Oklahoma doesn’t get a piece of the $25 billion pie
In Februay, the historic $25 billion mortgage settlement was finalized between 49 states’ attorneys general, the federal government and America’s largest mortgage servicers Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Cigitroup and Ally Financial for illegal foreclosure practices. Fully $17 billion was designated for funding foreclosure relief efforts, $3 billion for funding underwater mortgage refinance programs, and $5 billion to fund payments to 49 states and the federal government (thus, to homeowners).
What stood out to us at AGBeat all along that most ignored is that one state was a holdout, and left negotiation talks with the big banks completely. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruit said back in 2011 in a letter from his state, Nebraska, and Alabama, that the probe leading up to the mortgage settlement would “override state laws” and that forcing banks to reduce loan balances on mortgages to help struggling homeowners “goes too far” in many cases.
The letter stated, “We have concerns … that what started out as an effort to correct specific practices harmful to consumers has morphed into an attempt to establish an overarching regulatory scheme that fundamentally restructures the mortgage loan industry.”
But now, Oklahoma is getting paid – how?
While homeowners in other states wait to see their small portion of the settlement, Oklahoma announced this week that they have issued the first mortgage compensation checks in America to borrowers who were victims of unfair and deceptive practices by Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, GMAC and Wells Fargo.
So how did Oklahoma leave the negotiation table yet become the first to issue checks? Pruitt said long ago that he would fight for local homeowners, and that the $25 billion settlement was not good enough for victims in his state, so his office negotiated its own agreement directly with the big five banks, providing what they say is up to 20 times more than the payments residents in other states are expected to receive.
The AG’s office said in a statement that over 700 residents applied for relief from the Oklahoma Mortgage Settlement Fund, with an average payment so far of $11,000. Checks have been mailed to over 100 residents, and checks will be mailed each week through the end of January. Families that qualify under one of two main categories receive a minimum of $5,000, with some families seeing as much as $20,000.
Homeowners deserve more than an “I’m sorry” and a few hundred bucks
“These families endured horrendous conduct, lost their homes in many cases and deserve more than an ‘I’m sorry’ and a few hundred dollars,” Pruitt said. “It is very exciting to be able to provide these Oklahoma families some meaningful relief for the harm caused, and a chance at a fresh start.”
Pruitt’s office says the latest estimates show residents in other states could receive as little as $840 from the federal fund. Many of the 49 states that participated in the federal settlement are using the money they receive under the federal settlement to fund various areas unrelated to housing. The areas include the state’s general fund, higher education, marketing and additional staff for AG’s offices. Oklahoma is the only state to have cut checks to residents thus far.
Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home
When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?
Looking at the bigger picture
(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).
That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).
They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.
“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”
Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?
With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.
The average home age is higher than ever
(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.
With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.
Prices of new homes on the rise
Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.
Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?
The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.
Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes
(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.
Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.
So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.
1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues
It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.
Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.
2. Two major media brands emerge
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