provides? Mentorship programs are only as good as their mentors, and while mentors are typically in production, they tend to provide limited access to mentees. Our mentorship team method is highly successful, as new agents are embedded into an ecosystem of productivity and accountability for at least six months. We have a “no agent left behind” mantra on the mentorship team, thus it’s a highly collaborative community of teammates who have each other’s back. In addition to mentorship, our team mentees receive internet leads, internet lead conversion training, admin support and contract to close coordination.

What is on-demand coaching, and how does it serve your agents differently than what they experience under the mentorship team? While traditional coaching centers around a set schedule and frequency of calls, I believe that on-demand coaching is the future, as most questions, coaching and training needs in our industry are far more spontaneous in nature. I want as many agents in our Alabama markets as possible to know that I’m eager to be their resource, and if needed, I’m just a phone call or text message away.

Why are you so passionate about CRM platforms? I believe that next to an agent’s cellphone, this is the most important investment. In fact, the best CRMs have companion mobile apps as part of the package. I think it’s safe to say that 99.9% of agents who approach me to help them grow their business are either still using an Excel spreadsheet to run their day-to-day, or they have a CRM they don’t use. That being said, helping agents acquire and/or use a CRM is important to me, because it drives enhanced productivity and profitability for each member of my team using it effectively. JPAR has provided kvCORE to our agents at no cost, and is quickly becoming one of the most popular brokerage web platforms in our industry. I think that’s a testament to its functionality, versatility and ever-evolving innovation.

For more information, visit www.jpar.com.

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Report Shows Renting Is More Affordable Than Buying a Starter Home in Three-Quarters of Largest Metros

Fri, 07/22/2022 - 02:03

Nationally, the gap between monthly starter homeownership costs and rents widened by 25.5 percentage points (+$483) from January to June, according to the latest Monthly Rental Report released this week from realtor.com®. Additionally, more than three-quarters of the 50 largest U.S. metros favored renting in June, compared to just under half of these markets in January, the report shows.

Key findings: June 2022 rental metrics – national

Unit Size Median Rent Change over June 2021 Change over June 2020 Overall $1,876 14.1% 23.9% Studio $1,544 15.1% 19.3% 1-bed $1,738 13.8% 22.9% 2-bed $2,104 13.6% 25.6%

Nationally, rents hit 16th straight record-high, but lag first-time buying costs

The U.S. median rental price hit a new high for the 16th consecutive month in June, but still lagged behind typical starter homeownership costs, and by a greater amount than at the start of the year, the report showed. This growth is largely attributed to the skyrocketing cost of financing a home purchase, with mortgage rates jumping more than two percentage points from January to June. Although for-sale home prices also hit multiple record-highs in the first half of the year, realtor.com®’s June analysis found that mortgage rate hikes were the biggest driver of the widening affordability gap between renting and first-time buying.

  • In June, the U.S. median rental price hit a new high of $1,876, rising 14.1% year-over-year in the fifth consecutive month of moderation from January’s peak (+17.3%). However, overall rents remained 27.6% higher than in 2020 and all unit sizes posted double-digit annual gains: studios, up 15.1%; one-bedrooms, up 13.8%; and two-bedrooms, up 13.6%.
  • Nationally, monthly starter homeownership costs were an average of 29.9% ($561) higher than rents in June, up from 4.4% ($78) in January. In 2021, the monthly cost to buy was $1,815, just $171 higher than rents nationwide.
  • Higher mortgage rates were the biggest driver of the widening year-over-year gap between first-time buying and renting, adding $416 to typical monthly starter home costs in June. Comparatively, national starter home listing price growth (+10.4% year-over-year to a median of $332,619) has only added $162 to first-time buying costs since June 2021, while rent increases shrunk the gap by $232.

In the largest metros, affordability increasingly favors renting over first-time buying

In June, a significantly greater share of the 50 largest U.S. metros favored renting over buying than at the start of the year, according to the report. Among key factors driving this shift were trends seen nationwide, such as higher mortgage rates and cooling rent growth. June data also points to a correlation with economic indicators like inflation and unemployment, which were relatively lower in many of the metros with smaller gaps between monthly rents and first-time buying costs. Additionally, the top rent-favoring markets were dominated by the country’s biggest tech hubs, while the metros that favored starter homeownership were concentrated in the midwest and south.

  • Of the 50 largest U.S. metros, 38 offered lower rents than monthly starter homeownership costs in June, compared to 24 markets in January.
  • The country’s biggest tech cities accounted for eight of June’s top 10 metros that favored renting over buying, led by Austin, Texas, where the monthly starter homeownership cost was 97.8% ($1,822) higher than the median rental price. In all of the top 10, renting was at least 52% more affordable than first-time buying
  • 11 metros favored first-time buying over renting in June, including just one metro that flipped from favoring renting in January: Cincinnati, with monthly starter home costs that were 0.9 percentage points lower (-$14) than rents in June.

The takeaway:

“With rents and for-sale home prices both hitting record-highs in June, the rising cost of financing a home purchase stands out as the clear driver of rental affordability relative to typical starter homeownership costs. In fact, our analysis shows that if not for higher mortgage rates, the rent versus first-time buying gap would have shrunk in the first half of this year, as rents grew more quickly than starter home prices,” said realtor.com® Chief Economist Danielle Hale. “While more markets offered relative rental affordability in June than in January, rents are still rising across the country. Plus, many of the areas that favored renting are among the biggest tech cities, where real estate tends to come at a premium. As housing affordability remains a challenge for many Americans, it’s key to stay on top of how higher costs impact your budget, whether renting or first-time buying.”

“Whether you’re looking for a rental or trying to buy your first home, our analysis highlights the importance of prioritization when deciding where to live,” said Joel Berner, senior economic research analyst for realtor.com®. “Take the example of areas with smaller gaps between rents and monthly starter homeownership costs, which may still offer relatively affordable starter homeownership costs. Many of these metros are also attracting home shoppers from out-of-state, in turn driving up the overall cost of living. For first-time buyers prioritizing lower home prices, you may still find options in these areas, but make sure to account for higher costs of other expenses in your budget.”

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How Much Down Payment Is Enough to Buy a Home?

Fri, 07/22/2022 - 02:02

One of the great mysteries for first-time homebuyers is their down payment amount. For years, there has been a prevailing myth that you need to have 20% down in order to purchase a home. It’s not true!

In fact, the average down payment on a home for a first-time homebuyer is around 6% of the purchase price. For buyers who have bought before, it moves up to around 12%. Both figures are a far cry from 20%.

Keep in mind that the minimum down payment depends on the type of loan, the lender you choose and your current finances.

Let’s look at some of the most popular loan programs and their respective down payment requirements. One of the loan programs covered should be an excellent option before making an offer on a home.

What are down payments?

The down payment is the amount of money you pay out of pocket when making a home purchase. You get a mortgage from a lender to pay the rest of the home’s purchase price over a specific amount of years. This is known as the loan term.

Down payments are often referred to as a specific percentage of the purchase price. For example, a 10% down payment on a $500,000 home would be $50,000.

When you purchase a home, the amount of money you put down will become your equity on the day of purchase. The mortgage lender you choose to work with will provide you the rest of the money to buy.

For most mortgage programs, you will need to have a down payment. However, there are a couple that do not require a down payment, including a VA loan and a USDA mortgage.

The 20% mortgage myth

For years, many people have assumed that you need to have 20% down to buy a home. The confusion is probably due to the fact that if you put down less, you will have to pay private mortgage insurance.

Private mortgage insurance or PMI is a fee that helps protect lenders in the event a borrow defaults on their mortgage. You can get rid of the private mortgage insurance payment when your equity reaches 20%.

Low and no down payment mortgage programs

Here is a review of the down payment requirements for some of the most popular mortgage programs.

No down payment loans

The two zero down payment mortgage programs are a VA loan and a USDA loan. VA mortgages are for current and former military service members and their eligible spouses. These loans are guaranteed by the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs.

USDA loans are backed by the U.S Department of Agriculture. A USDA mortgage can only be used on the purchase of a rural property, which is generally considered under a population of 35,000. You must also qualify for the program’s income limits.

A qualified mortgage broker or lender will be able to guide you on both of these lending programs.

Conventional 3% down mortgages

There are two popular 3% down conventional mortgage programs. They are known as HomeReady and Home Possible. These conventional loan programs are not backed by the Federal Government, but rather, follow the guidelines set by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

FHA loans

FHA loans are one of the most popular mortgage programs due to their loan down payment requirement of 3.5%. They also have some of the most lenient credit scoring requirements. These mortgages are backed by the Federal Housing Administration.

If you have a credit score of 580 or more you will be able to put down 3.5%. If your credit score is between 500 – 579, an FHA mortgage will require a 10% down payment. However, some lenders may not do the loan when the credit score falls below 580.

Drawbacks of a lower down payment

  • When real estate markets favor sellers, low down payments are not looked on favorably due to potential appraisal issues in bidding wars. Quite often, low down payment borrowers cannot make up appraisal gaps.
  • Higher down payments usually get the best interest rates from lenders.
  • A higher down payment will provide a lower monthly mortgage payment.
  • You will have less equity in your home with a low or no down payment.

What to put down on a house

The amount of money you put down on a house depends on your financial circumstances. Do what is best for you. Always think about having an emergency fund. Murphy’s Law can (and will) happen when you least expect it.

Bill Gassett is a nationally recognized real estate leader who has been helping people buy and sell MetroWest Massachusetts real estate for the past 35 years. Bill is the owner and founder of Maximum Real Estate Exposure. For the past decade, he has been one of the top RE/MAX REALTORS® in New England.

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$61,647 Raised by Lamacchia Realty for Boston Children’s Hospital at Annual Corporate Cup

Fri, 07/22/2022 - 02:01

Lamacchia Realty has announced that it has raised $61,647 for Boston Children’s Hospital through its annual participation in its local Corporate Cup community sporting event, and that the company was named the No. 1 fundraising team for the entire program. All of the money raised goes directly to funding enrichment programs for the children and supporting families of patients at Children’s Hospital, while also funding research and facilities to help find cures and better treatments, a release stated.

The company noted that this is the fourth year in a row Lamacchia Realty has participated in the corporate cup, which has become a beloved tradition among the agents and staff alike, they said. After weeks of fundraising, the team of 20 participated in games and sporting events, including the Obstacle Course, Football Toss, Rowing, 50 Yard Relay, Tug of War, Soccer Kicks, Pick A Puck and the Bike Challenge. Each athletic event, along with the awards ceremony, was located throughout the Harvard University Athletic Complex.

“We are continuously reminded how lucky we are to have the number one children’s hospital in our local area,” the release stated. “Thank you to everyone who participated, donated and cheered us on!”

Lamacchia Realty’s charitable giving initiative, Lamacchia Cares, has supported the Boston Children’s Hospital through its annual toy drives and participation in their Corporate Cup events and NStar Walk. Over the years, the company has raised over $225,000 for the hospital, they said.

To learn more, visit https://www.lamacchiarealty.com/2022-bch-corporate-cup-recap/.

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Guaranteed Rate’s New PowerBid Approval Helps Homebuyers Compete Head-to-Head With All-Cash Offers

Fri, 07/22/2022 - 02:00

Mortgage lender Guaranteed Rate has announced the launch of its new PowerBid Approval. This new program is designed to give homebuyers the ability to compete against deep-pocketed cash buyers and institutional investors, the company stated.

Historically low inventory combined with an influx of aggressive cash buyers continues to disrupt the housing market. Not only are more individuals making all-cash offers to buy homes, but so are institutional investors. A recent report from the NAR Research Group found that 13% of residential home sales last year were from corporate interests.

Amidst these disruptions, more and more borrowers are looking to improve their chances of submitting a winning bid on the home of their dreams. Guaranteed Rate is committed to helping make that happen, and PowerBid Approval is their latest tool in that ongoing fight.

PowerBid Approval provides buyers and sellers with the confidence of a fast, fully underwritten approval confirming the borrower is qualified to buy now. PowerBid Approval’s priority turn times mean borrowers get fastest approval, often in less than 24 hours. Less thorough approvals that aren’t fully underwritten often lose out in competitive bidding situations. It’s fast and easy to apply from anywhere, on any device, and a 90-day lock gives borrowers the time they need to find the home they really want.

“At Guaranteed Rate, we are constantly looking for ways to enhance the home-buying experience for our customers,” said Paul Anastos, Guaranteed Rate’s chief innovation officer. “Our exclusive new PowerBid Approval comes at a time when so many people are looking for ways to win in the current market. This incredibly fast and powerful new tool is an awesome way for buyers to stand out and land the house they really want.”

 To learn more, visit rate.com/powerbid.

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Key Metro Price Drops Are ‘Starting Gun’ for Pullback

Thu, 07/21/2022 - 12:04

The latest analysis from a joint initiative between Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and Florida International University (FIU) is showing a possible peak in the housing market, indicating that prices are on their way back down to more reasonable—and hopefully affordable—levels.

The initiative has sought to track what markets are most overvalued based on publicly available pricing data, using their own methodology and historical trends. With the most recent report showing a dozen metros edging back toward more level prices, researchers are cautiously projecting that prices will continue to fall across the country.

“Premium declines are an early warning sign that prices are leveling off and likely on the way back down,” said FAU economist Ken Johnson in a statement. “We will look back at this point as the starting gun for the down slope in our next housing cycle.”

Even though the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) found that home prices are still climbing year-over-year across the country, Johnson and fellow researcher Eli Beracha, director of FIU’s Hollo School of Real Estate, highlighted several overvalued and expensive metros that saw average home prices falling this summer.

Notable price drops came in San Jose, California (down by $13,091); Austin, Texas ($3,010); Seattle, Washington ($1,922); San Francisco, California ($1,568); Ogden, Utah ($879); San Diego, California ($541) and Stockton, California ($128).

“While 12 premium declines and seven average price declines are substantial numbers and very suggestive of a slowdown, I’d like to see data from another month or two before calling the peak,” said Beracha. “We have a substantial inventory shortage around the country, and this may help to buoy prices for a while longer.”

The top-most overvalued markets have remained largely unchanged, with Boise, Idaho, as the metro with the highest premium on homes (69.2% higher than they should be). Austin, Texas (65.8%); Las Vegas, Nevada (63.73%); Ogden, Utah (62.8%) and Fort Myers, Florida (62.3%) rounded out the top five.

At the same time, many metros are seeing their home prices continue to skew away from fundamental values—albeit more slowly than early in the year. Many of those metro were in the south, including Fort Myers, Florida (3.4% more overvalued compared to last month); Lakeland, Florida, and Nashville, Tennessee (both 2.9%); Greenville, South Carolina (2.5%); Charlotte, North Carolina (2.3%) and El Paso, Texas (2.1%).

Johnson and Beracha emphasized again, as they have in previous reports, that the upcoming (or ongoing) slowdown will look very different depending on the market. Areas that continue to struggle with new inventory but also maintain population growth will have a “muted” price decline, while areas with flat or negative population growth and more abundant housing could see “sharply” decreasing prices.

Likely, the Federal Reserve—which has indicated that it will implement another large rate hike at its meeting next week—will see falling prices as an indication that its policies are working, Johnson and Beracha said, even though the slowdown will be painful for some.

“Fed policies are taking hold and having the desired effect,” Johnson said. “Our premium declines in 12 housing markets combined with falling consumer sentiment and lagging builder confidence mean we should begin to see less aggressive behavior from the Fed as housing prices come under control.”

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NAR Chief Economist Addresses Senate Banking Committee on the State of Housing in America

Thu, 07/21/2022 - 12:03

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), today told the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs that he does not foresee a nationwide decline in home prices despite indications that price growth is set to slow, NAR announced Thursday. Yun testified that the potential for weaker sales should increase available inventory in some markets, but not enough to diminish persistent affordability constraints which, for many Americans, have kept homeownership out of reach in recent years.

“In the near term, I do not expect the situation to change appreciably,” Yun said Thursday. “Historic undersupply in the market, combined with continued demand, will likely drive ongoing issues with affordability for many Americans.

“Any short-term price adjustments, if they occur, will be less consequential compared to the immense longer-term housing affordability challenges we face as a country.”

Thursday’s hearing, Priced Out: The State of Housing in America, comes as the nation confronts a 6-million-unit housing shortage, NAR said. This decades-in-the-making phenomenon has helped sustain year-over-year price growth for a record 124 consecutive months. A study of other circumstances in the market is also particularly compelling given COVID’s impact on U.S. housing and recent, dramatic fluctuations in mortgage interest rates.

“When the Federal Reserve essentially went all-in in the early months of the pandemic…the decline in mortgage rates and the cautious reopening of the economy boosted housing demand,” said Yun, also NAR’s senior vice president of research. “The housing market always responds to changes in mortgage rates.”

Interest rates, which had been consistently in the 4-to-5% range in the decade preceding COVID-19, hovered near record lows of around 3% throughout much of 2020 and 2021. NAR’s most recent Existing Home Sales report found that the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage in June was up to 5.52%.

“Any increases in available inventory observed over the first half of this year have been offset by corresponding increases in consumer costs,” Yun said on Capitol Hill, explaining that rate increases of roughly 2.5 percentage points have added about $800 per month to a median-priced house payment.

“This affordability crunch is felt most acutely as we move down the income scale and by minority households, given the current income distribution in America,” he continued. “That is why housing supply must be addressed to moderate home price and rent gains.”

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