Category Archives: Real Estate

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In the September issue of HousingWire Magazine, our own Kelsey Ramírez wrote a feature story on the impact of Airbnb in New Orleans and asked whether the short-term rental industry is going to disrupt the entire housing market. For more on that story, click here.

A new report from Bloomberg furthers that point, and shows just how contentious the fight over Airbnb is becoming in certain expensive markets, like San Francisco.

As these types of fight always do, lawyers are involved. But it’s not just lawyers, private investigators are involved too.

Here’s Bloomberg’s David Levitt:

In a gentrifying neighborhood of San Francisco, a couple exit their cab and head toward an apartment, rolling suitcases behind them. Unbeknownst to them, a private investigator by the name of Michael Joffe sits in his parked car just across the street, discreetly snapping pictures.

This is not a divorce case waiting to happen or an international spy caper. Nothing that salacious or mysterious. It is instead an episode that provides a window into how bitter the feud between struggling tenants and home-sharing websites like Airbnb Inc. has become. Joffe works for a tenant lawyer who in turns represents a family that was evicted from their apartment — the one that the couple was entering that day.

The goal of the stakeout was to uncover, and document, smoking-gun proof that the landlord is violating city ordinances limiting the use of private homes for short-term rentals. It’s very lucrative work nowadays in San Francisco, the city that’s come to represent America’s shortage of affordable housing.

“Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you want to look at it, it’s a decent living in San Francisco right now being an investigator doing these kind of jobs, because here are so many of them,” Joffe, 48, said.

At issue is whether some landlords are booting long-term renters out of apartments to list those units on Airbnb instead.

Talk about Ohio based banks

In this case, the DOJ accused Union Savings Bank and Guardian Savings Bank, which are based in Cincinnati and share common ownership and management, of redlining “predominantly African-American” neighborhoods in Cincinnati; Columbus, Ohio; Dayton, Ohio; and Indianapolis.

The complaint alleged that from at least 2010 through 2014, the banks extended credit to the residents of predominantly white neighborhoods to a “significantly greater extent” than they extended credit to majority African-American neighborhoods in the same cities.

According to the DOJ, those neighborhoods are “easily recognized because each of the four metropolitan areas in which the banks operate has long maintained highly-segregated residential housing patterns for African Americans.”

The DOJ said the lending practices of Union Savings Bank and Guardian Savings Bank were in violation of the both the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

As part of the settlement, Union will open two full-service branches and Guardian will open one loan production office to serve the residents of the African-American neighborhoods in question, the DOJ said.

Additionally, Union and Guardian will invest at least $9 million in majority African-American neighborhoods in the Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton and Indianapolis metropolitan areas.

According to the DOJ, that investment includes $7 million in a loan subsidy fund that will be used to increase the amount of credit that Union and Guardian extend to residents of majority African-American census tracts.

As part of the bank’s efforts to increase lending in the minority neighborhoods that “were not adequately served” previously by the banks, Union and Guardian will also invest $2 million in advertising, outreach, financial education and community partnership efforts.

According to the DOJ, the settlement also requires that both banks develop “robust internal controls” to ensure that the banks are in compliance with fair lending obligations. The banks are also required to conduct fair lending training for their employees.

The easy way to search for new CEO

They begin their search immediately.

This means, after 36 years of service,  current CEO Dale Stinton will retire from the association in 2017.

Stinton took over as CEO in November 2005.

Previously, he served as chief financial officer and chief information officer since 1998 and was named acting CEO and executive vice president in 1996.

In the email, NAR applauded Stinton’s leadership during the financial crisis.

“Dale Stinton has had a long and distinguished career at NAR and has made immense contributions to the association, and we thank him for his service,” said Chris Polychron, president of NAR in 2015 who is now serving as chair.

“This continues to be a dynamic time for the association and the industry, and I am confident that we will find and hire the best candidate to position NAR for long-term success as it continues the important role of advocating for Realtor members, consumers and the industry,” he added.

Additionally, Union and Guardian will invest at least $9 million in majority African-American neighborhoods in the Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton and Indianapolis metropolitan areas.

According to the DOJ, that investment includes $7 million in a loan subsidy fund that will be used to increase the amount of credit that Union and Guardian extend to residents of majority African-American census tracts.

As part of the bank’s efforts to increase lending in the minority neighborhoods that “were not adequately served” previously by the banks, Union and Guardian will also invest $2 million in advertising, outreach, financial education and community partnership efforts.

According to the DOJ, the settlement also requires that both banks develop “robust internal controls” to ensure that the banks are in compliance with fair lending obligations. The banks are also required to conduct fair lending training for their employees.

Real estate agent arrested for allegedly

John Rose Jr., 49, who works for the William Raveis agency, was arrested Christmas Eve after police said he was caught burglarizing a home on Lordship Road along with a friend who is a hairdresser.

Rose and Raymond Feliciano Jr., 47, of New Britain, were each charged with third-degree burglary, conspiracy to commit third-degree burglary and possession of burglar tools.

Police said that on Christmas Eve they received calls from neighbors on Lordship Road reporting two men carrying large sacks from the home of a man who had recently died.

Local police are also investigating several other burglaries at other nearby houses that Rose would have had access to as well.

The number of investors who flipped a house in the first nine months of 2016 reached the highest level since 2007. About a third of the deals in the third quarter were financed with debt, a percentage not seen in eight years.

Trying to win business, big banks in the past few weeks have flown executives to Southern California—where much of the house-flipping activity is occurring—to organize funding deals, say people familiar with the meetings.

The article has much more on how flipping is coming back, riding a wave of both reality TV and crowdfunding.

All about home flipping

After nearly being felled by real-estate forays almost a decade ago, a number of banks are now arranging financing vehicles for house flippers, who aim to make a profit by buying and selling homes in a matter of months. The sector is small—participants say roughly several hundred million dollars in financing deals have been made in recent months—but is expected to keep growing.

In recent months, big banks, including Wells Fargo & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. have started extending credit lines to companies that specialize in lending to home flippers. Earlier this month, J.P. Morgan agreed to lend an estimated $60 million to 5 Arch Funding, an Irvine, Calif., company that offers financing to flippers, according to people familiar with the deal.

In the words of one flipper, “the floodgates have opened” when it comes to finding financing for flipping.

Again from the WSJ:

The number of investors who flipped a house in the first nine months of 2016 reached the highest level since 2007. About a third of the deals in the third quarter were financed with debt, a percentage not seen in eight years.

Trying to win business, big banks in the past few weeks have flown executives to Southern California—where much of the house-flipping activity is occurring—to organize funding deals, say people familiar with the meetings.

The article has much more on how flipping is coming back, riding a wave of both reality TV and crowdfunding.

How to find the hottest neighborhoods

Redfin, the online real estate brokerage, set out to find the most competitive neighborhoods of 2016, as measured by a number of factors, including:

  • Year-over-year median sales price growth
  • Percentage of listings that sold above asking price
  • Median days on market
  • Average ratio of sale price to list price
  • Percentage of homes that sold for all cash

So, without further ado, here are the 10 hottest neighborhoods of 2016, as determined by Redfin.

1. The Factoria neighborhood of Bellevue, Washington

In this Seattle suburb, the median home sales price was $352,500, which is 25.9% above 2015’s total.

The average sale-to-list price was 104.9%, meaning the average sale price in Factoria was 104.9% of the list price. Additionally, 62.1% of the homes in the area sold above asking price.

The median number of days on the market in Factoria was just seven, while 46.3% of the home sales in the neighborhood were all cash.

2. The University District neighborhood of Seattle

In this area, the median home sales price was $559,000, which is 22.2% above 2015’s total.

The average sale-to-list price was 105.1%. Additionally, 66.1% of the homes in the area sold above asking price.

The median number of days on the market in the University District was just seven, while 34.8% of the home sales in the neighborhood were all cash.

3.  The Washington Square neighborhood of Brookline, Massachusetts

In this Boston suburb, the median home sales price was $945,000, which is 30% above 2015’s total.

The average sale-to-list price was 102.1%. Additionally, 55.9% of the homes in the area sold above asking price.

The median number of days on the market in Washington Square was just seven, while 42.7% of the home sales in the neighborhood were all cash.

4. The Prospect Hill neighborhood of Somerville, Massachusetts

In this Boston suburb, the median home sales price was $635,000, which is 30.9% above 2015’s total.

The average sale-to-list price was 102.6%. Additionally, 56.9% of the homes in the area sold above asking price.

The median number of days on the market in Prospect Hill was just eight, while 41.2% of the home sales in the neighborhood were all cash.

5. The Inner Richmond neighborhood of San Francisco

In this area, the median home sales price was $1.9 million, which is 26% above 2015’s total.

The average sale-to-list price was 111.5%. Additionally, a whopping 83% of the homes in the area sold above asking price.

The median number of days on the market in Inner Richmond was 13, while 33.8% of the home sales in the neighborhood were all cash.

House Realty with Open House acquisition

The companies rebranded as OpenHouse, boasting that the new company was a real estate lifestyle search company that combines property search, data-driven real estate agent recommendations, and in-depth neighborhood and community information.

Now, OpenHouse is selling its technology platform to In-House Realty, which says that it is seeking to combine all of the elements of the home buying process into one platform.

“In an effort to eliminate the complexities and stress that can sometimes accompany buying or selling a home, we are focused on combining online home search, obtaining a mortgage and connecting with an agent into a more seamless experience for consumers,” said Doug Seabolt, In-House Realty CEO.

The deal will see In-House Realty acquire OpenHouse Realty, and its home and real estate agent search technology platform.

According to In-House Realty, the deal will “further strengthen In-House Realty’s core business of matching homebuyers and sellers with qualified pre-screened agents across the country, providing them a superior real estate experience.”

A spokesperson for OpenHouse said that the company is retaining its brand and its brokerage, but selling its technology platform.

“Finding a reputable agent and a great home go hand-in-hand,” said Ron Frankel, OpenHouse Realty CEO.

Tax business with acquisitions

Precedent said that the deal will help the company “gain traction” in the real estate component servicing space.

“The acquisition has been a natural transition for our team,” said Amy Sanchez, Precedent Management’s co-CEO.

“We were able to retain key executives and associates, proprietary technology and gain significant market share,” Sanchez added. “All of which contributes to our overall goal of offering comprehensive HOA, tax and utility solutions for mortgage servicers, lenders and agencies nationwide.”

Rob DeWald, Precedent’s other co-CEO, said that the company is looking to the future.

“We are excited to expand our product lines using the acquisition of technology rights as a basis to develop and offer new and innovative lien curative solutions for our clients,” DeWald said. “Keeping our client’s position in first place is our ultimate priority.”

Detroit Police spokesman Dan Donakowski said officers were called to the location after the body was discovered. The home, he said, was being rented to a family and did not use the garage.

The potential homeowner “opened up the car door and observed this decomposed body inside,” Donakowski said. “We talked to the current tenants of that location and they were told that the actual homeowners had said basically don’t go in the garage, don’t put anything in the garage.”

 

The news is a reminder of a story back in September 2015 of a home in San Francisco that sold for $1.56 million. So what’s the catch? Just a few months before, a mummified corpse of the homeowner was found in the house. Apparently the homeowner’s daughter was living in the house and was a hoarder. But the shocking news didn’t keep buyers away from the home.

Find mummified body in Detroit

The case is currently under investigation by the Detroit Police.

So how did the human remains go unnoticed for so long?

According to the original report by The Detroit News:

Detroit Police spokesman Dan Donakowski said officers were called to the location after the body was discovered. The home, he said, was being rented to a family and did not use the garage.

The potential homeowner “opened up the car door and observed this decomposed body inside,” Donakowski said. “We talked to the current tenants of that location and they were told that the actual homeowners had said basically don’t go in the garage, don’t put anything in the garage.”

 

The news is a reminder of a story back in September 2015 of a home in San Francisco that sold for $1.56 million. So what’s the catch? Just a few months before, a mummified corpse of the homeowner was found in the house. Apparently the homeowner’s daughter was living in the house and was a hoarder. But the shocking news didn’t keep buyers away from the home.

Rubin’s account may seem to some the rants of a disgruntled former employee; we all have our share of those. There is no doubt in my mind the CFPB is staffed with primarily able-bodied regulators who make prudent decisions on a daily basis — with the vision of leaving the American consumer with more protection tomorrow than today.

So it’s not the starting point that’s the problem, it is the CFPB as a means to an end. And if that continues to operate outside additional checks and balances, then the due process of the law will continue to be pushed aside to achieve the wrong kind of vision under a masquerade of consumer protection.

The CFPB needs reminding that in order to be needed one should behave with necessity. Until that day, the complaints of the mortgage industry should not be disregarded; we are in this too.

New way to search for houses

Buyers tell Alexa what kind of home they want — size, price, location, etc. — instead of scrolling through listings on a smartphone, tablet or laptop. Alexa asks questions to narrow down the search and responds to commands.

 

“It’s a conversational search,” Berger said. “That’s a huge difference.”

Zillow’s report shows that housing stock showed an increase of $1.6 trillion from 2015, a 5.7% increase in value to reach that record level.

That increase also means that the U.S. housing market has now regained all of the value that was lost during and after the housing crisis.

According to the report, the cumulative value of all homes in the U.S. declined by $6.4 trillion from 2006 to 2012 as the housing market collapsed.

But now, all of that value has been gained back.

It’s important to note that Zillow’s report is a national total of housing values. As the report shows, there are more than a few markets where housing values have not completely recovered from the crisis yet.

In fact, according to Zillow’s report, there are several markets that are now more valuable than they were at the height of the housing bubble, but roughly 60% of the markets in the U.S. are still below the maximum values reached during the bubble years.

As an example, the Chicago market is still approximately $134 billion below the highest value it reached in 2006.

According to Zillow’s report, the Los Angeles and New York metro areas have the highest shares of the country’s overall housing value, at 8.6% and 8%, respectively.

San Francisco checks in at third on that list, with Bay Area housing carrying 4.2% of the nation’s overall housing value.

As Zillow notes in its report, while the record high in U.S. housing value shows that the housing market is still moving in the right direction, the increase in value could also price more prospective buyers out of the market.

“Housing is incredibly important to us personally and to the economy as a whole,” said Zillow Chief Economist Svenja Gudell.

“The U.S. housing stock is worth more than ever, which is a sign of the ongoing housing recovery,” Gudell added.

“As buying a home gets more expensive, affordability remains a concern for many, and these numbers highlight just how much people are spending on housing,” Gudell said. “The total value of the housing stock grew nearly 6% this year, a pace that will likely mean some American families are priced out of homeownership.”

And many of those families that are priced out of homeownership end up turning to renting to put a roof over their family’s heads, as Zillow’s report also shows.

According to data analyzed by Zillow, in 2016, renters in this country paid $478.5 billion in rent, which represents a $17.7 billion increase from 2015.