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Updated: 32 min 53 sec ago

How Houlihan Lawrence President and CEO Created a Brokerage Guided by Values

Thu, 09/23/2021 - 12:01

Elizabeth D. Nunan
President and CEO, Houlihan Lawrence, a member of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®
Rye Brook, New York

Region served: Markets North of New York City, as well as Fairfield County, Connecticut
Years in real estate: 30
Number of offices: 30
Number of agents: 1,335

Lesley Grand: Why is the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (LeadingRE) network a good fit for Houlihan Lawrence? 

Elizabeth D. Nunan: We’ve been members of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® a network of 550 firms that span over 70 countries—since the beginning. While the network is invitation only, members must follow a stringent set of criteria. For sellers, our membership in LeadingRE means that they get a steady stream of homebuyers interested in being with the brokerage. We’re also members of Luxury Portfolio International, the luxury marketing division of LeadingRE. While we handle all price points and homes that range from a one-bedroom co-op or condo to an entire estate located in the back country of Greenwich, Connecticut, it’s important to note that each exclusive property deserves the highest level of service. No matter who is buying or selling, our LeadingRE membership means that we’re able to give the ultimate in all aspects of service.

LG: Please describe your management style. 

EN: My role is to serve the agents and employees of our company, not the other way around. That being said, everything I do is guided by our core values: integrity, building, excellence, passion and community. I took on the role as president and CEO just as COVID hit, but my management style has been consistent throughout my career. I’d also like to add that authenticity is a guiding principle of mine. I do not ask anything of anyone that I wouldn’t do myself, and I’m not afraid to roll up my sleeves and do the work. I also like to focus on the positive and practice daily gratitude. This isn’t something I’ve always done, but it makes life easier for both me and those I work with.

LG: How do you attract the best agents? 

EN: While our company and office culture provide unrivaled support to all of our agents, we also have very experienced office leaders who are the best in the business. In addition, our reputation and integrity are second to none. For us, being a market leader means never standing still, so we’re constantly working to make sure we give the best tools to our agents so that they can give the best service to their buyers and sellers. Chief among them is an excellent tech suite. When I first became CEO, we went from being reliant on one vendor for all of our tech services to creating a best-in-class suite of tools.

LG: What are your best strategies for agent retention? 

EN: I work very hard at listening and being accessible. In fact, my agents know they can call, text or otherwise get a hold of me at all times. I want to hear from our agents and know how we can help them, so we invite them to weigh in during our monthly brain trust. Our agents inspire me every day, so the least I can do is be there for them.

LG: What is the one thing you hope agents say about you? 

EN: That I care. I want to make sure we are providing our agents the best tools to grow their business. When the shutdown occurred, I worried about our agents making a living because they are commission-based. As it turns out, many of our agents had their best year ever in 2020.

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

Lesley Grand is a contributing editor to RISMedia.

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Realogy CEO Discusses Housing With NJ Congressman

Thu, 09/23/2021 - 12:00

Ryan Schneider, CEO of Realogy, recently sat down with Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr., who serves as a representative for New Jersey’s 9th congressional district and is a member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.

During the company’s Owner Update, the pair discussed several critical issues, including legislation to restore the full federal state and local tax (SALT) deduction.

SALT deductions, go back 156 years according to Pascrell, Jr., he said “we need to restore the SALT deduction, which is fair, which is reasonable and keeps the American Dream going, and I’m not going to stop until we do.”

Pascrell, Jr., also gave an overview of some of the relevant actions currently making their way through Congress, including a bill that focuses on infrastructure financing, green energy incentives, federal aid family medical leave and the advance child tax credit. Additionally, Congress is discussing disaster relief in New Jersey and the debt ceiling extension expiration and a final plan to resolve debt.

In terms of tax provisions, Pascrell, Jr., said “Putting things on the more affluent people creates the wrong attitude about wealth and how people should spend their money. We want people to think about what the creed of America is, provide equal opportunity and we’ll have a better society and a better life.”

Looking at homeownership, Pascrell, Jr., said we need to understand that shelter is just as critical as food.

“People will take care of their homes better if they have a piece of the action,” he said. “When they have some feeling of ownership, they’ll take care of the place better.”

For more information, please visit

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Women in Real Estate: Power Moves for Business Growth

Thu, 09/23/2021 - 03:06

On Sept. 14, RISMedia held its annual Real Estate CEO & Agent Leadership Exchange, this year co-presented by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). The exclusive, full-day, virtual event attracted thousands of industry professionals, featuring broker- and agent-focused sessions with real estate’s most influential and successful executives, brokers, agents, coaches and more.

During the “Women in Real Estate: Power Moves for Business Growth” session, Coldwell Banker CEO, Liz Gehringer, led a discussion with four savvy women at the height of their real estate industry careers about five power moves women leaders can make to raise the bar for business growth and gender equity.

1. Promote yourself without apology.

“While this is something that doesn’t come naturally to some women, finding the voice to put yourself out there elevates not just you, but also your team and your company,” said panelist Jeanette Schneider, president of RE/MAX of Southeastern Michigan.

One way to do that, suggested panelist Christy Budnick, Global CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, is to think of women who have inspired you.

“Not just women from within your world, but in all fields” said Budnick. “Then emulate the traits you most admire in those women, including their poise at public speaking and managing media interviews that demonstrate their own unique qualities and the value that they and their associates bring to the table.”

2. Collaborate.

Collaboration and networking are at the heart of what women leaders instinctively do,” said panelist Lacey Merrick Conway, president and CEO of Latter & Blum. “It’s a strategy many working women take from their home life, where such cooperation is so essential, and bring to the workplace.”

Additionally, Budnick pointed out, true collaboration lifts everyone, not just the leader, and typically results in the best outcomes.

“There are lessons to be learned from everyone with whom you share ideas,” Budnick said, “whether from within your own industry, in other trades, even from those with whom you volunteer in the community or share other interests.

3. Take risks.

“Are women more risk-averse than men?” asked Gehringer.

“Perhaps,” said Schneider. “Initially, as a business leader, it made me a little nervous. But it turned out that each time I allowed myself to get out of my comfort zone, it became an opportunity for growth—and it gets easier each time, because you can see the accomplishments that come out of it.”

Budnick agreed, stating “Stretching yourself and surrounding yourself with other competent people can be a challenge. But in the end, not trying is more to be feared than failure, and following your gut will rarely steer you wrong.”

4. Lift others up as you rise.

Women number about 60% of people in the front lines of business,” said panelist Kymber Lovett-Menkiti, regional director, Maryland/DC Region, Keller Williams Realty International. “But only 20% are in top leadership positions. What helps those women rise to the top are two things; passion for the work they do, and a willingness to bring others along with them just as they have been brought along, by both women and men.”

As a working mother, as a woman of color and for every woman in business, she added, shattering glass ceilings and bringing others with you amplifies the broader community and increases opportunities for success.

“Also,” said Conway, “while stepping into a previous leader’s shoes can be daunting, it’s important to find ways to make it your own. Asking other people their opinions, letting them know you believe in them and giving them opportunities to shine are not only signs of good leadership, they also open a pathway to greater success for the whole.”

5. Identify personal guardrails.

“Being a leader,” noted Gehringer, “often comes with overwhelming demands on your time, which can take a toll on your me-time and family life. What guardrails do you use to keep your work from taking over your life?”

“What works well for me is, ‘let me double check my calendar,’” said Schneider. “That can put some needed space between a request and your acceptance.”

Sometimes, suggested Lovett-Menkiti, a request for a time commitment can be a good time to leverage other people’s strengths.

“Think, who in my world would be better for this task than me—and then call on them,” she said.

For Conway, it’s essential to schedule off-time and stick to it.

“You have to step back and take time for yourself,” she said. “The breather helps you come back at your best.”

You must take some time to disconnect,” agreed Budnick, who said she is strict about scheduling vacations, staycations, even regular workouts or just to be with her family.

“Time away refreshes and invigorates,” she said. “It’s something every leader needs.”

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

Barbara Pronin is a contributing editor to RISMedia.

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Transforming Connections Into Relationships: Central Alabama Broker Focuses on Support and the Experience

Thu, 09/23/2021 - 03:02

Anna-Marie Ellison
Broker/Owner, ERA King Real Estate
Anniston, Alabama

Region served: Central Alabama
Years in real estate: 15
Number of offices: 10
Number of agents: 202

Jordan Grice: How did you come to partner with ERA, and how has the partnership helped mold your brokerage?

Anna-Marie Ellison: ERA is all about building relationships, the power of the network and collaboration, and the brand aligns with who we are as a company. It was a natural fit for us to partner with them.

JG: What traits do you look for in agents, and how do you attract top talent?

AEM: We’re constantly trying to build connections with agents at other companies so that any time they begin thinking about where they are in their careers, we have an at-bat to talk to them about what we offer our agents and how we help support their business. That said, we’re always on the lookout for great agents. If they’re top agents and produce a lot, that’s great, but it’s more important that they’re aligned with the core values and ethos we have for our agents.

JG: What values do you promote at ERA King Real Estate to help your agents succeed?

AEM: Our charge is to do the right thing all the time. We want our agents to deliver a consistently exceptional experience to their clients, and we help them do that by providing support—a ton of professional development for agents looking to get better and hone their craft. We want them to keep their REALTOR® hats on and let us handle the office and administrative project-management responsibilities to get a client from listing to closing.

JG: What strategies have you implemented to snag listings during this time of limited inventory?

AEM: We focus on building a relationship. You’ve got your core people and your sphere people, but what are you doing to get to know their family and help them make the best decision for them? A house is the largest purchase that many people make, so act like it and build relationships around that.

JG: How do you and your agents approach the client experience?

AEM: Here in the south, you have a Publix shopping experience and a Winn-Dixie or Walmart shopping experience when buying groceries. We try and model the Publix shopping experience for our business, which involves under-promising, over-delivering and exceeding expectations. We also encourage our agents to be predictive of what they think their clients are going to need.

JG: How does tech use fit into your brokerage’s daily business strategy?

AEM: While tech is a tool to help us support relationships with our agents, it also allows our agents to support their relationships with their clients. We’re a paperless company, and we’ve supported that initiative since 2016. It allows our agents to move more nimbly in this market where inventory is tight. As a result, our agents didn’t have to pivot when the pandemic began because we had a digital platform for them to work remotely within our framework.

JG: What advice do you provide your agents regarding how they incorporate tech into their business strategies?

AEM: Don’t change anything until you’re ready to work on your business. Adopting tech is like establishing a new habit. You can’t give it a week or two weeks and complain that it isn’t working. Agents sometimes get distracted by the latest shiny thing, but they have to give tech, or any process and workflow change, enough time to evaluate if it’s truly worth it.

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

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

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Expands in Idaho

Thu, 09/23/2021 - 03:01

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices recently added Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Jacklin Real Estate to the global brokerage. The addition marks the brand’s continued growth in the state of Idaho and the sixth company in the state.

“Wade and Nicole Jacklin are the perfect leaders to build on our presence in Idaho,” said Christy Budnick, CEO, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, in a statement. “As the brand continues to expand throughout the Pacific Northwest, our team has long suggested Idaho as a flourishing market with high-integrity agents that could expand our global network.”

Owned and operated by Wade and Nicole Jacklin the firm is located in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and brings nearly 30 years of combined experience serving Kootenai County and the surrounding regions.

“Having been in residential real estate for multiple decades, I’ve never been more excited about what the next chapter holds for our clients, and residential real estate in Coeur d’Alene overall,” said Wade Jacklin, owner, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, in a statement. “We are exceptionally excited to become part of such a forward-thinking network who is dedicated to providing a collaborative culture and giving us tools to grow our business, allowing us more time to work on what we love—helping our clients.”

Gino Blefari, Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, also welcomed the company to the network, “Our continued growth in the Idaho market is a natural step in Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ global expansion and I couldn’t be more excited to welcome Wade and Nicole into our network.”

“From the supportive corporate office to the creative marketing team, and the innovative technology and platforms, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices has everything in one location to help its network agents take their brand and business to new lengths,” said Nicole Jacklin, owner and designated broker, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Jacklin Real Estate, in a statement. “Its brand recognition, national network and renowned professionalism align with everything we have always strived for.”

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

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RE/MAX Adds Payload Keybox to Approved Supplier Program

Thu, 09/23/2021 - 03:00

Payload Keybox, a single-source platform for all types of real estate payments, has joined the RE/MAX Approved Supplier program to offer digital payment automation to RE/MAX franchises across the United States and Canada.

RE/MAX developed RE/MAX MarketplaceSM, a one-stop shop where RE/MAX affiliates can find resources to grow their business, from yard signs to digital workflow solutions, often at a discount.

Prior to the formal addition to the RE/MAX Approved Supplier Program, several RE/MAX offices were invited to participate in a pilot program for feedback around Keybox’s many payment solutions, including earnest money deposits (EMD), agent invoicing, commission disbursements, title payments and different rental payments.

“Keybox’s ability to automate all different types of payments, through integrations with many of the systems our brokers and agents use, make them a great addition to the RE/MAX Marketplace,” said Joey Glenn, RE/MAX director, Strategic Alliances, in a statement. “We’re thrilled to add Payload and its game-changing Keybox solution to our Approved Supplier Program.”

RE/MAX Revealty of Columbus, Ohio, uses Keybox’s turnkey API design to integrate directly with their back-office platform (broker ez) for both EMD’s and agent fee payments. Earnest Money collection is automated, and for agent fees, agents have auto-pay through their preferred methods of payment whether it be ACH, credit or debit card, Google Pay®, or Apple Pay®.

“Payload Keybox has completely automated our earnest money and agent fee collection process. The workflow couldn’t be easier for our agents and homebuyers,” said Chris Harpster, owner of RE/MAX Revealty, in a statement. “Its direct integration with our back-office system has made reconciliation a breeze for our admin team.”

John Mangas, owner of RE/MAX Preferred Associates in Toledo, Ohio, piloted Keybox’s DotLoop® integration, where agents can have their homebuyers pay their earnest money deposit directly to their favorite title partners.

“Our agents love the DotLoop® integration and the ability to have earnest money payments sent directly to their favorite title companies,” said Mangas in a statement. “Homebuyers really appreciate the simple one-step payment; it’s been a huge convenience-add on the front-end of the home-buying experience!”

Louisville Title is connected through RE/MAX’s DotLoop® integration and also uses Keybox’s website embedded experience.

Tori Crowell, owner of Louisville Title commented, “We’ve been using Payload with our clients for over a year now and what a difference it makes! Clients can deposit their EMD at their convenience 24/7 without hassling with a check or certified funds. The process is smooth and simple for everyone. The team at Payload is professional and easy to work with!”

Payload Keybox recently attended the RE/MAX 2021 Broker Owner Conference in Austin, Texas, where affiliated broker/owners convened for networking and education.

“It was so great to finally meet RE/MAX broker/owners, and integration partners, in person,” said Zach Jacob, VP of partnerships, in a statement. “We couldn’t be more excited to be part of such a special culture, and look forward to helping more franchise owners simplify their payments.”

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

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Existing-Home Sales Retreat in August

Wed, 09/22/2021 - 12:04

Existing-home sales backed up in August, after two consecutive months of increases, according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Each of the four major U.S. regions experienced declines on both a MoM and YoY basis.

Total existing-home sales decreased by 2.0% from July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.88 million in August. Year-over-year, sales dropped 1.5% from last year (5.97 million in August 2020).

Single-family home sales decreased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.19 million in August, down 1.9% from 5.29 million in July and down 2.8% from last year.

Existing condo and co-op sales recorded at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 690,000 units in August, down 2.8% from 710,000 in July but up 9.5% from last year.

By Region:

Existing-Home Sales: 1.37 million (-2.1% YoY)
Median Price: $272,200 (+10.5% YoY)

Existing-Home Sales: 730,000 (-2.7% YoY)
Median Price: $407,800 (+16.8% YoY)

Existing-Home Sales: 2.55 million (-0.8% YoY)
Median Price: $303,200 (+12.8% YoY)

Existing-Home Sales: 1.23 million (-1.6% YoY)
Median Price: $507,900 (+11.4% YoY)

What the industry is saying:

“Sales slipped a bit in August as prices rose nationwide. Although there was a decline in home purchases, potential buyers are out and about searching, but much more measured about their financial limits, and simply waiting for more inventory. High home prices make for an unbalanced market, but prices would normalize with more supply. Securing a home is still a major challenge for many prospective buyers. A number of potential buyers have merely paused their search, but their desire and need for a home remain.” — Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, NAR

“We will continue working with federal policymakers and stakeholders from across the industry in an effort to increase housing supply and ensure the American Dream of homeownership remains accessible to as many people as possible.” — Charlie Oppler, President, NAR

“While housing activity has clearly cooled from its frenzy during the midst of the pandemic, home sales remain well-above the pre-pandemic pace and the median sales price continues to grow, albeit at a slower pace. A still-large number of young households are driving housing market activity, and leveraging the boost in purchasing power provided by low mortgage rates. Despite this, rising home prices mean that today’s buyers are spending larger shares of their paychecks to buy the typical home, and that trend could eventually cause some buyers to put home searches on hold, especially if mortgage rates begin to rise in response to expected tapering of asset purchases by the Fed later this year.
“Those who continue their home searches in the cooler months ahead are likely to be pleasantly surprised. Not only do we expect to see the usual seasonal respite from the competitiveness of the spring and summer home-buying season—making early fall the best time to buy a home—the return of sellers to the housing market driven by the improving economy and diminishing health risks could accentuate this trend.

“Additionally, recent construction figures show that builders continued to ramp up production in August and their outlook remained high in September, even as supply-chain challenges continue. These modest improvements are welcome, but haven’t changed the big-picture state: there are not enough homes for sale. Despite the recent improvement, single-family construction would still need to double to close the gap with household formation that accumulated over the last decade within the next five to six years.” — Danielle Hale, Chief Economist, realtor.com®

“Moving into the fall we continue to expect to see year-over-year declines in home sales related primarily to a return to normal seasonal patterns. This is a result of the base-effect created by the abnormal surge in home sales we saw in late Q3 and Q4 of 2020. The economy has continued to strengthen despite the recent surge in the Delta variant and we see the fundamentals behind housing demand remain strong looking at the rest of 2021 and into 2022.

“Home prices remain our primary source of concern as affordability becomes an increasing challenge, particularly for first time homebuyers who have not had the opportunity to benefit from the wealth created from recent surges in home equity. We expect that the Federal Reserve will likely give further indication on timing this week on reductions in Mortgage Backed Securities purchases.

“In multiple meetings, the Fed has pointed to trends in home prices as potential justification for reducing asset purchases, implying the upward pressure on mortgage rates would be useful in helping slow the pace of home price appreciation. Overall we think home sales will remain strong going into next year, but we should see inventory levels continue to slowly trend toward more normal levels and home price appreciation begin to slow over time.” — Ruben Gonzalez, Chief Economist, Keller Williams 

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

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White House Launches ‘House America’ Initiative to Combat Homelessness

Wed, 09/22/2021 - 12:03

The White House is launching a new initiative to combat the crisis of homelessness, working with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on a national partnership entitled “House America: An All-Hands-On-Deck Effort to Address the Nation’s Homelessness Crisis.”

HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge, who serves as chair of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), recently joined Biden-Harris Administration officials, Cabinet members and elected officials to launch “House America,” through which HUD and the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) invite mayors, county leaders, Tribal nation leaders and governors to use the funds provided through the American Rescue Plan to address the crisis of homelessness. The initiative will have a Housing First approach, immediately re-housing and building additional housing for people experiencing homelessness.

“The pandemic has shown us that we, as a nation, are only as strong as the most vulnerable among us,” said Secretary Fudge in a statement. “Addressing homelessness is not only about helping the individuals and families who face the greatest housing challenges, but also about the well-being and economic security of our communities and our whole nation. It’s going to take government working at all levels to address homelessness and to guarantee housing as a right for every American. The Biden-Harris Administration looks forward to working alongside state and local partners on solutions that help to eradicate homelessness. By leveraging American Rescue Plan resources and other federal funds through a Housing First approach, we can ensure more people have a safe, stable place to call home.”

“House America” is the federal government’s direct response to the crisis of homelessness, which was rising even before the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to HUD. In March, HUD released its 2020 Annual Homeless Assessment Report Part 1 to Congress, which found that more than 580,000 people experienced homelessness in the U.S. on a single night in January 2020, prior to the pandemic. COVID-19 has created greater urgency to address homelessness, given the heightened risks faced by people experiencing homelessness. At the same time, COVID-19 has slowed re-housing activities due to capacity issues and impacts on rental market vacancies.

The American Rescue Plan provides several housing resources, including 70,000 emergency housing vouchers, $5 billion in HOME grants, and investments to preserve and protect housing on tribal lands. The American Rescue Plan also provides $350 billion in state and local Fiscal Recovery Funds through the Department of the Treasury to support the many needs communities face, including homelessness and housing instability, related to the pandemic and its negative economic impacts.

“House America” will also provide assistance to access any resources remaining through the CARES Act, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, and state and local resources to re-house people experiencing homelessness and create additional dedicated housing units to address homelessness.

“House America” has a goal of adding new units of affordable housing that address homelessness into the development pipeline by Dec. 31, 2022.

To learn more about “House America,” to join the initiative or for a list of “House America” participants, visit: www.hud.gov/house_america.

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CFPB Report States Renters Are at Risk as COVID-19 Support Ends

Wed, 09/22/2021 - 12:01

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently released a report warning that millions of renters and their families may be at economic risk as federal and state COVID-19 relief programs end.

The report, “Financial conditions for renters before and during the COVID-19 Pandemic,” claims some government relief efforts likely helped maintain the financial stability of renters and their families, now putting them at risk as those programs expire. The report compared homeowners and renters, finding that, on average, renters’ economic health improved with relief measures such as stimulus payments and changes in unemployment benefits. When these programs end, renters and their families may be at heightened risk.

According to the CFPB, the report will help inform ongoing work to support renters and their families.

“Today’s report confirms that renters, when compared to homeowners, are more likely to be Black or Hispanic, more likely to have lower incomes, and more likely to be women. They are also at particular risk of falling further behind as the nation recovers from the economic impacts of COVID,” said CFPB Acting Director Dave Uejio in a statement. “Past recessions and depressions have seen communities of color and low-income communities of all races and ethnicities left behind when the broader economy recovers. We cannot repeat that history. The CFPB is committed to helping renters and their families thrive. We must amplify and protect the modest gains renters made during the pandemic to ensure this nation’s full and equitable recovery from COVID-19.”

Using the CFPB’s Making Ends Meet survey and consumer credit data, CFPB researchers found renters generally experiencing more financial vulnerability than homeowners. Therefore, they had more to gain from some pandemic relief efforts than homeowners. They also could have more to lose from the end of this relief.

Comparing renters and homeowners, researchers found:

– Renters are more likely to be Black or Hispanic, younger and have lower incomes. Before the pandemic, average credit scores among renters were 86 points lower than those of homeowners with a mortgage, and 106 points lower than those homeowners who do not have a mortgage. Renters’ Financial Well-Being Scores were nearly eight points lower than those of homeowners with a mortgage, and more than 13 points lower than homeowners who pay no mortgage.

– In June 2019, renters were more likely than homeowners to have student debt and to have used some form of alternative financial service, such as payday, pawn shop or auto-title loans.

– During the pandemic, despite poor labor market conditions, renters’ financial conditions, on average, appeared to improve as much as, or more than, those of homeowners. Renters’ credit scores increased by 16 points during the pandemic, compared to 10 points for mortgagors and seven points for other homeowners, for example. However, renters’ credit scores remained below those of homeowners, even accounting for the modest improvements of renters’ credit scores.

– Renters’ financial conditions throughout the pandemic have been more responsive to changes in government financial assistance than those of homeowners. Delinquency, credit card use and credit card debt among renters rose and fell in conjunction with stimulus payments and changes in federal unemployment benefits, while homeowners’ delinquency, credit card use and credit card debt remained comparatively stable.

– Among renters, some credit outcomes among groups who qualified for targeted pandemic relief appeared to be more responsive to policy changes than those among other groups. For example, credit scores among renters with student debt leapt 40 points during the first months of the pandemic. Additionally, delinquency rates among renters with children saw a considerable decline following stimulus payments during the pandemic (dropping from 42.1% to 34.4%), perhaps reflecting that stimulus payments could be larger depending on the presence of children in the family.

As government pandemic financial support ends, renters are in danger of falling further behind the broader national recovery. Renters represent over 30% of U.S. households, and their welfare is critical to the welfare of the larger economy and the communities in which we live.

As part of its work to support an equitable economic recovery, the CFPB has reminded credit reporting agencies and furnishers of their obligations to report rent payments and evictions accurately. Accurate reporting is now even more essential with the new mortgage underwriting process announced by Fannie Mae last week, which will add rental payments to the evaluation process for mortgage qualification and approval. The CFPB will use this report to inform how best to support an equitable recovery for renters and all Americans.

Read the CFPB’s full report, “Financial conditions for renters before and during the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

Source: CFPB

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MBA Launches Policy Initiative to Close the Racial Homeownership Gap

Wed, 09/22/2021 - 12:00

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) recently announced a new policy initiative, “Building Generational Wealth Through Homeownership,” aimed at providing industry leadership and direction for reducing the racial homeownership gap; developing and supporting policies that support sustainable homeownership for communities of color; and promoting fair, equitable and responsible lending for minority borrowers.

Through advocacy, partnerships and connections within the industry, MBA’s initiative will increase homeownership opportunities for minority borrowers, expand homeownership readiness to future borrowers, and assist current homeowners with maintaining and maximizing the benefits of homeownership.

“Homeownership is often the largest source of intergenerational wealth for families. MBA’s new policy initiative serves as a perfect foundation to level the playing field,” said Susan Stewart, 2021 MBA chairman and chief executive officer at SWBC Mortgage Corporation, in a statement. “The mortgage industry has a responsibility to promote minority homeownership by partnering with key stakeholders to remove barriers and support financial education and counseling, with a goal to close the racial homeownership gap and increase generational wealth among minority households.”

“MBA is uniquely positioned to harness its internal and external resources to help more minority families become homeowners,” said Bob Broeksmit, CMB, MBA president and CEO, in a statement. “Through industry advocacy and partnerships with housing experts, consumer groups, nonprofits, and civil rights organizations, our industry will focus on eliminating obstacles and shaping policy to promote and increase minority homeownership.”

MBA’s initiative will complement the marketplace efforts of its signature Affordable Housing Initiative, CONVERGENCE, which was developed by MBA’s Minority Homeownership Joint Task Force, a collection of industry professionals drawn from MBA’s Residential Board of Governors (RESBOG) and the Affordable Homeownership Advisory Council.

To learn more about the policy initiative, click here.


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Take Advantage of Safety Resources Through RTRN

Wed, 09/22/2021 - 03:04

NAR PULSE—Your agents’ safety is a top priority. That’s why Right Tools, Right Now commemorates Safety Month by offering new and updated safety-related products, available for free through September. Encourage your agents to stay safe while on the job by checking out this month’s products.

Commit to Combatting Discrimination With Fairhaven
Promote fairness, equal opportunity and integrity in real estate when you utilize Fairhaven, the National Association of REALTORS®’ fair housing training simulation for REALTORS® that uses the power of storytelling to help members identify, prevent and address discriminatory practices in real estate. Visit Fairhaven.realtor and share with your team!

Help Your Agents Grow Their Business With Resources From Your REALTOR® Store
Where can your agents find vetted, expert intel and insights that help them position themselves as real estate experts in their market? Your REALTOR® Store! Help them stay ahead of market trends, successfully land listings and grow their business today.

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‘Under Evolutionary Attack’: How a Hilton Head Broker Leans on Technology to Tackle the ‘Amazon Effect’

Wed, 09/22/2021 - 03:02

Chip Collins is one of those leaders who has come out of pandemic times better than before. With his team out of the office for more than a year, Collins—the broker-in-charge/owner of Collins Group Realty in Hilton Head, South Carolina—adapted and modified operations with technology to meet the changing needs of his employees, agents and, most importantly, the consumer. As Collins says, “Wouldn’t it be a shame to have gone through all this and not evolve? Not learn something new that we can employ and be different and better moving forward?”

This is the very attitude that has helped propel Collins to success over his 25 years in real estate, nearly 20 of which has been spent at the firm that bears his name. And the need to evolve to help agents better serve consumers has never been more necessary than during the past year and a half.

“Pre-COVID, we were already a destination where people were telecommuting,” Collins explains. “That accelerated once people were seeking low density areas and outdoor space. The craziness, overlaid with price appreciation, created a lot of mobility.”

It also created a lot of buyer fatigue. “We have to rework some of the nomenclature and the mindset to make sure people don’t talk themselves out of being involved in the market,” says Collins.

Collins has built his business model around what the consumer needs. “We are an industry that is under evolutionary attack,” he explains. “We can’t fight against that, but what we can do is focus on delivering the best real estate transaction and building clients for life by expressing ourselves with care.”

To help deliver on the experience consumers have come to expect—what Collins refers to as “the Amazon effect”—he and his team have leaned into powerful technology, such as BoomTown, which offers CRM, lead gen, lead management and more.

“We’re blessed with a great partnership with BoomTown,” says Collins. “Their tech stack is filled with resources that make the client experience more of what they’ve come to expect.”

And Collins strongly believes that consumers should expect a lot of service for what they pay. “If the commission structure is to stay intact,” he says, “agents are charged with bringing a lot more value to the table—market knowledge and care that goes beyond the sale.”

According to Collins, technology goes hand in hand with a modern consumer experience, and platforms like BoomTown and others, which help automate workflows and communications to clients, help his team provide a high level of value. “Whether it’s a drip campaign or continuity plan, BoomTown triggers your next to-do items.”

The baked-in accountability that the BoomTown platform provides is especially valuable with the many balls Collins and his team are juggling in today’s market.

The technology solutions the company provides have been life-changing for Collins and his team. “It’s all about showing people the value of a piece of technology,” he explains. “You create these ‘aha’ moments…when the team is in synergy with that technology, it translates over to the consumer.”

And the response from Collins Group Realty’s clients says it all. “We get the best accolades from people telling us how quality the experience was,” says Collins. “They saw that we had the answers, anticipated their needs and provided information.”

Ultimately, partnerships like BoomTown help secure ongoing success for Collins and his team. As he explains, “When you look at every transaction, every communication with a caring lens, that’s where our value comes from.”

For more information, please visit

Maria Patterson is RISMedia’s executive editor. Email her your real estate news ideas to maria@rismedia.com.

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Realogy Named Great Place to Work®

Wed, 09/22/2021 - 03:01

Realogy Holdings Corp. has been named a certified Great Place to Work® for the fourth year in a row. The award is based entirely on current employee feedback about their experience working at Realogy. This year, 86% of Realogy employees said the company is a great place to work—27 percentage points higher than a typical U.S.-based company, according to the National Employee Engagement Survey by Great Place to Work®.

“I am incredibly proud that for the fourth consecutive year Realogy has been recognized as a Great Place to Work,” said Ryan Schneider, Realogy’s chief executive officer and president, in a statement. “As we continue to transform and accelerate Realogy’s leadership in both residential real estate and workplace culture, the Great Place to Work designation is especially meaningful. The direct feedback from our people reflects not only their company pride but also their strong dedication to supporting affiliated agents, franchise owners, customers, and each other, every day.”

Over two-thousand employees participated in the Great Place to Work survey, with Realogy scoring particularly high ratings, 90% and up, to questions, such as feeling welcomed when joining the company, being given a lot of responsibility and people caring about each other.

“Great Place to Work Certification isn’t something that comes easily—it takes ongoing dedication to the employee experience,” said Sarah Lewis-Kulin, vice president of global recognition at Great Place to Work, in a statement. “It’s the only official recognition determined by employees’ real-time reports of their company culture. Earning this designation means that Realogy is one of the best companies to work for in the country.”

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

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ERA® Real Estate Expands Washington Presence

Wed, 09/22/2021 - 03:00

ERA® Real Estate has announced that Tucker Realty LLC, based in Mount Vernon, Washington, has affiliated with the ERA® brand. The company will now do business as Tucker Realty ERA Powered.

The company, established in 2019, is owned by the husband-and-wife team of John and Michelle Combel. It provides real estate services in Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom Counties in northern Washington State.

“The Combels’ deep experience leading businesses in various industries gives them a unique perspective in running a real estate brokerage that serves today’s connected consumer. They understand that the proper professional development of their affiliated agents would benefit their business growth and reinforce their value to their clients,” said Sherry Chris, president and CEO of ERA® Real Estate, in a statement. “As a result, they looked to align with a partner with innovative tools and programs in place to help the company and agents succeed, which is why they decided to partner with ERA. They understand the value we bring to the table. We are confident that John and Michelle will thrive in the ERA culture and look forward to helping them grow in the future.”

“Our company culture has always promoted collaboration and an environment that fosters a family feel. We knew that if we were going to partner with anyone, it needed to be a brand with a mission of collaboration and innovation,” said John Combel, broker/owner Tucker Realty ERA Powered, in a statement. “We found the perfect partner in ERA Real Estate. Now, as a member of the global ERA network, our firm is joining forces with brokers and agents worldwide to share best practices and forward-thinking ideas to help drive success and new growth opportunities. Being ERA Powered will not only give us the ability to leverage our local brand identity but will also enable our agents to tap into the programs, resources and tools they need to provide next-level client service while retaining the brand we have worked so hard to build.”

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

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Op-Ed: Small Businesses, Cooperation Bolster Real Estate Market by Maintaining Affordability, Equity

Tue, 09/21/2021 - 12:04

As more than 31 million small businesses across the country were recognized during National Small Business Week, it’s a good time to look at how small, local operations drive so much of the economy and search for ways to continue to level the playing field for them and for consumers. When it comes to “buying local,” small businesses could not be more front and center than when it comes to purchasing a home. In fact, of the 1.5 million REALTORS® across the country, more than 1.3 million are small businesses like me who are focused on our local communities.

Of course, the local economic impact of housing is about more than just real estate agents. Preparing a home for the market often involves photographers, cleaners, landscapers, decorators and more, many of whom are small business owners themselves. Taken in total, small business has a significant impact on real estate—in fact, every home sale generates roughly $88,000 in local economic activity, and every two home sales supports one American job. Overall, real estate accounts for nearly 18% of the nation’s GDP.

When you consider this real estate economic “food chain,” many think of it as beginning at their housing search—the listings. Real estate listings aren’t simply picked up from websites or public sources, they are created, licensed, vetted, verified, marketed, publicized and shared by independent contractors and small business real estate professionals like me and my team, and then posted on localized data hubs. These hubs allow even the smallest businesses to immediately compete with large ones by creating and participating in this marketplace, where all have access to the same reliable and trusted data.

Part of an ongoing fight to maintain equitable accessibility to these listings for all consumers and a level playing field for small business brokerages has to do with so-called “pocket listings.” Such listings allow for the marketing of properties to select consumers before opening them up to all potential buyers. Addressing these types of private listings is critical to ensuring fair competition among small businesses and crucial consumer protection, especially in hot markets where properties sell extremely fast. New guidelines implemented in late 2019 ensure that listings must be submitted to the local marketplace within one business day of marketing a property to the public. This is important in supporting a transparent, pro-consumer market, benefitting both sellers and buyers.

Next, let’s consider house hunting and the choice of whom to work with throughout this important process. Another benefit of the real estate marketplace is that it spurs entrepreneurship and innovation and allows consumers to choose their business partners, whether they be small enterprises or large ones. This also allows for choice in service models and the fee payment options, including different commission options or flat fees. It is noteworthy that one of the compensation models, a success or contingent fee, is strongly pro-consumer. If the real estate agent does not sell the property, he or she does not earn a fee.

When it comes to the offer prices for properties and closing fees, the real estate marketplace also makes the transaction more affordable. The commitment to cooperation—in which the listing broker pays the buyer broker—allows countless first-time homebuyers and low- and middle-income Americans to be able to afford both a down payment and professional representation.

And we know that these savings go a long way. For many prospective buyers, saving for a down payment is difficult enough. The average American household has about $8,800 in the bank. That’s barely 50% of the average down payment for a starter home. Most lenders don’t allow real estate broker commissions to be financed. As a result, for every 1% of broker commission fees that first-time buyers might have to pay, the prices for their homes grow by another $2,000. Buyers, particularly first-time buyers, benefit from the advocacy and representation that licensees provide, particularly given the competition for properties and the complications of the home-buying process.

So, having celebrated small businesses in America last week and in the spirit of keeping that momentum going forward, I’m proud to be a REALTOR® who is one of the more than 4% of all U.S. small businesses. We’re out there each and every day participating in a real estate marketplace that advances small businesses and promotes equity for consumers.

Ron Phipps
Principal Broker at Phipps Realty Inc.

Ron Phipps, a REALTOR® for more than 40 years from Warwick, Rhode Island, was the 2011 president of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Phipps is principal broker of Phipps Realty, a family business started by his mother in 1976. In addition to being NAR’s president, Phipps has served as 2003 regional vice president, 2009 first vice president and 2010 president elect. An NAR director since 2000, he has also chaired numerous Presidential Advisory Groups and committees. As part of his service on the 2008 Advisory Group on Professionalism in the industry, Phipps became one of the founding members of REALTOR® University.

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Freddie Mac Report Highlights Apparent Racial Bias in Appraisals

Tue, 09/21/2021 - 12:03

Housing discrimination and racial bias have taken many forms over the years, from the explicit government-sponsored policy of redlining (refusing to insure mortgages in predominately Black neighborhoods) to the continued practices of steering (real estate agents pushing Black homebuyers away from white neighborhoods).

Yesterday, Freddie Mac released a new report exploring another avenue that the real estate industry has discriminated against non-white homeowners—through appraisals.

According to the report, the appraisal value of homes in predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods were significantly more likely to appraise lower than the contracted sale price compared to white neighborhoods, a disparity that cannot be explained by comparable reconciliation, variances in comparable sale prices or possible systematic overpayment.

Homes in Black neighborhoods are about 70% more likely to appraise lower than the sales price compared to homes in white neighborhoods—12.5% compared to 7.4%. Homes in Latino neighborhoods were more than twice as likely to appraise lower, the data showed, at 15.4%.

“This is a persistent problem that disproportionately impacts hundreds of thousands of Black and Latino applicants,” said Michael Bradley, senior vice president in Freddie Mac’s single-family division, in a statement. “Our research marks the beginning of a comprehensive effort to better understand the key drivers contributing to the appraisal gap.”

The racial gap still exists when controlling for other property and neighborhood characteristics, the report stated. Bradley said it is possible this gap is contributing to continued racial disparities in homeownership and equity.

“An appraisal falling below the contracted sale price may allow a buyer to renegotiate
with a seller, but it could also mean families might miss out on the full wealth-building
benefits of homeownership or may be unable to get the financing needed to achieve the
American Dream in the first place.”

The report explored potential reasons for this gap, using an in-house appraiser and experts as well as ancillary data. Overall, appraisers used a smaller distance for comps when working in Black and Latino neighborhoods, according to the report, and were also reconciled toward the lower end of the comp scale in those neighborhoods to a small degree.

A higher concentration of Black or Latino residents increased the appraisal gap, the data also showed. The report also noted that statistics originated from appraisals nationwide, making the racial gap “pervasive.”

According to the report, Freddie Mac is looking at “supporting tools” that can serve as “alternatives to traditional appraisals” in order to combat the apparent racial biases in the industry.

“Equity in housing is a critical issue and one Freddie Mac takes very seriously,” said
Pamela Perry, single-family vice president of equitable housing at Freddie Mac, in a statement. “We’re uniquely positioned to investigate potential gaps and provide data-driven research like this to advance solutions that promote equity across the valuation process.”

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

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Multifamily Activity Bolsters Housing Starts, but Single-Family Production Low

Tue, 09/21/2021 - 12:02

Strong multifamily activity pushed overall housing starts up in August but single-family starts have dipped in response to continued supply chain and labor challenges. Total starts increased 3.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.62 million units, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau.

The August reading of 1.62 million starts is the number of housing units builders would begin if development kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this overall number, single-family starts decreased 2.8% to a 1.08 million seasonally adjusted annual rate, but are up 23.8% year-to-date. The multifamily sector increased 20.6% to a 539,000 pace.

The breakdown:

Housing Starts
: 1.62 million (+3.9%% month-over-month, +17.4% year-over-year)
Multifamily Starts: 530,000
Single-Family Starts: 1,054,000

Building Permits: 
1.73 million (+6.0% month-over-month, +13.5% year-over-year)
Multifamily Permits: 632,000
Single-Family Permits: 1,048,000

Completions: 1.33 million (-4.5% month-over-month, +9.4% year-over-year)
Multifamily Completions: 356,000
Single-Family Completions: 971,000

Regional year-to-date data:


What the industry is saying:

“Total housing starts and housing permits made decent gains in August compared to the month prior, but the focus was on multifamily units. Single-family housing starts fell 2.8% while single-family housing permits, a gauge for future activity, were essentially unchanged after falling in the past four months. Multifamily starts, comprising mostly apartments, increased by 20.6% while multifamily permits rose 15.8%.

“There is certainly a housing shortage, as reflected in the low inventory of homes for sale and in low rental vacancy rates. However, a shift toward rental buildings means less access to homeownership over the long run and the accompanying opportunity for wealth gains. Home-price gains will surely moderate after experiencing gains of nearly 20% in the first half of this year. But given the housing shortage and the lack of big increases in the construction of single-family homes, home prices will continue to move higher than most people’s income gains. That’s good news for property owners, but bad news for those wanting to become homeowners.” — Dr. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, National Association of REALTORS®

“Single-family construction is normalizing at more sustainable levels after an increase in building material pricing. Demand remains strong, but the market is facing increasing housing affordability issues after a run-up in new and existing home prices. Multifamily construction increased in August, with NAHB expecting a solid gain for apartment construction in 2021 after a slight decline last year.” — Chuck Fowke, Chairman, National Association of Home Builders

“More inventory is coming for a market that continues to face a housing deficit. The number of single-family homes under construction in August-702,000-is the highest since the Great Recession and is 32.7% higher than a year ago. While some building materials, like lumber, have seen easing prices, delivery delays and a lack of skilled labor and building lots continue to hold the market back.” — Robert Dietz, Chief Economist, National Association of Home Builders

“The pace of new construction reflected homebuilder shifts toward higher margin projects amid fluctuating costs. As August saw home builder sentiment dip over concerns of slipping buyer traffic and sales, builders sought permits for more multifamily projects. However, this week’s September sentiment numbers show a rebound is in the works, as residential construction companies work through their order backlog and look forward to increased traffic heading into 2022.

Real estate markets are grappling with a decade of underbuilding, which has pushed this year’s buyers to pay record-high prices for a tight number of homes for sale. As millennials—the largest generation in our country’s history—came of age during the last 10 years, new construction volume lagged, creating a shortage of 5.2 million new homes. Moreover, completed new homes have been mostly aimed at the premium segment of the market, with the share of new-home sales priced at or below $300,000 dropping from 43% of total in 2018, to 32% in the first half of 2021.

“For builders, demographics offer tremendous potential, as the millennial generation is in its peak household formation years. In a promising recent development for builders and buyers alike, California’s recent legislative move to expand access to more homes through relaxing single-family zoning standards could serve as a model for other states and open the door for an influx of affordable new construction supply.” — George Ratiu, Manager of Economic Research, realtor.com®

“New-home starts recovered in August, following a brief period of decline in July due to supply chain issues. Additionally, the backlog of homes authorized but not started has grown to record levels over the late spring and summer, and as builders are able to secure materials and labor it is not surprising to see starts begin to pick back up. This backlog is a promising metric, and while some of the pipeline of units may be canceled, it is likely that a good share of the backlog will make it to market due to robust housing demand.” — Kelly Mangold, Principal, RCLCO Real Estate Consulting

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New-Home Mortgage Applications for Purchases Down in August

Tue, 09/21/2021 - 12:01

Mortgage applications for new-home purchases decreased 17% compared to last year, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) Builder Application Survey (BAS) data for August 2021. Compared to July 2021, applications increased by 9%. This change does not include any adjustment for typical seasonal patterns.

The details:

According to MBA estimates using data from the BAS, new single-family home sales were running at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 874,000 units in August 2021.

The seasonally adjusted estimate for August shows an increase of 12.2% from July’s pace of 779,000 units. Unadjusted, MBA estimates there were 71,000 new-home sales in August 2021—an increase of 10.9% from 64,000 new-home sales in July.

By product type:

– Conventional Loans: 75.1% of loan applications
– FHA Loans: 13.8%
– RHS/USDA Loans: 0.6%
– VA Loans: 10.5%

The average loan size of new homes increased from $402,440 in July to $406,922 in August.

The takeaway:

“Mortgage applications to purchase new homes were down in August compared to 2020’s late summer surge, but both mortgage applications and MBA’s estimate of new-home sales jumped last month compared to July,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of Economic and Industry Forecasting, in a statement. “While the new-home construction market is a much smaller segment of the overall housing market, prospective buyers are increasingly turning to new homes because of the very low levels of existing homes for sale. Last month’s non-seasonally adjusted 9% increase in applications is an indication of greater than expected strength in demand, given that summer’s end is typically a slower period for new-home purchases.”

“On a seasonally adjusted basis, new-home sales jumped 12% in August to 874,000 units, the fastest pace of sales since January 2021. This is consistent with improving home builder sentiment, as lumber prices continue to ease and demand for new homes remains strong. However, higher costs for materials, delivery delays and growing labor shortages continue to pose as challenges and are ultimately pushing sales prices higher,” added Kan. “The average loan size set another survey record at $406,922, and the share of loan applications for amounts greater than $400,000 accounted for over 40% of all applications, up from 28% a year ago.”

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NAR Partnering With RRC for REALTOR Benefits® Program

Tue, 09/21/2021 - 12:00

The National Association of REALTOR® (NAR) announced the launch of a new resource being made available to its members nationwide through the REALTOR Benefits® Program. The offering, Residential Real Estate Council’s Broker Solutions, was developed to ensure residential real estate brokerages with fewer than 150 agents are able to provide service and support to their agents comparable to what is typically offered by larger entities.

Last week, NAR released its 2021 Profile of Real Estate Firms, which found that the vast majority of real estate brokerages in America are small, independent operations. Specifically, four out of five real estate firms operated from a single office, typically with three full-time real estate licensees, and 81% of all U.S. brokerages are residential.

“Smaller, independent brokerages have limited resources to navigate the endless stream of disruptions in our market,” said NAR CEO Bob Goldberg in a statement. “But as the NAR report from last week showed, these are the brokerages which dominate the market and propel our industry forward. We’re excited to announce this partnership with RRC, which will help to ensure small, independent firms have access to the same resources as those affiliated with major franchises and corporations.”

RRC Broker Solutions has agreed to provide all NAR members, non-member NAR staff, state/local association staff and family members with $50 off full-priced education programs provided by Broker Solutions.

RRC was established in 1976, developing training courses and establishing the Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) designation.

For more information, please visit

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Builder Confidence Inches Up in September

Tue, 09/21/2021 - 03:03

Builder confidence improved slightly in September amid lower lumber prices and strong housing demand, even while supply chain and labor challenges persist. After a three-month decline, builder sentiment for newly built single-family homes increased by one point to 76 in September, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI).

Key findings:

– The HMI index gauging current sales conditions increased one point to 82
– The index measuring traffic of future buyers increased by two points to 61
– The index forecasting sales expectations in the next six months held firm at 81
– For the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, all regions except one decreased. The Northeast fell two points to 72, the South dropped two points to 80 and the West decreased two points to 83. The Midwest remained flat at 68.

The takeaway:

NAHB expects housing affordability will be a key demand-side challenge in the near future, due to the rapid home price-growth and rising construction costs over the last year.

“Builder sentiment has been gradually cooling since the HMI hit an all-time high reading of 90 last November,” said NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke in a statement. “The September data show stability as some building material cost challenges ease, particularly for softwood lumber. “However, delivery times remain extended and the chronic construction labor shortage is expected to persist as the overall labor market recovers.”

“The single-family building market has moved off the unsustainably hot pace of construction of last fall and has reached a still hot but more stable level of activity, as reflected in the September HMI,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz in a statement. “While building material challenges persist, the rate of cost growth has eased for some products, but the job openings rate in construction is trending higher.”

“Regionally, we continue to see growth in the South and the West, particularly the Mountain West,” added Dietz. “Exurban markets have expanded the most over the last year, although inner suburbs are now experiencing an acceleration, with townhouse construction having had the best quarter in 14 years this spring.”

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