CFPB protecting our military
There have long been protections in place so that lenders can’t hurt military servicemembers or their family, but the rules have been weak and poorly enforced, so the young Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) is taking a crack at better protecting mortgage borrowers that are active military servicemembers so they can focus on protecting our nation.
A new set of rules issued by the CFPB are meant to protect all mortgage borrowers, but we are particularly drawn to the protections outlined for active military, because when someone is fighting on the front lines, or shipping out at an inopportune time, their family is left behind to pick up the pieces. Recently, the CFPB has tackled predatory lending as well as irrational bank fees targeting military members, and these new rules offer better service, streamlining help for borrowers and dual tracking.
Better service for borrowers
Under the new rules, loan servicers are required to “train their people to answer your questions and, if you do run into trouble, the servicer has to assign people to help you.” Lenders must also now implement policies to prevent losing paperwork, one of the key reasons many illegal foreclosures went forward during the housing crash.
Previous rules implemented by the federal government include requiring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to consider Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders as hardships, allowing military families to qualify for assistance programs instead of missing mortgage payments before qualifying for aid. Existing rules also require lenders to immediately and clearly communicate policies when PCS orders are presented.
Dual tracking now in place
Lenders who proceed with a foreclosure against a homeowner, while simultaneously working with that borrower on a loan modification are dual tracking. The CFPB has said that mortgage servicers may no longer engage in dual tracking in any way, shape, or form.
Streamlining help for borrowers
One of the biggest problems with homeowners that are seeking loan modifications instead of a default is that they end up in an endless cycle of paperwork with no light at the end of the tunnel, with new documents requested each time a new service representative is reached on the phone.
Under the CFPB’s new rule, lenders must consider all options for which a borrower is eligible, immediately, without endless document swapping.
Some of these protections are specifically targeted to help servicemembers, and others make mortgage servicing more simple for all borrowers, but the bottom line is that our nation’s defenders will be less abused under these new rules.
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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